Last summer, Biola completed an extensive professional study of our alumni and parent programs that provided some key information and direction for our future. We were pleased to hear from the consultants that many of the things that we are doing — such as our chapter/regional programs, publications, email newsletters and events — are what the best and most innovative alumni programs are accomplishing.

But we were challenged to hear that programs such as mentoring, career services and networking were areas where we could really “bump up” our efforts to better serve our students, alumni constituencies and schools. It was really no surprise to hear the assessment that we were dramatically understaffed for the multiple programs we were trying to accomplish, with only three of us in the alumni department and more than 62,000 on the alumni roll. So, we were pleased to see Biola’s leadership commit to grow the alumni department in order to better serve your needs as Biola alumni! Can I get an “amen” and a “hallelujah”?

With that, we began a search for someone who could add to the expertise of the department, with a passion for service and ministry, and with the necessary energy and enthusiasm to help us accomplish all that we hope to in alumni and parent relations. And we found just the right person!

We are so excited about the addition and would like you to join us in welcoming Maria Zalesky to Biola’s alumni office as the director of alumni. Maria has many years of experience in higher education, working for both Christian and public institutions. We are pleased to have her skills, enthusiasm and expertise as well as her desire to serve and minister to Biola alumni. Maria and her husband, Lenny, reside in Riverside, and are past parents here at Biola. Maria joins our team of three, where I remain the senior director of alumni and parents, Don Bernstein continues in his role as manager of alumni, and Rhonda Englert serves as administrative assistant.

Using this summer’s survey and assessment, your alumni team is working hard to identify all programs and services that we can find to better serve your needs as alumni. In the coming months you will hear more about a radically improved alumni association benefits program, an orchestrated mentorship and career development service and an events and activities program that excites students, young alumni and seasoned graduates (like me!). I know you will be excited, and better served, to see the changes coming.

If you want to know more about all of the alumni programs and benefits, check out the website at, send me a note at or give me a call at (562) 896-2030. And to see the impact of alumni around the world, go to