Honoree Marcelo a "connections entrepreneur."

Sheila Lirio Marcelo ’93, founder and CEO of Care.com

By Emily Harrison Weir

The idea that the business world is all about making connections has a special meaning for Sheila Lirio Marcelo ’93.

The founder, chairwoman, and CEO of Care.com has built a successful business by connecting people with the care services they need—such as childcare, eldercare, housecleaning, dog walking, or tutoring.

She will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters at Mount Holyoke College's 178th commencement on May 17.

"Mount Holyoke was a transformational experience in my life. It was where I learned to stretch myself, where I saw the true power of women," said Marcelo. "Being conferred an honorary degree by an institution that I hold in such high esteem is truly a milestone that I could not have imagined and will deeply cherish. 

She is expected to tell graduates that they have more power than they realize and to be bold about embracing that power.

Building a business based on caring.

Having married and started her family while still in college, Marcelo knew firsthand that it can be a struggle to find suitable childcare, home health care for aging relatives, tutors, and other services. She realized that thousands of people have similar needs, and thought technology might provide a better way to meet those needs than relying on tips from friends and family members.

Marcelo's Mount Holyoke economics major, Harvard JD/MBA, and experience working at two Internet companies gave her the skills to build a company out of that idea.

She started Care.com in 2006 and took the company public in 2014. The Boston Globe recently called it "something of an Amazon.com for caregivers." Now operating in 16 countries, Care.com is the largest online care destination in the world, with more than 14 million members.

Named one of the top ten women entrepreneurs by Fortune magazine in 2014, Marcelo also was the youngest recipient of the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award in 2014 and received a Filipino Heritage Award from President Benigno Aquino III. She advocates for women in entrepreneurial and technology leadership roles and speaks frequently in leading national forums.

Despite all the acclaim and marketplace success, Marcelo told a Bloomberg Business reporter that businesspeople shouldn't "let the business school Kool-Aid go to your head. . . . So much of leadership is helping other people and being selfless." For Marcelo, the complex entrepreneurial world always comes back to making human connections.

Commencement dignitaries.

Marcelo joins an illustrious list of previous Mount Holyoke honorary degree recipients, including poet Maya Angelou, actress Glenn Close, activist Rosa Parks, reformer and 1902 MHC alumna Frances Perkins, and President William McKinley. Mount Holyoke's tradition of awarding honorary degrees to extraordinary individuals dates back to 1894.

Others receiving honorary degrees this year are national education advocate Carol Geary Schneider ’67; Newman’s Own Foundation CEO Robert Forrester; and acclaimed vocal artist Meredith Monk.