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Alumnae Hope and Torabi named to Smeal Board of Visitors

November 8, 2017

Dean Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of the Smeal College of Business, has announced the addition of two new members to the college’s Board of Visitors.

Wanda Bryant Hope ’87, chief diversity officer at Johnson & Johnson, and Farnoosh Torabi ‘02, journalist, best-selling author, television personality, and personal finance expert, will begin their three-year terms at the board’s November meeting. The board, which features nearly 40 members, consists of Smeal alumni and friends from an array of businesses and industries who meet once each semester in order to provide counsel in areas of strategic importance to the college.

Hope is an accomplished senior business executive with significant experience in general management, marketing, sales, commercial operations, and human resources. She has held a variety of leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson, including vice president of sales and marketing, development and operations, and global performance and development. In her current role, she is responsible for globally advancing the company’s diversity and inclusion outcomes, strengthening diversity and inclusion capabilities, improving reputation, and driving innovation and growth for future success.

“The very best business schools in the world have a strong commitment to diversity,” said Whiteman. “Smeal is no exception. Wanda has already given back to our community as the keynote speaker of Smeal’s START (Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow) Conference and as a featured guest in Smeal’s signature Executive Insights series. She will be a terrific addition to the Board of Visitors.”

Michelle Houser, senior director of development and alumni relations, said Hope brings a wide array of expertise to the board.

“Wanda has worked hard to reach this point in her career and it is rewarding to see her return to campus and engage with our students,” she said. “I look forward to engaging her further as a member of the board as she shares her expertise across many lines of business. I am confident she will be a wonderful resource for our faculty and students on leadership, diversity, and inclusion and how it is an important lever for business success.”

Hope said she is excited to be able to continue to serve Smeal.

“I’m honored to be able to give back to my alma mater by joining the Smeal Board of Visitors. I have seen first-hand how social, demographic and economic changes are requiring different approaches to developing, producing, and marketing products and services. Understanding diversity and inclusion is key in fostering innovation and preparing leaders to succeed in this rapidly evolving marketplace,” Hope said. “I’m thrilled to be able to bring this knowledge to the Board of Visitors and help prepare future business leaders for the challenges and opportunities of this new world.”

Torabi has distinguished herself as an award-winning personal finance expert, best-selling author and multi-media personality. She has engaged in a host of media to help share her financial expertise with the public. She has authored several self-help financial books; written financial advice columns and stories for leading newspapers as well as financial and general interest magazines; made guest appearances on major news and talk shows; produced an award-winning financial podcast; and hosted a primetime series on CNBC.

“I had the opportunity to interview Farnoosh during the Alumni Association’s 2016 City Lights tour in New York City and host her when she served as Smeal’s Spring Commencement speaker,” Whiteman said. “Farnoosh has been engaged with the college for a number of years and was instrumental in bringing national recognition to our Finance Department when CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ taped on campus nearly a decade ago. She is one of the most respected women in the financial community and I could not be more pleased to welcome her to the Board of Visitors. Farnoosh will be a terrific asset, particularly as the college works to impact the world by developing the entrepreneurs that will drive economic growth in the 21st century.”

Houser said Torabi’s career has evolved in impressive ways since she graduated from Penn State.

“Farnoosh started her career as a researcher and reporter at Money magazine and has created such a dynamic career for herself,” Houser said. “She was a very deserving recipient of the university’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2010 for her work as a journalist and author. She continues to provide financial information in a way that users find appealing and valuable. Her entrepreneurial experience in building her own brand will add such value to the board.”

Torabi said she looks forward to sharing her expertise.

"I'm deeply honored for the opportunity to join the Smeal College Board of Visitors,” said Torabi. “I look forward to sharing my insights and ideas with the board and Dean Whiteman in order to help further advance Smeal's stature as one of the country's most progressive and innovative business schools."

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