By Emma Clarke ’16
Harrington School Staff Writer
When Jonathan Herman graduated from URI in 1999 with a journalism degree, he never imagined he would become the chief operating officer of Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services, a leading home health care provider in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But the skills Herman learned as a journalism student are an important reason why he’s so successful today.“Only in hindsight am I able to connect the dots . . . my journalism degree is extremely useful in a myriad number of ways,” he says. Herman drafts press releases, copyedits advertising and marketing material, and helps employees with their writing and grammar. He regards good grammar as a “telltale sign of intelligent personnel.” The sign hanging in his office that quips, “I am silently correcting your grammar,” reminds his employees of this.
Herman gives his best advice for current students: “No matter your vocation, be sure to surround yourself with great, smart people who will help unleash and unlock all of your talents. Believe that you are destined for greatness and, as I was recently told, remember that human endeavors should have no boundaries.”
As an undergraduate, Herman dreamed of writing for the Wall Street Journal, which he read avidly while “holed up in Browning Hall” as a freshman. After working on Wall Street until 2005, Herman yearned to give back to society. “After all,” he says, “what is a life if it’s not lived for others?” He left finance and went to work with his uncle, the owner of Preferred Home Health Care. Journalism Professor and Department Chair John Pantalone had a close relationship with Herman and is, “not surprised that he holds such a prestigious position or that he is working in a field that is generally about helping people. In the simplest of terms, Jon is a good man,” Pantalone says.
While rising to the top ranks at Preferred Home Health Care, Herman learned additional skills he needed to be a great leader: hire great employees, take a deep and broad interest in your employees, be a great listener, be articulate and clear about your vision for the company, and have a pathological obsession with client happiness. Herman cites his avid reading as the source of these lessons. In addition to the periodicals he devours daily like the Wall Street Journal, Barrons, Fortune, and Forbes, he incessantly reads management and leadership books as well as motivational and inspirational quotes, and takes copious notes for later review.
Reflecting on his time at URI, former mentor and friend Professor Emerita of Journalism Linda Lotridge Levin remembers Herman as an uncommon journalism student: “Jon wrote the first and so far the only column about Wall Street and finances for the Good 5 Cent Cigar. This impressed me because most journalism students don’t like to write about numbers.” She remembers chatting in her office with Herman late into the afternoon about “the stock market, individual stocks, news stories, and life in general.” Through these conversations they developed a special relationship that they still maintain. “We both had lost our parents at fairly young ages, so I told him I would be his ‘Rhode Island Mother’ forever, and if he needed anything I would be there for him. I still feel that way.” Herman remembers looking up to Levin as a “matriarch,” and Professor Pantalone as a “patriarch.” “Together, I viewed them as my ‘URI parents,’” he says. “Linda was also at my wedding in 2009, which was a very special moment for both of us.”
Fondly remembering his character as a student, Levin describes Herman as, “a very good student who enjoyed learning. Every professor wants a student like that.” Professor Pantalone agrees. He was, “conscientious, responsible, punctual, interested, engaged. Everything you’d like a student to be.”
Herman’s lifetime learning has taken him on the path to success. To show up, to listen, and to learn is to find true success in any field.