Kathleen Hurlie’s introduction to Iona was an evening class in literature that she enrolled in while working full-time during the day for NBC. “I toiled away for a year or so after high school while most of my friends enjoyed collegiate life. I began to see what I was missing as I heard them discussing various works of literature, and I wanted to at least catch up with them on that front,” Hurlie recalled.
Her desire to talk about great books with her friends soon expanded into full-time studies through what was then called Iona’s Evening Division. Thinking that she would be able to spend more time on her courses, Hurlie left her job in Manhattan for a position at a company in Greenwich. “This was a mistake, as this new company was clearly entrenched in the past,” she recalled. “I was told when applying for a promotion that I could not move up to the next position until I finished my degree even though my male boss didn’t have a degree either!” Fortunately, NBC asked Hurlie to return, and, recognizing she was serious about earning her bachelor’s degree, started giving her “incremental promotions” which eventually led into significant career opportunities.
In the ’70s, women were still relatively few in number at Iona, and Hurlie was the only woman in most of her classes. “In my Communications class, every time one of the guys used even a mild expletive, they would turn to me and apologize. As part of the examination of different types of media, our instructor advised us all to buy a copy of Playboy and be prepared to discuss it at the next class. I made the decision to skip that class so the guys could talk more freely!”
Immediately after earning her undergraduate degree, Hurlie entered Iona’s MBA program, where she noticed a few more women in her classes. “The change had begun!” By this time, her series of jobs at NBC had transformed into a meaningful career. “Iona allowed me the education and creativity I needed to advance in my career,” she said. Hurlie became executive vice president of NBC’s Olympic Division responsible for infrastructure development, planning and implementation for the broadcasts of the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2002 Olympic Games. She received several Emmy awards for her work, and directed over $100 million in production costs, as well as managing over 1,000 personnel for each Olympics. She retired in 2002 after 33 years with the company, but, at NBC’s request continued on as a consultant through the 2008 Olympics. Hurlie serves as a member of the Iona College Board of Trustees and Chairs the Board Committee on Trustees and Governance.
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