At the moment, Jean Afterman ’75 holds a position that no other woman does: the Assistant General Manager of a Major League Baseball team. She has served in that capacity for the New York Yankees, where she’s also a Senior Vice President, since December 2001.
But after she left Burke’s for Lowell High School, UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco School of Law (“All great schools,” she says, “but the best education I ever got was at Burke’s”), she embarked on quite a path — one that took her from Paramount Pictures to the National Organic Standards Board to, of course, the Bronx Bombers. Her passion for baseball turned professional in 1994, when she began work as an agent and legal advisor for players. She is also paying forward her Burke’s education by organizing Yankees-sponsored Read-a-Thons and student mentor programs and volunteering with the NYPD Explorers program.
When you were a student at Burke's, what did you dream you'd be doing at this point in your life?I had a lot of dreams when I was at Burke’s — and a lot of those dreams were nurtured there. I had long held the dream of becoming a doctor like my father, but I also had my first taste of acting in the theater at Burke’s and so that became a dream, which did become a reality early in my working life (although my dream really was all about living in London and working on the West End!). There’s no doubt, though, that if you were a Burke’s girl, even way-back-when, you had big dreams about a full life!
What is your favorite international city?That’s a tough one, but probably London. However, Tokyo has been an important part of my baseball career, so perhaps a split between London and Tokyo.
Who was your favorite teacher at Burke's?My seventh-grade teachers all changed my life in a lot of ways. Nancy Clark, Elizabeth Noll, Bill Hughes and Myna Hughes (no relation to Mr. Hughes) were not only excellent teachers, but they were engaged with us, encouraged us and nurtured our “big Burke’s dreams.”
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party and why?While I have heroines and heroes from history and literature, I am not sure that I imagine Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I tucking into a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc with me and my pals. The older I get, the more I realize that it is true what the Good Witch told Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” (by the way, one of my first roles at Burke’s!): There is no place like home. So, I think it is me and my family and some friends, enjoying a really good dinner with some fantastic wine, stress-free and worry-free, with all of the time in the world.
What advice would you give to a current Burke's student?My best advice would be to learn as much as you can and take advantage of the fantastic education that Burke’s has to offer. Believe that the world is full of limitless possibilities, and don’t stress that you haven’t figured out where you are going to be in five or 10 years. One of the graduating seniors my first year at Burke’s had a terrific quote on her page in the yearbook — “One thing done, the rest follows” — and I have found that to be, so far, very true.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.