Alumni Council Honors President Samantha Brand and Fundraises for Student Lunch Initiative

Alumni met together at the annual Alumni Council Benefit to honor Alumni Council President Samantha Brand ‘01 P ‘26, ‘29 and raise money for the Student Lunch Initiative this Tuesday. The Student Lunch Initiative is a program that helps pay for lunches for students on financial aid at the school. Every 1,400 dollars donated through the event will fund a full year of lunch for a student.

According to the Parents Association’s e-blast, Brand was honored at the event “for her many years of leadership and dedicated service to the Council.” Brand will be retiring from her position as president of the Council after this year.

The Benefit was held in person and allowed alumni to finally reconnect with one another after years away from the school due to the pandemic. “Most of these people have not been on campus for over two years,” Benefit Committee member Justin Lerer ‘95 P ‘28 ‘33 said. “There is a lot of excitement for the benefit and also just the chance to be at school.” 

As a result of the pandemic, the alumni community was forced to remain isolated which interfered with their engagement in the school’s community, Lerer said. As a result, last year’s benefit took place online. 

Regardless, the Council has been trying to keep the community engaged, Brand said. “The goal of the alumni council was to build a community and connections and the unfortunate circumstances of the last few years have really gotten in the way,” she said. “People [were] nostalgic for their Horace Mann days and have missed reunions and homecomings.”

 As a result of the excitement to get back on campus, there were a record number of RSVPs and funds raised, Brand said. “I think it meant a lot for alums to come back to campus and see all of the changes and see the facilities being used,” she said. “They took tours last night before the cocktail party and people were thrilled and there was tremendous energy. It really was special to see.”

This year’s Alumni Council Benefit was a valuable event for the community, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly said. “With every in-person event returning to the calendar, the excitement and participation is through the roof,” he said. Events like the benefit have shown Kelly how the community thrives upon supporting one another and coming together, he said. 

For the past alumni benefits, the council has raised money for the Student Assistance Fund, Lerer said. However, due to their success in raising funds in previous years, the Student Assistance Fund felt as if donations would be better used for other programs, he said. As a result, the Alumni Benefit Committee decided to donate to the Student Lunch Initiative, he said.

Donating to the Student Lunch Initiative will be beneficial as the school’s tuition rate rises and the number of students grows, Brand said. With this pressing issue, the Alumni Council has seized the opportunity and will be trying to cover lunch funds for UD and Middle Division (MD) students on financial aid, she said.  

Most of the money contributed to the fund was raised in advance through ticket sales and sponsorships, Lerer said. However, the Council received some donations during the event’s auction, he said. 

The council estimates that they raised close to 210,000 dollars — the requested amount by the school, Brand said.