Alumni Spotlight on Comcast Leaders
From the first static dial tones of residential dial-up to the advent of the Peacock streaming service, the Comcast Corporation — headquartered in Center City, Philadelphia, just 14 miles from Widener’s campus — has been innovating in the tech industry for decades. But did you know that many members of the Pride have been integral to these innovations?
Comcast boasts an impressive number of Widener alumni in top leadership positions including:
- Marilyn Whitham ’87, psychology, and ’00, human resource management — Vice President & Chief of Staff, Total Rewards at Comcast NBCUniversal
- Daniel Carr ’92, management information systems — Regional Vice President, Beltway Region
- Erami Botchway ’93 & ’96, electrical engineering — Executive Director, Engineering
The inside track from a Widener degree to a successful career at Comcast is clear, and the bond between the university and this industry leader continues to strengthen thanks to alumni who keep giving back. Learn more about some members of our Pride who took what they learned on campus to Comcast and changed the way we interact with technology in our homes and businesses along the way.
Stephen Perez ’97, accounting
Vice President, Vice President of Finance, Comcast Assurance and Advisory Team
A first-generation college student, Stephen Perez came to Widener without much understanding of what the college experience would be like, but he jumped in and got involved playing multiple sports, working a campus job, and more. With a lot on his plate, Perez found a mentor in esteemed accounting professor Dr. Frank Lordi Jr.
“Whenever I was slacking, Dr. Lordi would call and ask what was the matter. He helped me stay grounded and get into a rhythm and mindset that I took into the working world,” Perez said.
Having the support of a tight-knit university community was game-changing for Perez.
“My twin brother once came to watch my football game, and one of my professors sitting near him asked why he wasn’t playing. He thought that was me!” Perez said. “That just goes to show how much care that professor took to get to know me and my interests outside the classroom.”
Though his daily work now revolves around numbers, Perez is committed to developing the next generation of leaders through meaningful mentorship and sponsorship, just like he found at Widener.
“I come from a blue-collar town, and I was on food assistance while in middle school,” Perez said. “I didn’t come from a lot so for me to be where I am now and be able to give back, there’s nothing better in the world than that.”
Richard Massi ’97, electrical engineering
Vice President, DTC Reliability and Performance, Peacock
By October of his senior year at Widener, Richard Massi knew he’d be working for Comcast, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Massi completed a four-month co-op at PPL Corporation and then an eight-month co-op with Comcast Cellular before his senior year. His co-op work with Comcast led him to a job offer contingent upon graduation, which he happily accepted.
Massi has held several positions at Comcast in operations, product deployment, and more, and moved to his current role in August 2021, at Peacock, the new NBC streaming service. He’ll be leading a U.S. and international team overseeing the reliability and performance of the streaming service.
The job is highly technical, but, like Perez, Massi says that the best part of his job is the people.
“Comcast is unique in the tenure of the people in the organization. During the early 2000s, people were job-hopping, constantly trying to move to the next hot start-up, but a lot of people at Comcast stayed,” Massi said.
"The culture is great, the people are great, and, for a Fortune 26 company, it feels like family.”
That all-in-the-family feeling definitely extends to Widener students.
“I hired a Widener co-op student—Art Kalemkarian—18 years ago, and he’s worked for me three different times in various roles,” Massi noted.
“Those relationships are invaluable.”
Art Kalemkarian ’04, electrical engineering
Senior Director, Reliability Engineering
Like Massi, Art Kalemkarian has been at Comcast since a senior-year co-op with the company landed him a job offer, but another opportunity at Widener paved the way for him to step into his own as a professional and a leader: becoming the general manager of the on-campus radio station WDNR (now WUCAST).
“The opportunity to lead an organization of 70 people was great life training and every bit a major complement to what I was doing in the classroom,” Kalemkarian said. “I learned how to lead people, run a budget, problem solve everything from operations to people to technical issues, and work with leadership at the university.
“To bring that learning from the collegiate to the professional space gave me confidence.”
Kalemkarian took that confidence to his co-op program, where he was involved in the trial work for Comcast’s home phone service. From lab testing and architecture design to trial runs, the work he did while still a Widener student would be the work he continued after graduation.
“It was amazing to come back after I graduated and be a part of the national build-out of the product from an engineering perspective,” Kalemkarian said.
Now that’s truly a full-circle moment.
Jeanne Ciampa ’95, electrical engineering
Director, Product Delivery, Next Generation Access Networks
Jeanne Ciampa is a natural-born leader, and coming to Widener only heightened those abilities.
“I was always attracted to organizing and leading activities, and I was an officer of almost every club I joined during my time at Widener,” she says.
She organized and managed her senior engineering project team, and it was during those long days keeping her team on task that she began to envision a career for herself in technical project and program management.
Ciampa has held several roles during her time at Comcast and credits her strong engineering background and leadership abilities she gained at Widener for helping her remain open to new opportunities.
The best thing about her job though? Supporting and uplifting her team.
“I have a breadth of experience on my current team from junior-level employees beginning their careers to senior team members with a wealth of knowledge. I enjoy working with all of them on their career growth and keeping them motivated and appreciated,” she says.
“I’m most proud when I hear complimentary feedback on the effort of people on my team, especially those I’ve personally had the opportunity to hire myself. Bringing in new people to the organization and supporting their successes gives me great joy.”
Mike Birdsall ’97, accounting
Executive Director, Fraud Risk Management at Comcast Cable
Though Mike Birdsall originally put Widener on his college search list because of its outstanding engineering program—and because a high school football coach was an alum who had “nothing but great things to say” about Widener —he ended up in the Exploratory Studies program, considering all options.
Thankfully he didn’t have to consider those options alone, and the mentorship he received from his advisor, Dr. Joseph Hargadon, changed the course of his career.
“Neither of my parents went to college, and they couldn’t provide the guidance I needed, but Dr. Hargadon took the time to ask me about each of the courses I had taken,” Birdsall said. “He asked what classes I liked and didn’t like, which classes had me the most engaged, and we discussed the kinds of careers that each could lead to.
“This was really the first serious discussion that I had in my life about what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Accounting proved to be the field that checked all the boxes for Birdsall, and after working in public accounting for a time, he took a role with the Internal Audit function at Comcast. He eventually moved into operations and helped establish the Fraud Risk Management organization for Comcast’s mobile business, which now oversees the full cable business.
And all was made possible by the guidance of a Widener mentor.
Jennifer Daley ’88, accounting
Vice President and Assistant Treasurer
For Jennifer Daley, another first-generation college student, coming to Widener was a learning experience, but one in which she felt deeply supported.
“Widener made the college search process easy, and I felt immediately comfortable on campus,” she said.
Daley credits many professors-turned-mentors for her success at Widener, but she says pledging a sorority was what made her really feel at home on campus.
“Being involved with Tri-Sigma was a highlight of my time at Widener. I met incredible women that were encouraging and fun, and I felt so much more a part of the school community once I pledged,” she said.
From Widener, Daley went into public accounting and from there wanted to find the right place to stay and grow. For the past 27 years, that company has been Comcast.
Daley enjoys the dynamic nature of the company and the industry, saying she’s “had the same phone number but that’s about all that hasn’t changed” throughout her time there.
Her biggest successes, she says, have been her involvement in three transformative acquisitions: one of a company twice Comcast’s size, one on the heels of the 2008 financial crisis, and one international acquisition that involved a bidding war.
“Each was challenging in its own way,” she said. “It was exciting to be part of the team that put the financing pieces together, and then so satisfying to see it all work on closing day.”
Richard Sculli ’94, accounting
Senior Director of Treasury Services
While Richard Sculli was involved in many activities at Widener—indoor and outdoor track, the Commuter Student Organization, the accounting club—the best part of his collegiate experience was pledging Kappa Sigma fraternity.
In fact, it was through a connection with fellow Kappa Sigma brother Christian Nascimento that Sculli got introduced to another Widener alum, Rosemarie Teta ’76, then president of Comcast Capital Corporation, who eventually hired him.
“We had a great conversation about Widener when I interviewed with her, and being on the accounting board, she knew the strength of the education and leadership Widener provides,” Sculli said.
Twelve years later, Sculli is living his childhood dreams of traveling the world (pre-pandemic) and keeping a pulse on everything from Comcast’s cable business to funding for global tv and film productions.
Still, giving back to Widener, and especially to Kappa Sigma, is top of mind for him. Sculli has been the alumni advisor to the fraternity for more than 20 years, and he looks forward to getting back to in-person events this academic year.
“Advising them is such a big part of my life. They make me laugh, but they also do really good work,” he said. “The value in Widener’s Greek life from the friendships to the leadership opportunities and academic excellence is huge.”
Christian Nascimento ’97, accounting
Vice President of Product and Premise Services, Comcast Business
Member, Widener University Board of Trustees
Despite working at a multinational corporation, Christian Nascimento most values the work he does supporting local businesses.
“Knowing we’re helping entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop shops grow and follow their dreams is the best part of my job,” Nascimento said.
That drive to help others flourished during his Widener days. He was involved in student government, Kappa Sigma fraternity, new student orientation leadership, and an after-school reading program at Stetser Elementary, and he praises the “leadership toolkit” those activities gave him. After working at various firms and startups around the country after graduation, he applied to Comcast and returned to the Philly area. He has been with the company for the past 15 years.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Nascimento was challenged to continue supporting local businesses and Fortune 1000 companies alike with their service needs.
“I’m really proud of the fact that our network performed so well during the pandemic when so much life and business shifted to working from home,” he said. “We were able to keep businesses going.”
Nascimento is excited by the rapid evolution of his industry across a variety of platforms and the learning that goes along with that.
“I enjoy being a generalist and having to understand how all our products work individually, and as part of our broader service,” he said. “I really love the work I do.”