Volunteer Spotlight

Let's hear it for our Alumni All-Stars!

Each month, Regional Clubs highlights one of our incredible volunteers offering an inside look at their current engagement as well as how they remember their time at Penn.

January 2017 Spotlight

Cheryl Kabalkin Greenstein, C'87, W'87, L'90 

Location: Chappaqua, NY

Home Town: Providence, RI

Current Regional Club: Penn Alumni Club of Westchester & Rockland Counties

Current Position: Immediate Past President

Occupation: I work with emotionally challenged girls in a residential treatment center.

Activities Outside of Work: Penn Club of Westchester & Rockland Counties, Penn Regional Clubs Advisory Board. I am a mom of 3 great kids. I love traveling, reading, and hanging out with friends and family

Activities at Penn: Kite & Key Society, Tutored at Holmesburg Prison, Tutored in West Philly high school, Volunteered at CHOP and worked at legal aid clinic serving homeless shelter residents. 

Random Fact: I'm a dance mom and I become obsessed when planning vacation itineraries.




December 2016 - Donald Bonk, C'92

Donald Bonk, C'85

Hometown: Jamestown, PA

Current Regional Club: Penn Club of Western PA

Current position: President

Occupation: Consultant to Carnegie Mellon University's Office of Government Relations and Principal of Good Future Innovation, LLC
(Economic Development Firm with a Commonwealth of PA contract)

Activities Outside of Work: Penn Club of Western PA, Penn Regional Clubs Advisory Board, Pittsburgh All Ivy Plus Network,
reading (especially the NY Times), thinking, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

Activities at Penn: Writing a book for future publication.

Random Fact: I really love to dance, especially to dance music from the 70's, 80's, 2000’s, and beyond.


November/December - Aileen Benson, ENG'00

Name: Aileen Benson
Hometown: 
Boston, MA
Year: 2000
School: Engineering and Applied Science
Degree(s): BSE Mechanical Engineering
Volunteer Position(s) with Penn: I’ve been involved with the Penn Club of Boston in various roles for about 10 years.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn? 
Joining the Penn Club of Boston was a great way to get involved with Penn alumni locally.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?
Being selected to receive the 2014 Alumni Club of Merit award is an accomplishment of which I am very proud. We were also thrilled to win the inaugural MOOC award last November for organizing an event at the Massachusetts Historical Society, which allowed alumni to engage with Penn’s first-ever alumni exclusive Coursera course.

What are your favorite memories of Penn? 
It was such a great experience - it’s hard to pick just a few favorite memories.

Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn? 
A distant cousin was at Penn the same time I was.

What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated? 
I am always interested in trying new things and in looking for unique event experiences to plan for Boston Penn alumni, I end up discovering opportunities and activities of which I was previously unaware. I really do get to enjoy the fruits of my labor!

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn? 
Volunteering with your local regional alumni club is a great place to start.

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn? 
I love to travel and have recently been to India, Peru, Kenya, and Tanzania.



September/October 2015 - Malvika Khatri

 

Name: Malvika Khatri
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Year: 2008
School: Wharton
Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Economics
Volunteer Position(s) with Penn:
President, Penn Club of Mumbai since 2013 and VP Events, Wharton Club of India

Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn?
I joined the Penn Club of Mumbai board in 2010-soon after the club was formed in Mumbai.  This was also when I had just returned to India after working in New York and I strongly felt the urge to contribute towards building and engaging the Penn alumni community in Mumbai.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?
The charity auction that we organized in 2013 - I think it was a first for any alumni club in India.  We put together an enviable list of donors and it was an event that really got everyone excited and brought the Penn community in Mumbai together in a big way!  Soon after that we also hosted a "Bazaar Brunch" which showcased the works of both our budding as well as established Penn entrepreneurs in India.

What are your favorite memories of Penn?
Walking down Locust Walk in the Fall amidst the beautiful foliage and vigor that the new set of freshman brought with them to campus, has got to be my most favorite memory, other than Spring Fling of course!

 

Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn?
Yes, my brother-in-law, Kunjan Chikhilikar, WG'10 is also a proud Penn alum too.

What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated?
This quote from Mother Teresa always strikes a cord with me as I believe in doing everything with a lot of passion - "Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love" - Mother Teresa

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn?
Yes!  I would encourage all alums especially the younger alumni to volunteer with Penn.  Given that our years at Penn were, for most of us, the best and most formative times in our life, volunteering is definitely one of the most enriching ways to give back to the Penn Community and also to move forward in terms of making a difference in your local alumni community.  You can actually make a significant impact in your local community by leveraging the power of the Penn alumni network and Penn volunteers also greatly help in shaping the way in which the school is perceived by alumni and prospective students in your regions.  It's truly an incredible opportunity!

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn?
I love watching movies, traveling, painting and cooking.

July/August 2015 - Nicole Oddo Smith

 

Name: Nicole Oddo Smith
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona and Current home: Philadelphia, PA
Year: 2005
School: College
Degree(s): BA in American History

Volunteer Position(s) with Penn:
Regional Club Advisory Board – Chair 2014- 2017, Mentoring Chair 2013-2014, Member 2010-Present
Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia – Immediate Past President 2013-Present, President 2010-2013, Internal Vice President 2008-2010
Penn Alumni Club of Chicago – President 2007-2008, Board Member 2006-2007
Penn and Wharton Club of Arizona – Board Member/ Events Coordinator 2005-2006
Association of Alumnae – Secretary 2013-Present, Director 2009- Present
5th Reunion Outreach Co-Chair, 2009-2010
10th Reunion Co-Chair, 2014-2015
Virtual Alumni Interviewer (2 years)

Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn?
I initially volunteered with the Penn and Wharton Club of Arizona the summer after I graduated. I really missed Penn and I wanted to stay connected.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?

I think I was most honored when I received the Young Alumni Award of Merit in 2014, although I’m probably most proud that one of my first alumni events, First September in Phoenix, Arizona is still going strong nine years later!

What are your favorite memories of Penn?
I have wonderful friends from my time at Penn and some of my favorite memories are with my college roommates, Anne H. McGuire C’05 and Allison Gutknecht C’05. Whether it was a 4am train to NYC, baking strawberry cookies in our room at midnight, or just dinner together, we had a great time (and continue to do so when we get together!).

Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn?
Not Yet!

What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated?
Take the time to get involved – the people and opportunities are worth it.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn?
Jump in! Honestly there are so many ways to get involved and it is always rewarding to meet and work with Penn alumni and staff. We need people for all different roles in our regional clubs –event planning, finances, communication, etc. For young alumni, I’m always stressing the professional development aspect– take this as a chance to develop leadership skills, learn financial management, manage a Facebook page, or hone your event management skills.

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn?
Work keeps me busy - I am the Attorney Recruitment Manager for Dechert LLP where I handle entry-level attorney hiring for our Philadelphia office. I’m involved with several legal recruiting organizations, locally and nationally. In addition, I have a Masters in HR Management and recently took another HR certification exam. I am always learning!

Outside of my career, I got married in February so I’m enjoying life as a newlywed. I love travel and my husband and I are planning our honeymoon to Japan this November. Additionally, I love hanging out with my family and friends, trying new food (going out and cooking), my food book club, reading, taking Coursera classes (I’m really excited about the Penn one this Fall!), and I’ve recently started playing piano again.


June 2015- Ben Craine

(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.

Year:  1965

School:  Wharton

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.

May 2015: Frederick Martinez

Name: Frederick B. Martínez
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Year: 2001
School: Law
Degree(s): J.D.

Volunteer Position(s) with Penn:
(i) Director/President Penn Club of Puerto Rico; (ii) Former Regional Clubs Advisory Board Member; (iii) Interviewer in Alumni Interview Program.

Time of service in this position(s):
(i) With respect to the Penn Club of Puerto Rico, I have been in various positions for 11 years; (ii) with respect to the Regional Clubs Advisory Board, 2 years; and (iii) as an interviewer, 4 years.

Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn?
I wanted to maintain a connection to Penn and to alumni.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?
We recently held an event with Current School of Nursing Dean Toni Villarruel and former University President and School of Nursing Dean Claire Fagin, and it drew the attention of alumni as well as many industry experts. That evening, we truly accomplished one of the key purposes of the Club, which is to engage in educational activities and to provide a medium for, and to foster, continuing education of the Club’s members in the public and private sectors of the community.

What are your favorite memories of Penn?
Brilliant and collegial fellow students at The Law School; great friends in both the 3 year and LLM programs; playing hoops at Hutch; amazing restaurants in the city; great jogs near boathouse row; the Palestra. So many good times!

Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn?
Yes! My sister-in-law is a graduate of the Perelman School of Medicine.

What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated?
Whenever alumni mention how wonderful it is to get together with other grads at Club events to talk about and relieve their great times at Penn.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn?
Yes! Contact Alumni Relations! All of the members of the Staff are phenomenal and great leaders and motivators, and they will become your very good friends.

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn?
I love spending time with my family, running, and traveling, which I now get to do to visit friends from Penn that live all over the world.

April 2015: Melissa Wu

Volunteer Spotlight for April 2015: Melissa Wu

Name: Melissa Wu
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Year: 1998
School: College
Degree(s): BA Sociology; minor in Political Science

Volunteer Position(s) with Penn:
President of the Class of 1998, PennClubLA Former President & Board Member, Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Advisory Board, Penn Alumni Interview Program, Healthy Cities Healthy Women Advisory Committee, 10 Year Reunion Co-Chair; 15 Year Reunion Co- Chair; Alumni Class Leadership Council, Making History Host Committee member, Engaging Minds Host Committee member

Time of service in this position(s):
2000-2002 Vice President/Marketing Manager PennClubLA, 2002 – 2012 President, PennClubLA, 10 Year Reunion Co-Chair; 15 Year Reunion Co- Chair (1 year each); Global Alumni Network Advisory Board (2009 – Present), Alumni Class Leadership Council (2014 – Present)

Why did you initially decide to volunteer with Penn?
After I graduated, I moved back to California and wanted a way to stay connected to Penn. Joining my local alumni group was a great way to get involved, reconnect and make new friends. As they say, it was downhill from there!

What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a volunteer?
I am extremely proud that the Penn Club of Los Angeles won the Alumni Club Award of Merit twice during my presidency. The PennClubLA Board and I spent a lot of time coming up with new and exciting programming for the Club and it was exciting to see these efforts recognized by the University. I also enjoyed being able to share our experiences with other Regional clubs during our meetings and networking events on campus.

What are your favorite memories of Penn?
Is it cliché to say that there are too many to list? My favorite memories at Penn were the spontaneous ones: the walk home from your last class of the day, seeing a friend on College Green and hanging out as other friends join you, nights at Smokes when you planned to stay home to study, late night runs for pizza or cheesesteaks. I made amazing friends at Penn, got a great education, and had a lot of fun.

Has anyone else in your family attended or currently a student at Penn?

Yes, my father, Woody Wu was a Wharton grad, as was my sister, Lyndi Wu WG’07. My Uncle Jack Seto C’69 and his brother also attended Penn.

What are some words of wisdom that keep you motivated?
“Live for today but plan for tomorrow.” This helps remind me to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, but not to forget to plan (or save!) for the future.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to volunteer with Penn?
Just like college, you have to jump in and try everything. There are so many different opportunities to volunteer that there is definitely one that fits your needs and interests. Volunteering for Penn is an awesome way to stay connected/reconnect with the University. It is also a wonderful way to make new friends and meet alumni in your area.

What other hobbies or interests do you have outside of volunteering with Penn?
I recently co-chaired the Kidspace Children’s Museum annual benefit and serve on their volunteer board. I enjoy planning events, trying new restaurants and traveling to new places. I enjoy planning events, trying new restaurants, traveling to new places and tweeting my experiences (follow me at @mwu21). I also spend a lot of time trying to keep up with my 16-month old son, Matthew.