PennPAC (Pro bono Alumni Consulting) accepting applications now through August 18th for Fall 2017 volunteers

A PennPAC leadership role supports a career transition

PACEugenia’s appreciation for the importance of service began at a young age. Her father runs the US chapter of a Colombian based nonprofit, Children of the Andes. She began collecting school supplies and running clothing drives for the nonprofit when she was still in high school. A 2012 Penn Huntsman Program graduate (earning a BS in Econ and BA in International Studies), Eugenia is now in a career transition bolstered by her PennPAC volunteer leadership role.

For the past five years, Eugenia has worked as a research analyst for an asset management firm in the consumer food and beverage sector. The sector is appealing to her, but she would like to shift to a marketing role with an emphasis on branding and consumer insight. To help reach this goal, Eugenia will study marketing research and consumer behavior in a one-year program in Madrid this coming fall.

Volunteering with PennPAC Philadelphia has been another important piece of her transition puzzle. Seeking new experiences, Eugenia found the PennPAC volunteer opportunity attractive and thought, “I have no consulting experience, but it can’t hurt to apply.”

On her project for Concilio, a nonprofit serving children and families in the Latino community, she seized the opportunity to become a team leader. “The team needed someone to step up and I volunteered” and she is very happy that she did. “I was nervous and it was not always easy. It put me out of my comfort zone, but I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I have the skills to be a team leader and how much I like leading a team.

Eugenia truly enjoyed her project teammates. “It is really cool to work with people from so many graduating classes, see our shared values and bond over our shared past experiences from Penn.” She was also impressed by their effectiveness. “Two months seemed short, but we managed to get so much done because everyone does their part. Everyone has been so happy to work with each other. We are a lot more productive than I would have expected given everyone’s busy lives.”

She also felt the strong impact of the team’s work on Concilio. Their client “didn’t realize how many opportunities they had out there, so much low hanging fruit” and as a result, they are “so excited, grateful, receptive and appreciative.”

If she returns to a city with PennPAC, Eugenia plans to volunteer with us again. We wish you the best of luck in Madrid, Eugenia!

Learn more about the PennPAC consulting experience and apply by 8/18 to join us.


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Family Traditions at Penn

By: Lindsey Klinger-O’Donnell

Virginia Webster Hilligoss Patton, CW’67, recently returned to campus for a very special Alumni Weekend. Virginia celebrated her 50th Reunion and spent the weekend reminiscing and catching up with fellow classmates, alumni, and her three siblings. She spoke with Penn Alumni Relations about her college experience, fondest memories, and family connections to Penn.

Virginia is the youngest of four siblings. Her two older brothers, Spencer Webster, W’57, and Richard Webster, W’58, and older sister, Linda Webster Huggler, CW’62, all attended Penn in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. From an early age, Virginia felt a strong impetus to not only attend college but specifically the University of Pennsylvania. With such strong family ties to the University, Penn was really the only choice in her mind. While at Penn, Virginia and her sister were student-athletes, playing on the Women’s Field Hockey team. They were also members of the Tri Delta Sorority. They still value the strong friendships and bonds they made there.

Although Virginia grew up in Suburban Philadelphia with her family, she later moved to California and does not have an opportunity to return to campus often. This made Virginia’s homecoming to Penn even more meaningful. She remarked on how much the campus has changed, with so many new buildings and spaces. However, some buildings remained seemingly untouched, like the iconic architecture of Houston Hall, with its comfortable interior spaces and fireplaces. Virginia commented that Houston Hall had always been a common meeting place for her and her classmates. In that regard, not much has changed.

Virginia went on to share one of her most memorable moments from her time at Penn. In her Senior year, Virginia became the first woman to sit on an athletic board when she took on the role of President of Women’s Athletics. Virginia remembers advocating to an all-male board about the need for better facilities and equipment for Women’s Athletics. However, it’s safe to assume that after Alumni Weekend, one of Virginia’s fondest memories of Penn is probably this photo of her and her three siblings enjoying the Alumni Picnic. What a special moment it must have been to come back and share in this Penn Tradition together.


(Photo credit: Lisa Godfrey Photography)

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An Evening to Remember: Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) Los Angeles Career Women’s Networking Event 2017 “Women in Entertainment”

By Michal Clements

Photo Credit: Moises Vazquez, Los Angeles. Instagram: @moisview  – Photo Gallery

The Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) held the Los Angeles summer women’s career networking event in Santa Monica on Wednesday June 7, 2017.  Approximately seventy-five Penn alumnae and guests gathered among the fruit trees and jacarandas in the gardens of our hostess, Meredith Stiehm. The alumnae met with TCPW members during the opening speed-networking portion of the program, and to learn from the all-star entertainment panel as the centerpiece of the evening.

tcpw1Elizabeth Kopple (Wharton Club of So Cal board) and Rebecca Zavaleta (Penn Club of LA board) welcomed guests to the event.  Guests were directed to high top tables where TCPW Members led the lightning rounds of speed networking. Members present and leading the tables were TCPW Chair, Hildegard Toth, Meesh Pierce, Julie Platt, Melissa Weiler, Leanne Heubner, Denise Winner, Abby Feinman, and Donna Nadel.

tcpw1.2tcpw1.3The entertainment industry panel was expertly moderated by Fiedling Edlow (C’95). Panelists included Jennifer Gwartz (C’90), Meredith Stiehm (C’90) Alison Hoffman, Allison Schroeder and Veena Sud.  The discussion was lively, and there were a number of key takeaways that applied across industries, as well as some that were entertainment specific.  Some highlights include:

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

  • Explore non-linear paths
  • Be kind to yourself. Remember nothing is wasted, and you are exactly where you need to be
  • There are no wrong jobs and no wrong experiences
  • Avoid thinking and writing about “how I ruined my career”
  • Have a lot more fun!

What’s an appropriate way to approach a mentor?

  • Research the mentor in advance, and if you make the ask, be really prepared
  • Invite them to an event. Instead of saying, “What can you do for me?” show them what you can do for them. Example: One Penn alumni sent an email for two years with a critique of the show
  • Let them know if you win an award, such as the Stanford playwriting award
  • Time your approach right. For example, avoid the middle of pilot season

How should you go about smart and effective networking?

  • Keep it casual and really light
  • Take them out for coffee
  • If it doesn’t work, move on, not all networking will
  • Never walk up to someone and say why they should NOT hire you or why others are not hiring you, e.g., people find me abrasive. Don’t belittle yourself

tcpw1.4How can you get the first job in entertainment?

  • Take a job as a PA (Production Assistant), which means you start at a really low level and get coffee and lunch
  • Be nice to the people around you
  • Whatever job you have, do a really good job of it
  • Be appreciative
  • You will likely have to get a second job or live at home, etc. to make ends meet with this first job

How can you get an agency that works for you?

  • Seek a smaller agency with someone that’s starting out. Suggestion is to find your peer as an agent. For example, one panelist had a “big name” agency, but realized that their “reps are not working for you” which was a painful realization
  • Make sure the agency has the right expertise, e.g., one panelist was given bad advice from a literary agent in New York because they weren’t knowledgeable on LA TV market

How did you deal with sexism in the industry?

  • Make your skin really, really tough
  • Look to your allies and make them aware. They can’t help if they don’t know
  • For example, if I (a woman) say something and nobody hears it, then a man says it and everyone notices, you have to call people on this. It happens all the time. Make your allies aware
  • Report actual sexual harassment. Don’t tolerate things like the “Fuck, Marry, Kill” game which asks, “Which of these three things should happen to a female colleague?”

How can you get by financially when at a low starting salary?

  • Live at home, share space and drive dad’s car or a used car. Live in the valley.
  • Supplement your income in one of several ways, e.g., by tutoring, being a script reader or an Uber or Lyft driver

What’s the next career milestone for the panelists?

  • Being the President of the United States
  • Running a network
  • Going back to the Academy Awards
  • Writing a novel
  • Continue having fun and working with others I enjoy


As a follow up from the event, alumni and student attendees were encouraged to consider forming writer’s groups, and to continue their involvement with Penn through alumni interviewing, Penn Serves LA community service, Penn Club LA and the Wharton Club of So Cal.

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By Lee Gordon, C’68
As a college student, how fortunate it is to have a special person mold your personal universe. Someone so dynamic and brilliant that you feel at once transformed into a thinking adult, while you could sense that you were in the presence of genius. That was me, Lee Gordon, fifty years ago, at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Daily Pennsylvanian “Course Guide” cited Russian History 149 as one of the finest introductory courses in the University. Yet it was the guide’s reference to the course professor that truly resonated: “The Great One, as many students refer to him, received unanimous ratings of excellent from his students. His lectures are regarded as consistently interesting, often humorous, and always very well organized. He was also praised for his interest in the individual student, a trait not often found in one who lectures to 500 pupils.”

And so Alexander V. Riasanovsky — “The Great One” — entered my life.

Watching Professor Riasanovsky on the grand stage in College Hall was mesmerizing. His cadence was fast-paced, his baritone voice carried in a thunderous roar when he emphasized a certain point, and his command of Russian history was awe-inspiring. Alex Riasanovsky was Penn personified. His Russian history course was popular with students from all programs: Wharton, pre-med, engineering, and liberal arts. Everyone wanted to hear him lecture. He was the consummate Penn ambassador, speaking to all the Penn Clubs throughout the United States, with alumni eager to hear his talk.

I got to know Alex more intimately when he allowed me the privilege of taking his graduate course in Russian history, and to this very day, I fondly remember our conversations about the Russian intelligentsia. In his graduate seminar, Professor Riasanovsky challenged you to think analytically. He had edited a masterful book “Generalizations in Historical Writing” and believed that since history was approached from numerous philosophical, religious, social, political and economic positions, the historian must be able to frame meaningful generalizations.

Born in Harbin, Manchuria China in 1928, Alex’s childhood innocence ended abruptly at age 10 when he witnessed a Japanese soldier behead a prisoner. His family fled and found safe haven across the Pacific Ocean in Eugene, Oregon.

The Riasanovsky family was living history. Alex’s father Valentin was the preeminent scholar of Mongol law and his mother Antonina won the Atlantic Monthly prize for fiction in 1940 for her novel “The Family”. Both Riasanovsky sons were Rhodes Scholars and both became famous Russian history professors, with Alex at Penn and his brother Nicholas at the University of California at Berkeley.

But Alex was more than just a wonderful history professor. He was also a true Renaissance man: a historian, a freethinker, a fine artist and a prolific poet.

I wish I had learned the Russian language because my bookshelf is filled with his poetry written in Russian. A Wallace Stevens devotee, Alex wrote poem after poem, and, gratefully, some were translated into English.
Philosophically, Professor Riasanovsky was a man of peace, and he loved to poke wicked fun at the imperious political megalomaniacs. In a 1995 poem he lamented eloquently:

This long
This gray
And twisted way
Marked by festoons
Of broken flowers
Leads to a land
Where blood-soaked sand
Is raised
In monuments and towers

Here judgement’s rendered
In a glance

Of lying levity, by clowns

Here means and ends
Are seen

As one
And executioners
Wear plastic crowns.

I will long cherish Alex’s books, especially the one with the inscription: “To my favorite student family”. But even more important, I will always cherish the memories with Alex and the love and friendship we shared together these many decades along with my wife Sandy and our three sons Alex, Eric and Michael.

When my eldest son was born, we proudly named him Alex. I still have the wonderful note Professor Riasanovsky sent: “I’m very happy to hear about your son. What a lovely name you have given him!” Yes, Alex, a lovely name indeed!


A note: Class of 1968 will be hosting a Professors Forum:  A reunion with some of 1968’s favorite faculty members led by coordinated by Lee Gordon and will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018, from 9:00 to 10:30 AM, with breakfast from 8:00 to 9:00 AM.

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Penn Serves LA Builds a Home with Habitat LA

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

It was already warm at 8:00 am when our twenty Penn Serves LA volunteers showed up at the work site in Downey for our second Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles project. Shelter is such a basic need that most days we fortunate Penn alumni take for granted. Habitat LA, we learned, has constructed and rehabilitated almost 800 homes across the city since 1990. In Los Angeles, well known for soaring housing costs, Habitat serves people earning 30-80% of the median family income, who work alongside volunteers on the building process.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity Irene Park on scaffolding

Irene Park, C’05, on the scaffolding at Penn Serves LA’s Habitat LA event

It quickly became clear that we were expected to have a fun day, but also to make significant progress in completing the back of “our” house. Several people spent much of the day on rickety scaffolding, bent in half caulking windows and eaves. Others were busy with power tools; cutting boards, drilling holes, using nail-guns. The dedicated and gifted Habitat staff taught us a host of new and useful skills, and the Penn crowd dove in, like good Ivy League competitors, intent on getting the job done.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity build in Los Angeles with Penn Alumni and Habitat LA

It was a very social day, with people chatting while building a window frame or sharing photos while affixing siding to exterior walls. Over lunch the group shared their Penn stories: where they were raised, what they had studied at Penn, how they had landed in LA. Typical of Penn, it was a diverse group, with a broad spread of graduation years, and alumni working in law, medicine, education, social science, business, architecture and more. Our volunteers hailed from all parts of the country, and had traveled from San Diego, the Valley and the Westside Saturday morning to participate in our Habitat build day.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity helping Habitat LA build a home in Los Angeles with Penn Alumni

As the afternoon concluded, everyone was smiling and not a single band-aid had been issued – a fantastic success! After a long, dusty day of working with our hands in the hot sun, we felt really good: holes were filled, corners were smooth, siding was level, and the site was clean for the next crew. It was especially meaningful to have Christina working with us all day, as she will be living in the house we worked on. The Penn crowd looks forward to returning to our Downey site for the ribbon cutting on Christina’s completed home.

Penn Serves LA helps Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles - volunteering Penn Alumni with Habitat LA

The Penn Serves LA group – proudly wearing the Red and the Blue – after helping Habitat LA

About Penn Serves LA

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.

We have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy fun experience with fellow alumni.

Join Us

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Contact Us

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Jeff Weston, C’05 | Denise Winner, W’83

Read about our previous events:



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Commencement 1993 (48 Weeks To Go)

By Kiera Reilly, C’93, Allison Feder Fliegler, W’93, and Jennifer Jarett, C’93

A few weeks ago we shared photos from the 237th Commencement at the University of Pennsylvania on May 17,1993, to mark the one year countdown until our 25th reunion.

Some classmates still have programs and tickets from that day.

University of Pennsylvania Commencement Program photo courtesy of Allison Feder Fliegler for May 17, 1993

Commencement Program photo courtesy of Allison Feder Fliegler

Graduates on Franklin Field for Commencement, May 17, 1993. Photo by Lisa Nass Grabelle

Graduates on Franklin Field for Commencement, May 17, 1993. Photo by Lisa Nass Grabelle

Jennifer Jarrett still  has the commencement program as well as tickets for seating for her parents.

Commencement program listing all the graduates, Academic Honors, program for the School of Arts and Sciences graduation, and tickets for faculty, courtesy of Jennifer Jarett

Commencement program listing all the graduates, Academic Honors, program for the School of Arts and Sciences graduation, and tickets for faculty, courtesy of Jennifer Jarett

Penn Commencement on Franklin Field, May 17, 1993. Photo courtesy of Kiera Reilly, C'93.

Penn Commencement on Franklin Field, May 17, 1993. Photo courtesy of Kiera Reilly, C’93.

Jennifer also has an order form for the Commencement video. Did anyone order the video, and if you did, do you still have it?

University of Pennsylvania Commencement video order form! Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jarett

Commencement video order form! Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jarett


Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of June 9 – 10, 2017, marked 48 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! 

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us!
  • Join our reunion committee – email Lisa Grabelle at
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

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What Happens at Alumni Weekend? (49 Weeks To Go)

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

The clock is ticking, and our 25th reunion will be here before we know it (May 11 – 14, 2018). This week, we received the link to our class’  hotel room block for the weekend, and we encourage you to make your room reservations now as hotels are often completely booked. You can book by clicking this link or you can also call (800) 320-5744 to book over the phone.

What exactly happens on those four days of Penn Alumni Weekend? Here is a preview of what to expect. We will have more details on our class’ specific programming closer to May, but we want to give you time to consider joining us for the entire weekend!

Friday, May 11

Educational Programming is during the day. This is also a great time to walk around campus and see what has changed since we graduated. For our 20th reunion, our class sponsored a discussion on political campaign messaging with Jef Pollock, C’93, and Frank Luntz, C’84.

Friday night we will most likely be gathering downtown for a later night party. Here’s a picture from our Friday night gathering in 2013 at the Marriott Hotel.

Penn 1993 20th Reunion Friday night for University of Pennsylvania Alumni Weekend photo by Kiera Reilly, C'93.

Penn 1993 20th Reunion Friday night.

Saturday, May 12

There are additional educational programs in the morning, and there is always a, “Conversation with President Gutmann.”

"A Conversation with Penn President Amy Gutmann," in Huntsman Hall during Alumni Weekend, 2013.

“A Conversation with Penn President Amy Gutmann,” in Huntsman Hall during Alumni Weekend, 2013.

In the afternoon, there is the Alumni Parade of Classes and the Alumni Picnic. There are kid friendly activities for children.

Kid Zone activities from our 20th reunion in May, 2013, followed by pictures of the Alumni Parade. You can see more photos from Alumni Weekend, 2013 in this online photo album from Penn Alumni Relations.

The picnic tent is always crowded. Here are photos from our 20th reunion again.

Saturday night will be our big reunion party. Here our photos from our 20th reunion party. You can see more photos of the party here.

Sunday, May 13

There is an all-alumni breakfast in the morning.

Monday, May 14

Commencement – there is always an alumni procession for commencement, and the graduates walk through the alumni flag bearers that line up in front of the Sweeten Alumni House on Locust Walk. The 25th and 50th reunion classes are both invited to walk in the procession as a class. This is something I highly recommend you do if you can – seeing the graduates march down Locust Walk brings back many happy memories from our own graduation.

Here are some photos from the alumni procession during Commencement.

Join Us!

You are welcome to return for everything we have planned or you can pick which activities interest you the most. You can come alone, you can bring your spouse or partner – or leave them at home, you can bring your kids, or leave them at home. All are welcome!

We are still adding to our ever-growing reunion committee and would love to have more classmates join us. Email Lisa Grabelle at if you would like to add your name to the committee. We will be gathering on campus for the Penn Reunion Leadership Conference on Saturday, September 16th if you would like to help us plan in person!

We look forward to hearing from our classmates, and to seeing you all on campus in May 2018!

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of June 2 – 3, 2017, marked 49 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! 

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

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Filed under 20th Reunion, 25th Reunion, Alumni Weekend, Class of 1993, Kiera R., Reunions