THE WORTH OF A WOMAN
Caroline Arnold Davis ’60’s knack for business propelled her great success as founder of Carlisle and cofounder of Worth. She celebrated her recent retirement with a $1 million gift to Hollins to honor the women who have made a difference in her life–and to inspire future female leaders.
Worth’s 25th anniversary publication, spring 2016: Lucy Davis Haynes ’84, Carrie Haynes (Caroline’s namesake granddaughter), and Caroline.
Last year, Worth, Ltd., the luxury women’s apparel company Caroline Arnold Davis ’60 founded in 1991 with partner Jay Rosenberg, celebrated its 25th anniversary. Worth marked the milestone with an “In Women We Believe” campaign, a sentiment that embraces Davis’ professional and personal vision—and is the inspiration for her recent $1 million unrestricted gift to Hollins. “In women I have believed over so many years,” says Davis, who recently retired with the title of Worth Founding Partner. “My gift came from wanting to support women. Single-sex education is still just as valid as it was in 1960. Hollins’ leadership development gives women confidence and knowledge that they can do anything they want.”
Her own formidable leadership skills were forged in the company of women: first, her mother and grandmothers, and, later, Hollins, where Davis discovered what she calls “limitless opportunities,” from student government to strong peer role models. As a young mother in the 1960s, she sold clothing for Doncaster in her home or by appointment. In 1980, she founded Carlisle with the same female-centered business model, and 10 years later, sold her company and founded Worth, which today has over $95 million in annual sales. More than 1,200 female Worth associates sell the line, and daughter Lucy Davis Haynes ’84, a top-selling Worth associate who has her M.B.A. from Vanderbilt, is on the Worth board. (Davis’ other daughter Pyper was an investment banker and now runs Educare, a Washington, D.C., preschool for underserved children, proof that Davis is continuing the family tradition of strong female role models.)
Davis certainly gives credit to her optimism, tenacity, and love of hard work. She’s survived cancer twice, weathered and won a lawsuit from a former business partner, and has witnessed decades of change as women entered the workforce. “When I started at Doncaster, most women in the company didn’t have their own bank accounts,” says Davis. Passionate about sharing what she’s learned, Davis has served Hollins in multiple capacities, was the inaugural Celeste Koger Hampton ’60 Alumnae-in-Residence, received the 2007 Distinguished Alumnae Award, and enjoyed a long philanthropic career on hospital, Junior League, and other boards. She’s quick though to name the real reason why her companies have flourished—female networking: “Certainly men have started most of the businesses in the world, and there are some extraordinary ones at that, but I think my model of relationships works [as a business model]. Women have the ability to reach out and draw others to them in every profession, and Worth customers are especially grateful for the touch and caring feeling women bring. I believe if you challenge and encourage women and give them the right kind of leadership and coaching, you can help make other people successful.”
Sarah Achenbach ’88 is an author and freelance writer based in Baltimore.
NEWS FROM YOUR ALUMNAE BOARD
Since the last issue, your Alumnae Board has been hard at work to improve our connection to you, our alumnae. One effort we have undertaken is personally thanking our alumnae volunteers for their time and effort spent on Hollins’ behalf. We certainly couldn’t do all that we do without you. The board has also launched a monthly Alumnae Board Bulletin, available on the Alumnae Facebook page, to keep you up-to-date on what is happening at Hollins and letting you know of opportunities for you to be involved with Hollins, its students, and your fellow alumnae. Continuing our effort to communicate with you, we have begun “Meet & Greet the Alumnae Board,” providing you with opportunities to let your voices be heard at reunions, leadership summits, and the C3 conferences. We are also working with staff for ways to improve the Hollins alumnae website, making it better, and easier, for you to use. Our goal is to make this fabulous network of Hollins women the strongest it can be.
At reunion this year, I will relinquish my position as president of your alumnae association when you elect Sarah Holland ’64 to serve. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent you for the past two years and I am deeply humbled to have the opportunity, which has only deepened my love for our shared alma mater. Thank you.
More importantly at reunion, Hollins and her alumnae will recognize President Nancy Oliver Gray for her extraordinary tenure as Hollins’ 11th president and wish her a fond farewell. She was the right person at the right time as she has successfully seen us through some challenging times. Elsewhere in this issue there will be a very long list of the many achievements she has so aptly led at Hollins and the noteworthy recognition she has garnered for us. Nancy Gray has represented Hollins so very well. What can we add to all that has already been said?
For us, the alumnae, President Gray recognized the importance of a stronger and broader alumnae network. She initiated an alumnae engagement plan designed to connect students with alumnae and leverage our alumnae as a life-long resource. She steered Hollins into expanding opportunities for alumnae communications, alumnae giving, career support, internships, and student referrals.
For the lucky classes of 2006-2017, she was your president. You fondly called her “P.Gray” or referred to her as “NOG.” From now on as you look at your diploma and see her signature there, it will bring back memories of her great leadership and most genuine compassion. Other characteristics greatly appreciated and admired by alumnae include her approachability and accessibility. “Easy and welcoming” noted an alumna. Another characteristic has been her always eloquent public speaking. As one alumna said, “Incredible gift of articulation and dissemination of facts and figures with nary a note in sight.” No “ums” or “uhs” and one topic beautifully segued into the next. If you never heard her speak, you missed something amazing.
We will deeply miss President Gray and wish her well. Relieved of the headaches of crises, plane trips, speaking engagements, budgets, and being on call 24/7, we hope that she and her husband, David Maxson, can finally enjoy their children and grandchildren and the many benefits of Roanoke, which they have chosen to be their home.
To our beloved President Gray, “P. Gray” – on behalf of our 15,000 alumnae from across the globe, thank you. Thank you for your outstanding leadership and your incredible inspiration during these last 12 years. You have left a permanent mark on our dear Hollins and a place of honor in her distinguished history. You made Hollins a better place, and a stronger institution, as you helped us in going places and in lifting our eyes… to the future.
Patricia “Trisha” Rawls ’74
President, Hollins Alumnae Association
Alumnae Profiles / In Memoriam