BA ‘61 | Author, Journalist
Hometown: Brewster, Mass.
Journalism and juggling: “I didn’t have any difficulty jumping into journalism, for which I probably have to credit Temple. Being a wife and a mother and balancing a career? That might’ve been my biggest challenge.”
Deborah Forman’s training and experience in reporting helped her realize her passion for writing about the history of art and theater in the Cape Cod region.
Since 1899, Provincetown, Mass., and its picturesque coastal surroundings have provided a solid community where artists and writers paint, sculpt, write, and interact.
Deborah Forman, BA ‘61, knows all about the rich, creative history of the seaside town and its home on Cape Cod. She’s produced a documentary about the Provincetown art colony, written a two-volume history, and authored a three-book series on contemporary artists working in the popular New England region.
“Writing about art has always been an interest of mine, and in the last five years I’ve been able to do that almost exclusively,” Forman said.
Forman cultivated her interests in writing and reporting at Temple University’s journalism department, which, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was housed within the Fox School of Business.
“The journalism department was kind of its own little enclave,” she recalls. “It was really nice and intimate, and felt like a small oasis in a big university.”
The author and writer worked for the student newspaper, The Temple News, and joined the school’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, of which she was president during her senior year. Forman had no difficulty beginning her journalism career after graduation; she and her family moved to Mount Holly, N.J., where she landed a freelance reporting gig at the Burlington County Herald. She eventually moved on to the Haddonfield Herald as reporter and editor.
After moving to Cape Cod with her family in 1976, Forman further developed her journalistic chops as an editor for the Cape Cod Times and editor in chief for Cape Cod View magazine. Forman had already taken up painting, studied art, and enrolled in art classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, her beginnings on Cape Cod further ignited her passion for art and art history.
She interviewed experts and artists in the area and learned about the history of the Provincetown art colony. These interviews became the basis for the script she wrote for the documentary, “Art in Its Soul,” which aired on Boston’s PBS station in 1987.
While teaching a class at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Forman had students asking if there was a book that collected the entire history of the Provincetown art colony. They were surprised to learn there was no definitive historical book on the colony, especially since the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it the nation’s oldest art colony. Since she had a lot of material from her interviews and research, Forman decided to write a book that brought the colony’s history to date. An editor at Schiffer Publishing discovered she was writing the book after speaking with the curator at the Cape Cod Museum of Art.
“It was serendipitous,” Forman said. “I emailed him the manuscript, and within a few weeks I had a signed contract.”
After publishing the two-volume Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony in 2011, Forman’s editor at Schiffer wanted her to continue writing about the arts community on Cape Cod. As a result, she wrote three more books: Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: Images of Land and Sea (2013); Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: People & Places (2014); and Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: On Abstraction (2015).
She’s currently working on a book about the history of theater on the Cape, another interest of hers. She writes a monthly art column for the Cape Cod Times, as well as weekly theater and art reviews for capecod.com.
“I love writing, and I love hearing and telling other people’s stories,” Forman said. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do.”
BBA ’06, MBA ’12 | Marketing Manager of Healthcare, Deloitte
Hometown: Downingtown, Pa.
Fox honors: In 2006, Patel received the Musser Award for Excellence in Student Leadership from the Fox School of Business.
Beleaguered by the college-search process, Rupal Patel found Temple and the Fox School, thrived here, and is now giving back as a proud alumna.
When she was in high school, Rupal Patel had no desire to attend Temple University. But after her father had been dragged to college visits up and down the East Coast, he coerced Patel during spring break of her senior year to make one last visit.
Reluctantly, she agreed to check out Temple.
“And then when we got there, there was this overwhelming feeling that this feels so right, this is the place I need to be,” she recalled. “I had never gotten that feeling when I visited any other school.”
Patel enjoyed the Fox School of Business throughout her four years as an undergraduate, thriving amidst the diverse student body, honing strong relationships with her professors, and taking advantage of career-developing extracurricular activities like Fox’s renowned student professional organizations. In fact, she liked Fox so much that she decided to return for graduate school, largely due to the flexibility of its Online MBA program, which she likes to brag is ranked No. 1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
“It was the perfect program for me,” said Patel, who earned her MBA while working fulltime at her marketing job at Communications Media Inc. “I had such a great experience with the professors, I almost felt like I’d be cheating on them if I went somewhere else.”
That degree helped Patel land what she calls her “dream job” at Deloitte’s Philadelphia office, where she helps execute marketing campaigns to promote the company’s services to its healthcare clients. She is passionate about her work at Deloitte and loves that she’s part of an organization that cares about the community and encourages its employees to volunteer their time with various nonprofit organizations such as the AmeriCorps program, City Year, which Patel has been involved with for the last two years.
She spends much of the rest of her free time giving back to Temple. She’s currently the secretary of the Fox Alumni Association, and also donates both money and time to her alma mater while serving as a mentor to current students.
“They’ve done so much for me,” she said. “And I want other students to have that same opportunity.”
Sylvain Chiron, MBA ‘96
Owner, Brasserie du Mont-Blanc
Hometown: Tresserve, France
Cultivated pallet: “Before opening the brewery, I was drinking the French equivalent of Budweiser. Then I became a beer enthusiast.”
Sylvain Chiron’s bubbly career has covered attaining his Fox MBA to taste-testing award-winning craft beers at his French brewery.
Sylvain Chiron promises that the best part of his job isn’t taste-testing his award-winning craft beers.
Chiron, a French native, opened the Brasserie du Mont-Blanc in the French Alps in 1999 and sold his first beers in 2000. The 45-year-old has since become a pioneer in France’s small yet expanding craft beer market. At the 2015 World Beer Awards, Mont-Blanc’s La Blanche was named the best white beer in the world, allowing Chiron to join an elite club of eight winners. Mont-Blanc’s La Rousse won the title of world’s best amber beer for the second time, at the 2014 Global Craft Beer Awards.
“We didn’t look at price to make our product, just at what it takes to make the best beer possible,” Chiron said.
Chiron developed his taste for craft beers as a finance undergraduate student at the Fox School of Business. When he rejoined the Fox School as an International MBA student in the late ‘90s, he recognized an emerging beer culture hunting for a more-dynamic taste to their brews. Chiron returned to France to create a product to capture their discerning palettes.
“I was just 30 years old at the time and I was crazy,” Chiron said of his decision to open his brewery, “but you need to be a little crazy to start your own business.”
Chiron got his start by purchasing a Belgian distillery that was operated by Trappist monks. Through that connection, he learned how to brew properly. The brewery, one of just nine like it in the world, is a centuries-old establishment where monks held the nuances of beer brewing in similar esteem as their piety. Chiron learned from them before taking their techniques to the Brasserie du Mont-Blanc. The brewery is named after the mountain serving as its primary water source. Using refined and pure water, Chiron explained, allows him to infuse his beers with a unique taste that keeps consumers reaching for another bottle.
In addition to his award-winning white and amber beers, Chiron offers a specialty malt, La Blonde. Indulging his creativity, Chiron created his own Genepi-based beer, a bitter blend that is literally green. Its cousin, La Violette, is a cranberry-colored blend with a dash of vanilla. For the winter season, he offers Le Brassin d’hiver, which he describes as a full-bodied malty attack.
“People are bored of industrial products; they want to buy local and buy natural. They care about the taste,” Chiron said.
Chiron, who comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, never saw himself working for someone else. He credits the Fox School with helping him hone his skills at seeing the big picture while also nit-picking the details. He’s got his hands in everything, from marketing to production to management.
“It’s what’s in the bottle that counts, but don’t think it’s only about drinking beer,” Chiron laughed. “It’s a business like any other and it’s a lot of fun.”
BBA ’08 | Supply Chain New Model Launch Leader, Ford Motor Company, Brazil
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Overseas home: “I loved every single aspect at Temple. I always felt at home.”
Fernanda Guedes achieved her goal of studying in the United States, made life-long connections, and ascended the ranks at Ford Company in Brazil.
In Fall 2005, Fernanda Guedes, BBA ’08, carefully took in the entire scene as she stood in the middle of Temple University’s Main Campus for the first time. She saw students of all walks of life scurrying to and from class, sitting on the benches while reading, or catching up with peers by the Bell Tower.
Guedes smiled as she realized she was living her dream.
“Being at an American university was like watching a movie and recalling scenes from it,” she said. “I had the best time of my life at Temple.”
Three years later, Guedes graduated with Bachelor degrees in International Business and Human Resource Management from the Fox School of Business, and developed her experience in international trade, management and logistics. She’s combined her background and experience to excel in the role of the supply chain new model launch leader at Ford Motor Company in Brazil.
Watching U.S. films and television shows, Guedes knew from a young age that she wanted to receive an education in the United States. In 2004, Guedes enrolled in an Au Pair exchange program in New York City, serving as a nanny for a family in the city. Guedes visited a friend who lived in Philadelphia and quickly fell in love with the City of Brotherly Love.
“Philadelphia is a big city where you can find everything you need – from fun nightlife to easy access to nearby beaches – without the crowdedness and craziness of New York,” said Guedes, 33.
When the Au Pair program ended, Guedes moved to Philadelphia to find an undergraduate program for which she could apply. After researching universities, hearing opinions, and weighing her options, Guedes choose Temple.
“At Temple, I always felt at home and I met many fellow international students, and also American friends who’ve always been kind and supportive,” she said. “I never felt out of place.”
Ofo Ezeugwu’s business started at Fox. And it keeps on growing.
In a late-night meeting in spring 2012, Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13 and his Temple Student Government peers sat quietly as an idea came to him — what if he and TSG provided a way for students to rate their landlords, so future students knew what to expect before signing a lease?
In asking that question, Whose Your Landlord was born. “The goal of Whose Your Landlord is to bring quality to the rental experience,” said Ezeugwu, who at the time served as TSG’s vice president. “The goal is to make tomorrow better for student living.” Three years later, the website Whose Your Landlord serves more than 85,000 active users and features reviews and ratings of landlords in more than 100 U.S. cities. After sharing the idea, the Entrepreneurship major at the Fox School of Business took the first steps to starting his Yelp-like Web service for renters.
Ezeugwu, 23, realized it would take too much time to develop this service through the school and student government, so he immediately began creating a plan to launch Whose Your Landlord as a business. (Side note: “Whose” is an intentional grammatical error; Ezeugwu and his team chose the possessive form of the word in an attempt to return power in the decision-making process to the tenant.)
By summer 2012, Ezeugwu put together his team, consisting of Felix Addison and Nik Korablin. The three co-founders released a beta version of Whose Your Landlord to Temple, George Mason University, and University of Maryland students in October of that year. After overcoming some obstacles including limited resources and getting users’ reviews, Ezeugwu and his team launched the website in September 2013.
In 2015, Whose Your Landlord experienced a 156-percent growth rate. There are more than 3,000 reviews of more than 2,000 landlords in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and more.
Whose Your Landlord has also given Ezeugwu the chance to attend and speak at some remarkable events and engagements. The young CEO spoke on a panel last month at the White House’s “I Have a Dream Summit” and was one of 120 attendees at the event. Ezeugwu and Addison were invited to attend Google’s F50 Founder Night.
Ezeugwu and his platform have also been featured in local and national media like CBS Philly, TechCrunch.com and, most recently, Newsweek. Last November, Ezeugwu appeared on MSNBC’s “Elevator Pitch,” where he received a score of nine out of 10 from both of the show’s panelists.
Fred Krieger, BS ’69, MBA ’76
Delivered the keynote address at the January commencement ceremony for the Fox School of Business and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Chris Fiorentino, BBA ’76, MBA ’83, PhD ’88
Appointed interim president of West Chester University, in West Chester, Pa. He had served as the university’s vice president for external operations.
Mark S. Pollock, BBA ’83
Hired as chief financial officer of Clutch, a Philadelphia-based firm that uses transactional and behavioral data to give retails insight on customers.
James J. Dornan, BBA ’85
Received the Musser Award for Excellence in Alumni Achievement, at the Fox School’s 19th annual Musser Awards for Excellence in Leadership reception in November.
Robert L. Nydick, PhD ’85
Cited by Sports Illustrated for research into the greatest professional sports records of all-time, along with co-author Howard J. Weiss, a professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School.
Carol King Barrow, MBA ’86
Named to the executive committee of the board of trustees for SAGE Eldercare, which provides information, support, and services to help individuals lead independent and active lives in a four- county region in New Jersey.
Philip P. Jaurigue, MBA ’86
Introduced as a new member of the ownership team of the Philadelphia Soul, of the Arena Football League. Jaurigue is the president and founder of Sabre Systems Inc., of Warrington, Pa.
Mike Shannon, MBA ’87
Appointed chief executive officer of Houghton International, Inc., a global leader in metalworking fluids and services.
Kim Cross, BBA ’88
Promoted to managing director of Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
Michael S. Keim, BBA ’89
Promoted to president of Univest Bank and Trust Co., for which he also joined the board of directors.
Rahul Merchant, ’89
Recognized as the 2015 Gallery of Success honoree of the Fox School of Business.
Eric H. Siegel, MBA ’89
Recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2015 Corporate Counsel Award, which recognizes the top corporate attorneys in the Philadelphia region. Siegel is executive vice president and general counsel of Incyte Corporation.
Atish Banerjea, MS ’91
Appointed to the board of directors with Nelson Education Ltd., Canada’s largest educational publisher.
Sheila Hess, BBA ’91
Appointed Philadelphia City Representative by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Janesa Urbano, BBA ’92, MBA ’96, LAW ’96
Recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2015 Corporate Counsel Award, which recognizes the top corporate attorneys in the Philadelphia region. Urbano is vice president and general counsel of Ernest Bock & Sons Inc.
Raymond K.Y. Yam, BBA ’92, MBA ’96, MS ’98
Received the Broadcasting Board of Governors Gold Medal Award for his service with the Voice of America, an international public broadcasting service of the United States federal government.
Adam Zhu, MBA ’94
Named non-executive chair of Greater China for Bacardi and special advisor to the chief executive officer of Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held spirits company.
Stephen T. Wills, MS ’94
Appointed interim chief executive officer of Derma Sciences, a tissue regeneration company focused on advanced wound and burn care.
John Aloysius, PhD ’96
Appointed interim director of the Behavioral Business Research Lab at the University of Arkansas.
Seth Gillston, BBA ’96
Appointed as manager to a team of private equity practice underwriters within Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. He also serves as Chubb’s executive vice president.
Brent Saunders, MBA ’96
Featured in Bloomberg’s Businessweek. Saunders serves as chief executive officer of Allergan Plc, the Dublin-based pharmaceutical company.
James Schurr, MBA ’98
Added to the Athletic Wall of Fame at Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, in Fairless Hills, Pa., where he was a five-sport athlete.
Madan Annavarjula, PhD ’98
Appointed dean of the College of Business at Bryant College, in Smithfield, R.I.
Susan Kruml, PhD ’99
Hired as vice president of academic affairs at Midland University, in Fremont, Neb.
Louis Zecca, MBA ’99
Joined David Boland, Inc., a general contractor based in Titusville, Fla., as the company’s executive vice president, managing the firm’s extensive portfolio of projects and developing new relationships with government and commercial market clients.
Marcia Lyssy, BBA ’01, MBA ’07
Promoted to senior vice president of human resources for global logistics firm BDP International. She had served as global director of talent management.
Raza Bokhari, MBA ’01
Appointed non-executive director of Akers Biosciences, a medical device company focused on reducing the cost of healthcare through faster, easier diagnostics.
E. Albert Reece, MBA ’01
Received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges, honoring a medical school faculty member who has made major contributions to improving the health and healthcare of the American people.
Megan E. King, MBA ’03, LAW ’03
Recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2015 Corporate Counsel Award, which recognizes the top corporate attorneys in the Philadelphia region. King is general counsel of Brandywine Realty Trust.
Ariell Johnson, BBA ’05
Opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia in January, becoming the first black woman-owned comic book store in the United States.
Yasmine Mustafa, BBA ’06
Shattered her crowdfunding campaign goal by more than 650 percent for her company ROAR for Good’s product Athena, a piece of wearable self- defense tech jewelry designed with one-touch technology. Also she was named to Billy Penn’s “Who’s Next” list of Philadelphia’s up-and-coming STEM leaders.
Michael P. Ginnetti, MBA ’06
Appointed interim chief financial officer, interim principal financial officer, and interim principal accounting officer of Dorman Products, a leading supplied or original equipment, dealer-exclusive replacement automotive parts. He had served as the company’s corporate controller.
Alex Mobarak, BBA ’07
Hired as controller of Cargas Solutions, a business software and consulting firm based in Lancaster, Pa.
Sylvester Mobley, BBA ’07
Named to Billy Penn’s “Who’s Next” list of Philadelphia’s up-and-coming STEM leaders for his work as executive director of Coded By Kids, an organization that provides free weekly coding education programs to children.
Angela Moemeka, MBA ’10
Featured prominently within the Dallas Medical Journal, in a story delving into children’s health and community health. Moemeka is the vice president and medical director of community health for Children’s Health System, in Dallas.
Darryl Singleton, BBA ’11
Named store manager of TD Bank’s Conshohocken, Pa., branch.
Natily Santos, MBA ’14
Spotlighted in October by Al Dia News, in a story on “The Rise of the Latino Corporate Leader in Philadelphia.” Santos is the regional procurement manager at Aramark, a Philadelphia-based foodservice, facilities, and clothing provider.
Will Cummings, BBA ’15
Selected to the NBA Development League All-Star Game. The point guard, who started with the Temple men’s basketball team, plays for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets.
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As traditional lines of identity become blurrier, Fox professor Leora Eisenstadt examined whether the American legal system ought to restructure its protections.
Assistant Professor of Legal Studies in Business
Hometown: White Plains, N.Y.
Resides: Wynnewood, Pa.
Fun fact: Eisenstadt’s interests run the gamut. A former modern dancer who participated in a hip-hop dance group in college, she also had been a certified canoe instructor. These days, she’s an enthusiast of Fit Tribe, a metabolic strength training workout regimen. “And I’m the parent of two small children,” she said, “so not a ton of time for hobbies!”
Caitlyn Jenner identifies as transgender. Tiger Woods identifies as “Cablinasian,” a term he created. What do the television personality and champion golfer have in common? Their racial and gender identities do not easily fit into current legal constructs.
Like Jenner and Woods, many Americans can relate. A re- searcher at Temple University’s Fox School of Business posits that employment laws in the American legal system be restructured to offer civil-liberties protections for citizens who face identity discrimination.
“This isn’t only a race or a gender issue. It’s an identity issue,” said Leora Eisenstadt, an Assistant Professor in Fox’s Legal Studies in Business department. “Society has changed, but our laws and legal formulas often look at individuals as members
of categories into which a person can fit neatly. Today, there is no such purity. That doesn’t exist, which demonstrates how our laws are out of step with reality.”
Eisenstadt’s research points to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. She said Title VII, however, does not always or easily protect against the discrimination of multiracial or transgender individuals. Courts are often baffled by these fluid identities, she said, sometimes rejecting the cases on those grounds and, other times, ignoring the worker’s actual identity to make the legal formula work.
“Cases have been thrown out of court because the plaintiffs did not fit into a box,” Eisenstadt said. “Unfortunately, according to many courts, if you can’t prove you are a member of a single protected class, your case will not reach a jury. As a result, the law has often prompted individuals to sacrifice part of their identity in order to fit into a box and have their case heard.”
And this confusion in the courts has a negative impact on employers and employees alike, since a lack of clarity in the courts can lead to more difficult employment decisions, an inability to effectively train management and human resources professionals, and litigation that eats up precious resources.
In her research, Eisenstadt cites the United States Census and Facebook as examples of society being ahead of the courts. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a system in which it asked Census respondents to “check all that apply” in regard to the races with which they identify. She also called attention to Facebook. This year, the social media platform began offering its 189 million U.S. users more than 50 gender-identity options.
What these prove, Eisenstadt said, is that people cannot always be categorized so easily.
“In employment discrimination law, workers need to prove that they are a part of a protected class in order to bring a discrimination suit,” she said. “In theory, everyone is a member of a protected class. But in society today, those categories are porous and fluid. Not everybody has a single race or a gender. You might have multiple races or multiple genders or you might reject that categorization altogether.”
The American Business Law Journal recently published Eisenstadt’s theoretical research paper, titled, “Fluid Identity Discrimination.”
For Fox School junior Alexis Werner, social justice and support of veterans collide through her program Seeds of Hope.
Fun Fact: While receiving the 2014 Prudential Financial Spirit of Community Award, she met Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. Alexis also has served as a featured speaker at TEDxPittsburgh Youth.
Alexis Werner has found a perfect balance in her ability to meld social justice and schoolwork.
Alexis Werner has found a perfect balance in her ability to meld social justice and schoolwork.
Last autumn, the Entrepreneurship major won the Pennsylvania Council of Social Studies Future Leader Award through the Pennsylvania Bar Association, for her work with Seeds of Hope, which provides fresh-grown produce to veterans and their fam- ilies. She also was a finalist for the Peace First Prize, a national award that recognizes youths between the ages of 8 and 22 for their compassion, courage, and ability to create collaborative change in their communities.
Werner founded Seeds of Hope in 2011, when she was a student at Shaler Area High School, in Glenshaw, Pa. She credits her stepfather, Gregory Zottola, as her inspiration. Zottola had returned from active duty in Afghanistan with the United States Army in 2011 suffering with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“He had just married my mom (Nicole), who’s a veteran, too, but she never saw active combat. So it was a different transi- tion,” Werner said. “You see someone in your life struggling to cope and, as a 15-year-old girl, it was difficult dealing with such real-world issues. I felt helpless.”
Following consultation with a guidance counselor, Werner started planting gardens in her community. Contributions from a local grocery store chain fetched fruits and vegetables to be donated to veterans. A friend’s father, who owns a greenhouse, donated soil and land, and taught Werner and other area high school students how to tend to the produce.
In its first year, Seeds of Hope used its “victory gardens” to generate more than 1,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Since, Seeds of Hope now has gardens in eight states, and
Werner plans for her organization to support veterans and their families nationwide.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD, and one in seven veterans is homeless.
The goal of Seeds of Hope is to curb the cycle of mental illness and poverty within the military veteran population. The gardens were the first step, Werner said. She’s also written and pub- lished a children’s book, “Beginning Hope,” on the importance of proper nutrition, volunteering, and veteran appreciation.
Around Veterans Day, Werner screened her documentary, titled “Our Way Home,” for an audience of 200 in Pittsburgh. (For upcoming screenings, visit OurWayHomeForVets.org.)
“The message is clear: It’s never too late for veterans to get help,” said Werner, a rising junior. “The documentary almost acts as a call to action for businesses to hire veterans to help their transition after their service.”
“What is inspiring about Alexis is that she has taken a difficult and highly personal situation with her stepfather and his PTSD, and has used that experience to develop a documentary film to help others understand what veterans go through,” said Debbie Campbell, Assistant Dean at the Fox School of Business, and Faculty Advisor to Temple University’s Veteran Association. “She is succeeding in making a real difference through her Seeds of Hope program, and now with this film. She is also excelling aca- demically as a Fox School student, which is amazing considering her class load and everything that she has going on in her life.”
Humanitarian, Entrepreneur, Dancer
No matter how Rebecca Davis phrased her question, the young boy from Rwanda did not know how to answer it. Over and over again, she asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. But the Rwandan boy was confused, eventually telling Davis that he didn’t even think he’d be alive as an adult, so how could he know?
That broke Davis’ heart – but not her spirit. And it’s become her life’s work to help children like him through her nonprofit organization, MindLeaps, which runs dance and educational programs for street children and out-of-school youth in post-conflict and developing countries like Rwanda.
“And now that kid is in boarding school and is in the top 20 percent of his class and has decided he wants to be an engineer,” Davis said. “It takes so little to help them totally change their mindset. To go from being a kid waiting to die to a kid waiting to be an engineer is kind of mind-boggling.”
Davis has experienced a lot of those awe-inspiring moments since she first decided to use her joint passions for dance and entrepreneurship to help children in need. As an undergraduate at the Fox School of Business, she developed the Rebecca Davis Dance Company, which created contemporary ballets based on historical events and social issues while also serving as a dance-theater training program for 12- to 18-year-olds. It won the Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl in 2004, which helped Davis officially launch the company the following year in Philadelphia, where she stayed until in 2010.
At that point, shortly after putting on a ballet about the Darfur genocide and inspired by her first trip to Rwanda, she decided to change the company’s mission and develop youth dance programs abroad in three post-conflict and developing countries: Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Guinea.
“It’s been a progression from the idea and motivation in my own life that dance can be a vehicle to change people,” said Davis, whose company changed its name to MindLeaps in 2014. “With my dance company in Philadelphia, the idea was to change people’s perceptions about social issues. Now the iteration is to change the lives of kids who love dance in war-torn countries.”
Davis, of course, is well aware that her programs might only make a small dent in the deep problems that plague a country like Rwanda, which saw its population decimated during the 1994 genocide in which approximately 800,000 people were killed and many surviving children were left orphaned. But she firmly believes that the arts can be a “perfect medium” to discuss horrific issues that are often too difficult to face otherwise and that the joy of dance – something that many Africans love – can help lure homeless children off the streets and into classrooms. On top of its signature dance instruction, MindLeaps also offers English classes and computer training to build up children’s self-esteem so they can attain scholarships and attend boarding schools, which, in turn, can slowly help break the cycle of poverty that has haunted the country for more than 20 years.
“Kids wouldn’t come to the program if there wasn’t dance as an entry point,” Davis said. “At the same time, if it was just dance, it wouldn’t be enough to really help the kids move forward in life.”
Over the last few years, Davis has seen many heartwarming stories of kids succeeding as a result of her program. And the Fox alumna, who spends a quarter of her time overseas and much of the rest traveling across the U.S. for fundraising, meetings, and speaking engagements, is currently working on software that measures changes in the children’s learning skills through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, which she hopes to license. But she still called it an “emotional roller coaster,” knowing that when kids leave the center, they may return to the streets, where they spend their nights sleeping and their days begging for food.
In the future, she hopes to grow her company’s reach by partnering with a larger international organization so the program can be replicated in different countries. After accruing a Fox education and more than a decade of experience in the business world, she believes she can change the perception of those people who might be initially skeptical about her dance-focused model.
“People are always surprised to hear that’s what we’ve chosen,” Davis said. “And then they’re always impressed to see the results.”
Here’s a glimpse into a day in the life of Rebecca Davis:
Monday, Feb. 22, 2016:
6:30 a.m. Breakfast in Kigali, Rwanda, at the MindLeaps Center.
7 a.m. Answer emails regarding MindLeaps operations in the U.S.
8:30 a.m. Work with our team of five Rwandan dance teachers, and rehearse 90 street children for a presentation.
10:30 a.m. Watch the children as they present their dance performance to six of our U.S.-based board members and Rwandan special guests, and answer questions from the board members as to how they came to live on the streets and why they now come to MindLeaps.
1 p.m. Reveal a special surprise for our kids: UnderArmour clothing. Due to our partnership with American ballet dancer Misty Copeland, her brand sponsor UnderArmour has donated 225 pieces of clothing and shoes. In most cases, this is the first new piece of clothing the child has ever received.
3 p.m. Time to lead a staff meeting with the entire Rwandan team and our board members, at which we discuss how to better communicate between the NY office and the Kigali office.
6 p.m. Dinner meeting with the manager of our English program in Rwanda and our board members to discuss how to leverage basic English skills to help street children access more educational opportunities.
10 p.m. Back to my sleeping quarters at the MindLeaps Center, where I try to keep my eyes open to answer more U.S. emails.
Midnight Time for sleep before another busy day.
For Adam Ray, there’s nothing unsettling about the unknown.
“If anything,” said Ray, “it’s an opportunity to see what you’re made of.”
With minimal formal training, Ray moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. The Fox School of Business alumnus, who appeared in two seasons of the HBO medical comedy series “Getting On,” is looking to continue his path in the Entertainment Capital of the World as an actor and producer.
Ray earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a focus in Marketing, in 2012. Along the way, the Phoenixville, Pa., native said he “took two theater electives,” stoking a deep-seeded interest. A few months after graduation, Ray put on hold his career plans and moved to Los Angeles.
“I at least had to see and experience the entertainment industry for myself,” he said. “I didn’t come to L.A. with the intention of staying here, but I knew that if I took a 9-to-5 job right after graduating, I’d never pursue acting.”
To expand his acting depth, Ray has studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles. Inspired on set by the show’s lead actor Laurie Metcalf, Ray started studying comedy at Lesly Kahn & Company in Hollywood. He also produced and co-produced two short films in 2015. Fellow Temple alumnus Alexander C. Fraser wrote and directed Ray’s first short, “Cabo,” which led to Ray meeting Al Pacino and Broadway director Robert Allan Ackerman.
Here’s a glimpse into a day in the life of Adam Ray:
Tuesday, Jan. 19
9 a.m. Start the day with a conversation with my agent to discuss an upcoming audition and the recent headshots that I’ve had taken.
9:30 a.m. Reviewing the trailer of a recent film in which I appeared. (I’m looking over it and getting ready to put some posts out to social media.)
10:15 a.m. Receive another call from my manager, who provides updates on a pitch she made to a director, Gabriel Hart, who became familiar with my work through an Instagram video.
10:45 a.m. Running through a scene for my audition, with former “Getting On” castmate, Verton Banks. We like to work together on material. I have a blast working with Verton, and can feel assured that I’m putting in the right work.
12 p.m. Meet in Burbank with a casting director whom I’ve gotten to know a bit from being called in for various auditions. It’s a casual chat, and we talk about our perspectives of the industry.
1 p.m. Stop by my place to have a bite to eat and to get ready for a pitch meeting for a script I recently optioned from a writer whose work I enjoy.
2 p.m. At the pitch meeting, which goes on for a while. We talk about what they thought of the script. They loved it and are considering a few actors that I’ve suggested. This looks promising.
4 p.m. Attend a seminar for producing new media content. I like to keep up-to-date with current news and ideas for producing material. As online content becomes more mainstream, it’s important to be aware of the changes.
6:30 p.m. Meet with a friend for dinner at Bosanova in Hollywood. It’s time to unwind a little bit and just talk about our day’s work and what’s coming up.
8 p.m. Head home to unwind, but I can’t help but jot down some ideas. I’ve developed a new hobby: Writing. Lately, I’ve been writing a few comedy sketches and shorts.
9:30 p.m. Watching the season finale of “Master of None.” Brilliant show!
11:00 p.m. Time to head to bed.
Lori Bush, MBA ’85, retired in January 2016 as president and CEO of Rodan + Fields, the San Francisco-based startup that in her eight years on the job became one of the nation’s top premium skincare companies. And as she walked out the door, she couldn’t help but think of everything that paved the way to her success.
It was not only the faith of Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, the dermatologists who founded the company and brought Bush aboard, knowing she was, as Rodan said, “a force of nature.” And not only the support of Bush’s husband, Steve, himself a successful executive, or the inspiration of her late father, Meyer Hermelin, who she said expected her “to break through gender boundaries.”
It was also because of all she had learned in her years at the Fox School of Business, where she took night classes toward attaining her MBA while working as a product manager at a Philadelphia-area diagnostics company called BioData. It was during that time, Bush said, that she came to understand principles that have sustained her throughout her career.
In other words, the fundamental rules still apply all these years later. They have allowed her to hopscotch from one high-profile position to another, with consumer health and beauty giants like Neutrogena, Johnson & Johnson, and Nu Skin, before landing at Rodan + Fields in the fall of 2007.
There, Fields said, “(Bush) literally, single-handedly, was tasked with creating what is now a billion-dollar company.”
“Lori,” Rodan said, “was just the absolute perfect person to execute that dream that Dr. Kathy Fields and I had for this company.”
While Bush’s career didn’t start at the Fox School, it certainly gained direction and momentum there. A Cleveland native (and the older of two daughters born to Meyer and his wife Barbara), she earned her degree in medical technology from The Ohio State University in 1978, and worked for a time at a laboratory in Muncie, Ind., before coming to BioData in 1980.
Her drive was unquestionable; in addition to her full-time job and classwork (which she began in 1983), she waited tables at the Comedy Factory Outlet, a Philadelphia nightclub, and worked as an aerobics instructor. As she put it, “I developed a very poor habit of not sleeping. … I’ve always said I’ll sleep when I’m done.” (That, too, has carried over. Fields mentioned that, more than once, she has received dead-of-night emails from Bush about one business matter or another.)
Back then, there was no Internet. There were no cell phones. Bush can remember pounding out assignments on a manual typewriter.
“In order to really produce a piece of work that was meaningful,” she said, “it required a sense of courage — being able to pick up the telephone and calling somebody that you didn’t even know and asking them to provide you with their time, information, and resources, to be able to produce a body of work that at the time allowed me to get an A on an assignment. But more importantly, really, it allowed me to develop the know-how to make things happen — how to get things done, how to put yourself out there and ask for what you needed, and position it in a way that others would see how it could benefit the greater good.”
It wasn’t too long before her fellow students sought her out, not only wanting her to be a part of their teams while working on a project, but also to set the tone.
“I think probably the most material thing that came out of that graduate work for me,” she said, “was the courage to lead, really.”
The influence of her first marketing professor, Robert Linneman, was also invaluable. While Bush’s science background led her to adopt a methodical approach to business matters, Linneman, who worked at Temple University from 1964-90 and died in 2007, helped her to understand how applying such an approach to marketing was a key to unlocking creative ideation.
“To this day, when I’m looking at a piece of blank paper, I always start off with his approach,” she said, “which he referred to as a shirtsleeve approach to strategic planning. He started off with the situation analysis and I remember him saying, ‘When you truly understand where you are, where you need to go starts to become obvious.’ It works. All I can say is, it works.”
She might not have been able to predict her life’s next turn, however. It came when she attended a clinical pathology conference at a hotel in Las Vegas, soon after completing her graduate work at the Fox School. While awaiting an elevator the day before the conference began, her future husband approached. Steve recalled everyone had been setting up their exhibits, and as a result Lori was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. She nonetheless had a certain presence about her, he said. He would later tell friends that he knew right away he wanted to marry her, even if she was far less certain.
After some idle chitchat about the speed of the elevator, he asked if she was a pathologist.
“Do I look like a pathologist?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “This is my first pathology meeting. You’ll have to tell me what a pathologist looks like.”
They talked some more in the elevator. (“I was young and cocky then, too,” Steve said with a laugh.) He learned where her booth was, and made it a point to visit the next day. In the meantime, Lori did her homework as well, learning from one of Steve’s co-workers that he was a brilliant business mind.
Long story short, they were married in February 1987. Steve estimates that they have lived in the same place for no more than a five-year stretch during their 29 years of marriage, while he has assumed one executive position or another, and she has gone from Minnetonka (in Minneapolis) to vice president of professional marketing at Neutrogena (in Los Angeles), to executive director of Worldwide Skincare Ventures for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies (in Skillman, N.J.) to president of Nu Skin (in Provo, Utah).
They’ve had their weekends, though. They’ve vacationed all over the globe. And they phone one another each and every night, no matter where either of them happens to be at that moment.
“I think the important part of that is each of us felt a strong commitment to the other person’s career, and so that meant in my case I needed to help Lori,” Steve said. “I wanted Lori to have it all. I wanted Lori to have a family. I wanted her to have a career. I wanted her to have a relationship with a spouse that was fulfilling.”
By Lori’s telling, that has been the case.
“Sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself,” she said, “and he’s been a great business adviser.”
After all these years, Lori still has that same presence Steve noticed in that elevator. He said he has seen her making presentations at awards ceremonies, and while the other executives on stage wilt as the proceedings wear on, she remains fresh throughout. It’s a great quality, he noted, one that enables her to light up every room she enters, to draw people to her, to lead.
The other thing that sets her apart in his estimation is the fact that she is “a strategic visionary.”
“She can see further out than most people can,” he said, “and she understands very well the consequences one, two, three, four years out of behaviors and policies that you put in place today.”
All of which has made her a valued executive, wherever she has been. Rodan and Fields noticed that when they first crossed paths with Bush in the early ’90s, while she was at Neutrogena. The two doctors, close ever since they had done their residencies at Stanford from 1984-87, had developed an anti-acne regimen called Proactiv, and approached Neutrogena COO Allan Kurtzman about marketing it.
Kirtzman, who died in 2001, declined, saying that Rodan and Fields would be better served doing an infomercial.
“Personally, I thought he was insulting us,” Rodan said. “I thought either he was going to test and see how low we would go in order to sell our product, or he was just out of his mind.”
It turned out that he was right, though — they marketed Proactiv in just such fashion (through Guthy-Renker), and the product was a hit.
In 2002 they expanded their footprint into anti-aging products, launching the Rodan + Fields Dermatologist brand in department stores. In short order they sold to Estee Lauder. They also continued to stay in touch with Bush, but the timing was never quite right for a collaboration, nor was Bush able to make much headway with some of the products she had in mind at Johnson & Johnson. It was then that Jan Zwiren, the then-J&J head of business development, mentioned direct selling to her, something with which Bush had no familiarity.
“All I could think about was Avon,” she said. “I said that. ‘Like Avon?’ And she said, ‘Like Avon or Mary Kay or Amway.’ There were business models I didn’t understand — in some cases business models that didn’t have the best reputation — and so I started researching direct selling.”
Bush quickly got up to speed and, upon leaving Johnson & Johnson for Nu Skin in 2000, immersed herself in direct selling, calling it “an amazing outlet for innovation.”
After six years at Nu Skin, Bush struck out on her own as a strategy consultant for consumer health and beauty companies. And after doing so she contacted Rodan and Fields about some technological matter related to Proactiv. Before she even had a chance to pose her question, however, she was told that the two doctors were considering buying back their company from Estee Lauder, and were interested in taking it into a direct-selling channel. They needed her expertise, and in time would need her in the fold — something that became a reality about a year later.
Rodan + Fields went from less than $4 million in revenue in 2008 to more than $600 million last year, and from 7,500 consultants to well over 100,000, and continues to grow at high double-digit rates. It is, Rodan said, the nation’s second-largest premium skincare brand.*
* Source: Euromonitor International Limited; rsp terms; all channels, USA, 2015; research conducted in 2015
The timing of their launch was good, in that people were seeking alternate income opportunities with the nation in the throes of the recession, and because of the digital age. If word of their products was once circulated by word of mouth, it was now spread through social media — “word of mouth on steroids,” as Rodan put it.
But the biggest thing was Bush’s leadership — her knowledge, her foresight, and, as always, her drive.
“When she came in, we were just getting started,” Rodan said. “It was really a concept. She helped us not only develop the whole concept, but then execute it to a place where it exceeded our wildest expectations for what this business would become.”
Bush had laid out her retirement plan a decade ago (and true to Linneman’s long-ago advice, she put it in writing): She would step down when she turned 60, as she will in June of this year. Steve, nine years older, retired last August, and they have a vineyard in Sonoma, Calif., called Gremlin Vines, an homage to her dad’s military nickname. They also own a restaurant in that same town, Oso, which is run by David, one of Lori’s five stepchildren, and she and Steve have a 26 year old son, together. (She is, additionally, a step-grandmother to 10.)
Lori will continue to devote herself to charitable causes; she was named co-chair of the International Women’s Day Campaign run by buildOn, Rodan + Fields’ NGO partner. (That organization is dedicating a school in Mali in Lori’s name.)
Beyond that she will see what other new opportunities might await her, what doors might open before her. And when they do, she will once again be more than willing to barge through them.
Ben Stucker has always had a thirst for entrepreneurship. Back in the late 1990s, as an undergraduate college student in Vermont, he started two companies, including a taxi service that he likes to call “the original Uber.”
But after more than a decade of experience in the business world, he said he felt like he was “missing something” and enrolled in the Fox School of Business’ prestigious Part-Time MBA program. That decision turned into a great launching pad for Stucker, who began his mortgage-lending startup, Rates For Us, after winning last year’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, a lucrative business plan competition put on annually by Temple University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute.
With the win, Stucker earned the $40,000 grand prize and additional cash prizes as the winner of the competition’s Upper Track, and, perhaps more importantly, was offered the necessary legal, marketing, and web services to turn his business plan into a full-fledged company.
“It was one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever experienced,” said Stucker, a 2013 Fox grad. “When you’re starting a business, you always look for validation. … That enabled us to launch the company. We would have done it otherwise, but it wouldn’t have gone from 0 to 60 as fast as it did.”
For Ellen Weber, the Executive Director of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), opening the Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) to Temple graduates like Stucker and anyone else with an affiliation to the university is what sets the competition apart from others around the country and, she noted, is “one of the great ways we can give back to our alumni.” But while it’s rewarding to see those alumni move on to launch their companies — often because of the mentorship opportunities that the BYOBB provides — most of IEI’s mission is rooted in helping current students value entrepreneurship and, as Temple University President Dr. Neil D. Theobald stated, “learn to adapt to constant change and find success in fields that have not yet been invented.”
On top of running annual business plan competitions like the BYOBB and the Innovative Idea Competition, IEI provides internship opportunities, business-planning workshops, seminars, mentoring, and additional resources for students across all of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges. These initiatives have been going strong for many years but gained momentum recently following President Theobald’s 2013 commitment to “entrepreneurship across disciplines” as a way to power the university’s future.
“The goal is for everyone to develop an entrepreneurial mindset,” Weber said. “This is reflected in all of our programs.”
In November, Temple became one of only five colleges or universities nationally to place both its undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship in The Princeton Review’s top-10 rankings. The programs, which are housed at Fox, earned Nos. 8 and 10 rankings, respectively.
Weber admitted that thinking about starting a business while in college or in graduate school can be difficult. But, she added, “for the students who really want to do this, the fact that we support them is really very meaningful.” One example is Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09, the founder of the fast-growing restaurant chain honeygrow, and who Weber said was “supported by IEI and given interns to work with” while developing his business plan as an MBA student at Fox.
Weber’s been equally excited by some of the business ideas that other students have developed, especially those who follow the social impact track that is popular among young entrepreneurs today, and especially at Temple, where Lindsey Massimiani, the IEI’s Director of Strategic Marketing Initiatives, said that kind of thinking is “infused in the culture” of the university, in part, because of its diverse and self-motivated student body.
Recently, during a class Weber was teaching, three students delivered a presentation about bringing affordable solar heating to an African village from which one was a native, telling Weber they specifically enrolled at the Fox School to learn how to have an impact on their community. “That was a ‘Wow’ moment for me,” Weber said.
“With all the resources that universities offer,” she added, “I firmly believe that there is no better time to work on a startup or to test your idea than while you’re in college.” And the Fox School provides the platform to do so.
FOSTERING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT FOX
Entrepreneurship is a pillar at the Fox School of Business and Temple University, where students are given the resources to develop business plans and provided a platform upon which to launch new ventures, all while completing their respective degree programs. Alumni can get involved with students, too, by providing leadership, sharing knowledge, and helping to launch businesses.
- Mentoring student entrepreneurs
- Judging business competitions
- Hiring students as interns
- Sharing your story at entrepreneurship events
- Investing in student-led ventures
- Sponsoring prizes
Alumni can remain active with IEI to achieve their own
- Attending programs, events, and workshops
- Receiving mentorship and advising
- Entering business plan competitions
- Enrolling in the Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship program
- Enrolling in certificate programs, offered in Innovation Strategy, Innovation & Technology Commercialization, and Healthcare Innovation Management
- Taking individual graduate courses
A return to school, homework assignments, and all-nighters has never looked as good as it does for students enrolled in the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (Executive DBA) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Considered among the top Executive DBA programs in the world, Fox’s program annually gathers an intimate cohort of 25 business professionals — each with an average of 20 years of industry experience and at least one graduate degree — in a rigorous three-year, part-time doctoral program designed to teach the tools of applied research, enabling students to solve complex business problems and create new knowledge.
“It’s rewarding to see these senior executives excited to be students again,” said Dr. Steven Casper, Assistant Professor of Finance at the Fox School, and the Executive Director of the Executive DBA program.
The Executive DBA will enter its third year this fall, welcoming back its inaugural cohort for its final year in the program. The program’s students originate from across the United States and from four other countries worldwide.
The program features six on-site residencies at The HUB at Commerce Square, in Center City Philadelphia. These learning-intensive weekends provide face time between students, professors, and mentors to help guide the students throughout the program and in preparation for their research projects and dissertations.
“They have to be self-starters,” Casper said, describing the ideal Executive DBA student. “Our students have to be incredibly organized and driven, as they are busy executives and must also complete an average of 12 to 15 hours of homework per week for the program.”
In a short span of time, Fox’s Executive DBA program has enjoyed great success. Temple University has been selected to host the Executive DBA Council’s annual International Engaged Management Scholarship Conference in 2018. It will follow conferences in Paris in 2016 and Tampa, Fla., in 2017. Casper noted that hosting the conference presents an exclusive opportunity to highlight Fox’s program, and the achievements of its students.
“Going to the DBA conferences is very beneficial, as it lets us see where other students are in comparison to our students, and share best practices with other programs,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to be part of the DBA community through idea exchanges and collaboration.”
Furthering its reach, the Fox Executive DBA is also looking to grow its international presence by expanding to China through a partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program will equip students at Tsinghua’s People’s Bank of China School of Finance with the same curriculum that drives the Fox Executive DBA, with the program led by faculty from the Fox School and Tsinghua.
“Tsinghua is excited to partner with Temple because we’ve developed one of the world’s leading Executive DBA programs,” Casper said.