Christine Dixon Puglisi ‘85 has made a tremendous impact at Archbishop Spalding High School. Many know of our new, impressive, ClearEdge Innovation Center, named after her company, but few know the story behind the name.
Christy graduated from Martin Spalding High School in 1985, at a time when our academics were drastically different than they are now. She remarks that her experience was “good”, and while she learned a lot, she did not participate in Honors courses, extracurriculars, or anything beyond her very traditional course load. Christy remembers taking keyboarding and the very first computer course offered at Spalding.
Upon graduation, Christy enrolled at Loyola University and began a new part-time job at the National Security Agency. She learned of the NSA opportunity through an ad in the local paper. After a few months of balancing both opportunities, Christy felt she was getting more out of the hands-on learning she was receiving through the NSA, and decided to go full-time. She went the path of certifications, just-in-time training and self-taught continuing education so that she could continue gaining that real world experience at her workplace.
“Being a female, and not having traditional college degrees, it seemed overwhelming to open my own business. I made my way by working my way up through the ranks in smaller companies,” remarked Christy. Many men in the industry asked her to partner up, as the perks for women-owned businesses continued to grow. Christy had a business partnership, but as her fears of what she could NOT do as a female in the industry went away, she decided to forge her own path. ClearEdge IT Solutions was born in 2001, shortly after the birth of her son Anthony ‘20. The company grew to 10 employees in its first year and now has 109 employees servicing government contracts in software engineering, big data, cloud, data analytics, and data science solutions and services. After founding the Fort Meade Small Business Park as a place for fellow small business owners to have their first offices, Christy realized the company had outgrown their first office space and went on to acquire a large office building in Jessup in 2009.
When Christy was reintroduced to Spalding 7 years ago, it was through a business associate and fellow Spalding alum. From her first time returning to campus, she was blown away by the difference she saw, “to have been gone from Spalding for so long, I came back without a huge connection and I could see from the second I walked in that the caliber of the students and faculty are something special.” Through Christy’s re-engagement she saw the need for continued improvements at Spalding, noting that it is difficult for private schools to keep up with their public school counterparts, especially in the area of technology. After touring the campus, she was amazed by what the Project Lead the Way Engineering teachers were able to accomplish in their old space, and was impassioned to enhance their capabilities.
In 2017, Christy and ClearEdge IT Solutions pledged to give $1 million to make the new STEM center a reality! “There is a tremendous excitement I get in seeing the type of education that Spalding students are receiving now. It is hands-on and engaging, and is truly preparing them for what they will experience in college or in the workplace at companies like ClearEdge.”