Lucy Malmberg P’72 Dedicates Herself to Helping Others Create Their Own American Dream

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on May 21, 2019

Lucy Malmberg Having found success in industry, as a community pharmacist, and as an entrepreneur building the largest animal health compounding pharmacy in the country, Lucy Malmberg P’72 is looking to the next chapter by empowering the next generation through her philanthropy. 

Lucy MalmbergDedicated to carrying on the legacy of her late husband George Malmberg P’72, with whom she transformed Wedgewood Pharmacy from bankruptcy into a thriving pharmacy business, Malmberg has been the force behind giving campaigns at USciences where she matched gifts, helping to raise $1 million this fall during Giving Tuesday. She has also been integral in changing the lives of students in the Chester Upland School District and by impacting globally the lives of others through the work of her own philanthropic family foundation.

“Many of us are moved and motivated to do things in our lives,” said Malmberg. “You follow other people’s generous examples. You do this because it matters.”

Much of this philanthropy is in honor of those she has lost—her husband and her parents, each of whom she honors by living out their examples of giving.

A LEGACY OF GIVING

Lucy's ParentsMalmberg would not have had the opportunity to experience the success of building a business if it had not been for her parents, Peter and Mary Bartkow. Survivors of World War II prison labor camps who also fled their native home of Ukraine to escape communism, her parents planned for their first child, Lucy, to be born in the United States, where Peter’s uncle, Paul Bartkow, had settled first in Chester and then later in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania. However, her mother delivered earlier than expected, and Lucy was born in a displaced persons camp in Hamburg, Germany.

“My parents only had travel documentation for the two of them, and they did not have documents for me,” Malmberg said. They placed Malmberg in a package covered with a blanket and carried her onto the plane with them. “The TWA attendant asked my father, ‘What is in the package?’ and through a translator, my father told the attendant, ‘It is a gift for America.’”

It was only once the plane was in the air that a flight attendant discovered Malmberg, so she was recorded as an undocumented passenger and was registered as an illegal alien upon arrival in the United States. Lucy later received her US citizenship at age 16. It was a great celebration!

“Being in America means having the freedom to do what you desire to do, while taking the responsibility of doing good for others,” she said.

It was that compassion that led Malmberg to consider a career in healthcare at an early age, first as a volunteer “candy striper” at a local hospital and then working at Sam’s Pharmacy, where she helped to clean the store and stock shelves after school.

Being in America means having the freedom to do what you desire to do, while taking the responsibility of doing good for others.

-- Lucy Malmberg P'72

She chose to attend Philadelphia College of Pharmacy to learn in the shadow of the legacy of past pharmaceutical giants. As a student, Malmberg was studious, learning as much as she could from professors, alumni, and classmates. It wasn’t until her final semester that she got to know the man who would become her partner in life and business. After George asked her out for pizza and a movie on St. Patrick’s Day 1972, she knew she’d fallen in love. By April 1974 the two were married.

“I had a lot of firsts come out of this institution, including my husband, my love of pharmacy, and the work that my husband and I were able to create together,” she said. “It is that love for Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and USciences that keeps me really committed to it.”

They connected both professionally and personally. “For George and me, what mattered was sharing our love for each other, having a love of serving others, and creating a life together,” she said. “What we really wanted to do was make a difference.”

THE COURAGE TO TAKE RISKS

Following graduation, Lucy and George were working as community pharmacists when Lucy was quickly identified for a management position by a DuPont executive and was recruited to work for DuPont. She was placed on a leadership track and mentored to succeed.

“DuPont was my MBA experience; I learned strategic planning and execution and helped to transform a business on a global scale,” said Malmberg. She helped to restructure the company and lead the future of the business at a time when many women weren’t welcomed in business or in the boardroom. Many judged her before she would even begin to speak; yet through this experience she said she gained ability, tenacity, and compassion.

It wasn’t until they were both midcareer that the Malmbergs decided to take their biggest professional risk. George had been helping as a part-time pharmacist at a small New Jersey community pharmacy, Wedgewood Pharmacy, which he learned was going bankrupt. A lifelong desire to serve a community drove the Malmbergs to dedicate themselves to the opportunity to first purchase and then make their pharmacy successful.

“I credit the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and the education I received with giving me the confidence and courage I needed to take prudent risks in my career,” said Malmberg. “These are the most valuable attributes any successful entrepreneur could have.”

Success didn’t come overnight. Malmberg was rejected by 37 banks before her determination swayed one bank to give her a loan. Together with their savings and modest gifts from family, George and Lucy were able to purchase Wedgewood Pharmacy in 1981.

After 13 months, they finally broke even, and after five years, they began to incorporate compounded prescriptions into their practice. Pharmacy compounding would become the primary source for the increased success of Wedgewood Pharmacy in serving many patients—success that was greater than the Malmbergs could imagine.

After serving countless patients and their physicians, the Malmbergs found veterinarians beginning to come to Wedgewood looking for special formulations to treat their animal patients, everything from show birds to elephants. Wedgewood Pharmacy became specialized and known in this pharmacy space as the place to go for both human and animal health compounded prescription needs.

It was as this transition was taking place that Malmberg chose to leave DuPont, where she had much corporate success, to return to her first love, the pharmacy.  

Together she and George were able to build Wedgewood to become the largest and leading compounding pharmacy specializing in animal health, coupled with other specialty areas such as addiction medicine and urology. George passed away in 2013 and Lucy took on the role of CEO before stepping down in 2016 when a private equity firm became majority owner. Lucy currently serves as chairman of the board for Wedgewood Pharmacy.

Her advice to recent graduates: “When you leave the University, you are embarking on a path of discovery, and to be successful, be curious. In this way you will find what it is that you love to do. The proof of who are you is how you apply everything you have learned in getting your degree. I encourage you to look for people to be your support network, including the University, faculty, fellow students, and your alumni network.”

GIVING WITH IMPACT

After experiencing success in business, Malmberg turned to her next great challenge—using that success to give back and support others, just like her immigrant parents had always done and had taught her to do.

Even a small scholarship is impactful. There are plenty of students who wish that they could go to conferences or pursue other educational opportunities but can’t afford it, so even $1,000 can help.

-- Stefan Kolodij PhamD'16

“Giving when you can, when someone needs it, that is the greatest lesson I learned from both my father and mother,” she said. Building a business from bankruptcy never stopped the Malmbergs from philanthropy. “We were in great debt when we bought the business, and even at that time we found ways to give even small gifts to our community and to volunteer,” she said.

But when they were successful, they began to think about giving as an investment into the dreams of others. “Our students have a great impact,” said Malmberg of graduates of USciences. “Giving in support of the educational mission of the University means that you support future healthcare professionals who would touch the lives of many more people than you could alone.”

She and George established a scholarship fund at the University, with the inaugural gift going to Stefan Kolodij PharmD’16 who used the funds to pursue compounding coursework and experience. These skills he uses today as the pharmacist in charge at Marple Pharmacy in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Lucy Malmberg talks with pharmacy students.“Her scholarship was definitely necessary for me in order to pursue further my interest in compounding,” said Dr. Kolodij. “Even a small scholarship is impactful. There are plenty of students who wish that they could go to conferences or pursue other educational opportunities but can’t afford it, so even $1,000 can help.”

Dr. Kolodij said students depend on alumni and friends to expand upon what the University can offer. “It is the alumni network that has to be there to strengthen what the University does,” he said. “If you have a strong network of people you can do a lot.”

Outside of her work at the University, Malmberg has also provided funding and support to the Chester Upland School District and Delaware County Christian School. The funding has supported education of students in Chester, where Malmberg’s family first lived when they came to America.

“We have worked to transform the student experience in the last two years. Students know that they are cared for, that they matter, and that they are important!” she said.

For Malmberg, each opportunity to give is about the person that each gift impacts, rather than the amount. When she measures that impact, she furthers the legacy of the gift her parents gave to her through their faith and courage to bring her to America, where she was granted the opportunity at living the American Dream and where she and George built and lived their dream to the fullest and most meaningful.

“Being able to have an education that my parents could not have, and using that education to make a difference for other people,” said Malmberg, “this is the fuel for my desire to create an environment of caring for others to live the life they dream of living!”

Categories: News, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Alumni, Feature Story, Giving, USciences