Story by Steve Holt
Image by Tim Cox
Focuses on the success of students and alums.
It had been a down day on the New York Stock Exchange, but spirits were high on an evening in mid-May, as the Lehigh Wall Street Council gathered on the Exchange floor for their first in-person spring reception since the COVID pandemic. Well over a hundred faculty, administration, staff and alumni enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres, while networking and visiting with old and new friends.
The Lehigh Wall Street Council was created over 20 years ago by a group of Lehigh grads who occupied top positions in blue chip financial services firms. The Council’s events are open to Lehigh alumni, parents and friends of the university who work in financial services. The goals of the Council include: fostering a Lehigh alumni network; enhancing career opportunities for Lehigh students and alumni; contributing to Lehigh’s academic endeavors; strengthening Lehigh’s reputation.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Professor James A. Greenleaf Award to Michele Finder ’91, a member of the Council’s executive committee. The annual award honors the late professor emeritus of finance and law, and salutes an alumnus who has succeeded in the financial services industry, while also devoting significant time and effort to giving back to Lehigh.
Finder has a stellar career in finance, with achievements at firms such as Merrill Lynch and BNP Paribas. She credits Lehigh, and especially Professor Greenleaf for much of her success.
“Professor Greenleaf ignited our interest in investing and evaluating companies, and understanding the markets. He took us to New York to meet other alumni and always put his focus on helping students find jobs on Wall Street. He was a living ‘LinkedIn’ before there was a LinkedIn! He’s a big reason I’m so involved with the Lehigh Wall Street Council today and continue to work with students at Lehigh.”
The chief revenue officer for data intelligence firm Killington Technologies, Andrew Fife ’85 is a second-generation Lehigh alum, and president of the Wall Street Council. He was drawn to the Council initially for the networking opportunities, but quickly found he was passionate about mentoring Lehigh graduates.
“That’s the most important thing we do. Not only does it benefit the students, it’s a way for alumni to have an impact on the entrepreneurs and business experts of the future. The school benefits, students benefit—it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Council founder and current Council vice president, Michael Connor ’80 is executive director at DriveWealth, sponsor of this year’s event, along with the department of finance and alumni relations.
“The Lehigh presence in the industry is strong, so by reinforcing the Council’s tie to Lehigh, we maintain that strength of presence. That’s helpful for recruiting, giving and visibility. We’re extremely proud of that.”
Jennifer Miller ’82 was already launched in her portfolio management career when she heard about one of the Council’s annual Wall Street events.
“I was at a point in my career when I thought I should be networking more. I attended one of the Council events, and spoke with Mike Connor, who was the president of the Council at the time. I commented to him, ‘You don’t have any women on the council.’ And he said, ‘You’re right.’ Then he asked, ‘Are you volunteering?’ I said yes!”
Miller also finds mentoring to be deeply satisfying. “I’ll always take a call from a Lehigh grad.”
Amid the glowing LED screens that festooned the booths of brokerage houses and cable television channels on the Exchange, the Dean of the College of Business, Georgette Chapman Phillips, expressed her pride in the Wall Street Council.
“I think the Lehigh brand is known for graduates who are hardworking, industrious and entrepreneurial. That’s what I want to be known for. I don’t want to be Harvard or Yale. I want to be Lehigh.”