Melissa “Missy” Siner Shea ’89, who started as the executive director of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association in late January, sees her return to campus as “a second chance.”
As a varsity field-hockey player and an RA in Claflin, she was involved in the College community, but always with one eye looking toward Vermont. “I’m very much a mountain person,” she says. During her college years, she taught skiing at Mad River Glen in Vermont during weekends and winter breaks. In retrospect, she regrets not being involved with College Government.
“I wish I had been able to be even more fully invested in College life,” Shea says.
Now’s her opportunity. As executive director, she will be the WCAA’s chief connector—of alums to each other and to the College—and deeply involved in campus initiatives. She will oversee major WCAA-sponsored events such as reunion and the Alumnae Achievement Awards and will work with the Alumnae Association board of directors to set the direction for the organization.
But what primarily attracted her to apply to the job was the opportunity “to meet incredible women … and share their stories. A big part of what happens with alumnae [is] friend-raising. It’s connecting alums to one another and to the College, and that is really about getting them to tell their story, because that’s the thing that connects everybody. Every woman has her own unique story, and yet we have this common thing that bonds us.”
Shea says she also found the position attractive because it required both the vision to think broadly and develop a strategic plan, and the management skills to implement specific steps. “The expressed dictate that this position do both is really appealing to me,” she says. “I love that kind of work.”
“It’s a very exciting and challenging time for the College and the Alumnae Association,” she says. “I like a challenge.”
WCAA President Karen Williamson ’69, a member of the executive-director search committee, says she is energized by Shea’s “infectious enthusiasm.”
“It is always enlightening to approach familiar activities as well as new initiatives with a fresh set of eyes,” Williamson says. “We have made so much progress over the last couple of years, and I remain optimistic about the future of the Alumnae Association with our new executive director, excellent staff, and committed board.”
Before returning to Wellesley, Shea was director of admissions and financial aid at the Ethel Walker School, an independent girls’ school in Simsbury, Conn. She also served as associate academic director and middle-school head at Vermont’s Green Mountain Valley School, a small ski-racing academy. Drawing on her background as a political-science major at Wellesley, Shea also worked for the Vermont Secretary of State as coordinator of civic education and voter outreach, ensuring voter accessibility, running voter-registration drives, and developing educational materials and programs for schoolchildren. She also had a successful management career in the ski industry and served as chair of the school board in Waitsfield, Vt.
Shea holds a master’s in liberal studies from Dartmouth, with a concentration in writing, in addition to her B.A. from Wellesley.
“Missy’s combination of academic experience, leadership, and strategic vision made her an ideal candidate within an extraordinary pool,” says Georgia Murphy Johnson ’75, the WCAA president-elect, who chaired the search committee.