Our network of 22 Alumni Councils, comprising more than 400 of your fellow EY alumni, help us stay connected with the pulse of our alumni. In recognition of their contribution, we want to introduce you to some of our Council members who are truly helping us continue the spirit of high-performance teaming.
Claude E. Fusco, Jr.
A member of the New York Alumni Council, he's the inspiration behind a unique caregivers center. Read more
This Los Angeles Alumni Council member is all about community building. Read more
Author, musician and Atlanta Council member is on a mission to make a difference. Read more
Caring for the caregiver
In April 2006, former Ernst & Young LLP New Jersey Office Managing Partner Claude Fusco received news he was hoping not to hear. Kathryn, his wife of 32 years, was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. She was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit of Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey. The next six months were grueling ones for Fusco and his children, Emily, Claude and Diana, who were ages 16, 25 and 27 at the time.
The family spent many long days and nights anxiously sitting by Kathy’s side. Six months later, she passed away. And while Kathy will always be deeply missed and remembered, there is a positive outcome to this story. In the midst of their loss and suffering, the Fuscos are helping to build a better world.
During Kathy’s months of hospitalization, Fusco did what he could to keep his family functioning “as normally as possible.” Once, following a bedside discussion concerning the details of Emily’s upcoming confirmation, Fusco recounts, an “astute” nurse approached him. “I remember her telling me, ‘Your wife is very sick, but there are other things — such as your daughter — that you also need to be concerned about,’” he recalls. “That nurse woke me up to the fact that, yes, my wife was suffering, but so were my children, not to mention me.” In fact, shortly after Kathy’s passing, Fusco would suffer a minor stroke, which he attributes to the stress of being a caregiver.
A space for solace
Reflecting on that difficult time, Fusco now realizes how beneficial it would have been to be able to talk to others “who truly understand what you’re going through … to discuss the things you really need to discuss.” Your life changes, he says, “and if we’d had a setting or someone to help us think through what we were going through, I think that might have eased our situation.”
Claude E. Fusco, Jr. (second from left) at the Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center with his children (left to right) Diana, Claude III and Emily.
About this time, Fusco heard about a caregiver center at another hospital. It was a dedicated space within the hospital where caregivers could go to find solace, talk with family in a tranquil setting, confer with a social worker, share experiences with other caregivers, check their email, do online re-search or just recharge. Fusco thought how such a center would have benefited him, his family and the many other people he met during his wife’s illness.
So he got to work. He initially called his doctor (also a personal friend) who advised Fusco to speak with the Executive Director of the Overlook Hospital Foundation. “Then,” says Fusco, “just as I was working up the nerve to call the Foundation Director — like an angel sent from God — she happened to call me.”
From there, developments proceeded swiftly. Fusco presented his concept to the hospital, which “just jumped on the idea.” Beginning with a matching grant from the Thomas Glasser Foundation (created in memory of Summit, New Jersey, resident Thomas Glasser, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001), Fusco, serving as Fundraising Chair, helped to establish a US$3.5 million endowment for a caregivers center. In June 2011, the Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center at Overlook officially opened, with Fusco as one of the honorary ribbon cutters.
Making his dream a reality
Fusco says he just wanted to give something back. “It was a dream,” he notes. “I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it turned out better than I could have ever hoped.” And the giving continues: while helping to develop the Caregivers Center at Overlook, Fusco met the father of the late Thomas Glasser, Gerry Glasser. The two men are now collaborating on a new organization, Imagine, a center for helping children (and their families) cope with the loss of a parent or sibling.
Meanwhile, Fusco’s eldest daughter, Diana, has joined LUNGevity, an organization committed to funding the most promising research into the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer.
“It was a dream that turned out better than I could have ever hoped.” - Claude E. Fusco, Jr.
Fusco, a member of the New York Alumni Council, was among those attending the recent EY alumni event in New York City when Mark Weinberger, EY’s Global Chairman and CEO-elect, talked about the organization’s commitment to building a better working world. For Fusco, it confirmed what it means to be an EY alumnus.
“The values and experiences I gained at Ernst & Young were a big part of this project’s success,” notes Fusco. He also says he could not have done it without the support he received from his EY colleagues, who he describes as “like family.”
Fusco still feels “a little embarrassed” about the attention he has received for being the inspiration behind the Caregivers Center. He’s quick to credit the hospital, which he says just “picked up the ball and ran.” Still, it gives Fusco great satisfaction knowing the Caregivers Center is there to help others in need. “My wife truly suffered — we all did — but it’s comforting to know that she didn’t suffer in vain.”×
It really is who you know
In the summer between graduating from Cal State University, Northridge, and joining Ernst & Young LLP in the Woodland Hills, California, office, Mandy Rhodes spent a month backpacking through Europe with three college friends. Hailing from a small southern California town (the nearest mall and movie theatre were 30 miles away), Rhodes says the experience “opened my eyes to how much more is out there.” It’s a sentiment that carries over to her service as a member of the Los Angeles Alumni Council.
“There’s great opportunity for alumni who stay connected,” she says. In fact, Rhodes can’t understand why someone would not want to join the alumni network. “We have similar backgrounds and the same training and experiences. We’re in the same field and may have similar goals. Why not share our individual experiences and goals with one another?” she asks.
Rhodes recounts her own experience after leaving EY to join The Ryland Group as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Reporting Manager. “Shortly after joining, I got an email from the controller of the company’s mortgage division. It turns out I had briefly worked for him when he was a manager at Ernst & Young LLP. I instantly had a newfound connection to my new employer.”
The value of networking
Rhodes’ appreciation for networking started early. From childhood on, she recalls her father repeatedly reminding her that it didn’t matter what she did, where she did it or what industry she was in, what mattered was who she knew. “Dad always told me, ‘If you have the personal relationships, the opportunities will be yours,’” she notes. The value of personal connections was so deeply ingrained in Rhodes that, when asked to speak at her college graduation, she spoke on, what else, the power of networking. “I think I was a little ahead of my time,” she laughs.
As one of the younger members of the Los Angeles Alumni Council, Rhodes has a special interest in reaching out to and engaging younger alumni. “I don’t think all of our younger alumni truly appreciate the power of the alumni family,” she says, “or how important those connections can be to their personal and professional growth.” As a result, the Council is now focused on special events designed to appeal to alumni age 35 and under. One such event was held in May at Craft Los Angeles, a trendy eatery owned by Tom Colicchio, head judge on Bravo’s Top Chef.
“As alumni, we form an incredible network, and with those connections, you can go just about anywhere.” –Mandy Rhodes
To reach a younger alumni audience, Rhodes and her fellow Council members are turning to social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and are exploring the use of Twitter. “We’ve done a lot to attract and get our younger alum involved,” says Rhodes. However, she notes that nothing can take the place of “old-fashioned” one-on-one outreach.
In addition to events focused on young alumni, Rhodes is very proud of the Council’s “really cool” events for all alumni, which typically draw between 600 and 800 people. Los Angeles-area alumni have attended events at the Ronald Reagan Library and Dodgers Stadium and were among the first to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor exhibit at the California Science Center.
Rhodes, a mother of three, says she takes as much pride in being an Alumni Council member as she does being an EY alum. “We can help people grow,” she says. “As alumni, we form an incredible network, and with those connections, you can go just about anywhere.”
All in good time
It’s a good thing Atlanta Alumni Council member Justin Honaman is an expert in time management. Over the past few years, Honaman has published two books on authentic leadership and personal branding — Be Extraordinary! and Make It Happen! He’s also written and recorded two music albums — Saturday in the South and Let Go & Let God — and six singles, one of which has been picked up by country recording artist Tracy Lawrence.
And that’s not all. He’s a children’s music worship leader at the 5,000-plus-member Buckhead Church of Atlanta and serves on a variety of boards and committees, including the Atlanta Alumni Council. Honaman writes extensively and typically speaks more than 30 times a year on such topics as leadership, team-building, analytics and business intelligence and, you guessed it, time management. He manages to do all this while keeping his day job as Vice President for National Specialty Retail at Coca-Cola Refreshments.
The fact that he’s accomplished all of this at a very young age prompted the Atlanta Business Journal to name Honaman one of its “40 Under 40 Up and Comers” and Consumer Goods Magazine to name him a “Rising Star.” In addition, Honaman was selected this year to join the upcoming class of Leadership Atlanta.
Helping others, creatively
Honaman’s busy life is a reflection of his personal mission to make a positive difference. “I’m always looking for opportunities to be creative while at the same time helping others to learn, grow and make a positive difference,” he says. Honaman is convinced that, beyond your education and skill set, your personal network is your single greatest asset.
So when asked to join the EY Atlanta Alumni Council, Honaman “couldn’t say yes fast enough.” The EY alumni network “is an incredible source for information, ideas and most importantly, strong, committed talent” and, he says, “Our Councils are all about creating an environment for our alumni to connect and build relationships.”
“Through our events and programs, we bring together so many thought leaders — not just in audit and tax — but in all areas of business and life.” – Justin Honaman
In addition to the networking opportunities, Honaman sees the Councils playing an important role in the continuing development of our alumni. “Through our events and programs, we bring together so many thought leaders — not just in audit and tax — but in all areas of business and life. By bringing these leaders to the table, we learn from them and from each other,” he notes. In addition, as Ernst & Young LLP looks to expand its Advisory Services practice, the alumni network is an extraordinary source for talent and referrals.
After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1996, Honaman joined Ernst & Young LLP as a member of its original Process Improvement practice. He left the firm in 1999 “in the midst of the dot-com boom” to pursue other management consulting opportunities in the strategy, CRM and analytics space.
Along the way, he earned his MBA from Auburn University. In 2003, he joined Coca-Cola Enterprises — now Coca-Cola Refreshments — where he was tasked with building out the company’s customer business intelligence and analytics platform for North America. “At the time,” he says, “the Coca-Cola system had no single view of customer — no single view of retailer, brand, product or package performance.”
Honaman led the team that developed the solution. From requirements to delivery. From data collection to reporting and analytics. From data and information to business decision. That platform exists today as Coca-Cola’s book of record for customer performance.
In 2008, Honaman moved over to lead new business development for the Coca-Cola National Retail Sales Specialty group in North America. This means that the next time you see a cooler of ice-cold Coca-Cola products at check-out in your favorite retail outlet, you might have Justin Honaman (and his team) to thank.
While committed to investing his time where he can “make an impact,” Honaman admits that managing that time is his biggest challenge. We’re delighted that he chooses to spend some of the time serving on the Atlanta Council. If you’d like more information on Honaman’s books and music, visit his website at www.honaman.com