O'Pake Institute

Mission Statement

Alvernia University is developing a new, innovative model of higher education that mutually benefits students and businesses alike. The O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship is Alvernia’s transformational engine for changing the model and execution of higher education. O’Pake is contributing by creating public and private partnerships that develop a talent pipeline needed to aid business growth in the region.

Vision Statement

We are a catalyst for regional economic development and a driving force enhancing student experiential learning.


O'Pake Institute History

Alvernia University has valued students’ moral, ethical and leadership development since its founding in 1958, in line with our Franciscan heritage. In 2008, the university launched the Center for Ethics and Leadership (CEL) to make ethics and leadership a distinctive part of an  Alvernia education. CEL advanced Alvernia’s Franciscan identity, expanded educational and collaborative opportunities for students and faculty, leveraged community resources to provide those programs, and established Alvernia as a leader in ethics and leadership education. Alvernia University was fortunate to receive a generous gift from State Sen. Michael O’Pake, and then renamed CEL “The O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service” to honor his service to Alvernia and his community.

In July of 2019, President John R. Loyack assumed leadership at Alvernia University with a vision to transform Alvernia, the economy and future of Reading and Berks County. The O’Pake Institute was a central part of accomplishing those plans and in October 2019, it was transitioned into the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. Today, the O’Pake Institute focuses on economic development in Reading and Berks County through hands-on, high-impact student projects that fuel student learning and provide valuable skills to local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and government and community partners. 

In This Section

O'Pake Institute


Get To Know the Team

For more information about the O'Pake Institute, email opake.institute@alvernia.edu or fill out our form.

Michelle Conway 2024

Michelle Rae Conway, MBA

Executive Director, Student & Client Services

(484) 254-2126
  • Staff
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Lizette Epps, MBA, CUDE, CNP

Executive Director of Community and Economic Development

  • Staff
Adonis Fleming

Adonis Fleming, MA

Assistant Director of Community Impact and Engagement

  • Staff
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Carolyn Gibson, M.Ed.

Assistant Director of Student Experiential Learning

(484) 254-2125
  • Staff
Max Horn 2023

Max Horn, MBA

Assistant Director of Admissions

  • Staff
Caitlin Long is the CEO / Chief Visionary Officer and owner of Team Lifelong Wellness.

Caitlin Long, Ph.D., PA-C

Director of Technology Transfer & Innovation Commercialization

  • Staff
Vice President | Interim Dean of the College of STEAM | Chief Operating Officer | O'Pake Institute | Economic Development & Entrepreneurship | 2021

Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Ph.D., RTTP

Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Innovation

(484) 254-2124
  • Senior Leadership
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John Stetler, MBA

Executive Director, O'Pake Financial Services

  • Staff