Janet Kraus ’84 KOnverses with Student Leaders over Lunch

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Janet Kraus ’84 visited KO on Thursday, Sept. 27, to share her experiences as a businesswoman with students and faculty, as part of KO’s Lunch and Lead program.

Lunch and Lead is a club where members of the program work with the alumni office to bring in different leaders from the community to come and speak to students and faculty about their experiences.

Ms. Kraus is the co-founder and CEO of Peach, a Boston-based, fashion start-up. After graduating from KO in 1984, she graduated from Yale with a degree in Political Science and then went to Stamford for her MBA in business.

“I am also an angel-investor, a start-up advisor, a board director… and a practitioner of happiness and gratitude,” Ms. Kraus writes on her LinkedIn bio. Prior to Ms. Kraus’ work at Peach, she sold two companies and taught entrepreneurship at the Harvard Business School.

Ms. Kraus led a session in Roberts Leadership Center where students could come and have lunch with her and ask questions about her experiences.

Panera catered the food for the event, providing sandwiches, salads, chips, and bread.

Ms. Kraus talked about entrepreneurship and being a woman in business. “It was really motivating and informational,” senior Olivia Coxon said. “Janet Kraus showed me the payoff of hard work. She put everything she had into her business, and it inspired me to work harder.”

The first Lunch and Lead meeting was held back in the spring of 2017 and was attended by then-sophomores Amy Mistri, Ananya Alleyne, Ben Poulios, and Nick Spina along with a few other students. A senior from Phillips Exeter Academy spoke about a similar program that he started at his school. These ideas were the basis of Lunch and Lead at KO.

“It was a really good starting point for Lunch and Lead. I learned a lot about how to form a leadership program at KO,” Amy said.

In the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, math teacher Sandra Goss approached senior Olivia Coxon and asked if she would like to continue Lunch and Lead with the students that attended the meeting in the spring because Ms. Goss knew Olivia had some prior experience with leadership clubs: Olivia had attended a leadership camp during the summer.

In the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, Olivia and her brother senior Charlie Coxon got an email from Associate Director of Institutional Advancement & Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Elizabeth Bellingrath about bringing in Ms. Kraus.

“We thought it was a great opportunity and the club was able to have a speaker come super early in the year,” Olivia said.

Lunch and Lead brings different leaders from the community by emailing or calling them and asking if they would be willing to speak at KO. Lunch and Lead works with Ms. Bellingrath to reach out to different KO alumni that would be willing to speak about their experiences after leaving KO.

“I heard about the club through my advisor [Ms. Goss] and wanted to be a part of it immediately,” junior Jackson Wolff said.  

Amy said she agreed that she enjoyed being a part of the club. “It’s a chance to have an impact on the community for the better,” she said. Lunch and Lead meets every week on Tuesday during Lunch 2 in the Brave Space. For the future, Lunch and Lead is planning on bringing on more leaders like Janet Kraus to KO to share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of the KO community.