On June 10, 2023, over Reunion Weekend, Carol Salloway '73 was awarded The Governor's Academy Alumni Council's Alumna of the Year Award. Presented annually at the Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association, this award recognizes those alumni who have displayed steadfast loyalty, dedication, and service to the Academy.
How does it feel to be recognized by the Academy and your fellow alums with this particular award, especially during the 50 Years of Women at Govs celebration?
I was so moved to be honored with this award. Celebrating 50 Years of Women at Govs was a remarkable milestone for the Academy, and I was also thrilled to be part of it throughout the year. I was involved in various celebrations at Govs, including Reunion activities, because I am so thankful for what the school did for me.
I didn't see us as trailblazers then—we were just trying to make it through, particularly in the early days. And I appreciate how the cadre of eight girls in my class of 1973 and the 20 of us girls in 1971, in all classes, launched what would be a profound evolution for school. I am very proud of that.
Fifty years is a lifetime and an important inflection point in life. When I reflect on the arc of my life, the Academy was one of the most pivotal parts of my journey. I struggled in my former public high school and was definitely not on a good trajectory. GDA was transformative for me for many reasons, including being among the first girls to enroll at the Academy. I will be forever grateful to the school for helping me get on a great path.
Remarkably, you found time to start your own Executive Coaching business while juggling the many responsibilities of raising a family. How did you manage the demands of running and growing your own business?
A strong support team is really important, especially when launching and running your business. My husband was incredibly supportive, and we had a fantastic nanny who stayed with us for ten years. I also built a cadre of wonderful colleagues who were there for me, and I for them.
It took a lot of bumps along the way to realize that I need to keep my priorities clear and set boundaries, which is not easy, especially when you want to do it all. One of the most important skills I learned is to say no, which took a long time to build.
I also learned not to wait to feel confident, but that confidence comes from being in action and moving forward. I came to know, over time, that I could meet difficult client situations and economic ups and downs. I also learned that I could function on not a lot of sleep!
During the "fishbowl conversation" over Reunion Weekend, you described your experience entering GDA among the first girls' classes. Can you recall a particular moment or two that stick with you to this day about those early days at GDA? Do you think these experiences influenced your leadership skills later in life?
In practical terms, the school was not ready for girls in terms of facilities and attitudes. It appeared to us girls that there was not a lot of forethought into what girls would need to feel settled and included in the community. The only plan that seemed to be made was providing the second floor of Boynton house as our landing spot. We didn't have lockers, showers, shower curtains, athletic uniforms, female advisors, or anyone to help us navigate our entry or integration. For example, one of the winter term athletic offerings was modern dance, which was held in the aisles of the chapel—clearly not an adequate spot.
From an attitude perspective, from particular faculty, we sensed some hostility about becoming a co-ed school after being the oldest boys' school. Some faculty members did not acknowledge us, and some showed displeasure. I remember a disparaging cartoon in the student newspaper of girls on campus, and it was hurtful.
In the early days, I recall girls gathering in our Boynton House safe zone, where we talked about how we made a mistake coming here and contemplated how we could get our tuition back. Those were the early rough days.
And there were other faculty and many students who were glad to see us join the community, and that helped a lot. I definitely learned perseverance in this experience. I also learned the importance of optimism, assertiveness, relationship-building, and collaboration. These are all vital leadership skills that I have relied on in my business. They have all served me well.
How did it feel to reconnect with your classmates after so many years?
The week before the Govs Reunion, I attended my 50th high school reunion at the school I didn't graduate from. Seeing the contrast between Govs and my former public high school was interesting.
Our (Govs) 50th reunion was fantastic. People were genuinely excited to see one another and connect after so many years. Our class, comprised mostly of males, was proud to be in the class with the first graduating girls and were very encouraging of us pioneers.
It is amazing how formative the high school years are, especially at a boarding school. So much growth and maturation occur since this is the primary home of the students. You can see the respect and care among classmates, many of whom have not seen each other in decades.
Several fellow alumnae remarked how fortunate they were to have you facilitate the fishbowl conversation at Reunion, citing your expert coaching skills in navigating a challenging conversation. Can you talk more about that?
It was an easy conversation to facilitate. It was like a homecoming, and I was among old friends. I hadn't seen Anne Mackay-Smith '75 or Pam Blanchard Post '75, in particular, in 50 years, and it felt like only a few years. We had a real bond built during our time at the school, and I could feel it 50 years later.
One of the core skills in my work is listening and facilitating dialogue, and this was a dialogue we were all interested in having. I also appreciated the support of my male classmates who attended!
I understand that you are passionate about volunteer work. How will this factor more into your life in the future?
Right now, my volunteer work is focused on coaching. I am a Coach Supervisor in the William James College Graduate Certificate of Executive Coaching. I also provide pro bono coaching to social innovators. For example, I am coaching an Executive Director of a non-profit helping people with leprosy in India.
I am in the early stages of exploring other ways, beyond coaching, to give back and contribute to the world around me.