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Double Duty
Serving nonprofit sectors in a corporate world

By Beth Potier

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With nearly three decades in the banking industry, most of it serving the education, health care and nonprofit sectors, Lynn Wiatrowski '81 is no stranger to the inherent disconnect between mission-driven organizations and bottom-line-focused banks. In fact, Wiatrowski, an executive vice president for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, specializes in those industries, helping to build a national team of 700 in 100 cities that serves 14,000 clients. Her group provides banking services for 90 percent of the top national colleges and universities in the United States.

Yet it was service to her alma mater that illustrated to her how a large nonprofit institution really ticks—and how her industry could best serve its needs. "What a fantastic experience," she says of serving on the search committee that recommended Mark W. Huddleston as UNH's next president in 2007. "It made clear to me that there are a lot of different dimensions to the university—a myriad of constituents who need to be listened to and collaborated with."

There are similarities between banking and nonprofits, she notes. "Just because you're nonprofit doesn't mean that you're not paying for goods and services," she says. "The best nonprofits operate like smart, compassionate for-profit businesses."

Wiatrowski landed her first job in banking, at Massachusetts-based BayBank, through UNH's career services office. A series of mergers, acquisitions and shrewd job changes gave her the opportunity to ply her talents locally, then with Fleet Bank in New England, and now nationally. She is passionate about leveraging the financial might of one of the nation's banking powerhouses to help clients. The complexities wrought by the economic downturn and health care reform energize her and the entire team. "It's very rewarding to help build a dance studio in the inner city, to help a college or university add a wing to a building," she says. "I've had a corporate job, but I'm serving the needs of these institutions that are doing such important work."

Although Bank of America Merrill Lynch is not UNH's primary bank, the university has tapped Wiatrowski's expertise and loyalty for many years. In addition to the presidential search committee, she served for a decade on the board of the UNH Foundation, chairing its nominating committee, and on the UNH Alumni Association Board. Her affection for UNH started during college: "The friendships that I made there are unique and fantastic."

A psychology major who took some last-minute business courses at her father's insistence, she remains convinced of the value of a strong liberal arts education. "A lot of demands in our environment focus on areas like good leadership skills, good management skills. I think psychology is a great major for that," she says.

Wiatrowski's career advice to current students is to choose a curriculum that they find interesting, exciting and rewarding. "That's what really makes the biggest difference," she says. "You can learn accounting rules on the job."

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