NEW ORLEANS — Mamie Sterkx Gasperecz is a historian at heart who has used her business sense to turn around a struggling New Orleans museum, teach financial literacy to student-athletes and help families reach savings goals. Gasperecz, the new vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer at the University of New Orleans, said she is excited that her “eclectic” journey has returned her to the lakefront.
Gasperecz, who has been praised for her exceptional leadership and management skills, brings a three-decade record of accomplishment of generating new revenue streams and forging partnerships in business and nonprofit environments. She arrived on campus March 1.
“I’m your enthusiastic outlier,” Gasperecz said.
For the past five years, she has served as vice president for Gulf Coast Bank & Trust and secretary/treasurer for the Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Foundation. Prior to that, she spent a decade as the executive director of two French Quarter museums, the Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and an MBA from Loyola New Orleans.
Gasperecz also spent three years as an adjunct instructor in UNO’s College of Business Administration from 2002 to 2005.
“My story is if I can work at the Hermann-Grima and Gallier Houses … and make them money and grow their endowment significantly and balance the budget every year; maybe (this) was the job for me,” Gasperecz said with a laugh in reference to her nontraditional path to academia.
Working in New Orleans and serving on boards has given Gasperecz an appreciation for UNO’s impact, she said. That revelation was brought home again during an icebreaker exercise at a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce board meeting when she announced her new position at UNO by saying her favorite color was “Privateer blue.”
“Every single person that followed me, around the room, had been to UNO at some time in their lives,” Gasperecz said.
The key ingredients for her success include hard work and strategic connections, Gasperecz said. She describes her role in keeping the University of New Orleans successful in culinary terms—back of house.
“We have to run efficiently so that the rest of the University can serve the students,” she said. “We are ‘back of house’ so to speak and that’s really critical.”
And, while growing student enrollment is not a direct job assignment, Gasperecz said she understands that additional students will increase the fiscal health of the University.
“It’s all about getting the enrollment to make this organization dance,” she said. “So everything we have to do is to make sure that we make more connections for the University and increase enrollment. Now that’s not part of my job, but it’s going to take every one of us to do that.”
Growing up in Alexandria, Louisiana, Gasperecz said her mother instilled in her a sense of duty for community service by example.
“The public service piece just came (naturally) to me. My mom was such a bright light,” Gasperecz said. “That’s just one of those things like, ‘Of course, I’m going to do that.’”
She jokes about her family’s traditions, roots and longevity.
“I’m Southern, I’m Catholic, so that means I don’t actually own anything that wasn’t owned by someone else and I can tell you how they died,” Gasperecz said. “I’m the fifth Mamie.”
She was drawn to New Orleans for college because of its rich history and never left.
“I had an undergrad in history and a master’s in business. I went to work at The Historic New Orleans Collection working in the archives,” Gasperecz said. “It was fascinating. I was an archivist!”
In the mid-80s, Gasperecz’s career shifted to the banking industry and personal finance.
“I saw women advancing in the banking industry, so I did my homework to see what was going on and kind of fell into it,” she said. “Then I found what I loved doing—obviously charging people to keep their money for them—but helping them achieve their goals.”
Gasperecz has been active in many local civic groups, including the Preservation Resource Center, the Louisiana Children’s Museum and Breakthrough New Orleans, and has been recognized throughout the city for her leadership and many achievements, including being named the YWCA Volunteer of the Year, one of New Orleans Magazine’s “People to Watch” and a Young Leadership Council role model in 2021.
She has also served as the chair of the Vieux Carré Commission and as a Commissioner for the French Quarter Management District.
In a nod to her contributions, Gasperecz was asked to remain on the board of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce even after leaving her bank position for UNO.
She looks forward to being able to leverage her community connections into potential partnerships and collaborative efforts for the University, Gasperecz said.
“I think sometimes a big head of gray hair and just a penchant for rolling up your sleeves and doing the work carries you far,” Gasperecz said. “So, I’m fortunate to have those relationships to be able to figure out some new things that we can do.”