Remarkable graduates of Triangle colleges

One day, they’re pulling all-nighters in the library, hanging out on the quad and waiting tables at the local dive. The next, they’re VIPs. Maybe it only seems that fast. But hundreds of extra-ordinary women got their starts on campuses in the Triangle. Athletes and entre-preneurs. Singers and senators. Judges and journalists. College presidents and corporate CEOs. Here are some of the big names who were educated in our area and continue to make their mark on the world.


  • Acting
  • Advocacy
  • Academics
  • Business
  • Courts
  • Entertainment
  • Government
  • Journalism
  • Sports
  • Wellness
  • Writing

Melissa Claire Egan
UNC–CH ‘03
Annie McDermott on TV’s “All My Children”

Louise Fletcher (photo)
UNC-CH ‘57
Academy Award-winning Nurse Ratched in the movie: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”





Annabeth Gish
Duke University ‘92
Special agent Monica Reyes on TV’s “The X Files”

Sharon Lawrence
UNC-CH ‘83
Sylvia Costas Sipowicz on TV’s “NYPD Blue”

Beth Leavel (photo)
Meredith College ‘77
Tony Award-winning Beatrice Stockwell in Broadway’s “The Drowsy Chaperone”





Mary Wilmer “Molly” Barker (photo)
UNC-CH ‘89
Founder, Girls on the Run International





Alicia Baucom
Meredith College ‘05
Coordinator, Initiative to Educate Afghan Women

Charlotte Bunch
Duke University ‘66
Founder of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University

Melinda French Gates
Duke University ‘86, ‘87
Co-founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gretchen Holt
Meredith College ‘89
Founder, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Eleanor Nunn
Shaw University ‘63
One of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Eleanor Smeal
Duke University ‘61
President, Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher, Ms. magazine
Former president, National Organization for Women (NOW)

Margaret Taylor Smith
Duke University ‘47
Namesake, Margaret Taylor Smith Directorship in Women’s Studies, Duke University
Former chair, Kresge Foundation

June St. Clair Atkinson
N.C. State University ‘96
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction

Laura Carpenter Bingham (photo)
Peace College ‘77
President, Peace College





Mary Sue Coleman
UNC-CH ‘69
President, University of Michigan

Margaret Currin
Meredith College ‘72
Professor of Law, Campbell University
First female U.S. attorney in N.C. (’88-’93)

Pamela Brooks Gann
Duke University ‘73
President, Claremont McKenna College in Calif.
Former dean, Duke University School of Law

Carol Garrison
UNC-CH ’74, ‘82
President, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Linda Harrill
N.C. State University ‘87
President and CEO, Communities in Schools of North Carolina

Chavonda Jacobs-Young
N.C. State University ‘89, ‘92, ‘98
National program leader, Biobased Products & Bioenergy Production, USDA
First U.S. African-American with Ph.D. in Paper Science and Engineering

Josephine “Jo” Cooper
Meredith College ‘67
Group vice president for government and industry affairs, Toyota Motor North America

Natalie Chanin
N.C. State University ‘87
Founder and owner, Alabama Chanin

Karen Diebolt
Wake Tech ‘08
Owner, Softedz

Jayme Hickman (photo)
Meredith College ‘01
Owner, PupCentric





Betsy D. Holden
Duke University ‘77
Senior advisor to McKinsey & Co.
Former CEO, Kraft Foods

Anne M. Huffman
Meredith College ’81, N.C. State University ‘83
Vice president - human resources, Progress Energy

Sallie L. Krawcheck
UNC-CH ‘87
Former CEO, Citigroup Global Wealth Management

Gayle S. Lanier
N.C. State University ‘82
Vice president, general manager, Nortel Networks’ Time Division Multiplexing Portfolio

Barbara H. Mulkey (photo)
N.C. State University ‘77, ‘83
Founder and chairman of the board, Mulkey Engineers & Consultants





Pat Nathan
Meredith College ‘74
Founder, Triangle chapter of Dress for Success
Former sustainable business director, Dell Computer

Evelyn E. Smalls (photo)
N.C. Central University ‘67
President and CEO, United Bank of Philadelphia





Susan M. Stalnecker
Duke University ‘73
Vice president – finance and treasurer, DuPont

Nancy Webster
N.C. State University ‘75
President and CEO, Thomasville Furniture Industries

Wanda Bryant (photo)
N.C. Central University ‘82
Judge, N.C. Court of Appeals





Ann Marie Calabria

Campbell University ‘83
Judge, N.C. Court of Appeals

Ann Covington
Duke University ‘63
Former chief justice, Missouri Supreme Court

Allyson Duncan
Duke University ‘75
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District

Christine Durham
Duke University ‘71
Chief justice, Utah Supreme Court

Orinda Evans
Duke University ‘65
Judge, U.S. District Court

Karen L. Henderson
Duke University ‘66
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals

Robin Hudson
UNC-CH ‘76
Associate justice, N.C. Supreme Court

Susan Illston
Duke University ‘70
Federal judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Susan Owens
Duke University ‘71
Associate justice, Washington State Supreme Court

Sarah Parker
UNC-CH ‘64, ‘69
Chief justice, N.C. Supreme Court

Donna Stroud
Campbell University ‘85, ‘88
Judge, N.C. Court of Appeals

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
UNC-CH ‘76, ‘79
Associate justice, N.C. Supreme Court
First African-American woman in the post

Sunshine Anderson
N.C. Central University ‘96
R&B and soul singer and songwriter

Shirley Caesar
Shaw University ‘84
Grammy Award-winning gospel singer

Kara DioGuardi
Duke University ‘93
“American Idol” judge, singer-songwriter

Kelly Goldsmith
Duke University ‘01
“Survivor: Africa”

Kit Hoover
UNC-CH ‘92
Host of TLC’s “Real Life, Real Simple”

Government - international

Cynthia G. Efird

Duke University ‘72
Former U.S. ambassador to Angola

Shari Villarosa
UNC-CH ‘72
Former chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Myanmar (formerly Burma)

Cynthia A. Pratt
St. Augustine’s College ‘83
Former deputy prime minister and parliament member of the Bahamas

Government - national

Judith K. Boyd

N.C. Wesleyan ‘93
Senior intelligence counsel, Dept. of Homeland Security’s Office of General Counsel

Shelley Moore Capito
Duke University ‘75
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from West Virginia

Elizabeth Dole
Duke University ‘58
Former U.S. senator from North Carolina

Elizabeth Edwards
UNC-CH ‘77
Attorney, author, spouse of former U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards

Virginia Foxx (photo)
UNC ‘68
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina





Juanita M. Kreps
Duke University ‘44, ‘48
Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Denise Majette
Duke University ‘79
Former U.S. representative from Georgia

Sherri McGee
Meredith College ‘75
Director, workforce management and development division, office of human capital management, NASA

Elizabeth Verville
Duke University ‘61
U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Narcotics and the Bureau of Law Enforcement

C.C. Wiggins
Meredith College ‘76
First woman and first African-American officer in command and support roles in the Chaplain Corps of the U.S. Navy (now retired)

Cathy Zoi
Duke University ‘83
Assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, Dept. of Energy
Former CEO, The Alliance for Climate Protection

government - state

Lucy Allen (photo)
Meredith College ‘65
Member of the N.C. House of Representatives





Pat Bazemore
Wake Tech ‘87
First female police chief, city of Cary

Julia Boseman
N.C. Central University ‘92
Member of the N.C. Senate

Susan Bysiewicz
Duke University ‘86
Secretary of state, Connecticut

Betsy L. Cochrane
Meredith College ‘58
Former member of the N.C. Senate
First female house minority leader

Lisa A. Gladden
Duke University ‘86
Member of the Maryland Senate

Malinda Miles
St. Augustine’s College ‘68
Mayor, Mount Rainier, Maryland

Lura S. Tally
Duke University ‘42
Served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives and six terms in the N.C. Senate (now retired)

Silda Wall Spitzer (photo)
Meredith College ‘80
Attorney, founder of nonprofit Children for Children
Former first lady of the state of New York



Helene Cooper
UNC-CH ‘87
Diplomatic correspondent, The New York Times

Clarky Davis
Meredith College ‘96
Personal finance expert, “the Debt Diva,” as seen on MSNBC and ABC’s “Nightline”

Laurie Walker Dhue
UNC-CH ‘90
Former host, “Fox Report Weekend”

Susan LaSalla
Peace College ‘63
Senior Washington producer, NBC News’ “The Today Show”

Susannah Meadows
Duke University ‘95
Senior writer, Newsweek magazine

Marcia Vickers (photo)
Meredith College ‘92
Senior writer, Fortune magazine





Judy Woodruff
Duke University ‘68
Senior correspondent, “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” PBS

Shalane Flanagan
UNC-CH ‘05
Bronze medal winner for women’s 10,000m distance run, 2008 Olympics

Mia Hamm
UNC-CH ‘94
Former forward for the U.S. women’s national soccer team

Cindy Werley (photo)
UNC-CH ‘98
Field hockey forward, U.S. Olympic Team ’96, now an assistant coach at her alma mater

Linda Stevenson Budd
Mount Olive College ‘69
Psychologist, professor and author of “Living With the Active Alert Child”

Susan Carter (photo)
Durham Tech ‘06
UNC Health Care Nurse of the Year for her work in physical and rehabilitative medicine





Shirley Deal
Piedmont Community College ’93
Executive director, Caswell Family Medical Center

Dr. Catherine Gordon
N.C. State University ‘86
Associate professor of pediatrics, Harvard University and Director, Children’s Hospital Bone Health Program & DXA Center

Dr. Meg R. Sutherland-Smith
N.C. State University ‘86
Veterinary clinical operations manager, San Diego Zoo, and associate clinical professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Sarah Dessen (photo)
UNC-CH ‘93
Author of nine novels, including “Along for the Ride,” “That Summer” and “Someone Like You”





Mary Pope Osborne
UNC -CH‘71
Author of the Magic Tree House series of children’s books

Anne Tyler
Duke University ‘61
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 11 novels, including “The Accidental Tourist” and “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant”