Champion Trader for Moms Working in Finance Dies at 61

Karen Strauss Cook was a trailbazer in more ways than one.

After graduating from Wheaton College in 1974, she was accepted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, but deferred admission to gain experience on Wall Street. In 1975, Strauss Cook delivered her resume in person to someone on the Goldman Sachs equities desk. She refused to go through the channels of human resources and caught the attention of  then-general partner Robert Rubin.

The end result--she became the first woman hired in Goldman Sach’s Equities Division, and the firm’s first female trader. Later, at night she worked on getting her MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business. 
When the kids came in the 1980s, she had a bit of dilemma. By 1987, she was a Goldman Sachs vice president two young sons. She gave up her job for full-time motherhood.

In 1989, she went on to found  Alterna-track Inc., an executive placement firm for women in finance seeking part-time employment while caring for their families. The firm was “a kind of sophisticated Kelly Girl service for Harvard MBAs, takeover lawyers and corporate accountants,” according to a 1990 Associated Press story.

She returned to finance in 1995 working for the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners. She later  became chief investment officer of Steinhardt Management.
She retired from the industry in 2008 after diagnosis of the neurodegenerative disease.