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Leading questions – Laurence Unger

a woman standing in front of a very brightly coloured muralLaurence Unger (2001, Modern Languages) is Head of Public Markets at Legacy Trust Company in Houston, Texas, where she oversees $3 billion in public market investments for families and foundations. She is also a dedicated Impact Investor and invests in early-stage life sciences ventures focused on some of the most challenging areas of healthcare such as Alzheimer’s. She loves film and served as Executive Director of the Houston Cinema Arts Society, Houston’s largest film festival, and brought the Sundance Film Festival to Houston in 2021. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and an MFA in Film from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a Trustee and Treasurer of the American Friends of University College, Oxford (AFUCO).

What brought you to Univ?
I came to Univ to study Russian literature, so every moment that I spent with my Russian tutor, Dr Michael Nicholson, remains a treasured memory. His love for his subject was infectious and had a profound impact on me. Observing his passion inspired me to search myself deeply to understand my own passions. Memories of our blind translation sessions of English text into Russian still make me laugh. I remember him asking me to translate, “Good heavens! A dentist in pink socks just tore up my pyjamas.” He had amazing anecdotes about Russian history at Univ that really brought the subject to life. When people ask me about my time at Oxford, I still always mention that Prince Felix Yusupov, slayer of Rasputin, lived in the College’s computer room once upon a time.

You are a long-term supporter of the arts, and film in particular – what sparked that interest and does it provide a nice balance with the finance world?
It has been challenging to find a path that includes film and the arts and finance. It has been a path that I have had to create for myself, but it’s been incredibly rewarding. I dreamed of being a filmmaker when I was a kid, and I’m naturally inclined towards self-expression through scribbles and paint. I am in awe of the efforts, risks, and sacrifices that filmmakers and artists pour into their work.

It’s really, really hard to be an emerging artist or filmmaker. My work with the Houston Cinema Arts Society has been focused on finding ways to support local emerging talent and encourage local storytelling. I would love to see Houston (my home town) take a greater place in the cinematic consciousness.

Why do you support Univ, and why would you encourage others to do the same?
I support Univ because it fosters an incredible student and alumni community. It offers students an unparalleled opportunity for self-exploration through study and friendship, and I hope it will continue to do so for another thousand years!

Describe Univ in three words
Enigmatic, quirky, cerebral.

Laurence is pictured at the top of this page in front of the Hieronymus Box, a digital collage reworking of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, with famous Houstonian personalities, landmarks, flora and fauna. The work was commissioned by the City of Houston as part of a pandemic project to create outdoor artwork around the city.

This feature was adapted from one first published in Issue 15 of The Martlet; read the full magazine here or explore our back catalogue of Martlets below:

Published: 14 July 2023

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