Claire Guthrie Gastañaga
501 E. Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219
JD University of Virginia School of Law;
BA Michigan State University
Professional/business/civic/nonprofit organizations in which you are/have been involved and positions held:
Member, Virginia Small Business Advisory Board; Director, National Association of Women Business Owners; Trustee, Poe Museum; Director, Gay Community Center of Richmond; former member Commission to Re-Engineer Richmond City Government; former Director, Metropolitan Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau; former Virginia Commissioner, Education Commission of the States;
Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?
My father who taught me the most important person to know is the person sitting outside the office of the person with the big desk; my mother who taught me that every person deserves equal dignity and respect regardless of who they are or what rank they hold; and a one time boss who once advised me that “without big risks there are no big successes.” They gave me the courage to take risks; the sense to know when not to; and the insight to know that anyone may be the person who gets you where you want to go.
What do you consider your biggest personal and/or professional accomplishment and why?
Leading Chatham College through a very challenging year as its interim college president at age 32. I was able to help eliminate a projected deficit of 10% of the annual budget, encourage the faculty to adopt a new core curriculum and deliver a more stable institution to the new president.
What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?
Any work that you do is meaningful — if you allow yourself to learn the life lessons offered by your co-workers, customers, and others whom you meet and by the experiences you will have.
How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?
I work hard to be in the moment, valuing accomplishment small and large, and treasuring the joy and playfulness of a marriage to my husband, Javier, that includes dancing with abandon, cooking across cultures, and, occasionally, rocking out playing Guitar Hero.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
According to a paper I wrote as an eight year old, I wanted to be a ballerina or an ice skater.
What is your favorite book or movie and why? Judged by the number of times I pick it up to find an appropriate thought or message for a friend or an occasion, my favorite book is “Time and the Art of Living” by Robert Grudin. One of my favorite quotes: “Written history is composed of actions; real history is actions compounded invisibly with refusals to act.”
What are two things about you that not many people know?
I won the talent award in the Northern Virginia Junior Miss Pageant when I was in high school, and I have surfed Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu.
© Copyright 2013 Virginia Lawyers Media. All Rights Reserved.