After a decades-long career in public relations, retired Klein College professor Jean Brodey died on April 30, 2014, at age 85. However, some of her former students are ensuring that her legacy is passed on to a new generation. Danielle Cohn, KLN '95, and Cathy Engel Menendez, KLN '93, established a campaign fund to endow a scholarship in Brodey's name. They made substantial contributions and encouraged others to give as well. Today, with help of other significant gifts - including from former student Krysta Pellegrino, KLN '00 - the fund has been endowed and the Dr. Jean Brodey Endowed Scholarship will be awarded for the first time this spring.
Brodey was one of the most respected public relations professionals in Philadelphia. She was inducted into the Philadelphia Public Relations Association's Hall of Fame in 1998. At Temple University, she spent 28 years as a professor in the Department of Public Relations at Klein College of Media and Communication. She was known for her entertaining but tough teaching style, which included marking up her students' papers with her infamous red pen.
As a single mother, Brodey previously worked in various communications and public relations positions, including as a public relations director at Hall Mercer Community Mental Health Center. This earned Brodey the respect of many of her similarly hard-working students. However, it was her advocacy for students, particularly women, that made the biggest impact.
"She would come to class with that mixture of real-world experience, being a professor, being a woman, and understanding how hard it was for women during her time. And she understood how hard it still was even during my time for women to grow in their careers and find their paths," Cohn says.
Brodey didn't just mentor her students while they were at Temple — she formed lasting relationships with them as they progressed in their careers. After she retired, a group of Brodey's former students even named themselves "The Brodey Bunch'' and met every three months with her at the Whitemarsh Valley Inn in Lafayette, Pennsylvania to talk about their personal and professional lives.
Cohn, who is now the vice president of startup engagement at Comcast, remembers how the group would gather around the Valley Inn's sing-along piano to sing the Temple fight song. Other media professionals who frequented the restaurant made sure to "pay their respects" to Brodey for her work. "It was like having dinner there with the mayor," Menendez says.
After Brodey's passing, Cohn and Menendez decided to remember her the best way they knew: through the gift of education. Their campaign fund launched in 2018, using Facebook to raise money for the scholarship.
"After Jean's passing, Danielle came up with the idea, and the question we really wanted to answer was: how can we continue her legacy, and more importantly, how can we do for others the kinds of things that she did for us?" Menendez says. "Whether it was access, introductions, pushing on you when you needed to be pushed, challenging you to see things differently."
Little did Cohn and Menendez know that another former student had also established a scholarship in Brodey's name. Pellegrino, executive vice president at Health+Commerce, a public relations and digital marketing agency, was inspired to set up a scholarship that commemorated Brodey after taking several of her classes at Klein. Pellegrino found out about Cohn and Menendez's fund after creating hers and decided to contribute significantly, which helped push the fund over the minimum required for endowment.
Pellegrino expects that both the endowed fund and the scholarship she created in Brodey's honor will help students achieve their goals, just as Brodey would have wanted.
"She really was a mentor to me and kind of a giant in the field of public relations and I'm happy to participate and honor her memory and think about how many students she's been able to help," Pellegrino says. "If I can emulate that in any small way, that's important to me."
"There are very worthy students at Klein and our hope is that this scholarship not only helps them financially but can also help strengthen the network that Jean built," Menendez says.
The purpose of the Dr. Jean Brodey Endowed Scholarship is to help advertising and public relations students at the Klein College, with preference given to students with financial need and those who are members of Temple's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).
If you wish to make a donation to the Dr. Jean Brodey Endowed Scholarship, please visit giving.temple.edu/brodey.
To learn more about establishing a scholarship or supporting Klein students in other ways, please contact Karen Gallagher, assistant dean, development and alumni relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to giving.temple.edu/kleincollege.