It’s interesting how things turn out the way they do; be it coincidence, luck, or fate. All the decisions we’ve made have led us to this very specific path and point in time; and if chosen differently who knows where we would be. This couldn’t be truer for alumnus Chris Donaghy; who decided to attend Penn State, where he found his passion.
Chris is formerly the CEO of a major distribution company where he was awarded the industry’s Crown Leadership Award, and currently the president of a consulting company known as PowerPlay Strategies LLC. Here he helps companies develop their strategic objectives, define their culture, and find the right direction for their specific goals.
Chris was born and raised in Philadelphia, but eventually moved to Florida with his family in his early teens. He always had an interest in the outdoors and science, and being in Florida helped that interest grow. As he got closer to being a young adult, Chris’ brother always spoke of the “legend of Penn State.” He spoke about it so much that Chris decided he would attend PSU once he could find the means to do so! In 1981, five years after high school graduation, he finally fulfilled his dream to attend Penn State. He attended the Abington campus for a year and a half before moving and continuing his studies at University Park. The one and a half years he spent at the Ogontz campus, however, are the college years he won’t forget. Abington and its professors were what helped bring his passion to light. When asked about special moments he could remember from Penn State Abington, he recalled his fondness and the beauty of the campus. He said “It’s hard comparing other schools to Ogontz. The old, rustic feel of campus and the pond where everyone would hang out created a great atmosphere for a small commuter campus.” Abington is also where Chris met John McNulty, Laboratory Prep Technician who helped spark his interest in the science world. McNulty exposed Chris to the behind the scenes activities of the biology lab, where he would help set up the lab for classes, purchasing and setting out the different specimens for dissection (fish, sharks, etc.) This collection and analyzing of sea life always reminded Chris of a scene from the book, Cannary Row by John Steinbeck; how the main character Doc would go out on specimen collecting trips so he could study them back at the lab and send them off to universities around the country. Chris even got to take part in a research project on the Jersey Shore, where he aided Dr. Neal Mercando, Professor of Zoology in collecting different specimens for marine zoology research. This was also another step in chasing his dreams. Serving as club president, Chris was also involved with the Eco Action Group on campus, which John McNulty also encouraged him to join. This group set out on many exciting and memorable field trips mostly in the tri-state area.
Upon his graduation, Chris was awarded with the Outstanding Entomology Student Award! This was only the beginning of Chris’ talents being recognized. In 2011, he received the Crown Leadership Award relating to his work in pest control technologies. Then in 2012, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences named Chris as one of the 5 Outstanding Alumni recipients; receiving the Outstanding Alumni Award! Although he’s not yet done, Chris stated that these were the “pinnacle points of my career.”
Chris shared some advice: “The most important thing, as leaders, is to ‘practice what you preach.’ A leader must have a compelling vision if he/she expects the team to follow in his/her footsteps.” He also said “Early on, people should define their ‘greater purpose’ meaning what they want to do and where they want to go beyond just earning money. You need to find something you’re passionate about, that emphasizes your core values; your drive.” Chris notes defining these values, “not how the dictionary defines them, but what they mean to you; and then from there it should help everything fall into place. “ Thank you Chris for sharing your advice, your history with Penn State and your many achievements. We are Penn State proud to have you as an alumnus.
Links to Chris’s award articles:
Outstanding Alumni Award:
Crown Leadership Award: