Risa Zwerling Wrighton was honored at the YWCA’s annual Leader Lunch and inducted into the Academy of Leaders at the 24th annual event Dec. 9 at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.
Each year, the YWCA Leader Lunch event honors 10 or more outstanding professional women for the important role they play in business, politics, education, science and technology, the arts, professions and racial justice.
Along with honoring “special leaders” from St. Louis, the YWCA selects a “future leader” (a senior from a local high school) and a “racial justice” honoree.
“I was thrilled to learn that I received the award, especially because I was nominated by the senior management of (Magellan Health Services),” said Zwerling Wrighton, wife of University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “It was rewarding to know that my co-workers recognized that I not only worked hard for the company, but also was involved in the community.”
At Magellan, the largest provider of employee assistance programs and managed behavioral health services in the country, Zwerling Wrighton manages a group responsible for acquisition, development and implementation of programs to assist employers in maintaining the well-being and productivity of their work forces.
A strong believer in a keeping work and life balanced, Zwerling Wrighton shares the same commitment on behalf of students at Washington University. She created the Home Plate program, which pairs freshmen with local families to help recapture the experiences they miss as students away from home.
She spends most evenings at Harbison House, where she co-hosts dinners honoring distinguished faculty and visiting dignitaries, as well as events with students, civic groups and WUSTL supporters.
“There were times in my life, when I was working and raising my two daughters as a single parent, when all I could do was try to keep our own lives going,” she said. “Later, after I remarried and my children were older, it was great to discover that I had the psychological energy, experience and opportunity to make a bigger difference in this world — to help others beyond my own family.
“That is a wonderful place to be in life — when you can see beyond your own need.”