Q&A: Rudy Alfonso
By J. Chambless
The Kennett students and teachers who worked on the Corvette are pictured in May of 2019 with the 75 Stingray on the lift.
Rudy Alfonso had a busy
spring and summer. As a member of the Kennett School Board, and as that school
board’s representative of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, he was
simultaneously involved in two very important searches for top administrators
as the Kennett Consolidated School District conducted a superintendent search
and the Intermediate Unit interviewed for its new executive director. The
searches illustrate how important and time-consuming the work of school board
members can be, even though they are unpaid positions.
Landenberg Life caught up to talk about Alfonso’s service as a school board member, his impressive career with The Boeing Company, his love of cars, and more.
Q: You’ve served on the school board during a time when a lot was accomplished, and it was accomplished in a very business-like fashion. How many years have you served on the school board, and what has the experience been like for you?
A: We are very proud of what the students, educators, and the administration have accomplished. Test scores are up, with students leaving Kennett ready to enter the workforce, go on to vocational /trades or attend top-tier universities around the globe.
Kennett is a unique place, a true representation of the strength of our nation’s diversity. Starting with our kindergarten center and right through to the high school, the educators are the best in the state of Pennsylvania. Our educators pour their hearts and souls into doing everything possible to make our kids responsible citizens at a time when there is constant change and turmoil at every turn.
As far as running the organization in a very business-like fashion, while we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers that fund the schools, we have to remember that it’s not always just about dollars and cents. It’s also about taking care of those who keep our buildings safe, clean the buildings, feed our kids and spend endless hours in athletics, art, music to help mature young minds. There are a lot of people who support kids at times when they need additional support, a listening ear or just want to vent when they are frustrated or dealing with uncomfortable issues they can’t share at home.
My now nearly eight years on the school board have been extremely busy not only representing the New Garden Township constituents, but also representing the best interests of our Kennett students at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) and the Technical College High School Pennocks Bridge Campus.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your professional background, and how your professional experiences helped you on the school board?
A: I started my career after graduating from college as a mechanical engineer. I served for five years as a Naval Aviation Maintenance Officer. I was stationed at Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, where two of my three children were born. The Navy is a great place to develop skills like leadership, organization, trust and to build one’s confidence. During my tenure, I was able to travel throughout the United States for training and to deploy to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Cuba with an Air Anti-Submarine Aviation Squadron on board the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN69) and USS Independence (CV62). I have worked with people of all backgrounds and faith from all over the globe. For the last 35 years, I have worked at The Boeing Company where my career and professional development rapidly accelerated. I have worked on different defense platforms, ranging from the F/A-18 Hornet, National Missile Defense, and currently as the Project Engineer for the Japanese CH-47 Program. All of these programs are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars and require unwavering quality, cost, schedule, technology, development and performance management. Also, as part of the Boeing Leadership Development Program, I was the Chief of Staff to the Boeing Ridley Park /Philadelphia Site Vice President and General Manager and later a member of the Being Congressional Relations Team at its Washington D.C. Operations. I also served on the Board of Directors at the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington for 12 years including, three as its president and eight years as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs for former Delaware Governor Tom Carper, who continues to be a friend to this day and is now a U.S. Senator.
Q: You’re a real car enthusiast. Tell us about your love of automobiles.
A: Yes, I do love cars. My favorite is what is defined as America’s Sports Car, the Corvette. Currently, our garage consists of a 2006 Corvette Coupe, a 2001 Mercedes Benz CLK 430 Convertible, and a 1975 Corvette Stingray Convertible. In the past, I have owned a 1971 Cutlass Supreme, a 1974 MGB, 1984 and 1985 Nissan 300ZX. Two other cars that I have owned are a 1967 VW Beetle and a 1978 VW Beetle Convertible. My everyday driver is a white 2016 VW Passat.
I try to drive the 1975 Corvette Stingray Convertible as much as possible during the summer. Car shows are a must every year, including one at the CCIU Pickering Campus in April, Corvette’s at Carlisle in August, and the annual Toys for Tots Charity drive in October to Kerbeck Corvette in Atlantic City. This year, the new Mid-Engine Corvette C8 was unveiled at 11:30 p.m. on July 18, so stayed up to see the unveiling of the beauty as the event was held in California and was streamed live by Chevrolet around the globe. The love is really about the evolution of the technology, design and performance, plus the challenge of tinkering and getting my hands dirty.
Q: You’re also a big proponent of the Technical College High School and the work that students are doing there. You have some of the automotive students work on your cars, right?
A: The students rarely get a chance to work on antique or exotic cars. That is why I have them work on both the body, paint and engine of the Corvette. They have also worked on the Mercedes Benz CLK Convertible, doing brakes, tires, the water pump, electric windows, This allows the instructors, John Dowling, Dan McCabe, Jesus Garcia and Jenny Wasserman, to expand their syllabus and teach the students the differences with troubleshooting and doing repairs on old and new technology.
Q: What is your favorite spot in southern Chester County?
A: Old Havana Cigars in West Chester. A great place to relax, enjoy a stick and watch the Eagles.
Q: What three dinner guests, living or dead, would you invite to dine with you?
A: With a master’s degree in history, my choices would be: Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, and Jose Marti.
Q: What food is always in your refrigerator?
A: Humus and gluten-free Pita Bread for snacks, blueberries, soy yogurt and soy milk for smoothies.