Meet the Alumni Relations Staff

Meet the Alumni Relations Staff

Year-round and worldwide, the Office of Alumni Relations has one simple goal: to keep you connected to Rice. Our team is responsible for organizing in-person and virtual events, engaging with long-distance Owls around the globe, enriching Rice’s spirit of lifelong learning and so much more to ensure your relationship with the Rice community extends far beyond the hedges. Meet each team member to hear what they enjoy most about fostering close-knit community for Owls everywhere. Check back later to meet more members of our team!


Kate Coley ’11
Associate Director, Alumni Programs

Kate Coley

Focus area:

I am lucky enough to be in charge of digital education and lifelong learning, which means a lot of my job is talking to fascinating and brilliant people within the Rice community. A big part of that is letting the Rice alumni base know that their Rice education continues long after graduation by providing things like faculty-led lectures, classes and even a podcast called "Beyond the Hedges."

What do you think makes the global Rice community special?

A story that the previous Association of Rice Alumni Board chair Bryan Hassin ’01 ’02 told us once comes to mind. He was riding a train somewhere in Europe (sorry I don't remember, Bryan!) and there were randomly two other Rice alumni on the train. They all recognized each other by their Rice rings and immediately formed a small group on the train to share Rice experiences. I love that about Rice people; there really is a built-in community wherever you are in the world.

Most memorable part of your time at Rice so far?

Honestly, just having the opportunity to return as an alum has been amazing. Experiencing Rice on this side of things has been so eye-opening, and it's heartening to see how much Rice really cares about its alumni base. Other than that, golf cart joy rides around the inner loop are always a fun perk!

Hobbies/interests:

Ooph, this is a tough one during a pandemic! I watch a lot of true crime documentaries, listen to podcasts, and love trying out new recipes with my Instant Pot.


Paige Bahnsen
Assistant Director, Alumni Regional Outreach

Paige Bahnsen

Focus area:

Central Region (includes DFW/ north Texas regions)

What do you think makes the global Rice community special?

Their commitment to and pride in each fellow Owl. The Rice community is one that challenges one another to reach higher and think bigger — to use their talents, skills and passions to strengthen themselves, the community, the university and the world.

Most memorable part of your time at Rice so far?

For Owl Together 2020, we had to record a pep rally with Sammy the Owl, the Mob, the cheerleaders and the dance team in front of the Sallyport. It was so much fun to see the students finally get to perform their routines in person after COVID prevented them from doing so. Also, knowing that their friends and families would have the opportunity to watch them perform made it that much better. It was raining and the day seemed to go on forever but it was one of the best times I have had at Rice.

Hobbies/interests:

I am the BIGGEST sports nerd. I received my undergraduate degree and master’s degree in sport business and entertainment management. My schedule and vacations are always planned around a football game, a tennis match, a golf tournament, a baseball game, etc. Other than that, you can catch me trying a new restaurant, ordering a Diet Coke, outside running, shopping or back at my parents’ house in Wharton, Texas!


Kerry Pious
Associate Director, Alumni Regional Outreach

Kerry Pious

Focus area:

In my role, I support the local Houston geographical region of alumni, along with our 15 interest and identity-based Affinity Groups, in areas such as alumni outreach, program development and marketing strategy.

What do you think makes the global Rice community special?

The Culture of Care at Rice seems to both attract the curious, intelligent and resilient students that make up the student body, and also carries on into life beyond the hedges. I often hear stories from alumni reminiscing on the excitement they feel in spotting some Rice swag across the airport terminal or walking down the street, and think that sense of pride speaks for itself.

Most memorable part of your time at Rice so far?

The year of 2020 is definitely up there. Cliché’s aside (or front and center), when life gives you lemons, apparently Owls know how to make really good lemonade. It was truly incredible to watch and support the Rice alumni community in their never-ending dedication to innovate and reimagine all the new ways to stay connected despite being physically apart for so long.

Hobbies/interests:

Since moving to Texas a few years back, my husband and I have been wine taste-tasting our way through the wineries of the Texas countryside, and if that requires cheese sampling on the side, so be it. Also, I recently picked up a tennis racket for the first time after always having an itch to try it out.


Alejandra Merheb
Interim Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations

Alejandra Merheb

Focus area:

I lead the Alumni Regional Outreach team which engages alumni groups within various geographical regions and affinity. In my role, I also work specifically with the tristate (NY, NJ, CT) area and with our international alumni. Over the last year, I’ve also had the incredible opportunity to lead the Alumni Relations team and work closely with the ARA board as we search for an assistant vice president of alumni relations to complete our team.

What makes the global Rice community special?

The Rice community, in addition to being incredibly intelligent, is wonderfully unconventional, curious and full of joy! In my role, I get to see the community truly engage with each other. There are never strangers, just new Owl friends.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Hands down, it’s the people. I get to work with alumni (parents, students, faculty/staff and friends!) all over the world who care deeply about their alma mater and with a team who feels the same — what’s better than that?

Hobbies/interests:

I’m a big fan of the theater, musicals in particular. My favorites are “Les Miserables” (I still cry when I watch it) and “In the Heights” (it’s so fun and really spoke to my Puerto Rican roots)! I’m also a huge fan of school supplies.



April Cole
Director, Alumni Programs

April Cole

Focus area:

As director of the alumni programs team, I provide leadership and oversight for the areas of student engagement, online mentoring (Sallyportal), digital education, lifelong learning, Traveling Owls, young alumni programs, Homecoming & Reunion and Parents & Families Weekend. I also head up our Alumni Relations Office metrics initiative and Engaging Lost Owls Task Force with the Association of Rice Alumni board.

Most memorable part of your time at Rice so far?

Commencement time is always very special to me, getting to see all the hard work and sacrifice culminate into a significant moment of pride and gratitude. I love welcoming students into the alumni family, knowing their journey doesn’t end at graduation but in some ways just begins. I also really enjoy hearing alumni share stories about their time on campus and reminisce — I find myself learning something new about Rice each time!

What is one thing you wish people knew about the Office of Alumni Relations?

The word alumni is derived from a word that means to nourish and alma mater essentially means nourishing mother. My philosophy is that an institution’s relationship to an alumnus is one of nourishment — intellectual, personal and educational. The DNA of an alumni relations office and its team of professionals — the part we play in the great ecosystem of higher education — is one of nourishment. It’s one of support. We fuel, we motivate, we care for, we listen, we hear, we create, we engage — we build community. The work of the Alumni Relations team is vital, and I would like people to know that our fantastic group of committed, dedicated professionals work very hard, especially behind the scenes, to fulfill this great mission.

Hobbies/interests:

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies Program at the University of Houston, so that takes up a tremendous amount of time! I also enjoy visiting the Houston Zoo with my six-year-old son, cooking & baking, and running around with my German Shepherd rescue, Cannoli!