Interview with Jerry Quinn (VSB ’87)
By Elliot Williams (B.A. ’16)
Just to give our readers some background, can you tell us more about your involvement with the DC area Villanova Alumni Club?
In 2002 when I took a job with Booz Allen and we relocated from New Jersey to the DC area, I saw that the DC Club was looking to reorganize, and I volunteered to get involved. At the time, I knew only my wife and a fellow VU Swimming team member Keith Donahoe (’87) when I came to the DC area, so I figured I’d get more involved in the community while making connections all at once.
Tell us about your tenure.
I was very fortunate to find some wonderful Villanovans who had both the passion and energy to help develop programming for the Club.
One of my proudest accomplishments as the leader of the Club was helping to bring other team members’ ideas into our programming. For example, another recently relocated alum, Mercedes Marx (‘02), wanted to develop a fundraiser for an alum friend of hers who had been injured on a surfing accident that had left him paralyzed from the waist down and could use additional funds to help with physical therapy sessions to accessories to retrofit his car. During this process we identified venues, located donation items for auction, and ultimately brought together hundreds of Villanovans in the name of helping another alum. For over 10 years, we held an annual fundraiser during a game watch and raised over $15,000 to support Richard Travia and his wife Katie (‘03), who had met at Villanova.This event really captured for me the essence, soul and spirit of what the Villanova community stands for—Novans helping Novans.
Another accomplishment that I treasure was developing relationships with all the Villanova teams and coaches that came to the DC area for competition. My wife and I regularly hosted teams either at our house for dinner or would bring meals to them after their games. Meeting the students and parents provided me with such a great opportunity to learn their Villanova stories. Having all these relationships with the Villanova coaches helped when I needed to ask them for gear to support our fundraiser for Richard Travia.
We continued with regular University events, but added new programming like Take a Cat to Work Day, an event for recently accepted students, and a Club Scholarship award to a local Villanova student.
What’s your advice for alums—young and not so young—relocating to the DC area for either work or for other reasons?
First and foremost, I’d also recommend connecting to the alumni group virtually—through our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups—but the best thing to do is to get involved in the events that we have that are posted on the official DC Club website, like game watches or service events. That's really the best way to meet people. Club leadership is never shy at putting other people to work and especially encourages young alumni to get involved. There's always a need for young, smart, articulate people to help drive the club leadership and help develop programming for club events.
DC has so much to offer. It has great schools, we have a wonderful park system along the canal and out to Great Falls. DC has first class museums to explore and a vibrant performing arts community. There is so much to do here, regardless of age, and the community keeps improving and expanding. There are more than 3,200 Villanovans in the District and the surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties. There is bound to be somebody who can help you navigate your way, show you around and give you some thought.
What makes the DC Club so unique?
The biggest strength of the DC Club is its people. There are so many Villanovans who want to help and run events. Take for example the current leadership: Andrew Lentz (‘08) started to get involved when he came to the Richard Travia fundraiser and asked how he could get involved. From there, he became the game watch coordinator, and is now running the alumni association. He and Vice President Caroline DiStefano (‘14) have assembled a group of volunteers who are passionate about all things Villanova and work well together. They are not afraid to try something new and to continue to tweak events to improve the experience for our club members.
There are really passionate people here who want to get involved—and have something to offer. There’s the Villanova Public Policy Society for those involved in politics and looking for networking opportunities within that career track. There’s also the intramural kickball league, the volunteer opportunities—such as the placing of the wreaths at Arlington Cemetery during the holidays, the sporting event outings—like going to a Nats or a DC United game during the summer, industry panel discussions.
We have really hit the stride in the club in which we have the capacity to support something for everyone. All welcome suggestions across the board.
What has Villanova community meant to you?
There are really three facets—not even just as a student and alum, but also as a parent. Having my daughter Hanna (ChE ’16) go there, you get to see the school through a totally different set of eyes. It's very much a family experience.
When I arrived, it was the middle of the night, and I had to get there a few days early to get financial aid and some other things squared away. It was desolate and it was lonely because there were no people there.
At school, I knew a very narrow set of people. But since then, I got involved as an alum. When we came to DC, I was the stupid guy who raised his hand and said, "Yeah, I'll help to revitalize the DC club." Didn't know anyone except for my wife and Keith. But you go to one event, you meet certain people who you see at the next event and the next event. You start building a group of people. And then, having one of my daughters go there, it just makes it an even richer environment because I started to see that experience as a parent—wanting her to have her own Villanova experience, but knowing that she's at a great place. She's at a place where people want her to succeed.
The sense of community is a running theme.
Any parting words?
Get involved in the alumni club and let your voice be heard…there is something here for everybody. It’s been exciting having a front row seat to the club flourishing. We have such a pool of dedicated, bright and motivated individuals—with such a foundation, we’re bound to make even more of an impact in the area.
Villanova Bridges is a publication exclusive to the Villanova Club of Washington, DC in which we feature alums in the area who have made a powerful impact on the Community. Should you, or anyone you know, be featured? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if so.