Passing the Torch

Bill Thompson (’87) and Edmund Odartey (’04, ’10) discuss the legacy and future of alumni engagement at Embry-Riddle

Bill Thompson (’87) is an Embry-Riddle icon, having worked in various roles over his more than 27 years at the university’s two residential campuses.

Never one to sit still, Thompson is now leading a new effort as Embry-Riddle’s executive director of Engagement Initiatives and the Eagle Heritage Project.

“I have always responded to the needs of our department and the university, and I am excited about my new role,” Thompson says.

While his departure from alumni engagement leaves some big shoes to fill, the job has been left in good hands. Edmund Odartey, (’04, ’10), who has served alumni engagement for more than 14 years, is taking over the role of executive director.

“I am just as excited that it is Edmund who will ‘take the con’ from me,” Thompson says. “He will do an exceptional job.”

We spoke to Thompson and Odartey about their new roles, the excitement of new opportunities and the future of alumni engagement.

Q & A

Bill Thompson (’87)

Bill Thompson portrait
Bill Thompson (’87), Executive Director of Engagement Initiatives and the Eagle Heritage Project

Q: How did you come to work at Embry-Riddle?

A: In 1994, I was hired into admissions at the Prescott Campus, and I loved the work. I came to alumni relations in 2011, and even though I swore I’d never leave the mountains, I was proud to move to the Daytona Beach area in 2013 to lead the team.

Q: What do you feel is your biggest achievement as executive director of alumni engagement?

A: I’m proud of the way we worked to create events and networks around the globe. We have been able to connect so many alumni with one another and advance their careers. This past year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we held hundreds of virtual events with alumni who were not able to participate previously. I’m truly blessed by the clubs and organizations I’ve been part of at Embry-Riddle and by the people who have said, ‘You made a difference in my life.’

Q: What’s next for you at Embry-Riddle?

A: I will continue to be an assistant coach with the ice hockey team, lead the Eagle Heritage Project and work with Eagle Authors. I will also keep working with Embry-Riddle’s chaplain, Reverend David Keck, on the 9/11 Research and Remembrance Project. As we approach Embry-Riddle’s centennial in 2026, I am gathering interviews, photos and documents highlighting the incredible success and impact of our alumni across the globe. I have become a trusted resource in my time here. People and companies in the Eagle community often ask me to assist with memorial gifts, scholarships and other donations. I welcome any opportunity to assist our students through philanthropy.

Edmund Odartey (’04, ’10)

Edmund Odartey portrait
Edmund Odartey (’04, ’10), Executive Director of Alumni Engagement

Q: How did you come to work at Embry-Riddle?

A: During an internship at Sanford airport, I heard that Embry-Riddle employees get tuition support, so I got a job in the financial aid office while I pursued my master’s degree. It felt good to be able to help students get scholarships. The alumni office was nearby at the time, so I applied for a job there in January 2007 after attending a couple of events. I still enjoy traveling around the globe and meeting alumni who are trailblazers in this industry.

Q: What do you love about alumni engagement?

A: It’s great to build bridges between alumni and our students. Many students don’t know about the opportunities they can take advantage of with us. When I restarted the Future Alumni Network, the students who volunteered with us were getting jobs and internships. Sharing alumni success stories also shows the high-level roles alumni are playing in the aviation, aerospace, security and intelligence fields.

Q: What are your plans for the future of the alumni office?

A: The data from our recent alumni survey is driving our goals and objectives. We are committed to four key areas: We want to create lifelong learning opportunities for alumni; build strong networks in the Eagle community; provide alumni rewarding ways to give back through volunteering, mentoring or financially investing in students; and we want to help alumni advance and enhance their careers. It’s great having a strong team with me to make this happen. They can exercise their creativity and their skills. I can see the passion and energy they all have to achieve these goals.