During the nearly 50 years since her graduation from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Carole Browe Segal has proven herself to be an accomplished entrepreneur, generous philanthropist, and proud alumna of the University. From improving Deering Library's resources, to strengthening the alumni network, to building state-of-the-art research facilities, Segal has devoted herself to enriching the academic and social character of Northwestern's global community.
After graduating with an English degree in 1960, Segal spent two years working as a first-grade teacher, after which she and her husband, Gordon Segal (EB60), decided to open a business. Their plan was simple: to market well-designed but reasonably-priced housewares and home furnishings; and their store, Crate & Barrel, exploded in popularity. In the company's first year, Carole and Gordon were joined by one other employee at the store's original Chicago location in Old Town and saw $90,000 in sales. Today, Crate & Barrel is one of the most successful furniture and housewares retailers in the nation, employing 5,000 people across 85 US stores.
Segal left Crate & Barrel in 1969 to raise her three children and to study cooking. As she became more involved with cuisine, she noticed the limited availability of gourmet culinary ingredients in the Chicago area. Responding to this untapped demand, Segal opened Foodstuffs in 1979. The store quickly found a strong customer base and flourished.
Following the 1986 sale of Foodstuffs, Segal devoted herself to volunteering, including decades of work with Northwestern. Her most recent contribution to the University came in the form of a 2007 endowment she and Gordon presented to the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. The gift helped establish the Segal Design Institute, a facility that will significantly expand the University's undergraduate design curriculum, enable the development of a new master's degree program in design, and fund innovative research in the field.
Many areas of the University have benefited from Carole's generous gifts of time and financial resources. She has been a member of the Women's Board since 1988, serving the group in many capacities, including as vice president for programs, member-at-large, corresponding secretary, and president. She has also worked with the Women's Initiative of Northwestern. Since 1989 she has been on the WCAS Board of Visitors and served on her 25th and 45th reunion committees. In the past she has been a member of the Council of One Hundred, a select group of alumnae who mentor female students and young graduates. In addition, she has served as a director-at-large of the NAA Board.
Segal is a co-chair of the Chicago Regional Council for the Northwestern Leadership Circle. She is a member of the Wilson Society, the John Evans Society, the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, the Murphy Society and the Deering Society, all of which recognize members' efforts to increase and improve University resources.
Her philanthropy is not limited to Northwestern; at Bates College, Segal serves as a trustee, and at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Segal is a life trustee. She is also a trustee at the Rush University Medical Center and is vice president of Rush's Board of Overseers. At the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, she is a member of the Board of Directors, and she is the chairperson of the Chicago Theological Seminary. On the Lincoln Park Zoo Board of Directors, of which she has been an active member since 1988, Segal chairs the Earned Revenue Committee. She has also contributed time and resources to the Field Museum of Natural History, Ravinia, and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Colorado.
Recognizing her outstanding and devoted service to the University, the NAA awarded Segal with an Alumni Service Award in 2000. The Alumnae of Northwestern presented her with an Alumnae Award in 2005 to commend her accomplishments as a female graduate of the University. In the same year, Segal received a Patron of the Year Award from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The award honors those who have encouraged the creation of innovative architecture in the Chicago area—in this case, the Crate & Barrel Headquarters in Northbrook.
Together, Carole and Gordon received the 1992 Marketing Salespersons of the Year title from the Sales and Marketing Executives of Chicago Association; the 1994 Entrepreneurial Creativity Award from the Brain Research Foundation; and the Lifetime Humanitarians Award from Housewares Charity Foundation in 2006.
Segal returned to Crate & Barrel in 1996, serving as the vice president of civic affairs until her 2000 retirement. The Segals, who live in Winnetka, have three children: Chris, Katie, and Robert. Chris earned his business degree from Kellogg in 1993, as did his wife, Karen. Segal's sister, Elaine Browe Kalman, received her bachelor's degree from the former School of Speech in 1952, and her father, Samuel, graduated from the Dental School.