As Marymount University advances into the public phase of the largest capital campaign in its history, Susan Lacz has been named chair of the $40 million fundraising initiative, according to President Matthew D. Shank. A Marymount alumna (’83, B.A. Marketing), Lacz is CEO of Bethesda-based Ridgewells Catering.
Honorary chairs for the campaign are Fred and Marlene Malek for whom the Malek School of Health Professions at Marymount is named. Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Marlene Malek graduated in 1979 from the school of health of professions which she and her husband later endowed.
Lacz’s history with the college started almost four decades ago when she moved to Arlington from New Jersey to earn her bachelor’s degree in marketing at the then-all girls college. She never left northern Virginia. After graduation in 1983, she pursued a career in sales and catering in D.C., which led to her joining Ridgewells Catering in 1986. She became 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 national sporting events to include the U.S. Men’s Open Golf Championship. The company’s operation also includes Haute Catering, a union operation in D.C; Capitol Hosts, catering events on Capitol Hill; and Purple Tie, a catering staff company.
Lacz is active in a number of Catholic organizations, to include Catholic Charities for the Washington Archdiocese and the Don Bosco Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program. She sits on such D.C. organization boards as Junior Achievement and The Greater Washington Board of Trade. She 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. Under her leadership Ridgewells has won numerous local and national industry awards.
Since she had family in McLean, Lacz was familiar with Marymount when she was on her college search. She really liked the small campus and class sizes, and the idea of being close to Washington. “So I came to Marymount with some of my girlfriends from home, and those college friends are still my closest friends. I loved the camaraderie and the whole Marymount experience. It was a perfect size school for me.” Lacz added that Marymount, of course, is a much different school nearly 40 years later, and by meeting the campaign’s funding goal, the comprehensive co-educational university with its diverse campus community will continue to evolve to meet the academic needs of future students.
The campaign will enhance the University’s capacity to meet the emerging needs of academic delivery as it targets four specific areas: scholarship expansion, academic enrichment (endowed professorships, chairs and academic programs), student research and experiential learning, and the development of the Ballston Center, which includes a nine-story academic/office building and a fifteen-story residential/retail complex.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have an alumna the caliber of Susan Lacz chairing this critical initiative. We know she will bring the same determination, creativity, networking savvy, and passion to our campaign that has built her catering enterprise into one of the most successful and highly respected in the capital, and in fact the entire country,” President Shank said.
Lacz adds, “This is such an enticing story for a fundraiser to get to tell! For example, I am excited about how compelling the draw is to our School of Business Administration (SBA), which will be fully housed in the new Ballston Center. We have a new SBA dean and this state-of-the-art facility with its forward-thinking mixed use space will open some nice doors for Marymount.”
Lacz is very clear about why she decided to accept such a time-consuming chairmanship given her schedule and limited discretionary time. “I chaired the trustees’ committee that oversees the capital campaign and I innately knew it needed someone like me, who has a fierce passion for both business development and for the University. I’m an alum! I couldn’t see bringing in someone to lead who doesn’t have that strong connection to Marymount, who wouldn’t have the same passion for it – even having the fight song in them – like I do. And, I also can bring a pivotal, seasoned and highly networked connection with the business community. Business development is my sweet spot; it’s what I love. But we also are going to have to do our job in leveraging this opportunity to reach out to all generations of MU Saints to raise awareness of the exciting things happening at their alma mater and how they can help.”
Lacz admits to deliberating a while before taking on the chairmanship because of its demanding time commitment. “But I love working with Matt Shank and Vice President for Advancement Joe Foster
and in fact, everyone in 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!”