• Carolyn Comitta, Mayor of West Chester (page 2)
• Tiffany Hays Borsch of the Baldwin School (page 3)
• Kim Zachary of NBC Philadelphia (page 4)
• Toni Pergolin, President and CEO of Bancroft (page 5)
• Kendall Brown, Candidate for the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office (page 6)
• Elizabeth Granahan, Founder of Granahan Golf Academy (page 7)
• Sarah Keating, Owner of Phoenix Salon & Spa (page 8)
• Cheyenne Palma, Founder of Femfessionals (page 9)
• Dr. Helen Kuroki of Riddle Memorial Hospital (page 10)
• Marlyn Schiff of Marlyn Schiff Jewelry (page 11)
• Aliza Rosen of Stage 3 Productions (page 12)
• Rosalie Mirenda, President of Neumann University (page 13)
• Sophia Stogiannis, Co-Owner of Water Works Restaurant and Lounge (page 14)
• Lori Scherling-Turner, aka Miss Scherling of the Milk & Cookies Show (page 15)
• Kim Fortunato of the Campbell Soup Company (page 16)
• Ann Frankel of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s local chapter (page 17)
• Donna Phillips, President of Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital (page 18)
• Molly Leese Nece of the Molly Sunshine Group (page 19)
• Khaki Wennstrom Young, Owner of Gramercy Boutique (page 20)
• Claudia McBride, President of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (page 21)
• Bonnie Young, President and Executive Director of Do Gooders (page 22)
• Gael Levin-Simon, Educational Consultant for Random House Books (page 23)
• Stephany Phelps Fahey, Director of Financial Affairs at the Phelps School (page 24)
• Courtnay Tyus of the Charter High School for Architecture + Design (page 25)
Meet this year’s honorees at MLT’s annual Women on the Move Luncheon on Sept. 15 at the Villanova Conference Center, featuring keynote speaker Joan Carter (pictured), the first female president of the Union League of Philadelphia. For tickets, call (610) 325-4630 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No one is more surprised to be serving as mayor of the borough of West Chester than the mayor herself. For Carolyn Comitta, it was former West Chester University president Madeleine Wing Adler who planted the seed. A 1970s graduate whose commitment to the well-planned growth of her alma mater is well documented, Comitta was serving on borough council when Adler brought up the possibility of running. “She said the mayor had a tremendous opportunity to bring people together and improve the community,” recalls Comitta. “That’s what I really enjoy doing, so I thought being mayor might be a good fit for me.”
Voters agreed. Since her 2010 inauguration, Comitta’s responsibilities have been both diverse and challenging in a thriving university town with pressing budgetary concerns and quality-of-life issues for both students and residents. “We all have the responsibility to leave everything a little better than when we found it,” she says. “And when I leave the office of mayor, I hope I can say I did that about West Chester.”
Hopefully that won’t be too soon. Comitta is seriously considering running for a second term.
It’s no easy feat getting students excited about science, so it helps that Tiffany Hays Borsch’s enthusiasm for environmental science is downright contagious. Students and faculty at the Baldwin School can’t help but get wrapped up in her school-wide recycling program and the Green Week activities she plans.
The Ardmore resident is so passionate about setting a positive example that she volunteered as the school’s sustainability coordinator, overseeing various events and initiatives. She also accepted a fellowship with the Environmental Leadership Program, a nationwide program dedicated to working for a sustainable future.
It seems that green deeds do get noticed. This past spring, as part of Proctor & Gamble’s Future Friendly project, Borsch was profiled in a commercial on the Oprah Winfrey Network praising her sustainability efforts. “I want the world to be a better place,” she says. “My students are going to be the ones who do that—they’re going to make a difference in this world.”
NBC 10’s on-air talent made close to 400 appearances throughout the Tri-State area last year, thanks in large part to the gargantuan behind-the-scenes efforts of Kim Zachary. After eight years in the human resources department, Zachary added community relations to her title when the former director retired after 45 years. “There are a lot of natural links between HR and community affairs,” says Zachary. “It seemed like a natural fit to take on the position.”
In her now more diversified role, the Conshohocken resident handles everything from FCC compliance to community partnerships. “The primary objective of a local television station is to serve the community,” she says.
Along with the station, Zachary actively supports the United Way and its programs, including “Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow.” NBC 10 has featured young women involved in the mentorship program, running announcements and spotlights on other initiatives. Zachary also sits on Drexel University’s advisory committee for Entertainment Arts & Media Management, which is focused on developing a program at Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design that better mirrors what television stations are looking for when hiring. “We sponsor a day at the station for the students to better understand the business,” she says.
And who knows? Maybe she’ll hire one of them someday.
For her latest job as president and CEO of Bancroft, King of Prussia’s Toni Pergolin had to step out of her comfort zone. “I love numbers,” she says. “I really was a CFO my whole life.”
But the adjustment came easily for Pergolin, who was inspired by the work she saw. “That’s what motivates me to talk to the stakeholders,” she says.
Bancroft’s programs offer support to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injuries. “We see that they have a lot of abilities,” says Pergolin. “We really believe that this is one world for everybody.”
Which is why Pergolin and her team are working so hard to increase awareness of the New Jersey-based nonprofit in Southeastern Pennsylvania. As of now, Merion Station is home to their only facility in the state.
Ever the motivator, Pergolin has led the organization in a rebranding process and is guiding its largest fundraising campaign, with a goal of bringing in $6 million in three years. Thanks to a Main Line philanthropist, the first year’s $2.3 million surpassed their annual goal. “I’m only the eighth president in 128 years, and I’m the third woman,” says Pergolin, who’s been in her current role since 2006.
The longest president served 35 years. “I don’t intend to break that,” she says.
Before she was an award-winning event planner, Kendall Brown was a successful prosecutor and litigator. “My brain is equally logical and creative,” says the Wallingford resident. “I missed practicing law every day. I wanted to get back to what I was trained to do.”
Brown dove in with both feet, taking on her biggest challenge to date: running as the Democratic candidate for the Delaware County district attorney’s office. “It’s been the most exciting and hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she admits. “Your whole life gets put on hold while you’re campaigning—it’s the world’s largest job interview.”
Brown is the first Democrat to run in the county in 16 years—and the first woman to run for office. “I’m dedicated to ending the culture of entitlement without accountability in Delaware County and the political control in the district attorney’s office,” she says. “The public is served best when bias is not part of the equation.”
This summer, Elizabeth Granahan opened the doors to the Granahan Golf Academy at Chester Valley Golf Club in Malvern. Not bad for someone who didn’t even pick up a golf club until her senior year in college. “I was at Rutgers University, and we had a golf course on campus,” says Granahan, who now resides in Downingtown. “I went with my friend, and I instantly fell in love with the game.”
Granahan was so taken, in fact, that she decided to forego veterinary school to continue playing. “My parents were thrilled when I called to tell them,” she says, laughing.
The decision paid off. Granahan was the only female pro to work at Merion Golf Club, and she’s also the first woman to win Teacher of the Year from the PGA’s Philadelphia division. Granahan also co-owns G2 Golf Group, which focuses on everything from links-related marketing to travel. “A lot of people assume I grew up playing the game or I inherited a family business,” she says. “It’s not lost on me what I have here; I have a great lot in life. But I’ve also created it.”
After a successful 17 years as an attorney with the Environmental Protection Agency, Sarah Keating couldn’t have made a more abrupt transition in 2005, when she left her law career behind to open Phoenix Salon & Spa in Center City. “To justify working, I’d always looked at my career as setting an example for my kids,” says the Gladwyne resident. “I struggled with how I could use the spa and salon to make a difference.”
Her solution: To make Phoenix a hub for giving back. Keating hosts monthly events to benefit causes close to her and her staff. Keating’s husband, Dan, is a cancer survivor, and the drug that was instrumental in saving his life was developed by City of Hope. She runs a fundraiser in which all the profits from the salon are donated to the organization, and a recent event for the Philadelphia-based homeless organization Project H.O.M.E. raised $100,000. “We celebrate women who’ve left a homeless situation and worked through the 12-Step Program,” says Keating. “We have them come to the salon for a full day of services and also partner them with high-powered Philadelphia women who might serve as mentors.”
Keating is also CEO of KEM Partners, a full-service environmental consulting and remediation firm in Exton, and she’s partnering with her husband on creating a subsidiary of the company that will focus on energy and sustainability. How does she find the time to do so much? “It’s a balancing act,” says Keating, who’s the mother of six kids. “You have to do the best you can with the 24 hours in a day—and family’s always first.”
The warm Florida sun wasn’t the only thing missing when Cheyenne Palma relocated to Wynnewood from Miami two years ago. “I had a really strong business network that I’d built over my 15 years living there,” says Palma. “I wanted to create those same types of relationships here.”
So she launched the Femfessionals networking group this past spring. “A friend of mine started a group like this in Miami,” she explains. “I thought it would be perfect in this area.”
Seems she was right. Since the launch, Palma has fielded inquiries from more than 200 women. Palma hosts a monthly lunch while offering various other networking opportunities. She keeps the gatherings intimate (about 30 women) to ensure that everyone gets to know one another. “It’s so different from going to a large networking event,” says Palma. “We’re about giving women the space to promote themselves and champion each other.”
A self-described lifelong learner, Dr. Helen Kuroki has had a fulfilling career caring for patients at Riddle OB/GYN Associates. Yet she still feels she has more to contribute. “I certainly don’t think I’ve mastered OB/GYN, but I do feel that I’ve developed a certain skill set,” says Kuroki, who lives in West Chester. “I can take some of the things I’ve learned and make a connection with administrators so they understand what doctors are facing on a daily basis.”
The perfect opportunity to do just that came with her appointment last year as vice president of medical affairs at Riddle Hospital. The intent is for the vice president to continue to practice, so Kuroki still sees patients, performs surgeries and responds to deliveries at all hours. She has enjoyed her new role so much that she’s pursuing a master’s degree in public health through Thomas Jefferson University. “I have a strong drive to give back to society,” says Kuroki. “I’ve been given many blessings, and it’s not right to waste that.”
Ardmore is hardly known for its burgeoning jewelry empires, but it seems to be working out for Marlyn Schiff. From a discreet office building near Suburban Square, she overseas a thriving international business. Marlyn Schiff Jewelry began 24 years ago in New York. “I was working full time in sales for Elie Tahari,” recalls Schiff, who now lives in Byn Mawr. “I’d wear jewelry to work that I’d made for fun.”
Multiple compliments and inquiries inspired Schiff to turn her hobby into a full-time career. “I was going door-to-door to my friends’ New York City offices, selling my jewelry during their lunch breaks,” she says.
Twenty years later, her creations are a hit with Neiman Marcus, celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, Rachael Ray and Jane Seymour, and the editors of InStyle, O and other national magazines. After Schiff’s jewelry was featured on Good Morning America this past May, she had 270,000 website hits and 1,100 orders in 24 hours. “The business is constantly evolving,” says Schiff, whose jewelry can be found locally at Skirt in Bryn Mawr and Apricot Lane in Ardmore. “[Competition has] never scared me. I believe there’s enough business for everybody.”
Aliza Rosen is using her innate creativity and passion to put the Philadelphia production industry on the map. The New Yorker started in broadcast news journalism, but the “ulcer-inducing stress” didn’t sit well with her. Now, four years into her gig at Stage 3 Productions in Philly, the Bala Cynwyd resident is the executive director of development, with her sights set on an Emmy Award. “Stage 3 was the little engine that could,” she says. “Even though Philadelphia is a major city and market, people didn’t get that. It took a good year to two years to pound the pavement. We threw a lot of stuff against the wall that didn’t stick.”
Today, Rosen is behind a diverse lineup of programs, including infomercials, documentaries like BIO’s The Inside Story, and upcoming pop-culture series like WE tv’s Marry Me in NYC, NuvoTV’s Curvy Girls, the DIY Network’s Hollywood Hi-Tech, and a future show about a house-flipper. “The No. 1 goal for me is to turn on the TV and see one of our shows on every single cable network,” she says.
It could happen. Rosen’s solid relationships and candor with networks in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., set her—and Stage 3—apart. “I pride myself on my direct manner,” she says. “While that can get me in trouble, I think it’s why I’m good at my career.”
“I was shy as a child and very ordinary,” says Rosalie Mirenda. Raised in an Italian-speaking family in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, she didn’t know a single word of English until she went to school. And she’s been immersed in education ever since.
Today, Mirenda is president of Neumann University in Aston, which just received its university status in May. She’s been honored twice by the Vatican through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Neumann’s Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development was named after her husband, Tony. “I believe I’m doing what I’m asked to do in this position and life,” says the Middletown resident. “We’re each a moment in time. Everything you do needs to be done superbly well, because it’s not about you—it’s about the future.”
As she looks toward academic and campus development at the Catholic Franciscan institution, Mirenda doesn’t let uncertainty rattle her. “We need to keep this type of educational experience available long beyond us,” she says.
Working behind a desk in Greece in 2004, little did Sophia Stogiannis know that she’d one day be wowing diners in Philadelphia. “I ran the human resources department for a United States company that set up the infrastructure for the Summer Olympics,” says Stogiannis, a Greek-American who grew up in Palm Beach, Fla., and now lives in Wynnewood. “I was only 23 years old when I moved for the job. It was a very exciting time.”
Always willing to take on new challenges, Stogiannis jumped at the chance to open a restaurant with her sister and brother-in-law. The family took ownership of the abandoned, ailing Fairmount Water Works on the Schuylkill River, opening the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge there in 2006. “I have grown to love the restaurant business,” says Sotgiannis.
And locals and visitors alike have come to love Water Works. Thanks to its significant historical clout, impeccable renovation, stellar seasonal menu, great wine list, and amazing views of the river and Boathouse Row, it’s fast becoming one of the top dining destinations in the area.
She’s known to hundreds of children and parents around the Main Line as Miss Scherling and her Milk & Cookies Show, which she’s been hosting for kids at MilkBoy Coffee in Bryn Mawr for the past four years. And while she’s still performing, Lori Scherling-Turner is now running two companies to complement her love of music education and kids. Music Monkey Jungle specializes in original and educational lyrics, birthday parties and interactive performances. And there’s the Kinderlach Rock division of the company, which is centered on Jewish principles, ideas and traditions. “The best way to learn something is with rhyme flow and a song to it,” says Scherling-Turner. “I wanted to start writing Jewish songs that could be used in both homes and the classroom for learning.”
Scherling-Turner has taught music in public schools for 15 years. Eventually, she’d like to develop cross-curricular lesson plans that incorporate music with core subject matter. “The one thing I’ve learned is to take time and sing and dance with your kids,” she says. “Let go for a little bit, put your cell phone down, and pick up your child and dance.”
Last year, Campbell Soup Company made a lofty commitment to the Camden community that’s served as its home base since 1869. Campbell is investing $10 million in the downtrodden city over the next 10 years, with the goal of reducing childhood obesity and hunger by 50 percent. Kennett Square’s Kim Fortunato is helming this huge endeavor. “Campbell has a long history with kids,” says Fortunato. “It makes sense that we leverage our internal resources to stamp out hunger.”
Fortunato began her career as a lawyer, entering the nonprofit sector as president of Operation Warm, which provides new winter coats to children in need. In her latest role as director of the Childhood Obesity and Hunger Program, Fortunato is working with the Food Bank of South Jersey, the YMCA and others. Competitors are monitoring the success of the Campbell program, so the stakes are high and the pressure to succeed monumental.
Fortunato, meanwhile, stays grounded by looking at the bigger picture. “We don’t want to lose another generation of kids to obesity,” she says.
Ann Frankel’s connection to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter couldn’t be more personal. “I’ve had Crohn’s disease for the past 40 years,” says Frankel, who has served as the president of the chapter for the past four years.
With one extensive surgery and two experimental reconstructive plastic surgeries behind her—all privately funded—Frankel knows the importance of fundraising. “The money is for life-saving techniques, critical breakthroughs in treatment and the development of new drugs,” says the Gladwyne resident. “There’s a great stigma attached to these diseases because it’s bathroom related. But it’s getting increasingly better because there’s awareness, and physicians are much better educated today about the diseases. That’s an enormous step forward.”
Frankel and her husband, Richard, were instrumental in starting Philadelphia’s Sippin’ by the River fundraiser, and they’re supporters of numerous charities in the area. “When you suffer from a chronic illness it makes you feel like your body has betrayed you, that your body is powerless and you’re not in control,” she says. “For me, this is a very effective way of channeling my intense anger at not having the perfect body. I’m fighting back the best way I know how by making sure no one else suffers the way I have.”
As if strategic long-range planning and overseeing the day-to-day operations of Main Line Health’s rehab and senior services weren’t challenging enough, Donna Phillips is being tested by healthcare reform. “We’re really in a transformational time,” says Phillips, who’s president of Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. “We have to do more for our patients with less dollars.”
As insurance companies’ reimbursement rates decrease, efficiency is the name of the game, and this Malvern resident knows a thing or two about productivity. At work, she manages almost 1,000 employees. In her “spare” time, she participates in church drives, the Mommy’s Light Lives on Fund and the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry. And she recently started Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Project SEARCH, which provides internships to disabled adults. “It’s my baby,” says Phillips. “It allows us to offer work experience, training, education and job placement.”
The first class graduated this year, and three of the five adults found jobs. “We live in a wonderful place,” says Phillips of the Main Line. “People are really accepting of differences.”
A decade ago, the always positive and upbeat Molly Leese Nece was working in admissions at West Chester University when a co-worker nicknamed her “Molly Sunshine.” It’s now one of two monikers under which Nece has launched a second career. Her Molly Sunshine Group offers speaking, consulting and coaching services to individuals and corporations, while Legacy Producers shows people how to get paid for what they know, whether it’s by writing books or setting up speaking platforms. “I love making a difference in people’s lives,” says the West Chester resident. “These businesses allow me to do that.”
Still at WCU as a senior consultant for the office of organizational development, Nece has also authored several books, including Chasing Stars in the Sunshine: The Five P’s to Achieving Your Dreams and Sunshine Productivity: The Four Factors that Will C.O.S.T. You or Launch You into Greatness, and three children’s books. “I’m giving a speech tomorrow to 1,000 high school students to inspire them to dream big and shine bright,” she says. “It’s never too late to hear that message, no matter how old you are.”
Talk about bragging rights. Khaki Wennstrom Young sold not one but two dresses to a customer attending the Royal Wedding this past spring. “Out of all the boutiques and national retailers she could’ve chosen, she decided to come here,” says Young. “I was honored.”
Since opening Gramercy Boutique in the Eagle Village Shops in 2008, Villanova’s Young has gained quite the loyal following. “We opened right in the beginning of the recession, which was scary,” she admits. “Thanks to my amazing customers, I’ve survived.”
Gramercy has differentiated itself from other area boutiques by taking risks, too. Young was the first to introduce designers Lauren Moffatt, Jules Reid and Sheraton French to the Main Line. “I get so excited when I pick up a new designer, and then they’re featured in a popular New York City boutique six months later,” she says.
Young is hardly selfish with her success, hosting fashion shows for Lankenau Hospital and participating in shopping nights to support local private schools. “I always found that when you give back to the community, you find where you’re place is in the community,” she says.
The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has been engaging the global community for 62 years. And with her superior people skills, St. Davids’ Claudia McBride has deftly led the member-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization through the recession. Since taking over as president in 2006, she’s hosted CEOs, distinguished journalists, humanitarian rock superstars, and political heavyweights like former president George W. Bush. McBride has also served on national delegations to the headquarters of the European Union, NATO and Japan.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say the most memorable moment for me was being kissed by Bono [of the band U2] in front of 1,400 people,” McBride says. “His message was profound. It was about being engaged and making a difference in the world, regardless of what shape that takes.”
WAC’s speaker and travel programs fund its education leg, impacting more than 2,000 local students. Amid a rapidly changing world, McBride’s current goal is to secure the future of the program. “Just to prepare the next set of leaders is a huge responsibility,” she says.
As a single mother in the 1970s, Bonnie Young needed to find a career that would support her and her two small children. “I had a job at Saks Fifth Avenue and I was the top salesperson,” she says. “I knew I could sell—I just had to make more money.”
The insurance industry was the answer. “I met everyone, from Park Avenue to park bench, selling insurance,” says Young of her 30 years in the business.
But the industry has begun to change in recent years. “I needed to readjust my career,” says the Penn Valley resident.
Young shifted her focus to clients her own age, assisting them in navigating the various insurance choices for long-term care, while educating them on Medicare. “Life is about change,” she says. “I’m open at this stage of my life to do anything because I never plan on retiring.”
In addition to her insurance business, Young is the president and executive director of the Do Gooders, a nonprofit of 25 prominent women from the Main Line and Philadelphia who are committed to supporting organizations and individuals that otherwise may be overlooked. “This group has become a big part of my life,” she says.
TV can be an effective educational tool—the success of Gael Levin-Simon’s career hinges on that fact. An educational content developer, she creates curricula and content for the small screen. “Parents see the inherent value in telling stories—and television is another medium for telling stories,” says the Bala Cynwyd resident.
Levin-Simon currently works as an educational consultant for the Sprout network and Random House Books. She’s also worked for Sesame Street. “Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work on that show,” she says.
She applied for an internship there while in college—one that evolved into a full-time position, setting her on course to where she is now. “I feel like I’m extremely lucky that I do what I do,” she says. “So I’m going to take this ride as long as I can.”
Stephany Phelps Fahey has one biological sibling—a sister. But growing up in a dorm at the all-boys Phelps School in Malvern, she often felt like she was boarding with 40 brothers. Fahey’s grandfather, Norman Phelps, founded the school in 1946. “My father was a dorm parent, then became headmaster,” says Fahey, who left the Agnes Irwin School after her sophomore year to experience another single-sex boarding experience at the all-girls Madeira School in Virginia.
After graduating from Ohio’s Denison University, she went on to Albany Law School at New York’s Union University. After practicing law in Boston for a number of years, she returned home, becoming the Phelps School’s director of financial affairs. “I know so many aspects of the school so well from having grown up here,” she says.
The school celebrated its 65th anniversary this year, and Fahey anticipates many more decades of success. “I do believe what we do here can change boys’ lives,” she says. “I experience it every day when I see the teachers working with the students.”
Family and friends like to tease Courtnay Tyus by saying she gets paid to socialize. And, to a point, they’re right. As the executive director of development and institutional advancement at the Charter High School for Architecture + Design in Philadelphia, the Ardmore resident must network like crazy to spread the word about her unique institution.
Founded by the Legacy Project of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the school is the first of its kind in the nation. By exposing more students—especially females and minorities—to architecture and design at an early age, the hope is that more will choose it as a career. “It’s a college prep curriculum with a double period of design every day,” says Tyus. “It’s a hands-on learning experience. We don’t just want them to graduate from high school, we’re prepping them for college.”
A Villanova University alum, Tyus cultivates corporate relationships that benefit the school both financially and academically. “I’m so passionate about this school and the difference we’re making in the lives of these students,” says Tyus. “I feel like I’m in the right place.”