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).
Wade Charles Barnett ‘84
A 1984 graduate of Drexel University, Wade Barnett 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. Wade made his way to Wall Street joining Oppenheimer and Company in 1986 to create the Credit Union Financial Services Group (CUFS). 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). 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'.
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
Mike Edwards is the CEO Hanna Andersson and former 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.
David Geltzer ‘77
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.
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 officer 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. In addition, she is an advocate for victims of domestic violence and has founded a wireless industry-wide effort, CALL to PROTECT which provides wireless phones to victims of abuse. She was honored with a Gloria Award and the CTIA Wireless Foundation’s Citizenship Award for her advocacy in help victims of domestic violence through use of wireless technologies. Gibson holds a MBA degree from Kellogg at Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing from Drexel University.
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.
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.
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.