In addition to her achievements in the cosmetic and technology industries, scientist and business leader Marie Thadal DC'84 is a champion of education and mentorship. After speaking with students and staff at the Christiana Foglio’84 Douglass Career Conference, Thadal began thinking of ways she could help the many students who have lost internships and externships due to the pandemic. An active member of Itiah Angels for Learning, a philanthropy organization that prioritizes progress in education, Thadal and the Douglass BOLD Center established a fellowship program that gives Douglass students the opportunity to earn professional experience by working alongside Thadal and the organization’s dedicated volunteers.
“The students are exposed to the nonprofit sector as a possible career choice,” said Thadal. “But more importantly, this work makes a compelling case for how caring for others can transform the world. Itiah Angels for Learning aspires towards eliminating extreme poverty and hardship to elevate entire populations and create social progress, so it’s a great opportunity for students interested in transformative solutions.”
Through a scholarship program, Itiah Angels for Learning supports students in Haiti with basic tools, supplies, tuition, medical care, and nutrition to ensure their academic success. Douglass students are paired with experienced members of the organization’s leadership team, assigned specific projects, and encouraged to improve processes if they see a need. These tasks allow students to not only earn professional development skills, but exercise their agency and deeply engage with the initiative.
“The volunteers endeavor to really make a difference,” said Thadal. “While it has not been easy during the pandemic, they did not let up. 40 children have been sponsored so far and a village in Kisi Kenya now has running water. École Mère Louise (EML), the elementary school I attended until the age of thirteen, is located in Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. There are 400 students currently enrolled, and each year there are more than 100 students who are at risk of missing school periodically due to financial burdens. Through the fellowship, I can share the importance of our work with Douglass students.”
When not working with the organization and Douglass students, Thadal is a leader in the cosmetic and technology industries. A biochemistry major during her time at Douglass, Thadal began her professional career in research and development (R&D). While working as a skincare and beauty consultant with Mary Cosmetics, she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in the industry, and attended Fairleigh Dickinson University to obtain a master’s degree in cosmetic science. With her experience in R&D and sales, she found her niche in the heart of the industry as a raw material chemical ingredient sales representative to personal care and cosmetic manufacturers. For nearly a decade, Thadal has led the business development team for Coptis Inc., a software designer for the cosmetic R&D laboratories.
“It is imperative that I keep my knowledge base up to date on various markets. As such, the learning never ends,” said Thadal. “What I find most satisfying is that I am able to utilize my previous experiences from working in a scientific lab and in business development to digitalize cosmetic laboratories. I find the most satisfaction in my work knowing that my customers can effectively compete nationally and globally.”
For Thadal, her time spent at Douglass made a lasting impact.
“The hours I spent working in the biochemistry lab as well as the externship and internship programs made available to me during my time at Douglass gave me the foundation I needed to succeed professionally,” said Thadal. “Personally, my life changed when I entered the Africana House located in the Global Village. That is where I learned and experienced, for the first time, about positive contributions of my African ancestors. I felt so comfortable with my housemates that they called me by the nickname my Haitian family members call me at home. I will always cherish my time at Douglass.”
In addition to her degrees from Douglass and Fairleigh Dickinson, Thadal holds a masters of business administration from Rider University. For more than 20 years, Thadal has been a member of the New York Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYSCC). After spending 5 years on the executive board with one year as the chair of the chapter, she volunteered on the board of the National Society of Cosmetics Chemists. She was elected to the board of directors of the National Society and is serving a three-year term. Thadal is also a frequent guest lecturer at Fairleigh Dickinson’s cosmetic science program and a current member of Cariscos (Caribbean Society of Cosmetic Scientists).
Looking back over the years, Thadal has enjoyed every moment she spent on the Douglass campus. Among the pinnacle points has been sharing her professional experiences with alumnae, particularly her Itiah Angels For Learning fellows from Douglass.
"I see their skills in the nonprofit world blossom," says Thadal. "In turn, they will continue to enrich the lives of others. That's what it's all about."