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Emma Willard School Launches Record-Breaking $175 Million Capital Campaign

Emma Willard School today announced the public launch of a $175 million capital campaign that will support and strengthen the school’s commitment to girls’ education. 

Emma Hart Willard was a trailblazer in the empowerment and education of young women, and this historic capital campaign seeks to honor and extend her legacy. Emboldened by the spirit of its founder, the school set out on a mission to provide its students with an unrivaled education and infinite opportunity. This pursuit gave rise to Infinite Horizon. The campaign, guided by the school’s strategic plan, Leading with Purpose, will allow Emma Willard School to strengthen its commitment to academic excellence, ensure access for all deserving students, attract and retain a talented and diverse faculty, preserve its iconic campus, and elevate arts education and facilities to meet the needs of a dynamic and creative student body.

Together, we are building a new legacy that evokes our commitment to the extraordinary,” said Head of School Jenny Rao. “Infinite Horizon: The Campaign for Emma Willard School will extend the bold vision of our founder. In the spirit of Emma Hart Willard, we are walking fearlessly forward—guiding our students with intelligence and integrity, with compassion and tenacity, with excitement and enthusiasm for all we have achieved and for all that is still to come.”

The campaign was ignited by an alumna, Alice Dodge Wallace ’38, with a $30 million lead gift to build the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts on the Emma Willard School campus. The daughter of educators, Mrs. Wallace (1920-2020) displayed a lifelong devotion to education and teachers, providing for institutions that had touched her life and enriched the lives of others. Alice served as a trustee from 1988-90, a Trustee Fellow from 1990-2005, and as an Honorary Trustee from 2005 until her passing.

Alice’s steadfast belief in the power of community and creativity led her to make this gift, investing in a transformational space that will inspire artists and scholars alike and elevate the central role that the arts play in an Emma Willard School education. She valued the transformative power of girls’ education, enhanced by exposure and experiences in the arts; Alice’s intentions were to inspire others to join her in support of her school.

Alice had a lifelong relationship with her alma mater and has invested in programs that have helped to buoy the entire community. For students, that meant scholarships. Always mindful of her own scholarship, Alice explained, “I have thought of scholarship aid more as a loan than a gift…with the receiving of it, [I accepted] a moral obligation to have the process continue.”

“Alice held a deep conviction that we should acknowledge the many benefits we receive in our lifetimes,” shares former Emma Willard School Board Chair and Honorary Trustee Jameson “Jamie” Baxter ’61. “She provided both service and inspiring philanthropic generosity to Emma Willard, the school she knew was pivotal in setting her course for the purposeful life she led.”

“We are humbled by this act of breathtaking generosity,” adds Head of School Rao. “I had the honor of spending time with Alice and her family and was truly moved by her grace, her sage perspective, and her love for Emma Willard School. Over the years, Alice's gratitude for her Emma Willard education was evident in the wonderful way in which she helped to strengthen —and, with this gift, continues to strengthen—our entire community.”

Infinite Horizon: The Campaign for Emma Willard School will be guided through a campaign steering committee composed of trustees, alumnae, parents, faculty representatives, and current staff. This committee will be co-chaired by Linda Gill Anderson ’77 and Wendy Graham ’85, both current Board of Trustee members.

“Every so often, there is a call that leads to a dream you didn’t even know you had. Serving as co-chair of the Infinite Horizon campaign is that for me,” shares Linda Gill Anderson. “My Emma Willard education instills in me a drive to find other young students who are ready for the same academic and life challenge it offers. It’s important to ensure the school has the resources required to meet the needs of today’s complex educational challenges, now and in the years to come.”

“When I first learned of the campaign, I knew we were beginning an unprecedented journey that would shape girls’ education for generations,” reflects Wendy Graham. “I felt humbled and honored to be entrusted with the leadership of this effort and to have another opportunity to partner with so many incredible alumnae to shape the future for Emma Willard’s students.”

The campaign announcement was made today during a school celebration on campus where faculty and students learned of this bold effort to invest in the community. Cemented in the vision created by the school’s strategic plan adopted in 2021, Infinite Horizon: The Campaign for Emma Willard School has six key funding priorities: academic excellence, affordability and access, advancing the arts, campus and facilities, strengthening community, and the Emma Fund for annual giving.

“There is an urgency in our community to engage the complexities and challenges of our times,” said Lisa Allen LeFort ’72, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Through this campaign, we will build on our history and define anew the legacies that will serve us into the next century.”


For more information on Infinite Horizon: The Campaign for Emma Willard School please visit:

Download a printable copy of the press release here (pdf)

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