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The Full Emma Experience: Kalisse Anderson ’97

Kalisse Anderson and the power of participation.

Kalisse Anderson, JD ’97 serves as a member of the Infinite Horizon campaign steering committee. As a leader for the largest fundraising effort in the history of girls’ schools, Kalisse is both a champion and role model for the power of participation among her fellow alumnae. As a member of Emma Willard’s 1814 Association, she has used a monthly recurring gift to ensure her support spans the diverse needs of a given school year.

“Giving to the 1814 Association is such a wonderful way for us to remember Emma Hart Willard,” says Kalisse. “To mark the inception of her idea, her concept for this school, and her formidable legacy. It’s also an important mechanism for supporting the school because it invites everyone to participate.”

The 1814 Association recognizes contributions across every constituency of the school, and its members provide more than 90% of all money raised for The Emma Fund. Kalisse notes that these individuals’ collective generosity helps close the gap between revenue and real costs of providing an Emma Willard education for deserving students.

Her own support of the school and The 1814 Association is inspired by her family’s deep roots at Emma Willard: her mother, M. Parker Mabry from the class of 1971, her aunt Cheryl A. Parker who served as school librarian, and her grandfather, James A. Parker, a former member of the Board of Trustees.

“From the beginning, I’ve always had this sense of Emma Willard as a place I needed to establish myself and engage with in a leadership role,” explains Kalisse. “So much of that stems from when I would come to campus as a kid with my grandfather, who was a leader here, and he would tell me that one day I would come to Emma, too.”

While Kalisse’s grandfather passed just four weeks before she would begin her first year, she carried her family’s legacy with her throughout her time at Emma Willard. She describes a strong sense of encouragement from her family to experience everything the school had to offer and make the most of the opportunity given to her. By her senior year, Kalisse was elected president of the student body and had developed a network of friends united in their desire to go out and make their imprint on the world.

“What I found in my time at Emma was a sense of my purpose and I discovered a network of other young women who were pursuing their purpose, too!” exclaims Kalisse. “Having this shared reason for being at the school made our experience together so very enjoyable, very loving, and very inviting. And, for me, it made Emma Willard a place where I felt protected but also prepared for life outside the walls of Mount Ida.”

Kalisse would go on to complete her Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College and her law degree from the University of Richmond. Throughout the course of a multifaceted legal career in government and private sector work, she has traveled the world from Austria to Ethiopia and throughout Eastern Europe. Currently, she serves as the Senior Attorney in the Office of Hearings and Appeals at the Small Business Administration of the United States Government.

“I’m so grateful for my experience at Emma and feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to be part of this place,” shares Kalisse. “I didn’t just graduate and move on; I met life-long friends, I grew into a woman, and I thrived as a result of my time at the school. My support is just one way to show how much Emma Willard has done for me along the way!”

This piece was written for the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Signature Magazine

  • Alumnae
  • advancement
  • campaign