As one of the newest members of the Randolph College Board of Trustees, Katherine Clay Willis ’89 has found her investment and finance experience, as well as communication and critical thinking skills, to be her most helpful skills.
Willis believes that improving education is the key to narrowing the socioeconomic divide in the United States and volunteers for numerous educational organizations. For her part, she has served on the President’s Advisory Council at Virginia Wesleyan College and served the Cape Henry Collegiate School Board of Trustees for more than 10 years. She also continues to volunteer for the Hampton Roads chapter of Horizons, which provides cultural and educational enrichment programs for children from low-income families. In addition, she has been a member of the R-MWC Alumnae and Randolph College Alumni Association.
From her personal experience and volunteer work, Willis has found that having excellent teachers is among the most important factors in achieving a quality education.
“You can ask anybody in school, whether it’s a first grader, a high schooler, or a college student, what their favorite subject is and why, and every single time they’ll tell you the reason they like a particular subject is because they had a great teacher,” Willis said. “That’s what really grasps hold of people, and in a small environment like Randolph, you get that opportunity to engage and interact with really smart, passionate people in subject areas you’re interested in, and you’re treated like an adult.”
A double-major in economics and French, Willis said her own career was inspired by R-MWC economics professor Carl Stern and an Economics 101 course she took as a first-year student. Upon graduation from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, she worked in the brokerage sector for a year before shifting into the trading and investment industry. In 2008, Willis co-founded the Palladium Partners, LLC investment firm, where she continues to work with clients in 42 states and overseas.
When she’s not working, traveling, or volunteering, Willis enjoys reading and participating in outdoor activities with her family. She has a daughter who attends Emory University and a son who is a junior in high school.
Willis considers it a high honor to serve on the Randolph College Board of Trustees, and she has been impressed with the caliber of its members.
“I’ve been on numerous boards, but I’ve never been on a board that has such an engaged, committed, and intellectually strong group of people,” Willis said. “Even though I’ve only physically met with the Board once, this group of people is just inspiring. The College is in very good hands.”