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Remembering a Wall Street Dynamo

Sandra Rudel Zwillinger, A91P, smashed through glass ceilings. In the 1970s, she quickly climbed the Wall Street ladder, becoming senior partner at the brokerage firm Gruntal & Co, which went public in the ’80s.

“She lived in a world of all men,” says her son, Marc Zwillinger, A91, “but she was entirely fearless. Whether it was speaking to rooms of 300 people, opening or closing offices, hiring people, she ran it all.”

Following Gruntal’s successful stock market launch, Sandra continued working as a broker, next at Oppenheimer & Co, and then Kenneth Jerome. Although she stopped going into the office in her mid-70s, she never retired, and continued managing accounts until her death in 2012, at age 80.

Sandra made time for everyone. “If anybody in the family needed anything, she was there,” Marc says. “She ran financial affairs for friends and cousins, loaned money, financed businesses, everything.”

She also made time for her family: her husband, Eugene, who also worked in finance, and their son Marc, who is now a lawyer and founding partner of ZwillGen, PLLC, a law firm based in Washington, DC, that focuses on Internet privacy and security.

When he came home on breaks from Tufts, where he studied political science, Marc and his mother would talk well past midnight about everything he was doing and learning. “She had unlimited patience for conversation,” he says, and unlimited advice. “Sometimes too much advice,” he adds with a laugh, but he welcomed every word—especially when she taught him the basics of finance, lessons he’s carried throughout his life.

But above all, he says, “No matter what, she was always on my side.”

Piloting Untapped Potential

Education was vital to Sandra Zwillinger. To honor his mother and to support students with an interest in finance, Marc and his wife, Kirsten Chadwick, J91, have generously given to the Tufts Finance Initiative (TFI).

Spearheaded by alumni involved in the Tufts Financial Network, TFI is a pilot program that aims to provide students with education, training, and guidance to develop successful careers in finance. As a result of TFI, Tufts now offers a minor in finance. The initiative has also helped the university hire Christopher Manos, a professor of the practice in economics, and Chris DiFronzo, E96, EG04, a liaison in the Career Center between students and alumni who work in finance.

Zwillinger’s gift supports these and other TFI efforts, including several upcoming workshops with financial training consultants Wall Street Prep. From modeling and valuation to mergers and acquisitions, Wall Street Prep gives students a true taste of work in finance. DiFronzo says, “In the first fall weekend, we’ll have 80 students spending two full days building test business models in Excel to figure out what a certain company is worth and subsequently its stock market value.” The following spring weekends will target other finance subjects, such as leveraged buyouts.

The Next Sandra Zwillinger

“To see another bright young woman gain passion and the tools for a career in finance at Tufts would be incredible,” Marc says. To know that same young woman might then learn about his mother and carry on her legacy, he adds, would be priceless.

From her joy of building real estate projects from the ground up to her Judaism and generous support of Tufts Hillel, from her intrepid success in finance to her all-encompassing love as a mother, says Zwillinger, “she was a dynamo.”