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A Series of Fortunate Events: A LincUPtoNetwork Success Story

They reconnected in the spring of 2016, when both returned to Lincoln to present to Middle and Upper School students about LincUPtoLearn, a networking program designed to allow current Lincoln students to connect with alumnae through a shared interest in a particular career path. The program was the brainchild of Allison Gelfuso Butler ’96, the president of the Lincoln School Alumnae Association at the time, and Jaclyn Sullivan Leibl-Cote ’97, who had hosted a student at Collette where she was recently promoted to president after several years as the executive vice president of product development.

Acquaintances in high school, they continued to bump into each other at various Lincoln events over the course of the next year, including the school’s first LincUPtoNetwork event, held during the 2017 Alumnae & Reunion Weekend. An offshoot of LincUPtoLearn, the unique speed-networking setting allows for one-on-one connection with fellow alumnae. On this particular evening, Butler and Leibl-Cote dove a little deeper into their current career paths, and Butler, an associate professor of applied psychology at Bryant, shared her interest in design thinking, a topic Leibl-Cote studied in her MBA program at Babson.

Several months later, they saw each other again at Lincoln’s Athletic Hall of Fame dinner, and it was during this interaction that Leibl-Cote mentioned her desire to provide a professional development opportunity for her team that centered on their shared passion–design thinking. Butler, who had been expanding her consulting work over the last two years, sent over a proposal for a workshop, and in the fall of 2018, Leibl-Cote and her team spent a day a full day on Bryant’s campus looking at their work from a different angle to help them continue to innovate in their field.

Both agree that the end result was a professionally positive one, but they are also in agreement that the path they took to get there was equally satisfying.

“You take it for granted when you are young and starting your career,” reflects Leibl-Cote, “but as you get older, you start to remember your roots and learn how to leverage them. Lincoln provides a lot of opportunities to reconnect with people who have the education we all have. There are people from all different backgrounds, who are spread all over the world, and they can help you, both personally and professionally.”

And, as Allison shares, those connections and their impact can often be a pleasant surprise.

“We had multiple opportunities to collide through the alumnae network,” she said, “and when the time was right for both of us we were able to work together in a way that helped us both. We’ve been Facebook friends for ages, but it was the in-person touch points that Lincoln created that helped us see how our interests intersected. It is also very rewarding and emotionally satisfying to connect with someone over 20 years later, both as moms and as professionals. It’s so useful to have platforms–like Lincoln Connect and Lincoln Connect in Person–where you can figure out how your alumnae network can be helpful.”

And as they both figured out from this series of fortunate events–as you mature and grow in your life and career, circling back to your community and your roots can both ground you and move you forward in unexpected ways.


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