At the second annual Bow Ties & Pearls Ball, alumna Kerri Rowan ’77 will receive one of the University’s most prestigious honors, the Lillian M. Bassi Core Values Award.
The Lillian M. Bassi Core Values Award recognizes her commitment to integrity, civility and responsibility – the foundation of her exceptional career and purposeful life.
Rowan grew up in Uniontown, Pa., and entered California State College as an education major with a focus on Spanish. Top grades made her a regular on the Cal State dean’s list and a member of the Alpha Mu Gamma and Kappa Delta Pi honorary societies. A resident assistant Patrice Hall, she chronicled student life as sports editor of the Monocal yearbook before graduating magna cum laude and setting her sights on postgraduate study.
She earned a master’s degree in communication arts from William Paterson College, in New Jersey, in 1981. While working on her master’s thesis, she relocated to the Washington, D.C., area.
Nearby Arlington, Va., is still her home.
“(Washington) is such a beautiful, cosmopolitan city,” Rowan said. “I first visited as a teenager, during cherry blossom season, and I promised myself that someday I would live here. I consider myself so lucky to do so.”
After graduate school, Rowan secured a Capitol Hill internship with the syndicated Washington News Service. A communications role with Robert Dole’s presidential campaign took her to Atlanta for the 1987-1988 election season. Afterward, she returned to Washington and began a career as a management consultant.
For more than three decades, Rowan worked for prominent D.C.-area consulting firms, primarily in support of federal initiatives. Her clients included the FBI, Defense Department, Office of Personnel Management, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.
Most of her assignments were local, but others required long-term travel, sparking a lifelong passion for exploring new locales.
Rowan joined the federal government in 2007 as a senior program analyst for the IRS, where she remains employed today. An expert in information technology governance, she oversees key IT modernization programs, monitoring costs, schedules and scope-of-work targets to directly support the IRS’s chief information officer.
“My Cal education provided a solid foundation on which I could incrementally build my career,” she said. “I learned basic life skills as a young adult while at California.”
Her exemplary work at the IRS has been recognized with 12 awards for outstanding performance, a Commissioner Outstanding Achievement Award and, most recently, a Strategy and Planning Leadership Excellence Award.
Outside the office, Rowan is a frequent patron of the theaters, concert venues, museums and embassy events in our nation’s capital. Travel continues to delight, and her deep, abiding desire to see the world has taken her to all 50 U.S. states, all seven continents and 108 countries – with new adventures ahead.
Philanthropy also gives her life purpose. As an active member of her condominium community, she has led efforts to collect back-to-school supplies for needy children, organize food drives for local pantries and gather pet supplies for animal shelters.
Rowan acknowledges the crucial role that scholarships played in making her own Cal U education a reality. So last year she established a Cal U scholarship that funds a full year’s tuition for a deserving student. She was thrilled to meet the first recipient of the scholarship, which she plans to continue funding for years to come.
“To be able to assist someone else in a similar situation is very gratifying,” Rowan said. “It’s simply my way of paying back.”