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Langston Hughes Celebration in Chicago, October 14, 2015.

By Max McKenna (C’10)

“What happens to a dream deferred?” This was the question that Penn Alumni pondered at last week’s celebration of Langston Hughes in Wicker Park. A collaboration between the Penn Club of Chicago and Penn’s massive open online course “ModPo,” the event brought members of the greater Penn community together for an in-depth conversation on and collaborative reading of the great Harlem Renaissance poet’s work.

Max McKenna (C’10), a teaching assistant for ModPo and current Chicago resident, led participants in a discussion of Hughes’s 1940 autobiography, “The Big Sea,” the subject of this year’s 25th Annual Penn Reading Project. He also facilitated a “collaborative close reading” of a number of Hughes poems—including the classic “Harlem,” which asks what happens to a dream deferred—assigning each of the nearly twenty participants a different part of the poem to analyze, gloss, and pick apart using their own sets of associations. No corner of the poem was left unexplored: by the end of the robust discussion, the group was left speculating on the uses of the word “it”!

Collaborative close reading is an approach favored in ModPo, short for Modern and Contemporary American Poetry. Taught by Al Filreis, Kelly Professor in English at Penn and the Director of the Kelly Writers House, the ten-week course has been offered each fall since 2012 through the platform Coursera. ModPo is entirely free and open to the public, and enrollment generally numbers in the tens of thousands! More information can be found here:

The celebration was generously hosted by Liane Jackson (’93) at her co-operative workspace, the Free Range Office.

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TCPW Summer Networking Events

TCPW celebrated the 10th Anniversary of our Summer Networking Event series with great events around the country and in China.  We would like to sincerely thank all of the TCPW members who worked on these successful events in any way. Read on for an overview of each event.


beijingby Loretta Evans
TCPW co-hosted a Beijing Networking event featuring Angelica Cheung, Editor of Vogue China.  The event was Co-hosted with MIT’s Beijing Alumni Club in the brand new Penn Wharton China Center, and also featured in an article from The Guardian about a day in the life of Angelica.


bostonby Karen Quigley
TCPW held its Boston summer networking event on July 22nd at the University Club.  Our speaker was Dorothy Puhy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was a Penn undergrad and also holds a Wharton MBA – CW73, WG’75.  Dorothy spoke to an enthusiastic audience of summer interns and young alumnae (which included her two daughters, also Penn alums) about her career, what she learned in the process, and strategies for both advancing and balancing work and family.  We had 90 people register for the event and although actual attendance was lower, there was clearly a lot of interest.

We received many compliments on the program and requests for more chances to network.  As part of the planning process, we reached out to the local Penn and Wharton clubs and will be talking with them about co-sponsoring meetings in the future.  Many thanks to the entire Boston TCPW cohort – this was a real team effort.  Special thanks to Liz Silverman and Leslie Hughes Smith for arranging the venue, Helen Peters for reaching out to the speaker, and Marjorie Patkin for managing the logistics.


chicagoby Nancy Rothstein
The Sixth Annual TCPW Summer Networking Event in Chicago was held on July 15th.  Over 35 Penn alumnae, current students and TCPW members attended. In addition to networking and the valuable insights of our guest speaker, the evening offered a great opportunity to raise awareness about TCPW and its support for women at Penn. Event Co-Chairs and TCPW members Nancy Rothstein and Tonia Arrington expressed to guests that TCPW’s summer networking events held across the country reflect its ongoing support for recent graduates as they acclimate to life and careers after Penn.

Guest speaker Meredith Daw, addressed the attendees with Steps to Success. Meredith is a Penn alumna, having graduated Penn GSE Master’s Program in 2003. She is currently Director of Career Advancement at the University of Chicago and a recognized expert in the field. Her remarks about how to make your career thrive included managing, enriching and developing your career path.  Engaging and insightful, Meredith led a series of small group sessions designed to spark thought and dialogue for guests, followed by the full group sharing observations and providing examples, such as how to support your manager and compose an elevator pitch.

Young alum, as well as current students, are enthusiastic about nurturing their Penn relationships as they embark on their careers and navigate the many aspects of their lives.  They quickly see TCPW as a resource for events, networking , mentorship…and a welcome link to Penn in Chicago, as well as in other cities where TCPW hosts Summer Networking Events.

Thank you to Liane Jackson, C’93, who provided her Free Range Offices for our event.

New York City

newyork2by Lisa Aldisert
Over 250 Penn junior and senior women and recent grads attended TCPW’s 10th annual Career Networking Event in New York City on July 14th. TCPW member and Career Networking co-chair, Lisa Aldisert, interviewed Carly Zakin (C’08) and Danielle Weisberg (Tufts ’08), co-founders of

Both women, self-described “news junkies”, worked in the media prior to creating theSkimm on their living room couch three years ago, with the goal of making it easier to be smarter. Since then it has grown into a robust daily e-newsletter targeted to Millennial women.

The interview explored milestones and challenges they faced starting and growing a business, including raising money and growing a staff. Zakin and Weisberg’s contagious optimism and enthusiasm created a great buzz and spirited networking discussions for the rest of the evening.


philadelphiaby Joanne Soslow
On June 23rd, a torrential rain and lightning storm did not deter over 50 young alumna and rising junior and senior Penn women from gathering at the offices of Morgan Lewis for the Sixth Annual Philadelphia Networking Event.

Farah Jimenez, C’90, L’96, Commissioner of the School Reform Commission of the School District of Philadelphia, spoke to guests about her career and the inflection points that led to career changes along the way. TCPW members, Donna Gerson, Marjorie Shiekman and Joanne Soslow, also attended to network with guests who stayed to talk long after Farah’s presentation.

San Francisco

sf2by Ashley Mohan
On July 17th, TCPW was thrilled to host Padmasree Warrior, the former Chief Technology Officer and Chief Strategy Officer for Cisco at Google headquarters in Mountain View. Our own Stacy Brown-Philpot played the role of moderator and Padmasree held the audience rapt with her insightful and approachable advice for managing your career.  The highlights included advice on:
1) Making Great Career Choices
– Use the 70%/30% rule for evaluating a new role – 70% of the role requires skills you already have; 30% challenges you in a new way
– Timing matters – stay long enough to recognize contributions and consider overall market conditions
 2) Leading – Create a follower ship
– Speak from a place of credibility
– Present a compelling vision
– Be approachable – power does not = influence
3) Managing People
Think about managing Up, Down, and Sideways – When you manage up, focus on the bigger picture; managing down is all about motivation; Don’t neglect managing sideways – your peers are key to getting promoted.

Approximately 30 Penn students, alumni, Penn Googlers and friends attended.  Folks stuck around for over an hour after the event ended and we received a number of emails after the event thanking us and providing very positive feedback on the intimate format and how inspirational and applicable Padmasree was to women at all stages of their career.

Washington DC

dcby Kathy Sklar
They say everyone leaves DC in the summer, but those who were in town on July 22nd were treated to a fascinating and exhilarating talk by Samantha Tubman. Sam is the Assistant Chief of Protocol for Visits at The United States State Department, and she is the former White House Assistant Social Secretary.

Samantha graduated from Penn with an MBA from the Fels School in 2006, and thought she was headed to a policy job in the Pennsylvania legislature, when she got involved with the burgeoning campaign of Barack Obama. What followed were whirlwind years of constant traveling, mind-boggling logistics, never ending problem solving and some historical celebrations. By the time she landed her job in the White House, we were exhausted from listening to her tale, but her work had only just begun.

Sam spoke honestly of being thrown into unknown situations with strangers who soon became her colleagues and friends. She offered a window into a world of politics and government that few of us get to experience. Sam was generous with her time that evening, and stayed long after the formal program to chat and answer questions.

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Back to school – for the rest of my life!

adammHello! My name is Anna, and I am the Graduate Assistant for Penn Alumni for the 2015-2016 school year. I recently started the Higher Education program in the Graduate School of Education and am beginning my third week as a Penn student! Let me tell you something – Penn is the real deal, and so is graduate school. I am standing on my tip-toes peeking over my piles of reading, but not losing sight of the reason I’m here.

So, why did I come back to school to pursue a career in…working at a school? The honest and most accurate answer is, because I love it. I love college – everything about it.

I love the Freshman experience; the constant need to make new friends, figure out where classes are held, find groups to be involved with, and perhaps even do laundry for the first time. Freshman year is terrifying, and yet, the pure emotion of it all is something special.

Sophomores spend time making new friends, too, because inevitably some friends made in desperate times during orientation last year didn’t amount to much. Some may have even ended in disaster – studies show that people don’t show their real personalities until three months into a new friendship.* Sophomores aren’t weighed down, or lifted up, by the newness of it all. This has a name, which you all know, the Sophomore Slump. But, it’s not all bad! Sophomores have the luxury of being integrated into college without the workload of Juniors or the imminent endpoint and “mustfindajobmustfindajob” stress of Seniors. Sophomores really have it made.

Juniors and Seniors can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is exciting and mind-boggling. Popular phrases uttered among Juniors and Seniors include, “Weren’t we just Freshmen?” “Freshmen are so little!” “What are we supposed to wear to the career fair?” “I can’t believe this is our last [first day of school, football game, bid day, club meeting, etc. etc.]! “ “I’m so ready to get out of here and into the real world!” “I’m so not ready to get out of here and into the real world…”

Much of how I described the college experience above is cliché – did you notice? I think the notion of the “college experience” is murky. Personally, I spent the majority of my first two years at the University of Colorado (2000 miles from my home outside of Philadelphia) dealing with homesickness, uncertainty, and frustration that my experience wasn’t turning out to be “all fun, all the time.” Junior year was when college began to click for me. It was then that I learned to let go of a lot of the expectations I had for what college was “meant” to look like. I could go on about this topic for hours – perhaps in a future post. The point is, that even with my initial dislike of my college experience, I look back at my time as an undergraduate with overwhelming love and nostalgia. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

I learned about Higher Education and Student Affairs through my involvement around campus in a number of organizations, committees, boards, etc. As a Senior, I completed my undergraduate thesis on theories of student leadership and student organizations. I had become supremely interested in student life, and all the ways it may contradict the popular concept of the “college experience.” Since graduation, I have known that I wanted to return to Higher Education as a practitioner. I want to aid in undergraduate students’ development as they navigate the wonderful, scary, unique road that is college.

*Studies conducted by Anna Damm.

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A Medical Journey


By Howard Freedlander

Col’67 and PAR’02

I began an unplanned medical journey more than three months ago. Consequently, I joined a men’s club, to which I had no intention of applying.

On April 30, I received a diagnosis of prostate cancer. By June 16, I underwent robotic-assisted surgery to remove my prostate. I am recovering well and quickly, with no surprises or complications.

On June 24, I learned from my Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor that the surgery successfully extracted all the cancer. I am cancer-free.

I thought long and hard about whether to share this information on a public stage like Frankly Penn. I’m doing so because fortunately I suffered a form of cancer more common than I ever knew among men—and considered mostly curable.

My description so far betrays none of the fear and anxiety I felt—and obsessed about on a daily basis—beginning with the brief phone conversation with an Annapolis urologist, who told me the awful truth. The difficulty continued as I told family members and close friends. Even as I sat two months ago early in the hectic pre-operation area, I worried about life after major surgery.

Cancer no longer was someone else’s problem.

As if studying for final exams 48 years ago at Penn, I read exhaustively about prostate cancer. I spoke with survivors, not only in Talbot County, Maryland, where I live, but throughout the country. I realized the membership of this club was larger than I ever imagined. While comforted to some extent by the survival rate, at least measured anecdotally, I could think of nothing else.

Peace of mind was elusive.

I learned that fighting cancer—or any other life-threatening disease—generates a level of self-absorption and self-centerness that I typically abhor. I talked of little else. I felt distracted, prone to mistakes. The metaphor, “emotional roller coaster,” comes to mind.

And I found out, as do others, I’m sure, the grace and comfort willingly offered by family and friends.

Despite the option of radiation, I chose surgery because it suited me personally; I simply wanted to rid myself of cancer as quickly and effectively as I could. Through a referral from a doctor in my hometown of Easton, MD, I found a physician at the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, well-experienced and well-respected in conducting robotic-assisted surgery. He not only was highly skilled, but just as importantly, a person with a nice human touch and incredible responsiveness to my questions and concerns.

I alluded to the inestimable value of support, both professional and friend-and family-based. You expect the medical professionals to respond with expertise and compassion, and that generally happened. You lean on your family, and again I was the beneficiary of tremendous care and concern. My wife Liz was a great nurse and wonderful friend.

Everyone deals differently with personal calamity. I like to do personal research, using both the written and spoken word. And so I spoke with people to whom friends referred me, people whom I did not know, such as an attorney in Chicago and a real estate developer in Washington, DC; they unselfishly spent time explaining their experience with prostate cancer. I spoke with a Penn classmate, whose name I saw as a donor to the Brady Urological Institute at Hopkins. Also, I constantly sought counsel and comfort from an Easton friend who had undergone prostate surgery in 1999 at Hopkins.

So, what have I have done since my wrenching medical odyssey ended?

I have found other subjects of conversation that exclude personal medical problems. I will continue retirement activities that have no connection to the medical system. Life as a patient is grueling.

I have reached out to others, including a friend in Washington State, trying to help him navigate treatment options for prostate cancer. He seems disinclined to take the surgery route.

And, finally, I will remain ever thankful for a dose of good luck, renewal of good health and the ability to continue praying for those who endure life-threatening medical situations far more complex than early-detected prostate cancer.

Life looks brighter now. It’s time to move on. It’s time to laugh again.

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Penn Club of DC at the Citi Open

Tennis Shot

Another summer in DC and another great Citi Open tennis tournament is just around the corner.  This year’s field is the best in years with many of tennis’ top-ranked players coming to town.  And thanks to the Penn Club of DC, Penn alumni have enjoyed a “Penn Night” at the tournament each and every summer for over 20 years.  Why do I like to take part in this event?  Simply put, the Citi Open experience is a tennis Wonderland.  When not in your seat watching tennis with Penn friends, you can walk around the festival grounds to visit the sponsor tents, spot the tennis stars (and perhaps get their autographs), check out tennis merchandise, enter free raffles, and take advantage of numerous food and drink options (including access to the air-conditioned Courtside Club – only with the Penn Club ticket).  Holding true to the Tennis Center founders’ wishes, a portion of the proceeds from the Citi Open benefits the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF). The WTEF seeks to improve the life prospects for underprivileged children of Washington, DC.  Through its education and athletic programs, tens of thousands of DC’s at-risk children have been nurtured through the support of WTEF’s caring patrons, staff and volunteers.  I look forward to this year’s gathering of Penn alum and friends at the Citi Open on Friday evening, August 7th.  For more information and our group rate tickets, see

For more information, Click here.

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Penn Sages at the Art Institute of Chicago

By Lori Seegers C’77

The May 21st Penn Sages event was a success, enjoyed by the 15+ Penn alumni and friends, for an exclusive tour of the Art Institute of Chicago’s latest exhibition: Ireland Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840 by the exhibit’s curator, Christopher Monkhouse, C ’69.  Christopher’s enthusiasm, depth of knowledge and wit kept the group fully engaged for nearly 2 hours.  Christopher regaled us with stories of obtaining the objets d’art and their provenances, including a Greek statue rescued from a British fountain. Lori “Goodman” Seegers, C ’77, arranged the event with Christopher and a meeting place for dinner that evening.  A large group proceeded to have dinner together at Seven Lions across from the Art Institute, where Christopher continued the conversation. A good evening was had by all. We’re so glad that some of you were able to join us!

sages1 sages2 sages3 sages4

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Chicago Sages Discover Louis Kahn in the Film “My Architect”

One day during my Art 140 Seminar (we’d attend these fantastic lectures and then we’d all meet in seminars with intent graduate instructors), Louis Kahn strode through the door of the classroom on the way to his office. Our instructor rose as he entered and we all followed, as if Michelangelo had just appeared. For up-and-coming architects that’s who he was. But I only discovered last night that there are no Kahn buildings on the Penn campus or, for that matter, in the city of Philadelphia, thanks to a city politician named Ed Bacon.

Chicago Penn Sages had a rare opportunity to join with faculty of the Art Institute to view Nathaniel Kahn’s film,” My Architect,” of his journey to discover his father. It was a fascinating film but even more fascinating was Nathaniel’s discussion about his memories of his father, who came to visit him periodically (Kahn was still married when Nathaniel’s mother became pregnant).

KahnBefore viewing the film, the Sages mixed with alumni of Penn Design and faculty of the Art Institute, enjoying hors d’oeuvres, wine and good conversation under the magnificent dome at the entrance of the Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater.

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