May McCarthy, ’84, is the 2017 Alumna of the Year. Since 1982, May has co-founded seven successful companies with the largest growing to more than $100 million in annual revenue. A best-selling author, speaker, university lecturer, angel investor and philanthropist, May serves on several business, charitable and university boards. Sharing her knowledge to elevate prosperity and freedom for all is her passion. A born leader, May serves as an exemplary role model for all those with whom she comes in contact with and exudes an enthusiasm that is infectious.
May graduated cum laude from the Albers School of Business and Economics with a focus on marketing.
Among the things May loved about Seattle University were the small class sizes and easy access to professors. During her sophomore year, May and her sister started her first company, which grew to 250 employees with franchises in two other states. Albers Professor Chauncy Burke showed particular interest in this enterprise and suggested May do an independent study class with him during her senior year to draft a business plan for her company. Albers Professors Bill Weiss and Dave Tinius shared accounting processes with May that were instrumental in her completion of the businesses plan. Despite working full-time directing her business, May completed her degree in just three years.
Her education and experience writing that business plan have been instrumental in each of the seven entrepreneurial ventures she started. In addition to co-founding businesses dedicated to telecommunications, health care information technology and fashion retail, May has worked for Fortune 500 companies Johnson and Johnson and Boeing.
May shares her passion for entrepreneurship helping students and young companies succeed through innovation and problem solving. She imparts that energy as a current board member and former Chair of the Advisory Board for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in the Albers School of Business and Economics and as a business mentor for health care-related companies through Life Sciences of Washington. One of her great interests is the Albers Business Plan Competition, which she as served as a judge and mentor. She is proud that one of the businesses that had won the competition several years ago, Vera Whole Health, has done so well that she invested in it.
The celebrated author (The Path to Wealth, 7 Spiritual Steps to Financial Abundance) was featured at Seattle University’s Search for Meaning festival in 2015. In her book May posits that personal goals are achievable when realized in collaboration with spiritual intuition. “Be on the lookout for intuition and unexpected leads and opportunities to guide you to realize your goals,” she writes. Published in 2015, the book rose to #2 in personal finance on Amazon.com.
May is a consultant to small businesses across the globe and is a member of angel investment groups, Puget Sound Venture Club and WINGS. Additionally, she serves on several boards of companies that she invests in and is a past member of the Board of Trustees for ACT Theatre and the Better Business Bureau of Washington and Oregon.