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February 17, 2005

Advertising Guru Shelly Lazarus to Deliver Commencement Address

Honorary Degrees will be Awarded to Five at May 15 Ceremony

Editor's note: Photos of Shelly Lazarus and the other honorary degree recipients are available by e-mailing

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Rochelle “Shelly” Lazarus, who for three decades has built the brand images of such household names as American Express, IBM and Kodak, will be the speaker at Smith College’s 127th commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 15.

Lazarus, Smith College Class of 1968, and four other accomplished women, will receive honorary degrees when commencement takes place at 1:30 p.m. in the Quadrangle at the corner of Paradise Road and Elm Street.

Since 1997, Lazarus has been chair and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. She joined Ogilvy in 1971 in account service and worked in every product category. Advertising Age named the firm North American Agency of the Year in 2002. Lazarus has also been widely recognized for her success, appearing in Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of the 50 most powerful women in American Business every year since the magazine started the list in 1998.

A psychology major at Smith College, Lazarus later earned her master’s in marketing from Columbia Business School—one of only four women in her class of 300. She recently received Columbia’s Distinguished Leader in Business award – the first woman to be given that honor.

Lazarus retired from the Smith College Board of Trustees in 2003, having served as chair for the previous five years. She is an active member of many boards, including the World Wildlife Fund, General Electric and New York Presbyterian Hospital. She and her husband, George, a pediatrician, have three children and reside in New York City.

In addition to Lazarus, the following women, each a leader in her field, will receive honorary degrees:

  • Hari Brissimi, leader in global refugee work, Smith College Class of 1948. For two decades Brissimi served as director of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees – the first woman to hold that rank. In 1980, she led the resettlement of 250,000 refugees including Vietnamese boat people. Brissimi was sensitized to the plight of others early in life. Seeing her fellow Greek citizens suffer during the German occupation of 1941-1944, Brissimi exchanged English lessons for food that she distributed to the needy.
  • Olympic gold-medal-winning soccer player Julie Foudy, who started and played every minute of the USA’s five matches at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. After she made her first appearance with the national team in 1988 at the age of 16, Foudy went to Stanford University and majored in biology. A nine-year veteran of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team, she is now its captain. Foudy has also assumed an activist role, participating in the 2003 Title IX Commission as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
  • Gwen Ifill, veteran print and television journalist. For nearly three decades, Ifill has covered the White House, Congress, presidential campaigns and government. A graduate of Simmons College in Boston, Ifill started her career in print journalism at the Boston Herald and wound a path to The New York Times. She transitioned to television in 1994, joining NBC News and covering the impeachment of President Clinton. Ifill is now moderator and managing editor of PBS’ Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
  • American Cancer Society President Mary A. Simmonds, Smith College Class of 1971. The Pennsylvania native is the first woman physician from her town of New Cumberland, earning her medical degree at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1975. A prominent breast cancer specialist, Simmonds has made major contributions in the research of pain relief. She co-founded the Pennsylvania Cancer Pain Initiative and served as medical director of the Hospice of Central Pennsylvania in 1986.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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