Our History at Yale
Since 1957 AIESEC at Yale has been shaping the mentality of the leaders of the world and creating a positive impact in society. Here is a little of our history and of how we came to be.
A bright beginning
AIESEC Yale’s story began in 1957, three years following the establishment of AIESEC in the United States. The late John Heinz, later a Senator from Pennsylvania, was the chapter’s first outgoing exchange. Boosted by strong leadership and a student body eager to travel internationally, AIESEC Yale quickly became one of the United States’ leading LCs in both incoming and outgoing exchange. Former Senator John Kerry '66 also went on exchange to Switzerland. The chapter remained strong until the late 1960s, when race riots, labor strikes, and anti-Vietnam War protests diverted campus attention and led the University administration to cut funding from most undergraduate organizations, including AIESEC. The chapter dissolved in the early 1970s, closing the first chapter of AIESEC Yale’s history.
A resurgence of sorts occurred in the early 1980s, but a lack of strong leadership in the chapter quickly led to its second dissolution. In 1987, the Yale chapter came back to life for a third time and quickly regained the status it had during the early 1960s. Under the leadership of LCP David Pollay ‘88, Yale rapidly increased its exchange numbers and membership. After David was elected MCP (national president) of AIESEC U.S., the chapter maintained this momentum for several years, but it eventually fizzled as a result of poor leadership succession and an uncommitted membership in the early 1990s.
Keeping strong since 1999
The final and current chapter of AIESEC Yale’s history began in 1999, when Adam Litle ’03 refounded the chapter at the encouragement of his father, an AIESEC Yale alum from the 1960s. Adam recruited many of his like-minded friends into AIESEC, and together they worked hard to rebuild the foundations of a strong chapter at Yale. In the fall of 2002, Adam and his friends, all seniors, successfully recruited a sizable group of freshmen to take the reins.
Art Wojtowicz ’06 assumed the LCP role and soon signed Yale’s first incoming traineeships in over a decade with Cadbury Scwheppes. Though a corporate restructuring prevented their realization, this success provided the initial burst of momentum the chapter needed. This momentum continued to accelerate at the end of 2003, when Art contracted a large-scale exchange relationship with Yale University to assist the University’s internationalization initiative. This innovative partnership placed AIESEC Yale “on the map” and provided the financial resources necessary for sustainability. In 2007, under the leadership of Shannon Guy '08, AIESEC Yale celebrated it's 50th founding anniversary with a gala ball hosted at Dwight Hall, attended by notable alumni and the current president of Yale University, Peter Salovey.
Since our latest revival, we have continued to expand the Yale exchange partnership, improve exchange quality, and recruit and develop committed AIESEC leaders. The history of AIESEC Yale – like that of most chapters – highlights the importance of capable, visionary leadership. Great leaders can quickly build a great chapter. Yet once those leaders graduate, the chapter’s success often wanes just as suddenly. This is the challenge the current generation – armed with this hindsight – has tried to solve by improving membership recruitment and retention and leadership development. We now believe, after several years of trial and error, that we’ve learned how to make AIESEC sustainable in Yale’s local reality. AIESEC’s future success depends on whether the current generation can pass along this knowledge to the next.