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  • Affinity Group

About the GIA

The Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA) is one of 23 professional development groups and councils within the AAMC. Its membership is composed of more than 700 alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and public affairs/community relations professionals at AAMC-member institutions.


The GIA fosters the professional growth and development of its members, interaction and collaboration within the institutional advancement community, and communication between the AAMC and its institutional members. It develops and disseminates resources, best practices, educational opportunities, and peer-to-peer connections that enable its members to advance their institutions and increase awareness, understanding, and support among the public, the media, policymakers, alumni, and donors for medical education, health care, and biomedical research.


The group now known as the GIA began meeting informally in the 1950s when the AAMC governance asked the few existing medical school public relations people to staff the press room at the AAMC Annual Meeting. In the following years, the group elected its first chair (1962), began holding regular meetings in conjunction with the AAMC Annual Meeting (1950), wrote bylaws (1968), and was formally organized as the Section on Public Relations (1968). In 1972, the AAMC Executive Council recognized them as the Group on Public Affairs. In the late 1970s, the group expanded its mission and membership to incorporate medical center alumni and fund-raising professionals, and in 1981, the name was changed to the Group on Public Affairs to recognize the new diversity of the membership. In the early 1990s, programming increasingly focused on helping members collaborate for the advancement of their institutions. In 1993, reflecting the common goals that join its diverse membership, the group changed its name to the Group on Institutional Advancement.



The purpose of alumni relations as an institutional advancement discipline is to encourage and foster alumni involvement in the life of their alma mater as ambassadors, advocates, advisers, benefactors, and educational partners. The role of alumni relations professionals is to inform and involve alumni, while also championing the role of alumni relations as a professional discipline in partnership with and in service to our academic medicine institutions and our alumni associations.


The communications discipline is devoted to the practice of delivering key messages to target audiences through a variety of tactics on behalf of universities, medical schools, health systems, hospitals, faculty members, patients, or other groups. The discipline includes the subspecialty areas of corporate communications, crisis communications, employee/internal communications, media relations, social media, and strategic communications.


The development discipline is rooted in the practice of establishing relationships with individuals, corporations, foundations, and other giving entities for the purpose of soliciting philanthropic support for an institution's strategic needs. Development practitioners focus on identifying a potential donor's areas of interest and advancing the relationships through a series of strategic contacts, using a variety of methods. The goal of development is to create a long-term bond between a donor and the institution that will result in repeated and/or increased philanthropic giving over time.


Marketing has grown as a key strategic profession in the development of the brand and business of academic medicine. Marketing professionals are involved with, but not limited to, marketing planning through key market and customer research, marketing execution through advertising, marketing communications, digital and web strategies, new media such as social media, and marketing analytics competition. Marketing is a key strategic function in the advancement of the academic institution amidst increased market forces.

Public Affairs/Community Relations

The purpose of the public affairs/community relations discipline is to develop and expand relationships with external partners, the community, and public policy decision-makers on behalf of the institution, with the goal of showing the value of the institution to the community, state, and nation. By working closely with other disciplines, such as marketing, communications, and development, these professionals assist with message development and outreach to build awareness within the community and enhance an institution’s ability to influence key stakeholder audiences and the public policy process. These professionals also identify and promote opportunities for community engagement and pipeline development.

Professional Development

The GIA hosts the annual spring AAMC Conference for Institutional Advancement, which is open to all institutional advancement professionals, and a suite of year-round online educational and networking programming for the GIA and institutional advancement communities.


The GIA officers shall include a chair, chair-elect, immediate past chair, vice chair for alumni relations and development, and vice chair for communications, marketing, and public affairs.