A Heart of Gold

A landmark gift to the School of Business is part of a series of generous donations designed to break the cycle of poverty through education.

IN FEBRUARY 2021, THE AMOUR PROPRE FUND LED BY LINDY LEE GOLD DONATED HALF A MILLION DOLLARS TO ESTABLISH the School of Business Endowment for Leadership Development. It was the latest gift of time, talent, and treasure guided by Gold since she began serving on the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors in 2015.

Though Gold is not a Southern alumna, a commitment to the university comes naturally for the New Haven native who grew up on Ellsworth Avenue around the corner from campus. “If you care about New Haven and the region, you have to care about Southern,” she says. “I consider it an enlightened self-interest.”

Her reasoning: investing in the students is an investment in the future of the area. Of the 8,000 alumni who have earned a degree through Southern’s business school over the past 30 years, about 85 percent have stayed in Connecticut.

“Most of the students at Southern stay in the immediate region because of their strong connections here,” Gold says. “If we want our business and professional communities to thrive, we need these students.”

She has promoted the greater good by targeting a demographic in need of extra support: students from lower-economic backgrounds, who constitute the backbone of Southern’s student body. Approximately 54 percent of the university’s first-year class is eligible for Federal Pell Grants, which are provided to those in most need of financial aid.

For Gold, the support of the university’s neediest students is a no-brainer, in line with her belief that education is a critical means for individuals to improve their economic situation. “Southern is one of New Haven’s answers to breaking a cycle of poverty,” she says.

Gold was raised in a privileged household. Her parents were prominent attorneys, partners at the firm Gold & Gold. Her father Marvin Gold was also a successful real estate developer and her role model — a philanthropist who held numerous volunteer leadership positions. “I had a really good role model,” says Gold. “An aspect of my [Judaic] faith that I adhere to is the concept of ‘tikkun olam,’ which means repair the world. I have always been driven to serve on boards where that is a priority.”

Gold saw the opportunity to further efforts to repair the world in 2015, when she was invited to serve on the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors. (She is the board secretary.) While this will be her last year as a board member, having served the maximum nine years allowed by the bylaws, she will remain on the Business Executive Council of the School of Business.

The gifts given to the school through Amour Propre, Gold’s private charitable fund, have risen from the need she’s seen in those who were not raised in the fortunate circumstances she and some of the university’s students were.

“Many of the students have not had the experiences or opportunities that more privileged students had,” she says. “I hope it will level the playing field for them by enhancing their possibilities,” she says.

In addition to the $500-thousand gift to the School of Business Endowment for Leadership Development, Amour Propre previously made a $150,000 grant to support the school’s Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Program, which provides personalized mentoring from business professionals, webinars, seminars, workshops, and more. The endowment enhances and expands that program as well as IMPACT Greater New Haven, which places Southern business majors at nonprofits and pays them a stipend.

Most recently, a $25,000 contribution last year established the Lindy Lee Gold Endowed Scholarship for STEM majors. The scholarship supports students who are transferring from one of Connecticut’s community colleges.

Lindy Lee Gold (in pink sweater with arm raised) celebrates at the ribbon cutting.

In recognition of her generosity, the new business school building, which opened in the fall, established the Lindy Lee Gold Business Leadership Suite, which houses the offices for the Women in Leadership Program and Career Services, a conference room, interview rooms for use by students and organizations, and more.

For the past 25 years, Gold has worked for the Department of Economic and Community Development. She’s a senior specialist responsible for business retention, recruitment, and expansion. After having run three businesses, which she later sold, and serving on various nonprofit boards asking for government support, she was ready for a midlife career change. “It occurred to me I could be on the right side of the checkbook and amplify the impact I make,” she says.

Gold is also a proud grandmother of her son’s 15-year-old son: “He’s fabulous,” she says. And she is an arts enthusiast whose weekends are filled with trips to galleries, concerts, art fairs, and the theatre. “I’m a theatre junkie and an art fair groupie,” she says.

Southern has benefitted from those interests. When Gold spotted an owl sculpture at an art fair in Mystic, Conn., she texted then-Southern President Joe Bertolino a photo and asked, “Do you like this?”

“He responded with one of the longest texts I’ve ever seen explaining the rules of what the university could and couldn’t pay for with regard to art,” she says with a laugh. “I responded, ‘It was yes or no. I’m paying for it.’ He said yes.”

She thought the owl statue, which is taller than she is and a gentler rendition than the university mascot, would be uplifting. She wanted it to make people smile and believes it has, pointing to the large number of selfies students have taken in front of the statue since its installation last fall.

“Everything I’ve tried to do at the school has been to promote self-esteem,” she says. “I think self-esteem is the cornerstone for a successful career and a successful life. Anything that institutes pride and inspires us is in the spirit of that mission.” ■

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Read more in the Winter 2024 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.


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