Ireton Business Network keeps alumni connected

Kirsten Fedewa fondly remembers the time she spent at St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls high school now merged with Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria.

With two brothers at Ireton, Fedewa made friends with people at both schools. She co-managed the lacrosse team at Ireton, was a varsity cheerleader, and participated in student council and Key club.

"What it really gave me was great friends and a strong foundation," she said.

The Ireton Business Network began with the vision to connect old friends in the business world. But more than connecting old schoolmates, the group links generations of St. Mary's and Ireton graduates who have no connection besides the same moral foundation and strong work ethic instilled in them during high school.

"We're all looking for trusted people to do business with, whether it's a plumber or lawyer, even though you didn't know them personally," said B. R. McConnon, an Ireton graduate and CEO of DDC Advocacy. "A lot of Ireton alums in the area see each other in certain business interactions, so the idea was to expand on that."

Ireton has always had a strong alumni group who stay in touch, said McConnon, but he and others wanted to create a more formal platform, like the groups he saw forged at other private high schools around the area. For 10 years now the Ireton Business Network has provided an opportunity for the150 employees and employers involved to reminisce and network.

"One brand-new partnership formed with a couple of people who had been doing their own thing, and multiple people have been hired," said McConnon, listing a few of the successes of the network. "It's not been too narrowly concentrated on one area, either," he said.

Every year IBN hosts a job fair for recent college graduates. Online, members can log in to the website and view the job board as well.

They also host speakers like politicians, business leaders and sports figure, said McConnon, "always with an eye not just on how you succeed in business, but how you do so ethically."

From her education, Fedewa learned honesty, hard work, a good sense of humor and an attitude of never quitting, she said. Now she works as a public relations executive in her own business, and through IBN, knows many other successful Ireton graduates in different fields.

"My schooling helped inspire some of the life skills that translate into really good business skills," she said.

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016