Photo by Richard Howard
Back in 1998, Martha Goldberg Aronson ’89 filled out an alumnae survey that’s still on file at the College. Her answer to the question “How would you characterize your feelings about Wellesley today?” practically leaps off the page. She marked the “positive” box with a huge check, and then added three exclamation points for good measure.
All these years later, the new president of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association still has an enthusiasm for Wellesley that doesn’t quit. “I’m enormously passionate about the place,” she says simply—a deep-seated devotion that stems from her experiences both as a student and as an alumna.
Aronson entered the College following in the footsteps of her mother and aunt, both class of ’58, and her older sister and cousin, both ’83. She found an immediate group of “terrific friends” on the tennis team and went on to be named a Division III All-American and an Academic All-American. But she most reveled in meeting students from very different backgrounds than hers. “I found it so interesting to be able to engage in dialogue with those folks, and understand their perspectives, and give them the chance, hopefully, to understand mine,” she says. “I loved being able to do that, whether [we] were in a classroom or sitting in Pomeroy at 10 p.m. with our mugs and spoons eating ice cream.”
Aronson majored in economics and graduated magna cum laude. (She believes she is the only student in College history whose diploma was signed by her mother, who was chair of the Wellesley College Board of Trustees at the time.) She eventually earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and has spent much of her career in the med-tech device industry, most recently as executive vice president and president, global health care, for Minneapolis-based Ecolab. She currently serves as a corporate director for three publicly traded companies (Cardiovascular Systems, Inc., Methode Electronics, and CONMED Corp.) and for the privately held Clinical Innovations.
All along the way, Wellesley has been a constant. Aronson has volunteered her time as a member of the national committee of Friends of Athletics, as a class special-gifts chair, and as treasurer/secretary and board member of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association. She is often back on campus as a member of the Business Leadership Council or to speak at the Albright Institute, most recently on “Business as a Force for Good.”
The strong bonds of friendship forged with generations of Wellesley women are one of the primary reasons she stays active with theCollege—not to mention the support those friendships give. She points to a period 3½ years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer: “When the word went out to my Wellesley friends, the unbelievable outpouring of support, of strength, was beyond what I ever could have comprehended. You just feel that strength every day as you’re fighting a fight. … Absolutely, positively amazing.”
Aronson says she feels “so lucky” to have reaped so many benefits from being a member of the Wellesley community. And that’s the overriding reason she volunteers for Wellesley: “I want to do all I can to help the next generations and fellow alums achieve what they want to achieve. I feel strongly about giving back to the places that I feel were good to me….”
Aronson took office as WCAA president on July 1. High on her agenda: to help all alumnae feel included and engaged in the community that means so much to her, to help them reap the benefits, as well.