The MasterCard Foundation Gift Funds Lois Juliber International Internship Program at Wellesley

July 2, 2015
Lois Juliber ’71 (center) with MasterCard Foundation CFO Peggy Woo (left) and Reeta Roy, president and CEO (right).

At its board meeting on June 24, The MasterCard Foundation announced a gift to Wellesley College given to honor outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors Lois Juliber ’71. The MasterCard Foundation, which advances youth learning and  promotes financial inclusion to catalyze prosperity in developing countries, gave $1 million to the College to endow the Lois Juliber International Internship Program at Wellesley, supporting seven internships each year that will place students with organizations in developing countries that are focused on microfinance, youth learning, and poverty alleviation.

The gift was presented as a surprise to Juliber, who says, “I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of The MasterCard Foundation. The creation of the internship program marries so much of what I stand for: opportunities for women, opportunities for young people to explore and find their passions, and opportunities for people to give back and change the direction of the world.”  

Juliber was a co-founding director and has served as the inaugural and only chair of the board of The MasterCard Foundation since 2006. She is stepping down now at the end of her third three-year term, in accordance with the organization’s governance rules.

Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly says, “We are grateful for The MasterCard Foundation’s generosity in honoring Lois Juliber with a gift that will create new opportunities for our students to engage in the world. Lois is a dedicated Wellesley alumna who exemplifies our motto, Non ministrari sed ministrare: Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

Indeed, if there is a quintessential Wellesley woman, it could be Lois Juliber, who is described by colleagues and others as a reflective and responsible leader able to unite diverse individuals to work together, give focus to broad concepts, listen well, reflect, learn, and keep a good sense of humor all the while.

Jim Leech, member and incoming chair of The MasterCard Foundation Board of Directors, says, “I’ve been on many boards and CEO of numerous organizations. [Lois] is clearly one of the best chairs I’ve seen. It’s because she’s very thoughtful and she listens. I find her great to work with because she’s constantly ‘on the learn’.”

That impression is shared by The MasterCard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy. Roy was the Foundation’s fourth employee in 2008, back when the board was bigger than the organization. She and Lois Juliber first met when Juliber was on the search committee that hired her. “I found her to be very warm, very open, and curious,” says Roy. “She became a sounding board, and was very involved when I needed her to be… she has been very supportive of me. I have seen her whole belief in promoting and supporting leadership and developing people into leaders who are action-driven.”

Over the years, Juliber has been recognized for her own outstanding leadership in many ways. She received the Financial Women’s Association Woman of the Year Award, the Starlight Association Award for Corporate Leadership, and the American Advertising Foundation Award for Diversity Leadership. She has been honored by Girls Inc., the Girl Scouts, Legal Momentum, and the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence for her contributions in helping women advance. She has been recognized by Advertising Age as a Woman to Watch, has been on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women list for five years, and was noted by Business Week as an Outstanding Leader.

In 1989, Juliber was a founding member of Wellesley’s Business Leadership Council, a by-invitation association of Wellesley alumnae who are senior leaders in business and nonprofit sectors and dedicated to supporting the College and its mission, supporting Wellesley students in their development as leaders, supporting one another, and serving as ambassadors for the College. In 2005, she received the Wellesley College Distinguished Alumnae Achievement Award.

The Wellesley economics major is the retired vice chairman and chief operating officer of Colgate-Palmolive, where she was instrumental in growing the company’s global business in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, and in refocusing the company’s information technology, manufacturing, research and development, and new product capabilities. Juliber is also a member of the board of directors of the DuPont Corporation and Mondelez International (formerly Kraft), a trustee emerita of Wellesley College, and a member of the president’s council at Olin College.

According to Leech, Juliber was essentially given a blank slate at the launch of The MasterCard Foundation, which today is the fifth largest private foundation in the world. “The generosity of MasterCard shareholders created the Foundation and set out in broad terms what its mandate was to be,” he recalls. “They went through a process of recruiting the inaugural board and then basically said, ‘Over to you!’ On the board, Lois had to bring together people from very diverse backgrounds—former presidents of countries, business types, university leaders, ambassadors—who’d never worked together before; hire management; narrow down the broad mandate to give it focus; and give away [money] in a productive way!”

Juliber reflects on the organization’s evolution during her tenure: “When the Foundation began its operation, we had a six-person board and a MasterCard Worldwide stock certificate. Today, we have committed $1.4 billion and disbursed over $650 million, primarily in Sub-Sahara Africa to help people move out of poverty; we have more than 60 employees and a CEO and management team that is dedicated and passionate about our work. I am so proud of how far we have come and quite optimistic about our future.”

The MasterCard Foundation’s gift to Wellesley is doubly special, as a surprise honor recognizing Juliber, and as a boost to causes important to her, namely education, advancement of women, global engagement, and not least of all Wellesley College. As President and CEO Roy notes: “I’ve always known how much she values education and especially education for girls. Throughout the time we’ve worked together I’ve heard her talk about how formative Wellesley was for her own developmental trajectory as a leader.”

Juliber has a long history of generosity to Wellesley, including the establishment of the Juliber Family Global Scholarship Fund, which supports students from developing countries who attend Wellesley.

Nor is this the Foundation’s first gift to the College. The MasterCard Foundation Board of Directors serves without compensation, according to Roy, “but [directors] receive a small gift they can direct to an organization of their choice in keeping with the Foundation’s goals. Lois gave hers to Wellesley.” Additionally, since 2012 Wellesley has been a partner in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, a $500 million global initiative to educate and develop next-generation leaders who will contribute to social and economic progress.

The Program enables young people from economically disadvantaged communities to complete quality secondary and tertiary education, and make successful transitions to further education or the workforce in their home regions. Over 10 years, the Program will select 15,000 Scholars, primarily from Africa, who will be unified by a common philosophy of change and ethical leadership. Wellesley College brings a special expertise to this Program—educating women who will make a difference in the world—so the College is most grateful for The MasterCard Foundation’s support for a total of nine MasterCard Foundation Scholars over several years at Wellesley.

The first two of these students came to Wellesley as first-years in September 2013, followed by three first-years in 2014, together representing Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe. As President Bottomly said at the start of Wellesley’s partnership, “As women are poised to take even greater roles as leaders in Africa, we want to offer them the transformative education, mentorship, and support that have empowered Wellesley women for more than 135 years.”

Newly appointed Chair Jim Leech says of The MasterCard Foundation’s $1 million Juliber gift to Wellesley: “We’re pleased to do it and proud to do it. It’s truly been a pleasure and honor to work with [Lois] and the Foundation will benefit from her sage advice from those initial years when we were trying to build something.”