Alumni Spotlight: Robby Foss, C'92, GEd'92
June 13, 2012
Since graduating from Penn, Robby Foss, C’92, GEd’92, has
worked with many notable celebrities, including Snoopy, Woodsy the Owl, and
everyone’s favorite sweets munching Muppet, Cookie Monster. When she is not
engaged with her diverse stable of talent for PR, she applies her energy and
enthusiasm to a variety of Penn events. Red and Blue, Ben, and Penn are three
of Robby’s greatest passions, and she shows it frequently by dressing not only
in a wardrobe inspired by University colors, but also as the founder himself.
We talked to Robby about her time at Penn and what she thinks will make for a
successful Penn event.
What first attracted
you to Penn?
Penn was just an incredibly diverse place. Even 20 years ago,
there was an amazing variety of classes, majors, and people on campus. I
absolutely loved that there were so many student activities to participate in.
What are some of your
fondest memories of Penn?
I absolutely adored my roommate at Penn. She was from Tokyo
and I was from Manhattan, so we had a lot to learn from each other. She taught
me how to make sticky rice and I taught her how to find the best bagels. She
even came to Thanksgiving with me one year. One of my most favorite memories is
holding Seder in my dorm room. A bunch of my friends’ parents sent us care
packages with food for the observance. It was great.
I was also very involved with extracurricular activities.
Besides classes and SPEC, I also spent a
lot of my time working at UTV. I hosted a couple of shows, Dating Connection, which was a combination of The Love Connection and The
Dating Game, and Live with Robby and
Doug. This was before digital film
and YouTube, so we had to do all of our filming on tape, which was very time
consuming, but it was so hands on that I felt well prepared for my career post
Penn. It wasn’t just the skills I learned, but the fact that I was taught how use
media for positive change that made my communications degree so valuable.
Where did you go and
what did you do after graduation?
My first job was working in New York City for the Parks and
Recreation department under Mayor Giuliani. At the time, there was a big push
to make the parks safer and more family-friendly. After initial success with my
first position at a playground for special needs children, I moved on to
working with the parks commissioner, under whom I organized a program called
“Eartha Day” with Eartha Kitt to celebrate Earth Day in Central Park. It was a
lot of fun, and a great PR move for a city in a state of transition. At one
point, we even had Snoopy the Easter Beagle come to Central Park, an honor
usually only reserved for the White House lawn. This led me to work on even
bigger PR campaigns for the American Dairy Council, where I had the honor of
meeting Frank Oz and working with Cookie Monster himself on the “Got Milk?”
campaign. I’ve had a lot of fun during my career and I owe much of my success
to a groundwork set by my time at Penn.
Tell us a little bit
about your involvement with regional Penn clubs in San Diego and Austin.
We have A LOT of fun at our Penn club events. Recently, we
celebrated Ben Franklin’s 306th birthday. I dressed up as Polly Baker
(Franklin’s female alter ego whom he used to champion Women’s Rights) and a
volunteer dressed up as the man himself. We also have gone on gallery tours and
had a great trip to Susie’s Farm, an organic CSA in San Diego. I like having Happy
Hours too, but I think Penn events should be more than a simple networking
event. People should have an experience that connects them to one another, and
the commonality of Penn provides a great avenue for that. At the farm event, it
was extremely heartwarming to see three generations of Penn graduates all
wearing their red and blue and showing their pride for the University. When
organizing events, I try to use Ben Franklin as my role model and sounding
board. I often think “Would Ben Franklin approve of what I am doing?” I think
he would have loved the idea of dressing up for his birthday. He had a great
sense of humor and I want to bring that same sort of joy to our events.
How would you
encourage your peers to reengage with the University?
As I am in California, I would definitely recommend getting
out and engaging with your local club. If there isn’t one in your city, reach
out to the Penn Alumni Relations Office. They are a great resource. I would
also recommend staying in touch using social media, like Facebook and Twitter. Above all, just stay in
touch with one another. There is always a reason to get together and have fun.
And if you DO end up having a party in your region, here are some things I
would recommend to make the most out of celebrating Penn:
-Every Penn party needs a taste of Philadelphia. Did you
know that Tastykake will deliver cases of their famous baked goods directly to
your door? Order
them here for you next event!
-Have you ever wondered where you can find the best
cheesesteak in your region? Carol Wyman’s The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book is the Bible when it comes to
the Philadelphia region’s most famous sandwich.
-Don’t forget the Red and Blue! Balloons and streamers are a
good start, and the Penn
Bookstore always has banners, shirts, and all sorts of other Penn-branded
paraphernalia that will make folks feel like they are back on campus. There is
a Vineyard Vines tote bag with the Penn logo on it that I absolutely love and
take with me to every Penn event!
-Invite Ben Franklin to your event (or at least find someone
to dress up like him).
-If you are looking for a Quizzo-style trivia game, please
feel free to contact me. I have a ton of questions and it is a lot of fun to
see what your fellow graduates know about Penn and its founder.
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