Fast Facts about Kim Thompson
Kim Thompson is the Associate Director for Diversity and Operations for the Office of Alumni Relations at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
A private liberal arts college, Bucknell University was established in 1846. The college’s 52,000 alumni living around the globe benefit from the alumni association’s robust travel program, which offers about 30 trips a year to graduates, parents and friends.
Born: Washington, D.C.
Education: B.A. in elementary education from Fairmont State University
Employment: Prior to Bucknell, she worked in health care for West Virginia University Medicine. She worked as an interim director for the alumni association before beginning current role.
Family: Two children with her husband, Harrison
Hobbies: Travel, golf, gardening and reading
Testing the Waters in Italy
Kim Thompson’s first introduction to her job as a travel planner took place aboard a small vessel off the coast of Italy. This bewitching country with its enchanting coastal villages, historic ruins and delicious cuisine proved the perfect place to lure Thompson into travel planning.
“I hosted the trip prior to taking on the travel planning full time,” said Thompson, associate director for diversity and operations for the Office of Alumni Relations for Bucknell University. “It was great on-the-job training.”
Thompson hosted the trip while serving as interim associate director before accepting her current position in 2014. Previously, she had worked in health care, a far cry from loyalty group travel planning. Since the perks of managing the alumni travel program were apparent, Thompson gladly took on the challenge along with her job’s many other responsibilities.
“The travel program is just a piece of my job, but it’s a fun piece,” said Thompson. “It’s a pleasure to host trips and engage with other Bucknell alumni.”
Though the college’s travel program is one of many tasks under Thompson’s jurisdiction, it’s a joyful one she loves because of the connections she makes to the destination and to other alumni members.
Thompson’s list of responsibilities at the Office of Alumni Relations is staggering. It includes managing staff, regional clubs, the Black Alumni Association, the LGBTQA Alumni Association and many other organizations and events. With so much on her to-do list, Thompson can’t join all Bucknell’s trips, as much as she would like to. However, she didn’t want the quality of Bucknell’s long-established travel program to diminish, so she shared the opportunity with other co-workers.
“I was in Cuba in January,” said Thompson. “That’s the last tour I’ve done. I don’t have time to be out of the office, so I’ve shared hosting opportunities with my colleagues. I like sharing the trips. It’s based on seniority who is offered the trips first.”
Of the 30 trips offered each year, Thompson will send a host from the college only if the trip sells enough to comp the host’s trip.
To make sure staff properly cater to the traveling alumni, Thompson will instruct new hosts on how to pamper members while not distracting from the experience.
“We don’t want to insert ourselves into someone else’s vacation, so it’s kind of a fine line,” said Thompson. “We typically have a reception for the alumni. It’s usually in a corner of the ship, where we’ll put up the Bucknell banner. We have appetizers and hand out swag. I like to do that early in the trip so we can get to know one another.”
Thompson and other Bucknell hosts also reserve group dinners together on a couple of nights and stick Bucknell magnets on travelers’ doors. When on a cruise, Thompson hustles to request the crew to fly the Bucknell flag before anyone else beats her to it with a different flag.