Pioneering Women of Govs
50 Years of Women at Govs Culminating Celebration
On Saturday, June 10, during Reunion Weekend, The Governor's Academy hosted a culminating celebration to commemorate 50 Years of Women at Govs. The day-long event commenced with the induction of an all-female class into the Athletic Hall of Fame, followed by an engaging "fishbowl conversation" with six remarkable women who arrived at Byfield in the fall of 1971. These courageous, pioneering women ended a two-hundred-year tradition of The Governor's Academy as an all-boys institution. The distinguished participants included Sarah Ewell Smith '72 and representatives from the Class of 1973, namely Carol Salloway, Ginny George Garland, Dorcie Barry Storms, and Class of 1975 representatives Pam Blanchard Post and Anne MacKay-Smith.
The fishbowl conversation, facilitated by the esteemed Carol Salloway, recipient of the Alumni Council’s Alumna of the Year award, drew a large and enthusiastic audience of men and women from all corners of the Govs community. Salloway shared that being among the first female classes fostered resilience that shaped her life. She remarked, “We persevered in the face of not a lot of preparation—we felt a little invisible. We had to ask for things as we went along. It takes perseverance to roll with that and find your way, but it made me more scrappy and competent.”
Anne MacKay-Smith expressed how her pioneering experience instilled in her the confidence to take risks, forge her own path, and seek common ground in her professional life. However, she acknowledged that this confidence was often hard-won. MacKay-Smith reminded the audience that, at that time, women were unable to obtain credit cards without a husband's co-signature.
Dorcie Barry Storms, a military intelligence officer in the US Army, revealed, “I stayed in the military for 20 years, including serving during Operation Desert Storm, and traveled all over the world. I had more strength than I ever imagined—a lot of that came from my GDA experience.” She added, "Many of us had fathers who attended GDA, and they seemed proud to see their daughters join the school as it became co-ed."
Salloway credited her fellow pioneers for laying the foundation upon which the co-education experience was built. "We paved the way, and we should take pride in that accomplishment," said Salloway. Ginny George Garland and Pam Blanchard Post agreed but emphasized much work remains to be done (toward women's rights).
Following the fishbowl conversation, other Govs alums, both women and men, including the Old Guard and the Classes of 1971-1975 and beyond, expressed gratitude towards the pioneers and appreciated gaining insight into their perspectives and stories. Many mentioned not seeing each other in 50 years since their reunion classes did not overlap. Sarah Ewell Smith shared, "Throughout the day, I spoke to many classmates I had never spoken to before. The names were familiar, even if the hairlines had dramatically changed since 1973! I recall (with a smile) shared memories of classes or events." She further praised Salloway’s expert coaching, which made the potentially challenging fishbowl discussion easier to navigate.
Fishbowl participants left to right: Pam Blanchard Post '75, Carol Salloway '73, Dorcie Barry Storms '73, Ginny George Garland '73, Anne MacKay-Smith '75, and Sarah Ewell Smith '72.
After the fishbowl, attendees participated in a series of breakout discussions and presentations, including a panel called the "The New Old Guard," featuring esteemed and long-serving female faculty of Govs, including Lynda Fitzgerald P'93,'00, Karen Gold P'11,'17, Danielle Kingsbury P'20,'24, Bert McLain P'07,'09, and Elizabeth Ruhl. The panelists shared insights into today’s students about topics such as inclusivity and gender identity. “They’ve been good role models for us. No question that I’ve learned a lot from our students over the years,” said Bert McLain.
Other presentations included: Elizabeth Turnbull Henry '00, President of The Environmental League of Massachusetts, and Holly Erickson '00, who the Academy commissioned to paint the late Katherine Krall Guy’s P’05 portrait.
From the Old Guard to the reunioning Class of 2018, the Govs community capped off a wonderful day, and year-long celebration, by gathering in Frost Library to share stories and raise a glass to honor the remarkable women of Govs.
Reflecting on their experiences, Dorcie Barry Storms summed it up by saying, "If I had the chance, I'd do it all over again."