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Donna Brace Ogilvie, AA ’30

Established the Brace Center for Gender Studies in 1996. Fuess Award honoree in 1997.

Abbot Academy’s oldest known living alumnae, Donna Brace Ogilvie, AA ’30, passed away on Sunday, October 4, 2015, at the age of 105, leaving behind a rich legacy of philanthropy and volunteerism that inspired colleagues and benefitted generations of Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy students.

Describing Ogilvie as a kind and generous woman with a strong will and mighty spirit, Head of School John Palfrey said she was "a tenacious advocate for girls on this campus and across the country. The legacy of Donna Brace Ogilvie is embodied in our Brace Center for Gender Studies and all the work we will continue to do as a school to advance those issues of equity and inclusion, to which she devoted her life."

Kathleen Dalton, history instructor and former director of the Brace Center, said, “Donna always remained interested and involved in the Brace Center. I recall lunches when she talked about her work with Girls Inc. She was eager for girls to consider politics as a career, to try new adventures, to dare to enter traditionally male fields. I enjoyed working with her and was grateful that she egged us to do more yet encouraged us always. She helped keep the Abbot spirit alive inside the Brace Center. She encouraged us to plan the Women and Politics series, whose speakers sparked the important Girls' Leadership Project. What a great person and a loyal alum.”

Flavia Vidal, the current codirector of the Brace Center, echoed those sentiments, saying, “In locating the center on the old Abbot Academy campus, she honored her Abbot peers' legacy and reaffirmed the importance of the female experience for Andover. Her passing is a tremendous loss, but her spirit lives on in the current initiatives of the Brace Center and in the students who benefit from her vision and generosity to carve their own paths toward empowerment and equality.”

In addition to donating the funds in 1996 to establish the Brace Center for Gender Studies, which was named to honor her father, publisher Donald Brace, founder of Harcourt, Brace & Company, Ogilvie served the Andover community in a variety of capacities over the decades.

In the late 1960s and early '70s she served as an Abbot alumna trustee, during which time she lent an important voice to the discussions that led to the merger of Phillips Academy and Abbot Academy in 1973. She also served as a class endowment agent, the chair of her 55th reunion, a member of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library Development Committee, and an executive committee member of the Andover Development Board. Her philanthropic donations to Andover helped fund such signature initiatives as the building of the Gelb Science Center, renovations to the Abbot Campus, the reconstruction of the Memorial Bell Tower and various scholarships and teaching foundations.

In 1997, Phillips Academy presented her with its highest honor, the Claude M. Fuess Award, for being, in the words of Trustee Emeritus David Underwood '54, "a woman of vision and compassion whose lifetime of volunteer service stands as an example to generations of Andover students."

Most recently, as honorary cochair of The Campaign for Andover, Ogilvie pledged $5 million to establish an endowed financial aid scholarship, a reflection of her strong belief in Andover’s commitment to a need-blind admission policy.

Ogilvie’s passion for service to others extended well beyond the confines of Andover. Among other things, Ogilvie, who was a lifelong resident of Connecticut, was a longtime supporter of Girls Inc. (formerly Girls Club of America) and gave generously of her time and resources to the Stamford Girls Club and the Stamford Hospital.

In sharing the news about Ogilvie with colleagues, Palfrey noted that her passing, coming just over a month after the death of former board chair David Underwood, “has reminded me again of the giants’ shoulders on which we all stand. It is a privilege to carry on their work.”

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