By 1980, 52 percent of women participated in the labor force. This jump from 43 percent in 1970 was the largest increase of women’s participation in the labor force in any decade of the 20th century. One major motivator for women’s expanded presence in the working world came from young women’s increased ability to picture themselves in the workforce. The early 1980s marked the tail-end of a second wave feminism in the United States, but women continued to face a number of significant changes and events throughout the decade.
Women made up the majority of bachelor’s degree recipients by the early 1980s, and between 1976 and 1987, females and males had the same likelihood of enrolling in college immediately after high school. The number of women receiving business degrees skyrocketed from women earning less than 10% of all business degrees to women earning almost a third of all business degrees.
Below are excerpts from the women featured in the book and Georgetown highlights from this decade. To continue reading their full stories and view additional images, order your copy today and receive immediate access to the digital edition. Click here to order.
Deborah (Willard) LaBerge, BSBA 1980
After graduation, Deborah LaBerge worked in sales for two years at Xerox. She then moved with her husband to Boston, where she embarked on her career in financial services. LaBerge worked as an institutional salesperson and producing sales manager for several banks and investment management firms, raising billions of dollars over her career mainly from corporate and public pension funds, and endowments and foundations. She rose to a division head and executive committee member, managing institutional sales, client service, and consultant relations teams for the North America region for 20 years.
Elizabeth Comerford, BSBA 1981, MBA 1983
After graduation, Betsy Comerford worked at several prestigious firms on Wall Street in New York City, including Bear Stearns, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Bank of America, and JPMorgan. In the male-dominated world of business, she adopted a tough mentality and became one of the top producers at each of those firms. Comerford would later return to the Hilltop to be a part of the first MBA class for the business school and them returned again to serve on the university’s Board of Regents. Both of her sons, Edward Spinelli (BSBA’18) and Michael Spinelli (BSBA’15) also graduated from Georgetown.
Caroline Scullin, BSBA 1981
After graduating, Caroline Scullin traveled the globe as a consultant for various nonprofits, corporations, and government agents. Guided by Jesuit principles, she has given back to the communities around her by focusing on respect, communication, and teamwork. She also served on the Board of Governors of Georgetown’s Alumni Association.
Julie Kinch, BSBA 1982
After graduating from Georgetown and Boston College Law School and working in a New York law firm, Julie Kinch went on to work in the world of alcoholic beverages, beginning as vice president and general counsel at Remy Amerique. Eventually, she became senior vice president and chief legal officer at Heineken USA, where she founded the company’s Women’s Leadership Forum.
Lisa A. (Manzi) Cregan, COL 1981, MBA 1983
Lisa Cregan jumped directly from being a Georgetown undergraduate (government and French major) into the first Georgetown MBA cohort. Choosing her career path over pursuing an Olympics berth as an equestrian, Cregan has made a substantial professional mark in the financial services industry for the past three decades. She also has been a driving force for opening this traditionally male-oriented profession to women. The first woman regional director in the 150-plus-year history of UBS, she now devotes increasing amounts of time and effort to organizational change and women’s leadership at Morgan Stanley.
Laurie Lee (Hodges) Lapeyre, BSBA 1983
After graduation, Laurie Lapeyre spent five years in investment banking at Goldman, Sachs & Co. focusing on the energy, telecommunications, and public utility sectors. She then worked for 10 years in executive search. Later, she went on to become an active volunteer for educational and medical institutions and social service organizations in New York and Washington, D.C. She also is the parent of two Georgetown graduates.
Ann (Misiaszek) Sarnoff, BSBA 1983
In 2019 Ann Sarnoff was named CEO of Warner Brothers Entertainment, the first woman in the company’s 97-year history to hold the role. Her path up the business ladder began after graduating, starting with time at a boutique consulting firm and then enrolling in Harvard Business School. After six years in strategy consulting, Sarnoff spent a decade at Viacom, where she helped start TV Land and Noggin, helping build “Rugrats” and “Blue’s Clues” into multibillion-dollar franchises at retail. After positions at the WNBA and Dow Jones Ventures, she spent nine years at BBC, most recently as president of BBC Studios Americas. Sarnoff has been involved with Georgetown in many ways over the past decades, including serving on McDonough’s Board of Advisors for nearly 20 years, most recently as vice chair; since 2016 she has been a member of the Georgetown University Board of Directors. Sarnoff also is a proud Georgetown parent: Her son Peter graduated from Georgetown College in 2017.
Jenny (Sullivan) Sanford McKay, BSBA 1984
Jenny Sanford led a successful career on Wall Street, leaving to run two successful campaigns for Congress and then for the governorship of South Carolina while simultaneously raising four sons and overcoming a national scandal. She has achieved all of this with grit and grace, capturing some of her story in a 2010 New York Times best-selling memoir, “Staying True.”
Gail (Giblin) MacKinnon, BSBA 1985
Gail MacKinnon was born in Boston, but moved around as her father was transferred for work. After earning her degree in business, she decided to work on Capitol Hill for a year. One year turned into nine, with a series of promotions and growing expertise that she leveraged at a series of senior government relations positions at some of the world’s biggest media and telecommunications companies. In 2016, MacKinnon co-founded WE Capital, a consortium of women in the Washington, D.C., business community that invests in female-led startups focused on social impact work. She also was named one of Washingtonian magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Washington in 2019.
Ann (Gillin) Lefever, BSBA 1986
A groundbreaker in the world of finance, Ann Lefever saw her career take off after her employer thought her language skills would be useful in Brazil. She has created positions, led divisions, seen bankruptcies and buyouts, and managed it all while raising three children. Her ongoing philanthropic and volunteer efforts place her back in the heart of Georgetown and on the McDonough School’s Board of Advisors.
Melissa Bradley, BSBA 1989
After graduating, Melissa Bradley has gone on to a successful career focused on promoting and investing in entrepreneurship in historically marginalized communities — a passion she originally found at Georgetown. While continuing her work with Project 500 and 1863 Ventures, she also has returned to the Hilltop as a professor, with the goal of improving the experience and representation of students, and particularly women of color in business on campus.
Michele I. Docharty, BSBA 1989
After graduation, Michele Docharty went into investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Today she is a partner and co-head of Equity Sales and Execution Services, Securities Division. In 2018, she was recognized on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Latinas in Business” list. She lives in New York with her husband and two daughters and serves on the Board of Advisors at the McDonough School of Business.
Carolina Puerto, BSBA 1989
Carolina Puerto is one of few mothers in the McDonough School of Business that is part of a mother-daughter-daughter trio of graduates (not to mention her husband, Luis Felipe Lizarralde, MBA’89). Puerto left her home in Bogotá when violence and conflict in Colombia were at an all-time high. She attended both high school and college in the United States, then returned to Colombia to help lead Automundial, her family’s century-old tire business — while also building a successful interior design firm.
Diana Williams, BSBA 1989
Diana Williams was on her path to a career on Wall Street as an entertainment analyst until two months before graduating from Georgetown when she decided to move to Los Angeles to learn what goes into making a film. She has worked as a finance paralegal, Directors Guild of America (DGA) trainee, assistant director, production supervisor, creative executive, and content strategist. Currently she is a producer at Roller Coaster Entertainment, a multiplatform production company.
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