Featured Member: Mary Anne Salmon, ’80
Mary Anne Salmon, ’80 is the director of operations at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and an avid D.C. area cyclist.
Yes, she chose Wellesley for the snow: I grew up in San Francisco but for college, I was looking for a complete change. I wanted to be somewhere in the northeast and somewhere close to snow because I like skiing. When I went to Wellesley for a visit, I really enjoyed it and, at the time, there was a ski hill behind the gym (more of a ravine, actually). That was close enough so I decided that was where I wanted to go.
Her favorite class at Wellesley: I was a political science major and Rob Paarlberg was my advisor. I loved all the classes, but one class that sticks out has nothing to do with political science. I took music history 101 and there was a professor there named Owen Jander. In the very first class, just to pull everyone in, he compared Janis Joplin with Gregorian chants. It was odd, but it was great!
Her path to Washington: I interned in the Massachusetts state house while at Wellesley and the summer after my sophomore year, I worked on a campaign in San Francisco so I figured the next step was to go to D.C. I stayed with a friend and sent my resume everywhere. Finally there was an opening at the American Enterprise Institute but it was as a receptionist to start, with a research position opening in a few months. It was something and the research portion worked out. I ended up working on the nature of rights as part of a multi-volume study on the U.S. Constitution.
How she got into public media: I had gone to business school at Wharton and worked in the private sector for a number of years but started doing occasional consulting after my children were born. A fellow Wellesley grad (Sarah Holt) mentioned an opportunity at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and so I started there as a 15 hour a week consultant. CPB is actually a private corporation funded by federal appropriation which provides grants to support public broadcasting stations, system support for those stations, and non-commercial programming content. All these years later, I’m still there! I’m the Director of Operations and review grants, develop the annual business plan, and provide budget oversight and analysis.
How to put an MBA to work in D.C.: It’s helpful to have the rigor and discipline of a business school background, plus it’s useful to be comfortable with numbers. There are many bright people in DC who can look at things strategically but then tend to avoid looking at numbers closely and so are happy for someone who can take that analytical role.
How she uses her MBA for good in D.C.: Four years ago, I started working with an organization called Compass, which provides pro bono assistance to non-profits in the D.C. area. Through them, I have worked with a youth program, Chess Challenge in DC, and with Synetic Theater in Arlington. Currently, I’m the comptroller for the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium, which works with students in kindergarten and first grade to get them on reading level. I enjoy working with non-profits and using my business experience to help out as they typically have compelling missions but limited resources. It’s also great to be exposed to new and different people, and to different facets of the community.
Where to find her on weekends: I live in Alexandria, just outside of Old Town, and enjoy being close to D.C. plus having access to local bike trails. I love the W&OD Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, and my new favorite, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. I just tried fencing for the first time and am always on the lookout for new things to try.
The Washington Wellesley Club is excited to introduce you to DC area alums through this new series of online profiles. Each month, a local alum will talk about living and working in DC and share memories of Wellesley. These profiles will illustrate how Wellesley alums stay creative and resilient despite the challenges that inevitably come our way. To view profiles of previously featured members, click here.