Susan Pilch Friedman '77, P'08
This interview is dated 4/29/2010.
Ms. Friedman is a founding member and Chair Emerita of the Women's Leadership Council. Brown plays a major role in her family life. Her husband, Richard, graduated from the University in 1979 and is a member of the Brown Corporation. Their daughter, Jackie (pictured here on the left), graduated from Brown in 2008.
Since you provided the initial foresight for the Women's Leadership Council, have you been pleased with its progress to date? How do you see the Council continuing to evolve?
I am thrilled with the progress of the Brown Women's Leadership Council to date. The Council was started as a germ of an idea seven years ago by a small group of women who came together without funding and without an official Corporation mandate. President Ruth Simmons believed in the idea and encouraged and supported us to make something happen. At this point the success of the Women's Leadership Council has snowballed into something much larger than I ever envisioned. More and more women want to join and there is an increase in Brown senior undergraduates who want to be a part of the Women's Leadership Council mentoring program. Someday I hope that we will be in a position to provide mentors to all senior undergrads. The Brown Women's Leadership Council now plays an important role within the Brown community and my hope is that it will continue to grow and evolve to have an even bigger presence.
What does philanthropy mean to you?
Philanthropy is about giving back in any capacity you can. It is investing in the future as well as enhancing our current world. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction when I walk into The Friedman Study Center and see so many Brown students taking full advantage of the facilities and the environment. It's a far cry from when I went to the SciLi 35 years ago.
What are some of your other passions at Brown?
There are so many great things going on at Brown but nothing compares to my passion for The Brown Women's Leadership Council. It has reunited me with many of my Brown classmates with whom I had lost touch through the decades. It has been a wonderful vehicle for me to engage with not only Brown friends of my generation but also those of future generations, as well as my daughter's friends in the Brown class of 2008.
Has there been a specific woman in your life that you look up to – as a role model or mentor?
Like many women of my generation, I didn't have a role model or mentor. We were the generation that was told we could have it all- education, career, marriage, children, friendships, and more. I would have benefitted tremendously from a female mentor. That's exactly why I'm so proud of the Women's Leadership Council's Launch Pad mentoring program and what it has accomplished through matching Brown senior women with Brown female alumnae. These connections have proven to be invaluable for both groups of women.
What's your favorite Brown memory?
When I look back at my four years as a Brown undergraduate, there are so many defining moments that it's almost impossible to name one. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the day the one-page letter arrived from Brown welcoming me as an early decision applicant to the Brown class of 1977. I still have that letter today. As a senior from a very large public high school, that day marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life that continued to unfold for decades. My four year experience at Brown opened my eyes to possibilities that I didn't even know existed. The possibilities were endless and I realized that at Brown I could continue to work hard and make something of myself. Brown enabled me to find my inner self and become the person that I am today.