A woman in a wheelchair with a woman to her right, smiling
Peri Finkelstein ’22, MBA ’23, founder and president of Team Peri Foundation, with Barbara Quagliardi ’22, MS ’23, the organization’s board consultant.

Peri Finkelstein ’22, MBA ’23, continues to take the nonprofit she founded to greater heights while giving back to a program that gave her so much.

Before Peri Finkelstein ’22, MBA ’23, came to Adelphi University as a first-year student, she had already set and achieved a major goal: She played an integral and pivotal role, alongside her family, in founding Team Peri Foundation, which began fundraising in 2008 for Chai Lifeline, an international support network for children and families impacted by medical crises. In 2017, she became the marketing director. Team Peri Foundation officially launched in November 2022. Finkelstein now serves as president of the organization. And 15 years later, in January 2024, Team Peri surpassed its goal by raising $1,017,340.

It’s something most teens wouldn’t have even imagined. But Finkelstein was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. “At a young age, I knew I was going to have to live my life now and not wait because my life may be shorter due to my medical challenges. I always say that while my physical body continues to fail me, my brain is my best attribute and I am going to use it to the fullest extent and use my powers for the greater good.”

The Team Peri president and host of the Team Peri Step Out of Line podcast is taking on new challenges. This year she and Team Peri established the Julie Hait Adler Scholarship, which will provide financial support to Adelphi undergraduate students in the Levermore Global Scholars (LGS) program. Her goal is to raise $25,000, which the University will then match with other funds. “So, if there are any Adelphi alumni who would like to donate or contribute in any way to this meaningful project, please reach out to me at peri@teamperi.org.”

A Life-Changing, Levermore Global Scholar Experience

As an incoming first-year student, Finkelstein was awarded the newly created John J. Gutleber Memorial Scholarship and offered a spot in the prestigious LGS program. “I did not understand why I was selected for LGS,” Finkelstein said. “I did not see myself as a leader or a change maker. I was afraid to use my voice and, frankly, did not think that it mattered.

“The LGS classwork forced me to be more vocal in class than I had ever been before and to open up my eyes—my perspective on life immediately shifted,” she added. “My opinions were welcomed, and I was being challenged intellectually, which I loved. LGS taught me to think differently, and I saw my potential flash before me on how I could be a leader, create social change in my own world.”

Finkelstein earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and was part of the prestigious Willumstad Leadership Scholars Program. After graduating, she continued at Adelphi for her MBA, specializing in marketing.

Graduate school wasn’t always easy. “I wanted to give up every single day,” she said, “but I stayed the course and used all the failures and obstacles to my advantage. I found my voice and gained confidence as an up-and-coming business leader and marketing professional. I am still in contact with some of my favorite professors today.”

A Tale of Two Classmates

She’s also very much in contact with a colleague and friend from her Adelphi days, Barbara Quagliardi ’22, MS ’23. Quagliardi, who was also a business major and Willumstad Leadership Scholar, is now a financial performance management analyst for RBC Capital Markets as well as an avid photographer, runner and, as of this spring, board consultant to the Team Peri Foundation.

“I worked with Peri as a student and we became friends,” Quagliardi said. “Peri is leading important work that will change lives.”

Finkelstein values her friendship and work with Quagliardi, who “spoke to me as if I was any other student,” she said. “Conversations were never forced and I didn’t have to prove myself—she saw me as I was and we each admired the other’s work ethic.”

“Being a young entrepreneur is no different than being any entrepreneur but perhaps my naiveté allows some things to work in my favor,” Finkelstein said. “I usually go headfirst into a project and then go figure out how to do it.”

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