Students in graduation

First Female in Over a Decade to Hold Board Seat

February 2021

What does it mean to be a Benedict’s Man? In 2020, it meant welcoming Benedict’s Women to the community and walking forward, always forward, into the future.

The St. Benedict’s Board of Trustees, for years an all-male roundtable of alumni and friends with steadfast devotion to  the School’s mission, happily pulled out a chair to welcome its first female Trustee in more than a decade last September.

Stacy Allen, partner and chief risk officer at Lord Abbett & Co., LLC, is an accomplished executive with more than 30 years’ experience in the field of financial services. While she excels as a professional, it’s her commitment to mentorship and lifting others to reach their full potential that captured the unanimous approval of the Board.

“It’s great to have Stacy join us,” affirms Headmaster Rev. Edwin D. Leahy, O.S.B. ’63. “We’ve known her for many years, and I’m happy to have her expertise to help our kids in this mission.”

Allen follows in only a few female footsteps, two of which belonged to Jean Leahy, Fr. Edwin’s mother and a long-serving, impactful member of the Board.

“There is an old adage when you look for Board members to seek out Time, Talent & Treasure,” says Nominating Committee Chair, Peter Wilderotter ’72. “Every once in a while you come upon a unicorn that has all three. Stacy struck us immediately with her relationship with the school, mentoring of a student and willingness to roll up her sleeves and help us raise money. Stacy starts with a ‘yes.’ And with the emergence of the Girls Division, having a woman on the Board is just another benefit. She will be a spectacular Trustee!”

Allen’s Benedict’s connection began in the 1990’s with her first mentoring assignment at Prudential Financial – her first employer after graduating from the University of Delaware; she’d volunteered for a program tutoring students from local Newark schools.

“My first student was an eighth grader from Morton Street school,” recalls Allen. “The process was to share a ‘brown bag’ dinner, check up on them, focus on homework and studying. My student was super smart, super funny – and the guidance counselor from Morton Street suggested St. Benedict’s Prep for him.”

That was Allen’s first introduction to The Hive, and she’s remained devoted to that student and the School ever since. “I helped him with the application and continued to support him through high school and stayed close through the years,” she says. “That’s also made me feel close to the School.”

It cannot be ignored that Gene O’Hara ’55, a long-time Benedict’s Trustee and Board Chair, was a colleague at Prudential as well. “He was very, very senior and I was very, very junior,” Allen points out. “But I knew him, and through him got to know St. Benedict’s very well.”

Her dedicated mentorship also served to forge a friendship with Abbot Melvin Valvano; and he is especially pleased with her nomination to the Board.

“We have known and highly respected Stacy for three decades, for all good reasons, as a consummate professional and great mother of twins, and for decades a personal mentor to many youngsters in differing personal and familial situations,” endorsed the Abbot.

Allen’s formal introduction to the Board took place on December 9, 2020, when she clicked to join her first official virtual meeting and met her fellow trustees. That meeting was exceptionally long but characteristically productive – a vivid example of the Board’s commitment to the School’s mission and a clear indicator to Allen that she’d arrived at a time that demanded decisive and progressive action to sustain Benedict’s forward momentum.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this community,” Allen shared. “That first meeting left me super interested and really impressed. A lot of information was covered, and it’s so clear that that focus is on the students. They are the first priority.”

In lock step with the Board, Allen has hit the ground running. She immediately took a seat on the School Life Committee, a perfect placement in conjunction with the Girls Prep Division just established for the 2020-2021 school year. Board Chairman Bob DiQuollo ’65 remarked on Allen’s enthusiasm.

“When Stacy learned the Board had formed a School Life committee to address topics such as developing  the new Girl’s Division, she immediately volunteered. It’s our great fortune to have the first woman Trustee in many years willing to help tackle this responsibility.”

As a successful corporate executive, attentive mother of 12-year-old twin boys, and steady mentor to others, it would be easy for Allen to be satisfied that she’s doing enough. But “enough” holds different meaning for different people; for Allen, it seems, it’s more about what isn’t enough than what is.

“It’s all about making room in your life for the things that matter. I believe it’s not enough for life to be just about me and my family. It’s important to give of myself in a broader sense. I’ve seen first-hand the impact this school can have to change a life,” Allen attests. “I want to do my part, and do my best.”

-- By Susan Kronberg