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Two Smeal Grads Receive Alumni Achievement Awards

Two Smeal College of Business graduates are among the eleven Penn State alumni selected to receive the Penn State Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award, an honor for Penn State alumni who have achieved an extraordinary level of professional accomplishment by the age of 35.
April 10, 2012

Two Smeal College of Business graduates are among the eleven Penn State alumni selected to receive the Penn State Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award, an honor for Penn State alumni who have achieved an extraordinary level of professional accomplishment by the age of 35.

Smeal's two honorees are Christopher M. Thomas, global recruiting director for the Experienced Commercial Leadership Program at General Electric Co., and Daniel W. Veltri, co-founder and chief operating officer of Weebly.

Thomas earned his bachelor's degree from Smeal in 2003 and received his Smeal M.B.A. in 2008. At GE, he helps to manage global recruiting efforts, establish the U.S. hiring plan, and oversee the overall ECLP Summer Associate pipeline.

Thomas served as the strategic marketing initiatives manager for the GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance business, and as diversity lead recruiter and lead recruiter for Penn State for the ECLP program.

He was selected in 2006 as one of Ebony magazine's "30 Young Leaders Under 30"; received the Penn State Alumni Association's Diversity Award in 2008; and in 2011, was selected as one of The Network Journal's "40 Under Forty."

Veltri is a 2007 graduate of Smeal with a bachelor's degree in Finance. In 2006, while still Penn State students, Veltri and David Rusenko founded Weebly, now a San Francisco-based Internet company with an intuitive drag-and-drop website creation service geared for nontechnical people. The company has grown to more than 10 million users since 2006. Its service is available in eight languages, and its Facebook page has 60,000 fans.

Weebly was named one of Time magazine's "50 Best Web Sites" of 2007 and has been featured in several other prominent magazines.

Thomas, Veltri, and all of this year's recipients of the Alumni Achievement Award were honored at a dinner ceremony March 30 at The Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

Academic colleges or campuses nominate alumni who are then selected by a University-wide committee. They are invited by President Rod Erickson to return to campus for several days to share their expertise with students and the University community. The Alumni Achievement Award began in 2005 and since then has honored 85 outstanding alumni.

The complete list of this year's recipients, along with their year of graduation, current title, place of employment, and city of residence are:

  • Heather D. Agnew '03, principal research investigator, Integrated Diagnostics; Los Angeles;
  • Danielle S. Bassett '04, Sage Junior Research Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara; Goleta, Calif.;
  • Matthew T. Bresee '00, president, Erie BayHawks; Erie, Pa.;
  • Ellyn Fisher '99, vice president of public relations and social media, Ad Council; New York City;
  • John H. Gilmore Jr. '01, tight end, New Orleans Saints; Tampa, Fla.;
  • Meghan K. Jasani '99, vice president and product manager, J.P. Morgan Worldwide Securities Services; Boston;
  • Sean A. Misko '04, special advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State; Arlington, Va.;
  • Ronald D. Ondechek Jr. '99, investment professional, Altira Group LLC; Denver;
  • Herb Sweeney IV '03, senior associate, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Somerville, Mass.;
  • Christopher M. Thomas '03, '08g, global recruiting director, General Electric Company; Stamford, Conn.;
  • Daniel W. Veltri '07, co-founder and chief operating officer, Weebly; San Francisco.
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