Clark DeLeon (1970): Mr. Philadelphia
Clark DeLeon is Philadelphia. As he puts it "I was born in the hospital founded by Benjamin Franklin, and I studied journalism at the university founded by Russell Conwell." But without Montgomery County Community College, nobody else would have known. "I never wrote for publication until Diane Whitehead (now Horan) asked me to be the editor of The Montgazette. She changed my life." Clark still keeps in touch with Diane. From the College to Temple University to The Philadelphia Inquirer as a columnist writing "The Scene" for 23 years, Clark lives and breathes Philadelphia. Today, when he's not in colonial garb regaling tourists with Philadelphia history on Independence Mall, he's writing his new Inquirer column, "Clark's Park," or teaching as a senior adjunct at the College. "If it were me today," he says, reflecting on his start at the College, "I'd go again.
Celeste Schwartz (1970): Campus icon
“My parents told me that there was no way I was going away for college,” Celeste says. She kept her job at the post office and went to school at the new Montgomery County Community College in Conshohocken to study data processing. “I was there every day, Monday through Friday. The College was closed over the weekends.” At graduation, Celeste was offered a job in computing services while she completed her bachelor’s degree in business at St. Joseph’s University. By 1980, she had her master’s degree in computer science from Villanova, and in 2011, her doctorate degree from Walden University. Today, Celeste holds the position of Vice President for Information Technology and College Services and is one of the longest tenured employees at the College with 44 years of service, and counting! She’s committed to the College’s success, each and every day.
George Marin (1971): Strong foundation
George Marin believes that building a career is like building a house: start with a strong foundation. That is exactly what the College gave him: a solid educational foundation and an excellent starting point to build his future. George continued his education studying computer science at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, and returned to the area to run Rotelle, Inc.’s IT department for several years. He completed his graduate studies in engineering at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1982, he started Data Tech Solutions, LLC, and developed software for the supply chain industry. In 2005, George sold his company to Retalix USA, and stayed on as a consultant until it was sold to NCR in 2013. He serves on several College boards as a member of computer science and engineering advisory committees, on several school foundations, and as a College trustee. He’s committed to giving back to our local community.
Thomas Rogers (1971): A jump start into life
"I appreciate all that Montgomery County Community College did for me," Thomas tells us. "The College puts you with people who are motivated." That speaks volumes when you consider his more than 20 years in police work, from the radio room to chief of the Lower Providence Police Department, and 11 years on the bench as a Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas judge. He was appointed as chair of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Criminal Procedural Rules Committee in 2008. Along the way, Thomas earned his bachelor's degree from Temple University, a master's degree in criminal justice from West Chester, and then back to Temple for a law degree. He was selected to attend the FBI National Academy in 1982. But what brings him the most pride? "Being married to my wife of 38 years," he says, smiling. "She gave me permission to apply to law school—but only at night!"
Sheila Wallace (1971) and James Wallace (1972): From the kitchen to the garage to the world
Some great tech companies start in garages. Jim and Sheila's business, Electro Soft, Inc., started on their kitchen table and then moved to the garage! "I told him to move, so I could make some meals," Sheila says. He did, and he moved a few more times as business grew into a premier contract manufacturing company specializing in industrial control electronics and now employs dozens in a 20,000 square-foot space in Montgomeryville, Pa. As if that wasn't enough, Jim served our country, too, for 36 years in the U.S. Air Force. Sheila served in several roles in the company, including Marketing Director, in addition to jobs at Richardson Vicks and Wissahickon High School. Plus Sheila and Jim are involved in a variety of community activities, especially their church. Still, they don't forget where they came from. "Our two-year Montgomery County Community College education put us into a great position when we transferred to Penn State. We were very well prepared educationally," Jim says. Sheila agrees. "We always make sure to tell people that our Montgomery County Community College education was outstanding and put us in a position for success. It was a fine experience.
Jane Flanagan (1973): Caring for thousands
"I am eternally thankful for the Montgomery County Commissioners who started Montgomery County Community College," Jane Flanagan says. Starting at the Conshohocken campus, she completed her degree at Blue Bell. As the first college graduate in her family, Jane went on to earn her bachelor's degree in early childhood education at Temple University and a master's degree in Educational Administration at Arcadia University. With her love of teaching, Jane used the College as a springboard to open two of the most successful preschools in the region. Over the years, she employed hundreds and cared for thousands. "College was an eye opener," she remembers. "The faculty was inspiring and challenged me to think." A lifelong learner, Jane still takes classes at the College. She's also on the College's Education Advisory Board, serves as an adjunct professor of Education in the Early Years and teaches Early Childhood Education at Central Montco Technical High School.
Robert Cominsky (1974): A passionate believer
"Montgomery County Community College was my only option," says Bob Cominsky. "I had to get serious." And he did. "In my first year I found direction thanks to John Lace, my accounting professor." Bob went from the College to Temple, then Price Waterhouse. Soon he found his professional passion: sales. At his side all the way, his wife Dale, also a graduate of the College. With Ellucian since 1990, Bob helps colleges and universities use technology to better support their strategic goals and objectives. In 2013 he received Ellucian's "Top Sales Vice President, Across All Lines of Business" award. "I'm a big believer in community colleges," he says. We can tell. Bob and Dale recently created the "Cominsky Family Scholarship Fund" for College students in financial need.
Peter Grove (1974): Innovative science teacher, outdoorsman, storyteller
Peter grew up in England and graduated high school at age 15. He became a certified landscaper, a carpenter, a painter, a merchant seaman and a part-time soldier with the United Kingdom's Special Air Service. Peter met his wife, Nancy, in India, where for two years he sunk wells with "untouchable" villagers. Lured to America by Nancy, he earned his associate's degree at Montgomery County Community College on a full scholarship ("For which I am eternally indebted," he tells us.) He transferred to University of Pennsylvania for his bachelor's degree followed by his master's degree in elementary education. After three years of teaching, another of travel, and back to Philadelphia to direct a nonprofit, Peter began teaching science at Friends' Central Lower School. For the past 27 years, Peter has created hands-on lessons augmented by his worldwide experiences. Among his awards, Peter was named "Teacher of the Year" by the Garden Clubs of America. He's also served on several nonprofit boards, including Riverbend Environmental Education Center and Bridlewild Trails Association.
Ross Mitchell (1974): Art of the career
"I came to Montgomery County Community College as an aspiring painter," Ross says. He earned his bachelor's degree from Eastern University, and after studying art and aesthetics at the Barnes Foundation, he served as its Gallery Director for seven years. His next position was working for an art consulting firm in New York City and managing the collections of corporate financial giants. His career took an interesting twist with his position as Executive Director of Laurel Hill Cemetery, where he was charged with turning the historic site into a heritage tourism destination. He served as a board member of the Violette de Mazia Foundation, and in time, the board asked Ross to assume leadership of the Foundation as the director. In addition, his reach extends well into the community, and he has served as a member of several boards. As for his art ... he wishes he had more time to paint!
Eileen Behr (1976): A stand out in our community
"Montgomery County Community College was a great start," she remembers. Eileen entered the Police Academy in 1980. It only started accepting women four years before, and she became Montgomery County's sixth female office. By 2003, Eileen was Chief of Police in Whitemarsh Township, the first woman in the position. In 2011, she was appointed as Sheriff of Montgomery County. Today, she's Director of Police Operations at Drexel University. "It's a different kind of policing. It's more service orientation than community work, with much more guidance and mentoring." Eileen is on the College's Criminal Justice Advisory Board and teaches at the Police Academy.
Michael D'Aniello (1976): Passion for the college
"This College is in my blood," Michael D'Aniello says. "It gave me an opportunity I other-wise wouldn't have had. It's an incredible asset to our community." Michael went from Montgomery County Community College straight to Villanova University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in accounting, and then to Widener University School of Law for his law degree. He now advises clients on a wide variety of legal matters from his offices in Norristown. Micael has been on the College's Board of Trustees since 2001 and Board Chair since 2011, D'Aniello is passionate about the College. "The reason I'm here is to give back; to support the College's students."
Brian Lamoreaux (1976): Just the ticket
"Montgomery County Community College was a good way to get started," Brian tells us. And it started with the Student Entertainment Association. "We booked major concerts: Hall and Oates, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Winter Festival and more. We were our own promoters." Brian thought that he would follow his dad to Sperry, so he went to Spring Garden College. That's not how it turned out, though. A casual remark while picking up tickets at the Phillies' box office brought him to the Phillies' organization. "I heard the ticket printer and told the guy I knew what machine it was." That was in 1987. Brian grew with the job, and today he's in charge of technical systems in Citizens Bank Park. There's been some fun perks, too, like riding a float down Broad Street after the World Series. Through it all, Brian reflects, there's been one constant theme: "Don't be afraid to get involved, even if it's not comfortable," he says.
Cynthia Diccianni (1977): Work ethic was the norm
Everyone thought Cindy's life was set, except Cindy! Growing up in the local Greek community, Cindy was raised with a strong work ethic, and business ownership was the norm. So was the passing of a business to the next generation. But working at her father's deli wasn't her dream. Cindy became the first member of her family to attend college. "Montgomery County Community College changed my perception of my abilities." From the College, Cindy continued her education in nursing at Hahnemann and began a 17-year career at Suburban Mercy Hospital. Her gift for healing and nurturing went far beyond medicine. Watching friends and family suffer the financial consequences of a turbulent economy, Cindy began an investment club for women and fell in love with investing. By 2008, she opened her own investment advisory firm. Cindy serves on the boards of Montgomery County Community College Foundation, the Montgomery County Foundation and the Montgomery County Estate Planning Council. She also served as the local president of Women in Insurance and Financial Services for four years, before passing the reigns over this year.
Susan Nicholas Gephart (1977): The art of plein air
"My Montgomery County Community College experience affects me even today," Susan Nicholas Gephart says. One of her biggest influences was Professor Roger Cairns. "Roger taught me open-air painting. It's the heart of what I do." But it wasn't all canvas and brush strokes. "I was fascinated with the environment; I still am. I took a special interest in water, testing for pollution on the Perkiomen Creek." Today, Susan supports organizations such as Clearwater Conservancy and the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania and creates much of her work "plein air," or on location. She is an award-winning artist who demonstrates for national art supply companies and organizes the annual Hameau Farm Artists Retreats. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Penn Stater Conference Center and The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.
Oscar Vance (1977): In service to others
Ask him, and Oscar Vance may show you his wrist band. "I went to Kenya in 2013 as a missionary." His life of service started with the Marines at age 17. His duty as a military police officer shaped the rest of his life. At 21, Oscar was taking the police exam and was recommended to the district attorney's office. In two years, he became a detective, and by age 42, he was Chief of Detectives. By retirement, Oscar had worked on 800 murder investigations, with a 95 percent solving rate and 98 percent conviction rate. Along the way, Oscar finished his associate's degree with the College, and went onto LaSalle and West Chester universities and then the FBI Academy. He's also chairman for the College's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee. On retirement, Oscar started a business and a nonprofit, and also serves on several boards.
Sam Davis (1978): Family and flexibility
To Sam Davis, being close to family is important. "I was, and still am, very close with my family. Plus, I was undecided about what I wanted to do." It's that flexibility that has brought many students to the College, then and now. It's also the quality of the education. "I left Montgomery County Community College really well prepared." For Sam, that led to a math teacher certification at West Chester University, a master's degree at Arcadia University, a job teaching math, and an opportunity at GE Aerospace. Sam rose quickly, through three company changes: GE, Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin. His leadership roles have included Director of Technical Operations for the Delaware Valley, man aging more than 1,400 people, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, Sam is Director of Business Transformation and Integration in the CIO organization. "The path is not always what you expect," he says, "I thought I would be a teacher, but another path opened up. It's essential to be open and take risks."
Melissa Motz (1978): Investing in a future
Fresh out of high school, Melissa Motz didn't find her job as "tape librarian" at Univac very exciting. She decided to take some classes. "All I did was study, sleep and work," Melissa remembers. "Accounting class was fun and motivating." Now, she was inspired! She went from the College to Temple University to "Big 8" accounting—but not for long. A business plan she created in a Drexel University master's degree class led to her next move. "I started by doing taxes, but I really liked investments." Melissa now helps clients meet their financial dreams. She gives back in important ways, too, starting with her service on the College's Foundation Board, and by sponsoring the Motz Wealth Management Prosperity Scholarship.
Scott Rau (1978): A swipe at the future
At age 19, Scott wasn't sure that any college was right for him. "Student government was my first leadership experience," he remembers. "I was 17, but because of Montgomery County Community College, I advanced in speaking and working in big groups." After George Washington University, Scott started with Provident National Bank. By 1986, he was with the "MAC" debit card network. In the 1980s, that meant helping the public use bank cards like cash. Now, as Senior Vice President for JP Morgan Chase, the lessons from Student Government Association apply today. "Only one person can be the visible leader, but everyone can meaningfully contribute," he says. Scott's glad to bring his experience to the College's Foundation Board.