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Meet David Johnston, New AVP for Alumni and Constituent Engagement

Growth is a constant here at Boise State University. Some of the growth is hard to miss, like the new Melaleuca scoreboard at Albertsons Stadium or the Center for the Visual Arts. Other forms of growth are behind the scenes. In 2022, we audited our alumni relations programming, events, staff and budget. One result of the audit is that the Alumni Relations team has merged with the Annual Giving, and Marketing and Communications teams under one Associate Vice President for Alumni and Constituent Engagement. This helps our teams work together around fundraising strategies, and better use scarce resources. That new AVP for Alumni and Constituent Engagement is David Johnston.

David with his family
Left to right: Sydney, 20, a junior at the University of Kansas; Sophia, 18, a freshman at Flagler College; David, Sara, Austin, 13, a 7th grader; and Millstone, or “Millie,” a mini Goldendoodle.

David came to us from Lawrence, Kansas, in November of 2022, with more than 15 years of experience in strategic alumni and constituent engagement at the University of Kansas. He served as a KU Alumni Association senior leadership team member, coordinating with the president and board of directors to oversee brand, content, marketing and engagement services for more than 350,000 University of Kansas alumni.

Now at Boise State, David has taken up the new post of associate vice president for alumni and constituent engagement within our integrated advancement model, which weaves alumni, communications and marketing, and the philanthropic needs of colleges and departments into every corner of the university. His responsibilities include alumni relations, annual giving, and advancement and marketing communications.

I caught up with David so our alumni, friends and supporters can get to know our new team member, learn about his new role and catch some of his insights on taking Boise State to the next level.

You’ve lived most of your life in Kansas — what has surprised you most about moving to and living in Boise?

Coming from Lawrence, Kansas, a Midwestern college town about half the size of Boise, I was pleased to discover that Boise doesn’t feel like a big city. There’s a very strong sense of community, and we’ve been made to feel so welcome here.

My wife Sara and I have three children — Sydney (20), Sophia (18) and Austin (13) — plus a dog, Millie, so we were thrilled to find that Boise is such a great place to raise a family.

As Boise State alumni already know, the Treasure Valley is absolutely beautiful year-round, and we’ve loved exploring the Greenbelt, charming neighborhoods, cultural centers and local breweries that make Boise such a popular destination.

This is a new role for you. What are your responsibilities, and what strengths do you bring to meet them?

My role involves oversight for alumni relations and the alumni association, plus annual giving and advancement marketing and communications. This is a new role for me and for Boise State. Fortunately, my background includes experience in marketing, strategic communications and alumni engagement.

Years ago, I served as the first director of marketing at the University of Kansas, so I appreciate the value of integrated marketing and a strong institutional brand.

Boise State is blessed to have an incredible brand made famous by the Bronco community.

Our integrated advancement model aims to harness the energy and enthusiasm of Bronco Nation, benefiting Boise State today and well into the future.

What attracted you to the role at Boise State?

When Vice President for University Advancement Matthew Ewing offered me this unique opportunity at Boise State, my motivation to accept the role was inspired by three “P” words: people, place and purpose. The purpose — specifically public higher education and its ability to transform lives — is relatively easy to understand. I’m also inspired by the place — the community where I live and work, but also Boise State, its integrated advancement model and collaborative culture. Finally, I like to surround myself with high-integrity people who motivate and inspire me. The leadership we have in place here at Boise State is one of our greatest strengths, and together we have an opportunity to create the best culture of philanthropy and alumni engagement of any public university in the country.

What haven’t we asked that you think alumni should know about you? What do you see as the greatest challenge in your role?

The nature of alumni engagement is changing, and the traditional alumni association model is evolving. I spent the past year at the University of Kansas studying trends in alumni engagement, and I’m excited to continue that work here.

We know that we need to engage alumni and friends, wherever they are, in new ways and on their terms. And we know that we have a great product.

Most membership organizations have been in decline across the country, yet we still see (and hear!) the impact of Bronco Nation every time fans pack Extra Mile Arena and when the Broncos run out onto The Blue at Albertsons Stadium. A more timely example was the impact alumni had during Bronco Giving Day, when Broncos raised more than $560,000 for Boise State scholarships, programs and more.

Join us in welcoming David and his family to Boise State. Stop by and visit us at the Alumni and Friends Center, or look for David at one of our upcoming events this spring, including the Boise State Scholarship Gala and Auction on Saturday, May 13!