2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Presented to Kathleen "Chou-Chou" Ridder Crampton ’62

Kathleen Ridder Crampton ’62
Distinguished Alumni Award Citation
April 29, 2022
Read the acceptance speech.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding achievement, the dedication, and the personal accomplishments of a Shipley alumna or alumnus in a particular field of endeavor, whether it be in a chosen profession, through formal volunteer activities unrelated to the School, or through a personal commitment to an issue, project, or cause.

After graduating from Shipley in 1962, Kathleen Ridder Crampton, known by her classmates as “Chou Chou,” earned a BA in American studies from Boston University. She then took a job at the Martha Eliot Health Center, which served an economically disadvantaged population in Jamaica Plain, an inner suburb of Boston, and spent the next 47 years working to improve the U.S. healthcare system in executive level roles at Boston Children’s Hospital, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Harvard Pilgrim, Kaiser Permanente, and, most recently, United Healthcare of Florida Community Plan, one of the largest providers of managed care services to the Medicaid population in Florida.

Since retiring from the healthcare industry, Kathleen has focused on civic engagement, serving as Chair of the League of Women Voters of Florida’s National Popular Vote initiative, co-founding Floridians for National Popular Vote, which she currently chairs, and serving as a Director of the Palm Beach Civic Association. She is also an active member on a number of boards, including New World Angels, a Florida-focused Angel investment group, and the WCD Foundation, which supports women on corporate boards.

In recognition of Kathleen’s role as a leader in her field and her dedication to making a difference in the lives of others, the Alumni Council has awarded her the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Acceptance Speech

First, I want to thank Michael Turner and Ali Schwartz for this wonderful honor. Shipley gave us amazing role models who by their mere presence demonstrated character and academic rigor. I am most grateful to them. 

60 years ago, I was sitting just where you are; if the class of ’62 had voted for those most likely to succeed, I would not have gotten one vote.   
Life seemed bleak. My date for the senior prom had bailed at the last minute. I had flunked the final chemistry exam and would not graduate without retaking and passing it. The fact that about half the class had flunked it was not an excuse as my father explained to me. And third, I had applied to three colleges and had been rejected by them all. My father was not amused by this either. 

Not a pretty picture. But gentlemen come and go, I passed the Chem exam and graduated, and Shipley flew into action so within a week I was accepted to Boston University. 

Amid this bleak scenario three pivotal things happened.
First, I had managed the school-wide halloween event, which was successful and which was noted on my report card with, “Kathleen has administrative talents.”  My father was thrilled…. I had no idea what “administrative talents” were.

Second, our History of Art teacher gave me a book of Renoir paintings as her private “commendation,” recognizing my achievements in that class. That small gesture meant the world to me. 

And third, I was accepted into the Experiment in International Living summer program in Bruge, Belgium where I learned French, giving me a college major and a rooming assignment at BU’s elegant French House overlooking the Charles River. 

My message is not for those of you at the top of your class, who have gotten into the best schools, played varsity ball, written a symphony or solved world hunger.  It’s for those of you, who like me, played on the fourth hockey team, had a mediocre academic record, and didn’t get invited to any of the boys' school dances.  

Life is long and there are LOTS of opportunities for success……

Figure out what you are good at and then maximize your God-given talents.

Engage in life. It is more fun to be on the playing field than sitting in the stands.  And if you just keep getting up to bat, eventually you’ll learn to hit the ball.  Wise words for those of you listening. 

And last, but not least, carry Shipley’s motto with you, “Courage for the Deed; Grace for the Doing.
You will all thrive at college since Shipley has prepared you well as they did the class of ’62. 

My thanks again to Shipley, to my classmates here today; good luck, and God bless you all. 
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.