The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) is accepting 2018 Alumnus(a) of Distinction Award nominations until July 6, 2018. Complete the form below to submit a nomination.
Established in 2001, this award acknowledges excellence among alumni of Pitt-Greensburg. All candidates must have graduated from or completed courses at Pitt-Greensburg. Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of their:
• outstanding level of professional achievement
• service to the community
• service to the University of Pittsburgh
• special recognition or honors
• other special efforts or success
The honoree will be asked to attend the Alumni Celebration Dinner during Blue & Gold Week and give a speech upon accepting the award. The Alumnus(a) of Distinction will also be asked to serve as the Alumni Marshall during Commencement activities in April of the same academic year. This is the highest honor given by the PGAA to an individual alumnus(a) annually. Self-nominations are accepted.
Past Alumnus of Distinction Awardees
|2016||Judge John E. Blahovec||1973|
|2014||Terri Glenn Petrick||1979|
|2013*||Brian Moreland, DC||1998|
|2013*||Christopher J. Luccy, DMD, ABPD||1970|
|2011||Jerry J. Fedele||1975|
|2007||Robert Whipkey, M.D.||1977|
|2005||Gary A. Amelio||1978|
|2004||John Michael Felice||1967|
|2003||Robert Edward Ritson, Jr.||1993|
|2002||Thomas D. Horan||1983|
|2001||Susan L. Nelson||1992|
*Due to a change in the presentation schedule, a second alumni was honored in the same calendar year.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association presented its Alumnus of Distinction award to Judge John E. Blahovec, who served 28 years on the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, during the Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 1, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of the campus’s Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2016.
Blahovec attended Pitt-Greensburg for two years before transferring to the Oakland campus where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1973 with a BA in Political Science. He then earned his juris doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1976.
“Judge Blahovec is illustrative of so many Pitt-Greensburg alumni,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of the campus. “They bring a strong work ethic to everything they do, they look for ways to make their communities better, and they are typically described as the people you go to when you want to get something done. Judge Blahovec’s more than two decades of service to Westmoreland County have earned him the respect and loyalty of his peers and the electorate and are evidence of his positive contributions to the region.”
In 1985, Blahovec was elected Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County. He served 10 years in Family Court and the remainder of his career in Criminal Court, being retained by the electorate for two additional 10-year terms in 1995 and 2005. In January 2013, he retired and began serving as a Senior Judge, which means he may be called upon, as needed, to serve on the Westmoreland County Bench.
He is recognized by his peers as a confidant and counselor who softened many a situation with his wit and humor that can be both self-deprecating and sharp. He was known to defuse difficult courtroom situations with his wit. Adjectives used to describe him are fair, impartial, and unbiased—qualities that served him well on the bench.
Prior to his election to the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, Blahovec had his own law practice and taught Business Law at Westmoreland County Community College from 1976 to 1986. He also served as solicitor for the Westmoreland County Coroner, the Borough of Southwest Greensburg, the Murrysville Zoning Hearing board, and the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Board of Control. He also was an assistant district attorney for one year and a Juvenile Court Master for three years prior to being elected judge.
Blahovec is a member of the Westmoreland Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. He currently is president of the Mutual Aid Ambulance Service board of directors and vice chairman of the Deno Castelli Scholarship Fund. He also is a 20-year member of the Southwest Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department.
His prior community service includes serving on the boards of Saint Vincent College Prevention Projects, the Mental Health Association of Westmoreland County, and the Boy Scouts of America.
Blahovec and his wife Mary Louise (Grabowski) are members of St. Benedict Parish, in Marguerite. They have two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel, and one granddaughter, Haley.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) named Terry Bengel ’80 the 2015 PGAA Alumnus of Distinction. The award, which was presented during the Alumni Celebration Dinner as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2015, acknowledges excellence among Pitt-Greensburg alumni.
Terry Bengel is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who attended classes at Pitt-Greensburg for his degree in Humanities/Fine Arts.
His connection to Pitt-Greensburg goes deeper than just attending classes, though. Five pieces of his stained-glass artwork are installed on campus. Most visible are “Upward to the Light” that is installed on the tower of Millstein Library and “Fountain of Life” that adorns the windows of the Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center. His other pieces are “Neujahr 1989,” displayed on the second floor of Millstein Library, that depicts the breakdown of the Berlin Wall; the University of Pittsburgh seal that is part of the Chambers Hall Hempfield Room; and a rendering of the University of Pittsburgh coat of arms that greets visitors in the front door of Lynch Hall.
“There is a great deal of talk in the media these days about the value of a college education. We at Pitt Greensburg know the true worth of a liberal arts education is that it not only prepares you for a succession of career opportunities through lifelong learning but it also enriches your life,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “Terry’s education at Pitt Greensburg enabled him to live his passion while enhancing the lives of others. His compositions are visual poetry in the life of the campus.”
For nearly 50 years, Bengel has been studying, creating, and restoring stained glass masterpieces. The list of public commissions and major restorations of his work reads like a who’s who of churches, synagogues, non-profit organizations, and businesses that pepper the southwestern Pennsylvania region.
He started his artistic career at the age of 19 when he apprenticed with Milcho Silianoff, a Greensburg stained-glass legend, for eight years. Bengel then worked as a museum assistant with the Westmoreland Museum of Art for the next 10 years (1975 to 1985), while establishing his own business as a self-employed leaded glass artist. From 1982 to 1992, he was a preparator with the John J. McDonough Collection of American Paintings (Youngstown, OH), while serving for a year as assistant to the director of the Westmoreland Museum of Art from 1985 through 1986.
In 1983, Bengel became the first American stained-glass craftsman to be accepted as a professional observer with the Research Laboratory of the National Historic Monuments Commission at Chateau Champs sur Marne, France. There, he was involved in the restoration of windows at the Cathedrals of Troyes, in Bourges, and the Sainte Chapelle, in Paris.
Art aficionados may remember his work being displayed at a variety of regional art shows from 1972 through 1992, including a one-man show at the Art Place Gallery (Bear Rocks, PA), the Design Show Invitational at the Blue Sky Gallery (Murrysville, PA), Greensburg Diocesan Arts Conference International (Greensburg, PA), Regional Artist Invitational at the Westmoreland Museum of Art), a one-man show at Seton Hill University’s Harlan Gallery (Greensburg, PA), and the Lahaina Gallery (San Francisco, CA).
Others may remember his name from the July 2008 WQED On Q episode that featured Bengel and his work, as well as the 2010 WQED documentary on stained glass.
Bengel is described as a friend and advisor to all church communities of the region and is a frequent lecturer to civic organizations. He is the founder of the “Five Star Neighbors,” serving the Five Star Trail (Greensburg, PA). In addition to serving as a volunteer co-designer of the Frank McGlynn exhibit of Santoria Art, he has volunteered as a tent judge for the annual Westmoreland Croquet Club Tournament and as a set designer and stage crew member for Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Company productions.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) named Teresa “Terri” Glenn Petrick ’79 the 2014 PGAA Alumna of Distinction. The award, which was presented during the alumni reception and dinner planned as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2014, acknowledges excellence among Pitt-Greensburg alumni.
Senior vice president for AAA East Central (Pittsburgh, PA), Petrick is responsible for member service and operational performance of AAA East Central, a not-for-profit automobile club operating in 81 sites in five states. She leads corporate functions, including human resources, information technology, and facilities, and she serves as chief integration officer leading the merger activities of AAA East Central into Auto Club Enterprises of Southern California.
Petrick graduated from Pitt-Greensburg as a University Scholar and magna cum laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in Business Administration. She had completed her high school education at McKeesport Senior High School a year early and started college when she was 16 years old.
“Alumni are the ultimate ‘product’ of a college or university,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “Academic institutions, like other organizations, have ‘brands’ that make them distinctive and their alumni are characterized by that brand. Terri exemplifies the Pitt-Greensburg alumni brand. Her success is a combination of her own drive and expertise combined with the education and mentoring that she received through Pitt-Greensburg. When I see Terri, I know that she personifies all the best that Pitt-Greensburg offers its students.”
In her acceptance speech for the PGAA award, Petrick noted that the average person makes over a million choices in his or her lifetime, saying, “Most choices are insignificant, mundane, or even made in a relatively passive way . . . but a few, very few, are life defining. . . . I once read that the hardest choices in life aren’t between what’s right and what’s wrong, but between what’s right and what’s best. Without a doubt and unequivocally, Pitt-Greensburg was what was best for me.”
She closed her speech with this observation: “I got that first class education, I found a mentor in Dr. Guy Rossetti who was a Spanish professor who helped me carve a pathway to graduate school and ultimately my career in health care. I made some lifelong friends who ended up being my daughter’s godparents. And I ultimately learned that even though we all make millions of choices over the course of time, in the end our choices make us. I am grateful that I chose Pitt-Greensburg and that choice made me.”
After completing her degree at Pitt-Greensburg, Petrick went on to earn a master’s degree in public management with a concentration in Health Care Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Urban & Public Affairs. She graduated with highest distinction from the program.
Petrick is a high impact business leader with 30 years of successful and diverse management experience who has demonstrated success in enhancing performance, profitability, and service growth. Her expertise lies in leading change, especially in the areas of planning, operations, outcomes management, leadership development, and system integration. Recognized as an inspirational leader, a collaborative team player, and a consistent top performer, she is skilled at communication, innovative thinking, leveraging corporate culture, and developing employees.
Prior to being named a senior vice president with AAA East Central, Petrick’s past experience was primarily in health care. She started her career at UPMC McKeesport (McKeesport, PA) in 1982 as director of planning and was named assistant executive director in 1987. In 1991, she was named executive vice president and assumed overall responsibility for the 300-bed comprehensive acute-care teaching hospital.
In 2001, she was named vice president, care management, at the UPMC Health System (Pittsburgh, PA) where she was responsible for the integration and strategic development of care management across 16 acute and specialty hospitals within the Health System.
Petrick was named president of UPMC Passavant & UPMC Passavant-Cranberry (Pittsburgh, PA) in 2002. She was responsible for leading two hospital campuses through a system integration while forging a strong collaborative relationship with the hospital’s board of trustees and medical staff. She led the development and implementation of a strategic vision and plan that resulted in a six-year expansion of Five Centers of Excellence. Under her direction, admissions grew by 36 percent, market share grew nearly 10 percent, employee turnover decreased by 50 percent, and the employee base grew from 1,271 to 1,857 FTEs (full-time equivalents). The medical staff grew from less than 500 to more than 700, securing the primary care base of the hospital and augmenting the medical staff with clinical specialists and sub specialists in the designated Centers of Excellence.
Additionally, she successfully facilitated the evolution of UPMC Passavant through the development of a cohesive and shared vision for the future, providing all constituents with a renewed focus, vision, and commitment that allowed the hospital to be strategically positioned as UPMC North. In conjunction with this growth, UPMC Passavant opened a $144 million, 220,000 square foot clinical pavilion in spring 2010.
From 2010 through 2013, Petrick served as president of UPMC St. Margaret (Pittsburgh, PA) where she was responsible for the operations of a 250-bed hospital, a hospital-affiliated surgery center, and multiple outpatient primary care centers of which three are associated with one of the nation’s premier family medicine teaching programs. She was responsible for defining a revitalized vision for St. Margaret that includes the development of Centers of Excellence, the reapplication for Magnet Status. Her ability to build interpersonal relationships with key health care leaders led to the development of clinical linkages with 15 non-UPMC community-based hospitals in Western and Central Pennsylvania and Western Ohio.
Petrick serves a member of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Advisory Board, and the La Roche College Board of Trustees.
In the community, she served as a member of the Kearns Spirituality Center/Sisters of Divine Providence Advisory Board. She is a past chair and volunteer for the Diversity Council for UPMC. A volunteer and past board member with the Cranberry Alliance and the Northern Allegheny County Chamber of Commerce, she served as co-chair for the American Diabetes Association Step-Out Walk.
Petrick and her husband, David, reside in North Huntingdon, PA. The have five children and seven grandchildren.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented Brian Moreland '98, DC, with the PGAA Alumnus of Distinction Award on Saturday, October 5. The award was presented during the alumni reception and dinner planned as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2013.
Moreland, owner of Back in Motion Chiropractic in Latrobe, resides in Greensburg with his wife, Rachel, and their two children, Elise, 4, and Jack, 3.
A 1998 graduate from Pitt-Greensburg with a BS in psychology, he continued his education at Logan College of Chiropractic, earning a second BS in Life Science in addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Moreland attained board certification as a Diplomate in Chiropractic Rehabilitation and serves as an associate clinical instructor in the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique.
Moreland, a past secretary/treasurer of the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Educational and Charitable Foundation, has been involved in multiple state and national chiropractic and rehabilitation organizations. He also participated in research published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. The most recent publication was instrumental in obtaining a National Institution of Health grant to fund a clinical research study at the University of Pittsburgh. This study compared the results of the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique to a manual adjusting techniques on lower-back pain patients.
A Life Member and winner of the 2008 Pitt Alumni Association Volunteer Excellence Award, Moreland served three terms as the Pitt-Greensburg delegate to the PAA board of directors where he served on the legislative and membership committees. Moreland still participates in legislative affairs that affect the University through his affiliation with the Pitt Advocates. Through his service to both the PAA and PGAA boards, Moreland was instrumental in strengthening the ties between the two organizations.
Moreland also received the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association’s 2010 Volunteer Excellence award. The award was created to showcase and reward a member of the PGAA Board of Directors for his or her outstanding service to the board and to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Moreland’s service to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg includes having served on the board of directors of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association as treasurer, vice president, president, and immediate past president. Moreland also served in an ex-officio role on the University’s Advisory Board. He helped to form the Pitt-Greensburg Student Alumni Association and organized the inaugural legislative breakfast with local, state, and federal elected official, which is now a bi-annual meeting.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association presented its 2013 Alumnus of Distinction award to pediatric dentist Christopher J. Luccy CAS ’70, DEN ’73. The PGAA Alumnus of Distinction award recognizes excellence among alumni at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg based on outstanding level of professional achievements, service to the community, service to the University of Pittsburgh, special recognition or honors, and other special efforts or success.
Luccy attended Pitt-Greensburg from 1966 through 1968. He completed his undergraduate degree and dental school at the Oakland campus and his specialty residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He is Westmoreland County’s only board-certified pediatric dentist.
A member of the medical staff at Children’s Hospital (Pittsburgh), Luccy has represented pediatric dentistry on both the state and national level for more than 30 years. He is a recognized expert in facial growth and development and in conscious sedation for children. He currently serves as the Immediate Past President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Luccy previously served the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry on the Council of Clinical Affairs and Council on Constitution and Bylaws. These committees develop and define policies and guidelines to establish the most appropriate dental treatment for children.
As a member of the Pennsylvania Dental Association’s Access to Care Committee, Luccy authored the Virtual Dental Van, an online guide that helps parents whose children are covered under the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to find dental providers.
He served as the Pennsylvania Dental Team Leader for Head Start over the past 18 months and is working with area pediatricians to establish “Best Practices” for the use of fluoride in children. His practice now focuses on providing comfortable safe dental care for young children and children with special needs.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) has named Rob Oliver ’97 as its 2012 Alumnus of Distinction.
The PGAA Alumnus of Distinction award recognizes excellence among alumni at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg based on outstanding level of professional achievements, service to the community, service to the University of Pittsburgh, special recognition or honors, and other special efforts or success. A certificate of recognition will be presented to Oliver at the 2012 Commencement ceremony, set for Saturday, April 28.
“We are elated to be able to honor Rob with this award,” says Frank Spoto Jr., Esq., ’99, ’03 LAW, president of the PGAA. “Rob’s passion and drive to help those around him achieve their everyday goals is the primary reason why he stood out among our outstanding nominees this year.”
Oliver works for the Disability Rights Network as an advocacy specialist. He also is a motivational speaker and author. His autobiography, entitled “Still Walking,” shares his experiences of living with a disability as well as the important lessons he’s learned along the way. Oliver, from White Oak, PA, and his wife Becky (Clark) Oliver ’94 are the parents of 10-year-old triplets Chloe, Lauren, and Josh.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” says Oliver. “It serves as recognition of the value of my work following graduation. I am humbled as well. Although my disability has provided challenges along the way, my goal has been to live life to the fullest. The only thing I have done is what everyone should do, don’t focus on what we can’t do, but make the most of the abilities we have.”
Oliver was paralyzed from the chest down during a body surfing accident in North Carolina when he was 21 years old. After the accident, he went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and his master’s degree in psychology from Duquesne University.
His advocacy work with individuals provides people with protection from abuse and neglect, access to services and the opportunity to make their own choices. Additionally, his work also allows him to advocate for systems change, mostly focusing on the services provided by State of Pennsylvania for people with disabilities. With the current budget situation, it is imperative to understand the implication of budget cuts and how those cuts are affecting the lives of real people. The third way he is changing other people's lives is through his speaking and book. The core message of his presentation is that everybody has problems.
“Our success in life is determined by whether we let those problems define us or we, instead, put our energy into doing what we can and focusing on the positive,” he notes.
During the past year, Oliver provided motivational presentations pro bono to more than 24 local Rotary clubs. His past service to the community also includes being appointed to the Community Living Advisory Committee by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in 1999. His role on the Community Living Advisory Committee was to provide meaningful input to the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Aging, and the Office on Long Term Living as they created policies, procedures, and programs serving individuals with disabilities across the Commonwealth. He has trained the staff and the participants of several organizations including the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, Mental Health America and Pennsylvania Advocacy Resources to strengthen their advocacy as an organization as well as individuals. Until recently, he served on the board of directors for United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh, one of the premier service organizations in Western Pennsylvania, and the Tommy Wilson Exceptional Student Foundation, which funds educational supports for students with special needs.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) has named Jerry J. Fedele its 2011 Alumnus of Distinction. A certificate of recognition will be presented to Fedele at the 2011 Commencement ceremony, set for Saturday, April 30.
The PGAA Alumnus of Distinction award recognizes excellence among alumni at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg based on outstanding level of professional achievements, service to the community, service to the University of Pittsburgh, special recognition or honors, and other special efforts or success.
“We are pleased to be able to recognize Jerry with the PGAA Award of Distinction,” said Mary Lynn Yothers, DC, president of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association. “His accomplishments are an illustration of the level of success graduates of Pitt-Greensburg have attained.”
Fedele is a 1975 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in mathematics, while minoring in English and philosophy. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he was a student at the Pitt-Greensburg campus during his freshman and sophomore years from 1971 to 1973. (Pitt-Greensburg alumni include those who have attended Pitt-Greensburg for three or more semesters, as well as those who have earned their bachelor’s degrees at the campus.)
Fedele went on to graduate magna cum laude and as the class valedictorian with a juris doctorate from the Duquesne University School of Law in 1980. He then earned an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz School of Business in 1986, where he was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society.
Fedele, a native of Greensburg, PA, resides in Boca Raton, FL, where he has served as president and chief executive officer of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital since 2008. At Boca Regional, he led a restructuring initiative that generated operating improvements of $60 million over 18 months resulting in the first operating profit in six years for the 400-bed hospital.
The hospital currently generates $360 million in annual revenue and has been ranked by HealthGrades among the top 5 percent of all hospitals in the United States for seven consecutive years. Several clinical programs including cardiac surgery, cardiology, and stroke care are all ranked by HealthGrades as number one in the state of Florida, and gastrointestinal care as number two in the state of Florida. Additionally, Boca Regional maintains tertiary level programs in oncology and women’s care that are nationally recognized.
Prior to his move to Florida in 2008, Fedele served in various capacities with West Penn Allegheny Health System. He served as president and chief executive officer from 2003 to 2007 and implemented a five-year plan to recover from a $90 million loss incurred by Allegheny General Hospital and achieving the first system profit in 2003. Under his leadership, Allegheny General achieved nationally recognized quality performance for eliminating central-line-associated-blood infections and materially reducing ventilator-associated pneumonia in cardiac ICU. Fedele also implemented a process known as the “Extreme Hospital Makeover” to achieve rapid cycle improvements in operations, quality, and satisfaction utilizing the Toyota Production System and Six Sigma strategies.
He served as the first senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary upon formation of West Penn Allegheny Health System in 1999.
From 1986 to 1998, Fedele worked for the Western Pennsylvania Healthcare System, most recently serving as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary where he led a team that removed Allegheny General Hospital and three affiliated community hospitals from the AHERF bankruptcy, restructured and refinanced debt exceeding $600 million, and formed West Penn Allegheny Health System.
His other career experience includes serving as an attorney for Bayer Corporation (1984 to 1986) and in various positions with the Dravo Corporation, including counsel (1980 to 1984), legal assistant (1978 to 1980), and cost estimator (1975 to 1978).
Active in his community, Fedele is a member of the boards of directors of VHA Southeast, the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, and the Professional Golf Association’s Allianz Tour Event held annually in Boca Raton. He was a dancer in the 2010 George Snow Scholarship Fund Boca Ballroom Battle and is co-chair of the 2011 event. Recently, Fedele was recognized by the Boca Raton Rotary as a recipient of the OPAL Award for outstanding achievement in Health and Medicine.
Fedele is a former member of the board of directors of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and the Community College of Allegheny County where he served as finance chair and treasurer. He also is a former adjunct professor of the Duquesne University School of Law and a former member of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s National Advisory Committee.
He and his wife, Terry, have three children. Katie is an investment banker with CitiBank in New York City, Jeff is an auditor with Deloitte and Touche in Pittsburgh, and Andy is an auditor with KPMG in Chicago.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association has named Barbara J. Christner, Esq., its 2010 Alumnus of Distinction.
“We are pleased to be able to recognize Barbara with the PGAA Award of Distinction,” said Mary Lynn Yothers, DC, president of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association. “Her accomplishments are an illustration of the level of success graduates of Pitt-Greensburg have attained.”
Christner, a 1985 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, is vice president and shareholder at Ward & Christner, PC, in Greensburg. She graduated from Duquesne Law School and passed the bar exam in 1992. Her career in law began when she took a job as receptionist/secretary for John N. Ward, Esq., in 1977. Christner continued to work full-time while earning her undergraduate degree and law degree, advancing to bookkeeper and estate administrator at the law office. As estate administrator, she worked with clients until they reached the auditing phase. Christner earned the respect of lawyers who took over her cases at the auditing phase because of her thorough preparation of the cases and their materials.
“I’m humbled by the award,” said Christner. “There are so many good people out there. I’m just so surprised and thrilled to receive the award.”
Immediate past president of the Westmoreland Bar Association (WBA), Christner has served as a director and officer since April 2003. In addition to coordinating the “Truth about Living Trust Programs” sponsored by WBA, she has served as the co-chair of the Real Estate Committee from 2002 through 2007 and a member of the Orphans’ Court & Elder Law Committee. She also has served as a member of the boards of directors of the Westmoreland Bar Foundation (WBF) and Laurel Legal Services.
Her community service includes serving as a member of the Lutheran Youth and Family Services (now Glade Run), the Westmoreland Choral Society, and serving on various committees at the First Lutheran Church of Greensburg. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
The PGAA Alumnus of Distinction award recognizes excellence among alumni at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg based on outstanding level of professional achievements, service to the community, service to the University of Pittsburgh, special recognition or honors, and other special efforts or success.
The 2009 Alumni of Distinction Award is given to Justin Merriman, a 2000 graduate of Pitt-Greensburg with a degree in English Writing. The Greensburg native has worked as a photojournalist since 1999 and has covered stories across the United States and world, including the events of September 11th, the crash of United Flight 93, the Sago mine disaster in Sago, West Virginia, the 2004 and the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, polio in India, life in Cuba, the 2008 Parliamentary Elections in Pakistan, and the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Merriman's photography has been recognized and honored with local and national awards. His work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, The Washington Post, Popular Science, Time Magazine's "Pictures of the Week," USA Today's "Day in Sports, " MSNBC's "Week in Pictures," Sports Illustrated's SI.com, CBS's CBSSportsline.com, Golfweek Magazine, and newspapers across the country. Mr. Merriman continues his work in photojournalism striving to make images that reveal humanity and document the world around him.