(Photo above- In Order: Melissa Wu, Warren Wang, Nicole Oddo, and Ben Craine)
Name: Ben Craine
Hometown: Bloomfield Hills MI and Scottsdale AZ, 6 months each location.
Degree(s): BS, Economics
Volunteer Position(s) with Penn:
Alumni Interviews – 50 years, Board – Penn & Wharton Club of Michigan – on and off for about 49 years, Board – Penn & Wharton Club of Arizona – 16 years, Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Advisory Board – 13 years, Chair, Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Advisory Board – 4 years, Chair Emeritus - “ - current, Chair, Class of 1965 Reunion Outreach and Planning Committee – 1year, Board, Penn Players Alumni Association
Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn?
Wow; can’t remember that far back. After graduating, I connected with the club, finding it a very inviting relationship. I immediately discovered Jon Greenawalt, who I worked with at Penn when he was Assistant Director of Houston Hall; Jon is someone that makes it appealing to become involved.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?
I have been on and off of the board of the Penn & Wharton Club of Michigan, helping to keep the club alive over the span of 50 years. When I arrived in AZ 16 years ago, there was a Penn Club and a Wharton Club, neither of which was functioning. I reached out to a group of people, and we reinvigorated the club; following the lead of the Penn & Wharton Club of Michigan, I pushed for a combined club. The club has continued to be active, vibrant, and successful. In 2007, the club won the Alumni Club Award of Merit, the same year that I was honored with the Alumni Award of Merit; doesn’t get much better than that. Finally, in addition to making a lot of noise, it is my hope that I made some substantial differences during the four years that I served as Chair of the Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Advisory Board.
What are your favorite memories of Penn?
I spent many hours in Irvine Auditorium, working for three years as Head Lighting Designer for Penn Players, happily engaging a wonderful group of students who helped whenever we did a show. I also did lighting for the Glee Club, working with Bruce Montgomery, a true Penn legend. In addition, whenever a traveling group came to perform at Penn, I handled their lighting, so I worked with Peter, Paul, and Mary, Dave Brubeck, Theodore Bikel, and many others.
Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn?
My father was a Wharton alum.
What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated?
When asked several years back to speak briefly about what has kept me so connected to Penn, I answered with one word: PEOPLE. As you likely know from your days at Penn, you are part of an amazing group of individuals. Staying engaged with Penn, I continue to meet people of all ages, starting with the fantastic young applicants I get to interview, followed by the young alums who are so bright and refreshing, and then including the administration and staff at Penn, I always feel invigorated after talking with and working with these people. Recently, for the first time, I stepped up to take an active role in planning my 50th Penn reunion, yet again working with classmates who have also stayed connected and engaged, and in the process meeting yet another group of terrific alums who have been out of Penn for many years.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn?
As you can likely tell from the long list of volunteer engagement with Penn, and reflecting back, I have found it personally rewarding, to say nothing of giving back to a great institution. My advice to you: do it; you will always treasure the opportunities you find to stay close to the Penn family.
What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn?
When in AZ, I play tennis three times a week. Also, I served for over 25 years as the Chair of the Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills Cable Board. For 31 years, I was an Adjunct Instructor at Wayne State University, teaching a course in Public Speaking and Communications, and, through speaking engagements, I love any opportunity to share knowledge about why communication fails, with advice on how to make it work better.