In Fords in Four, we ask an alumnus four questions; he shares insights and stories. In this blog post, Thomas Lindberg '07, partner at Upstream Capital and chair of Haverford's Young Alumni Committee, reflects on lessons learned from his time as a student at Haverford and shares advice for his fellow young alums. He also discusses the new Alumni Networking Platform and how it will help build a stronger, more connected Fords community.
Is there anything you learned at Haverford that you carry with you?
The most valuable tool and life lesson I learned there was grace. Not in the religious sense, but in the sense of showing grace towards others. The environment at Haverford very much encouraged open discussions of differing opinions. This taught me to view and digest situations and opinions objectively, and to always show curiosity and genuineness on why people feel or believe certain things. To not always be the voice, but instead to be the ear. Many of my teachers taught through discussions, like an open forum type of education. Different viewpoints and opinions were always welcome, and I found it to be a very open and inclusive environment. We learned how to converse and work together cordially. It’s not a tool we see much in society these days, unfortunately, but it was a skillset I learned at Haverford that I continue to try and hone today: how to be open, objective, and willing to listen to others.
This style of education and inclusiveness is what really attracted me to Haverford. I transferred in as a junior, and once I stepped on campus during my visit and entered the classroom, I knew that this was home. Everything felt very comfortable, and regardless of your academic level, it was competitive but not cutthroat – very familial.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to get more involved with Haverford. I saw this as a chance to give back to a place that opened its arms to me and gave me so much. It was the privilege of a lifetime to have gone to Haverford. I encourage all alums to remember how fortunate we are to have called this place home.
What led you to volunteering at Haverford, and to leading the Young Alumni Committee here?
I went to Loyola (Maryland) and my favorite professor there taught me to “say yes to things” in life. When people ask you things, to volunteer, he said, be open because good things will happen.
When our five-year reunion came around, our class needed someone to organize it. I like being a gatherer – I get that from my wonderful Greek mother – and I like getting people together, so I put my hand up and said I’d take charge. Our reunion was an outstanding success with over 50 classmates attending! This provided me the opportunity to get to know [Director of Alumni Relations] Andrew Bailey ‘02 and the Palmer House staff much better.
When I moved back to the Philly area, around 2015, Andrew and Brant Henderson ’74 asked if I would head up Haverford’s Young Alumni Committee. Trusting the advice of that college professor, I didn’t know where to start, but I said yes. To Andrew and Brant’s credit, they told me to trust my instincts and build it however I felt best.
I had never done anything like this before, so needless to say I was a bit nervous, but very excited. I saw it as a great way to get more engaged with the Haverford community, and it allowed me to give back to a place that means so much to me. I tapped some of my 2007 classmates, Chris Aitken and Nick Dodds, to serve with me, and we built out a strong committee team. Through the last five years, I think we’ve built a more connected, engaged, and vibrant young alumni community. When we come out of this pandemic, we’re very excited to begin rolling out more networking events, happy hours, and pop-up events to continue to grow the strength of our alumni community.
Another goal of the Young Alumni Committee was to bridge the gap between the student body and the alumni community. I think when Upper Schoolers hear the word alumni, they think of their parents. We wanted to help build a bridge that made us young alumni relatable to the current students. We’ve worked closely with Upper School Spanish teacher Brooke Kenna, who advises the Entrepreneurship Club, over the years to bring in younger alums with entrepreneurial backgrounds and experiences to speak with the boys.
Looking back, I consider myself very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to get more involved with Haverford. I saw this as a chance to give back to a place that opened its arms to me and gave me so much. It was the privilege of a lifetime to have gone to Haverford. I encourage all alums to remember how fortunate we are to have called this place home.
What advice would you give to fellow alums, especially young professionals, about staying connected to the School?
I would put the reach and strength of the Haverford network up against any school in the country. As you’re entering life as a young professional, I’d advise you to put the maroon and gold at the forefront – whether you’re looking for an internship, job hunting, exploring other professional arenas, or looking to expand your network in your chosen profession, think Haverford first. Haverford alums love to help other Haverford alums - we take care of our own. I think our alumni community has a warm openness to it that yields lots of alums who want to help other alums. There’s no better place to start than the new Haverford School Alumni Networking Platform. This powerful new tool can help you connect with hundreds of alums that are eager to help each other out.
I tell younger alums all the time, when you reach out to a fellow Haverford alum, I’d be shocked if they weren’t willing to help. This network is a tremendous asset for young professionals to have in their back pocket, and I think it’s a huge selling point to prospective parents on the true value of a Haverford education. Beyond the lessons boys learn as students, I think this connected, vibrant, alumni community is an invaluable asset they will have access to for life.
I would put the reach and strength of the Haverford network up against any school in the country. As you’re entering life as a young professional, I’d advise you to put the maroon and gold at the forefront – whether you’re looking for an internship, job hunting, exploring other professional arenas, or looking to expand your network in your chosen profession, think Haverford first.
Can you talk more about the new Alumni Networking Platform and what it provides?
The Young Alumni Committee and Alumni Executive Council have been waiting for a platform like this, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. It allows us to more effectively communicate with each other, it empowers class officers to better manage their class communication, and it will give us better organization once we can have events again.
Because this platform connects directly with LinkedIn, it’s easy to search for different industries or job titles – whatever you need. However, I think the most important feature is how it allows you to identify alums who are willing to help, or are looking for help. This simple feature breaks down the “unknown” barrier – easily showing which alums have put their hand up to offer help. This platform makes it incredibly easy for alums to tap the vast network of people who are on the platform, engaged, and willing to help.
It’s such a game-changer for the connectivity of our community, and will continue to be an enormous asset as the years go on and more alums join the platform.
I’d advise it as the top networking stop for all alums, but particularly those in college or recently graduated. I can’t imagine trying to begin a professional career in this climate; that said, if you spend 10 minutes on this platform, you’ll find 10-15 people who are open to a conversation, I guarantee it. Use this platform to get the ball rolling, and the opportunities are boundless.