Blue and White Spotlight
Kara Mulcahy Valentine '92 VSB
Mentoring Villanova students is one of the most mutually rewarding ways alumni can remain involved with the University. According to Kara Mulcahy Valentine ’92 VSB, mentoring Villanova School of Business (VSB) students fuels her own commitment to lifelong learning while providing students with support at a crucial stage of their academic careers. “It is incredibly rewarding to lend an ear, offer advice and guidance, and then see your mentee thrive in life after graduation from Villanova,” Kara said.
While VSB now has a formal Mentor Program, Kara began working with students at the School while employed by Merrill Lynch, as part of an alumni-initiated mentoring program created by fellow Wildcat William “Bill” Donnell ’77. “Bill’s mantra has always been about ‘Villanovans helping Villanovans,’” she said.
Kara’s involvement with VSB also includes serving on the Center for Marketing and Consumer Insights (CMCI) Advisory Board and participation in the School’s annual Marketing Mania day which features roundtable conversations and presentations with students.
Kara says the education she received at Villanova and the University community allowed her to deepen her faith and continued to instill long-lasting values that began with her father, John R. Mulcahy ’60 VSB. Kara formed lifelong friendships with her Villanova roommates, who remain there for each other through “joy, humor, sadness and hardship.”
Currently serving as Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development at independent wealth manager Cary Street Partners, Kara has more than two decades of marketing experience in financial services. She has previously held marketing positions with Rockefeller Capital Management, Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management Division, and Morgan Stanley. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ and her son, Harrison, is studying journalism at Louisiana State University.
Karen Young '94 VSB
From her first time on campus, Karen Young ’94 VSB felt that Villanova was a “perfect match” for her. Since then, she has felt the sense of life-long community that the University provided and has wanted to share that experience with others. “I truly believe that the confidence, exposure and experience I received at Villanova prepared me for my career and entrance into the workforce,” she said. “I look back at my experience and I would not change anything in my four years.”
While at Villanova, Karen was actively engaged as a cheerleader for the men’s basketball and football teams, participated as a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and was involved with the Accounting Society. She also worked off campus for a local accounting firm. That experience led to her applying with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as a summer intern—and ultimately begin a long and enjoyable career.
Over her 26-year career with PwC, Karen has served as a partner and leading the firm’s U.S. Pharmaceutical Sector. As her way of paying it forward, Karen has made sure to stay actively engaged with the company’s recruiting efforts and campus visits at Villanova, promoting student internship opportunities and local alumni networks.
“The values and culture of Villanova brings people together to always do better,” she said. “Whether I am at a charity event, meeting a client, volunteering at my children’s school or on LinkedIn, I find an alum, parent, student or professor and I am always amazed at the passion Villanovans have to support each other.”
Though she admits that life gets busy with family, children and work commitments, Karen says that she always tries to make it back to campus every year, ready to cheer on the next generation of Wildcats.
"I have always felt a sense of belonging, and with that you feel an obligation to provide that opportunity to others,” she said. “I believe giving back can be your time, advice, counsel as well as monetary. In a world where we feel that our decisions and choices are always tested, the foundation that I built at Villanova gives me confidence and affirms my decisions in work and life.”
Villanova was not only the springboard for Karen’s professional life—she also met her husband, Bill ’91, while both were students at the University. The two were married in the Villanova Chapel and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year. Now the couple enjoy bringing their three children, Andrew, Brian and Mary, back to campus to see the place that brought them together in faith and friendship, as well as led to success in their careers.
Karen and her family currently reside in New Jersey. She holds her CPA in both New York and New Jersey and serves on the Board of Directors of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Gill St. Bernard’s School.
Dominick L. Paragano '80 and Dominick V. Paragano '09
For father and son duo Dominick (Dom) L. Paragano ’80 VSB and Dominick V. Paragano ’09 VSB, a passion for Villanova is a true family affair. Dom Sr. and Dominick Jr. are not only both Villanova alumni with degrees in finance, but they also work alongside one another at Paragano Real Estate Management, Inc., a company Dom Sr. founded when he was 25.
Dom Sr. said he and his wife, Lisa, give back to Villanova on a regular basis as a way of showing their appreciation for his time at the University. “I received a great academic education at Villanova University, but more than that, my time there helped me to develop as a person,” Dom Sr. said. “It is where I learned how to have integrity in business, compassion for others, and a zest for life.”
Throughout the years, the Paragano family has remained active supporters of the University. As members of the Villanova University Club of North Central New Jersey, they often attend networking events and connect with fellow Villanova alumni. They are also involved with Villanova’s real estate programs—Dom Sr. as a member of the Villanova Real Estate Advisory Council, and Dominick Jr. as a Nova Next Council member within VSB’s Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate.
As he reflects on his son’s experience, Dom Sr. credits Villanova's world class education with preparing Dominick Jr. for a career in the families' real estate ownership, development and management business. Dominick Jr. was a member of the first class at VSB with the opportunity to minor in Real Estate and now, he gives back by participating in the VSB Mentor Program.
“Villanova was the catalyst that molded me into the man I am today—professionally, socially and spiritually,” Dominick Jr. said. “As an alumnus, I am proud to tell anyone who asks that I am a graduate of Villanova University.”
Both father and son live out the Villanova mission of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas in numerous ways, including serving others through their positions on the Board of Directors for The Shepherds of Youth, a nonprofit organization founded by Dom Sr.’s father which sponsors Catholic school education for underprivileged children. For both Dom Sr. and Dominick Jr., the University’s Augustinian tradition of service to, and care for, one’s community remain guiding forces in their lives.
Michele Nicoletta '98 CLAS
Villanova is known for alumni who go above and beyond for their fellow Villanovans. Michele Nicoletta ’98 CLAS experienced this firsthand and because of it, continues to support Villanova today.
A first-generation college student, Michele recalls being awarded a scholarship that was “instrumental” in her ability to attend the University. “The impact of Villanova on my life began before I stepped foot on the campus as a freshman,” she said.
This impact continued during Michele’s freshman year when she reached out to an alumnus for advice on a major to pursue. The response from that alumnus, a managing partner at JP Morgan, exceeded her expectations. After a meeting and a tour of the JP Morgan trading floor, Michele knew she had found a professional environment she enjoyed. This parlayed into a summer internship after her freshman year, and eventually a full-time position at JP Morgan. “Simply put, I owe my career to Villanova and all of the opportunities that it has afforded me and my family,” said Michele.
Michele graduated from Villanova in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Honors Program, majoring in Honors and Economics, and a minor in business. Since that time, Michele’s career has allowed her to work for a variety of banks on Wall Street. During tenures at JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, she focused on emerging markets bond and credit derivatives trading. She has since embraced electronic trading in fixed income and joined Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) as the Head of ICE Credit Trade and, additionally, as the Head of New Business Development for ICE Bonds.
A few years ago, Michele encountered yet another dedicated Villanova alumnus—Christopher Vogel ’89 VSB—who would help connect her once again to the Villanova community. Chris encouraged her, as a woman in finance, to become more officially engaged with Villanova This inspired Michele to not only give her financial support to the Department of Finance, but also join the Finance Department Advisory Council in 2017, where she continues to serve as a member today. Michele also attended the 2017 Villanova University Leadership Summit for the launch of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership and looks forward to growing her involvement with Villanova even more in the future. “The people, the sense of faith and community that embodies the Villanova experience is second to none,” Michele said.
Lindsey Kreisher '12 COE
After graduating from Villanova, Lindsey Kreisher ’12 COE missed the tight-knit Villanova community she become accustomed to during her years at the University. Since she had just moved to New York City, she found a way to reclaim that sense of community by joining the Villanova University Club of New York City, which strives to connect the more than 11,000 Villanovans in the Greater New York City area through a wide range of programming including cocktail hours, networking events, game watches and philanthropic activities.
Kreisher cites the infectious energy of the Club and countless remarkable alumni, parents and friends she has had the privilege of meeting through it as reasons for continuing to stay involved with the University.
According to Kreisher, the most special thing about her Villanova experience were the relationships she formed while on campus and how those relationships have continued to evolve and grow after graduation.
“Professors turned to mentors, classmates developed in to lifelong friends and a fellow Habitat for Humanity break-tripper became my fiancé,” she said.
Kreisher graduated from Villanova with a degree in mechanical engineering and afterwards grew her career as a Consultant at Ankura—an expert services firm—where she specializes in Construction Disputes and Advisory. An avid Villanova Basketball fan, Kreisher is fortunate enough to have attended both the 2016 and 2018 Villanova Men’s Basketball NCAA National Championship games.
Roger O'Donnell '90
Villanovans have a well-earned reputation as a group that gives back, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Roger O’Donnell ’90 VSB has continually supported the University since he left campus. What is surprising, however, is how he has done it.
Although many Villanova alumni have made gifts or volunteered their time and talent to the University, only Roger has worked collaboratively with the Villanova School of Business and KPMG to establish an award-winning program on campus that builds future industry leaders.
“Villanova School of Business’ continued upward trajectory caused me to recommend to my leaders that KPMG consider Villanova in the development of a first-of-its-kind Master of Accounting with Data Analytics Program,” Roger said.
Villanova’s talented faculty and focus on business analytics first captured his attention and led him to work with his colleagues and professors to develop a robust class offering to students interested in a career in finance. Dozens of VSB students have already graduated from the program and moved into leading roles in the company.
Roger, who serves as an audit partner for KPMG based in New York, is thrilled to give back to the place that gave him so much.
“Looking back on my experience, I think about the lessons I learned and how they prepared me to be successful in my career as well as in my community,” Roger said. “Villanova taught me the pursuit of learning would be lifelong and that the school would always be there to help foster that learning.”
While Roger has already given back so much to Villanova, the choice to remain committed to the University is an easy one. For him, it comes down to Villanovans helping Villanovans.
“I support the school because I believe in the passion and mission that University President Father Peter Donohue, OSA, has developed and instilled throughout the faculty,” Roger said. “I believe in the culture and values of Villanova University and if I can share some of my success with the next generation, then I believe that I, too, am demonstrating the values others expect from a Villanovan.”
Donor Spotlight - John Leahy ’75
The St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service brings together nearly 5,000 students, staff, faculty, alumni and families in a day of service throughout Greater Philadelphia. Additionally, in partnership with the campus effort, alumni chapters around the country join the movement by performing acts of service in their local communities. St. Thomas of Villanova Day builds upon the service performed throughout the year by the Villanova community and exists as a unique way to put the University’s Augustinian ideals into action. For the second year, KIND Healthy Snacks has donated their wholesome snacks to the campus volunteers for this special day of service.
When John Leahy ’75, president of KIND, first heard about this extraordinary day in 2013, he felt it aligned perfectly with the company's mission and was excited to partner with his alma mater for a day of community service. "Here at KIND, we’re always looking for new ways to bring kindness to those who need it most, and we continue to be impressed by the number of people doing the same in their own communities," said Leahy. "Villanova's faculty, staff, alumni and all others participating in the annual St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service inspire us and serve as a great reminder of just how powerful kindness can be."
Since its founding in 2004, KIND has been on a mission to make the world a little kinder one snack and act at a time. It accomplishes this, in part, through KIND Causes – a grant program that awards $10,000 each month to an individual creating positive social change.
Villanova alumni, like John Leahy, truly serve as inspiration to our current and future students. Through their support of the University, they demonstrate what it means to be a Villanovan.