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Amey A. DeFriez '49, former chair of Radcliffe College's Board of Trustees, has garnered the Radcliffe's highest honor for volunteer service. She will receive the Helen Homans Gilbert Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service at a dinner ceremony on Sunday night at the Cronkhite Graduate Studies Center in Cambridge.
Her dedication to promoting the cause of women in academic life--both students and teachers--has marked DeFriez' career in education.
"My goal [as board chair] was to see Harvard and Radcliffe working together for women in the educational community," DeFriez said.
While serving on the Radcliffe board from 1978 to 1990--as chair for the last 10 years of this period--DeFriez reformed Radcliffe's investment strategies.
By replacing a number of the institution's financial advisers, DeFriez significantly improved Radcliffe's financial outlook, according to Radcliffe officials.
DeFriez also contributed to plans for the redesign of Radcliffe's facilities during her board tenure.
She oversaw the expansion of the Schlesinger Library and the renovation of the Radcliffe Gymnasium to accommodate the Murray Research Center and the Radcliffe Dance Center.
In addition to her service at Radcliffe, DeFriez has contributed her expertise to dozens of other area educational institutions.
She has volunteered in the administration of both local secondary schools and schools of higher education. At the Ethel Walker School, DeFriez served as Alumnae Association president, trustee and as the first female president of the school's board.
She was an incorporator of SPHERE, Inc., a nonprofit alliance of 12 independent schools in the vicinity of Hartford, and a trustee of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
After resigning from NAIS, DeFriez co-founded and chaired the Independent School Chairman's Association.
Recognizing the efficiency of team work over individual effort has been a recurring theme in DeFriez' career.
"I have been fascinated by the way groups work and how they can accomplish more than the individual," DeFriez said.
While on the Radcliffe board, she envisioned an affiliation of board chairs from small, independent liberal arts colleges. DeFriez achieved this goal when she co-founded and chaired the Conference of Board Chairmen.
DeFriez said she credits this group with recruiting Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson, who served as vice president for government affairs at the University of Michigan before coming to Cambridge.
Expressing her support for Wilson and Radcliffe Board Chair Nancy-Beth G. Sheerr '71, DeFriez said, "Radcliffe is in good hands."
While DeFriez continues to devote time volunteering for Radcliffe, she is currently involved with the Huntington Theatre, a Boston-area nonprofit, and the Mind/Body Institute of the New England Deaconess Hospital.
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