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U-M ME remembers distinguished alumna Kimberly Hammonds


Distinguished U-M ME alumna, Kimberly Hammonds, passed away recently, following a fight with breast cancer.

After earning her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1990, Kim’s illustrious career took her through several executive leadership positions at major companies, like Ford Motor Co., Dell Inc., Boeing Co., and Deutsche Bank AG. She also served as a director on boards of companies like Zoom Video Communications Inc., Box Inc., Cloudera Inc., and Red Hat Inc. However, as Kim said in a video interview, “not everything is about the career.” 

While seeking treatment at the U-M Hospital, Kim was introduced to painting with watercolors through an art student and to art therapy through a hospital volunteer. “She began looking forward to hospital art sessions,” (James R. Hagerty, WSJ). This newfound passion inspired Kim to start the Zoë Foundation in 2004, which provides art therapy to cancer patients around the country and is named for Kim’s daughter.

Always a Michigan Wolverine, Kim also served on the U-M College of Engineering’s Leadership Advisory Board from 2017-2020 and was the recipient of the 2018 U-M ME Alumni Merit Award, a recognition given out once per year to honor those “who have made a difference in their field – and in the world.”

“Kim was a natural mentor. Her passion for fostering young women at the start of their careers in mechanical engineering was obvious and inspiring,” said Ellen Arruda, Tim Manganello/BorgWarner Department Chair and Maria Comninou Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “In 2019, at an ME roundtable on women in engineering and leadership, Kim spoke candidly with students about her experiences and gave them lasting advice about always having determination and confidence. Afterwards, I gave her a ‘BYOC’ (Bring Your Own Chair) pin, inspired by Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who said, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,’ because I believed that Kim would.”

For the UM-ME congratulatory video to the graduates of the Class of 2020, Kim said, “I wish you a lifetime of success. Always live with purpose. Always try to make a difference. Always try to do the right thing.”

Kim is survived by her husband, Rod Hammonds, their daughter, and her brother.

Kim’s message to the U-M ME Class of 2020 can be viewed below, starting at 0:56.

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