Steven Saum posted an articleA remembrance of Patricia Cloherty (1942–2022) see more
A remembrance of Patricia Cloherty (1942–2022)
By Steven Boyd Saum
Illustration courtesy Columbia Teachers College
When the New York Times and Wall Street Journal marked the passing of Patricia M. Cloherty, they saluted her as a trailblazing venture capitalist — all the more unlikely a pioneer given that she was a woman who never trained in finance. She learned that on the job. First came the Peace Corps which, she said, taught her “that I enjoy life enormously…And also that I am enormously flexible.”
She had sights set on becoming a Volunteer in 1963 when Maria Von Trapp almost talked her out of it. The matriarch of the family made famous by “The Sound of Music” was visiting San Francisco, where Cloherty was student body president at the San Francisco College for Women. “You will become a pawn of American foreign policy and you will ruin your life,” Von Trapp warned. Instead, she invited Cloherty to work as her assistant in Vermont.
Cloherty did, briefly. Then she went to Brazil with the Peace Corps and in a remote part of the country helped run programs in health, agriculture, and more.
A Ford Foundation Fellowship enabled graduate study at Columbia, where Cloherty earned two master’s degrees. At a U.N.–related event in 1969, she met Alan Patricof, an investor opening a venture capital firm. He invited her to join him as a research analyst and learn the business. Within two years she was a partner.
“I thought it was interesting to take on giants. I’d been in the Peace Corps. You take on challenges…I didn’t think about it ever as working for someone. I thought about it as painting with my own paint.”
“There was only a tiny venture capital industry,” she recalled. “I thought it was interesting to take on giants. I’d been in the Peace Corps. You take on challenges…I didn’t think about it ever as working for someone. I thought about it as painting with my own paint.”
The company invested early in Apple, Office Depot, and the firm that became AOL. They bet on biotech and high-tech and built a multibillion-dollar international business, with Cloherty later serving as co-chair and president.
President Jimmy Carter tapped her for deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration. President George H.W. Bush asked her to advise on small business as well. In 1995, the Clinton administration named her a director of the U.S. Russia Investment Fund to nurture a market-based economy. She became chair of the fund and moved to Moscow for a dozen years.
Cloherty said that it was her maternal grandmother who introduced her to betting — at Bay Area racetracks before Pat was old enough to go to school. Through her later years, Cloherty still enjoyed visiting casinos as well as climbing mountains. She died September 23, 2022, at her home in Miami.
This remembrance appears in the Winter 2023 edition of WorldView magazine.
Communications Intern 2 posted an articleScholar and Human Rights Activist, She Was Also Invited to Play Piano with Elvis Presley’s Band. A Remembrance of Jan Knippers Black.Black wrote the definitive book on U.S. interference in post-colonial Brazil. see more
Jan Knippers Black (1940–2021) wrote the definitive book on U.S. interference in post-colonial Brazil.
By Catherine Gardner
Photo by Elëna Zhukova
Professor emerita, world traveler, beloved role model and mentor to thousands of students, singer and songwriter, advocate and ally: These are just some of the many terms one could use to describe Jan Knippers Black, a prominent scholar and human rights activist. She wrote the definitive book on U.S. interference in post-colonial Brazil — some years after she was invited to play piano in Elvis Presley’s band. She was well known for her expertise on political dynamics within Latin America, specifically about the intersection of U.S. affairs in the region and the relationships between the U.S. and several of the Latin American countries.
Black’s first degree was a B.A. in art and Spanish from the University of Tennessee. Then, she said, “When I heard about the Peace Corps in 1961, I said ‘That’s it! That’s where I’ll find myself.’” She was among the first group of Volunteers in Chile. She returned and earned a Ph.D. from American University and later joined the faculty of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She understood the importance of first-hand experience and led trips for students to Cuba, Iran, Bhutan, Chile, and the Balkans.
She was elected to the Amnesty International USA Board of Directors and spoke out on behalf of arrested activists. Upon her retirement in 2018, she launched the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection to support student workers and speakers in the field. She died in August 2021 at age 81.
This remembrance appears in the Spring-Summer edition of WorldView magazine.
Catherine Gardner is an intern with WorldView. She is a student at Lafayette College.