I GREW up in Rockaway Beach, Queens. I’ve always been an athlete. In the 1950s, when I started playing tennis as a preteen, there weren’t many women who played, so I’d join my father and his friends at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.
In the 1960s, I played high school basketball and continued playing at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. I’ve played tennis and golf with my four sons and now I play with my grandchildren. Athletes are risk-takers; you have to be able to take that last shot. I’m not afraid to take risks in business.
My mother was a teacher, which had a big influence on me. While raising four sons, I taught in summer day camps and after-school programs and obtained a master’s degree.
During one summer program, I was pregnant. I wore a windbreaker to work and figured that no one would notice. Just as summer was ending, one little boy said, “So when are you having that baby?” We don’t always realize how much children observe and how astute they are.
In the 1980s, I took a break from education and started a general contracting company. My husband and I moved several times as our family grew, and each house needed to be renovated. I assembled some of the workers and started renovating other people’s houses. We remodeled kitchens and built decks. I made sure that things ran smoothly, kept the trades working well together and brought projects in on budget. Those skills have served me well.
Around 1990, I attended a college reunion and left with an offer from the academic dean to teach part time. I taught for a year and then became director of alumni relations, followed by vice president of institutional advancement. In that last position, I represented the college and was involved in fund-raising, communications, marketing and advertising, and government and alumni relations.
I had been at St. Joe’s for 12 years when a headhunter contacted me about the same job at Marymount Manhattan College. Marymount offered…