Meet Us in Charlotte, Wake County, and DC!

Ahoy there, Pirates! Do you want to meet fellow East Carolina University alumni in your area this summer? The East Carolina Alumni Association has several events this month around the Pirate Nation!

The Charlotte Chapter is holding an interest meeting this Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Mecklenburg Brewery located at 4150 Yancey Road. No registration is required. If you’ve been looking for ways to get more involved and stay connected to ECU, this is a great way to start! If you can’t make it and still want to be involved, e-mail or follow the Charlotte Chapter on Facebook.

The Wake County Chapter is holding a casual meetup next Thursday, July 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Blackfinn Ameripub in Morrisville, NC. These meetups are held twice a month alternating between Morrisville and Raleigh. There’s no need to sign up ahead of time but e-mail  or follow the Wake County Chapter on Facebook for more information.

Finally, join us for a professional happy hour in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 28 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Flight Wine Bar located at 777 6th Street NW. Be sure to follow the DC Metro Chapter on Facebook!

All of the alumni association’s upcoming events can be found here.


Meet Richard Chavez ’80

richard-chavezEast Carolina University alumnus Richard Chavez ’80 is a senior executive with the Department of Homeland Security.

As the director of the Office of Operations Coordination, Chavez provides counsel directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. He leads more than 500 employees who are responsible for monitoring the safety of the United States on a daily basis. His office provides vital information to support decision making across all departments of Homeland Security as well as partners in state governments, law enforcement, and the private sector.

“I’m very proud that I went to ECU,” said Chavez, who graduated with a degree in corrections and law enforcement in 1980. “My experience definitely prepared me for my additional degrees and my career.”

Originally from southern California, Chavez came to eastern North Carolina when his father, who was in the Marine Corps, was stationed at Cherry Point. While living in New Bern, Chavez started looking at schools in North Carolina, particularly ECU.

“Of course football games were a big draw, but I really liked that Greenville wasn’t a big city; it had a rural atmosphere,” he said.

He was drawn to ECU’s corrections and law enforcement program because of its broader emphasis on social work and impacting the community.

“My favorite part of my time at ECU was the interactions I had in my classes and the different activities and field trips we did,” he said. “The law and policy classes really helped me understand how things work behind the scenes, and helped me learn how to interact with the community.”

After more than 25 years as an officer in the Air Force, Chavez served as a civilian advisor in the Department of Defense. He came to Homeland Security in 2010 as the deputy director of his office, and was promoted to his current position in 2011.

While with the Department of Defense, Chavez was responsible for leading the DOD’s largest, most comprehensive, and most extensive civil support mission ever in response to Hurricane Katrina.

During his time in Homeland Security, Chavez’s office has responded to several key events, most notably the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011.

Chavez’s first time back on campus was after leaving the Air Force and bringing his son back for a football game after 26 years. “It’s nice to see how much the university has grown,” he said. “I loved seeing the Pirate State of Mind logo.”

Chavez resides in Washington, D.C. and attends ECU events in the area when he can. He says he loves running into fellow Pirates, and always recommends East Carolina to those who may not have heard of it.

Chavez also holds a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

By Jackie Drake

Help us Welcome Students to ECU!

Alumni, do you remember the excitement of getting ready to come to ECU? Do you want to share your memories of ECU with incoming students from your area? Then join us for a Pirate Sendoff this summer! Help us welcome incoming students and send them on their voyage to campus in true Pirate style.

The East Carolina Alumni Association, in partnership with the Office of Parent and Family Programs, will host a series of 10 Pirate Sendoffs this summer across the Pirate Nation to welcome freshmen and transfer students coming to ECU. Incoming students and their families can meet fellow students, parents, and alumni from their area before coming to campus this fall. Alumni are encouraged to attend to share memories, give advice, and strengthen the bonds of the Pirate Nation!

Alumni can register at

  • Greensboro: Thursday, July 16 (this is a change from the original date)
  • Charlotte: Sunday, July 19
  • Raleigh: Thursday, July 23
  • Hillsborough: Saturday, July 25
  • Hickory: Sunday, July 26
  • Fayetteville: Friday, July 31
  • Wilmington: Saturday, August 1
  • Washington, DC: Thursday, August 6
  • Norfolk, VA: Friday, August 7
  • Nags Head: Saturday, August 8

Pirate Sendoffs are free for incoming students; the cost for family members and alumni varies depending on the venue. Refreshments are included. Pirate Sendoffs are held rain or shine. Space is limited so be sure to register in advance!

Alumni, if you know a freshman or transfer student coming to ECU this fall, encourage them to attend a Pirate Sendoff near them! Students and family members can register at

Alumna Spotlight: Cate McCanless ’03


Cate McCanless ’03 is the recent recipient of the 2014 Professional Women in Advocacy’s Excellence in Advocacy for an Up and Coming Practitioner award. McCanless is the senior policy advisor for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Washington, D.C.

The Excellence in Advocacy by an Up and Coming Practitioner award recognizes the advocate for early achievements in her career and potential to be a successful contributor to the field over time.

“I am so honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization. There is a growing culture of women helping women in this country, and in Washington we are striving to keep up,” says McCanless.

McCanless strongly supports the PWIA’s mantra, “When women have a seat at the public policy table, everyone benefits. In order to get and keep our seat, we must be equipped to competently and confidently represent our viewpoint.”

Her job as the senior policy advisor includes a multitude of tasks including reading statutes, working to interpret regulations for clients, meeting with legislators and their administration staff to advocate on behalf of her clients, and much more.

“Currently, my work allows me to develop and advocate policy positions on behalf of pharmaceutical and device manufacturers,” said McCanless. “These policies provide life sustaining treatments to patients, physician organizations, companies, providers who serve the Veterans Health Administration, and public health institutions that serve large rural populations and those living with HIV/AIDS. My clients all have different policy needs but all operate within the health space.”

McCanless transferred to ECU after spending her first year of college as a theater major at UNC-G and her second year of college performing on a cruise ship.

“Looking over my academic interests I realized that I was drawn to political science over my current love – theatre – and it was an easy decision to make once I visited the ECU campus,” McCanless said. “I was interested in a school that would allow me to be well rounded and not force me into a program or career before I had an opportunity to experience several of my many interests.”

At ECU, McCanless served as the vice president of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Honors Fraternity, in which she organized the first senatorial debate hosted by ECU. She was the inaugural Sen. John P. East Scholar in political science. She also was an active member of the Delta Zeta sorority, serving as assistant new member educator for one year.

“While I was at ECU, I was able to participate in Greek life, experience leadership opportunities, perform with student theatre productions, sing in campus groups, and generally explore interests outside of political science. I felt this was encouraged and I appreciated the opportunity to grow in other areas,” said McCanless.

“I am a Pirate through and through. I believe that my experience allowed me to grow and develop in many areas, leading me to the fulfilling, well rounded career I enjoy today,” said McCanless.

Today she is still connected to the political science department at ECU, to her Delta Zeta sisters and to many friends she made during her time as a Pirate.

By Sara Strickroot

Pirates Enjoy Networking Events in Norfolk and DC


Pirates in the mid-Atlantic gave a strong showing at two recent networking events, with 29 in attendance in Norfolk, VA on December 1 and 27 in Washington, DC on December 2.

In Norfolk, featured alumni Kirk Little ’82, ’85, ’95 and Neal Crawford ’85 shared how their education at ECU prepared them for their career. In DC, featured alumni Karen Evans ’80 and Stephen Jones ’80 shared their expertise on current issues like healthcare and international security. Both events featured insightful discussion and chances for Pirates to connect with other Pirates.

“I loved it,” said Steve Spence ’11, who attended the Norfolk event. Spence earned dual degrees in small business management and entrepreneurship and also played football for the Pirates. “It was a great opportunity to grow my knowledge. I want to continue to grow on a personal and professional level by gaining wisdom and understanding from others. This event gave me the opportunity to do just that by listening to individuals who been in their industries a long time. I’m learning through their experiences. I absolutely recommend that other alumni come to future networking events. They are opportunities to grow yourself and the East Carolina community.”

“It was great getting to meet other Pirates,” said Sandra Spender ’82, who attended the DC event. “I’m very impressed with what other graduates are doing with their careers. There was a great span of class years, and we all learned from each other. I enjoyed meeting other Pirates who live closer to me, and I would recommend other alumni to do the same.”

Many thanks to our networking event sponsor, Liberty Mutual, and our venues, Norfolk Waterside Marriott and Bistro Bistro DC.

Our next networking events will be in New Bern on January 27 and in Wilmington on January 29. Advance registration is required. Come meet fellow Pirates in your area and expand your professional and social networks. Be sure to check out all our upcoming networking events on our website.

We’re coming to Norfolk, VA and Washington, DC!

The East Carolina Alumni Association is coming to Norfolk, VA and Washington, DC for networking events in December. Tap into the power of the ECU alumni network and meet fellow Pirates in your area!

The Norfolk, VA networking reception will be held Monday, December 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. Registration is $15 for alumni association members and $25 for non-members, which includes food and beverages. Register by Wednesday, November 26. Featured alumni will be:

  • Neal Crawford ’85, president of Monarch Bank and Financial Holdings Inc. and chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • Kirk Little ’82, ’88, ’95, vice president and COO of Apogee Solutions, Inc.

The Washington, DC networking reception will be held Tuesday, December 2, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Bistro Bistro. Registration is $15 for alumni association members and $25 for non-members, which includes food and beverages. Register by Wednesday, November 26. Featured alumni will be:

  • Karen Evans ’80, attorney and partner with The Cochran Law Firm
  • Stephen Jones ’80, defense operations and planning

Our networking events are open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Members of the alumni association are eligible to pay a reduced price. Those who wish to join the alumni association to take advantage of member pricing on these and future events may do so directly on the event registration form. Please note that advanced registration is required before the deadline. Early registration is strongly encouraged, as space is limited depending on the venue.

Our networking events are a great way for alumni to build their professional and social networks. Each event is led by featured alumni who are leaders in their industries and communities. We hold networking events in various cities throughout the year, so be sure to check out all our events listed on our networking event page!