Throughout the month of February, the Fox School of Business is highlighting the voices and businesses of black entrepreneurs, executives, volunteers and more. These talented professionals are striving to make the world a more diverse, inclusive and accessible place for future generations.
To balance his impressively extensive workload, Anthony Copeman, BBA ‘14, chooses to work smart. Since he was a student studying accounting at the Fox School of Business, Copeman has founded a non-profit, began working for the City of Philadelphia, and launched an animated financial literacy YouTube series aimed at millennials called $hares.
His non-profit, Backyard Business, was born while he was still working on his undergraduate degree at Temple. The mission of the organization was to empower inner city youth to create businesses that met the needs of their community. But then Copeman decided that, if he really wanted to make an impact and inspire youth to embrace entrepreneurship, he needed to practice what he preached.
As a result, Financial Lituation came to fruition in 2016. What started as an Instagram account filled with financial inspiration evolved into a one-on-one financial coaching program, and then a digital platform hosting online workshops. The Financial Lituation website describes their mission best:
“FINANCIAL LITUATION is millennial-infused, digital platform which focuses on helping you reinvent your finances and reimagine your freedom. We believe that your mindset is the primarily currency for building wealth, and money is second. We help you start the journey towards financial freedom through mindset, movement, money, and maintenance.”
To build on this vision, Copeman came up with the idea of $hares. The series teaches financial literacy in an accessible way for millennials that might not have had exposure to finance topics. “My desire for starting $hares was to offer a creative way to reach millennials and help them understand personal finance concepts,” he says. “Financial literacy isn’t taught in the classroom. That may be a good thing, because if it can’t be taught in a relevant way than it shouldn’t be taught at all. With $hares, I want to bridge that gap.”
With an unprecedented amount of student debt, a volatile financial future, as well as lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth than generations past, it can be uncomfortable downright frightening for millennials to talk about finances. When reflecting on the impact that these ventures have had on his audience, particularly millennials and underrepresented groups, Copeman says that $hares creates a safe space for people to be open about their money experiences and goals.
“Our goal is not to preach money, but rather freedom,” Copeman explains. “And that’s why millennials who engage with our content feel comfortable sharing their stories. All of our animated characters are approachable and relatable to the everyday millennial.”
While the entrepreneurial spirit flows freely through Copeman, after completing a year and a half of national service with AmeriCorps from 2013 to 2015, he decided to continue on the path of helping others by becoming a civil servant with the the City of Philadelphia. He is currently working in family court, but is in the process of transitioning to a new position in financial services.
Looking to the future, Copeman is committed to scaling the impact of his various projects, measuring the results, and trying new things. “I am constantly inspired by innovation and creativity. I’m always asking myself, ‘how can I leverage my passion and put my own creative spin on it?’”
Throughout the month of February, the Fox School of Business is highlighting the voices and businesses of black entrepreneurs, executives, volunteers and more. These talented professionals are striving to make the world a more diverse, inclusive and accessible place for future generations.
From his work as an assistant professor of Marketing at Howard University to co-founding the Our D.R.E.A.M Foundation, Dr. Johnny Graham, PhD ‘16, has made it his mission to give back to his hometown of Baltimore using his expertise and access.
In his role at Howard, Dr. Graham conducts research on brand management and teaches introductory courses on marketing management and marketing analytics. He received both his undergraduate degree and MBA at the University of Maryland-College Park, where he was a Banneker Key-Scholar and Dean’s Scholar. He then went on to earn a doctorate in marketing from the Fox School.
In addition to his esteemed status as a scholar, Graham is an experienced jazz musician and entrepreneur. He previously served as chief partner of his own strategic consulting firm, Graham & Peters LLC, which specialized in helping young professionals in their entrepreneurial pursuits.
During his time as a PhD student, he was inspired by working with the Philadelphia Future’s program and the ever-present desire to give back to Baltimore. He used that passion and partnered with his fellow entrepreneur and former college classmate Justin Peters to develop the philanthropic concept that would revolutionize their careers.
“Creating something that would be engaging, but also informative for young people was important to us,” he says. “We wanted to expose youth from our community to avenues of economic opportunity, while also building their overall personal development and life skills.”
What started as an idea to organize a week-long youth entrepreneurship camp, in Baltimore evolved into Our D.R.E.A.M, a nonprofit organization aimed at entrepreneurship-based education for youth in underserved communities. Graham leverages his wide range of knowledge on business topics such as marketing research and strategy to establish the vision and program curriculums for Our D.R.E.A.M.
Through the organization’s cornerstone program, The Y.E.S. (Youth Entrepreneurship Startup) Program, Baltimore-based students learn basic business concepts and are given access to resources to help them develop leadership and communications skills, and to fuel their entrepreneurial spirit. The program regularly features lectures and activities led by local entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Since its inception in 2015, the YES Program has served 70+ students from 30+
different schools across the Baltimore metro area.
In 2018, the Y.E.S Program partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Baltimore City for the Teen Biz Challenge, which resulted in 11 students receiving over $28,000 of business startup funding.
With the largest cohort in the program’s history and the Mayor’s Office partnership, the organization has gathered more momentum than ever before. Dr. Graham and the rest of the Our D.R.E.A.M team used their connections within the business world to provide
student participants with volunteers to help them further develop their business ideas.
“The students came up with so many brilliant, tangible ideas, a mobile smoothie stand, a reinvented toothbrush, a hygiene subscription-based service and so much more. They showed business ingenuity and intuitiveness that I certainly did not have when I was their age,” said Dr. Graham.
When Dr. Graham looks toward the future, his goals are to grow holistically as a business thought leader and academic, and to make even more impact in the classroom, in his field, and in his community.
Kate Zipin knows what empowerment looks like. As the founder and director of Own Your Awesomeness, a program that uses summer camps to help high school girls take pride in who they are, she has seen empowerment in action.
“Last summer towards the end of camp I asked the girls to spend some time writing an introduction for themselves,” Zipin remembers. After several minutes, Zipin invited the women to present their introductions to the group.
“I thought that maybe two or three girls would want to share,” Zipin recalls. Instead, five girls immediately raised their hands.
“The first girl went up and talked about her family, and when she was done the room exploded in applause,” says Zipin. “Another talked about wanting to be the first in her family to go to college.” By the end of the session every girl but one had shared her story to affirming words and raucous applause.
“I was really proud of them,” Zipin says, “but maybe more importantly I could see that they were really proud of themselves and each other.”
Since she started Own Your Awesomeness three years ago, Zipin has watched teens find their voices. Through open dialogue about cultural issues impacting women, skills building workshops that teach girls how to change a tire or use power tools, and activities that keep the girls moving and having fun together, these young women create a sense of pride in each other and themselves.
Seeing the program’s impact is not an issue. The struggle for Zipin (and most nonprofits) is measuring that impact. More and more grants are requiring data as part of the application process, and even individual donors appreciate metrics as a way of ensuring their money makes a difference.
To help her address the need for data, Zipin reached out to the Fox Board Fellows program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Fox Board Fellows was created in 2000 to match skilled MBA students with non-profit boards for year-long partnerships supported by coursework.
“Fox Board Fellows is a win-win for its nonprofit partners and the Fellows,” says Program Director Maureen Cannon. “Nonprofit partners benefit from hosting an experienced, passionate MBA student as a non-voting, working board member. Fellows gain valuable insight and perspective on the realities of nonprofit management and are better prepared to be effective board leaders in the future.”
Own Your Awesomeness was matched with Fox Board Fellow Teena Bounpraseuth, a full-time student in the Global MBA program. A native of Philadelphia, Bounpraseuth says non-profit youth programs were a big part of her own childhood in the city.
“Growing up, I was part of the youth arts workshop program through the Asian Arts Initiative,” says Bounpraseuth. “It gave me an opportunity to learn more about my Asian American identity in a safe and inviting space and to see how art can be used in bridging communities. The Initiative was really important to me as a teenager and I see Own Your Awesomeness doing similar work with the summer camp. Kate and her team are amazing. They’re helping to build a network of strong, confident, and independent women.”
One of Bounpraseuth’s most vivid memories of that time was watching an Asian American spoken word duo. “Just to see the confidence in those women meant so much to me. Seeing them ooze confidence, knowing their history, embracing it, and that empowering them — It helped set an example for me.”
To help Own Your Awesomeness quantify their impact, Bounpraseuth interviewed leaders from several nonprofits throughout the city that work with youth. “Everyone measures impact differently,” she says. “The key is that your metrics are actionable, manageable and comparable, and most importantly that they align with your organization’s mission.”
Bounpraseuth also led the board through a logic model. This tool helps organizations think through how their resources and activities translate into the outputs and broader impact they hope to have.
“The Logic Model was helpful,” Zipin says, “because it gave us a chance to get on the same page about our goals. Now that we have those articulated, we can ask questions in our assessments that specifically apply to those goals.”
Bounpraseuth’s project helped Own Your Awesomeness define what metrics they should be tracking, and also highlighted that some things make better stories than charts. “One thing I’ve learned is that, even if people have a lot of numbers, there’s still a lot left up to interpretation,” she says. “Some things are just very difficult to calculate.”
This month as Zipin wraps up three weeks of camp she will distribute surveys about leadership and confidence, skills building, and plans for the future. Part of Zipin’s impact will make it onto those surveys.
But some of Zipin’s work, uncovering the intangible awesomeness of each of these women, can’t be relegated to a page. Women have laughed at themselves, talked about hard issues, played touch football, and changed tires. Some of that impact will just have to play out in the lives these women forge in the years to come.
Fox Board Fellows just matched another cohort of Fellows with nonprofits! To get a fellow at your nonprofit contact Maureen Cannon at Maureenc@temple.edu.
For the second time in a row, another successful alumnus of the Fox School, Kevin Hong, PhD ’14, won the prestigious 2018 Early Career Award by the Association for Information Systems. This award recognizes individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already made outstanding research, teaching and service contributions to the field of information systems. Last year Gordon Burtch, PhD ’13, was awarded this honor.
Hong is an associate professor of information systems, director of the IS PhD program, and co-director of the digital society initiative at the W. P. Carey School of Business of Arizona State University. “I feel really honored and lucky to have won this award,” Hong says. “I attribute who I am as a researcher today to my experiences and associations at the Fox School.”
We spoke with Hong to learn more about his journey.
Who were your mentors at the Fox School?
A lot of people at Fox have inspired me and taught me not just be a better researcher, but also a better person. Paul Pavlou was my advisor and mentor through the years. I learned so much from him, including how to write and publish papers.
If Dr. Pavlou is my research mentor, I’d say David Schuff is my teaching mentor. I watch all his videos and learn how to engage students while teaching. I also get ideas and examples to share with the students in the analytics class from him.
How did the Fox PhD program support you in achieving your degree?
The rigorous curriculum and training at Fox have helped me a lot. During the time I was a PhD student, Fox had recruited many world-class faculty members who were also high profile researchers from prestigious universities. They had solid training and the required expertise to teach the students state-of-the-art methodologies which I still use today.
What are some of the current research projects you’re working on?
My primary stream of research has been studying how to design and evaluate the efficiency of digital platforms. I also plan on taking a sabbatical next year to explore new technologies like artificial intelligence, and how humans and AI can collaborate better to develop newer streams of research.
What is your advice to current and prospective Fox PhD students?
What’s most important to be successful is to take initiative. Don’t merely do what the advisors ask you to do. Try to start your research early on. Discuss those ideas with your advisors and lead those projects. The environment created for research at Fox is truly amazing and you should take advantage of it, perform and deliver. For a doctoral student, the culture here teaches you to put research before everything and truly nurtures you to succeed in your academic career.
Read more about the previous Fox alumnus to win this award.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
While studying finance at the Fox School of Business, Tamika Boateng, BBA ’06, learned all about asset management and risk—she also learned the value of giving back to the community.
Boateng, now a management consultant for financial services at New York Price Warehouse Coopers (PwC), credits her commitment to volunteering for her professional success.
“While at Temple University, I discovered several new things that are meaningful in my life today, such as giving back,” Boateng says. “When I was 19, I applied with Big Brothers Big Sisters and was matched with an 8-year-old girl from North Philly. Every other week, I’d go to her house or bring her to campus. I tried to give her the college student experience and got to know her life. The experience made me realize the small things you do make a big impact on people’s lives.”
Boateng also joined the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), where she eventually served as the student professional organization’s vice president. In addition to helping jumpstart her career—namely through networking and securing internships with Johnson & Johnson and Vanguard—she was able to help other students achieve similar goals.
“We connected students with employers,” recalls Boateng. “We invited different companies and leaders to speak at our weekly meetings and we connected students from different schools in the Philadelph
ia area. We also had an annual conference with a career fair and professional development that helped students learn critical skills, such as networking, public speaking, and interviewing. It helped our NABA members prepare for internships and careers. Being part of NABA made me more career-focused and successful, and I know it had the same impact on others, too.”
Boateng’s commitment to volunteering continued beyond her time at the Fox School. After graduation, she was hired by Vanguard—which happened as a result of the internship she landed through NABA—and she eventually became the global head of bank strategy and relations. While there, she co-led a program in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America where 60 of her coworkers became mentors to students at a school in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The program cultivated relationships between students and professionals with the goal to increase the school’s graduation rate.
Her current volunteer activities include being a member of the board at the Settlement Music School Germantown Branch—one of the largest community arts schools in the country, alumni include Albert Einstein, Kevin Bacon, and Chubby Checker. Boateng connected with the school through Leadership Philadelphia, which matches the skills of professionals in the Philadelphia area to board opportunities with organizations in need. Boateng is passionate about music education (her twin sons both play piano), so it was a perfect match.
“My experiences in philanthropy made me the leader I am today,” says Boateng. “You gain so many skills through volunteering. While volunteering back at Temple, I did not fully grasp at the time all of the benefits. But I gained valuable communications skills and learned how to work with diverse groups of people from all different backgrounds; both these things would help me so much in the future. It’s so important to give back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences.”
With his business Forever Hung Wood Window Restoration, Chris Fullan, BBA ‘10, is working to preserve local Buck’s County history. Fullan urges owners of old homes: do not throw out your old, time-worn wooden windows!
Why is it beneficial to restore these windows rather than get them replaced? Fullan has quite the informed response: “[The original wood frame windows] are far superior than any replacement you’re going to get,” he told The Bucks County Courier Times. “With proper restoration from any quality restoration professional, you’re going to be very happy with the product. When they were originally built, the craftsmen that made these windows put a lot of time and care into making them—and they were made for each individual’s home. So it’s unsettling to see them being thrown into the landfill and ripped out.”
Fullan began working in an office during his post-college career, but quickly realized his calling was of a more entrepreneurial nature. During a period of unemployment, he was doing work on his own home and decided to pursue working with his hands professionally.
After working at several professional firms, Fullan began contracting and then used his business acumen to start Forever Hung Wood Window Restoration in October 2018. Forever Hung specializes in windows from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The oldest windows he ever worked on landed on his lap during his time as a lead carpenter for WMG Historic Restoration in New Jersey. He was responsible for restoring about 130 windows from the Lazaretto Quarantine Station, which is a historic site that guarded the city of Philadelphia from epidemic diseases.
Fullan finds inspiration researching the history of the buildings he helps restore, and is proud he can be a part of preserving the richness of his community.
In his new position as executive director of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Harvey Hurdle Jr., MBA ‘89, will blend personal with professional.
Hurdle spent his career leading various nonprofit and for profit organizations, including president and CEO of Leap Strategy LLC and COO and then CEO of Sellers Dorsey, a national healthcare consulting firm. He was also the COO of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights and public advocacy organization in America.
But his new appointment as executive director of the Philadelphia Bar Association is the first time he will directly serve the legal community, and it is a powerful change of pace for Hurdle. “I really value our legal institutions, because the ability to marry my husband and adopt my son were obtained by very smart lawyers and brave judges,” he says to The Legal Intelligencer. “I’m very excited about this job.”
As his first act of executive director, Hurdle will meet with bar members in order to identify their needs, and what issues should be a priority. However, he already has a few personal goals for the position. He hopes to increase access to justice for people who cannot afford it and to evolve the services the association provides to better assist attorney’s working in the changing legal market.
“The association’s leadership and staff look forward to working with Hurdle because of his passion for the association’s mission; his financial, managerial and operational skills and experience; his business acumen; and his strong interpersonal and communication skills,” Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Mary F. Platt says during the announcement of Hurdle’s appointment.
Prior to Hurdle’s appointment, Mark Tarasiewicz served as executive director for four years, and was a bar association member for more than two decades. After resigning in July of 2018, Tarasiewicz became executive director of administration for Spector Gadon & Rosen.
If you enjoy reading updates on Fox School alumni, read up on real estate mogul Jen Singley, who is using her business degree to help first time buyers find their dream homes in the City of Brotherly Love.
First-time home buyers take notice—after a five-year flurry to start her career at retailer-for-good United By Blue, Jen Singley (BBA ’13) decided to pivot towards real estate. Now, she’s slinging much more than exposed brick and herringbone tile kitchens. Singley has an idea, cultivated at UBB, that could change the way home buyers and sellers approach real estate in Philadelphia.
Singley’s path to real estate has not been straightforward. Born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, she decided to major in marketing at the Fox School of Business with the idea of getting into retail after graduation. Four days after receiving her diploma, Singley did just that, having landed a job at the then retail start-up UBB, owned by fellow Fox alumni Brian Linton and Mike Cangi. Tasked with opening and managing their first storefront at 2nd street, she eventually oversaw the brand grow to include four locations, including one in New York.
“Brian and Mike taught me so much,” said Singley. “I received constructive feedback and was pushed to step outside of my comfort zone. They were a huge part of my career growth.”
Singley credits Fox with helping her prepare for such a huge opportunity immediately after college.
Four Skills Singley Sharpened At Fox
- Financial Management: “At Fox, I learned as much about numbers as I possibly could. Not everyone left college knowing how to manage income vs. debt and I’m glad I did.”
- Interviewing: “I overthink and get nervous before interviews. The mock interview nights at Fox really helped. As realtor, having a “script” ready for clients that answers potential questions comes in handy.”
- Independence: “Fox encouraged networking. Even if my friends couldn’t make it, I’d go by myself to networking nights.”
- Negotiation: “Several of my classes had a focus on negotiation, which definitely translates into my job today. Every deal I work on involves negotiation for prices, rate, and timeline.”
When Singley decided to leave UBB in the summer of 2018, she had risen to title of director of operations, but the burgeoning retail guru wasn’t happy anymore. Too busy with managing scores of new employees, she missed out on the litter clean-ups that UBB was well-known for, one of the reasons she liked her job.
“I thought about it for a year and a half,” she said. “I love everyone at United By Blue, but part of me wasn’t whole at that point. I saw my coworkers getting excited about a new product launch or an event, and I didn’t share in that same passion anymore.”
Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners, Singley got her real estate license in 2017 while still at UBB and was selling homes part-time. The decision to leave her comfortable position at a growing company was tough, but she felt supported by her parents—her father owns a duct-cleaning and fire restoration company.
“I wanted to do something I was excited about everyday again,” she said. “Having flexible hours and helping young house buyers, that’s what’s motivating me right now.”
There are similarities between her old career and her new one. Singley is organizing neighborhood trash pickups to rally new buyers and current community residents. Her hope is that bringing together social enterprise and selling homes, she can help set a new standard for real estate agents in Philadelphia, one cigarette filter or cheesesteak wrapper at a time.
To get the word out about the places she loves, Singley has harnessed the power of social. She knows that people her age find aesthetically pleasing photos, tips on maintaining homes and defining real estate jargon more interesting than print mailers and cold calls. Her strategy has worked to engage potential home buyers. So far, Singley has sold 14 homes and counting—not bad for seven months on the job.
Singley’s Hot Neighborhoods
- Gray’s Ferry
Follow Singley @:
- Instagram: homesweethomephl
- Facebook: WomenForASustainablePhiladelphia [link to https://www.facebook.com/groups/WomenForASustainablePhiladelphia/]
- Yelp: Jen Singley, Keller Williams
Social Enterprises Singley Loves
- Hungry Harvest (CSA) [link: https://www.hungryharvest.net/]
- And We Evolve (consignment clothing) [https://andweevolve.com/]
Bennett Compost (waste pickup/compost drop-off subscription) [link https://www.bennettcompost.com/]
Seven alumni-owned food and beverage businesses taking taste buds to the next level
Some people say music is the one true universal language. But, let’s be honest, the one true universal language is food. Nobody knows this better than these Fox School alumni who have launched exciting businesses in the food space. From healthy stir-fries to mouthwatering donuts, fancy cocktails to salads-in-jars, learn more about these seven food and drink businesses owned and founded by Fox foodies.
After studying finance at the Fox School, David Restituto, BBA ’96, ran Rita’s Italian Ice and Meineke franchises in the Philadelphia area. In 2017, the self-confessed “sweet tooth” opened Factory Donuts in Northeast Philly. The shop, which boasts a hip, industrial aesthetic, sells coffee and about two dozen different types of donuts, including the Maple Bacon Explosion and the Blueberry Bake. The business has already moved into its next phase: franchising. “We have so much positive interest from people,” Restituto says. “We’re ready to launch the franchise end of the business and we’re planning for future growth. It’s a very exciting time.”
Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09, is no stranger to the pages of Fox Focus—when we caught up with him in the last issue, he told us all about how honeygrow uses virtual reality to onboard new employees. Rosenberg designed the business plan for honeygrow, the fast- casual salad and stir-fry restaurant, while working on his MBA at
the Fox School. Since opening the rst location in 2012, honeygrow has grown quite a bit. Now there are more than 24 locations in eight states and Washington, D.C. Not to mention three minigrow locations, honeygrow’s new build-your-own dish carryout concept.
Dylan Baird, BBA ’13, worked with Urban Tree Connection, an urban farm in West Philadelphia, while studying entrepreneurship at the Fox School. His passion for the intersection of food and community development morphed into Philly Foodworks, which he co-founded in 2014. The mission? To create a platform for small, non-mainstream food producers—including local farmers, coffee roasters, chocolatiers, tofu makers, and bakeries—to deliver healthy, fresh foods to people. Thanks to Baird and Philly Foodworks, the farmers market now comes directly to your front door.
Do you love pizza? Of course you do, everybody loves pizza. And if you’re a Philadelphian, you also likely love tomato pie. Conshohocken Italian Bakery has been serving up tomato pies (including a custom Philadelphia Eagles version following the team’s Super Bowl LII victory), pizzas, breads, desserts, and more since it was co-founded by Domenico Gambone in 1973. The family business is now run by sister and brother Christina Gambone, BBA ’92, and Michael Gambone, BBA ’91—Christina is the director of business operations, and Michael is the vice president.
“Mike and I have been working here since our early teens,” says Christina. “There’s no better way to learn the business than from the ground up. We’ve always been close siblings, so working together is very natural. And our dad is still very active in the business and our goal is to support him and his passion. We keep that in mind with every new avenue we pursue.”
Ever watched an episode of Mad Men and wondered how in the heck they make those delicious looking cocktails? Jungeun Park, BS ’16, knows the secrets and she’s here to
help you craft that perfect old fashioned. After completing her studies in marketing and being named a finalist in the Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s 2016 Be Your Own Boss Bowl® for the business concept, Park launched Cocktail Culture Co., which offers interactive cocktail and mixology workshops. They also host whiskey and wine tastings so you know what you’re talking about next time you step up to the bar.
Healthy food is oftentimes not the most convenient to find for lunch at work or on-the-go. That’s where Simply Good Jars, founded by Jared Cannon, MS ’16, comes in. Cannon, a chef, came up with the idea as a Fox School grad student studying innovation management and entrepreneurship. Each convenient plastic jar includes a healthy meal made with local ingredients while creating zero waste for the Philadelphia community.
Melissa Wieczorek, BBA ’93, MBA ’02, always loved food, cooking, and entertaining. So, when she left her position as the director of the Fox School’s Executive MBA program in 2005, she knew exactly what to do: Zest Culinary Services, a personal chef and boutique catering company, was born. “There’s always something new to discover in food—a recipe, an ingredient, a technique, a favor combination, or even a new business model,” says Wieczorek when asked why she loves working with food. “The possibilities are endless and the food industry is constantly evolving so it never gets boring. And the ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives on a daily basis through food—whether it’s a meal, an educational talk, or a dining experience—is extremely gratifying.”
3 Fox School alumnae shaking up their industries
There’s a new ultimate compliment in business today–Fox alumnae are go-getters, and they are shaking up the status quo in their elds and starting revolutions across the business world. Find out how these three alumnae are changing the rules of the game. See who they are and how they’re disrupting their industries in the best possible way:
1. Yasmine Mustafa, Fox ’06
Born in Kuwait, Yasmine Mustafa emigrated to the United States with her family as a child. She has chosen to make a difference using what she learned as an entrepreneur at the Fox School. It took Mustafa over seven years of part-time classes— first at community college, then at Fox, while working two jobs, to dream up her best idea yet.
“After traveling alone for six months, everywhere I went I encountered women who had been assaulted in different ways,” she said.
Mustafa decided to do something about it and started ROAR for Good.
“Just a week after I returned to Philadelphia, a woman was raped a block from my apartment when she went out to feed her meter,” she said. “I was enraged and inspired to create something to make women safer.”
As president and CEO of ROAR for Good, Mustafa has led the development of ‘Athena,’ a safety wearable device that helps to keep people safe. As a smart tech device, Athena shares user locations when activated.
“In reality, our goal is to have a world where technology like ROAR’s doesn’t need to exist,” she said. “In the meantime, why not create something that improves the situation?”
Not one for the sidelines, Mustafa and ROAR have been proactive about taking a role in the cultural paradigm surrounding sexual assault prevention and #MeToo. The ROAR Back program exists in tandem with the Athena device. ROAR Back has been designed as a series of nonprofit partnerships—with the goal of educating men about violence prevention and empathy training. In addition, an app provides educational tools on safety and situational awareness.
Awards and attention have been rolling in for Mustafa, who was selected as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2016, Philadelphia Magazine’s Top 20 Best Philadelphians, Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 Tech Disruptors, Innovator of the Year by Rad Girls, and many more. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this dynamic, young maker.
“I see a long-term vision of changing the world and ROAR having a profound impact,” she said.
2. Lori Bush, MBA ’85
Scientist to CEO isn’t the normal career trajectory for a pre-med major, but Lori Bush learned early on to defy expectations.
Driven to push the boundaries, Bush went beyond her work as a research scientist and eventually led production, innovation, marketing, and business development for Johnson & Johnson. Once established in the eld, Bush became an expert in beauty products.
During her 25 years in the consumer and healthcare products industry, Bush led product innovation for several global brands. She has also held leadership positions as the worldwide executive director of Skin Care Ventures and vice president of professional marketing at Neutrogena.
In 2006, Bush was approached by Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, who solicited her insight when they were in the startup phase of their premium skincare line. A year later, Bush accepted the role of president and CEO at Rodan + Fields. Her leadership helped the company to reach $600 million in revenue by 2015.
While Bush’s story is motivational, she’s providing financial inspiration to the next generation of female entrepreneurs—people like Camille Bell. Bell, a twenty-something Temple graduate, won $10,000 for a pitch she did in 2016 for her company, Pound Cake, an inclusive cosmetics company. Assistance for projects like Bell’s is possible partially through a lump sum donated by Bush to Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
“I think of myself as an enabler, moving obstacles for people and empowering them to do what they can do,” said Bush.
That’s not to say things have always been easy for Bush. She had a habit of tackling difficult projects that no one else wanted to touch, which didn’t fit in with the typical corporate resume progression.
“In the mid-1990s, I was very frustrated,” she said. “I was watching my peers being promoted to higher titles because they seemed to t the corporate prototype.”
Today she recognizes that not fitting in was the best thing that could have happened. “Ironically,” she says, “what I thought I wanted would have trained the courage out of me, to take on the crazy initiatives.”
3. Rakia Reynolds, BBA ’01
For Rakia Reynolds, a CEO, tastemaker, and influencer, re-defining what it means to work for herself has been a learning experience. As a wife and mother of three, Reynolds’ time is always in demand as the founder and president of Skai Blue Media, a public relations agency based in Philadelphia. She has worked with brands like Comcast NBCUniversal, Dell, the Home Shopping Network (HSN), United By Blue, Ted Baker, and others including Serena Williams’ clothing brand.
“The most successful people are the ones who find the secret sauce where work doesn’t feel like work,” said Reynolds in a 2017 interview with Marie Claire. “You wake up before your alarm goes off. You know the elevator pitch of your company without having to practice. You know what your career path is if you nd yourself thinking about it at night.”
Her touch seems to be on all things Philadelphia lately—she was Visit Philadelphia’s ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ and also helped to lead the charge for Philly’s Amazon H2 bid.
“You have these defining moments where you have that window and you say, ‘It is my time’” she said in a 2017 interview with Philly.com.
Doling out advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is something Reynolds does on the regular, and she encourages people to establish a “friendtor” board, a combination of friend and mentor. She credits the word to her friend and colleague Almaz Crowe, now the chief of staff at Skai Blue. Reynolds relies on her own diverse group of friendtors for real talk, feedback, and opinions. She also believes in quality over quantity when it comes to social media, something she knows a bit about as the face of small business for Dell.
“Influence goes back to the basics—understand your audience and deliver value,” she said in an interview with FastCompany.com.
Tis the gift giving season. Whether your loved ones are Temple alumni, Philadelphia residents or simply love food and fashion with a touch of philanthropy, we can help you find the perfect gift.
The Fox School of Business has a network of alumni and students who are passionate about using the power of business to give back to their communities. Check out products and services founded by entrepreneurs and make a purchase you can feel good about.
Temple accounting alumnus Nicholas Adelizzi, BBA ‘09, and his husband Jovan opened Sparrow and Hawk Apothecary with the goal of providing customers with a diverse range of natural bath, body and beauty products. The brand is focused on customer feedback and encourages open and continuous dialog. As Sparrow and Hawk Apothecary grows, they will give back to the community and help customers calm and soothe their mind, body and soul.
Sisters and Temple alumnae Rachel Stanton, BBA ’14, and Sarah Stanton, BBA ’14, co-founded Fruitstrology. The company combines produce-themed clothing and philanthropy through a sustainable partnership with Philabundance’s KidsBites program and the Life Do Grow Farm in North Philadelphia. When you purchase a product from Fruitstrology, you help to ensure children in Philadelphia have access to fruit and education about healthy eating.
When Avi Loren Fox, ENST ’10, could not find the perfect hooded scarf for the cold weather months, she decided to make one herself. Beyond creating a new clothing category, the goal of Wild Mantle is to move the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction. Give your friends and family a gift that feels like a warm hug this holiday season!
After carb-loading this Thanksgiving, cookie exchanges and more, your loved ones
might be looking for healthier meal options. Gift them Simply Good Jars! Each convenient plastic jar includes a healthy meal made with local ingredients. Jared Cannon, MS ’16, has made it his mission to increase access to nutrient-rich food, while creating zero waste to the communities that his company serves.
Is someone on your list looking for modern, comfortable and ethically-made clothing
basics? Founded by Brandon Study, BBA ’17, Understand Your Brand is an apparel company that uses all-natural dyes. The clothing is made in a zero-waste Cambodian factory that pays employees above the living wage.
Pick up something for the bookworm in your life and support a Temple alumna at the same time. Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05, opened the doors of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in 2016. She has molded the shop into an inclusive environment for “geeks” of all types to drink coffee, read, play games and chat.
Know of any other businesses owned and operated by Fox School alumni that deserve to be highlighted? Contact us!
On a brisk, fall morning, 30 crisply-dressed Fox School of Business graduates and friends gathered for a Breakfast With Fox & TWN event on the topic of executive presence, at Temple University Center City.
Over breakfast, Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership and a member of Temple Women’s Network (TWN), presented Executive Presence–Do You Have IT? How To Cultivate the IT Factor In You. She discussed the concept of authenticity, and when pressed had this to say:
“I don’t think authenticity is worn out as a buzzword. When we get to its essence, buzzwords should be retired when we have achieved a certain level of understanding and I view authenticity as being tied to integrity, in which we’re making progress but still have a long way to go.”
Barksdale shared a few tangible resources, including an online quiz, “Test Your Executive Presence”, and also encouraged attendees to lead with their values, and discover their own answers to the following three questions:
- What is executive presence?
- Why is it important?
- How can you cultivate it?
Ashley Rivera, IME ’18, was one of the millennials in attendance. She commented on how important networking opportunities were to her career progression and how crucial it was to keep her network relevant after graduate school.
“I worked so hard for my degree—am I going to be a leader?” she wondered.
Like many other recent Fox School graduates, Rivera has experience working in startups and is hoping to create her own business. While at Fox, she attended events like the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, which helped to instill her with a self-confidence that she could eventually turn an idea into a viable business.
“I know I can add value to a company with my leadership skills,” she said. “I have a diverse knowledge base and a strong group of supportive colleagues and former classmates.”
During her presentation, Barksdale—a certified life coach, encouraged people like Rivera to cultivate an executive presence by “ACE-ing” it.
“Awareness, know what your skills are,” said Barksdale. “Commit to make changes in areas you’d like to improve. And exercise your new skills until you’ve achieved the desired level of improvement.”
Former risk management student Derek Jones, BBA ’09, walked away feeling inspired.
“Allison said things about expressing your personality and to use that as an advantage,” he said. “In previous jobs, I found that I didn’t fit the culture. I think it’s important to be self-aware and inspire change or make a change if necessary.”
Barksdale thinks current Fox School students should work on developing three specific leadership qualities in order to jump-start their careers.
“Students should invest in developing competence, poise, and emotional intelligence,” she said. “Those skills will really help them with self-awareness and control as managers and leaders.”
Next up for Fox networking events will be the Holiday Party, hosted by the Fox School of Business Alumni Association on December 13th, from 5:30-8 p.m at The Acorn Club (1519 Locust St.). Early bird tickets are available until 11/23 here.
Just one year into business, Jared Cannon, MS ’16, founder of the healthy eating startup Simply Good Jars (SGJ) is making a bold pivot away from individual food-in-jars subscriptions toward a smart refrigerator model that the company says will offer growth and sustainability.
“Over the summer, our waiting list grew to over 750 people,” said Cannon. “So we decided to shut down subscriptions and move to a vending model.”
The decision may seem strange given the popularity of meal subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. However, customer loyalty and enthusiasm gave SGJ instant credibility in 2018, when Cannon was selected as a Philadelphia Inquirer Stellar Startup finalist and Independence Blue Cross named him a semifinalist for the Health Hero Challenge.
Cannon and his team are working on securing the capital needed to bring their jars to smart fridges. Plans include nearly 40 of these refrigerators in coworking spaces across Philadelphia. SGJ is already in locations that include WeWork, Pipeline and the Brandywine Liberty Trust corporate office. Business success will mean changing lunch culture at work by building a customer base that is willing to pay for the convenience of healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunches.
There’s a shift happening in the startup landscape, according to Cannon, an energy that is motivating entrepreneurs to solve problems in cities rather than vice versa. He feels a personal responsibility to serve as a part of the solution, something the northern Delaware native may have gained from an unlikely upbringing. Before the chef-turned-entrepreneur took off on his tasty endeavor, Cannon benefited from some unusual experiences.
“In seventh grade I enrolled at a Democratic Free School to learn as an individual,” he said. “There weren’t classes, report cards or standardized tests.”
Cannon attributes his unique perspective as a business owner to his self-governed education. He was given permission to develop differently and to dabble in things he may have never tried—like engineering, computer mechanics and construction. Food wasn’t a focus at the Free School, but at home Cannon learned to love the culinary arts. In their kitchen, the big Cannon family came together. They also instilled a general enthusiasm for the outdoors in their children, which shaped Jared’s value system.
“I think something that’s baked into my generation is an awareness about how our product choices affect the environment,” he said. “My parents taught me to value food and not to waste it—that’s something I’ve carried into my business model.”
Social enterprise is also shifting at SGJ. Instead of contributing meals to Philabundance, the company is now donating funds to help support the Philabundance Community Kitchen. Beyond financial help, Cannon’s team is engaging with the Community Kitchen’s job placement and internship program to offer jobs to their low-income participants and graduates who hope to begin careers in the culinary field.
“We’re young, we’re growing, and there’s nothing better than working on something that you’re passionate about,” said Cannon. “The human element behind a product is the powerful differentiator.”
Beyond the business pivot, there’s more big news for Cannon and the SGJ team. He’s an expecting father just two years out of Temple and a year into business. And beginning in November, SGJ will celebrate another first—a stall at Reading Terminal Market that will be open from Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A refrigerator will be on site, though it won’t be smart. Exclusive breakfast and lunch jars will be sold, created in collaboration with other Reading Terminal vendors like Old City Coffee, Martin’s Meats and Sausages, Iovine Brothers Produce, Godshall’s Poultry, Pequea Valley yogurt and Condiment.
“The most stressful thing right now is having all of these dynamic people around me who have bought in, and are taking the risk with me,” he said. “I’m learning how to be the fearless leader that I’m supposed to be, and I take it very seriously that it’s not just me anymore.”
In the research world, the emphasis on statistically significant research results is so strong that often the art of the research process gets left behind. Luckily, a team of researchers at the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University recently offered a unique behind-the-scenes look at how they are advancing the commonly accepted research methods in their field.
Collaborative Self-Study: An Innovative Qualitative Research Method
Lead researcher Bradley Baker, PhD ‘17, found there was a lack of substantial progress in innovative methods, especially qualitative, in the sport management field. The antidote to this “lack of creativity, theoretical impact, and practical relevance” is to look past the traditional qualitative and quantitative approaches to embrace a novel way to do research: collaborative self-study.
Collaborative self-study, Baker explains, is a type of qualitative research where researchers study themselves and their own social environment, as opposed to traditional methods where the researcher is a separate, objective onlooker. While this method is still relatively new, it has already been embraced by similar fields, such as the sociology of sport. It provides a unique potential to break through barriers of access to data and research participants, while encouraging a deeper self-reflection by the researchers and strong collaboration between team members.
In their paper, “Collaborative self-study: Lessons from a study of wearable fitness technology and physical activity,” Baker and his co-authors—current STHM doctoral students Xiaochen Zhou and Anthony Pizzo; James Du, PhD ’17, and Professor Daniel Funk—use their experience with this method to advise future researchers on when and how it may provide additional, unique insights. Published in a special issue of the Sport Management Review focused on contemporary qualitative research methods, their paper gives an insider view on how the method worked in practice: “[researchers] ask research questions,” says Pizzo. “But the way we get at that data, that is the focus of this paper. It’s the story behind the story.”
Experiencing the Experiment
Seven sport management graduate students formed a research team to look into how collaborative self-study could be used as a research method. The team consisted of a mix of genders, ages, fitness levels, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds.
Each member received an Apple Watch to wear for one month to record their experiences, thoughts, and exercise levels in a daily journal. The team later shared their experiences in group discussions, identifying common themes found while interacting with the technology, such as social value and attention, influence on physical activity, and anxiety. The experiment gave them a deeper insight into using collaborative self-study as a research method, specifically the possible advantages and disadvantages.
Reflecting on Self-Study: Transparency, True Experience, and Teamwork
On the benefits side, the researchers stated their data had deeper insights and it was faster and more efficient to collect than traditional methods. By not having a barrier—physical, temporal, cultural, or otherwise—between themselves and participants, the researchers had a potentially unlimited, unfiltered data source. Additionally, discussing as a team provided an environment where they could further elaborate on their experiences, stimulate reflection in others, and bond. This collaborative discussion made the data insights more thorough than a simple content analysis of journals, as the researchers were able to clarify their experiences through reflecting on the experiences of others.
However, breaking the barrier between researcher and participant, though innovative, brings up questions of ethics and validity of data, as well as privacy and data security.
“Objectivity is the dominant tradition,” Baker says, “but now things are changing. […] Even what research question you are asking is already breaking absolute objectivity. In all studies, but especially in self-study, you have to be very transparent in your role and your perspective, what biases get integrated in your data.”
In order to ensure data validity, the researchers combined the deep reflection of self-study and the collaborative aspect of using multiple voices to combat the assumed presence of unchallenged assumptions, or researcher “blind spots.” Another possible detraction of this method is the nature of collaborative work: the need to agree, compromise, and end up with a coherent narrative formed by many different voices. This is where in-depth discussion and making sure all voices were heard helped enhance the experience.
Though having pros and cons like any other research method, collaborative self-study gives unique insights into people’s lived experiences and should be considered a valid method in any researcher’s arsenal. “Our hope is that the current work provides a measure of guidance regarding key ethical issues, benefits, challenges, and opportunities inherent to the approach,” Baker says. “We encourage other researchers to consider the potential benefits of collaborative self-study for their own research.”
The Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA) held an election for new leadership at its annual meeting in May.
Four new directors-at-large were elected and, along with the six other directors-at-large and the executive committee, they will help the FSBAA plan events, develop professional development opportunities, manage the budget, and much more.
We spoke with the new directors-at-large to learn more about their involvement in FSBAA and the one piece of advice that changed their lives.
Sasha Buddle, BBA ’16
Job: Human resources system specialist, AmeriGas; Supply specialist, U.S. Army; Fox School MS candidate
Best thing about FSAA: “I love the alumni association. There is a wide variety of events—like seeing individuals who are also successful and have the same educational background as me—and it really shows that greatness does not quit. And I love the ability to network with and meet new people I did not have a class with.”
Best advice ever received: “To be myself—to be my true and best self. This advice has stuck with me for years and at times when I feel like I have nothing more to give, I remember I am not a quitter and if I ever quit I am not being myself. I may fail, which gives me a chance to learn and try again, but I never quit.”
Fun fact: “I was born and raised in Jamaica. And I love dancing, even though I was never taught professionally.”
Anuja Deshmukh, BBA ’09
Job: Manager of business systems analysts and product development, Change Healthcare
Best thing about FSAA: “Meeting people: alumni from different graduating years, alumni working in different industries and jobs, families of alum. Temple Owls really are everywhere!”
Best advice ever received: “It has come to me in different forms of an Epictetus quote that goes, ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.’”
Fun fact: “Most people are surprised to learn I was born in Louisiana even though I’ve been in the Philadelphia area since I was five-years-old.”
Michael Johnson, CLA ’14, MBA ’17
Job: Director of finance and administration, Philadelphia Futures
Best thing about FSAA: “I love connecting with and learning from fellow alumni across Fox’s powerful network.”
Best advice ever received: “Take ownership in everything you do.”
Fun fact: “The first time I left the country was on an international immersion trip with the Fox School. We went to India and it was really inspiring. You have this massive country with such rich history and vibrant culture, thousands of years old, that is also a world leader in disruptive innovations in technology and engineering. There is also a tremendous energy, optimism, and ambition among entrepreneurs and business leaders that is infectious.”
Corey Lewis, BBA ’17
Job: Global brand digital assistant, Essity
Best thing about FSAA: “The ability to be involved. Fox has contributed immensely to my professional development and it’s an honor to give back and pay it forward.”
Best advice ever received: “It came from my business ethics professor: The hardest thing to do is usually the right thing to do.”
Fun fact: “When I was a kid, I worked on ‘The Sixth Sense’ with a few of the set designers, but not on set. The movie itself was filmed in various parts of Philadelphia, with Bruce Willis’ character living on Delancey Street in Society Hill. We were in Maryland picking up some vintage pieces from a local auction in Crumpton, Maryland. My role as a 15-year-old was to mostly help move these heavy pieces from Maryland to a storage location. It was a short assignment, but an experience I was able to take advantage of due to some very exceptional networking on my part.”