Why have some York College alumni chosen to remain in York County?
What do Tombstone, AZ, Parrotsville, TN, and Hong Kong have in common? According to Bruce Wall, director of alumni relations at the College, at least one York College alumnus resides in each of these locations.
While some graduates live hundreds – or thousands – of miles away from the College, in places such as Tombstone, Parrotsville, and Hong Kong, others have chosen to settle much closer to their alma mater. We asked several alumni who live and work in York County why they decided to stay, and what kind of an impact they’ve had on the community.
They are at very different stages in their lives and careers. Robert (Rob) Mayer ’11 public relations coordinator for York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been in his first job for just 10 months. At the other end of the professional scale, Mark S. Schmidt, ’73, president, Insurance Company Operations of Glatfelter Insurance Group, celebrated 38 years of service last year. Keith L. Eldredge ’87, partner, ParenteBeard, has been with his company since he graduated 25 years ago. Two alums – Kevin ’02 and Jennifer (Jen) ’08 Schreiber are married. Kevin is community and economic development director for the City of York, and has worked in city government for six years. His wife, Jen, has co-owned The Green Bean Roasting Company in downtown York for a year with Vanessa DeLisio ’08. Kim Walsh-Phillips ’97, is CEO of Inside Out Creative, which she founded in 2001.
When these alumni set their sights on life after college, they found that YCP was a useful jumping-off point.
Schmidt, who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, majored in history and had been considering going to law school, but William S. West, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, suggested that insurance claims might interest him. Someone in the College placement office said Glatfelter was hiring, and told Schmidt (ironically, considering his highly successful career there): “You might want to apply, although I don’t think you’ll be a good fit for them.” He interviewed for the job, reasoning that it could be a stepping-stone to something else, met Art Glatfelter, and got the position, but ended up never doing claims.
“When I started,” he said, “it wasn’t a very structured environment and I learned on the job.” It was a small office, with only 10 people. The Fire Department program was just getting off the ground, and he helped with underwriting. Nowadays, Glatfelter Insurance Group is one of the largest and most successful agencies specializing in insurance programs in the country, employing some 500 people. Schmidt is proud to have started on the ground floor and said, “I found my original resume. I’ve never updated it, and never had a second one.”
Mayer, from Bel Air, MD, has a dual major in public relations and mass communication, with a minor in speech communication, and credits YCP for giving him direction in life. He graduated on May 14 last year, started work on May 18, and looks forward to building his resume. He jumped at the opportunity when a public relations internship with the York County CVB opened the door to full-time employment.
Other beneficial internships and experiences for Mayer included Fox 45 News in Baltimore, MD, Aberdeen Ironbirds, (Cal Ripkens’ team), the Harrisburg Senators’ baseball team, and the Arc of York County, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people with intellectual and other disabilities and their families. He learned about the York County CVB public relations internship at a job fair. He said, “I had no clue what they did here, whatsoever. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!” He interviewed for the internship and got the position. He had a great mentor and, by the end of the internship, he could see himself not only working in the public relations field, but also in an organization like the York County CVB.
Eldredge came from a small town in south New Jersey, and graduated with a BS in accounting. He found his niche when he interned at York International (now Johnson Controls) in the internal audit department. “That helped me understand my profession, and understand where I wanted to go.” He enjoyed the experience, and determined that this would be his career path. One of the big four firms, KPMG, were auditors at the company, and staff were impressed with the YCP students. When Eldredge and his fellow interns were invited to apply for jobs at KPMG, he felt it said a lot about their education and York College. He didn’t take a job with KPMG, although he was pleased with the recognition.
He enjoyed YCP classes and looked up to David C. Lawrence, and John (Jack) F. Barbor, assistant professors of business administration. Professsor Lawrence recommended that he apply for positions at several local firms, including Miller & Company, the predecessor of ParenteBeard. Eldredge was offered a staff accountant position with Miller, and worked his way up to become partner.
Walsh-Phillips said she was fortunate to have an internship at Dentsply International. “That gave me great insights into corporate public relations, and how things work at a power company.” She credits Lowell A. Briggs, instructor of communications, for offering guidance when she struggled entering her senior year as an education major, and did not think that was the right path for her. He helped guide her toward a career in public relations, so that she only needed to take two classes beyond her planned graduation date.
She considered becoming an entrepreneur right out of college, but took a safer route as a communications associate for Rite Aid Corporation in Camp Hill. She also worked as manager of business development and program services for Main Street York, Inc., and development specialist for York Health Foundation, until founding her own public relations, marketing and design firm, Inside Out Creative. She said she was blessed to have a local realtor say to her, “I think you should own your own business, and I want to be your first client.”
While attending YCP, Jen Schreiber worked at Sparky & Clark’s coffee shop, and thought about starting her own business. She studied marketing and public relations to help achieve this goal. “Instead of being in the campus ‘bubble,’ I worked downtown, so I had a unique experience.” Speaking of mentors, she said advisor, Brian J. Furio, Ed.D., “helped me figure out what I needed to do, and also understood that my life didn’t necessarily revolve around school.”
Kevin Schreiber smiled when his wife said she wasn’t in the campus bubble. “I was very much in the bubble!” he said, until he started to have internships. He got to know the York community well through an internship with Crispus Attucks, a nonprofit that provides educational services, human services, community development, and affordable housing that enhances the quality of life for a diverse population. Coincidentally, he now does a lot of work with the organization. Faculty members Furio, Briggs, and Thomas Hall, “had more of an impact and influence on my college and future career than they probably know – or would even like to admit!”
At the start of his senior year, Schreiber began working on state representative campaigns in the Philadelphia area. After graduation, he moved there, and continued to work on campaigns. “Ultimately, I came back to York for employment. You win some campaigns and, unfortunately, you lose some, so you lose your job.”
He began to do a lot of volunteer work in the community, getting involved with arts and young professional organizations. He did some volunteer work for former Mayor John Brenner, who offered Schreiber a job in his economic development department. “I’ve been with the City for six years, serving two administrations, and I’ve been economic development director for York for three years.” He spoke highly of both mayors, calling them inspirational. Current Mayor Kim Bracey worked under Mayor Brenner, so there is a lot of consistency. “I was fortunate that she kept me on board.”
Alumni interviewed for this article worked hard and built their careers and businesses on a solid educational foundation. Their talent and work ethic could have taken them anywhere. Why does York County appeal to them?
Eldredge said, “I have a lot of respect for the people in this area, who work very hard, and don’t run from their obligations.” He said active leaders and philanthropists, such as Louis Appell, the Wolfs, the Kinsleys, Art Glatfelter and Don Dellinger, have inspired and encouraged a strong community spirit. “Even though we have our rough areas, it just seems that people are more willing to help out, and try and make things better.”
As he became involved with various community organizations, Eldredge realized “this is where I wanted to stay and raise a family.” He’s not sure that he “could find a standard of living better than what we have right here.” People in the street are friendly, and he enjoys the historic architecture. He lives in Dover with his wife and two dogs, about 20 minutes from his office, so the commute is reasonable.
Mayer said, “Here in York, you are in the center of it all.” One of the things he likes most about the area is the wide variety of things to do. “York is the right size; it is almost like a little mecca for businesses.” For Mayer, being able to start out in a medium-sized market has been valuable to his career development. He serves as spokesperson for the York County CVB and appears on television, but knows he wouldn’t have the chance to do this in a larger market.
Mayer has enjoyed building up contacts with community leaders and business owners. He has maintained ties with the College; speaking to YCP public relations majors, and stressing the importance of internships.
Walsh-Phillips said the people in York County are warm, with a strong moral compass, great work ethic, and sense of community. She appreciates York’s historic architecture and environment, and said, “Both my office and my home are on the National Registry of Historic Places.” She felt York was ideal for families, and said she and her husband cannot imagine bringing up their daughter anywhere else. Walsh-Phillips liked the cost of living, York’s proximity to other cities, and the “walkability to shopping, dining, entertainment, and recreation options.” She has business clients around the world, but said, “We will always keep our headquarters in York, PA.”
“The business community is different from almost any other one that I’m aware of,” Schmidt stated. “We are a cross between a small and a not-so-small place.” He said it is a very tight-knit, caring community, and cited the pivotal roles played by leaders such as Art Glatfelter, Louis Appell and Tom Wolf. He feels the business climate in the region is good. Art Glatfelter was involved with many community groups, and since Schmidt’s clients are out of the area, he has met many people through the nonprofit world. He jokes that when president/CEO of Glatfelter Insurance Group, Tony Campisi ’76 and Schmidt go anywhere in York with out-of-town clients and brokers, it is almost impossible for them not to see somebody they know.
He appreciates that he can be in New York City in almost the exact same time it takes him to get to Pittsburgh. He and his wife are happy that they are not far from their son and daughter, who work in Philadelphia.
Kevin Schreiber also considered the location of York County to be an asset, and said, “I like that we are so close to major cities – in between Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia – so you can get to a big city anytime you want, but we are still living in a small enough town that everyone knows each other.” He has family in the Philadelphia area, so he finds it convenient to visit them. He said, “York County and South Central PA is a gorgeous area to live in, and its proximity to major markets is second to none.” He and his wife are delighted to live in a charming, historic part of downtown, within walking distance to work, and he said, “Real estate values are very affordable.”
Jen Schreiber praised “a supportive community of friends and family, who really gather around and want you to do well.” Many coffee-shop customers came to their wedding, and the Schreibers said they value the community spirit.
Eldredge said when he started his job, “Our managing partner, Don Dellinger – who is a huge community activist, and family man – commented to the new people: ‘You are members of the community, and you earn your living from the community. You are going to be responsible, as a member of this firm, to give back to the community.’ “According to Eldredge, Dellinger “instilled in us right away this sense of community and getting involved. As a matter of fact, it used to be part of our evaluation: Who you were involved with, and how you were involved. The mandate was that you should be involved with no less than three organizations in the community at any point in time.”
He has enjoyed being involved with Leadership York and encouraging future community leaders. When he was past chair of the Domestic Violence Shelter in York, his two daughters helped with fundraising and events. He was treasurer for Habitat for Humanity, and remains involved with Habitat by serving on the advisory board, so he is delighted that his eldest daughter, who goes to school in MD, is helping build homes there.
His firm continues to offer internships to college students, including YCP students. He has also been involved with the College’s J. D. Brown Entrepreneurship Center.
Walsh-Phillips helped found York College in the City because she wanted students to know about the treasures that are adjacent to campus. She has been active in the community, serving organizations such as the York County Chamber of Commerce, The York Young Professionals, YMCA of York and York County, American Red Cross, York Symphony Orchestra and Rotary Club. As far as internships with Inside Out Creative, she said, “We welcome business, marketing, communications and recreation majors. Our internship program is competitive, with only five spaces awarded for each semester.”
Jen Schreiber said, “When we can, we give donations, and try to work with organizations like the Humane Society and the SPCA.” She donates to Olivia’s House, which is the first grief and loss center for children in York County, and the Children’s Home of York, the oldest existing child and family-centered social service agency in York County. “We try to be as supportive as possible.”
Kevin Schreiber speaks to YCP classes, and works with students interested in local government. He said York College has grown exponentially, somewhat on a parallel path with York City. “I think the relationship between the College and the City continues to strengthen and grow, and we continue to find different niches where we can collaborate.”
Schmidt has been involved with a lot of nonprofits both personally and professionally. He was president of the Jewish Community Center, on the Red Cross Board, Planned Parenthood Board, and active in the York Suburban Education Foundation, whose purpose is to sustain York Suburban’s tradition of academic excellence and leadership, which he helped get started. He was involved in the formation of the York Suburban Communities That Care Alliance, which connects families and youth with effective resources that promote responsible decision-making and reduce destructive behaviors. He has been associated with the College in various capacities, and said Glatfelter Insurance is “involved in some way in virtually every major initiative that goes on in the community.”
Mayer planned to expand his community involvement, and was excited that his job involves a lot of outreach. He would like to see students appreciate the area’s history and visit downtown more often. As a college student, he was involved with programs such as Adopt-A-Block as well as Coaches for Cancer. Professor Briggs put him in touch with attorney Charlie Calkins, who runs the Holiday Special Olympics, and for the past three years Mayer has announced basketball games for the tournament and been an MC on the court.
In the court of life, these alumni have made the most of their opportunities and have built, or are building, careers and businesses in a community where they feel a sense of pride and belonging. The longer they have stayed, the more they have appreciated York County. They have benefited from guidance, friendship and mentoring – both as YCP students and as business people – and are glad to give back to the community that welcomed them.