Alison Stone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Zamorano, 2011-2020 | Universidad Zamorano
Zamorano Alumni AGEAP USA of the Month: Dr. Sofia Ortega ‘03
10 July, 2020

Alison Stone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Zamorano, 2011-2020

Alison Stone, great granddaughter of Zamorano’s founder, Sam Zemurray, has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1997. While Alison had heard much about Zamorano from her grandmother Doris Stone, she had never visited the campus prior to 1995 when a trip with UNIMER brought her to Honduras. She was surprised to see the culture inside Zamorano compared to other universities in Latin America.  While she was initially taken by the architectural beauty of the campus, she was drawn immediately to the strong philosophy of discipline and how it was blended with modern agricultural learn-by-doing practical lessons that made use of far more advanced technologies than one might find in other universities in Latin America. She has served on multiple committees including the Development Committee, served as Secretary on the Executive Committee of the Board, as Vice-Chair and finally as Chairwoman in 2011, serving nine years in that role. She looks forward to serving Zamorano in whatever capacity the new Chairman might need her.

Alison studied Latin American Studies at Tulane University and earned her doctorate (PhD) there, following which time she moved to El Salvador where she founded UNIMER-El Salvador, a member of the Unimer Central America network, serving as its General Manager until 2006. Alison served on the Board of Tulane University for 12 years and is currently a Trustee Emeritus.  She has also served on the Boards of numerous social welfare and arts organizations where she resides in El Salvador.  Among these are (a) the Fundación La Niñez Primero, which teaches kids from poor regions how to socialize through playing in order to prevent violence and promote values such as respect, tolerance, hygiene and good nutrition, b) as Advisor to the Board from 2016-2020 and Trustee since February, 2020 for El Salvador’s MARTE (Museo de Arte), a private art museum in El Salvador charged by the Salvadoran State to protect, preserve and display the Salvadoran cultural heritage, (c) as Trustee since 2017 to Salvantura, a foundation in charge of the protection of the environment and natural resources .

Her main objective when becoming Chairwoman of the Board was to see the launch of the Master’s Program in Sustainable Tropical Agriculture (MATS), which will be graduating its first class in August, 2020.  The launch of this master’s degree will also open the doors to additional master’s degree offerings at Zamorano as it has already opened doors to alliances with other lead universities around the globe.

Alison has great admiration for the type of education Zamorano provides, one that is not only dedicated to academic excellence but also to developing humans who honor their fellow humans with respect for one another despite differences.  “The world needs educational systems that include teaching strong personal character values”, she adds. Alison stresses that the lack of those fundamentals leads to the problems we are facing today across the globe.  She continues to be impressed by the ethics, respect and other basic human values that are exalted at Zamorano, and that she fears are missing at many other educational institutions.

The family history is important, and the University’s mission calls to Alison specifically. She finds particularly compelling that a student who comes from poverty and who succeeds in completing their Zamorano education is guaranteed never to return to poverty again.  She is moved by the way a Zamorano education impacts not only the individual but also their families and their communities.  “Zamorano is breaking barriers by bringing people from different backgrounds together to accomplish so much more in a model where every student develops tolerance and respect for people who are different”.

Alison has brought each of her daughters to campus over the years and it has been a family love affair for each of them. Her daughter Alexandra studied anthropology receiving her master’s degree from Oxford University and is now also very involved in the arts and culture scene.  Andrea graduated from American University with a degree in graphic design; she then pursued a degree in Culinary Arts and currently working in New York in that field.  Alison’s youngest, Alison, has a degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Chicago and she works as an art director in the advertising business.

In Alison’s own words, “The economic challenges of this current pandemic are also a tremendous opportunity because this crisis has drawn people’s attention to the importance of the environment and food systems.  Food security challenges became quickly obvious in many of the countries Zamorano serves and Zamorano has the know-how and human resources to deal with these challenges effectively.  Zamorano can be a leader in the movements of resource protection and food security.”

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