Joie Gregor has served on the Case Western Reserve University Board of Trustees for five years and is currently chair of the Committee on Trustees, the recruitment arm of the Board. She grew up in rural Ohio near Ashland, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, a master's in anthropology at Case, and a master's in business management at Stanford. Ms. Gregor worked at IBM for 13 years in a variety of top-level management positions. In 1993 she joined Heidrick & Struggles, an international executive search firm. An expert in building global leadership teams, Ms. Gregor has worked with the world's most influential corporations: ConAgra Foods, Citigroup, Honeywell International, and Starbucks, to name a few. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and maintains a residence in Cleveland.
Ms. Gregor was recruited to the Case Western Reserve University Board of Trustees in 2001 by then president Charles Bolton. She admits that when approached by Mr. Bolton, she thought, "Do I have time to do this?" But her second thought was, "Wait a minute, working with this group, I could make a difference and learn something at the same time." She also felt there was a lack of awareness, locally and nationally, of the quality of Case's faculty, the excellence of its academic programs, and the depth of its research. "I'd always felt, personally, that Case was an undervalued asset," she says. "My curiosity was aroused by this. How could Case's assets be properly capitalized?"
After receiving her master's degree from Case, Ms. Gregor went on to Stanford University Graduate School of Business as an IBM Sloan Fellow. Nominated by IBM, she was the first woman ever to win a place in the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program. At Heidrick & Struggles, before becoming vice chairman of the firm, she was managing partner of the New York office and president, North America.
A firm believer in clear commitments backed by action, Ms. Gregor says of the ideal trustee, "Whether they reside in New York or California, in their heart and in their mind, they feel strongly about wanting the very best for the university. At the end of the day we're about educating. It's about the students and the faculty and how they're going to be supported."
An intense and rigorous review conducted by the Committee on Trustees on how members of the board are selected has resulted in a new set of criteria for board recruitment. "We want to be predominantly alumni-focused," Ms. Gregor says. "We want each of the schools represented and need high levels of competency with a spectrum of functional skills in public-sector and general management, business management, and in audit and investment." Diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and geography is also an important goal. "For the future, we want a board that will be supportive of the president and his or her initiatives."
Having spent several years at IBM, a best-practices company, Ms. Gregor brings values about respect for the individual and setting high standards to Case. Her years at Heidrick & Struggles underline her conviction that the most important asset of any organization is its people. "Not the product, but the human capital," she says. Ms. Gregor has skills in marketing and financial administration gained in academe and expertise in executive leadership developed in her business career. " I work at the top of industry with CEOs and boards all over the world," she points out. "The things I do every day are directly applicable to our efforts to bring best practices and best processes in thinking to the university."
Early in 2006, Ms. Gregor was appointed by the U.S. State Department and President Bush to be part of a delegation to Afghanistan involved in the initiative, Businesses Building Bridges with Afghanistan. Just before this appointment, Ms. Gregor had read The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini, Riverhead Books, 2004) a fictional account of real events in modern Afghanistan. She was delighted to help the country so vividly and sympathetically described in the novel, "It was serendipitous that I ended up being asked by the State Department and the President to go on this delegation." She says, "Kite Runner is more than a book to me. It's a phenomenal life experience to be able to work with President Karzai and his cabinet to move the country in a positive direction; it is a wonderful opportunity."
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