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Marymount Service Features Distinguished Alumna Annie Maxwell

Interfaith Thanksgiving gathering celebrates community and the accomplishments of students

Marymount of Santa Barbara got an early start to the holiday season with Tuesday’s interfaith Thanksgiving service.

Annie Maxwell
Annie Maxwell

The service is the traditional finale of Grandparents and Special Friends Day and, in the words of one grandfather in the crowd, “is a centering, grounding moment before the craziness of the holidays.”

This year’s service celebrated the public service accomplishments of the students, the importance of family and community, being thankful and continuing to strive to always do better in one’s life. Marymount children sang and spoke in at least 10 different languages. Grandparent chairwoman and Marymount alumna Francoise Park, applauded the students’ impact on the larger Santa Barbara community, the confidence and values that Marymount instills, and the direction of the school.

“My generation often talks about the good old days, but when I look at what this school is doing and the students it is producing, I think that today is the golden age for this school and for these children,” Park said.

Minister John Love and Cantor Mark Childs shared traditions and the importance of community and Thanksgiving. The service ended with a talk by Annie Maxwell, Marymount’s 2011 Distinguished Alumna.

Maxwell graduated from Marymount in 1993 and went on to Santa Barbara High School, where she excelled as both an athlete and a scholar. She attended the University of Michigan on a full athletic scholarship and was captain of the university’s Division I volleyball team. She received her master’s degree in public policy and a bachelor’s degree in English and political science, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.

Maxwell then served as chairwoman of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and was a member of the founding Board of Directors for the nonprofit Wizzy Digital. In 2007, she was one of 57 Americans selected for the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a program designed to educate the next generation of American and European leaders.

From 2002 to 2009, she worked with Direct Relief International, serving most recently as chief operating officer. During her tenure at Direct Relief, Maxwell was seconded to the United Nations’ Office of the Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, led by former President Bill Clinton, the agency’s special envoy. She served as partnership and outreach officer, focusing on environmental issues and the role of NGOs in the recovery effort.

In 2009, Maxwell was appointed by President Barack Obama as one of 15 members of the 2009-2010 class of White House Fellows. Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of remarkable professional achievement early in one’s career, evidence of leadership potential, a proven commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest level of the federal government. Today, Maxwell is chief operating officer at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and lives in San Francisco.

“Marymount made me think I could do anything,” Maxwell told the gathered community. “I think of the decision my family made to send me to Marymount, and I am filled with gratitude. I look out and see the coach who taught me to play volleyball ... the teachers who encouraged me along the way. Thank you.”

— Molly Seguel is director of admissions for Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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