Helen G. Drinan has brought a depth of leadership experience in non-profit and for-profit organizations to the presidency of Simmons College. An alumna of two Simmons graduate school programs, the School of Management and the Graduate School of Library & Information Science and a former chair of the Board of Trustees, Helen Drinan has been closely connected to the College for more than three decades.
Since assuming the role of President in 2008, she has led Simmons to a position of competitive strength — financially, academically and operationally — in an economic climate which has been especially challenging for the higher education field. Her success in overseeing the largest fundraising campaign in the college's history, "Making Education Work" which is at 50% of the $85 million goal — is an achievement that is particularly notable given the economic environment of the past few years.
As an undergraduate alumn a of Mount Holyoke College, Drinan understands, firsthand, the value of an all-women's college. Her personal perspective plus her experience as a business leader and her expertise in human resources management make her a strong & vocal advocate for the specific benefits of a women's education provided by Simmons College and other women's colleges in the nation. She constantly reviews survey findings and employment data from a wide range of studies and reports from Catalyst, McKinsey, the WSJ and Princeton to build a powerful perspective on the need to educate women for their own empowerment and leadership.
Drinan was a well-known and highly respected leader in healthcare, civic, and business circles before assuming the Presidency of Simmons College. In prior roles, she served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Caritas Christi Health Care, the second largest health care system in New England. She has been recognized for the strength of character and values she displayed in her service to Caritas Christi (Case Research Journal - Volume 30, Issue 4, Winter 2010, "Helen Drinan: Giving Voice to Her Values" by M. Shapiro, C. Ingols and M. Gentile) and for her work in cultivating a culture focused on those the institution serves. Acknowledged for her thoughtful leadership in employee relations, Drinan established innovative employee listening efforts at Caritas Christi and at BankBoston Corporation, where she served as Executive Vice President of Human Resources from 1993-2000.
During her tenure at BankBoston, Drinan developed programs which achieved national recognition. The Bank's performance-driven executive compensation program was rated number one by Credit Suisse First Boston; its comprehensive work-life strategy was recognized by Working Mother Magazine, and its diversity program won the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Ad Club of Boston diversity recognition award. Her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines in the early ‘70s provided her with important multicultural experiences that she carried into her award-winning diversity work.
Drinan served as president from 2000 to 2002of the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional organization with the largest human resource membership in the world. She has been acknowledged by several human resources organizations for her achievements, including the 2007 John D. Erdlen Five Star Award, the highest award given annually by the Northeast Human Resource Association for outstanding accomplishment in the advancement of the human resources profession. In 2001, she was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources (NAHR), an organization that recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through their leadership in the broad field of Human Resources.
Drinan has been a member of the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts since 1995. She currently serves the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a member of the Court Management Advisory Board, a group of private citizens appointed to assist with improving the operations of the Commonwealth's court system; she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the board of leaders for 2020 Women on Boards, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women on U.S. public boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020, and is a member of the Massachusetts Women's Forum. She is also a Pinnacle Award Honoree for Excellence in Arts & Education.
Drinan received an MBA from the Simmons School of Management in 1978, a Master of Library and Information Science for the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 1975, and a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 1969. In 1993, the School of Management named her the recipient of the Phyllis Rappaport Alumnae Achievement Award. Drinan is married to David H. Drinan; they have three grown children and six grandchildren.