Vassar Says Thank You and Farewell to 3 Retiring Trustees

Photos Kelly Marsh

Three Vassar College trustees who are retiring from the board this year were lauded for their service at a dinner May 19 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. The board honored retiring trustees Tamar Pichette ’86, Natalie Nixon ’91, and Padmini Sekhsaria P ’23, as well as retiring Student Observer to the Board Julián Aguilar ’23 at the event, hosted by Trustee Eric Beringause ’80.

President Elizabeth Bradley paid tribute to Nixon, Pichette, and Sekhsaria for their combined 15 years of service to the board.  In remarks at the dinner, Bradley praised each of them for their contributions to the College.

Board of Trustees Chair Anthony Friscia ’78 P’15 (left) and President Elizabeth Bradley (right) thank retiring trustees Padmini Sekhsaria P’23 and Natalie Nixon ’91 for their service to the board. Not pictured: Retiring trustee Tamar Pichatte ’86.
Board of Trustees Chair Anthony Friscia ’78 P’15 (left) and President Elizabeth Bradley (right) thank retiring trustees Padmini Sekhsaria P’23 and Natalie Nixon ’91 for their service to the board. Not pictured: Retiring trustee Tamar Pichatte ’86.

“As many of you know, Natalie is the Founder and CEO of her own consulting company, and I can say that in my role I have deeply appreciated how Natalie has generously shared this expertise with Vassar’s Board of Trustees,” Bradley said. “Natalie is often challenging us to think creatively about problems and potential solutions. Thank you for all you have done over the last several years and thank you for all you will do for Vassar and for the world in the future.”

Nixon said she had genuinely enjoyed her service to the board as well as a previous stint as a member of the Alumnae/i Association of Vassar College (AAVC). “Being a trustee gave me the opportunity to see the operation of higher education from the top,” she said. “I see my service to the College as a way of giving back for all it has done for me.”

Sekhsaria, who helps run her family’s business interests and is involved in various philanthropic initiatives, said she was honored when Bradley asked her to consider joining the board shortly after her daughter, Mrin Sekhsaria Somani ’23, enrolled at Vassar. “Vassar has been a very good place for my daughter to be for these past four years, and I saw my service on the board as a way of giving back for what the College has done for her,” she said. “I learned a lot from others on the board that will serve me well in my own work.”

The President thanked Sekhsaria for helping her establish working relationships with academic leaders in India. “In January of 2020, I represented Vassar at numerous events with higher education and government leaders across the Indian subcontinent,” Bradley said. “Padmini played a critical role in opening doors for Vassar in India and helping to have the most influential people in the country know of and think highly of Vassar. Thank you, Padmini, for being such a great board member and a wonderful ambassador for Vassar wherever you are.”

Bradley noted that in addition to the legal and financial expertise Pichette brought to the board, she also made a significant contribution to Vassar’s environmental efforts by establishing the Vassar College-Kenauk Institute Conservation Fellowship. The initiative will enable recent Vassar graduates to conduct research and take part in conservation programs at the 65,000-acre Kenauk Preserve in Ontario, Canada, and then bring that knowledge back to campus to assist in research and land management projects at Vassar’s Ecological Preserve. “Thank-you, Tamar, for all you have done for Vassar,” the President said.

Pichette, who lives in the United Kingdom, could not attend the event. In a written statement, she said that serving on the Board of Trustees had been “a wholly enriching experience. I’ve had the privilege of being surrounded by exceptionally accomplished, smart, and engaging colleagues from whom I’ve learned a tremendous amount. I’ve appreciated the wealth of diverse perspectives and expertise they’ve brought to the table. It’s been an honor to serve with them, and I will miss the camaraderie and collaboration that has been one of the highlights of my time on the board.”

Vassar Student Association (VSA) President Julian Aguilar ’23, who served as student observer on the board of trustees, was also thanked for his service.
Vassar Student Association (VSA) President Julián Aguilar ’23, who served as student observer on the Board of Trustees, was also thanked for his service.

Board Chair Anthony Friscia ’78, P’15 said Nixon, Sekhsaria, and Pichette had each brought unique perspectives and varied skills to the board. “Natalie is a creative problem solver who thinks outside the box,” Friscia said. “Tamar is an attorney who provided excellent legal and financial advice, and Padmini brought an international perspective to the board, which we needed. And as a parent, she was in a unique position to let us know what our students were doing.”

June 1, 2023