Barbara Dreyer, the chief executive officer and co-founder of an online educational business that served students who were not in traditional classrooms, died of breast cancer Tuesday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The White Hall resident was 59.
Born Barbara Huss in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Mark Huss, a State Department employee, and Gine Huss, a teacher. Raised on Dunran Road, she was a 1973 graduate of Dundalk High School and earned a degree in economics, accounting and finance at Towson University, where she was honored in 1997 as alumnus of the year.
She also had a master's degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland and was a certified public accountant.
An entrepreneur, she founded a video graphics firm and Speak Out, an online political website. She also worked with New Enterprise Associates.
In 2001, she co-founded Connections Education, a business that provides online learning to students from kindergarten through high school. It has headquarters on Fleet Street in Harbor East and a Columbia office.
According to a company spokeswoman, her business provides schooling to nearly 60,000 full-time students in 26 states.
"Her students were those for whom a traditional classroom and school schedule was not a good fit," said Steven Guttentag, a co-founder who is Connections Education president.
"Barbara didn't just start a company, she created a new type of schooling," said Mr. Guttentag, a Chevy Chase resident. "She was a hands-on chief executive officer. Even when we had grown to 3,000 employees, she was on the phone daily, talking to parents. She had a deep understanding of all parts of the business. She could have done any job in the company."
In 2011, her business was acquired by Pearson PLC, a London-based firm.
She was The Baltimore Sun's 2013 Leadership Award winner in the field of large companies.
Mrs. Dreyer also served on the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland University College and for six years on the Board of Visitors of Towson University, where she and her husband were donors to its Center for the Arts.
A life celebration will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Towson University's West Village Commons, 424 Emerson Drive.
In addition to her husband of 30 years, John Dreyer, a retired Citigroup executive, and her mother, who lives in Towson, survivors include two daughters, Katie Dreyer of Washington and Chrissy Dreyer of Providence, R.I.