Yvonne Shepard receives Rumely Award
May 23rd, 2013 | SMWC
At Reunion 2013, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College National Alumni Association Board of Directors presented the Frances Murphy Rumely award to former AT&T executive, Yvonne Shepard ’68.
The annual award is presented annually in memory of Frances Murphy Rumely, class of 1935, whose life was a celebration of the education she received at her beloved Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC). In her lifetime, Rumely volunteered thousands of hours to her college and community. The award recognizes graduates who demonstrates outstanding dedication to civic, religious or educational organizations, volunteers significantly to one or more such organizations and exhibits leadership through work for such organizations.
Honored to be selected, Shepard expressed her gratitude for the support of friends who nominated her. She credits SMWC for instilling in her the sense of responsibility to be a good citizen and help others.
“It’s important to develop and grow, not just as professionals, but as human beings,” Shepard explained. “The College emphasized the importance of academics, but also taught us to be good citizens. That’s why we do what we do.”
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Shepard graduated from SMWC in 1968 with a degree in mathematics. She enjoyed a long and successful career in the business world, becoming president and chief operating officer of AT&T of Puerto Rico, a 250 million dollar subsidiary of AT&T with 400 employees. Later, she was appointed marketing vice president for global markets. In 1992, MANA, a National Latina Organization, a national grassroots organization dedicated to empowering Latinas, recognized Shepard as the highest-ranking female and minority corporate executive in the United States.
Jane O’Brien Argento '68, who submitted the nomination for the award, said that Shepard’s desire for opening doors of opportunity to women of all backgrounds makes her very special.
After retiring from AT&T in 2002, Shepard pondered the next step in her life. Reentering the corporate world held little interest for Shepard, but she still felt she had a lot to give. She collaborated with a group of eight other like-minded, retired women executives from AT&T who were also considered too young to be retired with a strong desire to give back to the community. They formed a group now call NineWomen. Through the support and encouragement of the group, they searched for ways to enrich their own lives as well as the lives of others. Their journeys through this time are told in their award winning book, “Beyond the Corner Office.” The book of essays provides tools and information to help other women.
The result of this soul-searching time Shepard realized her desire to help women, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children. She partnered with Literacy Volunteers of America and founded an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at her parish, St. Magdalen de Pazzi Church in Flemington, N.J. There she taught English to adult students and assisted them in the difficult transition to life in a new country.
Her deepest passion lies with her work with Hispanic youth through Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA), of which Shepard chairs the board of directors. HISPA’s mission is to inspire Latino students to stay in school and set goals for successful careers. The organization enlists the help of Latino professionals to serve as role models and mentors starting in middle school. In 2012, HISPA honored Shepard’s service and commitment to Latino youth by naming a scholarship in her honor.
“We want these students to dream big,” Shepard said. “Education is a pathway for these students to fulfill their dreams, and we are there to support them in their dreams by telling them, ‘Yes, you can do that!’ When we bring in the Latino professionals to speak to the students, they begin to realize that ‘if he or she can do it, so can I."
Shepard and her husband Ron Zanders reside in Flemington, N.J.