How Six Drexel Alumni are Moving the World Forward
Stepping into a position of leadership requires a certain fearlessness — a willingness to pursue an idea passionately, to risk and fail and risk again, to set aside ego and self-doubt to rally others toward a common goal.
There are libraries full of how-tos and handbooks, but there’s no one leadership formula that works for all. These Drexel College of Arts and Sciences alumni are writing their own rulebooks — inspiring change and building strong teams to forge new paths ahead.
For 37 years, Lyn Caltabiano has been a leader in the field of pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) at two of the top pharma companies in the world — GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co. From leading operations for GSK’s early phase clinical development and oncology R&D to strengthening project and alliance management at Merck, she has sought one challenge after the next, never allowing herself to get too comfortable. Underlying it all is a supreme respect for the work and her colleagues, and a passion for the field that began long before she ever stepped into a lab.
Ekwoge Abwe has a gift for rallying others to the cause of conservation. From hunters to farmers to local community members, he has worked for two decades to empower the citizens of Cameroon to protect the country’s fragile ecosystems and its numerous endangered and endemic species. Abwe believes that meaningful leadership — the kind that motivates people to transform their lifestyles in the name of biodiversity — starts at the grassroots. It’s a cause he continued to champion as a doctoral student at Drexel University, and now, as manager of the Ebo Forest Research Project.
For recent alumnus Nicholas Barber, science doesn’t end with discovery. A good scientist, he believes, uses research to inform policy, improve communities and mitigate harm to our planet. After five years at Drexel University — a journey brimming with awards, mentorship experiences and research — Barber is now studying earth science on a full scholarship at the University of Cambridge as the second Gates Cambridge scholar in Drexel history.
No matter the day or season, Anthony DeSimone’s mornings start the same: a 4 a.m. wakeup and quick email check, followed by a one- to three-hour run. The discipline required to maintain these morning rituals weaves its way through every aspect of DeSimone’s life, allowing him to tackle the pressures of leading more than 2,000 engineers and a unit that brings in $5 billion in revenue annually.
Stumbling upon personal injury law during her co-op as a history and politics student and A.J. Drexel Scholar at Drexel, Amber Racine has since become a rising star of the field. Her accolades range from “Lawyer on the Fast Track” from The Legal Intelligencer to being named chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors for 2019. Her successes aside, Racine is most grateful for the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
A drive to address economic inequalities — and a less-than- engaging high school experience — led Maggie Deptola to Coded by Kids, a local nonprofit that aspires to make technology education accessible to all middle and high school students. Her work caught the eye of professional networking giant LinkedIn, which featured Deptola in its #InItTogether campaign. Her likeness has since been featured on billboards throughout Philadelphia and even in a commercial that aired during the 2018 Winter Olympics — a fitting nod to her Olympian determination to transform education.