Employing Change

Submitted by Villanova

During their senior year at Villanova, Chris Kelly '04 VSB and Ryan Simonetti '04 VSB competed in the entrepreneurial challenge to help a struggling company gain success with a long term plan. The former roommates won the competition and proved that they were developing the skills to run a successful company. Chris and Ryan leveraged this experience when they teamed up to found Convene, a firm that provides conference space to companies in New York City.

Drawn to the values they cultivated at Villanova, Chris and Ryan (Inc's 30 under 30 Top Entrepreneurs in 2011) have made Convene a welcoming community where employees not only have a voice, but the ability to make a difference.

Chris and Ryan implemented professional development programs to help employees grow their skills. Convene also sends their chefs to the French Culinary Institute and offers English as a second language courses for employees.

They've also bestowed the Augustinian ideal of service to others to the members of the Convene team. By creating employee volunteer programs, Chris and Ryan are able to bring the Villanova spirit to various charities including Nourishing USA, City Harvest and DoSomething.org. As a company, they collect turkeys every Thanksgiving season and create Thanksgiving meals to distribute to shelters across New York City.

For many of their employees this is their first foray into volunteer work and Convene is honored to make that introduction. For Chris and Ryan this is just what Villanovans do.