Here’s 12 of the most interesting people we found in the East this year. Happy New Year!
Thomas Tritinger encourages everyone, particularly seniors, to create a simple tool that may save lives. In a Resume published Jan. 9, South Park pharmacist Mr. Tritinger explained the need for what he calls a “Vial of Life to be used during medical emergencies.” The Vial of Life is a nonprofit project that helps provide a plastic vial to hold medical information that can be used if the owner is unable to provide it to medical personnel. A pharmacist with Kevin’s Pharmacy in Castle Shannon, Mr. Tritinger, 58, is on a community education mission. He said Kevin’s pharmacy pays for the vials, and users add their vital information and store it in a place that is easily accessible, such as a refrigerator, a tactic recommended by EMTs.
Instead of packing textbooks to start his freshman year of college, Jonathan Palmer, 18, gathered his rock-climbing gear and headed to the Andes Mountains in Patagonia, on the southwestern tip of South America. In a Feb. 27 Resume, he recounted his time as a student there in the National Outdoor Leadership School. The school was founded in 1965 by a mountaineer and teaches technical outdoor survival skills, ethics and leadership development in natural classrooms at 15 locations throughout the world. Mr. Palmer prepared for the project by hiking and running in his Murrysville hometown. He said he learned survival skills, such as rock climbing, bushwhacking dense brush, and, when he was surprised by a snowstorm, setting up igloo-like snow walls around his tent . Mr. Palmer now attends the University of Virginia.
Nicole “Nikki” Manns was sitting at a red light, on a mobile phone call with a friend, as she tried to refresh her lip gloss. “I couldn't reach the bottom of the tube and I had only bought it two weeks before,’’ she recounted in a March 13 Resume. Her phone friend Bre Abbensetts told her they should ‘’invent something,’’ and the women did just that. Nikki’s Magic Wand is a small plastic wand in a tube sold for $9.95 in a number of small shops, on QVC’s website, through their own website and on Amazon. Ms. Manns, 43, of Penn Hills, calls it the “business decided during a red light.” In celebration of their first year, Ms. Manns introduced Nikki’s Magic Wand’s 12 Months of Giving Campaign. Ms. Manns, who is also manager for Affirmative Action Compliance for BNY Mellon, identified 12 nonprofits and each month leads a service project for that organization. The organizations are Project Linus, Rescue Mission, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Autism Awareness Month, veteran’s services, domestic violence services, March of Dimes, Sanctuary Project, Animal Rescue League, Bethlehem Haven, Cupcakes for Smiles and Every Child.
Susan Bortz has spent more than three decades helping young Jewish men and women prepare to step into adulthood, and she was honored on her retirement by her congregation this spring. In an April 10 Resume, Ms. Bortz, 68, of Monroeville, said she has tutored nearly 300 bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah candidates at Temple David in Monroeville, helping students to learn prayers and how to read from the Torah and the Bible in Hebrew. She began learning Hebrew at age 10 at the former Agudath Achim Synagogue in Braddock and later became a member of the youth group at Temple David and, while attending Duquesne University, she was active in Hillel, a Jewish campus organization. After her marriage and while raising children, she became involved in religious education, first with Judaica classes in the late 1970s, then with Hebrew classes for eighth- and ninth-graders at Temple David. After years of tutoring, Mrs. Bortz said she has a better understanding of the meanings of the portions of the Torah that she has helped her students understand. She also taught a Hebrew class to adults at the temple and has served as president of the temple sisterhood and of the temple board of trustees. Mrs. Bortz is one of a small group of lay leaders who conduct worship services in the absence of the rabbi.
Chelsea Getsy, a 20-year-old junior at California University of Pennsylvania, was selected in May to serve on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors. The Plum High School graduate also is president of the Student Government Association at California University, has an internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers, works at the student activities department on campus and is a member of the Student Association Inc. board of directors and worked this summer at Disney World. She apparently finds some time to study: Ms. Getsy has a 3.9 grade point average. In a May 8 Resume, she said she “really loves” her multiple roles. She said her new role on the board is to represent students’ perspective: "We live, eat and breathe on the campuses and know what small things may need to be changed.’’ Ms. Getsy was approved by the governor and state Senate for the post.
When Ryan W. Stana delivered the commencement speech to the Hempfield Area High School Class of 2014 in June, he felt right at home. The founder and CEO of RWS & Associates, a production company based in New York City, Mr. Stana is a 1998 graduate of Hempfield. The Greensburg native’s name was be added to the high school’s Wall of Fame that same day. He told the students “to have the confidence and belief” that they can follow “their grandest dreams.” Mr. Stana, 34, should know. With RWS & Associates, he produces television events and shows internationally. He has been named one of the top 50 entrepreneurs in New York City, and in 2009, he won an Emmy Award. He also told students to honor their roots. “I owe all of my success to my family. All I could dream or imagine, they made come true," he said of his mother Stacy Stana, who owns a smokehouse in Greensburg, and his father, Edward, a business consultant. His parents, he said in a Resume published June 5, the same day as graduation, drove him six days a week from Greensburg to Pittsburgh for classes with the Civic Light Opera while he was in high school.
Almost every woman who has been a bridesmaid has heard: "You can wear this dress again." But Rebecca Whitlinger of Wilkinsburg actually did. Ms. Whitlinger has traveled extensively, raising money for the UPMC Cancer Caring Center in Washington by wearing the very bridesmaid's dress she wore in a friend’s wedding back in 1988. In a Resume published July 31, she said, “I decided I was going to do something fun with the dress’’ and started wearing it to all sorts of places. The attention she received landed her on “The Today Show,” “Oprah” and “Inside Edition.” She also got a book deal. “Always a Bridesmaid: 89 ways to recycle the dress” was published in 1999. Part of the proceeds went to the Cancer Caring Center, where Ms. Whitlinger has worked since 1994 and is now executive director. “We decided to create a fundraiser around the dress because it was so much fun,” she said. That fundraiser, “Bridesmaids Revisited, Ushers Unlimited,” was held from 1998 to 2001. In September, Ms. Whitlinger and her staff sponsored a “Bridesmaid Walk” fundraiser at the Waterfront. Her bridesmaid dress, by the way, cost $180 when she bought it 26 years ago. “I've definitely gotten my money’s worth,” Ms. Whitlinger said. She remains good friends with the bride.
Alex Graziani believes he was born to be involved in local government and is eager to meet the needs of Penn Township as its new secretary/manager. In a Resume published Aug. 28, he said, “It’s in my DNA, wanting to be involved in local government.” Before coming to Penn Township, Mr. Graziani, 43, was city manager of Latrobe, where he said he reached out to constituents, something he planned to continue in his new job. He said while he learned responsibility through his first job delivering newspapers, his career path was most significantly formed through an internship he had with the Lawrence County Planning Department. Also on his personal resume: work as planning director for Clearfield County and with Benatec Associates, an engineering firm instrumental in preparing plans for the Mon/Fayette Expressway. He also worked as executive director of the nonprofit Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County and oversaw the formation of the program that led to Westmoreland County's first comprehensive plan. When not working, he is a bike enthusiast and recently earlier this year completed a 110-mile bike ride from Greensburg to Tionesta. He works out at the Greensburg YMCA, where he has logged more than 3,000 miles of swimming, biking and running since 2013.
Jamie Moore has always been all about food. As a child, he cooked for family; after high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became a cook. After graduating from Penn State University, where he majored in hotel and restaurant management, he married a farmer’s daughter. So it made perfect sense that Mr. Moore, 44, who grew up in Hempfield but now lives in Mt. Lebanon, is director of sourcing and sustainability for Eat’n Park Hospitality Group. When interviewed for a Resume published Sept. 25, Mr. Moore had been featured in an Eat’n Park commercial for coffee that was filmed during a visit to Costa Rica.
When Edward M. Kuhn Jr. was a boy in Mount Pleasant Borough, Westmoreland County, he enjoyed going to his grandmother’s house to hear her play the piano. She encouraged him to join in. By age 7, he was taking lessons. In a Resume published Oct. 9, Mr. Kuhn recalled that “as a kid I said that I’m never going to stop taking lessons.’’ He didn’t and all those lessons — and two university degrees — paid off: Mr. Kuhn, 58, of Greensburg, was named the 2014 Music Teacher of the Year by the state’s Music teachers Association. He was lauded for his work as associate professor of music at Seton Hill University. His office, home to two Steinway pianos, is in the new Seton Hill Performing Arts Center in downtown Greensburg.
Terrance “Terry” Doloughty loves his neighborhood of Polish Hill and he loves promoting local communities, a dedication that ties in nicely with his new role as marketing manager of Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District. The nonprofit market serves as a central location for smaller vendors to sell their wares to the public without purchasing storefront property. In a Resume published Nov. 6, we learned that Mr. Doloughty, 48, has a long history of volunteering in the community, beginning in 1979. “I don’t look at it as a hobby but as an unpaid career,” he said. For his “paid” career, Mr. Doloughty worked as operations manager of a commercial plumbing company while continuing his nonprofit work. In 2012, Mr. Doloughty decided to follow his heart and became the community development specialist at the Community Technical Assistance Center, an organization based Downtown that provides guidance for Pittsburgh’s community organizations. When the position of manager opened up at Pittsburgh Public Market, he applied and won the job.
April Friges always wanted to be an artist, but when it came time to choose a college major, she thought that she “had to find a real career,” so she started to study accounting. It didn’t take long for her to return to her desire “to be a starving artist,’’ the Bloomfield woman recalled in a Dec. 11 Resume.
She went on to get a master’s at the University of California at Irvine. She taught at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, a private fashion school, and worked with an established photographer on the West Coast. The experience “helped me understand that I wanted to teach and that I wanted to work in art,” she said. It also “influenced my style and got me thinking about photography and its meaning,” she said. She moved to Pittsburgh in the fall of 2013 when she accepted a full-time professor position at Point Park University.
“This is the perfect opportunity … I can teach and inspire my students but also work on my own art,” she said.
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