Karena Strella '90

Karena Strella '90 oversees the Global Life Sciences and Healthcare Services Group at Egon Zehnder, one of the world's leading executive search and appraisal firms. When Strella reflects upon her career, she notes the importance of Mount Holyoke's unique environment where students immerse themselves in intense academics, extracurricular ativities, and leadership opportunities. "What prepared me to lead at this level was my experience at MHC," she says.

"My work has involved assisting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the HIV vaccine, going out and finding the experts to conduct collaborative research, and then helping those teams accelerate how they work together."

She expresses gratitude for the College's generous financial aid policies. "When I was a high school student in Iowa, Mount Holyoke's tuition was out of my family's reach. But I was welcomed regardless of my ability to pay. Now, it's important to me to help open that dor for other young women."

Since 2006, Strella, who majored in psychology and later earned an M.B.A./M.M. from Northwestern University, has supported the Annual Fund Scholars Program with a gift that provides a one-year scholarship in her name. "Each recipient truly embodies the liberal arts view. In addition to offering stellar academics, Mount Holyoke encourages their varying interests—whether it's sports, music, or politics—and invites them to lead."

Leadership strategies and the question of what makes great leaders have fascinated Strella since her Mount Holyoke days. "At MHC, leading in a community of peers was the norm. That's a unique leadership skill; it's very different from leading through direct authority. Developing leadership skills is something Mount Holyoke does exceptionally well."

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