Alumni Association Q&A: Greater Chicago Chapter President Ed Chicoski

Editor’s note: The Alumni Association and a local alumni chapter traditionally co-host a mixer the night before each away football game. This season, the Alumni Association will spotlight alumni volunteer leaders as they prepare for these events that bring together Penn State alumni, fans and friends.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — If you’re a Penn Stater in the Chicagoland area, the Alumni Association has a group for you.

The Greater Chicago Chapter is one of the most active of the 300-plus Alumni Association affiliate groups, with 2009 IST graduate Ed Chicoski serving as president, spearheading the chapter’s many initiatives that keep Penn State alumni and fans connected to the University they love.

Chicoski was one of a few dozen alumni from Chicago who drove to Iowa last month for the team’s football game against the Hawkeyes, and his group will co-host an alumni mixer Friday night, Oct. 6, ahead of Saturday’s game against Northwestern. Stay updated and follow the chapter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the group’s LinkedIn page.

Learn how and why Chicoski’s now an alumni volunteer leader, and the value he sees in joining an alumni chapter. Check out the Alumni Association’s Q&A below, and visit the Alumni Association’s website to find an alumni group near you.

Penn State Alumni Association: In what ways does belonging to an alumni chapter help you stay connected to Penn State, and why is it important to keep that connection?

Ed Chicoski: The Penn State alumni network in Chicago is great from both a professional and social standpoint. In total, there are almost 6,000 alumni in the Chicagoland area. The connections that you can make are amazing because it allows you to keep a pulse of what is going on in the city while also continuing to learn what is happening in different professional industries. Additionally, when talking with Penn Staters, it is always fun to share stories that allow you to reminisce about being an undergrad.

Penn State Alumni Association: How did you initially become involved with your alumni chapter, and what inspired you to accept a leadership position within the group? 

Ed Chicoski: I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2009, one month after graduation, and I made sure to look up what activities and events the Chicago Chapter had going on. The first event I attended was a preseason kickoff party, at our former watch party location, Flounders (one of the most haunted locations in Chicago). During that season, I became friends with a lot of Penn Staters, and to this day, I am still great friends and stay in touch with many of them.

The inspiration for taking on a leadership position was for a few reasons:

1) helping alumni that come to Chicago with a limited network and help them build their network;

2) it was a great way to give back to both the Penn State and Chicagoland communities;

3) it’s an honor to collaborate on a frequent basis with fellow Penn State Chicago board members.

Most Penn State alums that move out to Chicago typically have a very limited network because of the distance from the East Coast. Being able to offer a platform for Penn State alumni and supporters to network in a professional, philanthropic, and social manner in a large metro area like Chicago is captivating and rewarding.

Ed Chicoski Q&A_Iowa game photo

Greater Chicago Chapter President Ed Chicoski (third from left) traveled to the Penn State-Iowa game last month, attending the Alumni Association's alumni mixer the night before the Nittany Lions claimed a dramatic 21-19 victory. 

Image: Ed Chicoski

Penn State Alumni Association: Were you involved with any Alumni Association-related activities as a student, and following up on the first question, how did you learn about joining an Alumni Association chapter? Was joining an alumni chapter something you knew about even as a student?

Ed Chicoski: I always knew about the Alumni Association being the largest, most powerful network, and the day I accepted my position for the job, I looked up what was going on with the Chicago Chapter. 

Penn State Alumni Association: Having a leadership position within your alumni chapter, did you have any prior experience that helped prepare you for this leadership position, and what have you learned during your time that's helped you grow, personally and professionally?

Ed Chicoski: There are many prior experiences through the chapter and my career experiences that have helped. From a Chicago Chapter perspective, it was very beneficial to be service chair for two years and then be vice president for two years before becoming president. Some of the important areas that I learned include always enjoy what you are doing, continue to learn, and ask for assistance when needed.

Penn State Alumni Association: Do you have any members who've belonged to the chapter for a long time, perhaps decades? If so, how special is it to bridge those generational gaps and have shared Penn State experiences with alumni who might've graduated decades earlier?

Ed Chicoski: Yes, we have many members who have been with the chapter for more than a decade. Some of the connection is formed by being able to talk to Penn Staters in Chicago about something familiar, whether it be previous football seasons, Middleswarth barbecue chips, favorite Berkey Creamery flavor, or the “fun” Chicago winters. 

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Last Updated October 05, 2017