By Stephanie Mortimer
University of Mississippi
For the first time since the University of Mississippi established the Master of Business Administration program, its students are being led by an all-female cohort of class officers.
This year’s MBA class is led by:
- Kylie Harrier, of St. Charles, Illinois, president
- Kendall Runzi, Festus, Missouri, vice president of community service
- Alexis Lee, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, vice president of recruiting
- Leigh Ellis Grisham, Tupelo, vice president of finance
- Addie Gagnon, Silver Spring, Maryland, vice president of social events
- Sara Kate Rushing, Brookhaven, vice president of public relations
“I am so honored and excited to be on a team with such incredible women,” said Harrier, who graduated from UM with a finance degree before pursuing her MBA. “Serving on this team is something I never could have imagined I would do.
“Truly, it is so inspiring to see a team of all women leading our program.”
Women have long held an influential role among MBA student leadership. In fact, seven of the last 10 MBA class presidents have been female. But this year’s class takes that leadership to the next level, said Ashley McGee, director of the Ole Miss MBA program and sponsor for the Women in Leadership graduate student organization.
“I believe this is indicative that women will continue to seek out leadership opportunities and feel empowered to make their mark as strong leaders,” she said. “I hope that having an all-woman face of leadership for the MBA program will encourage more women from undergrad programs all across campus to earn their MBA in order to embark on management and leadership roles in their careers.”
Statistics show that women make up more than half the U.S. workforce, but hold only around one-third of senior leadership positions. Female leaders are influential to any organization or industry.
A 2022 study co-authored by Saim Kashmiri, associate professor of marketing, shows that women in executive corporate leadership positions have a positive impact on customer orientation, which can lead to financial gains.
Besides providing leadership experience, the positions allow officers to acquire professional skills and knowledge they can use in their careers.
“One thing I have learned while serving in this role is the importance of being able to depend on those around me,” Runzi said. “I am surrounded by a group of hardworking women that want to see the program thrive and succeed, so it was easy to lean on them for help and they were always eager to do so.”
Up first for the new class officers is organizing the MBA golf tournament, set for April 14 at the Oxford Country Club. The annual fundraiser helps support future MBA students.
“A big part of leadership is community involvement and recognizing the importance of paying it forward,” Gagon said. “We want to make a lasting legacy.”