Caroline Roy ‘20
Et Cetera Editor
Alison Mauzé ‘84 became the first woman to chair the Davidson College Board of Trustees last month, succeeding John W. Chidsey ‘83. Mauzé, a former JP Morgan Vice President who also works for several nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, believes that her Davidson education imbued her with a diverse set of skills and a passion for education that she has carried throughout her professional life.
After graduating from Davidson with a major in psychology, Mauzé began her first job in Charlotte working at a center for children with behavioral issues. She had originally intended to get a graduate degree in clinical psychology, but her work in Charlotte helped her get a position in Davidson’s admissions office instead, where she worked to recruit students. In the end, her recruiting skills launched her into a career in corporate finance at JP Morgan, where she would work for the next ten years.
“I had this breadth of training,” Mauzé said. “I was strong in mathematics, and I found the dynamic pace of fiance fascinating.”
Mauzé said that the finance training program at JP Morgan helped encourage her love of learning by pushing her to pick up new skills, adapt to new environments, and hone the problem solving skills that Davidson had fostered.
“It became such a fantastic career that I ended up not wanting to leave,” Mauzé said.
Over the course of her career at JP Morgan, she took on a variety of roles, including recruiting and training new employees and working in the International Training Division. She said that she was drawn to the way the company invests in their employees, hiring them for careers rather than short term positions.
However, her success in the world of corporate finance eventually led her back to Davidson.
Mauzé found herself ready for a change in pace while pregnant with her third child and living in Hong Kong. She realized that she wanted to revisit her passion for working with children, so she left JP Morgan and became involved in several nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Ballet, the Exploratorium, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Mauzé said that this career shift embodies her “liberal arts story” and allowed her to bring skills from her finance and admissions careers to her new responsibilities. She helped run each local organization with her understanding of consulting, organizational development, recruiting, and finance.
In the meantime, Mauzé served on the Davidson’s Board of Visitors and in 2009, the college asked her to serve on the Board of Trustees. She said that Davidson does a great job of drawing alumni back in as soon as they graduate.
“Davidson has been part of my DNA since I was 17,” Mauzé said. “Alumni have tremendous responsibility for the stewardship and the future of the college. So I have, since I graduated, really never disconnected.”
The same organizational and financial skills that have carried Mauzé throughout her corporate finance and nonprofit careers have transferred to her work on the Board. She noted that her early experience working directly to recruit students with admissions gives her a unique perspective when working at the higher levels of administration.
“I try to stay fully informed about what’s going on on campus because, as much as Davidson is similar to the institution that it was when I came as an undergrad, it has evolved significantly. It has grown and changed, and to represent it properly, you need to be aware of those changes,” Mauzé said.
Mauzé’s promotion to chair of the Board comes shortly after she co-chaired the recent Game Changers Campaign, which exceeded its $425 million goal by more than $100 million. Going forward, she plans to continue fundraising and working closely with the college’s administration.
“The Board of Trustees’s responsibility is not to be at the operational level, but to be an advisor. If we’re doing our job right, we are able to guide and support, not to do the work itself,” Mauzé said. “My ability to know some of the current faculty and hear their stories about what’s going well in the classrooms and where the challenges are helps me be a better leader.”
Although Mauzé has taken on a larger responsibility on the Board, she will continue to work for nonprofits in San Francisco, although she has taken on smaller roles.
In the coming years as Chair, Mauzé said that she hopes to work with the other board members and college administrators to better support the Davidson community. In particular, she would like to increase affordability through scholarship fundraising and work to bring a young alumni perspective to the board.
“It’s a relationship role,” Mauzé said. “This institution is is so important to all of us. This board is comprised of alumni, parents, and friends of the college. I feel really honored that they had the confidence in me to take this leadership role.”