Rice alumna Lynn Laverty Elsenhans ’78
is in some pretty powerful company.
The chairman of the board and CEO of the major petrochemical company Sunoco, she earned the No. 10 spot on this year’s Forbes list of the "World’s 100 Most Powerful Women," keeping such notable company as German Chancellor Angela Merkel (No. 1) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair (No. 2). Elsenhans was listed ahead of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (No. 54) and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (No. 40).
The Forbes recognition is based on a combination of two scores: visibility and the size of the organization or country the women lead. Elsenhans joined Sunoco as its CEO and president in 2008 and was named chairman of the board this year. Her earlier career was with Shell, where she climbed the management ranks in national and international posts. She has remained active with Rice as a member of its board of trustees, and she has been a major contributor to scholarship funds and to the renovation of Autry Court.
In an interview published last year in Rice Magazine, Elsenhans said her decision to attend Rice was because of its reputation in math, engineering and science.
"For me, [Rice] was the total experience, both inside and outside the classroom," she said. "I have a tremendous passion and deep love for Rice. I had a fantastic experience here as a student. It prepared me extremely well and is a part of my success."