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Mary Cunningham Agee -- MBA 1979 -- President and Founder, The Nurturing Network

Harvard Business School Alumni Association Honoree at the celebration of the “50 Years of Women at Harvard Business School” which recognized 100 women whose leadership has made a significant impact in their communities.

 

“Only love can feed the hunger of the soul. ~ Richard M. Cruickshanks ..."

 

Acceptance Remarks:
The Road to Harvard Business School

"My path to Harvard Business School was an unlikely one.  Abandoned by my father at five years old, I learned resiliency from my courageous single mother.  A beloved uncle, Monsignor “Father Bill” Nolan, served for 37 years as Chaplain at Dartmouth College; he stepped in to be my father figure. Working my way through high school, Wellesley College and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, I came very close to accepting a Danforth nomination to pursue a PhD in Philosophy.  It was Father Bill who reminded me that success is best achieved by becoming a “practical idealist” – and it was he who encouraged me to find my balance in life by attending HBS.

 

My Proudest Moment

My life has been rewarding beyond measure. I am most proud of having raised two bright and caring children who have become my best friends. Observing the depth of their generosity as they offer their unique talents to a world in need of hope and healing inspires the greatest joy any parent could hope for. Empowering over 24,000 women in crisis at the most vulnerable time in their life is the professional challenge that has fulfilled me more than any other accomplishment. Founding and managing an international volunteer network of over 52,000 human resources has restored my faith in people to reach beyond their own material contentment to offer practical compassion to others.

 

In Looking Back

I wish that someone had warned me that fear, suspicion and jealousy can be provoked when a woman gains access to the top management of a Fortune 100 company. My promotion to Vice President of Strategic Planning in the early 80’s sparked a media firestorm fueled by gossip and sensationalism. At that time, few women had been given the opportunity to advance quickly through the corporate ranks. I wish someone had better prepared me for the dangers of penetrating the infamous glass ceiling.

 

Tough times and happy times

My deepest sadness was the loss of my first child, Angela Grace, in a third trimester miscarriage.  Searching for meaning in this anguish, I discovered that many women when faced with unplanned pregnancies are at risk for losing their children due to lack of emotional, economic, or social support. This realization led to my founding the Nurturing Network and positioning it as a common ground where proponents of both “life” and “choice” could work together for the benefit of women in need of practical support. My professional transition from Vice President of Strategic Planning at Seagram’s to managing an international charity reinforced my belief that we heal best through service to others whose suffering is far greater than our own.

 

Career Path and Future

I plan to continue advocating for the unique needs of women and children throughout the world whose circumstances require much greater support.  I hope to be an effective witness to the power of converting personal suffering to a powerful energy rooted in deeper compassion, greater awareness, and more authentic generosity.

 

I hope to speak out with courage and conviction about the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves."