Kristin (Dodge) McMahon ’87: New Alumni Association President Paying it Forward

Kristin (Dodge) McMahon ’87: New Alumni Association President Paying it Forward

It’s not about the four years here, it’s about the 40, 50, 60 years afterwards,” said Kristin (Dodge) McMahon ’87, Fairfield’s incoming Alumni Association president.

This summer, McMahon takes the helm as leader of the Alumni Association – while Fairfield continues to rise with new facilities, new programs, and in college rankings – and she is focused on continued alumni engagement. “It’s the beginning of a new era for the University, which as alumni, we’re all embracing,” McMahon said. “Alumni participation is one of the criteria that’s used when Fairfield is rated against its peer group. So what is it about Fairfield that stands out from other Jesuit institutions or other Catholic institutions? I think the alumni voice is important in telling that story.”

Perhaps no one can better speak to Fairfield’s “story” than McMahon herself, through her unique perspective as an alumna, married to fellow alumnus, Rob McMahon ’87, and as a parent of two daughters who currently attend Fairfield, Elisabeth McMahon ’20 and Emma McMahon ’21. Both McMahon and her husband were the first in their families to attend Fairfield. They paved the way for a steady stream of siblings, nieces, nephews, and now their daughters, who are the 12th and 13th members of the Dodge and McMahon families to become Stags.

Of her “Fairfield family” – the lifelong friends she made when she was a student here – McMahon said, “They’re your support system through the best of times and they’re the folks who get you through the tough times too. That’s why it’s a special place.”

McMahon graduated from Fairfield in 1987, earning a BS in mathematics. Through her math studies McMahon honed logic and analytical thinking skills that were invaluable as she pursued a law degree at Boston University, and that she continues to draw upon today, as head of global claims for insurance company Ironshore, Inc. Her legal career spans 25 years in the insurance industry, including 18 years at law firms in New York City and Chicago.

Crediting the team approach to collaborative problem-solving as being a vitally important part of her math studies at Fairfield, McMahon shared vivid memories of sitting with friends on Thursday nights working on theorems and proofs. “An important part of being a successful professional is the ability to work with a group and strategize how to solve a problem, how best to attack it, how to organize around it,” she said.

As president of the Alumni Association, McMahon will lead the way in prioritizing the top needs of Fairfield alumni, discerning what would be most helpful to them. Her focus will be “what can we do to make alumni feel connected with us still, and what can we do so alumni deem their Fairfield education ‘value added?’”

“Those of us who are in professional roles for example, can help to bring along this next generation of Stags in the workforce by taking time to circle back with the career planning center and providing guidance,” said McMahon. Fairfield’s national alumni network offers a home away from home “for young alumni as they go to new cities. If they don’t know people, to have a local chapter of our alumni group is really important for them.”

McMahon believes that the alumni connection should begin when first-year students arrive on campus. “It’s important to sow the seeds early that you’re leaving your family but you’re becoming part of the Fairfield family,” she said. “It’s important to get students engaged and understanding that from the time you walk in the door at Orientation, you are a member of the Alumni Association; it doesn’t happen at graduation.”

The McMahons are active in Fairfield’s Alumni Association, participating in Admitted Students Day on campus and hosting admitted student receptions at their home. Through the Friends of Soccer program, her husband Rob helps students with their resumes and internships. “Three or four years out, they come back and say ‘Thank you so much for doing that for me. What can I do?’” she shared. “We tell them, ‘Pay it forward.’”

“It’s always great if you can financially give back to the school, but if you can’t make that big donation, and not everyone can, you can give of your time, your experience, your advice – and that’s as valuable as the check, in my mind.”