Lynne Kelleher '81
Contributing to Community
By Kimberly Kratz ‘11
Lynne Kelleher’s choice to enroll at Bucks County Community College came after she had experienced a few years of adult life. After graduating from Radnor High School, Kelleher enrolled at West Chester University with an eye on the field of nursing. Not particularly strong in math or science, she figured she’d begin by majoring in liberal arts.
At West Chester Kelleher met her future husband, and while she admits her good fortune of having parents who could afford it, she didn’t want them to waste their money if she didn’t have a solid direction. So, she left West Chester, got a job in retail, and taking a cue from the Doobie Brothers song Depending on You, at 19 years old, she married that boyfriend.
Kelleher found that she enjoyed the retail niche. “I decided I needed to go to school to at least get an associate degree if I planned to advance in the field,” she said.
That’s when she decided that going back to school part-time at nights at BCCC would be the most convenient way to pursue her degree while gaining work experience. “I have continued to take courses every now and again ever since; silversmithing, quilting class, I just think it’s a real gem,” she added.
In time, Kelleher opened her own children’s store in Flemington, New Jersey which she ran for more than six years. Though the store did well, she said, “The dynamics of the town changed.” So, she went on to open The Gap in Newtown but soon came to realize that “nutty” retail hours weren’t always conducive to raising a family. She and her husband decided the best change for their young family would be to adjust their lifestyle, that the price to pay for owning a big home wasn’t worth the sacrifice. “We changed our whole way of thinking in order to do things with the kids until they’d be in school full-time.”
The family downsized and purchased a smaller home so that she could get a real estate license and pursue a new career path working part-time. “In real estate, it takes a long time to make consistent, significant sales to make a sustainable career,” she said.
Looking back on the student experiences that made the most impact on who she’s become today, Kelleher said, “There were a couple of professors I had at Bucks when I was going for an associates in business who I really connected with. Because I was in retail and had just started to open my own business, it seemed easier going back when I was a little bit older. Things just made sense. To me they weren’t just abstract theories. It was much more meaningful when I knew what I wanted to do. I benefited so much.”
Today after 30 years in the real estate business, Kelleher remains consistently among top performers in the local region. Beyond that, she has been a consistent supporter of those in need having run the annual charity auction for the Board of Realtors. She has since gone on to found 100 Women Who Care in Bucks County, a group that has grown to 140 participants.
The idea for a Bucks County venture in support of local charities came to Kelleher when she attended a similar Chester County meeting along with her sister. There she watched as three charities’ representatives, each with financial need, vied for donation from the Women’s group. “Each story brought tears,” she said.
The premise holds that each member of the group commits to a $100 donation per quarter whether or not they choose to attend each meeting. Each quarter, three charities’ representatives in need of financial backing for their organization are invited to give a 5-minute presentation of their “case.” Charities considered must be located within Bucks County. Once presentations are complete, the women vote on the one they consider most worthy among the three. Members then write a check directly to that organization.
The Women Who Care in Bucks County group of 50 or 60 local women that began four years ago with the help of the group in Chester County has grown to a membership of 145. “The January 2019 meeting raised $14,500 in one hour. The concept is brilliant,” Kelleher said.
Kelleher believes that for an individual woman who joins, her commitment to donation is affordable. “They’re glad to do it. It requires no effort on their part, a little effort on my own part, and for those who can’t make the meetings, they can feel good about writing their check. She said, “Last year we donated over $50,000.”
The charitable tradition continues as the group grows and the idea to bolster local charities spreads. “What the Chester County group did for me [providing their forms and creating a logo], I did for people in Montgomery and Mercer counties to help them get started.”
Assistant Director, Foundation & Alumni Relations, Christina McGinley said of Kelleher, “She’s a powerhouse.”
As Kelleher plans for retirement, she said, “I think the college is a real gem. As I prepare to think about scaling back, one of the things I look forward to is going back and auditing a wide variety of classes. It’s on my bucket list,” she said.
Women interested to join 100+ Women Who Care in Bucks County can find more information on the website at www.100womeninbucks.org or call Lynne at her office 215-860-3229.