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Growing up on a dairy farm in Iowa, Lori Etringer, MBA, McLean Hospital’s chief development officer, drew strength and inspiration from the women in her family. “My dad has six sisters, and four out of five in my family are female,” she said. “They are strong in both traditional and non-traditional ways.”
From that close-knit female community, Etringer “learned a lot about hard work and perseverance.” But her father, who inspired her to seek a life beyond the farm, also had a powerful influence on her. “My dad didn’t have the chance to finish high school, but he encouraged us to go to college and dream big,” said Etringer. Taking her father’s lead, she made her way to New England and earned both a BA and an MBA from Boston University.
Etringer came to McLean 15 years ago, and she has held four different positions in that time. “McLean has been wonderful,” she said. “I’ve had nothing but incredible support for and encouragement of my efforts. I’ve been able to grow, to do more, to take on challenges, and now to lead. That’s why I’ve stayed.”
She credits the support of her colleagues for helping her thrive at McLean, especially Cathie Cook, who led McLean’s development efforts for 17 years before she passed away in 2017. “Cathie was my most important mentor,” Etringer said. “She was an incredible role model and helped shape me as a professional.”
Now in Cook’s old role as chief development officer, Etringer leads a staff of 18, working to raise philanthropic support for the hospital’s clinical, research, and training programs. She serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet and staffs the development and governance committees of the Board of Trustees. She has been critical to the hospital’s efforts to develop infrastructure, enhance development programs, and advance the hospital’s recent $100 million comprehensive campaign.
Like all working women, Etringer faces the many challenges involved with balancing family and career. She is the sole working parent in her household—her husband has been a stay-at-home parent to their two children since she came to McLean—and she feels fortunate that she works at an institution that supports women. “I have not felt like I’ve been held back in my career or had barriers put in front of me because I’m female, although I know that barriers certainly exist for many women in many professions and cultures around the world,” she said. “I think it is important to shine a light on women’s contributions in professional roles and to the communities and families that they are a part of.”
With this in mind, Etringer has been involved in both formal and informal mentoring throughout her career. “One of the most gratifying aspects of my role has been to watch the growth of the women and men on my team as they develop their careers and follow their dreams,” she said. “And while I’ve never thought of myself as a role model, maybe it’s my turn to mentor the next generation.”