Education session at PSNK and NWC&T Center

Education in Our Region

Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) was the first of our two LAKV host locations for our March 10th session on education. Here we had a morning filled with diverse information, and how education is being impacted in our region.


Dr. Kevin Snider, Chancellor of PSNK, started our morning with an enthusiastic discussion about ‘cultivating a learning culture’ that seeks to not only recruit but retain students in an educational landscape, and also actively engages the community in the hopes of creating a statement of investiture of culture and atmosphere, as well as producing opportunities for an entrepreneurial spirit – bridging the surrounding communities with Penn State.



Pat Hollinger, our host for the morning’s session at Penn State then provided us insight to how the Continuing Education office on campus is working to continue Dr. Snider’s mission of community engagement by offering diverse opportunities ranging from youth programs to customized workforce development training.



We also had the opportunity to learn about the G.R.E.A.T. program that Penn State New Kensington started for its incoming students. An experiential learning program, GREAT was designed to “link education to the jobs of the future”. You can find out more about this wonderful program here: . Jim Shields and Colleen Smith went on to also highlight some of the other learning opportunities for elementary and high school students such as the soon-to-be-launched homework hotline and the STEM program.

Our morning concluded with an informative discussion by Matt Edgell, Region Advocacy Coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), providing the class with an overview on the role that PSEA plays, some of the challenges is faces, and the many things the organization does that are little known such as its Partners for Public Education program which allows and invites an associate membership in PSEA.

We were provided a delicious lunch by the food service staff before we made the move to the Northern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.

Our afternoon began with a tour of the career and technology center. We learned about the terrific opportunities afforded to students in our area.   In addition, we learned that the Culinary Arts department provides lunch to the public every Friday and the Cosmetology department offers its services to the public on Mondays. Could an LAKV Class XXIV gathering be in the not so distant future?

The last speaker of the day, Detective Tom Klawinski, spoke to us about student safety. Tom is a detective with the Westmoreland County Detectives Unit and is the former New Kensington Chief of Police. He explained the role and importance of School Resource Officers in our community. We had an open discussion ranging from arming teachers to the use of Narcan by officers to cyber bullying.

It was a very informative and enjoyable day.

Post by Kelly Kirsch & Michelle Farrell




Law & Justice in Armstrong County

Our LAKV Law and Justice Session on Thursday February 11th was held at the historical Armstrong County Courthouse built in 1858-1860. Armstrong County was formed out of parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Lycoming Counties in March 1800.

The Honorable James Panchik kicked off the session with the history of 10 judges that were elected over 142 year time span. The current judges include himself, The Honorable Kenneth G. Valasek, President Judge and the Honorable Joseph A. Nickleach, Sr. Judge.


Next, Lieutenant Thomas E. Dubovi, Crime Section Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police, discussed the role of the State Police in our community. He also talked about the ever revolving challenges and those tools to meet them.

Chief Probation Officer Regina Himes talked about the differences between probation and parole. Also, how their role in the justice system swings from law enforcement to social work with the goal of reducing recidivism. 50-60% of the County’s budget goes to prison costs.

After lunch, Marcy Uncapher from the Armstrong County Commissioner’s Office gave us a tour of the old Armstrong County Jail which was constructed between 1870-1873. Today, the jail is used as the records center and houses the County’s records and Information Technology Offices.


Finally, our day ended with a tour of the current Armstrong County Prison built in 2003. The seasoned guard that gave us the tour of the facility provided great detail on what he deals with on a daily basis including many of the dangers he must face.

Overall, the day was a great overview of the different cogs and extraordinary efforts needed to keep our communities safe places to live.

~ Colleen Felentzer


LAKV Government Session Sparks Great Discussions

Our session on government, held in the Harmar Township Municipal Building, began with KDKA’s John Delano informing Class XXIV that 75% of PA voters do not vote. He explained to us how stories make it onto the news and encouraged us to send our story ideas to him. John even shared his prediction for how PA will vote in the 2016 election!

KDKA's Jon Delano
KDKA’s Jon Delano

Jim Roddey, Allegheny County Republican Party Chairman and Jim Burn, former Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party spoke with us about the art of politics versus the business of government. They also shared their thoughts on the upcoming presidential primary elections and what is currently happening in Harrisburg.

Jim Roddey and Jim Burn
Jim Roddey and Jim Burn

Next we were treated to a panel discussion which included Representative Jeff Pyle plus senior staffers from the offices of Senator Don White, Representatives Frank Dermody and Representative Eli Evankovich. They shed light on what is happening with the state budget and entertained questions from our class on health care, education and budget issues.

Legislative Panel
Legislative Panel

In the afternoon, Allegheny Township Supervisor, Kathy Starr shared with us what working in local government is like. She outlined some of the challenges faced by municipalities and how her township has approached its difficulties and some of the creative ideas used by the township to positively impact the community.

Kathy Starr, Allegheny Twp. Supervisor
Kathy Starr, Allegheny Twp. Supervisor

Chad McCutcheon of McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc.  closed out our session by walking us through ways to become a more engaged citizen, including encouraging us to consider running for local office.

Chad McCutcheon
Chad McCutcheon, McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc.

Could an LAKV Class XXIV member be on the ballot soon? Keep checking the LAKV website to find out.

Michelle Farrell, Mary Queen of Apostles School

Our January Government session was a great one. With all of the different speakers, it was definitely an eye opener. Especially if you are like me and know next to nothing about politics. One thing, among many, that I took away from this meeting is that it is not about being a Republican or a Democrat, but how to find a middle ground and work together to get what needs to be done, done. It was very interesting to see how the representatives of the two parties interacted. Quite funny at times, very friendly and respectful of the other. The passion that was brought out was captivating.

Burn and Roddey
Jim Burn & Jim Roddey

Another take-away from this session was that my vote really does count. The fact that the age group of 18 to 60 year olds that vote does not out number the age group of 60 to death that vote is really troubling. We need to show that we too care about the issues that are facing our country today, and become more active. We need to better educate and inform ourselves so as to not be ignorant to what is going on in the world of politics and government.

Legislative Panel
Legislative Panel

The January session was very informative and we loved every minute of it! We are excited to see what is in store for us next month for our February Law and Justice session. And a special thank you to all of our guest speakers that came.

Andrea Ramirez, Apollo Trust Company



Healthcare Session Hosted by Allegheny Valley Hospital December 2015


            LAKV Class XXIV’s December 2015 session was hosted by Allegheny Valley Hospital (AVH) and centered around the topic of Healthcare.  AVH’s recently appointed CEO, Bill Englert kicked off the day with a session on “Health Care Today.” Mr. Englert’s presentation focused on the ever-changing dynamics of health care, and how they affect the hospital environment and the role of insurance providers.

AVH President & CEO Bill Englert addresses the class.
AVH President & CEO Bill Englert addresses the class.

               Mr. Englert was followed by health care Attorney Laurel Hartshorn who spoke on the “Issues Facing the Elderly” which touched on most aspects of caring for the elderly, including, but not limited to, the many important documents that all seniors should have in good order to prepare for the next stages of life.   Our morning session concluded with a presentation from Janice Wirth, Vice President of Operations at Allegheny Valley Hospital, and LAKV Class XXIII alumnus. Ms. Wirth’s presentation focused on how a hospital is structured and highlighted many of the changes that have affected Allegheny Valley Hospital and its organizational structure over the past 5 years.

Hospital Operations Presentation
Janice Wirth, VP of Operations at AVH addresses the class.

                  A scrumptious lunch was provided compliments of Allegheny Valley Hospital. The afternoon kicked off with a presentation from Manda Sanders, Director of Health Policy, at Highmark.  Manda spoke in detail on the many layers of the Affordable Care Act, and how those layers continue to change in the current political climate. Manda concluded by highlighting the importance of next year’s presidential election to health care laws.

             The day concluded with a presentation on “Long Term Care” conducted by David Ferraro, COO of Quality Life Services and Suzi Fertig, Clinical Liaison, for Quality Life Services.   David and Suzi focused on the many facets of the long term care environment including admission processes, services provided at skilled nursing facilities, and the role of the clinical liaison in the hospital as a bridge for the patient between settings.  Overall, the day was filled with a multitude of interesting topics that the class thoroughly enjoyed.

The class is looking forward to next month’s session at the Harmar Township Municipal Building on the topic of Government. This session promises to be filled with engaging presenters and public officials! Stay tuned for that update!

Jeremy Huth & Michele Moses

Marketing and Fundraising Session-Hosted by IUP Northpointe


Diane Chabal, LAKV Program Manager, leads a presentation on personal branding during the November 2015 Session.
Diane Chabal, LAKV Program Manager, leads a presentation on personal branding during the November 2015 Session.

LAKV Class XXIV continued its educational journey on Thursday, November 12, 2015, with a Marketing and Fundraising Session.  This session, which was held at the beautiful IUP Northpointe campus in Freeport, PA, covered a myriad of topics.  Kicking off the day was a very informative lecture on non-profit fundraising by John Pastorek, President and CEO of the Allegheny Kiski Health Foundation.   Mr. Pastorek brought over 30 years of fundraising experience to the table and the informative information he provided included insight into basic fundraising components, giving trends and more.   The next topic on Social Networking and On-line Marketing was presented by Chad McCutcheon from McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc.  This talk addressed many different aspects of social media and on-line marketing that are very prevalent in today’s business world and also included some broader discussion on the topic of communication as a whole.  Jim Busch, Sales Trainer for Trib Total Media, utilized a mix of humor and a large depth of knowledge and experience in sales and marketing to speak to the class.   Our next topic of Personal Branding for Career Growth was handled by our fearless leader, Diane Chabal, and focused on teaching the class to look at themselves a little closer and develop our “brand” and branding statement that we could use in a variety of situations including a job search, seeking a promotion at our current job, etc.  The day was rounded out by Rich Muth, director of IUP Northpointe and Monroeville addressing the class.  Mr. Muth was able to share a wealth of knowledge about the IUP campuses as well as provide an in-depth overview of all of the services and classes offered by the school.   LAKV Class XXIV will gather for our next session on December 10th at Allegheny Valley Hospital where the topic of Health Care will be addressed.

Jeremy & Colleen

(Jeremy Huth & Colleen Felentzer)

Class XXIV Nov 2015
Class XXIV is ready for the Marketing & Fundraising Session to begin.

Human Services Session – hosted by LIFE Armstrong

LAKV Class XXIV – Human Services Session – October 2015


Another informative meeting with LAKV was held on October 8, 2015. The session was hosted by LIFE Armstrong in Kittanning (next to ACMH Hospital). Speakers presented information on their Human Service organizations throughout the day. They included LIFE Armstrong, Armstrong County Area Agency on Aging, Armstrong County Memorial Hospital Foundation, ARC Manor, HAVIN, and Habitat for Humanity. The day ended with a wonderful tour of the Habitat for Humanity house project in process in Kittanning. Networking with other professionals is not only educational and informative; it’s also a rewarding experience. The Human Services session made all of us see how important Human Services are in our community and opened our eyes to some of the issues facing our communities today.

Jessica & AletaIMG_8010


An Ice-breaking Journey


Leadership retreat
LAKV Class XXIV on their retreat 9/10-9/11.

Twelve people from all aspects of the workforce – from education to healthcare – embarked on a two day journey. Nestled in the hills of Ligonier, PA, with a breathtaking view, we find ourselves gathered on a large open air porch in oversized rocking chairs facing one another and wondering: what’s next? Who are we? At the end of two hours, we have a comfortable knowledge of where we are coming from and some primary tools to take us where we want to go.

Leadership retreat
Colleen Felentzer zip lining in Ligonier

During the time spent together that first day, it was particularly interesting to realize how we all relate to one another. It’s safe to say that some basic knowledge of each profession exists, but the aspects of each that we all inhabit are so varied that it was easy to see how much we would really learn throughout the upcoming eight months. At the same time, similar issues exist: how do we present ourselves professionally? How do we properly wade through the waters of familiarity, of interpersonal relationships? How do we manage and delegate others?

Leadership team building
Class XXIV working together to “sink the ball”

Through conversation and adventure- and I do mean legitimate adventure – we grow even a little bit further. This particular retreat helped us realize a little bit about our roles, in professional and personal settings, and when it’s appropriate to take a step: a step outside of our comfort zone, a step back to observe, a step sideways to encourage and support, a step forward to face the next challenge, adventure, obstacle.


Here’s to the next eight months: to learning, to gaining knowledge, to the understanding of obstacles, to discovering personal and professional successes, to networking and to sharing lots of laughs.

Signing off,

Stephanie & Callie


Zip line retreat
Michelle & Stephanie after the zip line


Leadership retreat
Jeremy, Roger, Kelly and Colleen









And so it begins…

Welcome to the LAKV Blog! Here you will find monthly updates from our current leadership class, XXIV. Blogs will be written by class members to showcase the highlights of each monthly class Session. Prepare yourselves for updates from a class retreat at Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.

We intend for the blog to be your source for all LAKV news including class session updates, agendas, fundraising event information, and tons of other exciting LAKV News. Stick around and pay attention-you never know when the first blog from Class XXIV will drop!

Our goal with the new website is to make the LAKV experience an engaging one for the Board, for class members, for alumni, for the chambers, and for our communities. After all, at LAKV, we’re creating tomorrow’s leaders, today!

We hope you’ll join us here soon for the first blog from Class XXIV. All we can say is….it’s coming!

Kind wishes,

-The LAKV Board of Directors