Gina Spang ’08 is the daughter of one of Alverno’s leading cheerleaders, Rose Purpero Spang ’62. A first-generation American, Rose is an ardent supporter of the College, including serving on the Board of Trustees; completing five terms on the Alumnae Association Board, including one term as president; volunteering for alumnae events; and starting an endowed memorial scholarship in honor of her parents.
With so much love and admiration for the school, Rose petitioned quite strongly for Gina (and her two other daughters) to attend Alverno, but Gina felt inclined to follow a different path. Ironically, it was a path that was similar to the one taken by her father, Joe.
“My dad is a civil engineer; and science and math are definitely my strengths,” explains Gina. “I always knew I’d pursue engineering, but I eventually settled on civil because I could wrap my brain around it so easily. Once that was decided, I chose to get my undergraduate degree from Marquette University. Although my mom was disappointed, dad was happy because he’s an MU alum!”
For several years after graduation, Gina worked for privately held companies, gaining work experience in the construction sector.
One of the first projects she oversaw was the Milwaukee Center in downtown Milwaukee. Gina continued to advance and move on to more complicated projects and assume more project management responsibilities. Although it wasn’t typical to have a woman in a supervisory role in the construction industry, it was a challenge she embraced and thoroughly enjoyed.
When a position for a construction engineer opened up at Milwaukee Public Schools, Gina pursued the opportunity. “I was looking for a change and this seemed to be a good fit. It encompassed elements of field work, as well as in-the-office demands, so I applied.”
Gina started an LLC (limited liability company) for engineering- and construction-related services and, in the process of responding to a request for proposal, started thinking about returning to school for a master’s degree.
“I had the technical engineering expertise garnered from my undergraduate degree and on-the-job experience, so I felt inclined to learn a new skillset. I started leaning toward business because it could help with every aspect of my career, including the LLC.”
As Gina explored diff erent MBA programs in the Milwaukee area, it was actually a friend who alerted her to the new degree offering at Alverno. “All the pieces started to fall into place after a friend mentioned it. I went to an information session and was intrigued by the well-rounded approach to learning, plus I thought it would be neat to be a part of Alverno’s inaugural class. Eventually, I just said ‘If not now, when?’ so I applied and started the program.”
Gina graduated in Alverno’s very first MBA class, December 2008, and immediately put her business skills to work in a new position as director of Facilities and Maintenance Services for MPS. “The MBA added a level of credibility as I pursued the promotion and it also helped me to operate at a higher level, especially as I assumed broader responsibilities for annual budgeting and conflict resolution for my department.”
Along with her passion for Alverno, Rose has also instilled in Gina a strong commitment to helping others. Like her mom, Gina is heavily involved in volunteer activities that benefit the greater Milwaukee community. While Gina is actively involved in a number of local boards and committees of non-profit organizations, she has recently refocused her commitment to the Italian Community Center (ICC), assuming the office of President this November. “The ICC is in a state of transition and it is going to take strong leadership to keep the organization steady, yet moving in a forward direction. My MBA portfolio of critical thinking, organizational development and financial acumen will all be heavily utilized as I take on this new role.”
“My Alverno experience has positively impacted my life. Some benefits are obvious, but others are more subtle such as developing a greater awareness of those around me and learning that you can find people who influence you every step of the way.”
Click on the 2011-12 President’s Report to read more amazing stories like the one featuring Gina and Rose.