Marietta Lee '83 Receives Distinguished Alumni Award
Posted 08/01/2013 02:05PM
The 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Marietta Lee ’83 P ’12, ’14, a businesswoman, engineer, lawyer, former television journalist, public servant, and community volunteer. During a special ceremony with graduating 8th Graders, Marietta shared some words of wisdom.

She began by talking about The Country School, and what it was like when she was a student. She was just one of three girls in her graduation class, Marietta recalled. There were no outdoor education trips and no 8th Grade Utah trip. The school had just acquired its first computer. "But some things were very much the same," she said. "Mr. McGee was the math teacher. The basement - just like it does today - always smelled a little funny, and .... we were all – just like you all are – lucky to be here."

Marietta went on to describe her evolution post TCS, as she moved from high school to college and law school, embarked on her career and then changed careers, and became a parent. In a speech that managed to be inspiring, funny, and serious all at once, she shared some of the lessons she's learned along the way and offered advice to the soon-to-be graduates.

“First of all, stop worrying about what other people think,” she said. “If you don’t understand something, speak up! Ask questions, demand a better explanation. Nobody is going to think you are stupid. More than likely they will be relieved that you spoke up.

“Secondly – set goals, work … and don’t give up. And when you do succeed – which you will – pat yourself on the back and enjoy your success. I’m not saying brag. But give yourself permission to feel good about it. If you get a good grade, get an award, win a contest, or get admitted into a good school, it is not because someone felt sorry for you or because you were lucky. It is because you worked hard and because you deserve it. Own your success!”

Marietta (pictured above with Head of School Laurie Bottiger and Alumni Board member Katherine Cahouet Connolly '77 during the award ceremony) has much success to own. After graduating from TCS, where she earned both the Math Prize and the Athletic Award, she attended Choate Rosemary Hall, Georgetown (BA), and Catholic University (JD). She then enjoyed a successful career in television journalism before leaving to join the family business, The Lee Company. While working at The Lee Company, she studied for and received another degree, this one in engineering.

Marietta currently serves as vice president and corporate secretary of The Lee Company, started by her grandfather, Leighton Lee II, more than 60 years ago. She also serves as police commissioner for the town of Madison and has served on the Board of Directors at the Scranton Library, The Valley Shore YMCA, and The Shoreline Foundation. She founded the non-profit Madison Fireworks Organization to raise money for the town's annual Independence Day fireworks display. And she is, of course, mom to TCS alum Cashen Keeler ’12, a rising sophomore at the Taft School, and Maggie, a member of the class of 2014 and the recipient of this year’s Robinson Scholar Award.

Last fall, Marietta was profiled as a successful woman in STEM by Byron Academy, an organization dedicated to encouraging more girls to go to into science, technology, engineering, and math fields. The article, “Former TV Journalist Turns Engineer: Marietta Lee Offers Lessons in Grit and Adaptability,” focused on her career transition and what it took to get her where she is today. “I don’t ever want to be comfortable,” Marietta told her interviewer. “You should always challenge yourself; don’t be stagnant.”  To read the entire article, click here.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to a Country School alumnus/a who "through actions, deeds, or words exemplifies the true spirit of The Country School." The award recognizes individuals who, in the words of the school Mission statement, look beyond themselves, to work cooperatively with others, and to serve their communities and the larger world. During the special ceremony, members of the Class of 2013 were also inducted into the Alumni Association, and their class banner was unveiled. 

To learn more about the Distinguished Alumni Award and previous award recipients, click here.