Born Leader: Jason Chamberlain ’97

Jason Chamberlain first learned the value of investment as a kindergartener.

Urged by his parents to deposit his allowance into a savings account, the youngster quickly learned that with a little patience, his pennies would grow to nickels, his quarters to dollars.

Today, as vice president of wealth management for Smith Barney and incoming president of the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors, Chamberlain takes a similar approach to life, his career and his role as an alumnus. With a little effort and time, anything is possible.

“UMBC is like most things in life,” said Chamberlain, who majored in economics and has volunteered for the university ever since his graduation in December 1997. “If you are motivated, you can start ‘doing’ right away. It is easy to carve out a place for yourself and get involved in a meaningful way.”

Building Traditions

Chamberlain took the Association reins from retiring president Anita Maddox Jackson ’80, health services, who served for two years. She will remain on the board as immediate past president.

In his role as president, Chamberlain oversees the 25-person Board of Directors and guides the group in attaining goals of improving alumni involvement through events and volunteer opportunities, as well as student retention and donor giving. He formerly served as vice president of finance for the group, and he also currently sits on the Chapter of Young Alumni steering committee, of which he is a charter member. He is also a member of the Alumni Campaign Committee and the 2016 Alumni Strategic Planning Committee.

“I am delighted that Jason Chamberlain agreed to lead the Alumni Association,” Jackson said. “I have complete confidence Jason will continue our strategic plans to maintain and increase alumni involvement.”

The Making of a Leader

A native of Millersville, Chamberlain attended UMBC as a commuter. From early on, his interest in economics propelled him through classes. He later honed his developing leadership skills as a member of the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau and in the Student Government Association as speaker of the senate.

As a senior, Chamberlain took on an internship with Legg Mason in downtown Baltimore. He loved the work so much, he never left. He was hired by the firm as a Financial Advisor after graduation and achieved his Certified Financial Planner designation in 2003. Legg Mason’s brokerage firm was bought by Smith Barney in 2005, where Chamberlain continues to enjoy the challenges of investment on others’ behalf.

To top it off, Chamberlain will marry his fiancée, Becky Grabenstein, a pediatric intensive care nurse at Sinai Hospital, this December.

“My involvement at UMBC helped me hone my business sense and my sense of responsibility,” he said. “Roll it all together, and the whole package was really significant to my personal development.”

Investing in UMBC’s Future

Chamberlain already has goals for his presidency. Topping the list is his wish to get more alumni invested with their alma mater – whether as volunteers, mentors, donors or simply participants in key alumni events like the annual Legislative Reception hosted by the Association.

“I view UMBC as a critical cog in our region, and I think it’s important to support it,” he said, citing the high numbers of UMBC graduates who stay to work in Maryland and the surrounding area.

“I want to invite everyone to reconnect with UMBC,” he said. “There’s a place and a home for every talent and perspective here. UMBC has always had an extremely diverse population of cultures, and we need all of those perspectives to continue to thrive.”

– Jenny O’Grady
Originally posted September 2006

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