“There’s something very special about Northeastern,” says Susan Morelli, a Northeastern Corporator.

She might as well have been talking about herself and two peers, Lisa Foster and Karen Koh—three women who began serving on the university’s governing board after their daughters enrolled at Northeastern. They’re not alumnae, but as parents, they were so compelled by the university’s mission that they now commit significant time and energy to helping shape the school’s future.

“I’m a former educator, so I’m impressed by Northeastern,” says Foster, the Los Angeles-based owner of 1 Bag at a Time, a reusable-tote company.

“It’s an honor to be of service to an institution your child is attending,” says Koh, a Corporation member since 2011. The Singapore native is a retired civil servant who most recently worked as an executive for a major hospital’s healthcare delivery network. Northeastern’s emphasis on healthcare research particularly impressed her.

“Our young people face a more challenging, global world,” says Morelli, the CEO and president of ABP Corporation, which operates the Au Bon Pain chain of cafes. “We all have to help launch them.”

Foster agrees: “Some schools have not embraced the challenges of the coming century. I appreciate the way Northeastern is stepping up.”

These volunteer leaders also host events for new students, speak to student groups such as the Entrepreneurs Club, and contribute in many other ways. Morelli’s company, which has a popular location in the Marino Center, also hires co-ops. “ABP loves being part of the community,” she says.

Koh agrees. “It’s great to be part of the Northeastern story,” she says.