Board of Trustees

Ms. Gail Harmon


Photo of Ms. Gail Harmon

Why I am a trustee:
I care deeply about education. I loved school, fostered the education of my children and hope that all young people have access to educational opportunity. St Mary’s provides that, so I am willing to spend many hours supporting its mission. I am also constantly thrilled by the natural beauty of the water and the campus. I am delighted to be part of the community.

Graduated from (and year):
Radcliffe College (now merged into Harvard College), B.A. (1965)
Columbia Law School, J.D. (1969)

Profession:
Lawyer. I advise progressive non-profit issue groups on tax and election law, as well as other related issues. At its best, this means I’m part of the strategic conversation about how to enact progressive legislation and how to elect progressive candidates.

When I was in college I studied:
European history

Today I wish I had studied:
Government or economics because those fields are much more relevant to what I do today

Favorite book:
Middlemarch by George Eliot

Favorite film:
Too many to name, although I particularly liked Winter’s Bone

Favorite cuisine:
Modern American or Thai

Role model:
Another really hard one since I’ve never considered the various famous options (Martin Luther King, Gandhi, the Presidents Roosevelt) to be my role models. Instead I think I pick and choose different characteristics from the many remarkable people I’ve known. People whom I seek to emulate include: Judith Lichtman, the longtime president of the National Partnership for Women and Families (formerly the Women’s’ Legal Defense Fund) for her personal warmth, skill, and political wisdom in fighting for women’s rights; the many people I know who can build coalitions and bring a group to “yes;" my parents who were both community leaders; my kids and husband who have a spark and love of life which is always energizing.

Education/Career Advice for Students:
Education advice: Take risks. I wish I had branched out more from my comfort zone. I’m not thinking just of difficult courses, but those which were personally challenging. I’d also suggest trying out many extra-curricular activities: The Point News, sports, theater, etc.
Career advice: When I was deciding between being a lawyer or a psychologist, I came to realize that all jobs and professions have their share of highly detailed work which you have to master before you can really do the fun stuff. Ask yourself which route has details which you enjoy (or at least don’t hate) because you will always have to spend some time in the weeds. Then you should try to envision a great day when you have succeeded in your career; is it all that great or will you wish you had taken a different path?

Bio

Harmon is a partner in the law firm of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg and is a recognized authority on exempt organizational law, having advised in this field for over 25 years. She provides strategic advice to a wide range of progressive foundations, charitable and lobbying organizations, associations, and political action committees on federal tax law, federal election law, and other legal issues. She is a frequent speaker, writer and commentator on issues affecting the nonprofit sector and an active participant with the legal and nonprofit community in developing the law in this area.
 
Harmon is on the executive committee and board of Population Services International a leading social marketing organization dedicated to improving health through programs in safe water, malaria, micronutrients, family planning and HIV/AIDS in more than 70 countries.  She also serves on the boards of the D.C. Public Library Foundation and Our Place, DC. She is a former president of the Board of Directors of the National Partnership for Women & Families (formerly the Women's Legal Defense Fund).

Harmon's affection for St. Mary's County and its institutions began in the late 70's when she and her husband John purchased Tippity Wichity Island on the St Mary's River just north of the College.   She and her family enjoy water sports and seafood delicacies as well as the magical beauty of the river.  She seeks to protect the local environment and is delighted with the friends she has made in St. Mary’s County.