Volunteer Profile: Dasha Rettew (GAL ’14)
As NYU begins a new academic year, NYU alumna and former NYU Alumni Association (NYUAA) Vice President Dasha Rettew (GAL ’14) takes the helm as president of the NYUAA—the umbrella organization for all 500,000-plus NYU alumni. Dasha takes the reins from Brian Levine (GSAS ’03, GSM ’08), who served the organization as president from 2018–2020.
Dasha joined the NYUAA Board shortly after her graduation from NYU, where she earned her master’s in business management with a concentration in leadership development at the Gallatin School for Individualized Study. She is also a member of NYU’s Board of Trustees and Tandon’s Board of Overseers. Prior to NYU, she received her BA from Wake Forest University and she is a certified Executive Coach through Columbia University’s Coaching Certification Program.
Professionally, Dasha is co-founder and president of Reservoir Advisors, a global executive advisory firm based in New York that supports high-growth companies with executive coaching, leadership forums, and building internal systems to maximize leadership and performance. Dasha partners with mid-stage companies, as well as Fortune 500 companies and academic institutions, to help executives navigate transitions and lead organizations through change, skills that will certainly come in handy as she leads her fellow alumni through this historic and complex time.
Read on to learn more about your new NYU Alumni Association President, Dasha:
What are you most excited about as you begin your term as president of the NYUAA?
We're at one of the most exciting points in the history of our NYU Alumni Association. I'm both honored and inspired to lead and help steward our global community through this transformation in how we stay connected as an alumni body. What also gives me hope as we charter new territory in how we achieve our mission, is our University's leadership team—who I engage with as a Trustee, and our Alumni Relations team who I get to work with—are world class. That leadership combined with the brightest and best volunteers in the world positions us well to thrive as a unified global community.
You're assuming leadership of the NYUAA at a historic and difficult time, how will the current state of the world affect your leadership of the NYU alumni community? What challenges and opportunities does it pose?
This historic and complicated time has stretched me, and I know that it's stretching our students and alumni as well—pushing the boundaries of our health, comfort, and connectivity. And yet, I see NYU coming together in the way we've always moved in times of global hardship and adversity—toward each other, towards unity, towards change. Look at our NYUAA Board members and alumni who are on the front lines of driving this change in so many ways. What the 1960s showed us on campus, for example, is that in the face of racial injustice not dissimilar to what we're dealing with now, we stay strong and we stay connected.
During the pandemic, we’ve raised over $1.1 million in support of the NYU Emergency Relief Fund that directly supports students with critical, unmet, pandemic related needs; within the alumni community, we've hosted 250 events online—that's incredible! The ratings we're seeing for these events are off the charts. That's because we have the best Alumni Relations team we've ever had and the quality of programming they're creating in partnership with our alumni volunteers is second to none. Our peer universities may have a higher endowment on a per student basis, but the feedback we receive is that our programming that's driving virtual connections for our alumni is in a class by itself, creating ways for alumni to cultivate lifelong connections with our university and with each other.
And while we certainly have these bright spots and so much to celebrate, there is still more we, the media, and our society at large need to change. One of my priorities as NYUAA president is to continue to help Alumni Relations foster the kinds of dialogue, programs, and resources that help us remain a globally connected, unified community. One specific way we'll do this is through local, regional, and centrally hosted events that our fabulous regional club presidents and volunteers are hosting to address the real needs of our community.
Why do you stay involved with NYU?
In many ways, I see NYU as my “chosen family.” I'm blessed to have a small, loving immediate family. The day I began my courses at NYU I gained a much larger family; perhaps the big family with the cast of characters I saw in movies like Home Alone growing up—every personality and perspective and all with a great affection for one another even through the trials. And I find that the more ways I stay involved, the bigger my community grows and the stronger relationships I build.
It's also incredibly rewarding to be in a leadership position where I get to help cultivate and grow our bench of future leaders on our NYUAA Board, and in our alumni community more broadly by connecting board members and volunteers with opportunities to take the virtual stage, facilitate important conversations with alumni, or drive change that bolsters our alumni engagement strategy and therefore our community. Finding and fostering talent is every leader's job. With the talent we have within our alumni body, it makes this job a delight. You can see just a few of our leaders we've recently honored here and those leaders who serve on our alumni board here. Getting to know the people in our alumni community and connecting them with leadership opportunities that support our school and amplify the important work they're doing is one of my favorite parts of my job as president.
Why would you encourage other alumni to get involved?
If you're someone who's interested in leadership and being part of a world class global community that is very much a warm and welcoming family, the NYUAA is the place to get involved. Complete the Volunteer Interest Form to find out specific ways you can help.
What is something your fellow alumni would be surprised to know about you?
I'm a classically trained artist with several paintings, namely portraits, in private collections around the country. My secret post-pandemic dream is to return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, alone, with my sketchbook and pencils or conte (because they don't allow ink) to sketch the great sculptures and portraits by Rodin, Maillol and John Singer Sargent.
So that alumni can get to know you a bit better, we're borrowing from Vogue's 73 questions, and adding a few of our own:
- Dream country to visit? I've travelled and worked on five continents so I'd have to say having mobility again in the US to see friends and family around the country would be a dream.
- What are three things you can’t live without? My pod (my husband, fur-child, daughter, and close friends), the gym, the beach, and my favorite food groups—seafood, greens, and funfetti cake.
- Superpower you would want? To fly!
- What three people living or dead would you like to have dinner with? Queen Elizabeth, Jesus, and my grandparents, Horace and Betty. Each were incredibly strong leaders in their own very different ways and firsts in their field of work. I'd ask each leader, "How did you do it?" I suspect my grandfather would say, through hard work, humor and generosity; and my grandmother would say, through laughter and a strong martini.
- Favorite NYU alumni celebrity? Lady Gaga, as an artist and actor she's pushed the boundaries, entertained us and made us cry with her incredible talent.
- Favorite social distancing activity? Being physically distant, but socially connected. Every day during quarantine on Long Island my husband, Cooper, and I made it a point to get outside and take a walk with our one-year old daughter. We called it our “family adventure.” It was also our sanity while working full time and caring for a baby. For months, we were the only people on the beach. Now that we're back in Manhattan, my daughter imitates the sound of the ocean and my hope for her is that her experience of COVID-19 remains just that simple and beautiful.