Ellen P. Gabriel, 1955-1999: An Inspired Leader
Former National Director, Advancement of Women
The advancement of women in the workplace was a long-standing interest of Ellen Gabriel. In 1993, it led her to assume the role of national director for the advancement of women and to profoundly affect the lives of her colleagues, as well as the culture, reputation and business performance of Deloitte & Touche. On Saturday, June 19, 1999, Ellen's courageous battle with breast cancer ended with her death from complications caused by this disease.
A Distinguished Career
Ellen joined Deloitte & Touche in 1980, became an audit partner in the Boston office in 1988, was named to the U.S. firm's Management Committee in 1993 and, in 1998, was elected to the Board of Directors for a three-year term. Throughout her career, she was a gifted leader and tireless professional, shouldering great responsibility while facing formidable obstacles with indomitable spirit and achieving excellence.
As an Assurance and Advisory Services partner, Ellen successfully served a number of multinational service companies, as well as health care and retail organizations based in Boston. As national director for the advancement of women, she helped the organization create a culture that offers unlimited opportunity for the advancement of all talented professionals, encourages mentoring and supports work/life balance.
She brought to the Women's Initiative the same talents she brought to client service and her other leadership responsibilities with the organization: dedication, willingness to listen and creative solutions. Under her leadership, the Women's Initiative served as a catalyst to alter the chemistry of Deloitte & Touche, contributing to increasingly high employee satisfaction, historically low turnover and record growth. The effects of Ellen's leadership have been enormous.
A member of The Boston Club, Ellen chaired the Education Subcommittee of the Corporate Board Resource Committee and was also on the Board of Overseers of the Boston Ballet and the Children's Museum. Ellen received a B.A. in Mathematics and 17h- and 18th-century studies from Wellesley College and an M.B.A. from Boston University. She also was an active member of the Wellesley College Business Leadership Council.
A Leader in the Profession
In its June 30 issue, Public Accounting Report noted that Ellen's
"...initiatives to advance female professionals at her firm changed the entire profession. Her efforts ultimately helped revolutionize corporate America by documenting the business case for changes, such as eliminating the up-or-out partnership track and workplace flexibility. Her work led Deloitte & Touche to national recognition as one of the best places to work, as noted by Working Mother and Fortune magazines. Those landmarks inspired other firms to try to match Deloitte & Touche in creating environments of growth and opportunity for professional women."
A Wife and Mother
Ellen was devoted to her husband, Norm Cantin, and her daughter, Sarah. She always had time for Sarah, taking advantage of flexible work arrangements to work at home one day a week and to participate in activities important to her daughter.
A Lasting Legacy
We will greatly miss Ellen. She touched our lives with her talent, courage, passion and grace, and we are grateful for the gift of having known and worked with her. To honor her memory, the organization recently founded the Ellen P. Gabriel Fellows Program. Eight to ten talented senior managers will be selected to participate in the four-month (September through December) Fellowship each year. All Fellows will reflect Ellen's qualities of intelligence, commitment, integrity, service and leadership.