Peter Devlin ’99
Breaking Down the Big Picture
To Peter Devlin ’99, the broad-based education he received at Manhattan College was ideal preparation for his work as a partner specializing in capital markets at Jones Day, a leading multinational law firm.
Reporting obligations, securities laws, equity and convertible debt — these terms may seem alien to students of English, philosophy and theology. But Peter, a math major who explored a wide array of courses at Manhattan, finds some striking similarities to the law. “In many of those courses, you have to take a complex conceptual framework and make it understandable,” he explains. “As a lawyer, you need to identify problems and see how they fit into a bigger picture.”
Peter attended St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, New York. He excelled at math and science but “liked everything,” he says. Two factors guided him to Manhattan College: Peter often visited his older brother, Stephen ’95, on campus for sibling weekends; his father, a former Christian Brother, often extolled the value of a Lasallian education. “He didn’t try to convince me,” Peter says, “but it was kind of in the ether.”
Earning a scholarship for math, Peter also took courses in theology and creative writing. His mentors included Brother Robert Berger, FSC, religious studies; Brother Patrick Horner, FSC, Ph.D., English; Stephen Kaplan, Ph.D., religious studies; Thomas Ferguson, Ph.D., religious studies; Rosemary Farley, Ph.D., mathematics; and the late Brother Kenneth Fitzgerald, FSC, Ph.D., mathematics, who welcomed him into the College’s bagpipe band. Peter was named to Pen and Sword, Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies.
By the time he graduated from Manhattan, summa cum laude, Peter still wondered what direction to take. At the invitation of Brother Frank Byrne, FSC, he spent four years teaching math and theology at St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx. He went on to another year of teaching at St. Michael’s Academy in Manhattan. Meanwhile, he earned an M.A. in theology at Fordham University. In 2005, Peter enrolled in New York University School of Law, earning his J.D. degree, magna cum laude, three years later.
Peter began his law career in 2008, at the height of a financial crisis. He started as a capital markets associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, leaving six years later for Jones Day. “While Davis Polk was a tremendous firm to start my practice at, Jones Day was a bit more focused on representing companies,” he says. “You have the opportunity to see the things companies do while building long-term relationships, which I preferred.”
Today, Peter is an avid supporter of the College that prepared him for success. He is a member of the advisory board for Manhattan’s Kakos School of Science and a generous contributor to the Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ’62 Engineering and Science Center. “I think of all the ways that people helped me at Manhattan,” he says. “I’m glad for the chance to show my gratitude — and to help the students of the present.”
Matthew Haddad ’03
“Embracing Service in All That We Do”
In the two decades since he graduated from Manhattan College, Matthew (Matt) Haddad ’03 has exercised the skills he gained as a finance major in a wide variety of industries. From banking to technology, insurance to health services, he steadily rose in rank as he sought the right corporate fit. “It took some exploration,” he says. “But when you find what you’re really passionate about, everything clicks.”
As Manager of North America Commercial Operations for Werfen, a leading developer of specialized diagnostic equipment and systems, Matt currently directs a team that markets blood diagnostic systems and other health-related products to hospitals, clinics and testing sites across the continent. The equipment screens for early signs of blood clots, celiac disease and other disorders. “We can honestly say our work actually does have life-saving implications,” he observes.
Making a positive difference, says Matt, is part of the mindset he encountered at Manhattan. “One of the things that resonated with me,” he says, “is the message that we can be of service to others in just about everything we do.” The College also provided a well-rounded approach to learning, with a foundation in the liberal arts and ethics as well as finance.”
“The thing about Manhattan,” Matt notes, “is that it gives you so many chances to broaden your knowledge and skill sets.” In addition to his business classes, he found an especially strong influence in George B. Kirsch, Ph.D., a former history professor. “After taking his class in my freshman year,” Matt says, “I almost changed majors.”
Growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts, he enjoyed skiing, sailing, track and football. But by his final year at Burncoat Senior High School, Matt recalls, he was ready to experience life outside of New England. A counselor suggested applying to Manhattan College, and a campus visit convinced Matt it was the right choice. In addition to his finance studies, he joined men’s crew during his freshman year and made sure to experience everything New York City had to offer.
After graduating in 2003, Matt began his career as a control accountant at Fidelity Investments, where he ultimately became a financial analyst. He went on to serve as a senior business, financial and operations analyst at companies including Monster, Boston Scientific, Oracle, Akamai Technologies and the Hanover Insurance Group before joining Werfen in July 2020. He earned an MBA from Clark University in 2016.
Today, Matt lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Jenna, and their two daughters. Still an avid skier, he commits at least eight hours a week as a volunteer with a local chapter of the National Ski Patrol. He also is a dedicated supporter of Manhattan College, contributing steadily to the Fund for Manhattan, the rowing team and the O’Malley School of Business. “Manhattan’s given me and my classmates so many opportunities, in so many ways,” he says. “I deeply believe in giving something back as well.”
Natalie Kovac ’07, ’09 (M.S.)
“At Manhattan, Everyone Belongs”
Natalie Kovac ’07, ’09 (M.S.) began the latest chapter in her professional journey this year. As the new president of the New York City chapter of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), she has become the fourth woman to hold that position since the association’s founding a century ago.
“It’s definitely a learning experience — a rewarding one,” says Natalie. She began volunteering with ASHRAE in 2016 as a member of its Student Activities Committee. A project manager at RRT Design & Construction, which specializes in waste processing, recycling and power generation, Natalie organizes programs and activities that introduce aspiring engineers to the industry.
Helping young women to pursue careers in engineering is a special passion of Natalie’s — one she shares with current students at her alma mater. A mentor at Manhattan’s School of Engineering, Natalie offers young Jaspers the insights she has gleaned from 20 years in the field. She also has joined other successful alumnae on campus as part of a panel discussion organized by Manhattan’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Natalie’s interest in service was an important part of her education. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic, all-girl’s secondary school in West Hempstead, New York. Math and science were always her best subjects. “I knew they were my strengths,” she says. “My parents encouraged me to pursue them.”
The academy emphasized excellence and ethics, values she encountered in Manhattan’s School of Engineering. A reputation for excellence, small classes and its proximity to her hometown also drew Natalie to the Riverdale campus. She majored in mechanical engineering, which enrolled significantly more men than women at the time. “It was a change to say the least,” she says.
In her freshman year, there were three women in the program. Later, two others joined as transfers. “We tended to stick together, to help each other out,” she says. Even so, Natalie adds, she and her classmates always felt accepted and supported by other students as well as professors. “At Manhattan,” she says, “everyone belongs.”
In addition to her courses, Natalie gained valuable experience from opportunities including an internship at Con Edison. She says she also benefited from the College’s focus on the liberal arts: “Requirements like history, religion and literature make you a more well-rounded person.”
Natalie earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2007. Recruiting on campus, the AKF Group hired her as a project engineer. Two years later, she also earned her master’s degree from Manhattan. She went on to senior positions at H2M Group; ads Engineers, Guth DeConzo Consulting Engineers, PC; Henderson Engineers Inc.; and currently, RRT Design and Construction.
Today, in addition to mentoring, Natalie also is a steady contributor to College initiatives such as the Fund for Manhattan and the Graham Walker Endowed Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering, among others. “With everything I’ve gained,” she says, “giving back is absolutely the right thing to do.”
Noreen Krall ’87, Esq
“If Women Can See It, They Can Be It”
By her own estimate, Noreen Krall ’87, Esq., must have logged at least 350,000 miles a year traveling by plane as vice president and chief litigation counsel for Apple Inc. Leading Apple’s efforts to defend its patents took her to courtrooms across the country and abroad. “I think I was United Airlines’ number-one customer,” she quips.
Noreen earned wide recognition for managing one of Big Tech’s largest IP (intellectual property) litigation dockets. Most notably, she directed Apple’s dispute with Samsung over the Android smartphone. In 2012, the case brought Apple a $1 billion victory, later reduced to $539 million. Noreen has been ranked among the Top 50 Women in Tech, 50 Most Influential People in IP and Top 40 Market Makers in IP, among other plaudits.
It was a formidable schedule. Through it all, Noreen and her husband, Ed, raised three daughters, now adults. She also devoted time and talent to helping others. In 2005, she and several other women in the IP field co-founded ChIPs (Chiefs in Intellectual Property), a nonprofit that helps prepare high school and college-age women for success in technology, public policy and the law.
After leaving Apple in 2022, Noreen redoubled her focus on service. Today, ChIPs has more than 5,000 members around the world. “Providing role models is vital,” says Noreen. “If women can see it, they can be it.”
Manhattan holds an especially high place among Noreen’s philanthropic interests. “I care deeply about the College and its mission,” she says. A trustee since 2016, she contributes to life and learning in other ways as well, such as participating in panel discussions and supporting scholarships to assist women majoring in engineering and the sciences.
Noreen’s father was a New York City firefighter; her mother, a homemaker who became a nurse. Growing up in Rockland County, Noreen excelled in math and science at Albertus Magnus High School. “My father pointed me toward engineering at Manhattan,” she says. An electrical engineering major, she held two waitressing jobs throughout her four years. “Even with a partial scholarship,” she says, “it was a hustle.”
Graduating in 1987, Noreen started as a systems engineer at IBM while earning a master’s in computer information science at Iona College. She was thinking about earning a Ph.D. when a mentor suggested law school. “IBM had a patent program,” Noreen recalls, “and she thought I’d be interested.” Sitting in on the patent review committee, she thought, “Wow — this is cool!”
When IBM transferred her to Colorado, Noreen enrolled at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. Attending classes at night, she earned her J.D. degree in 1994 and became a staff attorney of IP law. She went on to Sun Microsystems in 1999, serving as vice president and chief counsel of IP law and litigation before joining Apple Inc.
In June 2023, Noreen’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth ’20, ’23 (MBA), became a double alumna of the O’Malley School of Business. Noreen’s brother, Harry Weber ’82, also studied business; her sister, Brigid McKenna ’94, majored in English. “Manhattan College has done so much for my family,” says Noreen. “I want others to have the opportunities we did.”
Michael J. Kelly ’80
Helping Young Entrepreneurs Take Their Own Paths
Michael J. (Mike) Kelly ’80 often loses track of how many times a year he makes the trek from his Pennsylvania home to Manhattan College — more than 80 miles each way.
“Fifteen, maybe 16,” he estimates. “My family jokes that I’m always here.”
Last October, for example, he attended the 50th Manhattan College Cross-Country Invitational, which he serves as an alumni adviser. The nation’s largest one-day, cross-country meet for high school athletes, it draws more than 7,000 students from 15 states. “It’s a great opportunity for high school students to compete just down the hill in Van Cortlandt Park,” he says.
Mike was back in March for the annual Innovation Challenge. Hosted by the O’Malley School of Business, the competition brings together student teams — typically from engineering and business — to develop business plans for start-up companies. Prizes total $10,000. Earlier that month, he attended the opening of the Entrepreneurship Center, a hub for students across campus interested in being entrepreneurs. Mike’s generosity made the center possible.
These are only some of the academic and athletic initiatives that benefit from Mike’s commitment. Encouraging young entrepreneurs is especially meaningful to him. “Manhattan prepares working-class kids for impressive achievements,” he says. “It’s ideal for aspiring entrepreneurs, who tend to start as square pegs in a round hole — no family money, few contacts, but much determination.”
They share another trait, too. “Entrepreneurs see things differently,” he says. “They look around and ask, ‘How can I make things better?’” That perspective propelled his own career. In 1995 he founded On Call International, a leading provider of medical and security services for travelers. He sold it in 2016 to Tokio Marine HCC, the seventh-largest property casualty insurer in the world. “It was wonderful to see the difference we made daily,” Mike says. “But after 20 years, I was ready for new challenges.”
Today, Mike is managing director of Yellow Thread Ventures, the angel investment company he founded. A past board member at Habitat for Humanity of New Hampshire, he also serves as the board co-president of Philadelphia’s Ronald McDonald House – all while supporting Jasper cross-country and track programs and serving as a mentor and adviser for the O’Malley School of Business.
“There are so many ways to contribute,” Mike observes. “Donating time is a very worthwhile way to give to the College, which needs alumni volunteers.” He points, for example, to the Cross-Country Invitational’s success. With help from volunteers as well as Manhattan’s departments of Athletics, Admissions and Advancement, the weekend raises funds for the cross-country and track teams while bringing more prospective students to campus.
Mike came to the College from a hard-working household in southern New Jersey. “With four siblings,” he says, “money could get tight.” He and his brothers exhibited their entrepreneurial spirit, screen printing tee shirts to sell at regional auto races, road races and other events. A runner at Cherry Hill West High School, Mike joined the track team as a freshman at Manhattan.
For his remaining three years, he focused on classes while participating in the Marketing Club and working part-time. He still prizes the example of his professors — including the late John W. Dobbins Jr., Ph.D., former chair and associate professor of marketing. “You get one great boss in your life and maybe a handful of great teachers,” says Mike. “John Dobbins was great.”
Earning his degree in 1980, Mike began his career in marketing at Proctor & Gamble before joining American Express. His colleagues there included fellow Jasper Stephen J. Squeri ’81, ’86 (MBA), now chair and CEO of Amex. Mike moved on to serve as president of International SOS Assistance and CEO of International Medical Care Ltd. “International travel assistance services were common in Europe,” he notes, “but not in the U.S.” His efforts convinced him to establish On Call.
Mike lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Alison. He has four grown children, three stepchildren, and, at last count, five grandchildren. Success, he says, is worth the challenges he faced. “I did not take the safe route,” he says, “but it worked out. Now I’m grateful to focus on other causes that mean so much to me.”
Kathleen (Katie) Plotkin ’98
Living and Breathing Manhattan
For Kathleen (Katie) Plotkin ’98, returning to Manhattan College this past June for the silver anniversary of her graduation was thrilling — and a bit sobering as well. “It was wonderful to be back on campus with my classmates,” says Katie, née Mullery, who also served on her class reunion committee. “It didn’t feel like 25 years had passed at all.”
She relished the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and the College itself. However, the weekend was not her first homecoming. A resident of nearby Westchester County, New York, who also lived in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, Katie often returns to campus with her family for basketball games. She also recruits young Jaspers for her company, the Conference Board Inc. “Sometimes it seems like I’ve never truly left,” she says.
Raised in Yorktown, New York, Katie grew up with strong ties to Catholic education in general, and Manhattan College in particular. Four generations of her family are Jaspers: Her nieces, Caitlin Hynes ’15, Mairead Hynes ’20, Siobhan Hynes ’22; sister, Mary Ann Hynes ’90; parents, Stephen ’65 and Margaret ’91 (who attended later in life); and grandfather, John ’31, who also taught history and speech at the College.
“We lived and breathed Manhattan,” Katie recalls. Her father, a former member of the National Alumni Council, often brought the family to campus events. “He instilled within us that Manhattan was the place to go for college,” she says. “We hope the tradition continues,” she observes, adding, “I have a daughter entering 11th grade, and Manhattan is at the top of her college list.”
Katie came to the College after graduating from John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School in Somers, New York. She initially was unsure about a major, but her father, a graduate of the O’Malley School of Business, suggested history. “He thought it was a great field for developing strong critical thinking and communications skills,” she says.
After two years in the East Hill student residence (now Horan Hall), Katie moved to Overlook Hall. She enjoyed her studies and the convenience of residence life. She also relished the experience and lasting friendships she gained as a student assistant in media relations for Athletics. “When I wasn’t in class,” she says, “I spent almost all my extra time in Draddy Gym.”
Approaching graduation, Katie thought she might pursue a career in sports marketing. Then she interviewed for a position at the Conference Board Inc., a nonprofit research organization whose international membership counts more than 1,000 corporations and other organizations. “It seemed like the definition of everything I learned at Manhattan College — critical thinking, lifelong learning and service,” she says.
Today, Katie is the Conference Board’s chief U.S. member development officer. She lives in Westchester County with her husband, Zeke, and their two children. Katie continues to visit her alma mater in addition to contributing to initiatives including the Anniversary Class Fund and Jasper athletics. “Manhattan means so much to me and my family,” she says. “Whatever I can do to continue to support and positively impact the Jasper community, in any way, you can count me in.”
Philip A. Simonetti ’71
No Limit to What Jaspers Can Do
When fellow graduates talk about the transformative power of a Manhattan College education, Philip (Phil) A. Simonetti ’71 quickly attests to its enduring impact on his own life and career. In fact, he attributes his considerable success in the bond market partly to the renowned ties that unite Manhattan alumni.
After earning his degree at the College, Phil pursued graduate study at New York University, albeit briefly. “I actually needed a break from school,” he says. After a few years in the construction and lumber industries, he began working with Peter O’Neill ’71, a friend and fellow alumnus who had opened his own municipal bonds firm. “I learned the business from him,” says Phil. “That’s the power of the Jasper network.”
Phil went on to a distinguished 28-year career in the field. In 1980, he joined the municipal marketing and sales division at EF Hutton, quickly rising to vice president. After three years, he was at Citi, where he became managing director for municipal bond trading. Having retired in 2008, Phil often reflects on the many advantages of his Manhattan education — former classmates who still are friends, cherished professors and his wife, Diane, whom he met at an undergraduate mixer. “We’ve been married 50 years,” he observes.
Growing up in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, Phil learned the value of an education from his parents. His father left school in the ninth grade but excelled in the restaurant business; his mother was a college graduate who had pursued a teaching career. “They constantly encouraged us — me, my brother and two sisters,” he says. At nearby Christian Brothers Academy, guidance counselors steered Phil toward three colleges: Villanova, La Salle and Manhattan. “I had a great education with the Brothers,” he says, “so I went with Manhattan.”
At the Riverdale campus, Phil met professors “who really cared,” he says. “You could see it in the way they taught.” Two of them — Emily Sun, Ph.D., professor emerita of economics and finance; and Alfred Manduley, assistant professor emeritus of marketing — made an especially strong impression on him. So did John “Jack” Powers ’58, the legendary Jasper who coached the freshman basketball team when Phil played. “For my first six months at Manhattan, I saw Jack on a daily basis,” Phil recalls. “He was a huge encouragement for a kid who was new to college.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and marketing in 1971, Phil went on to Monmouth University, where he received his MBA in 1980. He built his career amid the tumultuous mergers of the 1980s and ’90s, attaining promotions at EF Hutton and the companies that succeeded it — Shearson, Lehman Brothers, Salomon Brothers and, ultimately, Citi.
When Phil retired — “still in pretty good shape,” he says — he and his wife traveled the world. Phil also became more engaged in philanthropic causes, including his local parish, Saint Anthony of Padua, in Red Bank, New Jersey, and Manhattan College. Over the years, he has supported major initiatives such as the Raymond W. Kelly ’63 Student Commons and the O’Malley School of Business/De La Salle Hall Third-Floor Renovation Fund. He also established the Diane and Philip A. Simonetti ’71 Endowed Scholarship.
In 2021, Dean Donald Gibson, Ph.D., invited Phil to campus to address students in the O’Malley School of Business. With their Manhattan College degrees, Phil told them, alumni can — and do — successfully compete with graduates of the nation’s most elite universities. “Look at me,” he says. “I was at the top of a demanding industry, working side-by-side in management with graduates of schools like Harvard and Yale. There really is no limit to what Jaspers can do.