Katie Y. Vogelheim
Like many Americans who venture abroad, Katie Vogelheim (JFRC ’77–’78) arrived in Rome and didn’t want to leave. She was a student enrolled in a semester-long program, and within days of exploring the city (and minutes of sampling gelato), she knew she wanted to stay the year. However, her parents couldn’t afford it. Two weeks later, they mysteriously reversed course. She eventually learned their decision was made possible by John Felice. To this day, she thanks him for the year that changed her life.
Vogelheim’s time at the Rome Center sparked a lifelong passion for the Eternal City. She returned for two years with her husband, John, and their children, Barrett and Whitney. During that time, she and John founded Rome Luxury Suites, a collection of boutique hotels steeped in the city’s history. Through these properties, she introduces travelers to the wonder she felt when she first arrived.
Before moving into hospitality, Vogelheim’s career path was as vibrant and varied as her travels. She cut her teeth at General Electric Information Services, where she spent 18 years managing global and domestic operations. She became an executive for Windham Hill Records, worked for an internet start-up that almost made it, and founded a consulting business that did.
But they say all roads lead to Rome, and it’s no surprise her most rewarding work stems from the city she so loves. She and John started a family foundation and launched the Vogelheim Student Scholarship Fund, which supports five students attending the Rome Center each year. She believes this opportunity will inspire these students to give back.
And that’s precisely what Vogelheim is most passionate about today. Her family foundation has invested in women and children’s health in Uganda, midwife training in Zambia, and child malnutrition clinics in Uganda. It has funded sustainable ranching in South Africa, marine-protected areas in South America, and a host of other conservation- and education-based projects. She also serves on advisory boards for the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Business School, the Conservation International Leadership Council, and, most fittingly, the advisory board of the Rome Center. She credits it all to one fateful year in Rome.