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Honoring Laurie Riley Brubaker ’82

“Laurie wanted everyone to have the same opportunities and to make the best of those opportunities. She was always willing to meet with students and advise and mentor them as they prepared for their lives after Moravian.”

By Therese Ciesinski

On her first visit to campus, Laurie Riley realized immediately that Moravian was the one. Her father insisted that she visit all the colleges on their list, but she never wavered from her decision.

Laurie loved her time at Moravian. After graduating in 1982 with a BA in clinical psychology, she began a long career in the health insurance industry. She married Lloyd Brubaker, and they had two children. Her career took them all over the country, but staying involved with Moravian was always part of the plan.

In high school, Laurie had considered herself an average student; however, at Moravian she excelled, graduating magna cum laude. “She wasn’t aware she had the potential to do the kind of work she did there, and credited it to the high quality of the faculty and their encouragement,” Lloyd says.

She spent 30 years at Aetna, eventually becoming a senior vice president. There she was known for her mentoring skills and ability to motivate others. “Laurie could meet someone, see their strengths and weaknesses, and help unleash the strengths,” Lloyd says.

As the first generation in their families to go to college, the Brubakers were acutely aware of the challenges first-gen kids face. “We wanted to remove the financial burden so they can focus on schoolwork and the college experience,” Lloyd says. The Moravian Tomorrow Endowed Scholarship Fund they founded in 2013 is aimed at helping these students.

When a move brought the Brubakers back to Pennsylvania, Laurie was finally able to deepen her involvement with Moravian and give back some of the support she had received as an undergrad. She served on the board of trustees, the campaign cabinet committee, and the Moravian Leadership Council. For her service, she received the Comenius Award in 2010 and the Moravian Star in 2015.

Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, Laurie never lost sight of what mattered: family, friends, and service to others. Optimistic in nature—“infinitely blessed” is how she described herself—the meditations she wrote while undergoing cancer treatment recognize a shared humanity: “Cheers to unending hope, kindness, and our unifying human spirit.”

Laurie passed away in 2019. To honor her memory, Lloyd and their children, Chris and Jess, have made a gift to the HUB Expansion Campaign, ensuring that her commitment to improving the lives of others continues. “Laurie wanted everyone to have the same opportunities and to make the best of those opportunities,” says longtime friend Pat Hanna ’82. “As an alum, she was always willing to meet with students and advise and mentor them as they prepared for their lives after Moravian.”

The Center for Career & Civic Engagement will be renamed the Laurie Ann Riley ’82 Center for Career & Civic Engagement. “It was very important to have the gift be in Laurie’s maiden name, the name she was known as when she was at Moravian,” says Lloyd.

“We give to what matters to us—what speaks to our values and passion,” says Dr. Nicole Loyd, executive vice president for university life, chief operating officer, and dean of students. “And when you add your name to a gift, it signifies your belief in that program or space or institution.”

“The loss of Laurie to our community was devastating,” says President Bryon L. Grigsby ’90, P’22, P’26. “She was a constant ray of light, optimism, and energy. She loved being a Hound and loved Moravian. Naming the center that launches students into their lifelong career dreams after her is so fitting to Laurie and to her indelible memory. She made Moravian better and continues to do so through her legacy. I am grateful for both Lloyd and Laurie.”

Lloyd Brubaker also founded the Lloyd and Laurie Riley ’82 Brubaker Endowed Internship Fund. Internships can play a defining role in a student’s professional growth, but financially challenged students aren’t always in a position to apply for them. The fund ensures that qualified students have an experience they might otherwise miss due to financial hardship.

The first recipient of the Brubakers’ scholarship received a job offer as a result of her internship. In a letter to Lloyd, she writes, “Words cannot explain how much this internship helped me.”

What does Lloyd think Laurie would want the students who benefit from their gifts to know? “The lesson she’d share is one of selfless service,” he says. “Moravian does a really good job of inspiring that in people. People come away from the school with a greater purpose.”