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Alumni ProfileA Shared Vision: How Pi Kappa Alpha Helped Jerry Herman, ’75, Find his Passion for Giving Back

The year Jerry Herman, ’75, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, he was prepared with the tools and experience to find great success, both professionally and personally. In large part, Jerry attributes this to his membership in Pi Kappa Alpha. “It was at the core of helping me position my personal and professional life after college,” he explains. “In particular, my leadership positions in the fraternity, including President, are where I learned the importance of commitment, respect, and trust, both to individuals and to the community in which I was a stakeholder.”

As a student studying Political Science and Urban Studies, Jerry focused on achieving academic success while at UPenn, something that was tremendously supported by his Brothers. “My Brothers were mentors. I learned from them, and alumni, the benefits of good grades and the relationship to getting a good job,” he shares. “Older mentors were role models and enabled me to fully experience fraternity life.”

As part of his total immersion into Greek Life, Jerry was instrumental in philanthropic efforts, as well as raising critical funds for the fraternity. “We ran a campus-wide dance marathon to benefit numerous charities. We sacrificed evenings and a lot of time to make this happen, raising over $15,000,” he remembers. “It showed us how a group can come together for a charitable goal and be successful.”

And when the chapter was looking at significant debt, Jerry and his Brothers came up with a way to alleviate the burden. “At our regional convention we were hosting, we cooked all of the food ourselves. We never worked harder – we were waiters and chefs. We introduced people, welcomed people, served food, and cleaned up,” recalls Jerry. After three days of hard work, the Brothers, along with the generosity of alumni, raised enough money to cover their debt and found inspiration in the process. “We had Brothers that came out of the woodwork to support us! It was a real team effort, made up of diverse people and interests. We became an integrated group that worked hard at being a community.”

From college student to professional life, the transition can be challenging for many. But for Jerry, his time at Pi Kappa Alpha was key to his success. “The fraternity taught me the importance of working together as a team, as well as practicing leadership in both times of crisis and growth,” he says. “Winning the Smythe Award three years in a row, including when I was President, helped me explore different pathways to success and excellence, the building blocks to my career.”

After graduation, Jerry went on to practice law initially, before becoming CEO, COO, and Principal of three hotel companies. He later sold his business and entered the non-profit world, looking to give back. After 25 years as a leader in the corporate and non-profit worlds, Jerry decided to pursue something new, creating Leadership Pathways, which he runs today. “I created Leadership Pathways to coach and empower my clients on leadership issues and opportunities in their career transitions,” he explains. “I have a passion for the art and science of being a leader, and helping people achieve leadership in this rapidly changing environment. As a trained coach, I am committed to adding value and new learning to the lives of my clients, so that they can achieve higher levels of growth and fulfillment.”

When not helping others through Leadership Pathways, LLC, Jerry cherishes his time spent with his wife of 35 years, Linda, and their two children, Erika and David. He also enjoys traveling to visit extended family is Israel, Slovakia, and Australia; extensive service to the non-profit world, including chairman and officer positions, focusing on inner city and Jewish youth; working out; and reading about politics and history. In fact, Jerry is one of the founders of the non-profit organization, Project Morry, which empowers young people from under-resourced communities to envision and establish a positive future.

Jerry also gives back to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in many ways, serving on their investment committee for the education foundation, helping with fundraising, and generally staying involved in both his local chapter and the national fraternity.

For many years, PiKA has remained a critical part of Jerry’s life. From singing the fraternity song to put his daughter to sleep to his Brother, Richard Sussman, playing matchmaker and introducing him to Linda, the impacts have been lifelong and cherished. But nothing more so than when the fraternity brought his father into the fold, welcoming him as one of their own. “My father was a Holocaust survivor that never attended college. He would visit me and got to know my Brothers. He developed a successful business in meat delivery, and would treat my Brothers to occasional deliveries, even after I graduated. When he was 69, he was initiated as an honorary fraternity brother and we created a scholarship in his name. The Dave Herman Memorial Scholarship Fund is now awarded annually to an undergraduate who is an effective leader.”

Through all the ups and downs of life, Jerry has remained committed to the friendships that were formed more than 40 years ago and many of his Brothers remain a critical component in his life today. In fact, 17 Brothers were in attendance for his wedding and 11 were present for his son’s bar mitzvah. “I’m blessed to have a core group of eight lifelong Brothers. We get together constantly, talk constantly, and share the ups and downs of life. After my children and my wife, they are the best anchor point I could ask for. Joining Pi Kappa Alpha was one of my life’s wisest and most meaningful decisions.”

To connect with Jerry, email him at [email protected] or learn more about Leadership Pathways, LLC by visiting his website: www.jerryhermanleadership.com.