“I don’t think I would be sitting here today as a professor and general counsel if my parents had not gone to Mason.” Yvonne Demory, associate professor of business legal studies at the George Mason University School of Business, had impressed upon her at a young age the value of education. Like many Mason students and alumni, nothing was handed to her parents Will, BA Economics ’71, and Mary Demory, BS Business Administration ‘81. Humble as their beginnings were, they were just that, beginnings, as they worked and worked to fulfill their dreams. Many years later, their daughter finds Mason to be a place where she can build her own successes.
Yvonne Demory’s earliest childhood memories include going with her mom to drop off her dad for night classes at the old Fairfax High School, where Mason courses were taught. After Will Demory graduated in the early 1970s, it was his wife Mary’s turn to go to school, graduating from the School of Management (now the School of Business). Neither were raised with higher education as an emphasis, but the couple soon decided it was of high importance in their lives. “In a lot of ways, my parents did things in reverse, in getting married right out of high school, having me, and then going to college while working full time,” says Yvonne Demory. “However, I do think there are a lot of families like mine at Mason.” She even took classes herself at Mason, while at home during a summer break when she was pursuing her degree at the University of Virginia.
A native of Northern Virginia, Yvonne Demory has long considered George Mason University to be a beacon of impact to the region. “Decades ago, Mason was a convenient and financially feasible option. Today, it’s still both those things but also a prestigious institution wielding a lot of influence,” she says. For more than twenty years, Demory has been a part of that growth, ever since she responded to an advertisement for an open teaching position. She’s even worked with a handful of professors who taught her mom. “Bob Johnston, Richard Coffinberger, and Gerald Hanweck are a few who had profound influence on my mom through teaching and also on me as colleagues,” she says.
As children often do, Demory learned a lot growing up by watching her parents’ actions. Their dedication instilled in her a life-long mission of education. Mary Demory worked in an administrative position to support Will while he went to Mason first. Then she entered the federal government workforce after graduating, and quickly rose to high ranks, becoming assistant inspector general of the Department of Justice. After leaving the government sector, she joined Will in the company he started, Pelerin Capital Management LLC, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based commercial real estate management and development company. The company is now a family effort with Yvonne serving as general counsel.
Their experiences illustrate that life events don’t have to be carried out in a particular order and that education opens doors to opportunity. “My parents defied the odds to build rewarding careers and a strong marriage despite coming from meager backgrounds,” says Demory. “I’m proud of them as a daughter, I’m proud as an educator seeing so many students do the same, and I am proud to work at Mason where it’s all made possible.”