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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University June 25, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 38
Meet Madam Chairman

Pamela Flaherty, president and CEO of Citigroup Foundation, has been a trustee of the university for 10 years. Her six-year term as board chair begins July 1.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

Pamela Flaherty is first woman, SAIS grad to lead university board

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Pamela P. Flaherty, president and chief executive officer of Citigroup Foundation and a trustee of The Johns Hopkins University since 1997, was elected the 15th chair of the university's board of trustees at the board's annual meeting earlier this month. She will begin her six-year term on July 1.

Notably, Flaherty becomes the first woman to chair the board and the first graduate of the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to hold the position.

Flaherty, who is also a chair of the SAIS Advisory Council, has served as chair-elect for the past year. She succeeds Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, whose term concludes on June 30.

William R. Brody, president of the university, said that Flaherty has been a "fabulous" trustee over the past 10 years and has been particularly impressive in her leadership of the Finance Committee, which he describes as an immense responsibility. He also noted that the historical significance of Flaherty's appointment cannot be overlooked.

"For these reasons, I was absolutely delighted that my colleagues on the board decided to elect her as chair," Brody said. "At this time — as the university is making a solid commitment to achieving diversity, particularly in leadership positions — it is an added bonus that Pam is a woman. She is a role model and an inspiration for other Hopkins women. I do want to stress, however, that Pam is chair because of her excellence. I am looking forward to working with her in this position, as she leads the board and the university into the future."

Flaherty says that she is delighted to be given this "great responsibility" of leading one of the nation's most prestigious universities during a time of immense prosperity.

"This is a tremendous honor. I feel blessed by current leadership to be named chairman of the board of trustees," she said. "The university is in excellent shape, and Chip Mason and Bill Brody have been a terrific team. Chip has been generous with his time, his resources and his wisdom. He is a hard act to follow. The university has been blessed with great chairs in recent years: Chip, Mike Bloomberg and Morris Offit. It is a great tradition."

Flaherty is a native of Webster Groves, Mo., a town named after American statesman Daniel Webster, and grew up in the Midwest.

She decided at age 12 that she wanted to become an ambassador and spent nearly all of her schooling preparing for that role, she said. She attended Smith College and spent her junior year studying abroad in Geneva, and was admitted to the Foreign Service upon graduation. However, she instead decided to attend SAIS and earn a master's degree in international relations.

Upon graduating from SAIS, Flaherty considered a government position, but the ongoing war in Vietnam and other factors figured in her decision to look to the corporate world.

She began her professional career at Citibank, specifically in the company's International Banking Group, and went on to manage its New York branch banking business and to serve as senior human resources officer. Since 1996, Flaherty has led Citigroup's Global Corporate Social Responsibility function and been director of Corporate Citizenship for the company, which has 325,000 employees in 100 countries.

In January, she was appointed president and CEO of the Citigroup Foundation, which currently supports programs in three key areas: financial education, educating the next generation, and building communities and entrepreneurs. Last year, the Citigroup Foundation awarded $92 million in grants to organizations and individuals in 85 countries and territories.

Flaherty has participated on the boards of a variety of nonprofit organizations, including Local Initiatives Support Corp., ACCION International, Kenyon College, Colonial Williamsburg and the Nature Conservancy's Long Island chapter. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Flaherty said that her primary priority as chair of Johns Hopkins is to support President Brody, the deans and the administration, who are the ones who lead and manage the university. Some issues on which she plans to focus are financial aid, recruitment and retention of top- notch faculty, diversity and research funding.

"We have had an extraordinary success over recent years, and we want to continue that," she said. "Our success can be measured in many ways: the number of qualified students who apply and accept, our No. 1 status in research, our wonderful success in raising funds for endowment [and] student aid, and the rebuilding of our infrastructure. As board chair, an important priority is to maintain the strength and collegiality of the board by continuing to attract world-class talent, a critically important ingredient for continued success."

Flaherty said that the affordability of higher education is one of the greatest challenges the university faces and is an issue on which the board will continue to focus.

Speaking to Johns Hopkins' future, Flaherty said that she views the university as a global institution that will continue to attract students, faculty and researchers from around the world and make its international reach a competitive strength.

"Hopkins has been smart about expanding globally, building selectively on its strengths and taking advantage of specific opportunities. Peabody's activities in Singapore are an example," she said, referring to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and the Peabody Institute.

Flaherty said that response to her appointment has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Any advice come her way?

"Probably the most succinct piece of advice came from our former chair, Mike Bloomberg," she said. "Every time I see him, he says, with a big smile on his face, 'Don't screw it up!'"

The vice chairs of the board, elected on June 4, are Richard Frary, C. Michael Armstrong and Mark Rubenstein.


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