Alumnus of the Month: August 2009
Thomas DeLorenzo '84
What is your edge (strength)?
My edge is twofold – first, the ability to keep getting up no matter how many times life knocks me down, and, second, the ability to see relationships between two very different ideas that other people often overlook. Being able to create synergies that work for my professional life has always been one of my strong points.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
My time at Hofstra allowed me to see the world from a very different point of view – actually various points of view – than when I was living in my hometown of Schenectady, New York. My horizons were expanded beyond my wildest imagination. When I was a graduating senior, I took several black and white photos for my friends. They asked why I opted not to go with color prints. I said, "when we first arrived here, the world was very black and white to us – and now it is a million shades of gray."
The people are what sets Hofstra apart from other institutions of higher education. The people are why I stayed. The people are why there is a part of me always left behind on campus.
Another member of the Class of 1984, Resa Alboher, once said it best: "We don't major in subjects at Hofstra – we major in professors." Once we found a professor we loved, we had to immerse ourselves with everything that professor had to offer. Everyone clung on the very last word of Dr. Cernic and Dr. Seigman.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
What was your favorite class?
Again, I can't give just one answer. The first class that comes to mind is Choreography with Stormy Mullis Brandenberger – she was a genius in bringing out the creative side of everyone – and she knew how to appreciate each and every nuance of our characters. I could have taken that class again and again.
Any of the Dramatic Literature classes with Dr. Seigman would be worthy of anyone's favorite list. That man literally prepared me – without knowing it – for what would lie ahead in my life. He taught me to pay attention to the details, for life is nothing without the details.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Narrowing it down to one is almost impossible.
My favorite recent memory was going back for the 25th reunion and spending it with my very close friend and fellow alumna Iliana D'Limas. We spent hours walking all over the campus that night, reliving each and every classroom. Our time there felt so very, very close, yet so far away. We both felt as if we closed our eyes hard enough and concentrated long enough, we would see all our old friends running from building to building between classes.
Giving it a bit more thought, it would probably have to be the Arts House Christmas Dinner. I had the good fortune to be the resident assistant for the first year of the Arts House in the Netherlands. I am proud to say that I am friends with many of the residents to this very day. Being the Arts House, we were encouraged to create programs around our theme. My residents came up with a play – The Manhattan Obsolete Deities Blues. Darryl Claps wrote this very clever, witty and highly entertaining piece of theater. The residents produced every single moment of it. I could not have been more proud. Every single day in that residential experience was a blessing – and I am very fortunate to have experienced it.
I also remember calling in requests to WRHU with my good friend Jenna Wims – dedicating them to all our friends at "Camp Hofstra."
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I currently work in entertainment public relations. It was a career counselor at Hofstra who suggested this as a segue after my time spent as an actor. Marvin Reed was said counselor, and he suggested that, given my likes and dislikes, PR made perfect sense. I would have never given it a thought if not for his direction.
Who in your field do you most admire?
The person in the entertainment industry I admired the most is, unfortunately, no longer with us. Her name was Linda Mancuso. Linda passed away in 2003 and left a legacy longer than any small country could. Linda was a major executive at NBC, developing such hits as ER. In spite of her status and power, she treated every person she encountered as an equal, giving the same level of kindness and respect to everyone. She was so regarded that at her funeral in Chicago, the bishop opted to conduct her service, and the cathedral was standing room only. The memorial service held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles was attended by at least 1,500 people – including dozens of celebrities whose careers she started.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My very first job was a temp situation in Jericho, New York, at St. Paul Insurance. It was a basic data entry position to get me through the summer. There I learned that many people are content with just getting by day to day, without a higher goal in sight. It was there that I also put my lessons in details from Dr. Seigman to practice.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Take more pictures during your time at Hofstra.
Tell people what you really think of them, what your heart says about them, every chance you get, for you never know when which chance is your last.
Read more than just the books you have to read for class – read materials related to the class – go beyond the expected – it is there that you find all your riches.
How do you balance work and life?
I am still trying to figure that one out.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My 10-year plan will be taking me away from public relations and moving into producing and writing. I have several projects in development right now that should come to fruition soon. I also am working on a few books, dealing with my life and my experiences with AIDS.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Nothing could ever beat being honored by The New York Times as an Unsung Hero in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in 2006. They named five people – two scientists, two founders of nonprofits, and me. It continues to blow me away nearly three years later. I received it for a project I started out of need – I had companies donate various gift items to the residents of the hospice at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. People at The New York Times heard about it – and, within 22 hours of creating the idea and sending my first e-mail, the Times was calling with the honor.
You can't write stuff like that. It has to just happen.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
"To thine own self be true." – Shakespeare
Thomas DeLorenzo '84 has some pretty outrageous stories to tell, after nearly 15 years as an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles. Because of his hard work and dedication, Thom is the person with the most nominated client list in Emmy history for an individual publicist, having four nominations at one Emmy® Awards ceremony alone. Recently, DeLorenzo's client, Kathy Joosten, won an Emmy® for her work on Desperate Housewives, making it her second win.
In 2006 The New York Times chose DeLorenzo as one of five "Unsung Heroes in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS" for his project benefiting the hospice clients of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. His profile ran in The New York Times World AIDS Day section. In 2008 the San Antonio AIDS Foundation named him "Angel of the Year." In 2008 DeLorenzo expanded the project to include Joseph's House, an AIDS hospice in Washington, D.C., dedicated to serving homeless individuals with AIDS.
Using his PR work as a stepping stone, DeLorenzo was able to work with the Obama, Clinton, Kerry, and Gore campaigns. In 2000 a personal and professional highlight for DeLorenzo was attending the Democratic National Convention as a guest of Vice President Gore and his family.
As a person living with AIDS himself, DeLorenzo has worked with and continues to work on behalf of a variety of AIDS organizations throughout the country. Included on the list are AIDS Search Alliance, National Association of People with AIDS, Pets Are Wonderful Support/LA, Sacramento AIDS Foundation, Being Alive LA, Joseph's House, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Broadway Cares, and, his personal favorite, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. He was a guest columnist for POZ Magazine's political issue in October 2008. DeLorenzo is also a regular columnist for HuffingtonPost.com, writing about health care from a person with AIDS' point of view.
Thom DeLorenzo earned a B.A. in psychology from Hofstra University in 1984. He attends Santa Monica College, taking course work to prepare him for graduate studies in political science. Recently, DeLorenzo completed an independent study project on Russian NGOs that specialize in the rights of people with HIV/AIDS. Some of DeLorenzo's current and former clients include two-time Emmy® winner Heather Tom, Nancy Sinatra, Nicholle Tom, Bree Williamson, Alison Mack, Chad Allen, Lyndsy Fonseca, David Tom, Jim Turner, Carter Oosterhouse, Cameron Romero, Batpack Studios, Ethnographic Media Group, Bacardi, Purina Fancy Feast, and Kathy Joosten.
In addition to working for his public relations clients, DeLorenzo is preparing to attend graduate school and is working on his first book about long-term AIDS survivors.