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Giving Unrestricted

Elizabeth "Betsy" Gifford Gross ’72 and David Gross have profoundly impacted Emma Willard School with an unrestricted gift to the Infinite Horizon campaign. Their generous philanthropic support reflects an understanding of Emma Willard's operational needs, a deeply-held belief in the transformative power of girls’ education, and strong confidence in the school’s leadership to direct the funding where it's needed most.

Betsy has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2017, leveraging her long career in accounting to support the crucial work of the Finance and Audit Committee. Throughout her time on the Board, Betsy has witnessed first-hand the many unmet financial requirements of Emma Willard.

“As finance chair, I’ve seen the school’s operational needs in a way that is, understandably, not apparent to everyone in the day-to-day,” explains Betsy of the inspiration for their gift. “We had significant costs related to COVID; there are pressing campus preservation projects; we need assessments to plan for faculty housing effectively—the list is long, and there isn’t always money on hand not already earmarked for other, high-profile efforts. So, I’m very pleased to have our support go to these areas of equally urgent need.”

David Gross, a former ambassador for the US State Department, is similarly steeped in the importance of educating the next generation of world leaders. He notes that his desire to support Emma Willard in this way has been informed by years of international travel, having observed the state of global educational opportunities for girls and women.

“I am absolutely convinced of the importance of a well-rounded education for young people—and especially young women—in terms of the impact on the global community,” shares David. “However, the gap in opportunity for women in the developing world is, in many ways, still as large as it has ever been. When you consider the kind of international student body that Emma Willard now has, those graduates are like seeds cast across the globe, and they will no doubt germinate into something very important.”

Outside of their busy professional lives, Betsy and David continue to travel extensively in the US and around the world. Much of their travel is planned around their shared passion for scuba diving, which they describe as a “nearly fanatical obsession” with exploring underwater locales.

Betsy notes that her local chapter of Emma Willard alumnae, the “DC Emmies,” has also helped her maintain strong ties with fellow alumnae across many generations. “We have people in our group who are in their 80s right down to recent graduates, and while each person has a different story or experience from their time at Emma, we share this passion to never stop learning. It really is a lifelong pursuit for all of us.”