Class of 1983
Marymount alum Susan Lacz came to Arlington from New Jersey in the late 1970s to attend college. She never left the area. Today, CEO of Bethesda-based Ridgewells Catering, Susan serves on the MU board of trustees and is chairing the most ambitious capital campaign in the 67 year history of her alma mater.
“I am going to draw from my own experience as we approach alumni who have not been approached before and ask them to participate in the campaign. That’s what happened to me – Marymount found me! I hadn’t stepped on the campus for many years and simply was not attached to the college … until about ten years ago. Someone from the development office picked up the phone and said, ‘I noticed the CEO of Ridgewells is a Marymount alum. Could I come see you?’
“I was just about to get together with some of my college friends at the beach when I got that call, and the Marymount development staff member asked if they could send me some MU things. We got the biggest kick out of opening that package. We all put on our MU t-shirts and did yoga on the beach and had our photo on the cover of the alumni magazine. We loved it!”
Susan is one of many Marymount Saints success stories. After graduation in 1983, she pursued a career in sales and catering in D.C., which led to her joining Ridgewells Catering in 1986 and becoming partner and CEO in 1997. Ridgewells Catering (www.ridgewells.com) is an upscale, award-winning full service off-premise company that provides services locally to the D.C. Metropolitan area and to national sporting events, including the U.S. Men’s Open Golf Championship. The company’s operation also encompassevs Haute Catering, a union operation in D.C.; Capitol Hosts, catering events on Capitol Hill; and Purple Tie, an events/catering staffing company. Among many professional accomplishments, Susan was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Greater Washington and was named to the Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business and Power 100.
Her extensive business development experience and relentless passion for excellence are a perfect skill set to chair the $40 million fundraising campaign.” I bring a pivotal, seasoned and highly networked connection with the business community. Business development is what I love. We are going to reach out to all generations of MU Saints to raise awareness of the exciting things happening at their alma mater – and show how they can help.”
Susan was already familiar with Marymount when she started her college search because she had family in McLean. She liked that Marymount offered the best of both worlds – an intimate campus and small class sizes coupled with being right next to Washington, D.C. “I came to Marymount with some of my girlfriends from home; those college friends are still my closest friends. I loved the whole Marymount experience. It was a perfect school for me. I know there are many more alums out there like me who would say, ‘Marymount was good to me. I want to be part of this.’ I want to reach out and ask, ‘When’s the last time you visited Marymount? Come see your alma mater now!’”
When they do, they will see the new LEED-Gold Certified Ballston Center rising on the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, the same spot where decades of Saints attended classes in the legendary Blue Goose. The transformation to this 21st-century educational and residential complex is “such an enticing story for a fundraiser to get to tell our alums!” Susan adds.
Along with supporting development of the Ballston Center, the campaign includes funding initiatives for scholarship expansion, academic enrichment (endowed professorships, chairs and academic programs) and student research and experiential learning.
Susan admits to deliberating a while before taking on the chairmanship because of its demanding time commitment. “But I love working with Matt Shank and Joe Foster, and in fact, everyone at MU Development. The quiet phase of the campaign was successful and that was a factor in my decision. So, it is a big commitment, no question, but we are going to get it done!”