Gerri Melascaglia, President
Gerri Melascaglia is currently the administrator of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. In this capacity, she provides complex administrative, financial and event planning support in continuance of the academic and research activities of the Center, its educational programs, marketing efforts and financial administration for programs, events and overall Center operations. Her background and expertise support the Center’s mission and activities operationally and organizationally.
Melascaglia redirected her business career to academia after more than 30 years in the textile and apparel industry in C-level positions of merchandising and marketing, product development and manufacturing, supply chain and operations management. The continuous line-launch nature of the business was a major ongoing promotional event climate involving internal and external stakeholders. Her most recent 17 years in industry was independently developing and pioneering a niche performance product for the children’s trade—flame resistant cotton sleepwear and accessories.
Her company acted as an agent and exclusive global technology and marketing licensee for Rhodia Specialty Chemicals Company, now Solvay. The company’s product distribution was via catalog, ecommerce and traditional national brick and mortar retailers. Its products were stringently regulated by the U.S. Government Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and certain industry regulatory organizations. She became well-known for children’s textile and apparel compliance expertisepublishing a procedure manual for the trade in layman’s terms and training staff at national retailers, factories abroad, as well as competitors.
As a result of this unique broad-based career skill set, Melascaglia transitioned to teaching the business of fashion and textiles developing courses linking real-world business environments and academic fundamentals, online and in-classroom for Philadelphia University, Immaculata University, Moore College of Art & Design and the University of Delaware.
Melascaglia earned her bachelor’s degree at Immaculata University and is soon to complete the Master of Arts and Liberal Studies at the University of Delaware.
Jesse Johnson, Vice President
Jesse Johnson is an instructor and department chairperson for the Social Sciences Department at the Stanton Campus, Delaware Technical Community College. Johnson has a passion for teaching and for Delaware Tech students—and is an alumnus himself. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college and may feel insecure, overwhelmed or out of place. I remember feeling this way myself as a student, but I overcame it thanks to the mentoring and encouragement I received from our faculty.” Today, Johnson pays this forward with his own students, providing them with the encouragement and confidence to persevere with their studies. Johnson is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and is active with the student veteran organization, Veterans Inspiring Progress (VIP). He is an alum of the University of Delaware Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program.
Gilda Capece-Jennings, Secretary
Originally born and raised in Philadelphia, Gilda Capece-Jennings has resided in Delaware for the past 15 years. She graduated from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a major in Sociology. She received a certificate in General Practice Paralegal studies in Philadelphia and worked as a paralegal for ten years, starting at the City Solicitor’s Office in Philadelphia and ending in a private law firm. She moved onto social service positions throughout Central Pennsylvania when she lived in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Among her experiences, she regards her work with children as the most memorable and enjoyable. She worked as a therapeutic support staff person alongside therapists for children at-risk. Capece-Jennings received her certification as a Holistic Health Practitioner, which was a year-long program she enjoyed thoroughly. She truly believes there are numerous ways to help oneself through knowledge of the mind-body-spirit connection.
When their four children graduated college, she and her husband Charles moved to Delaware with the intent to retire. Capece-Jennings started a business with jewelry making where she participates in craft and art shows all over Delaware. She has been focusing on various art media, selling her art, and teaching classes on it. She currently sells greeting cards and jewelry at the Newark Arts Alliance in Newark, Delaware. She has won awards for various textile work, jewelry pieces, and acrylic painting.
Gilda entered the MALS program in the Fall of 2018 because as a life-long learner, she wanted to get her master’s degree. The selection of coursework available to the MALS student was something that really appealed to her. She signed up for the Historic Preservation Certificate so she could focus her studies and still get the advantages of all that MALS has. She is pleased to be the secretary of the MALS Student-Alumni Board.
When Capece-Jennings is not making something, she is reading, cooking, or traveling. She and her husband love to travel to Europe. She lives in Bear, Delaware, with Charles and their two cats, Paka and Summer.
Charles Conway worked as the director of education for the Delaware Theatre Company, a professional regional theatre located on Wilmington’s waterfront. For over36 years, Conway established and oversaw educational programs including the Theatre in Schools Program, Student Matinees, the Youth At Risk Program (extensive acting and playwriting residencies serving students with special needs), the Senior Playwriting Program and the Theatre Company’s summer camp programs, Summer On Stage and Stage 2. He also served as the director of the Totally Awesome Players (an acting troupe of adults with intellectual disabilities), for which he was recognized with the 1994 Outstanding Achievement Award from The Arc, a national organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
He founded the Delaware Young Playwrights’ Festival, which (in partnership with corporate sponsor AstraZeneca) was honored in 2001 with the Greater Philadelphia Arts and Business Council’s Partnership of the Year Award. In 2011 he was named one of 50 Who Matter by the Wilmington News Journal and received the 2016 Wilmington Award and the 2018 Access Wilmington Award. Conway has served on the Philadelphia Arts and Education (PAEP) artist and grant review panels, has served on the Delaware Alliance for Arts Education and the Board of Delaware Classical Showcase. In 2005 and 2006, he was appointed a grant review panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth programs.
Conway has facilitated nationwide professional teleconferences for the Theatre Communications Group and maintained an active national and regional advocacy profile on behalf of arts education. He was named a Jefferson Award trustee in 2008 and served on the board of directors of the Delaware Shakespeare Festival from 2014 to 2018. In 2019, Conway received the Governor’s Award for the Arts. In the fall of 2018, Conway was hired as an education outreach consultant by the Resident Ensemble Players of the University of Delaware to help expand its student matinee and community outreach programs.
He is a student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program.
Jeanille Gatta is associate director, Market Access Customer Marketing & Engagement Strategy at AstraZeneca.
Gatta has over 20 years of marketing experience, diversely spanning multiple industries: health/pharmaceutical marketing, non-profit and higher education. Presently, she works in market access at AstraZeneca in customer engagement marketing.
Her contributions to market access at AstraZeneca have earned her award recognition for enterprise-wide initiatives that enabled more effective conversations with critical market access customers. Prior to market access, Gatta led digital marketing efforts for several brand teams, as well as for commercial operations. Before joining AstraZeneca, she worked as a health/pharmaceutical marketing consultant with two leading health care agencies, working with several clients including AstraZeneca, GSK and Shire. Before making a move to the health/pharmaceutical marketing industry, she led marketing recruitment programs and fundraising at the University of Delaware and The Rock School, Official School of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
She earned her MALS in 2005 and a B.A. from Saint Joseph’s University.
Cynthia Hewitt is a retired managing director of investments at Merrill Lynch. She graduated from Vanderbilt University and is currently working on a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at the University of Delaware. She earned a Certified Investment Management Analyst designation (CIMA) and is a former member of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). Hewitt also completed several courses at the Wharton School of Executive Education and earned the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation from the College for Financial Planning. In addition, she successfully completed the Certified Private Wealth Advisor designation through IMCA.
Hewitt joined Merrill Lynch in 1976 as one of the few women wealth management advisors at that time. She is a past member of the Merrill Lynch National Advisory Council to Management. Hewitt is a founder of the Fund for Women in Delaware and is a former participant on the Investment Committee for the Delaware Community Foundation. Since 2013, she has been a trustee of Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. She currently chairs the Garden Committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee, the Investment Committee, and the Strategic Planning Task Force. Hewitt is a trustee of the Christiana Care Health System and the Library of American Landscape History. She is a former trustee of the Tatnall School and is the former chair of the Investment Committee that oversees Tatnall’s endowment fund. She continues to serve as a member of the Investment Committee. Hewitt serves on the board of Delaware Wild Lands. She is a committee member on both DWL’s Investment Committee and Development Committee. Hewitt is also on the board of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and serves as treasurer of TLC. Past board memberships include the Ulster Project – Delaware and Delaware Guidance.
Hewitt and her team at Merrill Lynch, which included four financial professionals and three support staff, managed more than $1 billion in assets. In 2004 she was named as one of the top 20 women financial advisors in the nation by Research Magazine. Additionally, Hewitt was honored as a Distinguished Alumna by The Tatnall School in Wilmington, Delaware. She was named one of “America’s best financial advisors” by R.J. Shook in his book, The Winner’s Circle. For ten consecutive years, Hewitt was named as one of the top 100 Women Advisors in the country by Barron‘s. In 2016, Barron’s recognized Hewitt for being one of only a few women to have been on the list for ten consecutive years. In 2009, Hewitt was named as one of the top 1000 Advisors in the country by Barron‘s and was named among the 2009 “Top 100 Wirehouse Advisors in America” by Registered Rep. magazine. In 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Hewitt was named one of the top 1200 Advisors in the country and was named #1 in the state of Delaware by Barron‘s.
Hewitt plays golf and enjoys boating and kayaking on the Chesapeake Bay. She lives in Yorklyn, Delaware, with her husband and they have one grown son. They spend their time in Yorklyn and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and in a cottage on the Northeast River in Maryland.
Hewitt retired from Merrill Lynch after 42 years of service. After a two- and half-year retirement break, she returned as a managing partner and wealth manager with Snowden Lane Partners. After many years with a large, bank owned firm, she sought out a smaller, more personal company for her second act. In her second act in the financial world, Hewitt plans to focus on socially responsible investing, investment management and private banking.
Sarah “Sally” Milbury-Steen
Sarah “Sally” Milbury-Steen, a peace and justice activist, served as the executive director of Delaware Pacem in Terris for 27 years from 1985 through 2012. Pacem in Terris is the oldest and largest interfaith global peace and justice education and action organization on the Delmarva Peninsula. During her tenure, with the help of many dedicated coordinators and volunteers, she directed programs in the areas of international peace and peace at home which included dismantling racism work and restorative justice.
A native Delawarean, Milbury-Steen served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, West Africa, from 1965-1967 and later taught as a senior Fulbright lecturer at the National University of Gabon in Central Africa from 1975-1977. She earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, in 1975 and her dissertation was published by Macmillan in 1980 as European and African Stereotypes in Twentieth-Century Fiction.
In recognition of her peace and reconciliation work through the Ulster Project Delaware of Pacem in Terris, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Coleraine, Northern Ireland, in July 2013. She co-presented with Dr. Jun Aykawa from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan at the Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada, in August 2017 about the death penalty in Japan and in Delaware.
She is currently a student in the M.A. program in Liberal Studies at the University of Delaware and has conducted 41 interviews with open-ended questions for the thesis that she is writing on Millennials Engaged in Nonprofit Work in Delaware. She resides in Newark, Delaware, with her husband, John Milbury-Steen.