In fall 2020, Grace Frisone MIA '76, '77BUS was selected to serve as the inaugural SIPA 1754 Society Chairperson. The 1754 Society is the honorary society for alumni and friends of Columbia University who have made future plans for the University through trust, estate, or other future gifts. Named for the year in which King’s College was established, the 1754 Society recognizes the vital role benefactors have played over the centuries in Columbia’s emergence as a preeminent educational institution and the role they play today in ensuring its continued preeminence. Through her philanthropy and service, Grace joins with partners across our SIPA and Columbia community to help inspire and encourage support of SIPA through estate gifts.
First in Her Family
A first-generation college student, Grace earned two master’s degrees from Columbia University—in international affairs in 1976 followed by an MBA in 1977. “Columbia changed my life,” Grace states emphatically. “I would never have enjoyed the career I had without Columbia. It was partly the education I received, but it was also that Columbia’s reputation opened doors for me. Back then when I was applying for jobs, a woman had to be fully armed. That’s what Columbia did for me.”
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Armed with her two master’s degrees, Grace was hired by Chase Manhattan Bank to be an assistant treasurer in the bank’s office in Milan, Italy—the first woman ever assigned to such a competitive position. She subsequently worked at JP Morgan, and after working in Italy for seven years, was then transferred back by JP Morgan to the States to work with oil companies. Eventually, she moved from corporate finance to the investment side, all the while making inroads in corporate social responsibility—she launched seminars to help women with investment strategies, a true innovation thirty years ago, and advocated for diversity when hiring staff.
On the Importance of Giving Back
Grateful for the education that launched her career as a groundbreaking woman in the finance industry, Grace has provided for SIPA as part of her estate plans. “I happen to be the first college graduate in my family, and I needed financial assistance,” Grace says. “I received graduate assistance at Columbia. They gave me a chance: They not only accepted me but made it possible for me to attend and graduate. I want other young people to have that chance.”
Encouraging others to Support SIPA
“Not everybody has the same situation I have but if they went to Columbia, I think it’s likely they believe in education,” Grace says. “For me education has always been the great equalizer. Young people are our future, and they need our help to go to college. I hope that other alumni feel the same about giving back. Just look at what Columbia did for us!”