We're proud to report that women lead the way at the Mount...
Dr. Jacqueline Powers Doud became the 11th president of Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, on July 1, 2000. To read her inaugural address, “Tradition, Transition, and Transformation: The Good News,” in October 2000, click here.
Susette Aguiar-Possnack ’99 is the current president of the Alumnae Association Board.
Taline Hanna was the 2007-08 president of the Chalon Campus MSMC Associated Student Body.
Ocaidy Hunziker was the 2007-08 president of the Doheny Campus MSMC Associated Student Body.
Below are brief profiles of just a few of the other special women who are part of the larger Mount community...
Kate Driscoll ’06 delivered the MSMC 2006 Baccalaureate Class Tribute, reflecting on how the Mount provided strong female professors as role models and taught her to be an advocate for community action.
“We need to take the philanthropic foundation the Mount has nurtured in each of us, and become the social reformers that will be biting at injustice,” said Driscoll, a sociology major with an emphasis on race, class, and gender. Driscoll described a fulfilling internship she completed this year with the Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center in South Central Los Angeles, where she worked with juveniles who need family counseling, help with the justice system, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Driscoll plans to pursue a career in criminal justice and plans to attend law school.
Vivian Burgess ’52, a retired nurse who made history as the first African American nurse in California, was honored in 2006 with a Papal medal for her service to the Church and society. Pope Benedict XVI conferred the Honor of Dame Commander in the Order of the Knights of St. Gregory upon Burgess—the highest honor a layperson may receive in the Catholic Church.
Burgess enrolled at the Mount in the late 1940s and became a member of the Mount’s inaugural nursing class when she graduated with her four-year degree in 1952. She spent her young adult years studying with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, both as a high school student at a Catholic school and then at Mount St. Mary’s College. “I’ve had a long relationship with the Sisters, and they were really mentors for me and reinforced the values I was taught at home,” she said. The College also honored Burgess with its Outstanding Alumna Award in 1987.
Teresa Barth ’95 was recently elected to a four-year term on the Encinitas City Council—and she gives credit in part to her years as a Weekend College student. “My degree helped me advance in my career and allowed me to gain confidence in public speaking,” she said. Barth attended Weekend College with her sister, Loreta Arballo. In their 40s at the time, the sisters carpooled from San Diego for two years.
Previously the exhibit and education supervisor at the Del Mar Fairgrounds/San Diego County Fair, Barth was retired and spending much of her time doing community work when she decided to run for office. “Volunteering at many organizations, I got the feeling that a lot of city staff and council members looked at the community as a nuisance,” she said. “I want that to change.”
Barth’s campaign themes was "Honesty, Optimism, and Fair Play." The five-member Encinitas City Council represents 62,000 residents.
Monica Luechtefeld ’71, executive vice president of Business Development and Information Technology for the Florida-based Office Depot, delivered the 2006 MSMC Commencement address highlighting the importance of values, the necessity of finding great mentors, and the challenge of finding a career to be passionate about.
“When you look for work, choose employers that will respect your ethics,” she said. “Whether I am in a boardroom in Shanghai, São Paulo, or New York, I always bring to the table my values.”
She honored her mentors from the Mount, Sister Miriam Therese Larkin ’53, Sister Annette Bower ’59, and Sister Cecilia Louise Moore ’53, all CSJs. She said the sisters instilled in her a love of critical thinking and helped her become a pioneer in her industry. “They taught me what it meant to be a woman of intellect, of compassion, and strength,” she said.
Luechtefeld also encouraged graduates to take control of their futures. “A lot of people are responsible for getting you here today, but you are responsible for what happens after today.”
A Trustee of the College, Luechtefeld, received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Val Zavala, MSMC trustee, has been named to Hispanic Business magazine’s 100 Influentials list. The list from the national magazine includes notables from government agencies and corporations, as well as from education, entertainment, and the arts.
Zavala is vice president of news and public affairs at KCET and is the anchor of the station’s signature newsmagazine, Life & Times. She rose through the ranks at KCET, serving as reporter, anchor, documentary producer, and executive producer before taking her current leadership role overseeing other local series and specials.
A graduate of both American University in Washington, D.C., and Yale University, she is also a member of the Cal Arts Visiting Committee. Zavala has been a trustee of Mount St. Mary’s College since 2003.
Erika Gallo ’01 started her political career when she was 14, organizing graffiti cleanups in her Lincoln Heights neighborhood and volunteering as a youth member for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Now just a few years out of college, Gallo is already an elected official, selected by voters to serve on the Central Committee of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Gallo was also named Woman of the Year in Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg’s 45th State Assembly District.
Gallo is the first in her family to attend college and is passionate about turning the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles into a thriving community. She credits her rise from neighborhood volunteer to up-and-comer in county and state politics to Mount St. Mary’s College, where she learned to be a strong leader and focus on her goals.
“At Mount St. Mary’s, you really are empowered as a woman, and you get this power and this motivation to want to do more and want to better not only your life but the lives of others,” said Gallo, who served as president of her class at the Mount three years in a row. “The College really inspires you to act and create change.”