The Ithaca College senior class executive board has chosen Amy Kule ’87, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade executive producer, as this year’s commencement speaker.
Kule, vice president of national events and partnership marketing for the Macy’s Parade and Entertainment Group, will deliver her speech at the ceremony May 20.
Kule is the seventh person to lead the classic New York City parade since its establishment in 1924. She handles many aspects of the parade, including its creative direction, design and construction. When she received the invitation to speak at commencement, Kule said, she experienced a mix of honor and excitement at being chosen to come back and speak at her alma mater.
“It’s not something that when you look at one’s life, you don’t
really consider that event being a part of a milestone that you would ever check off on a list, but I was deeply happy to get [the president’s] letter and even more excited to hear that the seniors voted on asking me to have this honor of speaking to the graduating class,” she said.
Jimmy Knowles, president of the 2012 senior class, said Kule was chosen unanimously by the class officers from dozens of other candidates because she exemplifies what IC 20/20, the college’s vision plan, is all about.
“The thing that we really liked about Ms. Kule was that — especially given the new IC 20/20
initiative and the idea of blending the departments across campus — she graduated with a degree in history, and she’s gone on to do something completely different than what she studied here, which really shows that [the college] really does prepare you to conquer all fronts when it comes to working in the professional field,” he said.
The commencement speaker is selected by the senior class executive board after a careful review of dozens of candidates from a list created by the Office of Institutional Advancement. The list includes prominent alumni who they believe could deliver a positive message to the graduating class.
Kule’s career with Macy’s began in 1996. In 2001, she was named vice president of marketing promotions, and in 2006 she assumed leadership of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
During her time at the college, Kule was a history major and an art history minor. She was also involved in theater and worked on different television programs, which she said prepared her for the multi-faceted job she currently holds.
“Ithaca allowed me to really test the boundaries of things that I found interesting and really explore those areas,” she said.
In regard to her speech, Kule said she hopes students will be inspired to carve out their own life journeys.
“I hope to bring a little bit of wisdom, peppered with a little fun, and hopefully some insights on my past 25 years since graduating from Ithaca,” she said. “Hopefully somebody can learn or take away some kind of kernel of inspiration or truth that will help them as they plan their next 25 years.”
President Tom Rochon said Kule’s successful career experience will give graduates insight about the professional field and offer them relevant advice.
“As an event planner for one of the most visible global events in the world, she has a number of work experiences that are directly relevant to many careers,” he said.
In addition to career advice, Rochon said, Kule is likely to deliver a humorous, creative commencement speech. When he called her to invite her back to the college to speak at commencement, he said she asked if the speech was considered to be a “straight-laced speech” or if she could have fun it.
“I said she could have fun with doing the speech. I have no idea what she had in mind,” he said. “But I have to say I’m looking forward to being part of the commencement even more than usual.”
Kule said the details of the speech will be revealed in May, but students can expect some entertainment and excitement considering she runs “the single biggest parade in America.”
Knowles said he is excited to listen to the speech, but not sure what to expect.
“I can anticipate it being a lot of fun, especially given someone with her position, I can imagine she has some pretty unbelievable stories to tell,” he said. “It is very safe to say for this commencement address you may be able to expect the unexpected.”