New Texas Exes CEO to make organization more representative

Syeda Hasan

The Texas Exes appointed its first female CEO and executive director. Leslie Cedar will begin working to expand the organization’s alumni outreach July 1.

Cedar said having a woman serve as executive director was an important step toward furthering the alumni association’s goal of representing the demographics of the University’s graduates.

“As half our students and future alumni are female, I do believe a female in the role is a significant move towards furthering that goal,” Cedar said.

Cedar graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s in architectural studies in 1989 and earned an MBA in 1998 from the McCombs School of Business. She was chosen by a search committee of former presidents of the Texas Exes and current president Richard Leshin.

“[Cedar] will serve as the voice of the alumni with the University and the Board of Regents,” Leshin said. “She’s aware of social media today and can use it to help us communicate with our younger alumni, and hopefully we can get our older alumni to do the same thing.”

Jim Boon, who served as executive director for 16 years, left the position to head the Texas Exes Scholarship Foundation. He said the executive director must manage several key programs, including scholarship organizations, and communicate with alumni from Texas Exes chapters throughout the country.

“Whoever is sitting in that chair has got to be responsive to alumni as well as faculty, students and the administration at the University of Texas,” Boon said. “We have multiple constituents, and being able to deal with all of those at the same time is a really important criteria.”

Boon said because the University has more students graduating today than in the past, the Texas Exes must use modern forms of outreach, such as social media, in order to be responsive to the rising percentage of young alumni. He said he feels Cedar’s background in marketing and technology will make her a good fit for the job.

“The students are future alumni, so the better job the alumni association can do as far as communicating with them while they’re still at the University and make them aware of programs that will be available to them, those are ways to enhance the student experience,” he said.

Cedar said her prior work experience expanded her skills of how to develop networks which are meaningful and useful to the community they serve, and she looks forward to applying that experience in working with the Texas Exes.

“My degrees from UT are as important of variables as my work experience in the equation,” she said. “I got connected to a great professional network of friends and peers that have helped me immensely in my career, which goes to show it’s all about the relationships.”

Leshin said he hopes the new leadership will provide increased communication between current students and alumni, and get more students involved in the Texas Exes Student Chapter.

“It always helps when the Legislature is in session and we have alumni that are pushing to give the University more visibility on a positive level,” Leshin said. “[The new leadership] will help get more people involved, spread our word, and help the University in different areas.”