Women on a Mission: Janis Jordan Rehlaender ’77
Retired director of corporate planning for Baxter International
Founding board member, The Given Limb Foundation
Former chair, Darien Board of Education
Duke volunteer leadership:
Pratt School of Engineering Board of Visitors (Chair, 2011–2014)
Leadership Gifts Committee, Duke Forward
Co-chair of the Braxton Craven Society (with husband James)
Duke Women’s Impact Network Leadership Council
Who modeled philanthropy for you?
My parents were my models, even though they didn’t have the resources for philanthropic giving. They did, however, dedicate a significant amount of their time and energy to philanthropic causes and to education in particular. As for philanthropic giving, my models have been friends and peers who have generously given to schools, research groups, and community service organizations.
How do you view the connection between volunteer service and financial support of an organization?
Engagement with an organization allows me to appreciate the need and see the results of philanthropic giving, and it makes the philanthropy that much more fulfilling. Also, I like to understand how my gift will be used. I’ve been very involved with the Pratt School of Engineering and can see the results of my giving—meeting the impressive students who receive our scholarship or seeing the research that takes place in a building I’ve supported.
Why do you support Duke, and how do you decide what area to support?
Duke provided me with many opportunities during my undergraduate days, throughout my career, and even now that I’m retired. I was fortunate to receive a merit scholarship that really helped offset the cost of my Duke education. Now I’m delighted to be able to give back, which is one reason I’ve chosen to support the financial aid initiative. Besides that, I like to understand the needs of the school and how a gift will benefit Duke. Through my involvement with Pratt, I’ve been exposed to its new programs and their needs. There is so much interesting work and so many giving opportunities that I wish I could support more. I try to pick the ones that resonate with me and those I think will provide the best opportunities for students.
What is your greatest hope for Duke?
I’d like to see Duke continue to improve the quality of its education and research, especially in the engineering school, while maintaining and building on what I consider its unique strengths: collaboration between schools and departments, interdisciplinary leadership, and the willingness and nimbleness to try new ideas and create new programs.