And Away They Soared

After graduating, alumnae from the early years of coeducation became judges, CEOs, professors, and painters. 

Here are 13 women of Colgate.

1. Covette Rooney ’74 

Covette Rooney ’74
Covette Rooney ’74

Major: political science 

As the chief administrative law judge for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Rooney is the first woman and only African American to hold this title. She began her career with the U.S. Department of Labor, serving as regional counsel for the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Black Lung Benefits Program. Rooney learned about coal mining on the job by traveling to small towns in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 1994, she left her position as the supervising attorney for mine safety and became the first female U.S. administrative law judge in Mississippi. Today, Rooney is based in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for the management and administrative supervision of the administrative law judges in the Review Commission’s National Office as well as two regional offices. 

“I attribute the strength and boldness I developed to when I was at Colgate, because when I left there, I never felt that if there was something I wanted to pursue, that I could not succeed.”

2. Amy Lennard Goehner ’74

Major: English 

amy lennard goehner ’74
Amy Lennard Goehner ’74

After graduating, Goehner joined the Peace Corps and spent nearly three years teaching middle school and later high school equivalency on a U.S. Army base in South Korea. Those years in Korea eventually led to her dream job as a reporter at Sports Illustrated — when Seoul was chosen to host the 1988 Olympics. “Covering those games was a career highlight, as was covering boxing and horse racing at the magazine,” she says. “I couldn’t believe I was paid to go to the Kentucky Derby or interview boxers like Marvin Hagler.” Goehner later moved to Time magazine as the head arts reporter, where her beat was theater. She’s been freelancing steadily since leaving Time in 2009. Goehner has written many articles on special needs for different publications, often personal stories as the mom of a child (now young adult) with autism.

Two firsts this year: “I was interviewed for an upcoming boxing documentary, and I have an essay in a book called Fast Funny Women.

The greatest influence on my career was my favorite professor, Fred Busch. He taught me how to read: to always be aware of perspective; through whose lens are you seeing the action unfold? That powerful lesson has stayed with me in everything I read and every story I report.”

3. Claudia Miner ’74

Claudia Miner ’74
Claudia Miner ’74

Major: history 

Miner is executive director and co-founder of Waterford Upstart, a free, online kindergarten-readiness program geared toward 4-year-olds from low-income families. Based in Utah, the nonprofit program has served more than 100,000 children in 25 states. There are 2.2 million U.S. children — more than half of the 4-year-olds in the country — without access to early education, Miner says. Those children will likely not be ready for school; children who start school without basic skills are 25% more likely to drop out, 40% more likely to become teen parents, and 60% less likely to attend college. “I knew we had to do something to help,” Miner says. Waterford Upstart is designed to overcome barriers like geography, transportation, and cost, and it engages children’s first teachers — parents — to get children ready for success in school. 

Greatest motivation: “The children and families we serve. You truly need to be interested in people. Theories of management and finance are important, but until you understand what it takes to put them into practice and get to the level that you are really helping people, you’ll never have passion for what you’re doing, and that passion gets you through the long days of hard work.”  

Advice to current female students: “Don’t worry about being career oriented; what you’re going to do for the rest of your work life might not even exist yet. Enjoy every moment of Colgate by taking history, literature, geology, and philosophy courses and anything else that interests you. That will prepare you for anything. Doors will open for women like that.

4. Sandy Carr ’74

Major: French literature

Sandy Carr ’74
Sandy Carr ’74

A perfumer and the owner of BLUEHILL Fragrances in Boston, Mass., Carr became an entrepreneur after a successful career in multimedia and technology at Harvard Business School. In 2013, she attended the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in France, studying both synthetic and natural ingredients. There she learned the families of scent and how to recreate the formulas for classic French accords (combinations). She founded BLUEHILL Fragrances in 2014. When the retail market began suffering due to COVID-19, Carr turned to social media for marketing and has brought wider brand awareness to her perfumes. This year, her sales have been better than any previous year. 

“I absolutely love to smell things. I have more than 300 raw materials I work with and am constantly amazed at the new accords that can be made by adding one to another.”

Advice to current female students: “Be open to all kinds of professional opportunities when you look toward graduation. Most paths are not direct to your dreams in the working world. One step leads to another, another takes a left or right turn, and so it goes as you find new directions and opportunities to keep you challenged and happy.”

5. Lori Gross ’75

Lori Gross ’75
Gross worked with musician Wynton Marsalis during a three-year period to bring a series of lecture-performances to Harvard.

Major: art and art history

The associate provost for arts and culture at Harvard, Gross works with initiatives and institutions across the university, including the Harvard Art Museums, American Repertory Theater, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University Press, Villa I Tatti, and the Arnold Arboretum, on issues ranging from day-to-day operational matters to strategic planning. She works with the Harvard Committee on the Arts, Office for the Arts, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University Native American Program, Graduate School of Design, Harvard Divinity School, and Division of Arts and Humanities in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences on cross-university issues and initiatives involving the arts and humanities. Gross previously served as director of arts initiatives and adviser to the associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A recent highlight of my work was a project with the artist Teresita Fernandez to create a temporary, large-scale public art project titled “Autumn (…Nothing Personal),” based on the James Baldwin essay. The artist transformed Harvard Yard, making it into a beautiful space for both contemplation and active programming. It was both magical and profound for the university and the community, and its presence has been felt long after the physical piece left.”

Her motivation: “My belief in the power of the arts to create safe spaces for conversations and the energizing effect that artists can have on communities and individuals to think outside of their own perspectives to change both themselves and their communities.”

Colgate influences: “There were so many faculty members teaching in art history who impacted my trajectory, but a few deserve special mention: Edward Bryant, then director of the Picker Art Gallery; Shirley Blum; and Flora and Patrick Clancy — all of whom opened my eyes to the arts and showed me how to truly see. I curated my first exhibition at the Picker, and it convinced me to follow my passion.”

6. Paulette Bernd ’75

Major: biology

Paulette Bernd ’75 surrounded by anatomy models
Paulette Bernd ’75

A professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Bernd has led and transformed the Gross Anatomy course. The centerpiece of the course is an interactive electronic dissection manual created by Bernd, which was featured in the Wall Street Journal. She was also a key member of the design team for the new Vagelos Education Center and personally oversaw the outfitting of the anatomy and surgical skills laboratories. For more than 20 years, she has researched the role of neurotrophins during development, publishing more than 30 peer-reviewed papers and contributing chapters to five books. Bernd has mentored five doctoral students.

I have been interested in science since I was a child, and that fascination led to my choice to pursue a PhD in anatomy. Conducting research in combination with teaching has been an exciting and gratifying career; I have always loved both aspects of what I was doing. More recently, I have developed interactive teaching modalities to encourage active learning and retention of information. Continuing to evolve and challenge yourself is crucial to retaining enthusiasm in your profession.”

Advice to current female students: “Aim as high as you can. Do not let anyone discourage you from a career. Do not let a glass ceiling hold you back.”

7. Stephanie Edwards ’75

Major: German

Having been with L’Oreal for 21 years, Edwards has held various positions within the company. She started out in forecasting (known today as demand planning), which serves multiple functions, including projecting sales of new products and the effect on current declining brands. She then moved to forecasting skin products, which was a new, growing division. Afterward, she joined operations and was placed on a large supply chain project to incorporate the SAP software system into L’Oreal operations. Her role in that project was incorporating customer data information. Once that large initiative was executed, Edwards moved to product data information, which is critical to retailers and consumers. She is presently involved in another large supply chain project on new software, which will align product information around the globe in order to help L’Oreal affiliates worldwide. 

I am passionate about working with people of other disciplines that bring their viewpoints to a common solution. As the initiative is being executed, and even post-execution, I like to be involved in the training to the business community so that our initiatives operate well in the field. When issues arise, I am motivated to analyze and find solutions.”

The Colgate experience helped me to think critically. In the extensive writing required for my language courses, I was constantly challenged to write out my thoughts in a rational, logical flow. This has helped me in my everyday interaction with my peers to challenge and/or support arguments and new ideas.”

8. Madeline Bayliss ’76

Major: human communications (independent major)

Madeline Bayliss ’76
Madeline Bayliss ’76

At IBM, Bayliss is the software client leader (SCL) for the Department of Homeland Security. As SCL, she collaborates with the government and IBM partners to make innovation and technology advance the agency mission. Technology is the third industry for Bayliss. She started in nonprofit work at United Way of NYC, in development and marketing roles. An executive volunteer connection led to an 18-year period in marketing and sales management in corporate financial services. Located in Yardley, Pa., she now has spent 24 years in technology with multiple companies, including being a member of the management team that sold an innovation firm to IBM in 2012.

I am driven by curiosity. In a professional setting, this means I am motivated to discover new ideas and opportunities, create insights, and cocreate solutions with customers, partners, and employees. Being able to make a difference and be essential to others is tremendously rewarding.”

Colgate reinforced a learning and try-new-things approach, which is how my career has played out. When Rebecca Chopp, Colgate’s first female president, asked me if Colgate shaped me or I was the person I am when I came to Colgate, my answer was, ‘Colgate allowed me to be myself and give me a place to grow.’”

Advice to a current female Colgate student: “Become connected. Three connections that can make a lifelong difference are having a mentor(s), being engaged in your industry/profession, and maintaining a personal network.”

At Colgate, Bayliss was the first female editor-in-chief of the Colgate News, a WRCU news producer, a cofounder of the women’s ice hockey team, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Konosioni.

9. Barbara Callender-Hayes ’76

Major: English 

Barbara Callender-Hayes ’76
Barbara Callender-Hayes ’76

Callender-Hayes worked as an award-winning marketing communications executive with key positions within the sports television, consumer electronics, and publishing industries. For more than 35 years, she crafted print, on-air, online, and promotional materials for elite corporations. Upon retirement, she published a children’s book, Meet Quincy Quahog of Chappaquiddick, because encouraging youth literacy is a personal passion. Based in Orlando, Fla., Callender-Hayes says that, in addition to wanting success in helping her clients accomplish their business goals, her personal goal “was to be a strong teacher or mentor to my staff throughout my career. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing people grow professionally.”

Advice to current female students: “Be patient with the process of figuring out what you want to be when you’re grown up. It’s a journey to find the right professional fit, career, and fulfillment.”

10. Donna Faltitschek Selby ’76

Majors: French and Spanish language; literature

Donna Faltitschek Selby ’76
Donna Faltitschek Selby ’76

After graduating from Colgate, Selby earned an MS from Boston University in public communication. She then accepted a job opportunity with a leading media consulting firm in New York City, producing TV and radio commercials for national and international political campaigns. That led to a 20-year career at CBS Television as the director of technical operations, providing technical support for CBS Sports (NFL, NCAA, and the Winter Olympics) and CBS News programming. Changing directions 10 years ago, she is now an elementary school educator in northern New Jersey.

Her motivation: “To nurture and expand my expertise in public communication, specifically electronic media. Since my early days at Colgate, I have been fascinated by the power of the written and spoken word.”

I have to credit Professor Robert Hathaway (whom we lost in 2013) as the one who most influenced my career path. His great love of Cervantes’ Don Quixote left an indelible impression on me to pursue and live my dreams.”  

11. Nancy (Norris) O’Dowd ’77

Major: English

O’Dowd was an FBI special agent from 1981–2012. After earning her JD from Villanova Law School, she began her FBI career in the Philadelphia division. Marrying a fellow agent in 1982, the two of them worked in the Memphis division until 1985, when they transferred to New York. O’Dowd’s husband died in the line of duty in 1987, so she and her two children moved back to Philadelphia, where she worked until Sept. 11, 2001. That year, she began a new assignment working with the CIA on counterterrorism/intelligence, traveling around the country training FBI agents post-9/11. She also served as the co-chair for the Female Special Agent Advisory Committee to the FBI director beginning 2008, facilitating meetings at headquarters that pertained to issues affecting female agents.

Colgate prepared us to be independent, well-educated, and motivated to attain lofty career goals.”

12. Deborah (Plumb) Devendorf ’77

Major: biology 

Deborah (Plumb) Devendorf ’77
Deborah (Plumb) Devendorf ’77

Devendorf is a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va. After graduating from the Medical College of Virginia in 1981, she completed a residency in pediatrics in 1984 at North Shore University Hospital/Cornell. She then did a neonatal fellowship at Duke University, where she  performed research in neonatal pulmonary development. Since 1987, she has been affiliated with the Children’s Specialty Group, working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital.

“What drives my work is knowing I can make a difference in a child’s life. Our work in the NICU plays a major role in the outcome of a critically ill child. This impacts the well-being of the entire family.”

Advice to a current female Colgate student studying medicine: “Find the field of medicine that you love; you will know this because you will be drawn to it.”

13. Marji Lipshez Shapiro ’77

Major: psychology

Marji Lipshez Shapiro ’77
Marji Lipshez Shapiro ’77

Lipshez Shapiro is the deputy director of the Connecticut Office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), where she has devoted her career to fighting prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism, and bullying. In her 30-year career at the ADL, Lipshez Shapiro has provided anti-bias training for thousands of students, educators, parents, and leaders. Among her accomplishments at the ADL is her creation of two initiatives: the Names Can Really Hurt Us anti-bullying assembly program, which has reached more than 300,000 students, and a Muslim Jewish women’s group. Lipshez Shapiro also served for many years as a member of the ADL National education staff and an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University. She began her career in higher education at Cornell University, ultimately becoming a dean of residence life at Connecticut College. 

“When I was 12 years old, the girl who sat behind me in English class mentioned that her father, John Muyskens, was the dean of admission at Yale. My parents did not go to college, so I thought her father must be the most important person around since Yale was such a prestigious place and Dean Muyskens got to decide who was admitted there. I asked her where her father went to college and she replied, ‘Colgate.’ [Muyskens was Class of ’44.] I promptly went home and announced to my parents that I was going to Colgate and becoming a dean. And I did.

 “‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ Professor Tom Chase wrote those words [by Henry Adams] on the board during my Psych 101 class, and they have resonated with me ever since. I will always remember his passion for teaching, ability to connect with students through spirited lectures, and true talent for bringing a topic to life. My Colgate education taught me to be curious, to never stop asking questions, and to pursue my dreams.”

Lipshez Shapiro has been recognized as Multicultural Educator of the Year in Connecticut and a SHero in her hometown of Guilford.