The Wall Street Journal

As a young bank executive in the mid-1970s, Charlotte B. Beyer remembers that there wasn't a women's room on the floor of the executive dining room of where she worked. It was strictly men's only. That memory has stayed with her.

So when Ms. Beyer founded her own company, the New York-based Institute for Private Investors, some 20 years ago, she wanted to stress the "importance of community and the importance of a collaborative, almost feminine, model of learning" in her company.

She credits the education she received at the all-women, private Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., with helping her to shape her company and her career on Wall Street.

Ms. Beyer, 63 years old, graduated from Westover in 1965. Though going to the school wasn't her choice back then.

Ms. Beyer's mother attended the school and it was expected that she would, too. She describes the school back then as an "elite, sort of WASPy school" but also as a place that was nurturing and a place to grow confidence.

"Girls need a laboratory, like an orchid needs a nursery," says Ms. Beyer. "If you don't provide that protection or safety for a girl, they often do not have the courage to try things, run for student government or be the head of a club."

And so Ms. Beyer wants many other girls to be able to experience their own growth at Westover.
Nearly half of all women who attend the school receive financial aid. Ms. Beyer supports Westover's scholarship fund, most recently contributing $45,000 to the school.

Ms. Beyer has given a total of $600,000 to the school, with more than half of those contributions going toward scholarships. Since her time at the Westover, Ms. Beyer says the school, which has about 200 students, has shed its elite past.

Ms. Beyer has been able to get to know some of the scholarship recipients and become a mentor.

One Westover graduate and scholarship recipient went on to become a teacher in the South Bronx. Ms. Beyer stayed in touch with the young woman and would visit her class to teach entrepreneurship and take the students on field trips to Wall Street. A few of the students in that entrepreneurship class have also gone on to Westover, with the help of Ms. Beyer.

During Ms. Beyer's board service and as a volunteer for the school, she says that she's had the
opportunity to watch as young women "blossom" into leaders. Aiding those young women "becomes a passion that is incredibly exciting," Ms. Beyer says.

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