Katherine Harned, Class of 1994
Katie Harned, Class of ‘94 majored in French and minored in Education. After graduation,
Katie taught French in a junior high school in Hanover County. Katie was so successful
as a teacher that she was voted Chair of Foreign Languages after only two years.
As Chair, she developed culturally-enhancing activities for all languages and initiated
a summer travel abroad program. It was during the first summer trip with students
in Spanish, German and French along with their teachers and parents that Katie’s
life changed “dramatically.” What happened next? Here is Katie’s story in her own
“I prolonged my stay in France after the students left and did some traveling with
another teacher (an R-MC graduate as well!) We ventured through Normandie, Paris
and the Maine and Loire regions. I knew by the end of that summer that I was hooked.
After three fulfilling years of working with the middle-school students of Stonewall
Jackson Middle School, it was time to turn the page…it was time to move to France.
"I initially landed a teaching role in a corporate language training institute in
the city of Angers. I gave group and individual English courses to corporate French
busines people in varying industries, ranging from IT teams to top CEO’s of companies
such as Boeing and Lucent.
"Eventually, I was offered a full-time position with one of my client companies
and ended up working in the textiles industry as a full-time English trainer, traveling
to various branches. Working with the marketing and sales teams of this company
lead to a new interest and a new path for me—marketing. After almost three years
in France, I moved back to the States and eventually to New York City where I worked
part-time with a Parisian-based textiles designer promoting her line in New York.
I was quickly pulled in the direction of the fashion industry. My ability to network
led to a job at Bergdorf Goodman. After five years at Bergdorf’s I have found my
niche. As the Business Manager for the Valentino line, I have the responsibility
of marketing the brand, developing the business, managing sales teams and buying
the collections. The latter of the responsibilities is what enables me to keep my
finger on the pulse of my “2nd country”. Twice a year, I travel to view the Valentino
runway shows and purchase the divisions’ collections for Bergdorf Goodman. I work
with teams from the US, France and Italy which makes for a wonderfully rich and
"I know that my desire to connect with other cultures and ability to communicate
with them is thanks to Randolph-Macon College, especially the wonderful team of
foreign language professors and to a special Aunt who taught me the importance of
becoming a polyglot at a very young age.
"I am learning Italian now and loving it. My desire to continue learning languages
is strongly rooted in my R-MC experience. Dr. deGraff and my other professors were
instrumental in motivating, challenging me, and creating in me a love of language
The concept of languages being “alive” is what really hit home with me and I simply
took off running with that notion. I haven’t stopped since. I love the journey and
the doors that have opened and continue to open for me thanks to my multi-lingual
communication skills. Languages are not just words; they are culture, history, literature
art, religion, politics, and body language. They are the foundation of magical exchanges
between people; this was imparted to me long before I could appreciate and realize
how wonderfully life-changing and fulfilling learning to communicate in other languages
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