Mary Claire Lomax, C’84, a member of Penn’s Board of Trustees and a beloved community member, passed away on May 31. She was 59.
Ms. Lomax graduated from the George School, then received a BA in international affairs from the College of Arts and Sciences at Penn in 1984. She went on to earn a juris doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center and was licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She served for over 30 years as the general counsel for the Lomax Companies, a conglomerate of several small Philadelphia-area businesses, where she worked closely with her father and her five siblings. In 2003, she became the founding CEO of the Lomax Family Foundation, where she led the family’s philanthropic ventures. She worked to provide grants that offered a financial lifeline for many African American arts and cultural institutions, health care, and educational programs.
In 2007, Ms. Lomax joined Penn’s Board of Trustees, a position in which she had tremendous impact on the Penn community. She served on numerous trustees’ committees, including as chair of the Student Life Committee, vice chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, and as a member of the External Affairs and Nominating committees. She co-chaired the James Brister Society for over 16 years. In this role, she advocated for the creation of Towards Inclusion: Diversity at Penn, a documentary on the history of diversity at Penn by the award-winning filmmaker Louis Massiah, and funded the James Brister Society Endowed Scholarship. Ms. Lomax served on the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women and the advisory committee of Makuu: The Black Cultural Center. She was a longtime member of the School of Social Policy & Practice Board of Advisors. She was also active on the Penn Alumni Board of Directors and several of its committees. She was co-chair of Penn Alumni’s Momentum 2021: The Power of Penn Women conference. She established the Claire Lomax and Lomax Family Foundation Scholarship in SP2 and was involved with Pipeline for Promise in SP2, a program that brought SP2 courses to underserved community college students.
Outside of her roles at Penn, Ms. Lomax was outspoken about diversity and the inclusion of women and African Americans. She served as the CEO of Say Yes to Health, Inc., a non-profit organization that provided health education to at-risk children in Philadelphia. She also served as the secretary and treasurer of Creativision; secretary of Foster America; secretary and treasurer of Vine & Fig Tree Press; and secretary of Fourth and One Productions. She served on several boards, including the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Award, and the William Penn Foundation. She was committed to diversity in corporate and legal America, serving as president of the National Bar Association’s Women Lawyers Division and founding the Access to Equity Foundation. In 2016, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf chose her as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.
“Claire loved the University of Pennsylvania and throughout her lifetime she worked with joy and dedication alongside faculty, administrators, and students to make Penn a better place,” said the Board of Trustees in a written tribute. “To her board colleagues, she will long be remembered for the bright and shining presence she brought to every meeting. Engaged, inquisitive, and gregarious, she freely offered her thoughtful point-of-view, a great asset to the advancement of the University’s mission. We are grateful for Claire’s leadership, and even more so for having known her as a friend.”
Ms. Lomax is survived by her daughter, Dylan; her stepson, Jared; her mother; five siblings; 16 nieces and nephews; one great niece; and a large network of beloved family, friends, and colleagues. A celebration of her life is being planned for the fall.