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External Advisory Board

External Advisory Board

To continually improve our programs, curriculum, and delivery strategies, the Close School has established a committee of distinguished external advisors comprised of entrepreneurs, business and industry experts, and community leaders to provide valuable input and service.

Close School External Advisory Board Members

Al Altomari
Mr. Altomari is President and Chief Executive Officer of Agile Therapeutics and a member of the Company’s Board of Directors since 2010.  Prior to being named President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Altomari served as Agile’s Executive Chairman from 2004 to 2010 in which he closed a $45 million venture round in May 2010.  Serving as Chief Executive Officer, he raised an additional $40 million of equity in June 2012 and closed a $15 million financing agreement in December 2012.  Mr. Altomari has over 30 years of experience in the industry, with more than 20 years focused on the development and marketing of specialty pharmaceuticals at global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Johnson & Johnson.

George M. Danko
George Danko is currently an independent business advisor that provides strategy development, marketing, sales, channel development, business development and operational consulting services to companies with diverse business needs; driving the quick return to profitable growth, global expansion or exit. Mr. Danko currently serves as a the board member of Onpoint Medical Diagnostics, UpdateLogic, Reshare Commerce, LLC, SinuGenix, LLC and a board observer for YesVideo, Inc.

Michael F. Doyle
Michael Doyle is a Trustee for the Estate of Charles D. Close and The Charles and Barbara Close Foundation. He is the President and CEO of CDS Analytical, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of laboratory instruments for sample preparation and analysis that has been in business for over 30 years, located in Oxford, Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Advisory Council for the Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship at Drexel University.

Michael Edwards
Mike Edwards is the CEO of eBags.com and has led brand transformations and business turnarounds for some of the leading names in the industry in both the fashion and hardlines categories. He was the former head of global merchandising for Staples and was responsible for the merchandising strategy and new business development, assortment planning as well as the vendor programs for the retail, online, and contract sales divisions. He also managed the global private label group and innovation teams supporting divisions in 26 countries and generating over 5B in sales.

Prior to Staples he joined Borders in September 2009 as Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, and was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Borders, Inc. and President, Borders Group, Inc. in June 2010 through 2011. Mike received many accolades for his ability to handle an extremely challenging restructuring effort by his team and vendors for his leadership and integrity.

Mike brings a demonstrated track record of success to consumer brands having served as President and CEO of lucy activewear, where he led the reinvention of the speciality retailer, taking it from just 10 stores and no e-commerce capability to over 60 stores and a successful web business. The International Council of Shopping Centers recognized Mike's leadership at lucy by naming it 2007 "Brand of the Year." Lucy was sold in August 2007 to VF Corporation. Mike was also a finalist for the E&Y Entrepreneur of the year.

Mike was part of a turnaround team that moved fabric and craft retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc. (NYSE: JAS) from near bankruptcy to a highly profitable company with $2 billion in annual sales. During Mike's tenure at Jo-Ann, where he served for three years as Executive Vice President, Operations.

He began his career with merchandising positions at The May Department Store Company and Target Corporation.

BS from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

David Geltzer
David Geltzer is the founder and director of the Geltzer Family Foundation, established in 2003 and the retired president of the specialty clothing stores Aéropostale and Chelsea Campbell. He had an extensive business career at Macy’s New York and helped Macy’s develop and start the Charter Club and Aéropostale Specialty Store chains. In 1998, as a principal owner, Mr. Geltzer was instrumental in taking the Macy’s Specialty Store Division business private and then helped the company prepare to go public.

Karen Jehanian
Karen Jehanian has been an entrepreneur since childhood. First with an apple business (before Steve Jobs), then t-shirts, key fobs, children's educational products and now an engineering consulting firm. Entrepreneurship is her passion. Whether it is a product or service, this is what makes her tick.

Karen founded KMJ Consulting, Inc., (KMJ) in 1998 and currently serves as its President. KMJ is an innovative transportation engineering and consulting services firm based in Ardmore, Pa. In her spare time, she serves as an elected member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors and former College of Engineering Advisory Council member. She is a frequent guest lecturer and panelist in the College of Engineering and LeBow College of Business. She is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Stanley W. Silverman
Stan is the former president and CEO of PQ Corporation, a global company operating in North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific in two core businesses – chemicals and engineered glass materials. He writes a weekly nationally syndicated column on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance in the Philadelphia Business Journal and 42 affiliated business publications in major cities across the U.S.

He is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, serves as chairman of the board’s complex transactions committee and is the former chairman of the board’s finance committee. He is the former chairman of Drexel University College of Medicine and former chairman of the Soap and Detergent Association.

Stan serves on the boards of Friends Select School and Faith in the Future, an organization that operates the 17 high schools within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He also serves on the advisory boards of Drexel’s Close School of Entrepreneurship and the LeBow College of Business. He has served on the boards of numerous public company, private company and private equity company boards.

He has been an invited guest lecturer on leadership at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and at the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University. As well, he has been a speaker on leadership and governance issues at Private Company Governance Summits and at numerous other conferences.

Stan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and a MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Wade Charles Barnett
A 1984 graduate of Drexel University, Wade began his career with Philadelphia based investment firm, Butcher & Singer. While retail stock brokerage did not resonate with Wade, he was drawn to working with institutional clients, specifically financial cooperatives, after a chance meeting with a credit union. After some early success developing portfolio strategies for his growing credit union client base, Wade made his way to Wall Street joining Oppenheimer and Company in 1986 to create the Credit Union Financial Services Group (CUFS). Shortly thereafter, Wade became a frequent speaker at credit union conferences and a volunteer educator of regional examiners for the National Credit Union Administration. While a Senior Managing Director at Bear Stearns (1995 – 2008), Wade and the CUFS group created numerous innovative products and services exclusively for credit unions including CUAuto, CUPlus, CUMAC, and the Managed Leverage Program (BSMLS), a registered 40 Act fund and National Credit Union Administration approved investment pilot program for federally chartered credit unions. Now almost three decades later, currently a Managing Director at JP Morgan Securities, Wade continues to pursue his passion for ‘helping credit unions do well, so they can do good'.

Joe Callahan
Joe Callahan, Founder and CEO of the Ciright Companies is an Internet of Things (IoT) expert. Combining a mix of engineering, programming and creative marketing, Joe specializes in eliminating traditional technology barriers across all industries. He is a highly sought after thought-leader serving the needs of businesses striving for growth, governments seeking efficiency, social service organizations attempting to scale, and manufacturers interested in creating meaningful careers.

As CEO and Founder of The Ciright Companies, Joe oversees more than 100 employees spanning several continents and over 15 brands. Each Ciright Company is focused on developing next-generation tools for small and large entities.

The Ciright Companies also offers a TE (Technology Equity) Program whereby individuals who have a compelling idea for a new product or service can pitch an internal team and ultimately partner and leverage Ciright's technology. This program significantly reduces the amount of time entrepreneurs bring their idea to market.

A native of Philadelphia (aka the "Liberty Valley") and proud graduate of Northeast Catholic High School and Drexel University, he earned degrees in Engineering, Information Systems Management, and Marketing. In June of 2016, Joe was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by EY for the Philadelphia region.

Connect with Joe on LinkedIn or read his latest thoughts.

Catherine Angell Sohn, Pharm.D.
Formerly senior vice president at GlaxoSmithKline plc, a global pharmaceutical company, is an independent Director on the Board of Directors of Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (JAZZ), Landec Corporation (LNDC), and Neuralstem, Inc (CUR), all publicly-traded life science companies, and non-executive Chairman of the privately held, biotechnology company, ConcentRx Inc. She holds the position of Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Francisco and serves on the board of directors of the not-for- profit World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

Catherine Sohn has deep industry knowledge with thirty years of U.S. and global experience in the pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare industries, and a reputation as a strategic thinker with the ability to drive a strong interface between research & development and marketing. As an entrepreneur within a corporation, while at SmithKline Beecham, she started the US Vaccine Business. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of California San Francisco and a Certificate of Professional Development from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Leadership Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), a licensed pharmacist (California) and a Certified Licensing Professional.

William R. Schutt
Mr. Schutt is the founder, former owner and Chairman of MATCOR, Inc., a forty-year old engineering and manufacturing company serving the worldwide oil, gas, infrastructure industries and governments. Mr. Schutt is a Drexel University graduate, holder of six US patents and several foreign patents.  He has been recognized by the US government as one of the top experts in infrastructure corrosion and was part of a White House delegation to the Soviet Union.  Mr. Schutt is certified as a NACE International Corrosion Specialist and is an ICORR Fellow of the United Kingdom Corrosion Society. He has authored and published numerous technical papers and lectured in more than twenty-five countries.

Mr. Schutt has been featured for his business and technical achievements in TIME Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and many other publications, radio and television.  He has appeared on national radio and television including Good Morning America, Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC, FOX News, NBC, CBS and others. He has received numerous awards for his work and worldwide projects and in 2016 received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA.

Mr. Schutt spends much of his time with non-profit organizations and serves or has served on the board of several organizations. He mentors established business owners and is a mentor for students at Drexel University in Philadelphia. A saxophone player, Bill plays in the Delaware Valley University Symphonic and jazz bands, does classical solo work and has played with the Bucks County Symphony. He is the founder of the Delaware Valley Saxophone Quartet that has played in venues from the Philadelphia Constitution Center to concerts on Nantucket, MA. The group made their first studio CD in March 2017. He also serves as the resident saxophone professor and “Know-It- All” philosopher at the Schutt Institute for Exceptional Grandchildren.

Emily Bittenbender

Emily’s career focus has been the design, construction and renovations of public buildings and spaces. Early in her career she was hired by the Rendell Administration to jumpstart the paralyzed system of completing over 300 backlogged capital construction projects within city government. As Philadelphia’s first Capital Program Director for the CPO, Emily was charged with the responsibility of bringing private sector business practices to the city and completed $454 million of capital projects in 3 ½ years time.


In January 2000, Emily was hired as the Vice President of Design & Construction for the National Constitution Center to lead a team once again in the design and construction of a $137M museum in Independence Mall.


After the completion of the National Constitution Center in 2003, Emily started Bittenbender Construction, LP, a commercial general contractor and construction management firm specializing in the new construction and renovations of museums and historic sites, retail, higher education and corporate fit out projects (the only woman owned, union affiliated general contractor in the local area).


In 2009 Emily launched Philadelphia Carpentry Systems, LP, a woman owned carpentry and exhibit Installation Company, providing quality carpentry services to general contractors and building owners in the Philadelphia region.


In 2011, Emily was awarded The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Excellence Award for Small Business Person of the Year. Most recently in 2016, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce awarded Emily with Paradigm Award, the region’s most prestigious award for businesswomen.


In 2015, The Philadelphia chapter of the General Building Contractors Association named Emily L. Bittenbender as its new chairwoman — the first female to hold the top post in the organization's 124-year history.


Emily currently sits on the following boards: Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, GBCA Executive Committee, Philadelphia Carpenters Company Executive Committee, Drexel University’s Close School Advisory Board, American Cancer Society CEOs Against Cancer and more.


Bittenbender Construction’s most recent high profile project is Love Park, which will be opening late fall of this year. This past September, Bittenbender Construction, LP was ranked #2 on the “The List” for Women-Owned Businesses by the Philadelphia Business Journal – based on Company Revenue in 2016.