Alumni in Action: Pam Tanase ’88
Pam Tanase ’88 credits Claremont McKenna with helping her develop leadership skills, tackle challenges, and build resiliency in business. The scholar-athlete, who was an All-SCIAC diver for the Athenas three seasons, is today the co-founder and chief operating officer of Workzones, a coworking organization serving more than 500 members by providing private offices and meeting rooms. “Technical skills aside, it was the interpersonal skills, team building, and leadership that I experienced in the classroom, as a Resident Assistant, manager at the Hub, and team captain that was most valuable… I took all of that knowledge to launch small businesses,” she said.
In 2023, Tanase was inducted into the Ted Ducey CMS Hall of Fame, honored for her leadership as an athlete, as a diving coach, and the foundational Athena water polo coach, who led the Athenas to the first two SCIAC championships (1997 and 1999) in team history.
Tanase recently shared the ways CMC is special and why she gives back.
What were some of your favorite experiences while at CMC?
I loved my experiences at CMC because I felt that I was able to do it all — academics, athletics, work, and leadership. That being said, the relationships with my coaches, teammates, other RAs, coworkers, and friends were most memorable and enjoyable. I also have many fond memories of some epic pranks that we pulled on one another.
Who were your mentors at CMC?
My coaches, Donna and Steve Evans, and Phil Hofmann, were amazing mentors and I valued each of them for different reasons. Some of my psychology professors, such as Professor Martin Chemers made a strong impact. And during my years as a CMS coach, Mike Sutton ’76 and Jodie Burton were amazing role models. Much of the success I had was due to their unwavering support.
How did your thesis impact you personally and professionally?
My senior thesis was looking at the relationship between an athlete’s relationship with their coach and athletic performance comparing individual sport athletes and team sport athletes. It did have an impact but now looking back at many years of experience working with all sorts of teams (athletes, employees), I’ve learned much more from “real life.”
How would you describe the CMC community?
The CMC community was full of exceptional people who had high goals and expectations that created a buzz and energy on campus that was contagious. And because you knew the players on the team, attending sporting events was fun, and often the stands were packed, especially if it was a Sixth Street rivalry game.
How did your time at CMC prepare you for your career?
My time as an athlete at CMC was pivotal towards my first career in education and athletic coaching. Technical skills aside, the interpersonal skills, team building and leadership that I experienced in the classroom, as a Resident Assistant, manager at the Hub, and team captain were most valuable. After 10 years of coaching and working with teams, I took all of that knowledge to launch small businesses.
Why is it important for you to be involved at CMC and give back?
I had such an amazing experience at CMC that I spread the word whenever I can. I’m really proud to say that I’ve passed along my old CMS gear to a few water polo players from our local area who chose to become an Athena. On another note, when I was at CMC, the motto was “Leaders in the Making.” I feel that all of my CMC experiences, in the classroom and outside, helped develop my leader voice, and ability to tackle challenges and build resiliency. I am so proud to have graduated from CMC and love all of the opportunities we have to continue to connect with CMC.