During her time at Mount Holyoke, Helen Donovan ’69 internalized her professors’ high standards and a passion for learning that would serve well in her career. She went to school to get a Ph.D., hoping to teach English. But soon Donovan moved out of academia and into the fast-paced, cutthroat world of daily journalism. She was hooked.
After earning a master’s degree in journalism from University of Virginia and working briefly as a copy editor for Fortune magazine, Donovan landed her first assignment as a daily reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Soon Donovan moved up in the ranks, heading over to work as the op-ed editor for the Boston Globe. She progressed through the paper’s male-dominated hierarchy, becoming the assistant managing editor of the Sunday edition, and then on to become the national editor in 1985. Eventually, her determination and meticulous attention to detail helped her to secure the second-in-command position as the Globe’s managing editor. Donovan had numerous responsibilities, functioning as an intermediary among the various editorial departments and serving as a last read for the front page. Donovan held this revered position for 15 years.
She was awarded the Mary Lyon Spirit Award by the Mount Holyoke Club of Boston in 1999 for her dedication, pioneering spirit, and consistent advancement.