Lives Well Lived
It takes more than a yardstick, a calendar, or a stock return to measure a life. Consider Stephanie Isgur Long ’84 and David Long ’83. The common gauges of professional achievement and personal resources prove their success. Yet there is so much more to this power couple than numbers can express. The qualities that defy appraisal-generosity, insight, and attention, to name a few-are the very features that define who they are.
Their worth could certainly be weighed by promotions. David was recently elected Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Mutual Group, one of the world’s largest insurance enterprises and a Fortune 100 firm with $33.2 billion in revenues and $1.7 billion in net income (2010). This recognition follows quickly on his appointment as president and member of the board of directors of Liberty Mutual Group in 2010, president of Liberty International in 2009, executive vice president and president of Liberty Mutual’s Commercial Markets in 2005.
The fast pace suits him. “New challenges keep me engaged,” David explains. “Finding the right environment can prepare you well to compete with anyone, in any field. This was true for me at Hartwick and remains so today. Our company is very complex so I have been challenged yet I have also always felt valued.”
David joined Liberty Mutual in 1985 as a financial analyst soon after earning his Hartwick degree magna cum laude with a major in Mathematics. His status as a John Christopher Hartwick Scholar proved to be a harbinger of achievements to come. He continued his studies at Boston College, graduating first in his class with a master’s in finance.
Stephanie specialized in interpersonal relations as a Psychology major at Hartwick. A minor in Women’s Studies brought her together with the woman who became her favorite professor-Winifred “Win” Wandersee, now deceased, was Professor of History, Chair of the Faculty, and a nationally recognized expert on the history of women in the workforce. Stephanie says those studies “gave me an edge” when she built the archives collection of the Dana Hall School, outside of Boston. After 18 years on the job, she left the position a few years ago to concentrate on family needs, and this year started an innovative upholstery fabric and wallpaper business with a designer friend.
Value Beyond Measure
Their intellectual energy springs from David and Stephanie’s keen, well-educated minds. Their full lives grow from a profound partnership rooted in a strong marriage. Their joy flows from parenting two beautiful children. And their tenacity has stemmed from necessity as they raise a child with a disability.
Daughter Hayley is now in college, son Oliver in high school. He is a high-functioning young man with autism.
“There isn’t anything I don’t know about autism,” Stephanie says. “Like many parents, I have had to become an expert in my child’s health.” Researching the disorder, studying related issues, and evaluating progress in the field have essentially become her life’s work.
For more than 10 years, Stephanie and David have been involved in YouthCare at Massachusetts General Hospital, a therapeutically-based initiative that helps children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders to develop social skills. Their intention, Stephanie says, is to “grow such programming through the life cycle, so that high-functioning people with autism can go to college, can have a life.”
Prepared to meet the challenges of autism head-on, and eager to help others well beyond their own family, the Longs turned to their alma mater and President Margaret L. Drugovich.
“Margaret suggested that we could bring our priorities together and do something important at Hartwick,” David explains. “We want to serve high-functioning kids and help to prepare special education teachers. We want to support that interest of ours and Hartwick at same time.”
This determination sparked the couple’s most recent, and to date largest, gift to Hartwick. “We made this commitment because Margaret’s idea excited us,” Stephanie says. “We know what we do here will matter.” The Longs are dogged problem solvers who expect strong collaborators. David likes the President Drugovich’s “clear vision, definite plans, and follow through.” Stephanie appreciates that “she’s open and a good communicator.” Together, the three make a powerful team working for Hartwick and, now, for its special education program and for college-ready students of all sorts.
“Hartwick gave me opportunities that I ordinarily wouldn’t have had,” David recalls, noting that he attended on a scholarship and citing his work with the College’s “terrific” Math professors. “At Hartwick, the focus is on having confidence in your abilities, not comparing yourself to others. I enjoyed a complete education, a combination of academics, competition, and confidence building.”
Their Hartwick experience brought the Longs countless gifts, including an extended network of friends and family. “Hartwick was a really positive experience for us when we were kids,” Stephanie recalls. Their extended family includes his brother Stephen Long ’79, a member of the 1977 Men’s Soccer Championship Team that will be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame; David’s godson, William Heydari ’14 and so many friends, including retired men’s soccer Head Coach Jim Lennox.
Stephanie and David’s Hartwick life spans the years and crosses the generations. Their fondness for and gratitude to their college inspires their philanthropy. As they invest, they look forward.
“We have seen a lot of positive change at Hartwick in recent years,” says David, who just completed his third term on the Board of Trustees. “The leadership at the College gives us a lot of comfort that we can make a difference. I am unequivocally positive about Hartwick College in the future.”
This portrait appeared in The Wick magazine: Summer 2011