Upon attending NDP’s Open House as an eighth-grader and listening to the Student Council President address the assembled, a then 13-year-old Amy said to herself: “I want to be her.”
She didn’t stop there, adding, “And I want to be a three-sport athlete.” She could have also included, “And while I’m at it, I’d like to win the white blazer,” because as a student at NDP, Amy went on to do all three. Now, upon hearing this, one could argue that Amy probably came into this world hard-wired to grab the brass ring. But that would not give Amy or her intentionality towards life nearly enough credit. Nor would it take into account the crucial role her dear mother, Gerri, played in shaping that intentionality. The year Amy entered NDP as a freshman, Gerri—herself a young woman with a “beaming personality”—was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother’s heroic battle against the disease— one that Amy accompanied her mother on through her early teens to young motherhood—would last another 18 years before Gerri finally died from a stroke in 2008, just nine days before Amy’s daughter, Ava, was born. Amy’s mother’s approach to life—and death—shaped her own.
“She had an enormous zest for life,” Amy remembers. “She loved a good time and wasn’t afraid of bad times. She taught me the value of hard work, determination, and passion. When she was here…she was here. If you ask me what I am committed to…it’s life. Give it all you have. Get it done. What’s next? Good with the bad. Don’t take things for granted and don’t put things off.” This approach has served Amy well ever since she was a young girl and has helped her face life’s daunting challenges with courage. When Amy was pregnant with her second child, she developed severe complications and went into early labor. The baby, a little girl, did not survive. Amy was inconsolable. But then, she remembered her mother and decided, “if she could do it, I could do it.” It was one of the hardest tests Amy ever had to face. Not all of Amy’s life challenges have been heart-breaking, however. In fact, many have been truly rewarding.
“When I was at NDP, I made it my mission to learn the name of every student there and to be a part of everything. I wanted to soak it all in. And I wanted to make a contribution.” That vigor has followed her through life. Today, Amy is the Vice President of Culture at Under Armour (UA), a global brand with 16,000 employees, headquartered in Baltimore, that has taken off in the last decade beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Amy has been there nearly from the beginning, brought in by her college friends and company founders, Kevin Plank and Kip Fulks. They told her they needed someone like her, and she said, “Yes.” But not before honoring a commitment to her then-current employer.
“When I’m in, I’m in,” Amy explained. “I put a great premium on loyalty and personal relationships. I’ve drawn enormous strength and enormous benefit from all my relationships. Relationship is everything.” In her position at Under Armour, Amy is responsible for teammate engagement (all UA employees are referred to as teammates), global meetings, hospitality and events, archiving the company’s history, and corporate philanthropy. A company motto is, “When we do well, we can do good,” and Amy oversees that effort. Over the years, she has spearheaded the company’s efforts to give back to the community in a myriad of different ways including building sports and recreation centers for Baltimore City youth, supporting US vets through Wounded Warriors, and—not surprisingly—contributing to Johns Hopkins’ efforts on behalf of breast cancer victims. On a personal level, Amy serves on the board of Casey Cares, a foundation dedicated to lifting the spirits of critically ill children and their families.
“I’m just in awe at the enormity of life and at the same time, how short it can be,” Amy said. She credits her parents, Notre Dame, and UA with shaping her outlook on life and the kind of person she is today. Each, in their own way, instilled in Amy a “can do” spirit.
“Mom kept me grounded and focused on what’s really important. She taught me how well one faces adversity and how well one rises after falling is the true measure of a person. NDP walked the walk with me and allowed me to become who I am. They were critical in shaping me into the kind of leader I am today. I would be a different person completely if it were not for Notre Dame. And Under Amour believes that everyone can be great at what they do and who they are, and they’ve given me tremendous opportunity to do that. In the years ahead, I want to empower other young women to go out and do the same.” Amy Sielicki Larkin. All in.