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'It’s really a dream job': Veronica Flaspoehler to be next General Alumni Association president

Veronica Flaspoehler, pictured above, will succeed Douglas S. Dibbert as the next General Alumni Association president on July 17. Photo courtesy of Veronica Flaspoehler.

After the current UNC General Alumni Association President Douglas S. Dibbert announced his intention to retire after nearly 41 years last October, the GAA commenced the search for a new president. 

The selection process took about six months in total and involved two rounds of interviews. Ultimately, the GAA selected Veronica Flaspoehler to succeed Dibbert as the next GAA president. She will assume office on July 17. 

“We had to find someone who could not only continue to do what we’ve been doing well at GAA, but also think about the future,” Lowry Caudill, head of the selection committee and chair of the GAA Board of Directors, said.

The GAA is a self-governed, nonprofit membership organization that connects UNC alumni to resources and each other, while the role of the president is to oversee the programs, committees and publications run by the association.

When she heard about Dibbert’s retirement, Flaspoehler said that she didn’t immediately think of herself for the position because she didn’t have a career background in nonprofits or the University. 

“I thought that whoever gets it is going to be really fortunate and lucky because it’s really a dream job,” Flaspoehler said. “To me, it felt like that would be getting to do something that I do in my free time and as volunteer work as a full-time job.”

Flaspoehler graduated from UNC in 2008 and started working at Wachovia, since renamed Wells Fargo, where she’s been doing risk management for almost 15 years. 

Although she said that she was always drawn to nonprofit work, as a first-generation college graduate, Flaspoehler prioritized financial security to support her family in her initial career search.

“That was something I did after college as a more practical way to sort of kick off my career, and it’s been great, but it wasn’t really ever my passion,” Flaspoehler said. “I didn’t really ever realize that there was this career that I could have at UNC with the track that I took.”

Flaspoehler has volunteered at the University since she graduated. She began her involvement through the Young Alumni Leadership Council and was eventually nominated to the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Visitors to chair the Student Career Services Committee. 

“It became a really fun and cool way to give back to the University because I felt like it had opened so many doors for me,” Flaspoehler said. “Just being able to connect with students that I saw myself in their shoes previously.”

She was also invited to join the Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity where she focused on elevating diverse funds and bringing awareness to the Carolina Latinx Center. Flaspoehler sits on the Carolina Latinx Center advisory board.

Flaspoehler was later nominated to the Board of Directors of the GAA.  

“It all came to be through my volunteer activities that I found this new passion and this love that I had for Carolina that I didn’t know as a student,” Flaspoehler said. 

Flaspoehler identifies the entrepreneurship minor program at UNC as one of her most meaningful college experiences and a source of her interest in giving back to the community. 

As a student, she conducted a social entrepreneurship independent study under Professor Jim Johnson involving preventative measures and treatment for diabetes in the Latino community.

Johnson said that he remembers Flaspoehler's energy and enthusiasm. 

“I think the course and independent study in social entrepreneurship kindled a fire in her concerns about inequality in American society and the challenges that various sociodemographic groups face,” he said. “The ability to come up with a concrete and implementable project that would address that issue stood out and tapped into her strong desire to leave the world, the planet a better place than when she arrived here.”

Additionally, Flaspoehler served as senior class vice president, which she said marked her first interaction with the GAA and molded her attachment to Carolina.

Flaspoehler said she sees the GAA presidency as an opportunity to engage more with university students. She said she has two main pieces of advice for students: study abroad and take unique classes. 

She said that her study abroad program in Beijing, China was a formative experience.

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“It really taught me that you can do hard things," she said.

She also said that a class on early Judaism was her all-time favorite class, even though it was unrelated to her major.

“As you get older and leave college, there aren’t as many opportunities to learn these random things,” Flaspoehler said. 

She said that being selected as president is a great honor.

“I am completely humbled and thrilled to get to come back to Carolina,” Flaspoehler said. “I know my focus will be on alumni, but I’m also just super excited to get to be around students again. It is probably my first passion and what got me involved as an active alumni was engagement with students.”

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