Kate Pynn Van Name ’91

Class of 1991
Major/Minor: English


Washington College is not where I went; Washington College is where I became.

How has your liberal arts education influenced you? How do you apply your LAE in your current career?

After college, I was fearless and I have remained so because of how Washington College has influenced me. Not arrogant but fearless. Why? When I graduated, I knew I had four years of the best education, exposure, friendships, and maturity I could have had and I was ready for anything.

After graduation, conversing was easy - topics of conversation were plentiful. Due to taking classes in political science, music, history, literature, science, psychology, languages, and philosophy I knew interviewing would be easier for me than those who had not been exposed to such a variety of subjects. And it was. Washington College challenges you to learn through lectures, research, active observation and hands-on experience. Those last two methods helped me quickly gain a job in a Fortune 20 company and further succeed in the business world.

And I also knew when I needed more knowledge. Deciding to get a Masters was a natural path because Washington College had instilled a love of learning. Life Long Learning was made possible by the love of knowledge that grew normally out of my four years at Washington College.

So, how did a liberal arts education influence me? I think about it, cherish it and use it every day. With every career opportunity, every industry change, when writing an email, conducting a meeting, moderating a conference call, developing a new service, challenging the status guo , and navigating every negotiation - Washington College, it’s professors, its students, and its alums are with me.

Who was your favorite faculty/staff member? Story?

All were great in their own way. For me, I didn’t socialize or spend extra time with my professors like many students did. As my friends and family say, I was more interested in what dead poets and philosophers thought then live professors! And, delightfully, the professors were okay with that - they let me explore and question and wonder. Then they would bring me back to present with an exam or paper. Wish I had more time to be like that now.

What is your favorite Washington College memory?

Being on campus, walking, riding bikes, running to dining hall - it was a carefree time. The Hill Dorms were Fraternity housing and we had great all campus parties - everyone was invited and came. I don’t ever recall being excluded from anything and we always had activities, parties, lectures, and events to attend. From the Lit House deck to the Coffee House to the sports fields to the theater, there was always something going on - as well as dorm life. Fours years went fast. Too fast.

While there is stress in college, it is a time of freedom and fun and belly laughs like never felt before. I am a ZTA and I am still great friends with those girls - and we find ourselves in a fit of giggles 25+ years later.

I think I will always remember the laughter and the life-long friendships. We had such a fun time.


Campus Involvement
  • Zeta Tau Alpha
Additional Information:

Kate Van Name attributes her diverse and unique outlooks, skills and experiences to a solid foundation made by family and Washington College. She is an English Major transformed into a business woman thanks to reading and analyzing works from Blake, Keats, Swift, and Chaucer.  Kate’s love of engaging in commercial opportunities, designing new products and services, practicing the art of strategic planning and giving all of those gifts to those who wish to grow, learn, and enjoy work and life can be found in her love of history, science, math, music, drama, and psychology.  The Liberal Arts education at Washington College and the lifelong friends she made there are her greatest joys in life next to family. She has been extremely fortunate to be able to say that she is, and have been for most of her life, a successful liberal arts educated businesswoman and a proud graduate of Washington College.

Kate’s habit of forming and creating a personal mission statement began Freshman Weekend in 1987. Since then, it has become a traditional and expected annual retreat for Kate and her business partners to continue to hone her professional mission: to create an advantage and a lasting impact for her clients. Her national footprint, high level exposure to a multitude of industries and markets as well as broad capabilities to drive insight and fundamental change enable her to help leaders solve the full breadth of their most challenging problems. But her mission goes beyond that. She consistently supports and grows her services to assist business and professional communities by partnering with leading thought leaders and technology providers to address some of business’ most pressing issues —such as complex data management, portfolio and process development, program and client management, high-touch and accessible technology, social media and personal information security, and organization sustainability.

Kate’s personal mission starts with her pride in graduating from Washington College. It continues with her support of The Center for Career Development by giving time, 25+ years of hiring, entrepreneurship, and business management knowledge as well as guided networking introductions to the students. Kate’s mission is to supply as much career development assistance as possible to the students so they can go from being students to career professionals with ease.  As an alum, she believes that the reflection of WC in rearview mirrors on graduation day ought to shine as bright on current students as it did on her.  If they look forward to a promising future and interesting jobs, Kate feels that the energy and time was well worth it.

Kate sees great opportunity to deepen the most trusted relationships—and forge new ones—across both developed and developing markets by having strength in focus and vision. Volatility, uncertainty, and accelerating change in professional and trade associations, education, government, and business leaders are creating challenges but also tremendous opportunities.  These opportunities offer enterprising young minds to find career excitement and sustainable futures that graduates of Washington College deserve.

After getting married in 2013 to another alum, Joseph Van Name, Class of 1990, and knowing the importance Washington College holds for both of them, they made the decision to become members of The 1782 Society in the tradition of their families who said, “The more you become, the more you give.” Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. said to “give until it feels real good.”  Becoming a member of The 1782 Society and belonging to the Washington College “giving community” feels just as good as they thought it would 25 years ago.  And they look forward to another 25 years of giving to Washington College – including compensation, talents, and time.