2008 Distinguished Service to the College

Elizabeth Ann (Betsy) Buckley ’69

When students first begin their college educations, they are frequently admonished to be open to new ideas, to new ways of looking at things, to expand their experiences, to consider more possibilities and option in their lives, educations and careers. Elizabeth (Betsy) Buckley dramatically epitomizes these guidelines in her personal life, her work and by her service on behalf of her community. Best of all, as she says, “Everything I do is fun! … my work is fun, my family is fun, my faith is fun!” And, she heartily credits Norbertines Xavier Colavechio and Joel Garner for helping her learn how to “balance a professional quest for knowledge, an intensely practical understanding of the real world, a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and a deeply spiritual faith.”

When Betsy graduated from St. Norbert College with a B.A. in education, she intended to be an elementary school teacher. After three years of teaching, she felt strongly drawn to social service and to a variety of professional opportunities: first, as deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Corrections Department where she helped run eight prisons and 87 county jails; then, as VP of sales and marketing for an urban development corporation; next, as an investment officer in a Twin Cities firm, during which time she became the cities number one stock picker and hosted a daily after-market radio show called “MarketWatch;” on to the 1990s and a senior partnership with a public relations firm and an executive vice presidency with a Weber Shandwick Public Relations Company (and co-led the Tokyo office with her husband, Dennis); co-founded a communications consulting firm; and, at the present time, founder and president of “What Matters LLL.” What Matters is “devoted to creating profitable revenue growth for professional service firms through coaching, consulting and training.” In the last 10 years, Betsy has lived her passion for growth and change by founding and running three companies. She also currently serves as a Vistage International Chair, helping CEOs to make better decisions, become better leaders and produce better results.

Betsy’s connection to St. Norbert College has remained strong. Besides speaking at many campus-sponsored activities, hosting admission receptions in her home, voluntarily coaching seniors as they map out their professional careers, and serving on the Alumni Board, she is now in her second 5-year term on St. Norbert’s board of trustees.

Her fellow trustees so respect and admire her professional skills and personal attributes, that she was chosen to be chair of the recent Presidential Search Committee. As chair, Betsy worked with and led 17 trustees, alumni, faculty, administrators, students, staff and Norbertines in the search that resulted in the unanimous selection of St. Norbert’s seventh president, Thomas Kunkel.

As a fellow trustee said of Betsy, she “has served the college extraordinarily well. She has done so in a self-emptying service that has set a standard for all … and raised the awareness and the esteem the college is held in throughout higher education.”

A colleague of hers adds that Betsy “really is a true leader and positive advocate for the college. Any time SNC calls for Betsy’s leadership or consultation, she has always been willing to actively get involved.”

In her community, Betsy is active in many organizations, including Women Venture, Catholic Charities, Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, Catholic Senior Services and YWCA. Further involvement includes 12 different business-related organizations. So … successful leader in business, active in her community, dedicated alumna of St. Norbert College, and wife-mother-grandmother; what better recipient could we imagine than Betsy Buckley for this year’s Distinguished Service Award?!

Betsy’s philosophy of life? “Simple. Growth Matters. So my job in life is to constantly challenge myself to grow into the fullness of all my gifts and to guide the growth of others.”