Alumna gives back so others can take flight

By Janet Waldman, MS ’09 February 27, 2023

Liz Jankowski as a member of the Quinnipiac hockey team

Elizabeth Jankowski ’03, JD ’08, decided to take her support and loyalty of Quinnipiac to the next level by making a $12,500 gift, the largest in women’s ice hockey history.

As 2023 dawned, the No. 3-ranked women’s ice hockey team was gliding toward a dazzling season with only three losses on the books — and 18 wins.

Liz Jankowski ’03, JD ’08, remembers a very different record from another era. She’s a Bobcats fan, for sure, but she’s much more than that.

Jankowski played in 95 games over two seasons while at Quinnipiac from 2001-03, when the brand-new women’s ice hockey team won just 8 games and lost 52. The forward had 13 goals and 11 assists during that time when she served as assistant captain.

“We didn’t win a lot of games back then, playing against schools with more established programs,” said Jankowski, who lives in Boston. “If you looked at the roster, only a handful of us were upperclassmen. It was mostly freshmen when the program started.”

“Every win, every goal, was a big deal for our team,” she emphasized.

Jankowski speculated that back in those early days, “QU could have said, ‘Look, this team isn’t winning,’ but they remained committed to the program.”

That commitment has paid off in a big way. This year’s team continues to be a national title contender with a 24-5 record as of early February. When Quinnipiac beat Harvard, 3-1, in January at the Frozen Fenway event in Boston, she was there to cheer on her successors.

Jankowski follows the team online and gets to games when she can. She is filled with pride about what the program has accomplished. A regular participant in the annual fundraising Bobcat Challenge, Jankowski decided to take her support and loyalty to the next level by making a $12,500 gift last November, the largest in women’s ice hockey history.

Today, she is at the top of her career game as a principal in the Boston office of Deloitte Tax LLP’s multistate tax services group. She has more than 14 years of experience in state and local taxation, focusing on corporate income and franchise tax.

While earning her law degree, Jankowski chose the tax concentration after being inspired by the introductory tax course she took in 2006 with now-professor emeritus Toni Robinson. “After that class, I was all in on tax,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. I was like a sponge when it came to tax and wanted to take every tax course available.”

Jankowski knew she wanted to be a lawyer since she was a youngster growing up in Minnesota, where the family relocated from the East Coast for her father’s job. “I probably deposed my siblings countless times,” she said with a wide smile.

Around age 11, she discovered the joys of skating. “My dad went to the local ice rink one day to sign up my brother for hockey. They asked him if he had a daughter, and when he said yes, asked if I would like to join the girls team they were forming,” she recalled.

She found that she had a natural ability for skating and hockey and an appetite for competition, which has served her well when working with teammates on the ice and later, clients.

In June 2022, the country marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which helped to unlock access to educational and athletic opportunities for women like Jankowski. The first NCAA women’s ice hockey championship was held in 2001. Before that, some colleges had ice hockey teams, but they were not NCAA-sanctioned. Today, 42 schools in the United States, ranging from the Midwest to the East Coast, sponsor varsity women’s hockey at the Division I and II levels. 

In Minnesota, she played varsity ice hockey in eighth grade and continued playing for Maple Grove (Minnesota) High School before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she played for the Badgers for two years.

During this time, her parents moved to Cheshire, Connecticut. On a visit to Cheshire in 2000, Jankowski heard that Quinnipiac was establishing a Division I women’s ice hockey program. She was interested in being part of that inaugural team and spoke with Amanda Adams, the first coach. And soon after, she transferred and became a Brave, the QU team name that preceded Bobcats.

Jankowski said being part of a fledgling team was exciting and challenging at the same time. “At Wisconsin, I had two very intense years where we ate meals together, practiced together, and we knew we were there to play hockey. And at QU, I started over with the same intensity,” she noted. Both women’s and men’s hockey teams played at the Northford Ice Pavilion until 2007, when Quinnipiac built the M&T Bank Arena for hockey and basketball.

She is impressed with current coach Cassie Turner’s ability to recruit talent. “I am close to Cassie. She makes it her mission to keep former members of the team connected,” she said.

“She does a fabulous job with the program and makes sure current athletes are familiar with the history of the program. She has built a community of alumni, and we are their role models.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Jankowski worked for a year in Northford’s pro shop and skated with a women’s league there before starting at the Quinnipiac School of Law in 2005.

Some of her most valuable and rewarding experiences at the School of Law took place in the tax clinic with clinic director Sara Spodick, which cemented her desire to work in the tax field. “I enjoyed working with the tax code as nerdy as that sounds,” she chuckled. “I liked being able to research the law and help clients not only understand the law, but resolve their tax matter.”

“It was Professor Mary Ferrari who got me thinking about working for a Big 4 tax firm,” she said. Jankowski interned in Deloitte’s Stamford office and was hired as a tax associate, ascending to her current executive position over 14-plus years.

She relishes the challenge of analyzing tax implications for her clients, which include many Fortune 500 companies.

She also assists clients with compliance requirements. “With the large increase in employees working remotely during the pandemic, or moving because they could work from anywhere, issues were raised about where a company might need to file taxes,” she explained.

Jankowski oversees many individuals while serving clients. Collaboration and listening to others are critical in her role.

“To be successful on the ice, we had to have the intention that we were going to get this done as a team,” she said, drawing parallels to the teambuilding aspect of her job.

“When I look at resumes and see that somebody played a team sport, I think this candidate will have qualities and experiences they can apply to their work,” she said. She also tries to make clients feel that her staff is part of their team, working toward the same goals.

Jankowski feels that the law school’s tax concentration served as an excellent foundation. “The questions I ask of my clients today and the way I prepare for my work, I learned at QU,” she says.

Skating is still part of her life, but she found a new sport about seven years ago: triathlons. She did an Ironman in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, in 2017 and Ironman Canada-Whistler in 2019. She also has done several Half Ironman events, which require less rigorous training — biking, swimming and running — and make it easier to maintain work-life balance.

She enthusiastically laced up her skates this past October to play in a QU women’s ice hockey alumni game at M&T Bank Arena. “I’m still sore from that game!” she joked. “Back then, we never had the opportunity to skate in such a large, beautiful arena.”

That same month, she joined more than 2,400 alumni, parents and friends of Quinnipiac Athletics who contributed over $521,000, the largest fundraising event since the Bobcat Challenge was introduced four years ago.

“There are other sports that are more established and have a much larger alumni pool to serve as donors,” Jankowski remarked. With her most recent gift, she hoped to close that gap a little.

“I will always be extremely proud that I once wore a jersey for that team,” she said.

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