The Charles D. Close School has established an Advisory Board comprised of distinguished entrepreneurs, business and industry experts, and community leaders who share their knowledge and expertise for the development or our programs, curriculum, and delivery strategies.
Charles D. Close School Advisory Board Members
Al Altomari ‘82
Al Altomari serves as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Agile Therapeutics, having previously served as its President and Chief Executive Officer and its Executive Chairman. Al has held numerous senior executive and management roles in general management, commercial operations, business development, product launch preparation, and finance with Barrier Therapeutics, Inc. and with Johnson & Johnson. Al also serves on the board of directors of Insmed Inc. and Baudax Bio, Inc. He received an M.B.A. from Rider University and his B.S. from Drexel University. He also serves on LeBow College of Business Advisory Board and is a member of the Board of Directors for TASK (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen).
Nick Bayer has always been in the business of bringing people together, whether it’s as one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs or as a consummate team captain since Little League. So, when he created Saxbys in 2005, he never really considered it to be a coffee company — instead, it’s a hospitality company fueled by great coffee. Saxbys has since grown from one corner café to a nearly 30-unit, Philadelphia-based hospitality business with a mission: Make Life Better. He serves on the Board of The Franklin Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Drexel’s Steinbright Career Development Center, and is a Corporate Council Member for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In 2017, he was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jim Berneski serves as General Manager of EST Group, Inc.
Billy Brandreth ‘93
Billy Brandreth is Managing Partner/co-founder of Headwall Private Markets in San Francisco. Headwall provides liquidity to shareholders and investors of pre-IPO companies. Billy has over 25 years of capital markets expertise. He began his career as a derivatives trader with Susquehanna International Group where he was a co-op. He traded options on both the Philadelphia and Pacific Stock Exchange. Billy grew up in the Philadelphia area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.
Joe Callahan ‘87
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. 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.
George Danko ‘73
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. George last served as 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 of the Charles D. And Barbara Close Estate and Foundation. He is the former 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.
Michael Edwards ‘83
Michael Edwards is a strategic retail and eCommerce executive with 35 years of experience leading publicly traded and privately held retailers through major, billion-dollar transformations. Skilled in driving optimization across digital marketing, merchandising, sales and technology, Michael is focused on driving long-range growth that is sustainable, data driven, and customer centric.
Tactical and visionary, Michael has repeatedly aided in the sale and repositioning of companies falling victim to slow topline growth, major profit losses, over-leveraged balance sheets and under-utilization of technology, even amid cybersecurity crises and a global pandemic. Industry recognized as a transformative business driver, Michael has served on numerous Boards of Directors with organizations: Central Garden & Pet, Drexel University, Flexsteel Industries, Muttropolis.com, WickQuick.com, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Portland State University, and Igo.com.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing from Drexel University. Over the last decade, he and the organizations under his management have received the American Heritage Award from the Anti-Defamation League for leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as Brand of the Year from the International Council of Shopping Centers. Additional recognition includes Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist from Ernst and Young and Multichannel Merchant’s Customer Service Award of the Year.
Christina Flory '10
Christina Flory Lahn is the Director for Corporate & Investment Banking Innovation at TD Securities. She has held various roles at TD focused on corporate innovation and strategies. Prior to her strategic endeavors, she held various roles working with high-net-worth individuals as a Private Client Manager at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Bank and Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. She holds her CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) designations. She spent her early career as a Senior Accountant. She is also the Owner of HOTFLO Studios – a hot yoga and cycle studio.
Christina graduated magna cum laude from Drexel University with a Master of Business Administration in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting. She taught as an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University from 2013 to 2018. Christina has served on the Drexel University Board of Governors since 2017. She has been Chair of the Board of Governors Honors and Awards Committee; served on the Executive Steering Committee for the Close Entrepreneurship Alumni Network; served on the Alumni Advisory Council for Drexel Women in Business; served on the Recent Alumni and Students Committee; Moderator of the Fireside Chat with Gopuff Co-Founders and Moderator of the Forbes 30 Under 30: Bridging the Gap. She currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor of Finance at Rowan University and Senior Adjunct Professor of Accounting & Economics at Rowan College.
Hugh Gallagher '86
Hugh Gallagher is a principled and value-conscious executive / board member with a track record of demonstrated success in developing business strategies and initiatives for short-term profitability, sustainable long-term growth, and consistent performance.
Prior to his retirement in May 2023, Hugh played a key role (CFO) in the early-stage development and growth of Marathon Digital Holdings (NASDAQ: MARA) a publicly traded technology company focused on the Bitcoin ecosystem. Hugh also has over 30 years experience in the energy industry through his tenure at UGI (NYSE: UGI) and AmeriGas (1990 – 2022), including service as Chief Strategy Officer – Global LPG at UGI (2021-2022), President and CEO of AmeriGas (2018-2021), VP Finance & CFO of AmeriGas (2013 – 2018), Treasurer of UGI and AmeriGas (2011 – 2014), and Director of Investor Relations and Treasury for UGI (2007 – 2011). Hugh also served as a Board Member of AmeriGas from 2018–2021.
Hugh is a graduate of Father Judge High School and earned a BS in Accounting from Drexel University. Hugh is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and holds a Certified Corporate Director designation (“NACD.DC”). Hugh is also a member of Private Directors Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He currently serves on the Athletic Advisory Committee at Father Judge.
Hugh holds dual U.S. / Irish citizenship.
David Geltzer ‘77
David Geltzer is the Chairman and Founder of the Geltzer Family Foundation. Geltzer began his career as a senior accountant for a Center City Philadelphia accounting firm. He opened his first clothing store in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia and then went on to become a senior vice president with Macy’s New York, where he helped to create and start the Aéropostale and Charter Club specialty store businesses and had a major influence in the merchandising and marketing strategies of these brands. In 1998, as a principal owner and president of the company, Geltzer was instrumental in taking the Macy’s Specialty Store Division private and then helped the company prepare for an initial public offering. Geltzer founded the Geltzer Family Foundation, which supports programs and organizations in the areas of education and community development. He serves on the board of trustees of Drexel University and served fifteen years on the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen board. A member of the A.J. Drexel Society, he was inducted into the Drexel 100 in 2011 and served as Chair 2017-2019. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Drexel University.
Denise Gibson '82
Denise Gibson is a seasoned CEO and board member with 30 years of experience under her belt. She has experience in founding two companies in the wireless industry as well as success at CEO and independent director level positions in global public, and private corporations as well as non-profits. Gibson currently serves as the co-founder and chairman of Ice Mobility, a national provider of wireless products and supply chain logistic solutions. She previously served as the founder and CEO of Brightstar US, leading the company to a revenue of over $2 billion. She serves as an Independent Director on the boards of Orica, Voxx International, and Aerial. In addition, she serves on the Board of Industry Leaders for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and was a catalyst in creating a $10M Diversity Fund to provide investment to female and minority private equity led firms and entrepreneurs. She is an advocate for victims of domestic violence and founded a wireless industry-wide effort, CALL to PROTECT to provide wireless phones to victims of abuse. Gibson holds a MBA degree from Kellogg at Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing from Drexel University.
Carla Giordano is a Drexel Alum (B.S. Professional Studies - Psychology) and a certified Real
Estate Broker and Sales Agent in the state of Pennsylvania. Carla is currently with Compass.
With a strong, extensive background in management, customer service, and design, Carla
brings her strong belief in the power of partnerships and communication to her work with
clients and her relationships with cooperating agents in the industry.
Carla is the daughter of longtime Advisory Board Member and Close Foundation Trustee Mike
Anthony M. Imbesi ‘05
Anthony Imbesi is Vice President of Patriarch Management, a private real estate investment firm which owns, manages, and develops commercial real estate. He is also a director of Meridian Bank of Malvern PA. In addition, he is a trustee for the Patriarch Family Foundation, which supports education, health, and well-being in the Delaware Valley. He is a graduate of Villanova University and received his MBA from Drexel University.
Karen Jehanian ‘82, ‘00
Karen Jehanian is the founder and president of KMJ Consulting, Inc., (KMJ), a transportation engineering and consulting services firm based in Ardmore, PA. Karen has served as an adjunct instructor for the “Launch It” course at the Close School of Entrepreneurship. In addition to the Close School Advisory Board, she also serves on the Drexel University College of Engineering Advisory Council. She is a guest lecturer and panelist in the College of Engineering and LeBow College of Business. She is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Kevin Kilkeary '94
Kevin Kilkeary is the founder of New Stone, a commodity brokerage firm based in Houston, TX. The firm specializes in the brokerage of oil and gas products as well as environmental credits and carbon offsets. Kevin has 27 years of experience in the commodity markets and is a former board member of the Southwest Chemical Association. He holds a B.S in Finance from Drexel University’s Lebow College of Business.
Robert J. Knorr ‘83
Robert J. Knorr is the founder of Alma Matters - a corporate/non-profit partnership dedicated to promoting engagement between alumni and students from their alma mater. Over his career he founded 10 new businesses in both corporate and start-up settings including one of the nation’s fastest growing private companies - Tapestry Medical. He has also served as the lead investor/advisor in 12 new ventures backed by The COGENT Group - a boutique private equity firm. Mr. Knorr serves as affiliated faculty/advisor at three of the nation’s top schools for entrepreneurship including the University of Pennsylvania, Baylor University, and Drexel University.
William McKernan Jr.
Bill McKernan has been a member of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship Advisory Board since October 2019.
Paul Melchiorre ‘93
Paul Melchiorre currently serves as an Operating Partner for the Stripes Group in New York City focusing on SaaS portfolio companies. Previously, Paul was the Chief Revenue Officer of Anaplan, where he contributed to a successful IPO in 2018. He is an independent director at both R3, an enterprise blockchain technology company, and Scout RFP, a sourcing and procurement software company who was recently sold to Workday. Paul also serves on Drexel University’s President’s Leadership Council. He holds a B.S. in marketing from Villanova University and an MBA from Drexel University.
Doc Parghi ‘95, ‘98
Doc Parghi is a venture capitalist with operational experience running and scaling businesses globally. Doc is a Partner with SRI Capital, an early stage venture capital firm. With over 30 investments, SRI Capital provides funding, advice and liquidity solutions to early stage start-ups primarily in enterprise software and deep tech. Previously, Doc was the Global GM of the Mobility, Social, and IoT business unit at CSC (now DXC Technology), with complete responsibility for building the business globally. Doc is a member of the boards at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Bunker Labs. In addition, Doc is a co-Founder of Broad Street Angels and is a founding member of TiE- Philadelphia. Doc also serves as a Civilian Aide to Secretary (CASA) of the Army for Pennsylvania-East, appointed by the US Secretary of the Army. Doc received his BS and later his MBA from Drexel University.
Frank Rauch ‘84
Frank Rauch is Head of Check Point’s Worldwide Channels. His responsibilities include strategy, execution and results for Check Point Channel Partners around the globe. Frank’s previous roles include executive sales, marketing and strategy roles at VMware, HP and IBM. Frank and his teams have received over 60 industry awards. He is a graduate of Drexel University with degrees in Marketing and Computer Systems Management. Frank is active on several nonprofit boards and has been an advisor to companies such as Cohesity, Veeam, Skycure, Cloudgenera, Snyk, CDW and others.
Bryan L. Rishforth '92
is the Executive Chairman of Graphite GTC, the world's most sustainable and advanced No-Code software development platform, where he guides the firm in helping global clients accelerate digital transformation. Mr. Rishforth is also a Founding Board Member and Committee Chair for TiE Philadelphia, an organization for entrepreneurs founded in Silicon Valley with over 60 global chapters and a network of over 20,000 leaders focused on fostering entrepreneurship. As co-founder and principal of the Energy Solutions Group (ESG) and R&R Global Partners, his private investment group focuses on renewable energy, commercial real estate, and growth technology.
He is a graduate of Drexel University and an Eta Kappa Nu honoree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has remained active in the Drexel community since graduation, as a Trustee and Board member at Drexel University’s College of Medicine/ Philadelphia Health and Education Corporation, a Benefactor of the A.J. Drexel Society, corporate sponsor, co-op employer, and Adjunct at the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. Rishforth spent his first 20 years at General Electric, GE Capital and Cerberus Capital Management in increasingly expanded management and governance roles across its manufacturing, services, financing, transportation and insurance units. Early career roles included engineering, manufacturing, finance, internal audit, mergers and acquisitions and Six Sigma quality.
In 1999, he was appointed Chief Risk Manager of GE Aviation, where he led global underwriting, deal structuring and management of its $32B long-term aviation services portfolio. Later he was tapped to lead the planned merger and integration of Honeywell’s aviation services unit, a $9B portfolio. In 2005, he was appointed President, General Manager and Division Executive at GE Energy’s $2.3B water division, where he led GE Water Services business through a 300% global expansion. Rishforth led business teams in Europe, Asia, Australia and numerous North American operations of GE Appliances, GE Plastics, GE Lighting, GE Energy, GE Aviation, GE Capital's Employer's Reinsurance and GE Insurance (Genworth), and GE Consumer (GE Money). He is an alumnus of GE’s Crotonville, Corporate Audit Staff and Advanced Six Sigma programs (certified Black Belt and Master Black Belt). Rishforth was recruited from GE in 2005, to provide private equity operations and buy-out advisory services to Cerberus Capital Management, LP, the $55B international private equity group in New York. At Cerberus, Rishforth served as interim CEO, Chief Restructuring Officer, Board Member, Vice-Chairman, and led investor representative for numerous publicly and privately held portfolio companies in North America, Europe and Asia. He co-led due diligence, acquisition, disposition, restructuring, IPOs and secondary offering activities in companies that included Air Canada (TSE:AC.B), Jazz Airlines (TSE:JAZ.UN), Debis AirFinance/AerCap (NYSE:AER), Sylvania Lighting International (SLI: HAVELLS.NS (India)), amongst others.
He is a benefactor, corporate sponsor and Bacchanal Gala Committee member of PAFA (the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), and is a former Board member of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (Flyers Charities affiliate) serving at-risk youth in Philadelphia. He resides with his wife and daughter in Bryn Mawr, PA.
William R. Schutt ‘67
William 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. He is a Drexel University graduate and holder of seven 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. He has authored and published numerous technical papers and lectured in more than twenty-five countries. He has also 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.
Stanley W. Silverman ‘69, ‘74
Stan Silverman is the former president and CEO of PQ Corporation, a global company which operated in North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific. He writes a weekly nationally syndicated column on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance in the Philadelphia Business Journal and 43 affiliated business publications in major cities across the U.S. Stan is the author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success,” which teaches all businesses how to become the preferred provider to their markets and how to be different than one’s peers to get that next promotion or new job. He is Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Drexel University, serves as Chairman of the Board’s Complex Transactions Committee and was the former Chairman of the Board’s Finance Committee and former Chairman of the Drexel College of Medicine. Stan serves on the boards of AIM Academy, Friends Select School, Faith in the Future, and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. He also serves on the advisory boards of Drexel's Close School of Entrepreneurship and LeBow College of Business. He has served on the boards of numerous public company, private company and private equity company boards. Stan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.
Sunny White drives the promotion of global brands for pharmaceutical, medical device, biotech, hospital systems, and healthcare companies. She founded Xavier Creative House (XCH), a creative agency that builds BOLD and EVOCATIVE designs, pushing the edge of creativity. Sunny is the point person for positioning your brand into a “Powerhouse.” As, CEO, she leads Operations and Client Management utilizing a wealth of experience gained from her roles in communications, compliance, and sales in rapid- growth companies. Sunny earned an MBA with a concentration in International Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University, Haub School of Business. She studied Business Administration at Saint Michael’s College graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science.