Seniors Practice “Real World” Business Skills at Annual Conference

Seniors focused on self-presentation, branding, and job interview and interaction skills during the annual Senior Business Etiquette workshop, held February 16 at school. The annual event helps prepare the students for their Capstone job shadowing assignments in May, so that they feel confident as they interact in business settings. The girls came to the day dressed for success in skirts, suits, or slacks, and the professional dress helped set a tone for the conference.

The day was structured like a real-world business seminar. The girls checked in and received name tags and folders with the day’s schedule, and attended an opening panel discussion on “The Villa Difference.” The rest of the morning was spent in breakout sessions. The students rotated through presentations and exercises on Communication and Interviewing, personal branding, and more.

  • The conference was organized by Villa’s Capstone Coordinator Cara Walsh. In addition to bringing in the speakers, Mrs. Walsh connects the students with Capstone mentors and job shadowing opportunities. She is always looking for opportunities for the girls. Please contact her at cwalsh@vmahs.org if you are interested in working with a Villa Capstone student.

The speakers for the day represented a wide range of interests and experience.

Michael Alexis is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia School of Law. He has worked as an attorney for Norfolk Southern Corporation, one of the largest freight railroads in the country and as a senior trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Michael currently works at Amtrak, where he has served as both an attorney and as the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer. At Amtrak, Michael has negotiated a variety of deals, some valued at more than a billion dollars, including Amtrak’s acquisition of new high speed trainsets to replace its Acela fleet.

Victoria Brandolini ’07 graduated from Villa in 2007 and went on to get her degree in marketing from Penn State. During college she did a summer abroad in London where she interned for a small marketing company. After graduation she moved to New York City and began working at media agencies, helping brands to plan their digital, out of home, television and print campaigns. She worked across entertainment clients like HBO, Bravo and Syfy. After 4 years Victoria moved to the publisher side of the business and has been at BuzzFeed for 5 years, currently working as an account executive selling to Consumer Product Goods brands (like Pillsbury and Krazy Glue) everything from Tasty Videos to BuzzFeed quizzes.

Carolyn DeLaurentis is the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Prosecution Division for the Pennsylvania Department of State. Prior to her current position, Carolyn served as an Assistant Counsel for the Pennsylvania State Police, Acting Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and Deputy General Counsel for the Governor’s Office of General Counsel. Carolyn joined the Governor’s Office of General Counsel in 2014, previously serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia and Chester Counties. Carolyn is the triplet sister of Villa Maria teacher Mrs. Michelle Black!

Katherine Del Raso is a Wealth Manager, Fiduciary Specialist for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. In this role, she works with individuals, families and institutions in the Mid-Atlantic region to address their wealth management and fiduciary needs. Prior to joining BNY Mellon in 2019, Katherine was an Associate Banker with the J.P. Morgan Private Bank. A graduate of Villanova University with a degree in Communication, Katherine also received her J.D. and M.B.A. from the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and the Villanova School of Business. She is a 2008 graduate of Villa Maria Academy.

Margaret Feeney Gilman ’04 is the manager of Infection Prevention at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. She has over nine years’ experience in Infection Prevention, has been certified in infection control for over seven years, and is active in the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). She will complete a her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health this year.

Renee G. Henze is the Global Marketing & Commercial Development Director for DuPont Biomaterials. In addition to developing the strategic marketing direction for the business, Renee leads a team engaged in the downstream sales and marketing for existing and emerging renewably-resourced technologies. Through the development of high performance, renewable biomaterials, the DuPont biomaterials team is solving critical issues for industries as varied as packaging, food and cosmetics to apparel and carpeting, all facing the challenges of greening their supply chains and offering high performance, sustainable choices to their downstream customers. Renee holds a degree in Molecular Biology, an MBA in Marketing and Management and a degree in Environmental Sustainability.

Amy L. McKenna, MBA, PMP ’95 possesses over 20 years experience in program management, operations and strategic development for the Federal Civilian Government. She has led sizeable cross-functional teams in the design, integration, and implementation of technical and business solutions for Federal Civilian Programs. McKenna joined T-Rex Solutions, LLC in Greenbelt, MD in August 2015 as an Executive leader. For the last year, she has been focused on the growth and strategy of the organization to maintain revenues of ~$200M per year. Prior to this role, she served as Director of Program Management overseeing all aspects of cost, schedule, and technical program performance for a $1.6B T&M system integration and AWS cloud migration program with the United States Census Bureau (USCB) in support of the 2020 Census mission.

Meghan Nolan ’01 currently works for Janssen, Inc., the Pharmaceutical Division of Johnson & Johnson. She is a Marketing Director responsible for leading Healthcare Professional Promotion and Medical Education strategy for the Prostate Cancer Drug portfolio. Meghan joined Janssen in 2010 and spent three years in finance where she supported the Immunology Sales and Marketing Teams and the Pricing Strategy Team before successfully transitioning into Sales and Marketing roles. Meghan began her career at Deloitte and Touche, in 2006, after graduating from Loyola University of Maryland where she earned her BBA in accounting and a MBA in Finance.