President Fox

Ten Years of Laurentian Connections

Deborah Dudley

“It is hard to talk about my favorite things at St. Lawrence. The place and people are so wonderful that it’s hard to pick and choose.” That is according to Lynn Smith Fox—who, in partnership with her husband, St. Lawrence President William L. Fox, and many others—has spent the last 10 years creating opportunities for Laurentians to thrive. 

With decades of communications experience working at the highest levels of Washington, D.C., public policy and strategic leadership, Fox wasted no time in finding ways to weave her professional expertise into collaborations with alumni, parents, faculty, and students at St. Lawrence. The results have become a solid framework for helping students capitalize on St. Lawrence’s top-ranked alumni network. 

Before retiring from the Federal Reserve System in 2012, Fox’s career in the nation’s capital included serving as deputy congressional liaison at the Board of Governors followed by years as director of the Office of Board Members and assistant secretary to the Federal Open Market Committee, where she acted as chief spokesperson for Chairman Alan Greenspan. During Chairman Ben Bernanke’s tenure, she served as senior adviser with a portfolio of projects related to internal management and communications. 

Add to Fox’s resume, the ambition and enthusiasm of University trustees such as Sarah E. Johnson ’82, P’15, award-winning film producer, and Jennifer Curley Reichert ’90, founder and president of Washington-based communications consulting firm Curley Company, Inc., among many others, and you have the backbone of the innovative networking and mentoring programs that have emerged over the last decade. 

The SLU Women’s Initiative is just one example. Spearheaded through a partnership with Johnson, both women have mastered the ability of getting the right people together in a room to reconnect with the University and one another and to expand opportunities for students. 

“Part of the strategic mapping that Bill put together at the beginning of his tenure was increasing alumni engagement—at every level,” Fox explains. “So, to add to the existing programs, we knew if we did programs that had content that was more appealing to women, women would show up who were interested in being involved. And Sarah Johnson has been a great leader and supporter of that.” 

Fox and Johnson hosted events around the country which has created a network of women—alumnae and parents—who are willing to mentor students. “We have identified people who have become friends of St. Lawrence, in one way or another, to help our students.” 

Another example of Fox’s influence has been with SLU Connect, a series of professional networking events at which students spend four to five days in conversation with industry leadership in select locations. The precurser to what is now a signature program was piloted in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Curley Reichert during an alumni gathering. 

Fox recalls Curley Reichert articulating the need to get students a more comprehensive, immersive experience in D.C.’s business and public service industries. Curley Reichert cited an example of having a mentee shadowing her and calling up another St. Lawrence alumna and saying, ‘Let’s trade shadows so they see more.’” 

“It was a great example of the way the alumni network works,” Fox says. “So, I came back to campus and said, ‘Why can’t we take a bunch of students to Washington and have alumni talk to them about living and working in D.C.?’” According to Fox, the campus embraced the idea wholeheartedly. 

“We started out in a very modest way, and Jennifer and her team did a massive amount of work. She committed resources from her office to plan the first SLU Connect program.” Fox also credits Curley Reichert with seeing the potential for expansion to other cities and having the foresight to give the program a name. In the last five years, it has done just that, expanding to Albany; Boston; San Francisco; Burlington, Vermont; Big Sky, Montana, and New York City. 

“I’m really proud of that,” Fox says, “because I think one of the things that honestly made it happen was the St. Lawrence spirit. It is perfect for this University…. And, it was the perfect time because everybody was interested in career exploration, and our alumni were interested in doing more.”

The Laurentian generosity of spirit is something that Fox recognizes from her own experience growing up in a small, tight-knit community. “There is a lot about Canton that is very familiar to me. I grew up in a town that is certainly bigger than Canton, but the relationships, the long family histories, and the concept of being in a small community where ties are deep and wide is so familiar. It is where people are very generous with one another and help one another. We’ve seen so many examples of that at St. Lawrence.”