Mary Ann Lasch G.O. ’72 was in the first graduating class at Glen Oak, entering as a sophomore because the school did not exist her freshman year. “There was a real sense of pioneering,” Lasch recalls. “Glen Oak had no classrooms; it had moveable furniture. We were able to create our environment from the ground up.”
Noting that the school had evaluations instead of grades, she says, “A lot of it was experimental and we were trying to figure it out. Maybe everything was not successful, but it was worth doing. It gave us a sense of being able to take risks and succeed.”
And Lasch has been succeeding ever since. Director of planning and urban design for Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning, and consulting firm, she is an accomplished landscape architect. Projects range from her involvement in a financial district in Malaysia and the National Air & Space Museum expansion to development of master plans for projects in Azerbaijan and for the Cleveland Institute of Art.
After graduating from Glen Oak, Lasch earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she received an outstanding alumna award, and then a master’s degree from Harvard University. Both degrees are in landscape architecture. She also is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
As a high school student, Lasch traveled by bus to Gilmour for calculus, physics, and logic, which were interspersed with her Glen Oak classes. “We were encouraged to think independently and to examine issues from many points of view,” Lasch says. She also credits her alma mater with fostering analytical skills, and believes that she has benefited from Glen Oak’s commitment to freedom and flexibility. “We were encouraged to take control of our learning goals and to implement them,” she says.
Before Gensler, where Lasch has worked nine years, she held management positions with HLW International, LLP in New York City, working on GM projects; Scenic America; and an Exxon USA development company subsidiary. In addition, Lasch was deputy project director on an urban design project for the State of Qatar.
Now that Lasch is back in Cleveland, she enjoys spending more time with family and friends. Her sister, Susan Lasch Daher ’87, is an obstetrician/gynecologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and director of resident programs. Her other sister, Carol Lasch Schlinke ’79, teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Lasch likes scuba diving, gardening, reading, and walking Westie, (her West Highland white terrier), and spent Christmas in Beijing, China, with her niece, a student there. Two years ago, she returned to Gilmour for her 35th class Reunion and remains in touch with several high school classmates.
Learning to function in both the Glen Oak and Gilmour environments has been beneficial, she says. “I learned to look at things from multiple points of view. I really try to be collaborative and to bring others’ thoughts and ideas into any effort.”