Alumnae of Ursuline Academy
Through global education, a leadership, innovation curriculum, STEM, arts, athletics, and clubs, our students become confident, young women – leaders who will make an everlasting mark on the world. Ursuline graduates are known for being accomplished and innovative. Our alumnae have saved lives in war zones, founded life-changing judicial courts for those in need, and led presidential campaigns. Some have even advanced technology companies into global prominence, become trailblazers in the medical field, and starred in films recognized worldwide. They boldly speak up, take action, and are changemakers and global leaders – just as St. Angela aspired for them to be.
Here are just a few highlights of the over 4,000 Ursuline Wilmington alumnae:
Aubrey Plaza ’02
Aubrey Plaza is a graduate of Ursuline’s Class of 2002 and an Arts Hall of Fame Inductee. She is an American actress, comedian, and producer. She starred as April Ludgate on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation (2009–2015), played Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) and Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (2023), and featured as the Shadow King and Lenny Busker in the FX drama series Legion (2017–2019). In 2022, she starred in the second season of the HBO anthology series The White Lotus, for which she received nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2023.
Aubrey had her first leading film role in Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). She has also appeared in the films Mystery Team (2009), Funny People (2009), The To Do List (2013), Life After Beth (2014), Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016), Child's Play (2019), and Happiest Season (2020). Plaza has produced and starred in the films The Little Hours (2017), Ingrid Goes West (2017), Black Bear (2020), and Emily the Criminal (20
Elena Delle Donne ’08
Elena Delle Donne led Ursuline’s basketball team to national prominence during her five years as a varsity starter. The Raiders won four state titles during that time and Elena was named a McDonald’s All-American. She is the only Raider to have scored more than 2,000 points and set a girls’ national high school record with 80 consecutive free throws in 2005-06. The second pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, she was named WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2013, and MVP in 2015 and 2019. Elena has earned six WNBA All-Star honors (2013-2015, 2017-2019), and was named to the All-WNBA First Team four times (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019). In 2019, Elena and the Washington Mystics won the WNBA championship. A member of Team USA, she took home a gold medal during the 2016 Olympics.
Betsy Lazzeri Riley ’99
Standing with her team (front row, wearing all black), Betsy Lazzeri Riley ’99 has made her version of Olympic history, not as an athlete, but as the first woman to produce Track and Field at an Olympic Games for NBC. Betsy returned this summer after covering her 8th Olympic Games in Tokyo, but this one was extra special. While she offers much of the credit to her colleagues, proudly sharing, “Television doesn’t happen without an incredible team - it was an honor to lead a GREAT ONE.” Betsy deserves recognition for producing the creative story-telling coverage that brings Track & Field to life on screen. No stranger to Track & Field, Betsy still holds 11 Ursuline records for Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field events and was inducted into the Ursuline Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. When asked about her highlights in covering the Olympics, Betsy describes, “I cover people’s extraordinary feats and triumphs. I also document their defeats and heartaches. In those moments - high and low - I am in awe of the act of striving. I think there’s beauty in being courageous enough to try.” Sports fans can enjoy more of her work with Sunday Night Football this season, where Betsy is currently working as Michele Tafoya’s Sideline Producer.
Dr. Jennifer Naccarelli ’92
Dr. Jennifer Naccarelli ’92 spoke to our Upper School students with stories of her own experiences at UA and the lasting impact that Serviam has meant to her while pursuing her Masters in Theological Studies from Claremont School of Theology and her Ph.D. in Religion from Claremont Graduate University.
“How are you going to use your gifts and talents to serve those around you?” is often a question she asks of her college students at the University of Delaware, where she is currently the associate chair and a professor in the Department of Women & Gender Studies. Since 2011, she has also served as the Director of UD’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Services Program and was recently named Faculty of the Month.
Dr. Naccarelli’s visit highlighted healthy vs. unhealthy relationships tested by a short quiz, included staggering statistics such as 60% of adolescents experiencing some form of intimate partner violence, and offered tools to recognize red flags and patterns in these relationships. She encouraged our students to practice the difficult skills of communication and being a good listener. Lastly, she shared resources so students could seek support beyond their peers and school counselors, such as loveisrespect.org where you can call, text, or chat 24/7.
Thank you, Dr. Naccarelli, for your continued efforts in empowering and advocating for women!
Margaret Mecca ’99
We welcomed a visit from Margaret Mecca, Class of 1999, Senior Technical Design Manager at URBN Inc. in Philadelphia. After her graduation from Jefferson University in 2003, Mecca moved to NYC where she secured her first full-time job as Assistant Technical Designer for IZOD. She relocated back to Philly, and for the past 13 years, she has built her career with URBN and its related brands (Free People, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Nuuly).
While her original plan was to pursue a degree in law, Mecca decided to embrace her passion for art by majoring in Fashion. Today, as a Senior Technical Design Manager, Mecca is considered the “engineer” in the production process, taking a designer’s sketch and turning into a garment. In addition, she oversees a team of over 30 in the design, quality control, innovation, and launching of each new, emerging brand. She credits social media and young influencers, such as our students, for the constant changing, rebranding, and growth.
She also shared the history of URBN- one man’s dream, $3000, and the help of his college friend seeking a thesis for his entrepreneurial class at Penn. “At URBN, every opinion matters. Everyone has a voice. Whether you are a first year intern or a Director, everyone is encouraged to be creative,” explained Mecca. She takes much pride in working for a company with a sustainable design strategy, whether it be offering reusable shopping bags, eliminating all plastic packaging, gifting each employee with their own thermos, dishes, silverware, and providing dishwashers for lunch, recycling vintage clothing, repurposing and donating yarn and fabrics, and utilizing existing spaces for retail and distribution. We are so thankful to Mecca for sharing her knowledge of the fast-paced fashion industry.
Val Whiting ’89
Val was one of the great high school basketball players of the 1980s and was the first athlete from Delaware to play in the WNBA. At Ursuline, she was a three-time state player of the year, scoring 1,347 points in her career and led the team to 4 state titles. She went on to play at Stanford University, where she led the Cardinals to two national championships. Val graduated as Stanford’s second-leading scorer and leader in rebounds and blocks, earning a place in the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. She played overseas as well as in the American Basketball League and the WNBA.
Bess Denney ’96
Mrs. McNichol’s Innovation students enjoyed a visit with alumna advertising expert, Bess Denney ’96, Group Account Director for 160over90 Creative Agency in Philadelphia. Denney’s original plan after graduating from Boston College with a degree in political science was to attend law school, but she admits that she loved all her marketing classes. She realized she could apply tactics learned in her poly-sci courses, such as debate and critical thinking, towards a fast-paced career in advertising.
For the past 20 years, Denney has held positions with Hill Holliday in Boston, AB&C in Wilmington, and LevLane Advertising in Philadelphia, leading agency teams, working with higher education institutions, and developing media strategies. Currently, as Group Account Director at 160over90, she builds relationships with clients such as Temple University, AAA, College of Charleston, Catholic University, and the Detroit Lions.
Denney opened with the alarming fact that people spend 12 hours a day consuming content. She also differentiated the myths vs realities of a career in advertising, discussed research strategies, explained brand awareness versus brand relevance, and shared some of her company’s commercials along with the process that was taken to create them. She also answered student questions about obtaining rights to music when creating content, a typical day in her office, and specific majors and universities to consider if pursuing this evolving career. Our students look forward to applying some of her key tips and strategies to their group work.
Meghan Gallagher ’02
Following her time at Ursuline, Megan Gallagher studied at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where she fell in love with sociology and the study of people and cultures. Through this interest and her love of travel, Megan worked to create a unique space for herself in the world of global higher education admissions over the past 12 years. She’s held roles at MIT Sloan School of Management, The Wharton School, Bryn Mawr College, and Occidental College, and she has currently found herself back at the University of Pennsylvania as the Director of Communications for Undergraduate Admissions. Megan holds a B.A. in Sociology from Dickinson College and an M.A. in Strategic Communications from American University.
Megan has applied her love of the outdoors and dedication to serving others in positions such as camp counselor in Maine and Philadelphia Outward Bound School. She is also a proud National Outdoor Leadership School alumna.
“None of this would have been remotely possible without the strong foundation that Ursuline provided for me,” Megan shares. “I will forever be indebted to this school and this community.”