Plymouth Whitemarsh High School proudly inducted three new members to its Distinguished Graduates Organization (DGO) on April 22 - Carly Cooperman (Class of 2003), Jimmy Curran (Class of 2007), and Melanie Grodanz Frankel (Class of 1996).
Ms. Cooperman, Mr. Curran, and Ms. Frankel were welcomed into the DGO with a luncheon and a ceremony where student leaders introduced each person, and inductees spoke about how being a PW graduate prepared them for success. Similar themes emerged from all three individuals, who advised students to work hard, take risks, and not fear being different.
Students attending the presentation asked thoughtful questions of the inductees, who provided a great deal of insight with their responses, sharing their experiences about overcoming adversity, about their creative processes, and how they succeed in a workplace that is ever-changing. Plaques will also be installed in the high school for each DGO following the induction ceremony.
This is the 35th year for the DGO celebration. The DGO Board of Directors meets annually to select candidates who may be nominated through an online form or suggested to DGO members. Candidates must be Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduates who demonstrate achievements in the areas of academics, arts, athletics, business, humanities, or public service. Here is a look at this year’s inductees:
Carly Cooperman, Business
Carly Cooperman graduated from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in 2003 and has become the CEO of a national strategic research consulting firm that has clients who include former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and companies such as HBO and Apple.
Ms. Cooperman attended George Washington University where she studied political communications and business administration, and graduated magna cum laude. She worked internships at NPR, Fox News, and the Washington Post, as well as at a small political advertising firm. It was during her time at this firm that she was introduced to Douglas E. Schoen, who was about to start his own consulting business. She was the first hire at his new business in 2007. Over the next 13 years, she went on to hold every position in the company until she was named CEO in 2020.
With a team of 10, she provides consulting services for a variety of clients, specializing in providing research and polling data for clients pursuing political initiatives. She has been a research partner on campaigns for Everytown for Gun Safety and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, as well as the Marshall Plan for Moms. In addition to the political strategizing, she has also used her research and polling skills to help companies like HBO, which called upon her firm to launch its first streaming service, HBO NOW.
In addition to running her own company, Ms. Cooperman is a Board member for George Washington University’s Graduate School of Media and Public Affairs and serves as the Vice Chair of Communications for the Parent Association of JCC Manhattan Nursery School. She has written a book titled America: Unite or Die: How to Save Our Democracy, has appeared as a regular panelist on Hill TV’s political opinion show, “What America’s Thinking,” and has received the American Association of Political Consultants’ “40 Under 40” award.
She has twins, Hayden and Sawyer, and is married to Matt Streisfeld. They live in New York City.
Jimmy Curran, Humanities
Jimmy Curran graduated from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in 2007 and has dedicated much of his life trying to disable the limitations that are often set on people who have physical or mental differences.
From the age of 2, Mr. Curran has been in a wheelchair due to spinal muscular atrophy type 2, which affects his ability to walk and stand. Mr. Curran learned from a young age that he had to figure out how to use his strengths and resources to overcome his physical limitations, and has never made excuses for himself due to his disability. He discovered a love for writing and creating as a child and began writing and performing his own raps. In his blog, Mr. Curran said he thinks his ability to communicate may have been heightened since he had to rely on his speech to articulate his needs – so much so that he often spoke for his younger brother’s needs as well. While he wrote rap songs for quite some time, his disease affected his ability to perform his raps, but he continued to write.
After graduating from high school, he attended Temple University’s Fox School of Business, where he graduated with honors and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2011. During his time at Temple, he completed internships on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. He became a Market Research Analyst in the Strategy and Planning Office at Independence Blue Cross, where he co-founded the Associated Resource Group ABLE to create a universally accessible work environment.
His interest in dismantling stereotypes about people who are differently abled continues outside of the office. He started a clothing brand called [dis]ABLE, and has written a children’s book called Will the One-Winged Eagle. The book is about a bald eagle with only one wing who is teased for being different. But Will figures out how to leave his nest and catch his own food despite not having two wings. Published in 2017 with illustrations by friend Kris Napper, the book became a way for Mr. Curran to reach out to young people with his messages of inclusion and inspiration.
Mr. Curran has shared his book with children throughout the Philadelphia area, returning to the elementary school he once attended (Ridge Park) in 2017. He hopes to expand his visits to schools in the country and abroad.
Melanie Grodanz Frankel, Arts
Ms. Frankel graduated from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in 1996, and has had a long and impressive career in the television industry, working high profile jobs for ABC, USA, Imagine, Grammnet, and Kapital Entertainment.
She attended Syracuse University from 1996 to 2000. She became a comedy coordinator at ABC in 2004 and then moved to ABC Studios (now Signature) where she worked in the Comedy Department from 2007 to 2011.
She later became the Vice President of Original Comedy Series at USA and led the network in broadening its comedic offerings. She developed the series Playing House, Sirens, and Benched. In 2012, the Hollywood Reporter identified Ms. Frankel as one of the 35 “superstars” under 35 to be working in film, TV, digital, law and news.
She returned to ABC Studios (Signature) as a Current Executive covering shows such as American Housewife, The Muppets, and A Million Little Things. She was promoted to Head of Comedy in 2019. In 2022, she joined Kapital Entertainment as Head of Creative, where she helped spearhead projects from inception through on-air run as an executive producer.
She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Etan and her two daughters, Zoe and Avery.
For a look at past DGO members, click here to visit our webpage.