Cornell alumni have elected Katrina James ’96 and Pamela Marrone ’78 to the Cornell University Board of Trustees. They will begin four-year terms July 1.
“It’s an incredible honor,” says Marrone, who graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and now lives in Davis, CA. “I was honored just to be asked to run.”
Marrone and James appeared on a ballot of four candidates, which also included Mustafa Abadan ’82, MArch ’84 and Shane Dunn ’07. Nominees for this ballot were reviewed by the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, which endorsed the final four candidates. Nearly 20,000 alumni cast electronic or paper ballots during the voting period between March 3 and April 21.
James, a College of Human Ecology graduate who lives in Jersey City, says she feels honored but also overwhelmed to be chosen to serve on Cornell’s governing board.
Both James and Marrone list the newly-approved Cornell College of Business and the presidential search precipitated by the death of President Elizabeth Garrett in March as urgent priorities that will make membership on the Board of Trustees particularly meaningful in the coming year.
Steven Flyer JD ’91, outgoing chair of the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, said alumni-elected trustees bring unique skill sets to the board from their professions and volunteer activities, and reflect the Cornell constituency.
“In this slate in particular, there was a significant breadth and depth of involvement in Cornell,” he says.
Marrone has served Cornell University on the Cornell University Council and on the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network. She is a member of the CALS Dean’s Advisory Council and serves on the CALS Alumni Career Link.
Since 1994, she’s sponsored Cornell student externs and interns at the three companies she’s founded. She is currently the CEO of one of them, Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., which discovers and develops bio-based products for pest management and plant health.
She says that as a West Coast resident, entrepreneur, and agricultural expert, she has a perspective that will be valuable to the Board of Trustees.
“I’m in the hotbed of innovation,” she says. “I have a lot of energy, and I love Cornell.”
James is the Strategic Operations Advisor for Secondary and Collegiate Programs at the Harlem Children’s Zone, participating in a two-year residency designed to help executive-level professionals bring their professional experience to urban education.
As a Cornell volunteer, James has served three terms as chair of the Cornell University Council and has served in leadership roles on the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, Class of 1996, President’s Council of Cornell Women, and several other Cornell boards.
“I bring the perspective of many of our constituencies to the table,” she says. She is looking forward to adding to the Board of Trustees her point of view as a relatively young board member, a person of color, and a first-generation college student.
The two new alumni-elected trustees will attend an orientation session in June.
“That is a window of time to really do your homework,” says trustee Stephanie Fox ’89, who was elected by alumni in 2015, “to read the materials available to you, to understand not just what’s happening in the moment but what’s happened in the past.”
Fox also advices the newly elected trustees to get to know the other board members.
“Set aside time for both homework and connection building,” says Jonathan Poe ’82, the other trustee elected by alumni in 2015.
James says she will approach her term as a trustee with a sense of learning from seasoned board members. “Its work is all new to me, so I will try to be like a sponge,” she says.
Marrone also plans to spend a lot of time her first year learning, “but I’m not shy. I think I’ll jump right in there. To be a part of the future is exciting.”