Gina DeGiovanni, ’02

Where did life take you after graduation and how did you end up where you are now?

I graduated in 2002 with a degree in Public Relations and Mass media writing, as well as a double minor in English and History.

After graduation, I took a job at a law firm, as an office manager. I took a job in the building of a PR firm that I knew I wanted to work at, and it is always easier to get a job while you have one. So I spent a year managing a law office, as I applied for a job at the PR firm, The Star Group, which was the only female run advertising agency in the city.

I got a foot in the door as an office admin in the Philadelphia office of the Star Group. While managing the office, I started helping out with their media buying department and soon got promoted as a direct media buyer, where among my many clients, my major client was Comcast.

From there, I made a lateral move into their PR department doing events. That was when I was given full control of planning an advertising event for the AAAA’s in New York. It was when I took over the planning of a major social event for them 3 years in a row, that I decided I truly enjoyed event planning.

From the Star Group, I took a job running the PR and media office at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. I managed their media buys, trade reports, media events and bell ringing’s, similar to the Nasdaq bell ringing’s. I was also responsible for planning their internal and remote conferences and golf outings. I was there for 4 years, until Nasdaq bought out the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

After the Exchange’s merger, I started doing freelance/consultant work for about 3 or 4 years. I worked as the Senior Communication person for Digitas Healthcare, I ran the PR and Marketing Department for Rittenhouse Wellness Center, and then I ran the Development office and events for the Philadelphia Theater Company.

It was not soon after, that the Franklin Institute reached out and offered me their events manager position.  I have now been at the Franklin Institute, as their Senior Events Manager for 8 years. In that time I have planned hundreds of events, including weddings, trade shows, corporate events, mitzvahs, and have has some career defining opportunities. I have planned events for Vice President Biden, President Obama, ran events for the DNC and the NFL Draft when it was here in Philadelphia on the Parkway.

It has been a fun journey, and as an event planner, you learn and grow with every event. No day is ever like the last, and it is the one job where I can say, every day is literally like throwing a party.

Who was your favorite professor?

This is tough, because I have two.

Within my major, Lynne Texter was definitely my favorite professor. She was not only a great teacher, and tough, but she truly taught me what it is like to put a PR plan together, fully fleshed out and gave me my first chance to do a professional presentation to an executive.  I’ll never forget, that she took points off of my senior project because I did not update the budget to reflect the newly increased price of stamps that had just been passed that week. I thought that was such an invaluable lesson in how fast paced and important details are, and how the only constant is change.  I feel like on an academic level, I learned and grew the most by watching Lynne and the way she taught and guided us.

Personally, the professor who has touched me as a person the most, is Professor Vincent Kling. I have never met a more genuine and beautiful personality, who loves language and books and poetry and art as much as I do, but who also loves his students and Lasallian values just as much.

My first week of college, he was the first teacher to stop and recognize us as people, not students with a syllabus to get through.

His insights and guidance and vast knowledge on, what feels like all things, is something that I have valued, not only as a student, but through the years.

He also gave me an opportunity to help chaperone a travel study group to Germany and Switzerland, and it was one of the most enriching opportunities I have ever been given.

Professor Kling and I have remained friends and stay in touch to this day, and I am so lucky and blessed to have someone like him in my life both academically and personally.  He is truly one of the best people I know.

Do you keep in touch with anyone from your time here? If yes, who?

I made quite a lot of great friendships at La Salle, but I met two of my closest friends there.

Oddly enough, my friend Jim Werner, who I am the closest with, I never actually shared a class with. We met our first day at La Salle, when they bring in new students to show them the campus and introduce them to the school protocols. I remember meeting him, and after learning he was a business student and that I was Comm student, and I remember thinking “What a waste of time. We’ll never share classes, and I just wasted a day getting to know someone I will never see again.”

Little did I know, not only were Jim and I instant friends, he has since become my best friend, travel partner, was in my sister’s wedding, and has been there for me through thick and thin.  It has been 20 years since Jim and first met, and he is for sure my best La Salle find.

My other friends Nicole Fuscia Aros, is one of the few people who I not only adore, but admire and connect with not only as a friend, but intellectually.  We have a lot of the same interests, and oddly enough, I ended up introducing her to the man she married! (Who also went to La Salle)

How do you remain an active part of the La Salle community?

After graduation, I not only had a chance to chaperone a La Salle travel study class to Germany, I also joined our La Salle Alumni Board for the Communication Department. I served on the board for about 4 years, as their events Chair. In addition, since I also have had the opportunity to offer internships to several La Salle Comm students, I have as a favor to them, also participated in some of their career/advisory events they have thrown on campus.

I know people say cheesy things about their time at school, but I was lucky enough to make some great friends, had some great teachers, and I can truly say that I was well prepared for my career in Public Relations and events due to my time and training at La Salle.

It is a school and group of people that have continued to enrich my life, even after graduation.  It is a school that I am truly proud to call my alma mater.

What is the best book you have ever read?

My favorite book is called “The Master and Margarita” by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, written in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940 during Stalin’s regime. The book tells the story of how the devil takes over a city in Russia, along with a talking black cat with a taste for vodka, an assassin and a beautiful naked witch.  The story is told parallel to the Jesus/Pontius Pilate story.  It is funny, captivating, beautifully written and to this day, a book that I love so much that I would never lend out my personal copy, for fear of something happening to it.