Former Mount Mary University president Christine Pharr to be honored as BizTimes Media’s Woman Executive of the Year

Christine Pharr
Christine Pharr

Last updated on July 22nd, 2022 at 01:46 pm

Dr. Christine Pharr, who recently retired as president of Mount Mary University, will be honored as BizTimes Media’s 12th Woman Executive of the Year award winner.

Pharr will be recognized at the Women in Business Symposium, to be held at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Brookfield Conference Center, 325 S. Moorland Road, Brookfield. Click here to register.

Pharr became president of Mount Mary University in 2017 and retired on July 1 of this year. She was succeeded by social scientist Isabelle Cherney.

During Pharr’s tenure at Mount Mary, she led numerous renovation projects on campus including the recent development of a new intergenerational living facility, Trinity Woods, a home for School Sisters of Notre Dame, seniors from the community and student single mothers and their children. Pharr led efforts to raise $2 million for the $45 million project.

The university also launched in 2021 its four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program after the construction of a $2.5 million Health Sciences Center.

During Pharr’s tenure, Mount Mary established and grew several programs, including its Compass Year first-year program for undecided students.

To help students disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pharr’s President’s Emergency Fund awarded more than $60,000 to 46 students.

Another funding source she founded, the Madonna Fund, raised $1.2 million to support single mothers studying at Mount Mary.

Pharr also served as a co-chair of goal II of the Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA), vice chair of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and as a member of Milwaukee downtown Rotary, TEMPO and Milwaukee Women, Inc.

Mount Mary ranked number one in the Midwest in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of top-performing schools for social mobility in 2022.

“Since the moment she arrived on campus, Dr. Pharr was a force for change and an outspoken community advocate for transformative education for women, particularly those underserved in our community,” said Mount Mary spokeswoman Kathy Van Zeeland.

“Dr. Christine Pharr’s accomplishments in the past four years at Mount Mary University have been remarkable,” said BizTimes Media publisher Dan Meyer. “The university and the Milwaukee region will benefit from her leadership for years to come. Dr. Pharr will join a distinguished list of previous award recipients and we’re thrilled to recognize her as the BizTimes Media 2022 Woman Executive of the Year honoree.”

Past BizTimes Media Women Executive of the Year honorees include:

  • 2021 – Kathy Koshgarian, president and COO, The Dohmen Company Foundation
  • 2020 – Patty Cadorin, senior advisor, BMO Harris Bank
  • 2019 – Mary Lou Young, former CEO of the United Way of Milwaukee & Waukesha County
  • 2018 – Juli Kaufmann, president, Fix Development
  • 2017 – Wendy Baumann, president and chief visionary officer, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.
  • 2016 – Paula Pennebaker, president and CEO, YWCA Southeast Wisconsin
  • 2015 – Dr. Eve Hall, former president and CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin
  • 2014 – Nan Gardetto, founder, owner and CEO, Baptista’s Bakery, Inc.
  • 2013 – Maria Monreal-Cameron, former president and CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin
  • 2012 – Gail Lione, former executive vice president, Harley-Davidson, and former president of the Harley-Davidson Foundation
  • 2011 – Cynthia LaConte, president and CEO, Dohmen

In addition to the presentation of the Woman Executive of the Year Award, the Women in Business Symposium will be focused on moving forward and taking action in a time of disruption. After two-plus years of constant change, uncertainty and stress, this year’s Women in Business event will focus on women shaping their path forward, whatever it might be. From breaking into the c-suite to starting a business to taking on tough technical projects or finding work-life balance. The Women in Business Symposium will focus on making and acting on the choice to take control and proactively seize opportunities rather than waiting for change to disrupt your life.

The event will include a panel discussion featuring:

The panel discussion will be moderated by Kathy Thornton-Bias, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee

Following the panel discussion, there will be multiple breakout sessions for deeper discussions on topics like: How future fit are you? career navigation; attraction, retention, and positioning your firm as an employer of choice; crucial conversations; and mental health and wellness.

U.S. Bank is the presenting sponsor for the Women in Business Symposium.

Signature sponsors are Quarles & Brady LLP and Summit Credit Union.

Milwaukee Women incProfessional Dimensions and TEMPO are partners with the event.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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