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E. Marie Brierley, MBA '19 Joins the Board of Momentum for Mental Health

E. Marie Brierley MBA ’19, a graduate of both the Executive MBA and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness (WCBR) programs, has recently joined the board of Momentum for Mental Health. Brierley is the first WCBR participant to land a board seat.

Alumni feature: E. Marie Brierley, MBA '19

E. Marie Brierley MBA ’19, a graduate of both the Executive MBA and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness (WCBR) programs, has recently joined the board of Momentum for Mental Health, a non-profit organization which offers mental health treatment, rehabilitation, and housing services to individuals recovering from mental illness, substance use, and other chronic conditions. Brierley is the first WCBR participant to land a board seat.

Brierley decided to enroll in the Executive MBA program after a long employment gap because of a medical issue. Brierley suffered from oculomotor nerve palsy which misaligned her eyes and caused her body to overcompensate with poor posture.  After decades of dealing with chronic pain, she got the coordinated treatment she needed from Stanford Hospital, allowing her to pursue new opportunities. Brierley saw education as a way to accelerate her re-entry into the workforce after over a decade long job gap and make up for lost time.

Brierley joined the inaugural cohort of the WCBR program in May of 2019, shortly after finishing her MBA. “This program was a perfect follow-on opportunity,” said Brierley. The WCBR program was launched by the Silicon Valley Executive Center shortly after the passing of SB 826 and aims to help women with senior-level corporate experience learn the essential legal, regulatory, and operating knowledge they will need to serve on a board of directors.  “The program made a board seat a realizable goal and changed the way I thought of myself and communicated to others,” said Brierley.

One of the most valuable experiences in the program was learning the difference between interviewing for a job and interviewing to sit on a board. Brierley noted, “the conversation shifts.”  Unlike interviewing for a job interview, a board interview centers around getting to know you as a person. The WCBR program has sessions on both personal branding and the courting process, helping women learn how to present themselves as effective board members. Participants are encouraged to be bold in their efforts to gain a board seat. “They even encouraged us to add ‘Seeking Board Positions’ to our LinkedIn.”

The combination of experiences with the Leavey School of Business helped her make the right contacts in Momentum for Mental Health. While attending SCU’s annual Grand Reunion, she was conversing with two other SCU alumni when she decided to mention that she had recently taken the WCBR program. “As it turns out they were both board members of Momentum for Mental Health. Immediately after I mentioned the program, one of them said ‘You'd be great and we have openings coming up.’ I can't imagine the open board seats coming up in conversation without the program so fresh in my mind.

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