There are not many reasons to abandon the Wharton Executive MBA program mid-term. But when the President of the United States asks you to become the l9th Secretary of Labor, you have little choice. That is how it happened in 1987 for Ann McLaughlin Korologos, when President Ronald Reagan chose her to become only the second woman in that slot. Amazingly, the first woman also had a Wharton connection, Frances Perkins

Korologos blazed her own path with major programs to educate young workers and to involve women, minorities, and older workers in the workforce. She helped create the Labor Department’s $2.2 billion tax credit child care initiative and collaborated with the Secretaries of Education and Commerce through a program calling for better education in high-technology work amid global competition. Reagan honored Korologos, who had previously served in the U.S. Treasury and Interior departments, with a President’s Citizen Medal for Public Service. Today she is chair of the influential think-tank, the RAND Corp., a member of the Dana Foundation board, chairwoman emeritus of the Aspen Institute (where she still serves as a Board Member), and a member of Wharton’s Board of Overseers.

She has been known as a firm but fair leader whose style includes the ability to see problems clearly without politicizing them. As chair of the nonprofit Aspen Institute’s board, she deftly managed the dismissal of an underperforming CEO with no fall-out to the organization. On the Microsoft board, she served on the software firm’s three-person committee charged with complying with an antitrust settlement. As presiding director of the Fannie Mae board, she helped manage an investigation by federal regulators and return the mortgage lender to viability.

“During difficult times you need to look for the common interests and you need to trust the process,” she has said. “That seems to work for me.”