Skip to Content

Alumni Spotlight: Amy Nisenson

Back to Article Listing


Media, Film & Journalism Studies

Dialogue with Alumni Council President

Profile  •

Author: Juliana Ortiz, IIC Student

On January 26, 2024, DU alumna Amy Nisenson met with students and faculty in the MFJS building to have an open talk regarding the truth about failure. Presently, Amy is the Regional Vice President for Effectv, which is the media sales division of Comcast Advertising. After having dropped out of grad school and moving back in with her parents, Amy would’ve never thought that she would’ve ended up in a position like this in the future. She worked for 60 hours a week for Blockbuster and made $13,400 annually. After joining the alumni mentor program at DU, Amy connected with the general manager of KWGN and met with him for a coffee, and the rest is history. Amy is finishing her term as the CAHSS Alumni Council President and we sat with her to talk about her life experiences, the highlights of her term, advice she has for students, and how alumni can impact their universities.

Group photo of student Juliana Ortiz, alum Amy Nisenson, and Chair Dr. Derigan Silver from left to right. They stand in front of a classroom whiteboard.

Amy’s positive experience with DU’s alumni mentor program helped fuel her desire to give back to the university. “When I left grad school, to say I was lost is an understatement. I didn’t know what I was going to do because all through college, I thought I had a plan.” Though she knows leaving grad school was the right decision, it was still a heartbreaking experience. The only answer in her mind was to return to DU “because that had given me so much direction up until that point.” After engaging with the alumni mentor program and being connected with the person who would open the door for her to enter the industry she’s in today, “giving back was just hardwired in me […] getting involved in the CAHSS Alumni Council, it felt like the perfect fit.”

            Amy is incredibly passionate about giving back to the DU community, and one thing she wants students and alumni to know is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. “It’s like the universe recognizes when you’re trying to give back, and it seems to come back onto your own personal existence in a positive way when you operate positively in life.” Many people think the only way to make an impact is to give large donations, but that’s not the case. There are many other options available that don’t require financial contributions. “Time and treasure are valuable, and when I couldn’t give treasure, I gave time.”

            Amy now finds herself in a position where she has transitioned from giving time to being able to give treasure. She makes an annual donation to CAHSS to fund the Student Leadership Council. When she was an undergrad student, she had many leadership experiences, which included being a member of the student senate, running the SOAR orientation program, and being Senior Class President. Out of these three positions, she was only compensated for her time as a SOAR orientation leader. This inspired her to think about leadership journeys for CAHSS students. “If somebody raises their hand and says, 'I’m willing to own a leadership role with something that I feel is important inside of CAHSS,' I kept going back to, well, how do we pay them?” Believing that students deserve to feel appreciated and compensated for their work and working together with Institutional Advancement and Tonya Kelly, Amy realized that million-dollar donations weren’t necessary. She could make small, reasonable donations that are within her means and still make an impact. “The Student Leadership Council knows that they are valued…and now when we ask them to come and represent the best of CAHSS, they know that they are valued in giving us the gift of their time.”

            Amy gives back in two forms. Her annual gift is given to CAHSS to be used for student leaders, and then she has set up a mutual fund. Once this fund reaches $50,000, it will all be donated to the university. She mentioned that every student at DU will have to make their way through CAHSS at some point, no matter their major, because of how the core curriculum is set up. “CAHSS is a cornerstone for building not only great students but future leaders, future influencers, future sponsors, people that are impactful in their communities, in their work lives, and in their home lives.” That is why she chose to have a dual path in giving back to the university. One-time large donations can make a difference, but smaller, consistent gifts can also make just as great an impact.

            Amy’s presidential term concludes at the end of this academic year. Looking back, she is proud of the diverse network of leaders volunteering their time to the council. “What I am most proud of is that we were able to organize the way that we wanted to show up for not only students but also faculty and staff.” Amy talked about the council being very focused on how they wanted CAHSS to be represented in events like Homecoming, how they could use their networks to help find new donors for DU, and overall, how they wanted to focus their time and energies on different things. “We wrote a playbook and now that playbook just needs to be reexamined, stress tested for the current environment, and then it will service well for years to come.” Though she will be stepping down soon, Amy’s work will leave a lasting impression on CAHSS.

            As our time ended, Amy provided some concluding thoughts and advice for students and alumni. First, you are your best advocate. “When you think about [how] no one else is going to advocate for you better than how you can advocate for yourself, then it falls into that self-care mode…I have to be my own biggest fan.” Second, take advantage of the goodwill of others when you are struggling. “There are times when people will say, 'Let me know how I can help,' and then we don’t take advantage of it. Sometimes it is as simple as, 'Hey, remember when you said to me, ‘Let me know how I can help?’ Well, I am struggling right now.' […] People are genuinely good at heart. They really are.” Third, there are no failures, only successes, and learning experiences. “Sometimes progress is not linear. It is forward, backward, sideways, three steps backward, one step forward…You build up some resilience in having those experiences…Things that feel like they are not moving you forward sometimes are the areas where you learn the most.”