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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

In Remembrance: Charisse McGill ’21 MBA

Charisse McGill prepares French Toast Bites for St. Joe’s students at the 2023 Day of Dialogue. PHOTO: NATALIE BRISLIN ’23/THE HAWK

At least a hundred family, friends and community members gathered in the Chapel of St. Joe’s Jan. 26 to remember and honor the life of Charisse McGill ’21 MBA.

McGill, who died unexpectedly at the age of 42 on Jan. 15, was an entrepreneur in the Philadelphia community, launching her own business, Lokal Artisan Foods, in 2018. McGill opened a seasonal French Toast Bites stand at Spruce Street Harbor Park in July 2020, making her the first Black and woman-owned business owner at this location.

McGill’s business empire expanded beyond the breakfast realm as she partnered with Yards Brewing Company in 2021, making her the first Black woman in Pennsylvania with a signature beer.

McGill graduated from St. Joe’s in 2021 with an MBA in food marketing. Kathleen Klarich, program manager from the department of food, pharma and healthcare, served as McGill’s advisor.

“Charisse had a work ethic like no other,” Klarich wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “She set goals and worked very hard to achieve them. It was fun to watch the progression of her business, from the booths at the Christmas Market and Spruce Street Harbor Park, to events, to her french toast spice, to having a branded beer and coffee, to her relationship with the 76ers through the Buy Black Program.

“Charisse was the driving force behind it all. She had a dynamic personality and made all who she met or worked with feel a part of her success.”

George Latella, assistant professor of practice and Peck Fellow under the academy of food marketing at St. Joe’s, was one of McGill’s professors when she was in the food marketing graduate program. Latella also noted McGill’s leadership and driven personality, particularly in group projects.

“She was definitely what I would call a great front person, great salesperson, great presenter, kind of tied everything together,” Latella said.

In 2021, McGill collaborated with fellow St. Joe’s alumni, Jonathan Pastore ’10, vice president of sales and operations at Bean2Bean, a Philadelphia and greater area coffee company, to launch a french toast flavored coffee.

“It was like the fastest product we’ve ever put together,” Pastore said. “In a four-week time span, we launched french toast coffee with her.”

While their relationship started as a business partnership, it quickly blossomed into a friendship.

“It was so much fun that we went to a lot of different places together, events together, dinners together,” Pastore said. “And I feel her and I just shared a similar aspect in what we were trying to do for the communities we were reaching and the people we were hiring.”

McGill’s work expanded to the St. Joe’s community as she would routinely return to Hawk Hill and distribute her french toast bites to students, faculty and staff at events like Taste of the World and Day of Dialogue.

While McGill will be remembered for her line of success, from starting her own business, to fostering partnerships with several companies, the most important legacy she left behind is her 18-year-old daughter, Madison McGill.

McGill shared with the Today Show in a May 2023 interview that Madison inspired the kickstart of her own business when she held a lemonade stand at the Lansdale Farmers’ Market at the age of 12. Some of the money made from the stand was loaned to funding the startup of Lokal Artisan Foods.

“Most important of all, Charisse was a mother who wanted to be a good role model to her daughter, in whom she had great pride,” Klarich wrote. “She was always happy to tell the story of her daughter wanting to have a booth at the farmer’s market. So her daughter sold lemonade one summer. Charisse had her daughter handle all aspects of her small business so that she would understand how much went into running a business.”

Nicolle Clements, Ph.D., associate professor of decision and system sciences and McGill’s professor for business statistics in the MBA program, said McGill will be remembered for the joy she brought to every person she met.

“Charisse was such a bright light and a joyous, vibrant person,” Clements said. “Her career with Lokal Artisan Foods and French Toast Bites was thriving and the possibilities for her were endless. She will be missed by so many at Saint Joseph’s University, the Philadelphia and Lansdale area, and beyond.”

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Hannah Madeya
Hannah Madeya, Features Editor
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