Foundation Board Member

Annette M. Mulee

There are some positive lessons from COVID-19. One is that we have become more comfortable with meeting via Zoom which enables Annette to continue serving as an OCCC Foundation Board of Director all the way from Delaware. We are thankful. 

I grew up in Thornwood, NY approximately 30 miles north of New York City. My parents and I lived in the hamlet until I was in eleventh grade when we moved to Ellenville in upstate NY. I graduated from Ellenville Junior/Senior High School.


After graduation, I studied at Cornell University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. If it had not been for scholarships, I never could have afforded to attend Cornell. For me, scholarships were a real game changer. I then received a fellowship to study at Columbia University and earned an MBA degree. I worked for Conoco (now ConocoPhillips) in Stamford, CT for two years in strategic planning. During an economics conference, I met my late husband, who was living in Portland, Oregon. After an 18 month bicoastal courtship, we decided to get married and started discussing who was going to move where. No job in Portland looked really interesting. While we were discussing living arrangements, DuPont, which was the largest employer at the time in Wilmington, began what became the nation’s largest merger with Conoco. My choices then became Wilmington, DE, Houston, TX or Portland, OR. I choose Portland, and it is amusing to me that life has now brought me to Wilmington, DE.

Meanwhile, I had been thinking about law school. I wasn’t particularly interested in becoming a lawyer, but I thought it would be good training and the job situation would improve in the three years law school would take. So, I started at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland. Between my second and third years, I was a summer associate at Stoel Rives, LLP, a leading U.S. business law firm. This was also at the time that many tech startups were sprouting in the “Silicon Forest”.  I decided that I liked being a lawyer, so I joined Stoel Rives after graduating from law school, where I focused on corporate law and intellectual property.

From the time I graduated law school, my late husband and I stayed often in Newport, OR. In spite of the rain, we loved the Oregon Coast. In the mid-1990s, we decided to look for a home on the Oregon Coast and searched from Astoria to Coos Bay. Salishan is where we landed. Our home looks out over the bay and was an oasis of peace and calm during my hectic years at the law firm. I ultimately left the law firm to start my own practice, which enabled me to work from our home at Salishan while overlooking the bay and the ocean.

Through the years, I have donated to several of my alma maters. But, to quote economist Glenn Hubbard who served as the Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, “Community colleges deserve more attention.” Not everybody needs a four year college degree to improve their lives. Community colleges are the single most effective bridge to remedy inequality by building many paths to success for many people at an affordable price. A student can get an AA degree and transfer to a four year school, get the AA degree or a certificate in many different areas, and all paths lead to a better job and a more satisfying life. Even without a degree or certificate, attending classes at a community college is an affordable way to simply enrich one’s life.

Since I loved the Oregon coast, I researched the Oregon Coast Community College. I contacted Dr. Ryslinge and spoke with her about funding a scholarship. She suggested I consider funding a cohort for the welding program, which was just getting started. A certificate in welding leads to a better job just as a certificate in nursing or an AAOT degree lead to better jobs. She was very persuasive, so I did fund a cohort of students in the welding program. But I also have pledged additional money to fund general scholarships, so the students can choose their own path.

Serving on the OCCC Foundation Board provides me the opportunity to be with other people who value education and strive to make it affordable for interested students of all ages.  

OCCC students, by registering for classes, you have already taken the first big step to a brighter future. Bravo! Things will be tough from time to time. Just remember that every obstacle is a learning experience. If you overcome it – great! If you don’t, just pick yourself up and learn from it.

Donors, if you care to help ameliorate inequalities, there is no bigger bang for your buck than supporting a community college. Just do it! 

For more information on how you can inspire a student and help ameliorate inequalities, contact the OCCC Foundation office,