Allison Drutchas ‘11 Joins Davidson Board of Trustees

Sarah Griffin ’22

Staff Writer

Allison Drutchas ‘11 is one of the two Young Trustees of Davidson College. Photos courtesy of Drutchas

Fearless, decisive, and insightful—these are three adjectives Allison Drutchas strives to embody. A 2011 graduate who majored in philosophy during her time at Davidson, Drutchas now works as an autonomous vehicle attorney for Waymo, a self-driving tech company. Drutchas became a member of the Athletics and Teaching, Learning, and Research committees of the college’s Board of Trustees this past January. Drutchas is one of two young trustees now on the board, but Gloria Nlewedim ‘17 was unable to participate in an interview due to the nature of her job.

The Board of Trustees is composed of roughly 40 members, 25 percent of whom must be “a member or an affliate of a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation,” according to Davidson’s website. Alumni Trustees, such as Drutchas, are elected by an all alumni committee to serve a four year term.

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Drutchas was initially drawn to Davidson to play soccer as a Bryan Scholarship recipient with the intent of majoring in economics before pursuing a career in business. Drutchas had much success in soccer; during her junior year, the soccer team won the Southern Conference Championship, and the program took its first ever trip to the NCAA tournament in 2009.

As is the case for many college frst-years and sophomores, Drutchas’ original plan, which was to major in economics, changed. After taking a philosophy class and participating in a Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) in philosophy, she quickly developed an affinity for the subject, specifcally the boldness with which philosophers approach questions. This fearlessness is something she says she has taken with her in her years beyond Davidson, applying it to her life, her current career, and her role in the Board of Trustees.

“[Philosophers] weren’t afraid to tackle questions that seemed too hard—these big questions about the nature of the universe and why people are the way they are, why we have morality—and to me it’s very similar to my role, where you have to be very comfortable answering questions that, frankly, no one’s had to fgure out how to answer before.You have to be creative and brave, and I think that’s something that’s really fun, and also that Davidson prepared me for.”

After graduating from Davidson, spending a year as an Assistant Coach for the Davidson women’s soccer team, and graduating from Yale Law School in 2015, Drutchas decided to move back to Detroit. The city had recently fled for bankruptcy, and she wanted to take part in revitalization efforts. It was there, while working as a tax lawyer, that she became vocal about her interest in autonomous vehicles and earned herself a reputation among the legal community in Detroit.

“Someone very close to me had been in a coma and had to relearn to talk and walk after a car accident in which his friend died. It in-
spired me to think about how the world could be better. I was from Detroit, so I was very interested in the future of the auto industry, and I just got very interested in this technology and what I could do to improve the world, and it was also fun to talk about.”

Drutchas was hired to work for a self-driving technology company, Waymo, where she said her work focuses “on shaping the legal and regulatory landscape that will govern autonomous vehicles, particularly vehicles without human drivers, because every law that was ever written to govern cars assumed there would be a human driver.” She added, “We have to think about what the law is going to look like and how that is going to work when that is no longer the case.”

Drutchas attributes the development of much of her humanitarian spirit to Davidson. “It’s kind of like air, at Davidson, like you don’t notice it’s there until you leave” noted Drutchas, “but [there’s] this building of moral character that I think people have at Davidson, and recognizing that, first and foremost, the most important thing is to be a good human and a good member of your community… and then everything else is sort of secondary to that.”

In regards to her new position, Drutchas believes she has valuable contributions to bring to the Board of Trustees. The board meets
quarterly, and Drutchas participated in her first meeting just last week. She works with faculty and other board members to resolve issue within topics covered by her committees and to define “how we do academics at David-
son.” Drutchas said, “I think my age is helpful in terms of having a younger perspective… I think I have a lot of insightful thoughts to bring to the table that could really help the college.”

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