Alumna’s Desire to Serve Inspires Book, Congressional Run and Bobsledding

27 November 2018

By Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumna Donna McAleer (MBA ’93) has charted a professional path all her own.

Through a career that has included consulting, operations at a global logistics firm, executive director of a medical nonprofit, a two-year stint training to compete for the U.S. women’s bobsled national team and two runs for U.S. Congress, the U.S. Military Academy graduate says the uniting thread is a desire to serve. The Darden alumna discussed her motivation to serve in a new profile on The Network section of the Darden website.

Although the U.S. Military Academy graduate long felt what she described as a commitment to serve her community and country, the political arena had not been on her radar until relatively recently, when her eyes opened to the issue of sexual assault in the military.

The Utah resident and author of a book of biographical sketches of female West Point leaders had been asked to review a rough cut of a documentary on the subject due to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. McAleer was moved by the film, The Invisible War, and subsequent conversations with members of the documentary team spurred one to ask if McAleer would consider a run for higher office.

“My reaction was not only no, but hell no,” McAleer recalled. Her initial thought was: “Why would anyone run for public office? Everyone hates you and you get nothing done.”

Yet McAleer attended a seminar by a bipartisan group attempting to attract more women to political office, and after that weekend wrote a blog post considering why more women don’t run for public office.

“There is never a ‘good time,’ and we will all come up with a million excuses,” McAleer wrote. “Now is the time to make your voice heard. Now is the time to get in the race.”

A student at West Point read the blog, contacted McAleer and said, in so many words, “You realize you’re talking to yourself, right?”

McAleer hadn’t, but she was.

“I filed my candidacy in March of 2012, not knowing a thing about running a campaign,” McAleer said. “But I did realize that at the age of 17, I took an oath of service to this country and that oath did not have an expiration date.”

Read the full profile on The Network section of the Darden School’s website.


About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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