All in the Family

December 11, 2019
How one Jepson School family keeps on giving

The Cramer family story is a love story. Love for one another. Love for the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the University of Richmond. Love for making a difference.

Alex Cramer, ’10, met his future wife, Melissa Collins Cramer, ’11, in fall 2007 on the first day of their first semester on campus. But it wasn’t until the two leadership studies majors were seated next to each other in Dr. Don Forsyth’s Group Dynamics class their sophomore year that their romance took off.

“We were learning about the biological concept of a dyad—two components of a whole that need each other,” Alex said. “We started calling ourselves the dyad.”

Their love for each other and the Jepson School blossomed in the ensuing years. Both served as president of the Jepson Student Government Association (JSGA), with Melissa assuming that role from Alex when he graduated a semester early in December 2010. They married in May 2014.

In fall 2010, Alex’s younger sister, Molly Cramer, ’14, enrolled at University of Richmond. She too decided to major in leadership studies (as well as rhetoric and communication studies) and served as JSGA president.

Their leadership studies education has contributed to their success in their respective careers, the Cramers said.

Now vice president of product at Goldman Sachs in New York, Alex has taken the lead on kick-starting the Apple Card build. His quick rise in the business sector began with his Jepson internship, he said.

“My Jepson internship with Capital One turned into a job that became the springboard for my career in financial services,” Alex said. “In my first two years out of college, my supervisors told me I would make a great manager because of the way I thought about problem solving—a skill I learned at Jepson.”

“At Jepson I learned how to work with people through classroom discussions and group projects,” Melissa said.

She uses her interpersonal skills daily as a talent acquisition recruiter for Tiffany & Co. in New York. Eager to create a sense of community at her workplace similar to what she experienced at the Jepson School, she joined Tiffany’s Employee Engagement Committee, which celebrates the big moments in employees’ lives.

“We can all be employees, we can all be students,” Melissa said. “But when we’re a community, we’re working together to make a better place.”

Molly attributes her success in human resources client consulting at Capital One in Richmond to the critical thinking and interpersonal skills she developed at the Jepson School.

“Critical thinking skills are essential to discerning what is legitimate,” she said. “You have to ask yourself, is that true? Is that photo real or has it been photoshopped?

“I’ve thrived in a role where I coach leaders on how to manage their people. At Jepson, I worked in groups with students who were majoring in science, business, and other disciplines. I learned how to collaborate with people who think and learn differently.”

The Cramers highlighted their interaction with leaders as another key component of their Jepson education. Alex recalled being in a class of eight students taught by Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia and now a U.S. senator. Melissa remembered feeling awed when she met Margaret Thatcher during her Jepson at Cambridge summer study-abroad program.

The Cramers’ love for the Jepson School and University of Richmond has not diminished since they graduated. All three are currently serving on the Jepson Alumni Corps and have participated in planning and implementing the Jepson EDGE Institute, an alumni-sponsored professional development program for current Jepson students. Alex has also served on the UR Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Alex and Molly’s father, David Cramer, head of U.S. Financial Institution Sales at Visa, Inc., serves on Jepson’s Executive Board of Advisors.

The Cramers’ passion for giving back doesn’t stop with the Jepson School and the University of Richmond. When Molly was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12, the entire family got involved in supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), participating in bike rides and other fundraising efforts.

“It’s a family affair,” Molly said. “We go as a unit.”

Alex and Molly’s mother, Laura Cramer, is a JDRF board member and has chaired the JDRF Cincinnati Chapter’s annual gala in years past. At this year’s gala, the chapter honored the Cramers for their leadership and activism.

“Our connection to the Jepson School and JDRF is similar,” Alex said. “We see good organizations doing great things for the world.”

“We give back because we feel passionate about our experiences with the Jepson School, UR, and JDRF,” Melissa said.

In the coming year, the Cramer family will expand. Alex and Melissa are expecting their first child, a boy, in April. In November, Molly will wed fellow Spider Ethan Nelson, ’13, L’17.

No doubt the Cramers will share their love of family, school, and giving back with their two newest family members.

Photo: From left to right, Molly Cramer, Laura Cramer, David Cramer, Alex Cramer, and Melissa Cramer.