Hurwitz-Schwab, Elizabeth (Betsey)

Elizabeth Hurwitz-SchwabLittle Me Childrenswear
Retired Vice President of Human Resources

Betsey Hurwitz-Schwab knows what it's like to lead the way. She was one of the first women to enroll atWashington & Jefferson College in 1970, a period of considerable upheaval at the College. She remembers some professors who were opposed to the acceptance of women. She even faced "Women Go Home" signs during that first semester. This tension was difficult to handle at times, but it helped the new female students to band together. "My fondest memory of W&J would have to be the camaraderie of the women during that first year," Hurwitz-Schwab says.

Growing up in the Washington, D.C. , metro area, Hurwitz-Schwab was not accustomed to institutions that were small, personal, and individual. But she came to love W&J for being just that college where students were not just a number but individuals with names and personalities that could be developed. According to Hurwitz-Schwab, this personal touch helped to improve her self-esteem and the self-esteem of all of the women in her class. The importance of W&J to these women can be gauged by the tremendous impact they have made on the world.

Hurwitz-Schwab wanted to make an impact on the world right away. After she graduated, she joined VISTA, a volunteer organization designed to help the needs of people throughout the United States . From there, she was hired as the first and only woman at a day program for delinquent boys. Soon, she found herself working with troubled families in her community. She went on to create a human resources department at the childrenswear manufacturer, Little Me. When she arrived, they had more than 390 employees but no human resources department. Most of the policies and procedures that she designed are still in use today. Now retired, she continues to make a difference in her community of Cumberland, Maryland , by supporting arts organizations and helping to revitalize the town by creating an arts center. "What I enjoy the most about all the things that I do is being able to see where I make a difference," she says. "The toughest is seeing a situation where you know it is almost impossible to help." But, just as she did as a freshman facing those angry signs, she will not shy away from any challenge.