Alumnae Spotlight is a blog that showcases amazing Laurel women and the paths they have charted since graduation.
Whether entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists, teachers, designers, artists, engineers, authors, lawyers, pharmacists, civic activists or volunteers, Laurel women inhabit nearly all careers and corners of the world helping to make it a better place.
Our alumnae and the journeys that they have taken speak to the essence of a Laurel education and what makes this School and the community of women who call it their own distinctive. This space highlights their fascinating lives and the mountains they continue to move.
If you would like to be featured in our Alumnae Spotlight, or know of an alumna who might, please email Megan Findling.
This Robert Frost poem graced the opening page of the 1989 Laurel Leaves yearbook and has carried Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith ’89 through her winding life path. Despite a need to create from a young age, Gwynne didn’t turn her passion into a career until a heartbreaking life event prompted her to travel to Thailand. There she learned how to blow glass and returned to the States determined to make a career in the arts. While working as a curator without a formal degree, Gwynne purposefully created exhibitions that were accessible to all, not just those with an art history degree. This quality of accessibility is a large reason she is drawn to the field of craft and handmade items, as opposed to contemporary art. Now a Program Director at Mountain BizWorks, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Gwynne helps the creative community of western North Carolina develop skills that enable their businesses to thrive. She also runs the Emerging Artists Cohort program for the American Craft Council, facilitating educational opportunities for artists to advance their professional paths. Read on to learn more about how Gwynne combines her business and creative strengths into developing successful craft artists!