Panther Pride Alumni Network
“It’s fascinating to see where life takes Potomac alumni,” says Todd Langstaff ‘08. “We wondered what it might look like to create a community of specifically LGBTQ+ alumni to share those stories.”
In late 2020, a group of Potomac alumni – including Todd, Passion Rutledge ‘06, and Lane Ebrill ‘07 – began laying the foundation for Potomac’s first alumni affinity group, the Panther Pride Alumni (PPA) Network. The group launched in June 2021.
The Network’s mission involves fostering connections within the LGBTQ+ Potomac alumni community to cultivate a space for an inclusive, safe, and supportive social and professional network. “Ultimately, it’s for alumni with shared experiences and the common Potomac background to connect (or reconnect) and hopefully find something personal and/or professional,” Todd notes.
He also shares another important factor in the group’s creation: concern for young alumni. “As a teen, I was immensely lucky to benefit from the incredible support of Potomac, my family, and my broader community, but I was also constantly and quietly struggling to know, understand, and accept myself. Imagine the positive influence in seeing a group of Potomac alumni of all identities living authentically across places and professions! If the Network can be a resource for even one young alum on that same path to self-acceptance, then it’s absolutely worth it.”
The group’s formal charter clarifies specifics, outlining details from the mission and eligibility all the way down to statements and operating policies. In their Statement on Our Connection to Potomac, for example, they note the potential for exciting opportunities arising from partnership with the school, but acknowledge that alumni have varying degrees of connection to Potomac. Ultimately, the affinity group was created by and for Potomac alumni and will continue to be governed and led by Potomac alumni; by functioning independently, it can create a more welcoming space for eligible alumni to join at any desired level of participation, regardless of their past, current, or future connection to the school.
“Being a member entails as much or as little as you would like for it to!” Passion Rutledge explains. “We are dedicated to providing a safe space for networking, events, and discussions relevant to our community. Membership is also an opportunity to further determine how we grow.”
And as for that growth trajectory? The founders, a team of dedicated volunteers, admit that life slowed their momentum post-launch, but they’re back to full power this spring. “As the Network’s community grows, there are many exciting opportunities to look forward to,” Lane Ebrill says. They note that the team is putting together a database for Network members and is thinking through community events, either virtual or in person. They are also excited for the first installment of a regular newsletter. They observe, “There are so many different ways that people connect, and we want to be able to provide that opportunity to everyone.”
Alumni interested in joining should review the charter linked above, fill out this survey, and reach out to the Panther Pride Alumni Network leadership team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.