What’s it like to have an A-list partnership? Inside these successful relationships, there’s a lot of juggling of careers, charitable work, families—and each another.
For the Johnsons, love and education have always gone hand in hand. They met at what is now Truman University in Missouri. Jerry was a year behind Raye, who graduated in 1968. “She had finals at noon, and we got married at 2 p.m.,” Jerry recalls.
With their 52nd anniversary approaching, the Johnsons have never been apart—but they have moved around the country quite a bit. To accommodate Jerry’s career, the Johnsons have uprooted themselves and their two children 12 times. Raye, who worked as a teacher, gave up the seemingly endless task of getting recertified in each new state and made parenting her full-time job.
In 1995, they found their permanent home in Bryn Mawr. Jerry climbed the corporate ladder at Safeguard Scientifics, going from employee number two to executive vice president. Now, he’s president and CEO of Axum Advisors, one of the most influential business consultancies in the region. He’s also chairman of Philanthropi, a national financial technology platform.
The Johnsons have donated time and resources to many institutions, including Episcopal Academy, Ursinus College, the Union League, the Urban League, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Main Line Bike Race, Narberth Ambulance, Lankenau Medical Center Foundation and Breastcancer.org. They have personal connections to many of those organizations. Raye has survived breast cancer, kidney cancer and congestive heart failure. “My interest went from personal to professional,” Jerry says. “I want my wife to have the best medical care possible.”
Raye maintains her positivity. “Years ago, we told the kids that life is an adventure filled with opportunity,” she says. “And I still believe that’s true.”
It started like a rom-com. Pretending to photocopy a piece of paper (which was blank), Jonesy Lerch approached the pretty blonde woman who’d just started working at Cowen and Company, a Wall Street investment firm. Lisi had a boyfriend, but Jonesy was persistent. While ostensibly settling for friendship, Jonesy sent flowers to Lisi every week, signing the card as her secret admirer. Lisi knew her admirer’s identity, but wasn’t ready to ditch her boyfriend.
As it turned out, their friendship built a solid foundation for their romance. “Part of my attraction was that we were friends first,” says Jonesy. “I knew Lisi was honest, straightforward and passionate about life. But I was always pushing the envelope to be more than friends.”
After finally breaking up with her boyfriend, Lisi went to a hockey game with Jonesy. They had their first kiss outside Madison Square Garden. It was 1996. They were married four years later.
June marks the couple’s 20th anniversary. Jonesy is managing director of Prudent Management Associates, a Philadelphia-based investment firm. Lisi is founder and CEO of an eponymous line of jewelry, hats and handbags. The couple lives in Newtown Square with their three children.
The Lerches’ story had its share of plot twists. When their first child, Libby, was
25 months old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a disease she likely inherited from Jonesy. As a toddler, Libby needed 10 injections a day. “I couldn’t be separated from her for the next year and a half,” Lisi recalls. “Even when she went to nursery school, I sat in the parking lot or went across the street to a coffee shop.”
Jonesy was wracked with guilt. “My sadness came out of knowing how Libby would have to live,” he says. “But since then, life has gotten much better for diabetics.”
Much of that is because of the money raised by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization the Lerches have supported for 20 years. Together, they’ve raised over $2 million for JDRF.
It was love at first sight—after 14 years. Chip and Allison Brady met in 1990 while they were sophomores at the University of Pennsylvania. They became friends, but didn’t start dating until they went to a football game in 2004. At a post-game barbecue, something clicked.
Unfortunately, the two were living thousands of miles apart. “It was not a long discussion about whether I was moving to Miami or she was moving to New Hampshire,” Chip says with a laugh.
Six months later, Chip relocated to Miami. Thirteen months after that, they were married. The decades of friendship serve as a solid foundation for their marriage. “There were no surprises, except that I sometimes snore,” Allison jokes.
Chip says the long-distance nature of their friendship taught them how to navigate disagreements. “How we fight now is still how we fought as friends,” Chip says. “We give each other space to get our heads around what happened, then come back and talk it through.”
Now, they don’t have much space between them. The Bradys share an office in the home they bought after moving to Gladwyne in 2017. Chip is a founding partner of LSN Partners, a business development firm, while Allison has a full docket of fundraising work. Both hold prominent positions at Penn, and Chip is on the board of overseers at the Shipley School, where their two daughters attend.
Their other baby is Gene Spotlight, a nonprofit they founded. Together, the Bradys have raised close to $2 million for Penn’s School of Medicine, the University of Miami, UCLA, Harvard University Medical School, the University of Minnesota and other institutions. “We find cutting-edge research or novel therapy that our fundraising can help advance,” Chip says.
Gene Spotlight is the just the right combination of medicine and education, Allison says. It’s also benefits from just the right combination of their strengths. Chip is all about finance and managing funds, while Allison raises money for nonprofits. “Different strengths pointed toward the same goal, backed by the values we share,” Allison says. “That’s true of Gene Spotlight—and our marriage.”
It was like The Brady Bunch—though one kid shy. Brigid McGrath was living in Ardmore with her three daughters, and George Stasen had two boys of his own. Granted, they were well into adulthood by the time Brigid and George began dating in 2010. “We have mutual friends who thought we’d be a good fit, and they were right,” Brigid recalls.
“It was an instant attraction.”
The two moved in together quickly, though they didn’t get married until 2012. It was the second round for both, and neither was in a rush. “We were very happy, but I didn’t feel comfortable living together out of wedlock,” says George. “I had five grandchildren and one on the way. I believe it sent the wrong message to them.”
Now happily married, the Stasens juggle their blended families and their careers. George is chairman of Core Care Systems, a local drug abuse and psychiatric hospital, and vice chair of KNF Corporation, a manufacturing firm. George is also involved with an investment banking firm that specializes in venture capital funding. And in 2019, he became chairman of the newly launched Philadelphia-based
U.S. Foundation for the Support of Charter Schools. “I’m devoted to it,” George says. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”
Brigid is a stylist and image consultant for luxury Etcetera fashion line. She also took on a new challenge in 2019, becoming the president of FemCity Philadelphia. A founding member of the organization, Brigid has her own strategies to grow the women’s networking group. Her initiatives include increasing the number of FemCity events in the suburbs. “I believe in supporting women and leading with gratitude and soul,” Brigid says. “Every woman needs a group to support her,
and FemCity will meet women where they are in life and in their businesses—
and in the suburbs.”
For Brigid and George, managing their marriage, careers and nonprofit work is a cinch. Both work from their home in West Chester—and they have rules. “Like many couples, we created boundaries and balance,” says Brigid.
They share the belief that hard work keeps them active and allows them to take care of their families. But there are no phone calls during dinner, and no one raises their voice during arguments. And when the bedroom door closes at night, there are no conversations about work. “We don’t go to sleep angry,” says George. “We go to sleep quietly, peacefully, and with each other.”
Tom and Rachel Ammon are high school sweethearts with a storybook romance that includes two sons, a home in Springfield, a great support system of family and friends, and two busy careers.
Tom is senior manager of lifestyle production at QVC, where his team creates video content for the shopping mecca’s media platforms. Rachel is director of marketing and communications for the King of Prussia District, one of the most dynamic retail and residential regions in the Delaware Valley.
Behind this fairytale is a lot of hard work. The Ammons may have demanding careers, but they make their marriage a priority. Together since 1998 and married in 2005, the two have learned how to communicate. “We put effort into staying connected but having space at the same time,” Tom says. “We work at growing together through the stages of our lives.”
Not all of those stages have been easy. Before he landed the job at QVC,
Tom worked overtime at an advertising agency while Rachel raised their two
young kids and took a part-time job at Main Line Art Center. “It was one of the toughest times of our lives,” says Tom. “Learning how to be a father while working like crazy and traveling a lot was very difficult.”
To counter that, they took steps to adjust their work-family balance, changing their careers to fit their family. Tom describes QVC as a family-friendly company, and Rachel is thrilled with her job as an advocate and cheerleader for King of Prussia. Her father grew up in KOP, and she spent a lot of time there as a kid. “I connect to the organization’s mission,” says Rachel.
The site of Rachel and Tom’s first date: King of Prussia Mall.
When it comes to finding luck in love, some people consult the Zodiac, tarot cards or numerology. For Joseph Cattalo and Nathan Tuno, it was Philadelphia sports championships. They met at a party in 2008, right after the Phillies won the World Series. And they adopted their “baby,” an English bull terrier named Sophie, on the day the Eagles won the 2018 Super Bowl.
Cattalo and Tuno moved in together after dating for only six months, though it did take them 10 years to get a dog. They live in South Philadelphia, a central spot that works for their jobs. Tuno is a landscape designer and the marketing director for Roots Landscape, Inc., one of the most sought-after horticultural companies on the
Main Line. Cattalo is manager of accounting for Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and its locations in Bryn Mawr, Center City, King of Prussia, Malvern and Media.
For Cattalo and Tuno, family comes first, and living in South Philly puts them near their parents. In 2014, Tuno’s father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died three months later. “It was a turning point in my relationship with Joey, because he was there for me and my entire family,” Tuno recalls.
That bond has deepened while their careers have taken off. Both have a lot of responsibility at well-known, well-respected companies. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute has expanded since Cattalo started working there in 2006. Practice locations have more than doubled. “It’s still numbers and mathematics,” Cattalo says. “Just more of them.”
Roots Landscape, meanwhile, has blossomed to cover the entire Delaware Valley. That’s great for Tuno, even though it does involve traveling. “I have a lot of miles on my car,” he says. “Sometimes I’m done at 2 p.m. and work from home, then I go to events at night.”
Tuno’s involvement in the region’s social scene is a both a job requirement and a perk. “In the spring, I’m like, ‘Which horse thing am I going to?’” he says with a laugh. “But I’m never going to complain about going to fabulous parties.”
Most nights have a different, more private fabulousness. “Usually, we’re on the couch watching trash TV by 8 p.m. and asleep by 9,” says Cattalo.
Both are early risers, up at 4:30 a.m. to start their days. And while their jobs may be quite different—accounting versus landscaping—a shared work ethic is one of the key values that has cemented their relationship. “And then there’s food,” Tuno says. “We’re Italian. We cook.”