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Women have been capable home makers perhaps as long as there have been homes, but they’re not often home builders. Elizabeth Verna ’89 has built a career from the ground up and was selected as the first female president in the New Haven County Home Builders Association’s 55-year history.

“It’s an honor to be president,” says the co-owner of Verna Builders & Developers in Wallingford, Conn. “It shows I’m respected by my peers.”

It wasn’t quite what the international affairs graduate had expected. After graduating, she went to work at Italian Vogue magazine.

Verna’s father, who founded the family-run business in 1967, asked her if she wanted to return home and work for him as a project manager while she pursued an MBA.

“I started the MBA,” she says. “I got my business education through the building industry.”

With just a few women in New Haven County HBA – she’s the only one who is a builder – she recognizes that she can serve as an example to other women.

“It’s pretty unique,” she says. “By example, I think it does some good.”

Doing good motivates her as a builder, and Verna credits John McCartney, associate professor and head of government and law, for instilling such values.

“Affordable housing should be one of the basics,” she says. “Over-regulation of zoning and ‘not in my back yard’ syndrome” are challenge she hopes to address during her presidency.

Her company built an 80-unit housing development in Wallingford that included some zoning modifications to allow for affordable housing.

“I was able to do well as a builder and do good for [the community],” she says. “Lafayette taught me, because it was a small liberal arts school, to think outside the box.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles