Executive vice president, marketing and administration, Empire College, 3035 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa 95403, 707-546-4000, www.empcol.edu
Age: Who cares? Okay, 56
Education: A.A. Business Administration, Bryant & Stratton College
Tell us about yourself and your company: : I grew up in Illinois. After my freshman year in high school, my family moved to Pleasanton, where I graduated from high school. I received a full-tuition college scholarship. Following graduation, I worked for Heald Colleges (where I met my husband Roy) and then for Itel Corporation for five years, a former Fortune 500 company that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy about a month after I was hired. As Assistant to the CEO, the latter position was a tremendous learning experience of the legal, financial, and shareholder communications aspects of a publicly traded company. That brings me to my current employment of 25 years with Empire College. Empire is a unique institution because it offers career-focused diploma and associate degree programs and a Juris Doctor law program. During the past 25 years, the College has grown from 250 to 750 students, has been recognized nationally for community service, and was named 2009 School of the Year among California private postsecondary schools.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: In late 2011, I had the privilege of crafting an application for recognition at the national level of Empire College’s multi-faceted community service to the North Bay Community. As I wrote the application, I became more excited and impressed with the totality of the College’s impact in providing free legal, health, and income tax assistance to North Bay residents, as well as the volunteer hours and money raised for local non-profits by students, faculty and staff of each of Empire’s program areas. I was proud to have played a role in fostering this culture of giving and to shine the spotlight on my colleagues’ and our students’ achievement. In March 2012, we received notification that Empire College had not only been named to President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, but we were in the higher level “With Distinction” category along with Stanford University.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?: Developing a comprehensive public relations program for Empire College that shares its stories across a broad spectrum locally and nationally. During 2011 that was particularly rewarding as the College celebrated its Golden Jubilee and honored its key groups: students, alumni, founder, faculty and staff, and employers.
What is your biggest challenge today?: Without a doubt, it is staying abreast of the ever-changing regulatory environment at the federal, state, and accreditation levels.
Words that best describe you: Midwestern work ethic, thrive on challenge and variety, creative, results oriented, intelligent heart
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them? Most women face gender challenges, but mine may be a bit unique. Since Roy and I are a “husband and wife team,” one of my challenges early on was being viewed by some as Roy’s wife rather than for my professional role and the contributions I have made. For the most part, that obstacle is now non-existent. It may even fuel my drive.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: With respect to marketing, it will definitely be more Internet-based. With respect to the postsecondary education sector, it will be more accountable for outcomes. Fortunately, Empire College has always been outcomes driven and continuously monitors placement, retention and on-time graduation rates.
Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: Without a doubt, my most important mentor is my husband and Empire College president Roy Hurd. Each and every day I learn something from him, directly or indirectly by watching how he handles situations and people. We have been married for more than 30 years, and during that time I have seen him grow as a leader. I hope to incorporate what I have observed and learned into my own management style.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Continuous learning is important, and I am not necessarily referring to continuing education (odd, I know, for someone working in the education field). Listening and observing what goes on around you, how successful people approach situations, and striving to see the bigger picture will all add to your professional growth and perspective.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Locally my most admired businessperson is Henry Trione. Having the pleasure of interacting with him for many years, I am impressed with how he has combined business savvy with an intelligent heart. He has given back so much to this community, which almost every single resident enjoys and benefits from. He does it quietly and humbly, not for glory. Henry is an inspirational role model whose legacy is tremendous.
Current reading: We just returned from a marvelous trip to Southern Africa. Whenever we travel, I enjoy reading historical or fictional books that relate to our destination. I just finished The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, a charming story of a young English boy growing up in South Africa in the WW2 era. I am also reading The Elephant Whisperer, which is apropos of our up-close-and-personal encounter with elephants on our adventure.
Most want to meet: I grew up in Illinois, the “Land of Lincoln,” so Abraham Lincoln ranks high on my list as a person of humble beginnings who had enormous decisions to make morally, militarily, and constitutionally.
Stress relievers: Ziggy, my 2-and-a-half-year-old Coton de Tulear buddy, as well as our two other dogs, Sparkles and Ginger. They bring smiles and laughter each and every day. Traveling with them to our “oasis” in Oregon is also a definite stress reliever.
Favorite hobbies: I am a miniaturist and enjoy building one-fourth-inch to 1-foot whimsical and realistic furnished dwellings. Roy and I also love, love, love to combine travel and photography. There are still many destinations on our bucket list!
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