A Day With Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson

President + CEO of Arizona State University Alumni Association, SVP + Secretary of Arizona State University and Managing Director of Arizona State University Trustees

5:15 a.m. >> MOVEMENT IS THE NORM  

Six days a week, I exercise, whether it’s jogging or on a stationary bike. It helps my day get started and is the only thing that’s routine. Once I get to work, I quickly review my schedule and begin responding to a gazillion emails interspersed with up to 10 Zoom and in-person meetings. Zoom is an amazing thing that happened at the right time because it helped us continue connections with individuals throughout the pandemic.

9 a.m. >> CONNECTING THE PAST,
PRESENT + FUTURE

I’ve had multiple responsibilities most of my career. I like to work on a variety of things as it makes the day more stimulating. One of my current roles concentrates on policy and general governance issues of the university on behalf of President Crow. 

In our alumni work, we have the lofty goal of reaching each of our 546,000 alums worldwide by providing programs and events that meet their needs and connecting those who want to become more involved through their time or treasure. My time is focused on program planning, implementation, coaching younger professionals in their work and trying to reach alums in many different ways.

We organize the tailgates, Golden Reunions that recognize graduates of 50 years, Founder’s Day each spring that
honors “the best of the best,” and the Legends Luncheon.

As managing director of the Trustees, I organize the meetings and ensure we have a strong connection. We recently had a meeting so the Trustees could see the Herald Examiner Building, which will be the new headquarters for ASU in Los Angeles. It’s an amazing building that was formerly the Herald Examiner newspaper, production and corporate office. We’ve spent three years with two other entities reconstructing the whole building, and we will have a week-long series of events early next year instead of a ribbon-cutting.

10:30 a.m. >> KNOWING YOUR WHY

I have standing one-on-one meetings with each of my team members. Above all, it is important to help them develop and understand there are many seasons in one’s life. Sometimes they are incredibly happy seasons, and sometimes they’re tough ones. Those of us in leadership positions need to be able to recognize those seasons and support the individual, knowing the priority is not only reaching goals
but understanding where they are personally.

As a senior administrator for many years, one of the essential things to remember is why I am still here. We are creating knowledge. Our mission has to do with access and excellence, while other universities focus only on excellence. I firmly believe we are developing and teaching future community and research leaders. So, whatever we can do to help them along the way is what we should be about. We are here as an educational institution, helping change lives.

1 p.m. >> SERVICE RUNS IN THE FAMILY

My involvement in the community stems from my parents, who were amazing. It is part of my nature and what I grew up with. I remember my mom serving as a neighborhood captain collecting change for the March of Dimes when I was little. She was involved with the United Way through her employer. We would talk about it during dinner because that’s just what you did. My dad and his former roommate in college served as volunteer leaders of the annual fundraising drive for the university. Right out of college, I was asked to serve on the ASU Alumni board and, strangely enough, I am now the paid person in charge. I was at least 15 years younger than others on the board, but I loved it and found it fascinating. 

My involvement throughout the years has included the local American Red Cross. I was appointed to the Red Cross National Board of Governors, where I assisted in fundraising for Hurricanes Katrina and Charley disaster relief efforts and the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation board. I currently volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona
and serve on their National Council, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Arizona Business Leadership Association, Valley of the Sun United Way and the Japanese American National Museum based in Los Angeles. As we volunteer, we learn much more than we contribute. We learn about the organization, what they offer and how they help the community. We become a part of advancing their mission and spreading the word.

4:30 p.m. >> HAVING A BALL DURING THE HOLIDAYS

In addition to celebrating all the holidays, sports are embedded in my life. My father was the last faculty at ASU who was also a coach. So, if you ask me what I do in my spare time, I am all about collegiate and secondary sports. I attend all the football and basketball games and have season tickets to baseball and softball. I provide oversight of the Sun Devil Athletic Board and served as interim athletic director three times. If there are speed channels on the TV, they would be to all the sports channels!

December is the time for bowl games, and ASU hopes to be in one. While I would like to take a break between Christmas and New Year’s, that does not happen if we’re preparing for a bowl game.

Each year, I host an open house on behalf of the alumni association board for board members, partners and friends. I love entertaining and decorate our house to the hilt over Thanksgiving weekend. Each ornament on our tree is special and has a story, whether it was something my sister or I made growing up or a gift from my grandparents or parents. My family, which includes five great-nieces, are always at our home for the holidays. Our tradition is to celebrate life, the holidays and people.

To learn more, go to asu.edu

About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media and helps individuals, families and businesses maximize the impact of their philanthropy.

Recent Stories

Back to Top