The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association Young Alumni Leadership Award, an award initiated in 2015, recognizes established and future leaders among Pitt-Greensburg’s young alumni.
The Young Alumni Leadership Award was created to recognize and honor Pitt-Greensburg young alumni, ages 35 and under, for their accomplishments and service. The winners of the award have distinguished themselves as a leader among their peers and in their profession, community, and/or the University.
The recipient is requested to receive the honor in person by attending the Alumni Celebration Dinner on campus during Blue and Gold Weekend in October.
Full award guidelines and criteria >>
Download/Print Nomination Form >>
Past Young Alumni Leadership Awardees
|2019||Cayla Ray, DMD||2014|
|2018||Carrie Ann Bush||2014|
|2017||Chad Eric Smith||2008|
|2016||Katelyn E. Sadler||2011|
Sara Hoover '15
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Young Alumni Leadership Award to Sara Hoover ’15 at the Alumni Award Celebration Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 1, as part of Blue & Gold Celebration 2022.
Hoover, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania, works as an outpatient therapist to clients of all ages at the Family Counseling Center of Armstrong County (Leechburg, PA). She works with clients coming from underprivileged backgrounds and advocates for them in any way she can appropriately help them to get their mental health needs met. A certified clinical trauma professional (CCTP) and a nationally certified counselor (NCC), she specializes in working with victims of trauma. This past winter, she received a grant to participate in a 56-hour basic training program for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a specialized treatment approach for working through traumatic experiences in therapy.
Her interest in trauma therapy had its roots in her experiences as a psychology major at Pitt-Greensburg. A regular volunteer with the Blackburn Center (Greensburg, PA), she provided hotline counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She also completed a semester-long internship at CASA of Westmoreland, an agency that provides advocates for children involved in the foster care system. By the time that she graduated summa cum laude from Pitt Greensburg, Hoover was passionate about helping those suffering from mental illness and/or trauma and made the decision to pursue a career as a trauma therapist.
While at Pitt-Greensburg she served as a research assistant to Russell E. Phillips III, PhD, associate professor of psychology, and as a teaching assistant to Jeffrey Everly, PhD, associate professor, for his research methods class.
In recognition of her passion and investment in the field of psychology, Hoover was awarded the Pitt-Greensburg’s Helen Connors Psychology Award and was named a University Scholar for graduating in the top two percent of the senior class. Active in multiple honor societies, she also served as president of the Active Minds Mental Health Club, twice earning “Member of the Year” awards for her leadership.
Hoover stays in touch with Pitt-Greensburg through her participation as a judge of the campus’ annual resume contest, which is a collaboration with the PGAA and the Office of Career Services.
After receiving her undergraduate degree, Hoover earned a master’s of arts degree in clinical mental health counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She was selected a graduate assistant for the Department of Counseling, and worked closely with Professor Lorraine Guth on her research on group counseling efforts in Malawi, Africa. The two co-presented their research, “Enhancing Group Work Practice in Malawi: The Warm Heart of Africa,” at the 2016 Association for Specialist in Group Work National Conference.
She held an officer position in the CESA Club (Counselor Education Student Association) and was an active member of Chi Sigma Iota, the National Counseling Honor’s Society. Hoover continued to be distinguished as a leader within her graduate program, being recognized in 2016 with the George Spinelli Scholarship Award & again in 2017 with the Janet Fontaine Outstanding Student Award. Both achievements recognized Sara for her outstanding leadership and involvement within the Department of Counseling at IUP. She completed her graduate internship at the Community Guidance Center in Indiana, PA, providing therapy in outpatient and child/adolescent partial hospitalization settings, and graduated with her Master’s in August 2017. Following her graduation from IUP, Hoover worked as an outpatient therapist at SPHS in New Kensington, PA, offering individual and group counseling to those suffering from addiction & mental health issues.
Justin Cannalley '15
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Young Alumni Leadership Award to Justin Cannalley ’15 at the Alumni Award Celebration Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 2, as part of Blue & Gold Celebration 2021.
Cannalley, who is from Philadelphia, PA, graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a degree in anthropology. He joined AmeriCorps and was an AmeriCorps team member with Habitat for Humanity Summit & Wasatch Counties in Utah (2015-2016), serving as a build coordinator for a home that would become a home for a single mother and her two children.
In 2016, he moved to Tennessee and worked for the Community Action Committee AmeriCorps, which is the longest-running environmental service in the state of Tennessee. A forest technician with the vegetation management team at Great Smokey Mountains National Park, he assisted with treating hemlock and ash trees against invasive pests as well as removing exotic plants from the park. He was also a wild-land firefighter and participated in prescribed burns in the park.
In 2017, he joined the Army Corps of Engineers and volunteered to go to Puerto Rico from October to February 2018 to help with disaster relief from Hurricane Maria. In Puerto Rico, he traveled around the island every day, making sure existing power generators were working properly, and if they weren't, he would help troubleshoot the issue or repair it himself.
In 2019, he joined the Army Reserves as an 88M Motor Transport Operator, which is primarily responsible for supervising or operating wheel vehicles to transport personnel and cargo. He participated in 10 weeks of Basic Combat
Training and six weeks of Advanced Individual Training. Part of this time was spent in the classroom, part in simulation, but more than 200 training hours were spent in actual vehicle and field training environments. Since completing Basic Training, he has returned to Philadelphia where he works as a service manager with GREENIX Pest Control and leads a team of 28 technicians in performing pest-control operations in eastern Pennsylvania.
During his time as a student, Cannalley served as a community assistant, was president of the Bowling Club, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, was a presidential ambassador, and participated in many other clubs and organizations. As an alumnus, he volunteered on the 2018 Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Trip. He also was a member of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association board of directors. His participation with the PGAA began as a volunteer with the Events Committee before joining the board. Despite not always living in the area, Cannalley stays connected with the campus and participates virtually when possible. He also has helped with many PGAA events.
Since returning to Philadelphia, Cannalley has been working on home renovations both indoors and out in his yard. He is also in the process of completing renovations for a local apartment building. He plans to volunteer with his local Habitat for Humanity affiliate once the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and the orientation program resumes.
Katie Byers '17
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Young Alumni Leadership Award to Katie Byers ’17 at the Alumni Awards Virtual Celebration at noon on Saturday, October 3, as part of the Blue & Gold Celebration 2020.
Byers graduated from Pitt-Greensburg in 2017 with degrees in Spanish and Psychology. While a student at Pitt-Greensburg, Katie served as a Community Assistant and held leadership positions with the Spanish Club, Habitat for Humanity, Academic Village Senate, Student Government Association, and Resident Student Council. She studied abroad in Seville, Spain, for a semester to expand her language skills and cultural knowledge. Her love for academics, leadership, service, and international education was recognized when she received the DaVinci Scholar Award during her senior year.
Shortly after graduation, Byers became involved with the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) as a member of the Board of Directors. She is involved in the Professional Development Committee and has helped organize the Campus to Career panel event and three virtual career panels for students and alumni to help them develop connections and gain career-related insight. She also has participated in a variety of PGAA events, including the annual Pitt Sendoff, Blue and Gold Celebration events, Merry Mingle, and various virtual and in-person socials. Byers’s connection to the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association began her freshman year when she received the PGAA Incoming Freshman Award.
Byers also earned a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and is the recipient of the 2019 S. Trevor Hadley Outstanding Student Award from SAHE department for academic achievement and contributions to the campus community. She served as a graduate assistant and Mock Interview and Etiquette Dinner Coordinator within IUP’s Career and Professional Development Center. Byers also served as a graduate research assistant with a SAHE faculty member and a fellow student. Their research explored effective teamwork behavior to inform a National Science Foundation-funded project for IUP’s Professional Teamwork and Leadership minor. While a student at IUP, she also completed practicum experiences within Service Outreach at Seton Hill University and within the Office of International Education at Saint Vincent College.
In March 2019, Byers returned to Pitt-Greensburg, accepting the position of assistant director of Career Services. In this role, she assists students and alumni in their career exploration and preparation through individual appointments, programming, and networking efforts. On campus, Byers serves as the treasurer for Staff Council and has co-planned several events to engage and connect staff across campus. Byers is also a co-advisor for Pitt-Greensburg’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH). Last year, she helped lead the campus’s annual HFH Collegiate Challenge Alternative Spring Break trip to Louisiana for a group of students. This marked her fifth overall HFH service trip.
Cayla Ray, DMD '14
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Young Alumni Leadership Award to Cayla Ray, DMD ’14 at the Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 5, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2019.
Ray, a native of Derry, PA, graduated with a biological science major and a minor in psychology from Pitt-Greensburg in 2014. She then went on to earn a doctor of dental medicine and a certificate in dental public health from the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH) at A.T. Still University (Mesa, AZ) and is currently serving her pediatric dental residency at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT.
While at Pitt-Greensburg, Ray was mentored by Olivia Long, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry. As an undergraduate, Ray’s research project and presentation, “The Investigation of Oral Hygiene, Dietary Habits, and Microbial Diversity Among Undergraduate Students,” was awarded first place among undergraduate students at the Allegheny Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, she worked with a local pediatric dentist to research “The Use of Fluoride Among At-Risk Pediatric Populations.” Ray was named an NCAA Woman of the Year (2015) in recognition of her outstanding community service and grades within the NCAA Division III and earned Pitt-Greensburg’s “Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year” recognition.
Ray’s leadership abilities were evident at Pitt-Greensburg where she co-founded the campus’ Pre-Health Committee, developed unique guidebooks for entrance into various health programs, and organized study groups for various admissions tests (MCAT, DAT, and GRE). She also served as a Commuter Mentor, helping non-resident freshmen students acclimate to their first year of college, as well as serving as president and vice president of the campus chapter of Beta, Beta, Beta, the national biological science honor society. She was a regular volunteer at The End Hunger Café, posting more than 400 volunteer hours, serving food, creating a bimonthly clothing closet, and organizing a back-to-school fundraiser for three under-served families.
Ray’s hard work and dedication continued to be recognized at A.T. Still University where she received the Tami Hunger Award (2019) for most community service at ASDOH in four years; the ADA Samuel D. Harris Fund for Children’s Dental Health Grant (2016-2017); and was a nominee and scholarship recipient from the Dental Trade Alliance (2017).
At ASDOH, she was a general student member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and served as the community service committee coordinator for the local chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry. Her commitment to community service led her to found and serve as president of the ASDOH chapter of Students United with America’s Toothfairy (SUAT). Under her leadership, the organization held an Oral Cancer Walk, mobilized resources to provide dental education and supplies to parents and children through a teen outreach pregnancy center, organized a Day in the life a Dentist Educational event, and provided oral health instruction and dental supplies to children with hearing impairments during the Read to Me at UMOM and E.A.R. Day.
Ray served as the Pre-Dental Team Lead for the ASDOH Give Kids a Smile Committee, and made two mission trips to Guerrero, Mexico, with the Latin World Ministries. Her other outreach/community service activities include participating in a Dia De Los Muertos Dental Education Table, Team Smile & Arizona Cardinals, Little Fighting Hearts 5K Run/Walk for Children with Congenital Heart Defects, Tim Tebow Foundation: Night To Shine Prom, Step-Up Schools Dental Education Day, AZ Mission of Mercy (AZ MOM), A Day for Special Smiles, Special Olympics, Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) , Child Crisis Community Outreach, and Art of a Healthy Smile.
Carrie Ann Bush '14
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will presented its Young Alumni Leadership Award to Carrie Ann Bush ’14 at the Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 20, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2018.
A resident of Greensburg, Bush is employed by W.N. Tuscano Agency where she is a personal lines underwriter and licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in property and casualty, accident and health, and surplus lines. She recently earned her associate of sales from the United States Liability Insurance (USLI) University. Prior to becoming a personal lines underwriter, Bush served as a personal lines assistant for three years. Her other professional development has focused on autism, ADHD, women in leadership, and leadership. Prior to entering the field of insurance, Bush worked as a young toddler assistant teacher with Today’s Learning Childcare (Greensburg, PA).
Bush graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a BS in psychology and a minor in history. She also completed Pitt-Greensburg’s certificate in children’s literature. While a student, Bush was active as a Peer Leader, Commuter Mentor, research assistant, Judicial Board member, and as secretary of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society. She also was a student worker, an Early College Experience tutor, and a Quest career camp counselor. She collaborated on and co-published “Experiences with God and Religious Coping,” a piece she co-presented at the Laurel Highlands Undergraduate Psychology Conference (Greensburg, PA) and at the Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention (San Francisco, CA).
Bush’s commitment to community service is evident through her participation, as a student, in Big Brothers Big Sisters Lunch Buddies and After-School Tutoring program. That commitment continues as an alumna through her service as a member of the PGAA board of directors, serving on the Events committee, and actively participating in PGAA-sponsored activities like Homecoming, the annual Pitt Send Off (for incoming students), Pitt-Greensburg at PNC park, and the annual Holiday Wine Tasting. Plus, she serves as a judge for the PGAA resume contest that helps students to prepare for their careers after graduation. Bush also serves on her employer’s Charity Committee.
Chad Eric Smith '08
Chad Eric Smith ’08 received 2017 the PGAA Young Alumni Leadership Award. Smith returned to Washington, DC, after graduating from and working for Pitt-Greensburg for three years.
Smith graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a BS in psychology in 2008. He is a musician, writer, film director, activist, and an award-winning actor.
As a student, he served as a Resident Assistant and was named Resident Assistant of the Year (2007). He also served as a Pitt Pal tour guide and Presidential Ambassador, as well as performing in campus theater productions and as a member of Soothing Sensations, a student jazz trio.
His work educating others about how to end sexual violence began at Pitt-Greensburg. Partnering with the Blackburn Center, Westmoreland County’s only anti-violence agency, he founded the Men Against Sexual Violence club on campus. Smith currently works as a consultant for the national non-profit, Men Can Stop Rape.
Upon graduation, he worked as a Pitt-Greensburg Admissions Counselor and continued to pursue his interest in the arts, playing a variety of characters in community theaters in and around Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Chapter of the African American Council on the Arts awarded him two Onyx awards (2010).
In 2011, Smith served as a college advisor at high schools within the District of Columbia Public and Public Charter school system. Upon returning to his hometown of Washington, DC, Smith has continued to act in independent films, web dramas, and television.
His current work includes starring in Counselor (2015), a YouTube web drama, for which he received a 2016 IndieCapitol Award nomination, and making his national television debut in the TV One season finale of For My Man. Smith co-wrote and starred in his film directorial debut Dark Therapy (2014), for which he received the TIVA-DC Gold Peer Award. In 2015, he co-produced and composed the original score for the silent short film #SeeTheBoy, and recently premiered his short psychological drama Rumination at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza. He continues to act in leading, supporting, and featured roles.
Katelyn E. Sadler '11
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its first Young Alumni Leadership Award to Katelyn E. Sadler ’11 at its Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 1, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2016.
Sadler, a graduate of Hempfield Township High School who now lives in Pittsburgh, graduated summa cum laude and Senior of the Year from Pitt-Greensburg where she earned a BS in biological science and a minor in chemistry. At Pitt-Greensburg, Sadler served as both a Resident Assistant and Peer Leader in addition to being actively involved in other campus organizations. In the classroom, she developed a love for science that led her to completing an undergraduate research project. Under the supervision of Kristina Pazehoski, PhD, then a member the Pitt-Greensburg faculty, Sadler studied biochemical properties of proteins involved in circadian rhythms. During this time, she also found a passion for undergraduate teaching by serving as a teaching assistant for molecular genetics lab and a tutor for the Learning Resource Center. Her interests in scientific research and teaching led her to pursue a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Duquesne University.
“Kate graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a long list of accomplishments, so we knew she was destined for success,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of Pitt-Greensburg. “We are extremely proud of everything that she has accomplished during the past five years and are thrilled that she began her lifelong journey of discovery through research here at our campus. We know that she is only at the beginning of the contributions she will be making as a member of the science community. Kate is the first recipient of the PGAA Young Alumni Leadership Award, and we couldn’t be more proud for her to represent the young alumni in this capacity.”
Currently in her sixth year of graduate school at Duquesne University, she is engaged in research, teaching, and service. Working with Benedict Kolber, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences, Sadler is investigating the role of the brain in bladder pain processing. Her work, which has been published in six peer-reviewed journal articles, has also been presented at local, national, and international meetings. Most recently, she won best presentation at the American Pain Society meeting for basic science and clinical research. This is in addition to numerous other travel and poster presentation awards. Most notably, Sadler was the first graduate student at Duquesne to receive the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. The award has provided $40,000 annually to fund her research for the past three years. She also received the Bayer School for Natural and Environmental Sciences Award for Graduate Research Excellence and The American Pain Society Young Investigator Travel Award.
Sadler served as a graduate teaching assistant for five semesters, earning the Basic and Advanced Certificates of University Teaching offered through Duquesne’s Center for Teaching Excellence. A mentor to eight undergraduate students working in the Kolber Lab, she is also active in department and university organizations. This includes serving as the president and faculty meeting representative for the Graduate Student Organization of the Biological Sciences. She also volunteers as a judge for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences and Habitat for Humanity Kid’s Triathlon.
Sadler is defending her doctoral dissertation this fall. After which, she will start a post-doctoral fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin studying sickle cell pain in the laboratory of Cheryl Stucky, PhD, professor of cell biology, neurobiology, and anatomy and director of the neuroscience doctoral program.