Meet Dorothy Terrell

Location: Boston,MA
Age: 64
Marital Status: Married
Education: Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism

Her passion for business is clear: “I love the bottom line, the accountability, the ability to make things happen.” Now in Boston, she sits on the boards of Herman Miller and General Mills as well as Endeca Technologies, a private company, and several not-for-profits including Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners Healthcare System.

For all her success in the business world, however, Dorothy is always a mother first. “No matter where you are, the one thing you remember is you’re still the mother. I still don’t change my watch when I travel. It’s more important for me to know what time it is at home than where I am.”

What’s one of the most important things you’ve learned in your career?

Sun was a vicious environment—very competitive–but I learned that I could know that without becoming that. I could survive and even thrive without having to be a horrible person. I’ll say this–I’m going to generalize–men are often on automatic and women aren’t. We watch and we study and we figure out what we need to do to make things happen.


How old were you when you got married?

The first time I was 25. The second time I was almost 40. We have two children; my daughter Dorian is 22 and just recently graduated from college. And Tammy is in Florida. She’s a supervisor for a community center.

How would you define your style?

Somewhat tailored but also casual chic.

Has your style evolved over the years?

I have figured out what I can feel comfortable in that is also chic. I used to try to wear things that I thought I should be wearing, and they just didn’t work for me. I tell my daughters, “Just because it looks great on somebody else doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for you.”

Do you have any signature items that you love?

A jewelry designer who has a store right in Newton – Talia Don. Her pieces are fabulous.

Do you have a signature perfume?

I like Grabazzi from Barney’s. It’s not overpowering and it’s not flowery.

What about your beauty routine?

I love Amore Pacific. The cleanser feels like it’s doing something; it lathers and it has a little grain in it. And I like the feel of the moisturizer on my skin.

How do you rejuvenate?

I read. And shopping is rejuvenating.

What’s a great book you’ve read?

Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, I didn’t want that book to end. And I thought Jodi Picoult’s Handle with Care was ingenious. The way it was written in various voices; the father’s voice and the mother’s and the child’s. When I read a book and I’m like, “Oh no, I don’t want this to happen,” then I know it’s good.

What about your biggest indulgence?

I’m back to shopping (Laughter) and travel. When we’re traveling now it’s on our nickel, but I don’t care. I want to be in the lap of luxury. I worked my butt off and I’m really blessed. I want to give back but I also want to enjoy.

What about your inspiration?

When my mother was alive she was my inspiration. We would giggle about things I had achieved and we used to say ‘who’da thunk it?’ And that would be an inspiration for us to see more and accomplish more so we’d have more to laugh about.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Boston area?

Sorellina’s.  The food and the service are consistently good. They know me, I’m comfortable there. And Sportello’s has become a favorite. I don’t need stuffy, I don’t need pretentious, I just want to have a great meal.

What about your secret favorite spot in Boston?

My home. With all the traveling that I’ve done for work, it’s important to have a nice place to come to. A great day is when I can just sit and look out the window or read a book and have a cup of coffee.

What about a passion project?

A group of young women called Just A Sister Away meet here every two weeks. Five years ago my pastor asked if I would start a group for young educated women in their 20s and 30s who need a safe place to network. We talk about relationships, the Bible, anything they need. They’ve grown up, married, had illnesses—one girl was raped—but they always have each other. What I love is they can agree and they can disagree, but they’re never disagreeable.

Where’s your favorite place to travel?

I love Italy; Torino and Capri. I haven’t been disappointed there in the meals or the people. The food, ohhh the food. And I go back to shopping again.

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