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Blue and White Spotlight

APRIL 2021

Club of Los Angeles Members

Club of Los Angeles Nova Challenge Donors on Why They Give Back

The 2021 Nova Challenge was our most successful yet, with more donors and dollars raised than ever before—all in support of Regional Club programming and experiences that bring Villanovans together in their local community. Seven members of the Club of Los Angeles generously contributed to a $100,000 challenge gift to fund a Villanova scholarship for west coast students. Read on to learn why each of these challenge donors is committed to giving back to Villanova.

“I believe we all have a responsibility to give back to those people and organizations that have helped us along the way. Both personally and professionally, the Villanova community has helped shape the person I am today.  When I was given the opportunity to strengthen that community here in Los Angeles, it was a no brainer.”
- Tom Barry ’95

“It’s not easy for a young person to decide to leave home and attend school on the other side of the country. I personally experienced the sense of community and purpose that Villanova provides to a student 3,000 miles from home. The LA Scholarship Fund gives students the financial support to get out of their comfort zone geographically, to experience the Villanova community and build a foundation that will last a lifetime.”
- Dave Connelly ’93

“Villanova offers so much more than just an academic education. It also provides students with a supportive, connected community, which is especially important for those who are far from home. I am proud to be part of the LA Scholarship Fund Committee and look forward to continuing to support future Villanovans from the west coast for years to come.”
- Ann Kibler ’90

“Villanova not only gave me a world class education but also life-long experiences and friends. By giving to the LA scholarship fund, I am creating opportunity for future students to have the same experiences.  Attracting talented local students also helps expand Villanova’s footprint on the west coast.”
- Kevin Kramer ’93

“We are passionate about supporting local students who want to attend Villanova. Hopefully, the LA Scholarship fund can help defray some of the additional costs students from the west coast incur to attend Villanova.”
- Rob Mancini ‘92

“The Los Angeles Chapter scholarship has been a great tool for alumni here in LA to not only give back, but also to continue to grow the Villanova presence in southern California and maintain a close connection with the school.”
- Craig Shenkler ’93

“The LA Scholarship is a fantastic way to give a west coast student the opportunity to experience college on the east coast. It’s important to learn about and experience the diversity found in other parts of the country. Villanova has the perfect mix of an excellent education, national championship athletics and nearby cultural and historical landmarks.”
- Tracy Tunnell ’92

Overall, 19 Club of Los Angeles donors contributed $1,745 to the Nova Challenge, far exceeding the Club’s $1,000 goal. Thank you to each of our donors for helping to make the fifth Nova Challenge a resounding success.


Mike Crawford

Mike Crawford '90

When Mike Crawford’ 90 first toured Villanova more than 30 years ago, he felt an immediate sense of comfort and kinship that he attributes to the University’s community. That personal connection has inspired him to remain engaged with Villanova long after leaving campus.

Mike contributes his time and talents to Villanova by serving on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee and enjoys spending time with fellow Villanovans including his wife and his daughter, Erin, a junior at the University studying economics and communications. He is also an avid Villanova basketball fan.

According to Mike, he supports Villanova not only because it has been such an important part of his personal and professional life, but because he believes in the University’s mission to “educate the whole person, both intellectually and spiritually—to go out into the world and do well for themselves, but also for others.”

Since graduating from Villanova with a degree in accounting, Mike and has worked as a financial analyst and in the real estate business. For the past 20 years, he has been a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, UBS and most recently, enTrust Wealth Advisors in San Diego, which he co-founded.


Mike Best and Kate Carrubba

Mike Gardner '67 CLAS

Mike Gardner ’67 CLAS is thankful for and proud of the Augustinian grounding he received during his time at Villanova, which he considers the foundation for his life. “I support Villanova and its initiatives so I can give back to the University for all they have given to me during my undergraduate years, career and life,” Mike said.

Originally from the West Coast, Mike relocated with his family to northern Virginia for high school in Washington DC before moving onto Villanova for college. Following his graduation from Villanova, Mike accepted a position with IBM and spent more than 40 years in a high-tech career in Silicon Valley.

He gives back to the University by promoting entrepreneurship among Villanova students through the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute, which seeks to advance collaborative, multi-disciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship at Villanova by providing scholastic, educational and professional development opportunities.

In addition to his role as an Advisory Council member for the ICE Institute, Gardner further lends his expertise and mentorship to the Villanova community by serving as West Coast Chair of Villanova in the Valley. This ICE Institute-sponsored entrepreneurship immersion program for students held each January in Silicon Valley provides participants with opportunities to visit regional companies and attend networking events and educational tours where they hear first-hand from investors, entrepreneurs, startups, large companies and innovators.

His philanthropy to the University is very personal, as Villanova holds a special place in the Gardner family. “Both of my children went to Villanova and—most importantly—I met and married my wife while at VU,” Mike said.


Mike Best and Kate Carrubba

Mike Best '11 VSB and Kate Carrubba '11 CLAS

The Villanova experience is rooted in the relationships people form at the University, and Mike Best ’11 VSB and Kate Carrubba ’11 CLAS are a testament to that tight-knit community.

The couple met during their time at the University and were married on-campus by University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church.

“We support the University first and foremost because of the people we’ve met – whether that’s our lifelong friends we met on campus, the connections who’ve helped advance our careers or the fellow alumni we see impacting our world for the better,” Best and Carrubba said.

After graduating from Villanova, Best, who grew up in Newtown, Pa., guest lectured for the Villanova School of Business on the professional use of social media and networking. He then joined Carrubba in San Francisco, where they were thrilled to discover that their beloved Villanova community extended far beyond campus.

Best and Carrubba, who are involved with the Villanova University Club of Northern California, participate in service days and attend incoming student events in the area, including Villanova in the Valley, a student immersion program hosted by the University’s Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute that exposes participants to the global innovation and entrepreneurship of the Bay Area.

Best and Carrubba also serve as a resource to current students by regularly attending the Villanova in the Valley networking event, as well as a dinner organized by the ICE Institute that provides students with a more intimate setting for networking with recent Villanova graduates working in Silicon Valley.

Upon moving to San Francisco, Best joined a Villanova-founded company recently acquired by Salesforce, where he is currently a Sr. Product Manager helping nonprofits and universities with fundraising and donor management. Carrubba, who grew up near Santa Cruz, Calif., manages the website for Janie and Jack, a specialty children’s retailer.

Both remain devoted Villanova Basketball fans, attending Bay Area basketball game watch events—including those early 9 a.m. PST Saturday games—and even getting their two cats in on the fun with feline-sized basketball jerseys.

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Contact Us

Leigh Ann Bridges, Executive Director of Regional Development

Leigh Ann Bridges '04, '06
Executive Director of Regional Development
(484) 433-8086