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Darla Moore no stranger to breaking glass ceilings

Darla Moore speaks to students at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, S.C. on March 24, 2011.
Darla Moore speaks to students at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, S.C. on March 24, 2011.Brett Flashnick / AP file

Banking and investment magnate Darla Moore shattered boardroom glass ceilings; now, she's moved onto the golf course. Along with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the South Carolina financier and philanthropist was invited to become a member of the Augusta National Golf Club on Monday. 

Moore, 58, began her career in finance at Chemical Bank in New York, focusing on corporate bankruptcy and becoming the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. In 1991, she married visionary investor Richard Rainwater and eventually rose to the top of the eponymous firm he founded.

The Augusta membership isn’t Moore’s first crack at the glass ceiling. In 1997 she became the first woman on the cover of Fortune magazine, which described her then as “a cross between the Terminator and Kim Basinger.” 

The South Carolina native earned her B.A. in political science in just three years at the University of South Carolina, before earning an MBA from George Washington University. In 1998, Moore gave a $25 million gift to her alma mater’s business school, which renamed it the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Over the years, Moore donated $70 million to the school.

In spite of her philanthropy, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley removed Moore from USC’s board of directors last year and replaced her with a campaign donor, a decision that sparked controversy. Following her dismissal, Moore pledged another $5 million to a new aerospace research facility at the school.

Moore and Rice are Augusta's first female members, breaking an eight-decade tradition that earned the Masters Golf Tournament host no shortage of controversy. Commenting on her Augusta membership, Moore told The Associated Press, “Augusta National has always captured my imagination,” calling her membership invitation a “very happy and important occasion in my life.” 

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