photo of Alyson Francisco

Alyson Francisco

Mary Ardrey Stough Kimbrough Chair in Business and Economics, Director of the Center for Women in Entrepreneurship and Business

Professor Alyson Francisco was born and bred right here in North Carolina. She has more than twenty years of business experience, including executive level positions with Sara Lee Corporation and Hanes Brands. Her last position held was vice president of customer management planning and operations and she has teaching experience as a marketing instructor at Winston-Salem State University.

During her many years in industry, she told herself that someday she would start a second career in teaching at the college level. She had a strong desire to share her knowledge and experiences with future business leaders. She chose Salem for three main reasons: 1) its reputation among private colleges and universities; 2) its growing Business Department; and 3) its population of bright, young women. 

Professor Francisco has a passion for developing professional women and she believes Salem is the perfect place for her to exercise her passion. At Sara Lee and Hanes, her most fulfilling work was helping women grow and progress in their careers. She is tremendously excited to be working with Salem women and helping to prepare them with “out of classroom” knowledge and confidence to become business leaders.  

She believes the skills learned at a women’s college provide a unique edge in the job market. “The Women’s Market” is one of the top entrepreneurial trends and market drivers of the twenty-first century: 1) Women are healthier, wealthier, and more active than ever in history; 2) They make more than 80 percent of all buying decision; 3) They control over 50 percent of discretionary spending and 77 percent of financial assets in the US; and 4) They now comprise one-third of all entrepreneurial activity globally and that is increasing rapidly. As a result, all employers small and large, especially consumer goods, retail, financial services, health care, travel/hospitality, and real estate businesses are affected by this important and growing trend. 

She has traveled for pleasure several times to Italy and Belize and many times to different parts of the Caribbean. On business, she traveled to France, Belgium, and Mexico. As an executive with Sara Lee Corporation and Hanes Brands, she was exposed to business strategies and practices, both marketing and supply chain, of many countries in the eastern and western hemispheres.  

During her tenure with Sara Lee Corporation, she was a co-founder of a company-wide women’s network promoting the development and career progression of women in the workplace and they held their global inauguration in Brussels, Belgium. 

In 2010, she taught at Winston-Salem State University where she teamed up with several faculty members in research relative to “women opting out of the corporate and academic workplace.” She provided research for an article in 2010, “Beyond ‘Opting Out:’ Dissecting the Barriers Affecting Women’s Entrance and Success in Business,” and participated in the writing of another article entitled, “The Cost of Opting Out on Academia.”

As the Director of the Center for Women in Business, she plans to be very active in mentoring, internships, and job placement, as well as in the general advising of students as they grow and look toward their careers.

She believes in the importance of a business major, minor, or concentration because it can open a wide variety of employment opportunities and career paths. In addition, the faculty is small, caring, and diverse in the experiences they bring to the department. Most of the faculty members have in-depth industry experience that is helpful in getting a feel for real world application in a variety of disciplines.

For students contemplating a career in business she encourages them by emphasizing that there has never been a better time to be a woman in business and it is only going to get better. Come build your future with the business department!

Professor Francisco has a husband named George who is a self-employed civil attorney and he keeps her strong. Their daughter, Megan, is a beautiful and loving 17-year-old who is in the painful stage of applying to colleges. They also have two Welsh Corgis named Counselor and Winston. She loves her dogs but she admits that they do really shed a lot.

In her free time, Professor Francisco likes to run, bike, swim, and occasionally participate in sprint triathlons. In general she likes to keep in shape and she also likes to wind down after a tough week with her Sauvignon Blanc.

Favorite Book/Movie:

Read: Blood Done Sign My Name and then vow to help stamp out discrimination everywhere.

Watch: Oh Brother Where Art Thou and laugh!

  • BS, North Carolina State University; MBA, Duke University