Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter Invested As Honorary Chancellor
Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter challenged Florida Southern College students to find ways of defining success beyond material gain in a speech to the Founders Day Convocation on March 16.
“Steve Jobs said, ‘Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter.’ … You will have to decide what kind of person you will be. How will you define success?” she said.
Ambassador McElveen-Hunter, founder and CEO of Pace Communications, Inc., of Greensboro, N.C., chairman of the board of the American Red Cross, and a former U.S. Ambassador to Finland, was invested as FSC’s 78th Honorary Chancellor at the Convocation. She was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. A proclamation read by Florida Southern President Anne B. Kerr recognized some of her many accomplishments as a businesswoman, diplomat and leader in humanitarian causes.
In her address to the Convocation, Ambassador McElveen-Hunter said she was humbled by the honor and cited her mother’s wisdom as the reason for her success. Among those words of wisdom, she said, were “Mediocrity is the greatest sin. Work is the greatest privilege. … And ‘can’t’ is a word that does not exist.”
Yet she also pointed to Pace’s philosophy of devoting 15 percent of its profits to community and charitable causes, a practice she continued even during a time of potential financial crisis for her company.
“All we really keep is what we give away,” she said. “I hope I have challenged you to dare more boldly and consider how you will define success.”
Ambassador McElveen-Hunter has organized and led Women’s Business Leaders Summits in Europe and the Middle East, and she was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland from 2001 to 2003. She has served on the boards of the United Way, an initiative to stop child trafficking, the National Museum of Women in The Arts, and Habitat for Humanity International. She was the first woman elected to serve as chair of the board of The American Red Cross.
Ambassador McElveen-Hunter has received numerous honors, including the Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion from the government of Finland, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year from the National Foundation for Women Legislatures, National Athena Award for business and civic contributions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the United Way’s National Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award for her leadership and exemplary service to her community, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.