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.