Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Chief Financial Officer, Growing Green Inc.
Involvement at Adelphi: “I was an English major, the feature editor of the Delphian, varsity baseball manager, member of the sports car club and captain of the College Bowl team.”
On the value of his Adelphi education: “Adelphi opened my eyes and my mind.”
As a student: “I met my wife Teri at Adelphi in June 1966. Some friends and I had piled into a small Volkswagen Beetle. We were going to Jones Beach for the senior class trip. This good looking girl sat on my lap and I fell in love. We were married in 1969.”
Joel Pesapane ’66 was running a thriving gift store in the early 1970s when he and his wife Teri—who he met at Adelphi—took a trip to Boston. “While we there, Teri noticed that tropical plants were being used as part of the interior design of several offices,” he said.
Soon after, the Pesapanes began selling plants as an add-on for their gift store. It was such a success that, in 1973, Teri founded the interior landscape firm Growing Green Inc. “When we started, Teri and I were the only employees and our company had just one client,” Pesapane said. Growing Green Inc. expanded rapidly. By 1981, the company moved to an office warehouse in St. Louis. Today, Growing Green Inc. has 24 employees and more than 400 clients.
“Having plants at work is essential to creating a healthy and profitable environment,” said Pesapane. Growing Green designs, installs and cares for displays of tropical plants and flowers in building lobbies, hotels, hospitals, corporate offices, financial institutions and shopping malls. While Teri focuses on the company’s marketing and management, Joel immerses himself in the technical aspects of plant culture, health and pest management. Pesapane, who studied with Florida growers and research scientists, has developed expertise in the areas of using beneficial insects and integrated pest management.
He shares his knowledge about pest management, plant care, strategic planning and business and financial management by speaking regularly at trade association conferences. An avid writer, he is also a contributing columnist for Interiorscape Magazine.
During a recent visit to Adelphi’s campus, Pesapane “marveled” at the University’s well-kept grounds. “Because of my profession as a horticulturist, I was very impressed by the beauty of the campus and the upkeep of the grounds,” he said.
Pesapane first stepped on Adelphi’s campus in the early 1960s as a transfer student from Colgate University. He longed to attend a school that provided a more intimate education—and he found a home at Adelphi. “At Adelphi, I studied a broad range of subjects. I was encouraged to share my ideas and had the opportunity to sit and talk with professors who challenged me,” he said.
The year 2016 commemorates his 50th anniversary of graduating from Adelphi. To celebrate, Pesapane will be returning home to Adelphi this June for 2016 Reunion Weekend. He also put forth a challenge to encourage his former classmates to participate in their class gift. Pesapane has pledged that if 25% of the class gave back to commemorate their reunion, he will contribute $10,000 to the University.
“I want us to show the University community that the Class of 1966 is still making our mark on Adelphi,” said Mr. Pesapane. “I was brought up to believe that what you gather in life should not be hoarded away. Life is not about acquiring more and more material things. It makes me feel proud to give back to Adelphi.”
The Pesapanes have been loyal supporters of Adelphi throughout the years. Mr. Pesapane is a member of the Ruth S. Harley Society and, in 2010, the Pesapanes provided a generous endowment to the University. The endowment supports students who are working to achieve social change in an urban setting, a cause close to the Pesapanes’ hearts.
“It’s important to participate in your culture, your environment and the lives of others.” Mr. Pesapane said “I want my contributions to help students at Adelphi today…students just like the one I was once upon a time.”
Published May 2016