National Women’s Month: Honoring Penn State Female Alums

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March is National Women’s Month, a time to celebrate women of the past and present for the accomplishments and contributions they have made to their community and to society. At Penn State, there are many women in the community, past and present, who have shaped the way for the younger generation. They have defied odds, become pioneers in their field and are role models to other women trying to make a name for themselves. Whether they are on national TV, artists or businesswomen, these Nittany Lions are just some of the many female alumni that the Penn State family can be proud of:

Lara Spencer, Broadcast Journalism, 1991

The former Nittany Lion All-American in diving, Spencer is now a co-host for Good Morning America. After graduating from Penn State, Spencer joined NBC’s Page Program, a renowned 12-month paid fellowship for aspiring journalists. This experience landed her a job with a CBS affiliate in Tennessee. Just a year later Spencer would return to her home state of New York and join Long Island’s WABC-TV. In 1999, Spencer joined Good Morning America as a national news correspondent, working her way to her current position as host. Spencer recently announced that she would be appearing on air only three times a week to focus on her producing career.

Lisa Salters, Broadcast Journalism, 1988

This former Lady Lion’s basketball star is now a Monday Night Football regular, serving as a sideline reporting and co-producer. Salters also regularly covers the NBA on ABC. Her lengthy career with ESPN has brought her to the FIFA World Cup, multiple Olympic games and Iraq. Before joining ESPN, Salters covered the O.J. Simpson case from her previous reporting job with a news station in Baltimore.

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Political Science, 1990

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The former United States Senator started her political career in her home state of New Hampshire, working for the New Hampshire Supreme Court as a law clerk. In 2004, Ayotte was appointed Attorney General of New Hampshire, becoming the first and only woman in the state’s history to hold the position. She served in that position for two terms, until she resigned to pursue a bid for Senate. Ayotte would lose her re-election bid for Senate in 2016. Ayotte is a well-respected, highly commendable member of the GOP, recognized by Newsmax Magazine in 2013 as the No.1 most influential woman in the Republican party. The late Senator John McCain had requested that Ayotte would read a bible passage at his memorial service upon his passing, which she did.

Barbara Hackman Franklin (Rep.), Liberal Arts, 1962

Before earning an MBA from Harvard, Franklin was serving as President of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Beta Phi chapter and eventually graduating from Penn State with distinction. Franklin was one of 14 women to enter Harvard’s newly co-ed business school. Her career began in New York City with the Singer Company and later joined the First National Bank (now CitiBank). Her career eventually turned political, being recruited to join the Nixon administration as a staff assistant. President Nixon would nominate Franklin to be one of the original five commissioners on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, among other appointments. President Bush in 1991 nominated Franklin for Secretary of Commerce, which upon the approval of Senate made her the highest-ranking female in Bush’s administration and the 13th woman to serve a cabinet position.

Caroline Bowman, B.F.A Musical Theater, 2010

Bowman is a Broadway actress who landed roles in shows like Grease, Wicked and Kinky Boots.

Patricia A. Woertz, Accounting, 1974

Now retired, this businesswomen was once the President and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, a global food processing and commodities company. She also served as the Executive Vice President of Chevron Corporation, a multinational energy company. Forbes named Woertz the 84th most powerful woman in the world back in 2014.

Margaret Carlson, English, 1966

Carlson, now a columnist for Bloomberg News, was the first female columnist to work for The Times. Before joining The Times in 1988, she was a managing editor for The New Republic and appeared on CNN’s Capital Gang until 2005, among other professional experiences. In 1973, Carlson earned her law degree from George Washington University.


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