Photos by Crissy Everhart Photography
We would like to thank Bradley Tree Experts for sponsoring this month’s Resident Feature.
This month we are pleased to introduce you to the Leahy Family: Mike, Cheri, Sloane, Makenna and Philly. They may be new to Newtown Square, but the warm welcome and love they have received over the last few months make them feel as though they have been here for years.
Mike was born and raised in Upper Darby with his parents and his younger brother, Brian. “Brian was a big part of my life,” Mike said. “Unfortunately, he passed away just a few months ago.” Mike said that growing up in Delaware County was very special to him and his family. “I was born in Delco and all of my relatives still live in Delco!” Mike attended Beverly Hills grade school, middle school and graduated from Upper Darby High School where he enjoyed playing baseball throughout his school years.
Mike had an interest in finance, so after graduating from Upper Darby, he began working for DLL, a global vendor finance company that serves equipment, technology and medical manufacturers, distributors and dealers in more than 30 countries.
“Today, I am an International Program Manager for DLL,” Mike explained. “I expand and build financial service capabilities and provide financial solutions to healthcare facilities in the United States and around the world.” His career does require quite a bit of international travel that Mike is grateful for. Over the course of his career, Mike has taken courses through Harvard Business School Online to stay on top of his industry and to learn new skills.
Cheri grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey with her parents and her older sister, Marlyn. She attended Countryside Elementary School in Mount Laurel where she discovered a love for art. Cheerleading became her passion at Lenape High School and she was also very active in school clubs and planning social events.
After high school, Cheri’s artistic and creative side led her to The Restaurant School in West Philadelphia where she studied culinary arts and hospitality management. “I have a deep love of food and food as art,” she explained. “My grandfather was an avid baker, and my mother is a phenomenal cook.”
Cheri then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She played golf and tennis while there and earned her board certification as a Registered Dietitian, where she worked to build programs to support public health and nutrition education. Today, Cheri is the Enterprise Service Line Director for Bariatric Surgery and Obesity Medicine at Jefferson Health. Cheri explained, “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to innovate new programming, encourage patient engagement and develop positive work relationships among our clinical and non-clinical staff.”
Cheri and Mike’s story began in October of 2002 when they met at Spectators bar in Springfield. Cheri said, “We introduced ourselves, started chatting and never stopped!” Cheri was studying at The Restaurant School and lived in West Philadelphia at the time and Mike had just begun his career with DLL. Then in 2008, Mike earned a promotion that required him to move to Raleigh, NC. He proposed to Cheri, and they packed their bags and headed south.
Life was busy for Cheri and Mike. Cheri was working hard in school to become a Registered Dietitian and Mike’s career was taking off. Wedding plans were underway too. Cheri and Mike decided that they would marry closer to their loved ones, so they chose to exchange their vows in June of 2010 at The Mansion in Voorhees, New Jersey. The fairytale continued with a honeymoon at the Waldorf Astoria in Puerto Rico. “It was a blissful 10 days,” Cheri said. “And even though Mike’s not a gambler, he took his chances at the resort casino and won big at the blackjack table!”
Mike and Cheri returned to Raleigh but said their hearts longed to be closer to home. Just a few short months after the wedding, they decided to move back north and settled on a house in Cherry Hill where they lived until the beginning of this year. “Back in 2006, Mike and I were living in Drexel Hill, and I would drive through Newtown Square to get to work every day,” Cheri recalled. “There was just something so special about it and that feeling stayed with me.”
They agreed to start looking for a home, but Mike was more interested in West Chester because many of his friends lived there. Cheri had a different plan, however. “We did look at a dozen or so houses in West Chester, but deep down I knew that Newtown Square was the only place I wanted to raise our family.”
Their family now included two young daughters who would have to switch schools and adjust to new surroundings while making new friends. Cheri and Mike knew they needed to make the right decision for their family and their future. And after endless research, consulting with friends and scouring neighborhoods, they found the perfect home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Newtown Square. “We love the kindness of our new neighbors,” Cheri remarked. “We truly feel that we belong here.”
Mike and Cheri’s oldest daughter, Sloane is a fourth grader at Culbertson Elementary School. She loves art, reading, baking and playing with her friends. She also stays very active with horseback riding, cheerleading and tennis. “Sloane is silly, kind and compassionate,” Cheri said. “She is wise beyond her years and her teachers consistently describe her as having strong leadership qualities.”
Sloane also shares Cheri’s love of baking and aspires to be a pastry chef someday. Her signature dish is her lemon coconut milk flapjacks. Cheri said, “She just made them for my birthday, but we would eat them every day if we could!”
Sloane is also an amazing big sister to six-year-old Makenna who just started first grade at Culberston. “Makenna is a comedian,” Mike laughed. “She has the most perfect comedic timing, and she keeps us laughing every single day.” Cheri said the best part is that Makenna’s not looking for the laugh, she’s just naturally funny.
Aside from her humor, Makenna loves ballet, cheerleading, tennis, playing with friends and creating her own science experiments. No doubt, she finds fun in everything she does!
The Leahy’s family dog is Philly, a 14-year-old Cavachon who they agree is the star of the show. Cheri and Mike adopted him in 2009 when they were living in North Carolina. “He’s a lovebug with such an easy-going personality,” Cheri said. “He absolutely adores the girls and follows them everywhere.”
Mike, Cheri and the girls love spending quality time together here in Newtown Square and on family vacations. They visit Cape May, NJ every summer where they ride bikes, spend time at Congress Hall, swim, shop and explore. “Mike and I have been going to Cape May every year since our first wedding anniversary,” Cheri explained. “We love continuing this tradition with our girls.” They also enjoy family time playing tennis, golf and taking road trips.
But no matter how far they go, their new home is their happy place. Cheri loves spending time in the kitchen, cooking and baking. “My specialty is taking a recipe and making it healthy,” she explained. “I love to substitute ingredients that will boost nutrients yet still taste delicious.” She said she’s created a recipe for healthy twix bars and makes a walnut-crusted salmon that never disappoints. Mike’s favorite activity at home is serving up delicious meals from his smoker. “My favorite thing to make in the smoker is reverse-seared NY strip steak,” said Mike. Cheri and the girls agree but also say that anything Mike makes is delicious.
The Leahys may be fairly new to Newtown Square, but they are looking forward to getting involved in the community and volunteering their time and talents with the school district and extracurricular activities. We’re pretty sure their neighbors in the cul-de-sac are looking forward to being invited over for some of Mike’s famous strip steak and Cheri’s delicious sweet treats!
Cheri, Mike, Sloane and Makenna want to share this special message with our Newtown Square Friends & Neighbors: “We are grateful. Thank you for welcoming us in a way that has made our transition to a new state and a new community seamless.
Do you know a Newtown Square family, individual or nonprofit group who should become known by our community? Make your nominations for upcoming feature articles by emailing your ideas to Sheila Turner-Hilliard at STurnerHilliard@BestVersionMedia.com.