#SOMBFF: A Chance Encounter at the Housing Office Leads to a Lasting Friendship
Generations of students have made lifelong friends at Yale SOM. Janice Shade ’94 looks back at her #SOMBFF relationships with Pam Sugarman ’94 and Amy Mullen Luster ’94.
Pam Sugarman has been a strategy/governance consultant for nonprofits and foundations since we graduated in 1994. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Tom Rosenberg, and their son, Daniel. Pam was my roommate during both years at SOM and has become a lifelong friend. Even though we both happened to live in the Washington, D.C., area prior to SOM (but never met there), our paths to SOM were markedly different: Pam grew up in the South and came to SOM from the public sector, working several years as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill. I grew up in the Midwest and entered SOM after several years with an investment advisory firm in northern Virginia. It was precisely our differences that drew us together, however.
I met Pam when I walked into the SOM housing office in early August 1992—just a few weeks before classes would start—to look for an apartment. I walked out with a roommate and future best friend. The woman who ran the office told us she was famous for making successful roommate matches. Whether she had magical skills or Pam and I just got lucky by showing up within a few minutes of each other on the same day, ours was certainly a successful match.
One of my favorite Pam memories came on a very snowy day when I had an early class. Pam walked into the Hall of Mirrors (one of the rooms in the building that housed SOM before its move to Evans Hall) later in the morning wearing thin canvas sneakers that were soaking wet. I’d often teased her about her insufficient outdoor gear to survive New England winters, to which she always replied, “I’m from Atlanta. I’m going back to Atlanta. Why do I need boots (gloves, hats, etc.)?” I gave her my dry boots to wear around school and walked home in her sopping sneakers, then returned later for an afternoon class sporting yet another of my many pairs of weatherproof footwear. To this day, I’d bet a lot of money that Pam does not own a proper pair of boots!
Beyond our shared SOM experience, it has been the common bond of two professional women pursuing careers and family that has enriched my life over the years. In addition to all the usual ways that friendships flourish—celebrating birthdays, weddings, birth of children, the general ups-and-downs of life—our connection goes deeper as we support each other on a professional level, too. I’ve helped Pam think through complex financial issues involving a family real estate deal and broadened her exposure to impact investing concepts. She invested in my first startup venture and later became my nonprofit guru as I founded two nonprofit organizations. And this coming March, thanks to an introduction made by Pam, we’re doing a “fireside chat” together via Zoom, hosted by Charis Books and Agnes Scott College, to present concepts from my book that launched right at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention another #SOMBFF, Amy Mullen Luster. Amy and I bonded during (too many!) long nights in the “dungeon” of SOM slogging through Managerial Accounting problem sets. When I moved to Boston three years after graduation in the late ’90s, Amy and I rekindled our friendship, which has remained to this day. She and her husband, Tom, introduced me to my husband, Chip Betz. Chip and I are godparents to their son. We’ve shared many ski trips out west and ski weekends in my (now) home state of Vermont. As with Pam, our parallel paths of career and motherhood provide so many ways for us to support, learn from, and celebrate with each other.