Cristina Frendo named director of alumni engagement

April 10, 2017

Cristina Frendo

Each stage of Cristina Frendo’s life has helped prepare her for the role she plays on UM-Dearborn’s campus today. Frendo, the new director of the Office of Alumni Engagement (formerly the Office of Alumni Relations), started April 3.

In fourth grade, Frendo said she organized her first event—a Valentine’s Day dance at her Commerce Township grade school.

As a graduating high school student, she wanted to go to college—becoming the first in her immediate family to do so.

In college, she was highly involved in her sorority’s philanthropy and organizing volunteer opportunities.

And after college graduation, she took a position at an education foundation, working her way up from a temporary gig to a senior associate director of development—experience she later needed to serve in higher education.

“Working in higher education is a marriage of all my past interests and experiences,” said Frendo, who worked as the associate director of alumni relations at U-M’s Ross School of Business prior to coming to UM-Dearborn.

Frendo said while at Ross she engaged with their 50 alumni clubs around the world with a network of 48,000 alumni. And she liked being a part of the largest alumni network in the world; globally, University of Michigan has 575,000 alumni.

“I fell in love with alumni engagement immediately. I enjoyed working with all our Wolverines and their ‘Go Blue!’ spirit,” she said. “My time at Michigan Ross laid a great foundation for the experiences ahead of me here in Dearborn.”

Frendo said she’s a Detroiter at heart and was attracted to the campus because of its commitment to metropolitan impact. She was also impressed with the number of first-generation college students—like her—and the safe, diverse and inclusive home-like feel of the UM-Dearborn campus.

“UM-Dearborn has a commitment to the city of Detroit and to the region. It’s stronger than words. It is action,” she said. “This is my home. And, I know for many of our students and alumni, it is their home too. They love and support it and want to see Detroit succeed. I want to have a part in that.”

Frendo said she’s also impressed with the number of faculty and staff who are UM-Dearborn graduates.

“More than 200 employees are alumni. That is phenomenal,” she said. “That says so much about our culture and how we treat our alumni—that they want to stay here after graduation.”

One of Frendo’s top priorities is to increase alumni contact information to connect them to university resources.

“I want to listen and understand what they need. More Career Services support? Networking opportunities? Engagement with students? What do they want? I don’t want to sit here and pretend that I know what they want without listening to them first,” she said. “But I need to know how to get in contact with them to ask those questions.”

She also wants to hear from faculty and staff. Frendo said she’s enjoyed meeting people across campus during her first week—and if you haven’t met her yet, to stop in, give her a call or send her an email.

“Alumni stay close to faculty and staff on campus because they are the people who have had the most impact on them. So I want to know: How can we better engage alumni in their field? How can our office support their goals?” she asked. “Faculty and staff are creating amazing engagement opportunities and we’d like to help.”