First Annual MBA Sustainability Alumni Weekend


Duquesne SMBA Alumni Board 2013 – from left, Dana McTighe (’12), Maureen Coyle (’12), Drew Lessard (’10), Erin Fargo (’12), Alison Steele (’11) and Jeff Gladstone (’11)

A few weekends ago, the MBA Sustainability alumni board organized the first annual reunion weekend with the help of professors, alumni and university staff.  As a current student, it was exciting to be included in the first of many alumni weekends to come, and it made me excited for trips back to the bluff to catch up with my cohort, program alumni, professors, and current students.

Drew Lessard shared that more than 20% of all alumni were in attendance over the course of the weekend.  The weekend kicked off with a “Discussion & Topics on Leading Change”.  This event included Andrew Butcher from GTECH Strategies, he discussed how he leverages a culture of “experiential learning” at his company to encourage employees to discover and innovate through their careers.

In addition, Jim Crisanti from International Electric Power (IEP) shared fascinating stories of cultural challenges in Haiti and Pakistan in the development of electricity generation. Contrasting the two experiences for IEP, Jim shared with us how leading change has been successful and more challenging in his experiences overseas.

Towards the end of the afternoon Bill O’Rourke led a panel discussion with program alumni.  The panel included Mackenzie Crigger, Energy Conversation and Sustainability Manager at Chapman University (’10);  Ashley Jones Organizational Efficiency Specialist at NORESCO (’12);  Jeff Gladstone Vice President of Operational Risk at PNC Bank (’11); and JP Gibbons Energy and Environment investment Officer at US Agency for International Development (’12).  Each of them shared insights and tips on how to drive change.

Other events throughout the weekend included class reunion dinners, an urban scavenger hunt, the big alumni bash, and a farewell brunch.  There is already a buzz in my cohort regarding next year’s alumni weekend. Thanks to an amazing alumni board for planning such an exceptional weekend, and to those of you who missed out keep your ears open regarding next year!


Student Spotlight: Blair Schoenborn

Before Duquesne: Blair is originally from Warren, Pennsylvania; however, she spent the last 7 years in Denali National Park, AK.  Blair served as the youth programs director at the Denali Education Center, a non-profit organization in Denali National Park.  Blair is now on the board of directors, and explains that their mission is to foster an appreciation for Denali through informative and inspiring programs.  Blair moved to Pittsburgh for this program, and worked as the outdoor adventure specialist at Shady Side Academy over the summer.  Blair completed her undergraduate degree at Allegheny College, majoring in environmental science.

Why Duquesne: I was actively seeking an MBA program with a sustainability focus and liked Duquesne’s program because of the opportunities to work with local businesses, the global study trips, and the cohort model.

Beyond Duquesne: Upon completion of the program, Blair will most likely be seeking positions with foundations or other not-for-profits in the Pittsburgh area.  She’s most interested in program management and grant administration, but she’s sure she will have a growing list of interests as the program continues.






Student Spotlight: Nick Monzo

IMG_0152Before Duquesne: Prior to joining our program, Nick studied communication at Villanova University.  He worked as a corporate sales intern at Philadelphia Union and as a promotions assistant at 94WIP, CBS Radio.  During his time at Villanova, he produced a documentary focusing on social justice.  The film follows several college students living in the United States as undocumented immigrants.

Why Duquesne: “I chose this program because its mission echoed my own personal values and interests. In addition, I was eager to be back in my hometown.  When I had the opportunity to visit campus and attend class, all of the faculty and students made me feel very comfortable, even though I had a limited business background at the time. I felt as if they wanted me, and me specifically, to be a part of their next cohort.  All of these factors made choosing Duquesne a very easy decision for me.”

Beyond Duquesne: After this program Nick plans to work in finance or project management for a small company with a tight-knit culture.  He would like to stay in the Pittsburgh area, but he is open to many opportunities. Nick is able to articulate his thoughts effectively making him a valuable asset to any organization.