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Hillyer Alum Achieves Success on Many Fronts
(L-R) Hillyer College Dean David Goldenberg; Lon Seidman, holding the citation that was presented to him as the recipient of the Hillyer Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; Gia Ferreira, a first-year Hillyer College student who read the citation during the award ceremony; and Provost Sharon L. Vasquez.
When Lon Seidman '96, '98 was in high school, he felt like the proverbial “square peg in a round hole.”
He had many interests — in fact, he even had a public access TV show about video gaming when he was just 12 years old. But academics were never his strength, and he didn’t see college in his future.
At his father’s urging, Seidman applied to the University of Hartford, and he ultimately was accepted to Hillyer College, the University’s two-year, associate’s degree-granting institution — and that’s when everything changed.
On Oct. 10, Hillyer College presented Seidman with its 2013 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, in recognition of his success in the worlds of business, politics, and electronic media. After being presented with the award, Seidman gave an entertaining talk to current Hillyer College students, as well as faculty and staff from his undergraduate days, as he recounted how his experiences at the University of Hartford helped shape his future success.
The individual attention and supportive faculty that Seidman found at Hillyer, and the college’s mission of developing untapped potential in its students, sparked an interest in academics in Seidman for the first time in his life.
“It was amazing to me that all of a sudden I cared about school,” said Seidman, who finished his first semester of college with a 3.68 grade point average.
Seidman graduated from Hillyer College in 1996 and went on to major in communication in the College of Arts and Sciences, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1998. Along the way he nurtured and developed his passion for politics and public service, participating in the Connecticut Legislative Internship program and serving as a student regent and as president of the Student Government Association.
Business, Politics, and E-Media
Seidman began his career by working for Safety Zone, the global safety equipment company founded by his father. He worked in every department and learned the business from the ground up. With his knowledge of the business and his understanding of information technology, Seidman helped expand opportunities in the U.S. and China.
In 2006, Seidman’s love of politics led him to manage the Congressional campaign of Joe Courtney, a Democrat who was vying to represent Connecticut’s 2nd District. It was one of the hottest and most closely contested Congressional races in the country, and ultimately Courtney beat incumbent Rob Simmons by fewer than 100 votes. Seidman, who was still in his 20s when he ran Courtney’s 2006 campaign, successfully managed Courtney’s re-election campaign in 2008 as well.
Seidman also has been elected to political office himself. He is a longtime member of the Board of Education in his hometown of Essex, Conn., and currently serves as board chairman. Seidman also serves on the town’s Economic Development Commission.
In addition to his success in business and politics, Seidman also has been an innovator and an entrepreneur in the world of electronic media.
As newspaper circulations declined sharply and online news sites proliferated, Seidman saw the potential to create a new business model that would help support local journalism. Seidman and his business partner, Doug Hardy, co-founded Independent Media Network LLC, which brings together local news and information websites for the purpose of attracting advertisers and developing sustainable sources of revenue. By joining together and pooling their readerships, the websites can secure advertising that they would not have access to on their own.
“You’ve created a new model where advertisers wanting to reach a broad brush of Connecticut consumers have a new market,” said the citation that was presented to Seidman during the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award ceremony.
Seidman also is the main writer and editor of CTTechJunkie.com, a site that allows him to indulge his passion for technology by informing readers about technology news, reviews, and trends.
The common denominator in all of his successful ventures, Seidman said, is human contact — talking to people and listening to their needs, just as Hillyer College did with him.