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First job: From teen appointee to CEO

Lisa Gable

August. 10, 2108
By William Ehart

At age 19, Lisa Gable was the youngest political appointee in the Reagan administration. A few years later, she was studying weapons systems in a Pentagon classroom full of high-ranking, male military officers.

“A friend of mine and I were the only 22-year-old girls in this program. We didn’t fit the profile at all!” Gable said.

Since June, Gable has been CEO of McLean, Va.-based Food Allergy Research & Education, which works to improve the lives of those with food allergies and funds research on new treatments.

But as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia studying international relations, she was tapped to be the student liaison officer to the Department of Education during the privatization of student loans. She was profiled in a front-page Washington Post story on young people flocking to Washington to work in the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

“I went around the country talking to student groups in 1985 about why privatization of student loans was good and how it actually was going to benefit them,” she said.

The next few years would see her in Pentagon and White House posts, earning a master’s degree in national security studies from Georgetown University, and studying at the U.S. Army War College. Later she would become a corporate executive, attain the rank of ambassador as U.S. Commissioner General to the 2005 World Expo in Japan, and help found the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.

Gable credits the many mentors—whom she actively sought out—for helping advance her career, and she is known for giving back: The Wall Street Journal cited her in a story about mentoring others. When ending her tenure on a corporate or nonprofit board, she often will recommend a mentee to take her place.

“When you join a board, there’s always somebody on the board you need to be your mentor,” she said. “You have a level of experience that qualifies you for that position but at the same time you’re not always the expert. To the degree that you recognize that and identify your own mentors, it’s always going to be to your benefit.”

In other people news …

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced adding six association CEOs to its Association Committee of 100.

They are:
Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable
Michael Dykes, International Dairy Foods Association
Victoria Espinel, BSA | The Software Alliance
Peter Gleason, National Association of Corporate Directors
Charles Rivkin, Motion Picture Association of America
Robert Voltmann, Transportation Intermediaries Association.