The Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association (TIAA) is the alumni association for graduates of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. By alumni and for alumni, TIAA hosts events and networking opportunities all over the world and is dedicated to preserving Thunderbird’s culture, network and mystique.
TIAA focuses on three specific areas to support its members:
Founded in 2013, TIAA, a US 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has an all-alumni Board of Directors that is voted on by its members. All major decisions are put to the membership for a vote. It is truly an alumni-based, alumni-driven organization.
TIAA operates independently of the School, which allows it to better represent the views, interests, and perspectives of the alumni community. While we collaborate with the School wherever possible, we remain a separate entity. As a member-centric organization, TIAA is focused on enriching each member’s professional growth by hosting educational, business and networking seminars around the world, and providing leadership in global business through building connections, and opportunities for education and the exchange of ideas.
The Importance of TIAA
The Thunderbird alumni community recognized the need for an independent association that would provide a collective voice in the affairs of its alma mater and serve as an effective platform for professional alumni-to-alumni interaction. TIAA was created in reaction to the Thunderbird Board of Trustees’ public announcement of an agreement to merge Thunderbird with Laureate, a for-profit education corporation. A group of alumni, understandably concerned about the impact that such a merger would have on their degrees, subsequently created TIAA.
TIAA’s Founding Board Members
TIAA’s founding Board of Directors includes four long-time advocates for the Thunderbird mission: Harry Cockrell ’73, Thomas Greer ’73, Merle Hinrich ’65, and Robert Theleen ’70. They saw the same need that the organization’s other founding alumni saw in the face of Thunderbird’s recent management crisis, and turned their support to empowering a truly independent alumni association. Their joint gift of US $2 million is the organizational funding for TIAA, ensuring its long-term viability as a resource for alumni.
In early 2015, Felipe Martinez ‘03 joined the TIAA Board of Directors from Mexico City. He was joined by Doug Deardorf '84, of Denver, Colorado, in February of 2016, and Nimrod Kovacs '77, of Budapest, in August of the same year.
At the end of 2016, Mr. Hinrich stepped down as Chairman of the Board, and the role was turned over to Mr. Deardorf at the start of 2017.
Traditions of Helping T-Birds Worldwide
TIAA’s activities are designed to keep alumni connected to each other in substantial ways, to better complement the needs of the school wherever possible, to preserve our Thunderbird Mystique and create new traditions.