Men of the Year
The suburbs’ leading men find new ways to shine in business, philanthropy and the arts
by Leigh Stuart, Bill Donahue and Meg Lappe

“In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play,” the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote. Truly, a real man isn’t measured by the size of his biceps, the ones and zeros in his bank account or the cost of the car he drives. He is compassionate and thoughtful, and he finds room in his life for the important things: family, friends and community, as well as opportunities for continual self-enrichment. In other words, he aims to leave the world a better place than when he first came upon it—and have fun in the process. 

Each of our 2013 Men of the Year realizes this. Each—whether he has chosen to devote his energies to business or fashion design, endurance sports or politics—has risen above his peers to excel in his field. Each, in his unique way, has become a leader, having boldly carved out a path for others to follow.

The Legislator
James R. Roebuck Jr. leads the movement to establish equity in education

Philadelphia native James R. Roebuck Jr. has represented Philadelphia County’s 188th legislative district in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives since 1985. That’s not a tenure one keeps by happenstance.

“I have a passion for [helping] young people; I want to see them have every opportunity they can to do well,” he says. “That’s just something I’ve always been committed to and I remain committed to. I think there’s an obligation of each generation to make sure that the generation that comes behind them does better than they did. That is a continuing commitment and is something I believe we can do—need to do—better.”

Roebuck has been making news recently for his leadership in the initiative to pass House Bill 111, an updating of decades-old legislation that seeks to better prepare students for bright academic and career futures.

“The effort is to bring it back,” he says, “to the point at which we really look at the way in which we’re delivering higher education to students and hopefully making sure that it’s relevant to them and that it’s geared to the existing careers that students are accessing as of 2013; that we’re really aware of the changes that are coming about, not only in terms of education and the qualifications for jobs, but also in terms of making sure that we’re state-of-the-art in the delivery of services, delivery of the actual instruction.

“It benefits high school students, who would hopefully be able to find that the college they choose matches their career aspirations, but it also means that colleges actually are providing for students the courses, the opportunities, the career paths they need to go out and have successful, productive careers,” he continues. “There’s great inequity among the 500 school districts [in Pennsylvania]. Those that have a good, solid tax base do well, [and] those who don’t, don’t do well. If you look at the current crisis we’re in [here] in Philadelphia, you see the chaos this has created.”

Roebuck is active in a number of groups, including organizations in his community and within the legislature, and was a major supporter of former Gov. Ed Rendell and his measures to improve education for Pennsylvania students. Roebuck is a member of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s board of directors, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and democratic chairman of the House Education Committee.

Roebuck himself has an impressive record of studies, a graduate of Central High School, Virginia Union University (B.A., with honors), and the University of Virginia (M.A., 1969; Ph.D., 1977). He also has experience working as an instructor himself. He taught at Drexel University “for more years than I like to think about,” he adds with a laugh, as he has always had a passion for education—or what he calls “that solid foundation upon which to build good, productive lives.” He adds that education should also strive to encourage individualism and well-roundedness in students and where schools are failing to do that, there is a distinct challenge and opportunity for positive change.

“I’m a West Philadelphia guy that’s lived in West Philadelphia all my life and had the opportunity to go away, out of state, to school but I’m really happy to come home and to be rooted in this community,” he says. “We have a very diverse, open community. There’s lots of different people living together in the common community, have a common purpose, and that I think makes it a really good place to be.” —LS

The Beast
After more than 30 years of competing in—and winning—hellish endurance races, the seemingly superhuman Ken Glah continues to find new finish lines to cross

In October, West Chester’s Ken Glah was back in his familiar haunt of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This was no beachside vacation. Instead, he was hurtling his way toward the finish line of the Ironman World Championship, a 140.6-mile-long slog designed to test the will, endurance and pain threshold of the world’s most elite athletes. It was his 30th straight finish here, making him a sort of Iron Man among Ironman competitors.

By this point, Glah has gotten quite used to the tortures of endurance racing. In fact, he now participates in the long-distance swim/bike/run events “just for fun.” In addition to his three uninterrupted decades of Ironman finishes in Hawaii, Glah’s triumphs as a professional triathloner are almost staggering: Ironman World Series Champion; three-time Ironman Brazil champion; two-time Ironman New Zealand Champion; and Ironman Canada champion. The list of accomplishments for the man once known in racing circles as “the Beast from the East” goes on and on from there.

Glah discovered his skill for running at age 7 and was running in races all along the East Coast before he was a teenager. He did only one triathlon—“a longer race up in Rhode Island,” he says—before heading off to La Salle University in 1982 on a partial scholarship. He left the school and ended up at a branch campus of Pennsylvania State University. Unable to run for Penn State for a year due to NCAA restrictions, used the time to do more long-distance triathlons. He quickly proved himself as a top contender by finishing fourth at the 1984 Ironman in Nice, France, which at the time was considered the world championship for long-course racing. He chose to drop out of college to race full time and live, as he says, “like a poor college student.” It didn’t take long for him to pile up wins on some of the sport’s most impressive stages, which helped him gain the attention of key sponsors and spots on the covers of the sport’s most respected magazines.

Glah still participates in a handful of Ironman races per year—full and half distances—though he “can’t compete [with the professionals] anymore,” he says. “I don’t get to train enough. … If I can get out and get in a few hours [of training], or get a week in here or a week there, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been [competing] just for fun for about 10 years now.”

Although he’s on the cusp of the 50-to-54 age group, one gets the sense that it’s not Glah’s age that keeps him from regaining his form among the sport’s upper echelon. In 2002, he started his own business, Endurance Sports Travel (, to help promote Ironman Brazil. He used his knowledge and network of connections built over years of trotting the globe to assist other athletes and their families in getting safely to and from Ironman triathlons near and far. In the business’ first year, his client list totaled 100 people; it grew to 300 the following year. That number has since ballooned to 1,200 per year, ranging from first-time athletes to 20-year race veterans.

Now, besides participating in the occasional race, he continues to seek new ways of growing the sport he loves while expanding his business. He expects to add to more events in Asia, Europe and New Zealand, as well as in Australia, which his daughter, Reanin, now calls home. At the same time, he will look to build his client list to include more athletes from Asia and Europe, as most of his current clients live in the Americas. 

“The whole sport and business I’m in are definitely growing,” he says. “It’s a niche, with 3,000 people in a race compared to 40,000 in a marathon, but it has definitely become more mainstream. … I’d like to see more people incorporate it into their lifestyle, not just something they put on their bucket list.” —BD

The Shining Star
Taking risks on stage has become a way of life for Barrymore-winning playwright and stage actor Tony Braithwaite

From one-man shows to complex theater productions, Tony Braithwaite has made a career out of his ability to tell a good yarn. The Bala Cynwyd native traveled from the Main Line to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and then returned to Rosemont to continue his career as one of the Philadelphia area’s top playwrights and stage actors. Currently he is directing and acting in five separate performances, three of which are for the Act II Playhouse ( in Ambler. 

The holiday season is among the busiest times of year for Braithwaite. For starters, his character Murray the Elf returns to the stage this holiday season, beginning December 21. After last year’s success with “Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe,” Murray now has to solve the case of the “Terrifying Tinsel” for a show that is “specifically for kids,” Braithwaite says. Last year, the venue started its first-ever children’s theater and sold out every performance.

“Often plays are inaccessible for kids that young, and we want to get them to be lifelong theater fans,” he says. “We put the professionals on board, not the JV team. I learned the lesson from Terry Nolen at the Arden Theatre downtown. … Do it up nice [with] the idea being kids can enjoy theater, too.”

Along with educating children about the wonders of live theater, Braithwaite will act in “Let’s Pretend We’re Famous,” starring Jen Childs and himself; he also penned the work. Like Murray the Elf, “both of these shows are sequels, of sorts.” Its predecessor, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” explored the comedy surrounding marriage, and “now we explore the various trappings of fame,” he says. The performance includes audience involvement, specifically to provide “volunteer” actors with their own 15 minutes of fame. In those 15 minutes, everything happens to the volunteers—“obscurity, rising, awards, hosting ‘SNL,’ scandal, drug addiction, fall from grace and, lastly, the turnaround.” This show has already had great success at the Montgomery Theater in Souderton and 1812 Productions in Philadelphia. With the improvisational nature of the work, each night is like a world premiere.

Of course, there are challenges that come with being on both sides of the action. “If things go wrong, you can’t blame the author,” he says. “You are much more responsible for the success of the performance, holistically, than if just acting or just writing. You are putting a lot more of yourself out there.” 

One of his favorite performances at the Act II Playhouse is also one of his most recent, “Didn’t Your Father Ever Have This Talk with You?” Based on moments Braithwaite recalled from his days as a religion and sex-education teacher for freshmen at his alma mater, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, the show left audience members in stitches. The risks Braithwaite took to perform the one-man show paid off handsomely, as it became the fifth-best-selling show in Act II’s history.

In the little time that Braithwaite has to spare, he still finds ways to give back by teaching at St. Joe’s. Braithwaite’s fifth performance at the school, “The Laramie Project,” premiered last month.

A 13-time nominee for the Barrymore Awards and a three-time winner, two of which are for performances at Act II, Braithwaite offers this advice to those wishing to be in his shoes one day: “Find [a survival job] that is interesting and flexible and brings you joy.” His teaching job was for his survival, but “teaching is, in a sense, theater.” Here, Braithwaite paraphrases Henry Higgins from “My Fair Lady”: “Happy the man whose profession is also his hobby.”  —ML

The Haberdasher
Self-taught designer Craig Arthur von Schroeder puts his own rebellious spin on classic men’s fashion

Most people aren’t lucky enough to land one stellar career in their lives. Craig Arthur von Schroeder, founder and creative director of Commonwealth Proper, has had three.

Von Schroeder grew up in Cranbury, N.J, a small farm town near what he describes as “the bastion of preppy-ness” and “sort of a study in American sartorial history,” otherwise known as Princeton. He attended Lafayette College near Allentown and earned a degree in government and law, but rather than taking a regular 9-to-5 job, he became a professional soccer goalie (awesome job no. 1) for teams in Argentina, Guatemala and London, England.

That’s before he came to a realization: “I thought the world could use me in different way,” at which point he chose to pursue a career in law (awesome job no. 2). He attended and graduated from law school at Rutgers-Camden and worked for a few years as a corporate lawyer. Ultimately, though, he decided to pursue a passion closer to his heart, one in which he had actually tried his hand: men’s fashion.

From his early days designing polo shirts while in law school, von Schroeder quickly evolved to designing suits. Then, about five years ago, after a fruitless local search for the perfect suit, von Schroeder made a bold jump and decided to start a clothing business of his own. Thus, Commonwealth Proper was born.

As creative director of Commonwealth Proper (yes, awesome job no. 3), von Schroeder is charged with guiding the overall direction of the brand. “I’m sort of a self-taught designer,” he says. “I think it’s a term I’m getting near comfortable saying I am. … I have a perspective on things and I’m better able to articulate that than ever in the clothing.”

As for his personal design aesthetic, he strives to go his own way rather than be like anyone else. “The brands that I like … inspire me in a certain way,” he says. “I don’t mean to sound heady or anything, but I try to create the trends based upon what I like. I try to create timeless clothing, not trendy clothing … heirloom-quality stuff.

“Everything we do is made here in the U.S.,” he continues. “It’s the only way I’ve been able to control quality. We’ve been doing this for, I guess, five years and we’ve been touting ‘American made’ since the get-go.”

Commonwealth Proper moved to a new space in mid-November, which has allowed the company a lot of opportunity to grow. The space, located at 19th and Chestnut in Philadelphia, provides 2,000 square feet vs. the previous location’s less than 600. The space also features two consultation rooms, a fabric room and administrative offices, as well as more retail room to breathe for Commonwealth Proper’s ready-to-wear line of shirts, blazers and other wardrobe staples.

The company has also explored the notion of growing the business beyond the city proper. Andrew Stein, a partner in Commonwealth Proper, views an expansion out to the suburbs—the Main Line, in particular—as a natural extension of its business in Philadelphia.

Though von Schroeder often works seven days a week and all hours of the day, when he does get free time he still enjoys soccer. He also spends time with “the love of my life”—his fiancé, Rhonda Clark Carlson, owner of Philadelphia-based RCC Design Group.  —LS

The Mentor
Marcus Allen, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, embraces every opportunity to “pay it forward”

Marcus Allen knows the importance of a role model to a child. He has had many throughout his life, the “most constant” of which was a man named Ronnie O. Spry, his basketball coach at the undergraduate institution he attended, Paine College in Augusta, Ga.

“I met Coach Spry when I was 18 years old. I didn’t like him at first,” Allen says, adding with a laugh, “He seemed to be a very mean guy.”

Spry watched Allen play what he describes as “the worst game ever,” Allen recalls, but the coach “recruited me anyway and brought me into his college.” It was the first time Allen had a positive male role model in his life who “really held my feet to the fire—and didn’t leave,” he says. “I know if it was not for people like him in my life I would not be where I am today.”

Allen played Division II basketball under Spry at Paine but left to pursue another opportunity before graduating. Although that opportunity did not pan out, Allen went on to have success playing basketball abroad. He played for the Solna Vikings in Stockholm, Sweden, from 1994 to 1997, and then went on to play for professional teams in Israel, Finland and Argentina.

While playing for these teams Allen also had the opportunity to travel extensively, visiting countries including Estonia, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. He continued to expand his horizons once back in the United States, by completing his undergraduate studies in psychology in just about a year and then earning a degree from Temple University in 2001.

Now, as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BBBS), Allen has the opportunity to “pay it forward.” His goal: to help other young people find role models to help them reach for the stars, too.

In addition to serving the community as CEO of BBBS, Allen also gives back as a member of the board of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations and the board of directors for the Universal Cos.’ Daroff Charter School.

Allen is not new to the nonprofit world. Prior to becoming BBBS’s chief executive in April of this year, Allen served as CEO of ACHIEVEability, a group dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for individuals, families and communities via higher education, support and affordable housing initiatives.

His first nonprofit position, interestingly, came about through the for-profit firm VisionQuest. He started in the company’s marketing department and rose to the rank of COO while earning the MBA he had be pursuing from the University of Phoenix. During his time with VisionQuest he also launched a nonprofit subsidiary for the company.

Allen says his inspiration to help young people stems in large part from his own experience. “I grew up in the projects with a single parent,” he says. “Our family was very poor and always living under the federal poverty line. … I’m lucky my and brothers and cousins and I didn’t get caught up in streets,” he says, adding that he knew many other young people who weren’t so lucky.

“I didn’t see myself doing this,” Allen says of his work in the nonprofit sector. “I always saw myself as an entrepreneur, a businessman, someone in some sort of corporate setting just making a living, maybe doing this on the side. … But it just engulfs you. Once you get a taste of helping people you think, I can do more, I can accomplish more.”

Indeed, he’s now brought this drive to BBBS, launching new revenue-generating initiatives such as Clothes for Kids’ Sake ( and cell phone plan sales through Good Deeds Wireless ( He is also gearing up for the celebration of BBBS’ 100th anniversary, which happens in 2015.  —LS

The Life Coach
IDLife founder Logan Stout aims to help others enhance their wealth and wellness

Logan Stout’s positive energy bubbles to the surface. Dig a little deeper and you’ll get a true sense of his ambition, which seems boundless. He wants his nascent firm—Dallas-based IDLife LLC (, of which he is founder and CEO—to be nothing less than the fastest-growing company in the history of business. “My goal is to beat Google,” he says, “and if we continue to track at our projections, I think we can do it.”

IDLife, where the letters “ID” are short for “individually designed,” provides a platform for wellness nutrition based on personalized health assessments that take into consideration one’s unique health history, fitness level and lifestyle habits. The company’s line of nutritional supplements—meal-replacement shakes, energy products, etc., all made from “the purest ingredients,” he assures—were specially designed to “help people unlock their potential,” Stout says.

Although it is technically still in “pre-launch phase,” IDLife appears to hold tremendous promise. In short order it has amassed a network of more than 3,000 independent sales representatives—with many, many more to follow—eager to build the brand. He has tremendous faith not only in the company’s direct-sales model, an approach with which he achieved a good deal of success in the past, but also in the product itself.

“The receptivity to this has been crazy,” he says. “The majority of people try supplements and vitamins, but they don’t know what to take and end up hopping from one thing to the next, never with a game plan. Everyone needs good supplementation; there’s no such thing as one size fits all. … Five years from now, I think people will be saying, ‘I cannot believe I never had a customized supplementation plan.’

“With the combination of the product and an unbelievable business opportunity [for sales reps], the timing has never been better,” he continues. “People want to be in good shape and prevent illness; they want to look and feel better, but they don’t know what direction to go in. IDLife is there to give them direction.” 

Stout first made a name for himself as an athlete. During his collegiate baseball career at the University of Dallas, Stout was a two-time All-American (pitcher and shortstop), as well as an Academic All-American. After college, he played professionally for a minor league team, the Fort Worth Cats. He retired from what he calls “an injury-plagued career” in 2004-2005 to focus on business ventures, and this is where his career truly blossomed.

Stout’s love of teaching and coaching ultimately led to his founding of the Dallas Patriots, which has grown into one of the world’s largest baseball organizations, with teams for kids ages 6 to 19. In addition, Stout founded Premier Baseball Academies, which comprise state-of-the-art indoor-training facilities for baseball and softball players of all ages and skill levels.

“I’m fortunate to have had success in sports, both in college and as a professional,” says Stout, whose life lessons are well illustrated in his recently published book, “Stout Advice: The Secrets to Building Yourself, People and Teams.” “I enjoyed [my baseball career], but the travel was a beating and you get to a certain level where the game is no longer fun and you want to do something else. … Everything I’ve done has led perfectly to where we are today.”

Although he lives in Texas, Stout’s roots are in the Northeast, which he calls “my bloodline home.” He has family in Nutley, N.J., and he regularly travels to the Philadelphia area to spread the gospel of IDLife. The march toward achieving Stout’s ambitious goal begins in earnest later this month, when IDLife will officially launch. The network of independent sales reps continues to swell—“unless someone has all the time and money in the world,” he says, “I would suggest they look at IDLife [as a business opportunity]”—and customers will be able to start placing product orders the first week of January.

“I believe it will be one of the greatest companies in the world because it can help people get out of surviving [mode] and into thriving mode,” he says. “People hope 2014 can be better than 2013. And through IDLife, if they are coachable, 2014 can be an amazing year.” —BD