The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


New coordinator Ali Hoefnagel excited to be part of ‘a university that really lives its values’

Ali Hoefnagel speaks at University of Pittsburgh.

Ali Hoefnagel joined Chatham University this fall as the coordinator of student engagement and belonging, a new joint position between the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Student Affairs.

Before their work in higher education, Hoefnagel was a working theater professional. They started out in Chicago and moved to Pittsburgh seven years ago to work with Dreams of Hope, a queer arts organization that serves ages 13 to 24. In their time mentoring queer young people, Hoefnagel realized that they excelled working with individuals in the 18 to 24 range, which was part of what drew them to work in higher education.

When the University of Pittsburgh created its Office of Inclusion and Belonging, Hoefnagel was hired as the first coordinator of inclusion and belonging, a position where they worked closely with undergraduate students with historically marginalized identities. They were primarily involved with LGBTQ+ programming, including advising the university’s Rainbow Alliance, conducting allyship training for staff and students, and advising students.

Ultimately, Hoefnagel felt they had difficulty thriving at such a large institution. They started looking into other opportunities, and they found Chatham.

“It was fortuitous,” Hoefnagel said. “The position was created and it was like, I can do this.”

After visiting the Shadyside campus for their interview, Hoefnagel said they felt a strong sense of familiarity. Chatham’s size and environment reminded them of Lake Forest College, where they received their bachelor’s degree.

“This feels right,” they said.

Since their position is new, Hoefnagel explained that they have been working with Student Affairs and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to organically define what exactly their job will look like. Their focus has been on student programming, including BIPOC Family Dinner, Queer Family Dinner, identity-based graduation celebrations and RISE mentorship. They emphasized the strength of Chatham’s current programming but said that there’s still room to do more.

Another aspect of Hoefnagel’s current work at Chatham is their advisory role with the Queer Student Alliance.

“I’m really excited to work with [Hoefnagel],” club president Sarah Baker ‘25 said. “They’ve already started to look into the budget and [help us] come up with event ideas.”

 She is confident that working with Hoefnagel will help the club to get back on its feet.

The developing position means that Hoefnagel is still meeting people and figuring things out. They explained that they are in a support position for students and student organizations with identity-based focuses.

“Right now, I want to be available to students,” Hoefnagel said. “I want to know what you’re struggling with. I want to know what you really like, and how I can support those things continuing to happen.”

Hoefnagel wants to encourage Chatham students to dream big about what they want and use their role as coordinator of student engagement and belonging to make those dreams achievable.

“I really believe that if we have a cast for the things that we want, [and] we put those things out there and work towards them, we can get them.”

Hoefnagel has enjoyed becoming more involved at Chatham, including attending sporting events and Chatham traditions like Candlelight. One of the things they are most excited about is Chatham’s close community.

With the size of the institution, they know they will be able to see the impact of their work and know that they are helping to make things happen for students.

“I’m looking forward to being part of a university that really lives its values,” Hoefnagel said. “That’s been my experience so far, and also what I’ve heard from other staff and faculty.”

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