The leader of one of the D.C. area’s largest construction companies will speak at the May 18 graduation ceremony for the GW School of Business.
Alumna Linda Rabbitt, founder and chief executive officer of Rand Construction Corporation, will deliver a message about entrepreneurship to graduates.
"I’m honored to have been chosen for the commencement address this year," Rabbitt said in a statement. "I still recall both the excitement and trepidation of my own graduation forty years ago and it is with the perspective of those next forty years that I will address this year’s graduating class. Much in business has changed but entrepreneurship and the 'impact of the individual' remains more important than ever."
Rabbitt, who earned her master’s degree from GW in 1972, is also a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
“Linda exemplifies just how somebody can build themselves up from truly an entrepreneurial position of starting her own business and really becoming a power player,” Dean Doug Guthrie said.
Since founding the company in 1989, Rabbitt has developed the Arlington, Va. company to become one of the largest female-owned companies in the country.
She also chairs the Federal City Council – a powerful group of philanthropists and business leaders in D.C. – and is the deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
Guthrie said Rabbitt’s speech would add fuel to the school’s broader social mission while spotlighting an influential trustee.
“We’re interested in all topics that are really about important social issues as they relate to business and the under-representation of women in business is a crucial one,” Guthrie said. “But Linda was chosen, because she’s just a phenomenal business person and a trustee, and she’s a good mentor and a supporter of mine.”
The female population among the business school’s MBA students dropped 7 percent between 2008 and 2010, while more women were pouring into advanced business programs nationally.
This year, the business school will combine its graduation ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students for the first time, which business school spokesman Dustin Carnevale said would help enhance the sense of community throughout the school.
Last year, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner addressed business school graduates, speaking about the “passion and joy” needed to succeed in business.