The Power of Penn lucked out with the weather on this rescheduled date, welcoming 50 guests to the Jacquard Hotel, a beautiful venue in the Cherry Creek area of Denver on May 8, 2019. The evening kicked off after a brief Club update by Penn Club of Colorado Board Member, Ethan Bullock, C’04 (the MC for the program) and Board Member and Past President, Robin Rane, C’78, MS’79. Penn Club of Colorado yPenn Liaison and former football player Jack (Jackson) Madden, W’16 served as the moderator for the conversation with the evening’s featured speaker, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Gabriel, L’87.
Justice Gabriel spoke highly of his time at Penn, engaging the audience with stories about his time on campus. He is a passionate trumpet player, and was a member of two different jazz bands during his time at Penn. even performing national anthem for the Women’s Lacrosse Championship at Franklin Field by himself!
Justice Gabriel also discussed his involvement with, and the importance, of mentorship programs. He started a program for young lawyers in Colorado and loves to connect with Penn students about their career paths. During his career he has led some really interesting case, his largest being the lead national counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America in connection with the recording industry’s lawsuits against illegally downloaded music and unauthorized file-sharing programs.
Penn welcomed over 55 alumni and friends to the JW Marriott, Buckhead in Atlanta for the Power of Penn event on April 23, 2019. Emeritus Trustee, Egbert Perry, CE’76, WG’78, GCE’79, PAR’05, served as the moderator for the evening, which featured alumni speakers, Abby Bechler-Karsch, NU’88, GNU’93, PAR’18, PAR’21 and Robert Karsch C’85, M’89, PAR’14, PAR’21.
Ms. Bechler-Karsch grew up in Deerfield, Illinois, and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing from Penn. She is currently a nurse practitioner at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where she cares for infants and children who have undergone open heart surgery and heart transplants. Dr. Karsch received his Bachelors from the College, obtained his medical degree from Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, and is now practicing as an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine.
The Karsches and Mr. Perry spoke so fondly of their time at Penn. Ms. Bechler-Karsch mentioned that from the very first time she and her parents went for a school visit, she just fell in love with the nursing school and campus. Dr. Karsch grew up in Bala Cynwyd and was only a short train ride to campus; as a young boy, he was on campus frequently, as his mother worked at Penn. They both are very proud to be Penn alumni, but more importantly, are extremely proud of their two children; Emily, who graduated from the Nursing School last year, and Jacob who is a sophomore at the College.
On Wednesday, April 10th, 80 alumni and friends celebrated the Power of Penn in downtown Pittsburgh at the Omni William Penn Hotel. The Penn Club of Western Pennsylvania President Donald M. Bonk, C’85 welcomed guests and shared club updates before introducing moderator Brett Weinheimer, W’00. Brett led a fascinating discussion with the evening’s guest speaker, Joe Sheetz, W’89.
Mr. Sheetz, President and CEO of Sheetz, Inc, a family-owned business operating over 580 convenience stores, shared his story of coming to Penn from the small town of Altoona, Pennsylvania. His introduction to business management came after he began managing the budget for the Sigma Chi fraternity, which ultimately secured his interest in joining the family business after graduation.
Mr. Sheetz granted his audience insight into the Sheetz business itself, from discussing how they’ve embraced technologies and what opportunities may be afforded by concepts like Amazon Go, to how they scaled rapidly and expanded into very different markets like Virginia and North Carolina. In February of 2018 Sheetz was named one of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the 4th time in 5 years.
During the Q & A session, it emerged that Mr. Sheetz was also responsible for the sand volleyball court on campus, where he joked he spent his entire senior year, and which is still a hugely popular campus feature.
The Power of Penn headed over the northern border to Toronto on Thursday March 28, with approximately 40 alumni and friends in attendance at One King West, located downtown. Club Co-President Derek Smith, C’97, served as host of the evening, which featured Brett Thalmann, W’07, C’08, as the guest speaker. Mr. Thalmann is a seasoned political advisor at both the federal and provincial levels in Canada. He is currently a senior member of the Prime Minister’s Office where he serves as Director of Administration and Special Projects, and was Deputy National Campaign Director of the Justin Trudeau Leadership Campaign in 2012. All in attendance were deeply engaged during the presentation and asked many questions, ranging from Mr. Thalmann’s career path, work/life balance, and being a first generation college graduate. Mr. Thalmann has stayed connected to Penn since graduating: he is a past president of the Penn-Wharton Club of Toronto, was a member of the PennGALA Steering Committee, and continues to participate as a volunteer in the Penn Alumni Interview Program.
After the hour-long program, guests continued their conversations over coffee and dessert.
The Baltimore Country Club was decked out in red and blue for The Power of Penn on March 26th, thanks to Country Club Event Manager Jen Carson, W’12, who also serves on the Penn Club of Baltimore board. More than 50 alumni attended the event, enjoying cocktails and appetizers before the program began. Penn Club of Baltimore board member Jill Strate, W’11, welcomed all and shared information about the club’s upcoming events before introducing Dawn O’Croinin, C’96, who served as the moderator for the evening’s conversation with Margot Amelia, C’80. Ms. Amelia is the Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, National Aquarium and has more than 25 years’ experience in developing and directing marketing efforts for private, public, and not-for-profit organizations.
A Baltimore native, Ms. Amelia shared how she came to Penn, as well as several stories about her time on campus. The audience laughed as she described how she and some friends started a sorority on campus—something unheard of in the 1970s—and how this process, and her subsequent role as president of the sorority, was foundational in her path to becoming a leader. Ms. Amelia offered a powerful and moving example of the power of Penn in our personal lives as well as our work lives, talking about how her sorority sisters have been a critical support system during challenging times of all kinds. During the Q&A session, there were many positive comments from guests about the National Aquarium. When the question arose about how she stays positive as the city of Baltimore faces so many challenges, Ms. Amelia spoke of the importance of inspiring children and how proud she is of programs she’s started that enable Baltimore school children to visit the Aquarium for free. Guests enjoyed a post reception after the formal program to continue the rich conversation.
Dr. Georgia Sadler, HUP’70, NU’72, WG’73, and Mr. Blair Sadler, L’65 generously hosted over sixty Penn alumni and friends at their home on Thursday, March 21 for a Power of Penn celebration in San Diego. Attendees enjoyed the Sadlers’ beautiful garden, taking in views of the ocean from the deck during the reception. The evening’s moderator was Antonia M. Villarruel, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at Penn and Director of the School’s WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership.
Dr. Villarruel led an engaging discussion with the Sadlers about their experience at Penn and beyond. Both Dr. and Mr. Sadler shared the power of their Penn experience and how they have remained engaged with the University throughout their lives. Dr. Sadler discussed her journey to Penn and how a scholarship to the University enabled her to attend. She also stressed the importance of mentorship and relationships – something that continues to be part of her life both personally and professionally today. Mr. Sadler shared how he was his experience at Penn Law taught him how to think analytically – something that has been of value throughout his career. He closed out the program, describing Penn and its campus today as “magic”, offering so many opportunities for interdisciplinary study and spaces to encourage collaboration. The Sadlers were extraordinary hosts and their home was a perfect setting to celebrate The Power of Penn in San Diego.
On Wednesday, March 20, a lively group of alumni and friends gathered at the University Club of Portland to celebrate The Power of Penn. The evening was hosted by Kirsten Myers, C’15, board member, Penn Club of Portland, Eliza Rothstein, C’16, co-president, Penn Club of Portland and featured speaker Robin Klemm, GRW’95. Guests enjoyed a fantastic reception and had the pleasure of hearing from Ms. Klemm about her professional journey and the role that Penn played in her life. Ms. Klemm, an entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience, mostly recently served as the Executive Director of XXcelerate Fund, and was the first woman to join the faculty of the Management Department of the Wharton School. She shared a great deal about where her drive to work with female entrepreneurs came from, expressing that her education at Penn comes into play in everything she does. Ms. Klemm has played a key role in the success of several startups, and as an investor in the Oregon Angel Fund, was awarded the 2016 Most Valuable Angel award.
METRO NEW JERSEY
The Power of Penn came to Glen Ridge Country Club in Metro New Jersey on Tuesday, March 19! 70 alumni enjoyed the program, with Caroline Huie, WG’93, President of the Penn Club of Metro New Jersey, welcoming attendees and accepting an Alumni Club Award of Merit from Tara Davies, Director of Penn Alumni Regional Clubs. The program continued with former Trustee and Campaign Steering Committee member Allan Bell, C’81, PAR’11, PAR’14, leading an exciting conversation with Betty Liu, C’95.
Ms. Liu, C’95 is the Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, and prior to joining the NYSE in 2018, she was an award-winning business journalist. Ms. Liu shared that she was originally not accepted into Penn, but applied a second time and was admitted as a transfer student for her sophomore year. This experience, she said, that taught her that, “‘no’ can actually mean ‘not yet’”.
During a lively Q & A session, attendees asked Ms. Liu about her experience as an interviewer and discovered that one of her favorite interviews was with fellow Penn alumnus Elon Musk. Ms. Liu also invited guests to take her up on a visit to the Trading floor at NYSE—and The Penn Club of Metro New Jersey is hoping to take her up on the offer!
Over 80 Penn alumni and friends enjoyed a fantastic evening at the Washington Athletic Club for the Power of Penn in Seattle on Tuesday, March 19. Jim Chen, ENG’07, co-president, Penn Club of Seattle welcomed attendees and shared about the club’s upcoming events including a kickboxing class, a Mariners game and the club’s annual Taste of Philly! Belinda Buscher, C’92, co-President of The Penn Club of Seattle and Chair of the Regional Clubs Advisory Board served as moderator for the evening’s conversation with Ken Glass, ENG’82, W’82, PAR’10, PAR’12.
Mr. Glass shared his experiences studying both engineering and business at Penn, and how this interdisciplinary approach has been an important theme throughout his life. Mr. Glass’ strong connection over the years with Penn has been a catalyst for giving back to the University in a variety of ways, including his involvement as a volunteer with the Penn Alumni Interview Program and the Management and Technology Program. Attendees agreed that Ken Glass exemplifies the Power of Penn personally and professionally!
The Power of Penn visited Raleigh, North Carolina on March 12th, 2019, hosting over 30 alumni and friends at the Frontier Research Triangle Park. The evening’s guest speaker was Rachit Shukla, W’07, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor currently incubating and investing in businesses, and the founder of award-winning mobile product development firm Two Toasters, which was acquired by Ticketmaster in April 2015. Christopher Lam, ENG’04, served as the evening’s MC and welcomed the guests as the program began. After a lively discussion with Mr. Shukla, the guests finished out the evening by socializing over coffee and dessert.
On March 14, 45 alumni and friends gathered at the One North Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Long Island to hear from speaker David Lapter, W’96.
Mr. Lapter is a seasoned executive of venture-backed startups with 15 years leading finance, human resources, customer support, IT, legal affairs and business operations at a variety of ventures in the US and Europe.
Guests enjoyed a reception before being welcomed by Long Island Club President Ilene Karp-Michaels, C’89, PAR’19, PAR’20. Richard Liebowitz, C’10 then moderated an exciting conversation with Mr. Lapter. The room was buzzing with thoughtful questions as Mr. Lapter spoke about his experience at Penn, his career as an entrepreneur, and his expertise on data privacy. After the program concluded, guests enjoyed networking further over coffee and dessert.
On February 28, 75 alumni attended an event at The Camby Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Club President Nancy Casey, WG’95, introduced a panel discussion featuring speakers Joshua Kanter, WG’15, Kimberly C. Kur, C’92, and Adam Miller, W’89. The speakers shared the unique ways they felt that Penn prepared them for leadership.
The discussion was moderated by Penn and Wharton Club of Arizona Board Member, Chris Kaup, L’91. Each of the panelists discussed the interdisciplinary benefits of a Penn education and how being involved in community service as students has carried over into their professional careers. The group shared the benefits of taking risks and learning from them and reflected on the many ways their Penn experience had equipped them to be able to navigate challenges and change.
Nearly 100 alumni gathered at the Sarasota Yacht Club on February 27th to hear a discussion about the latest developments in cancer research. Alan Lists, M’80, and Charles Lockwood, M’81, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Gail Morrison, M’71, FEL’76. Dr. Morrison is the William Maul Measey President’s Distinguished Professor in Medical Education at the Perelman School of Medicine, and Director of the Office of Academic Programs. As a special addition to the evening, The Alumni Club Award of Merit was presented to The Penn Club of Sarasota and Manatee Counties, and accepted by Club President Sharon Avison, G’00, G’04, and other members of the Club’s board.
On February 26, President of the First Coast Alumni Club, Jeff Bernardo, W’92, welcomed a group of Penn alumni and friends to the Jacksonville Golf and Country Club in Jacksonville, FL. Alumni enjoyed socializing over cocktails before hearing from Clay Zeigler, C’85. Mr. Zeigler spoke about his long career in journalism and his work on newspapers including The Florida Times-Union. Club President Jeffrey Berardo, W’92, moderated the discussion.
Amid the swaying palms of the city’s financial district, the Penn Club of Miami hosted the last regional Power of Penn Campaign event scheduled for this calendar year. The event attracted more than 50 alumni and friends to the W Hotel on November 29. Guests enjoyed a networking reception and a program featuring Daniel Levy, C’87, W’87, PAR’16, who is Founder and Managing Partner of Prince Capital Partners. Andrea Brody Lieberman, C’88, moderated the discussion with Levy, who expressed his passion for Penn and support for the undergraduate financial aid program. Penn Club of Miami President Stacey Shoer, C’88, PAR’18, PAR’19—who is something of an expert when it comes to engaging alumni on behalf of Penn, having more than quadrupled the Club’s membership in recent years!—shared some of the many ways that alumni can get more involved. She emphasized for all alumni, “There is a place for you,” and alumni relations staff are happy to help if you aren’tsure where to start.
The Power of Penn Campaign sailed into “the Venice of America” with a stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday, November 28. Nearly 50 alumni, parents, and friends celebrated their Penn connections while enjoying the beachfront views from the Bungalow Room of the city’s W Hotel. The event was hosted by the Penn Gold Coast Alumni Club, which holds a wide variety of events for Penn community members in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward Counties, ranging from professional networking, community service, and outdoor activities, to gatherings around arts and culture. After Club President Audrey Caan, C’76, WG’79, welcomed the guests, Lizann Rode, Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development at the Wharton School, highlighted some of the ways The Power of Penn Campaign is shaping Penn’s future. The program that followed featured Wharton Overseer Andrew Heller, WG’79. The Founder of Heller Capital Corp., who spoke about his experience as a Penn student and his current involvement as a volunteer leader. Heller noted that he has participated in more than 24 Wharton Global Forums in cities all over the world! He encouraged attendees to take advantage of similar opportunities to stay connected to Penn.
Penn Alumni celebrated The Power of Penn Campaign at San Antonio’s Plaza Club on November 12. The speaker was the Mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, ASC’01. Mayor Nirenberg spoke of the impact the Annenberg School had on his life and career, noting that he has kept in touch with his professors and continues to value their advice. When asked to describe Penn in three words, he said, “achievement, intellectual, home.” Elise Betz, Executive Director of Alumni Relations, emphasized the goal of making all alumni feel at home at Penn, and encouraged the audience to visit campus and stay connected with other Penn alumni, as well as faculty and staff. Penn Club of San Antonio President, Robert “Bob” Weidman, C’63, closed the event with a rousing group chant of “I am the power of Penn!”
The Power of Penn Campaign kicked off the month with a regional celebration in Dallas on November 1. Penn Club of Dallas-Fort Worth Co-Presidents Laura Lai, ENG’02, and Thomas Trujillo, W’98, welcomed 55 people to the La Cima Club. The featured speaker was Michael Brown, C’62, M’66, winner of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Brown shared stories about the many ways Penn’s campus has changed for the better since the sixties and answered audience questions about the future of medical care. Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer at the Perelman School of Medicine, moderated the program portion of the evening. Dr. Epstein highlighted a number of examples that demonstrate the groundbreaking work being done at the Perelman School. Before and after the discussion, guests enjoyed the pre- and post-receptions along with the venue’s panoramic city views.
More than 40 people gathered for a Regional Campaign Celebration at the historic Houstonian hotel on Monday, October 29. They were welcomed by the Penn Club of Houston President, Amy Kelso, W’96, who delivered an overview of The Power of Penn Campaign. The featured alumni speaker was Ilona Carson, C’97. A reporter and anchor for ABC 13 in Houston, Ms. Carson spoke candidly about her time at Penn and the special bond she shares with other alumni. During the Q & A portion of the program, she addressed questions about the challenges of reporting in the “fake news” era, social media as a medium for news, and work-life balance. The program, which culminated in a lively post reception, was moderated by recent graduate Ashley Berg, ENG’17, W’17.
The Power of Penn made a stop in New Orleans on October 16, greeted by alumni at Lula Restaurant and Distillery. The evening’s program was moderated by the Penn Club of New Orleans President Austin Lavin, C’06, and featured guest speaker Justin Ehrenwerth, L’09, President and CEO of the Water Institute of the Gulf Coast. Mr. Ehrenwerth spoke about his work at the Water Institute and described how his experience at Penn prepared him for the work he is doing today. During the animated post-program reception, guests explored how the Penn community in New Orleans exemplifies the Power of Penn!
On Monday, October 15, Chicago was host to the first of over twenty regional campaign celebrations organized by Penn Alumni Relations in partnership with Penn Clubs across the country. Over 60 alumni and friends were in attendance at Marshall’s Landing, an exciting new venue in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.
The evening featured a line-up of alumni speakers, introduced by the Penn Club of Chicago President Eric Williams, C’89. The alumni panel discussion featured Penn Trustees Connie Duckworth, WG’79, PAR’16, PAR’18, Founder and CEO of Arzu, a non-profit organization that aims to provide sustainable income to Afghan women; Jim Johnson, C’74, L’77, former General Counsel for the Boeing Company and most recently for Loop Capital Markets; and Lynn Jerath, W’95, President and Founder of Citrine Investment Group, a real estate investment management firm. The panel was moderated by Sarah Doherty, ENG’10.
The speakers each discussed the life-changing impact Penn had for them, as students and as engaged alumni. A lively Q&A session was followed by a reception where guests enjoyed networking and connecting in an intimate setting.