2010 Westmoreland County Winners’ Circle Awardees Announced
Three individuals and one company will be honored at the 15th Annual Winners’ Circle Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, May 19, for their commitment in advocating for women, women owned businesses and the community at large. Presented by Seton Hill University’s E-Magnify women’s business center, this awards program and event seeks to recognize community leaders who inspire others. These awards include the prestigious ATHENA Award®, the Seton Hill University Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the Award for Community Service and the YWCA Rising Star Award.
This year, Carol Fox, M.D., is the recipient of the ATHENA Award®. Fox serves as the Interim Chief Medical Officer for Excela Health. Concurrently, she is a family physician at Mountain View Family Medicine, where she has practiced for 20 years. Countless patients have benefited from her kind, professional bedside manner, philosophies of prevention and healthy lifestyles, and dedication to managing diseases and conditions.
A mentor at heart and an advocate for continuing medical education, Fox was appointed Acting Program Director of Latrobe Hospital’s Family Medicine Residency Program (of which she was also a graduate) in May 2003. By June 2007, she ascended to Program Director, a position she held until May 2009 when she was appointed Interim Chief Medical Officer of Excela Health. Through an informal mentoring approach, she works with female family medicine residents in understanding and getting the most out of residency training, blending family and career, considering different medical specialties and looking to other women in medical leadership positions as role models. Whenever possible, she promotes connections between female medical students and physician role models and offers students time with female physicians in different medical specialties and clinical settings.
She has served as the Captain of Excela Health’s Medical Staff Team for the American Heart Association raising funds to support medical research. She also serves on the Advisory Board for Westmoreland County Mental Health/Mental Retardation. Fox’s love of education extends to her spiritual life as she has been a Sunday school teacher and member of the Board of Religious Education, First Reformed United Church of Christ for more than 10 years. Fox also has been a featured speaker for the United Way of Westmoreland’s Women’s Leadership Council, empowering women to take charge of their health.
Bridgeway Capital is this year’s recipient of the Seton Hill University Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. For 20 years, Bridgeway Capital has provided the necessary capital and education opportunities to ignite business and job growth, build entrepreneurial capacity and sustain vital services that strengthen the communities across western Pennsylvania. Since inception they have placed 574 loans, injecting $63 million in capital directly into the region and leveraging more than $236 million.
In Westmoreland County, Bridgeway Capital works closely with Seton Hill University’s E-Magnify women’s business center program to support the start up and growth of women owned businesses. E-Magnify offers the CORE FOUR Business Planning Course, a six-week intensive business planning course, to help business owners develop ideas for starting a new business or growing a current business. To support this effort, Bridgeway Capital provides scholarships to ensure that business owners can take advantage of this important business instruction. Since 2008, Bridgeway has provided 10 scholarships to women-owned businesses. Additionally, Bridgeway has created an impressive presence in Westmoreland County through their participation in various women entrepreneurial and business owner events.
Bridgeway Capital is certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Treasury Department and is a member of the Opportunity Finance Network. In addition to Westmoreland County, Bridgeway Capital serves 14 other counties. With a blend of entrepreneurial vision, regional knowledge and operational expertise to strengthen and help reinvent the employment base of local communities, Bridgeway Capital focuses on making western Pennsylvania a thriving region for all.
The Award for Community Service will be given to Meagan Bilik DeFazio. A native of Hempfield Township, she graduated from Hempfield Area High School and St. Vincent College magna cum laude. Bilik DeFazio earned her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law where she graduated at the top of her class and was awarded the Louis L. Manderino Honor Society Award for excellence in trial advocacy. Currently, she is in private practice with the law firm of Loughran, Mlakar & Bilik.
In 2002, Bilik DeFazio began volunteering with Westmoreland Walks, Inc., a grassroots organization located in Westmoreland County that has raised more than $200,000 for breast cancer treatment, research and education in Pennsylvania. She donated extensive legal services to incorporate and establish non-profit status for the organization. Both the organization’s annual fundraising walk and its Spa Serenity Day are important to her. Devoted to charitable work, Bilik DeFazio has remained a member of the board of directors for Westmoreland Walks, Inc. and is a past president.
Bilik DeFazio also sits on a fundraising committee for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Annual Polo for the Cure event. In addition, organizations such as the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade have received thousands of dollars in contributions due to her efforts. Actively involved in her community, she is a member of the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, North Huntingdon Township Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Norwin Lions Club, Emilia Sammartino Lodge #2831, Order Sons of Italy in America, the Westmoreland County Commission for Women and Families (WCCWF) and the League of Women Voters. She also enjoys mentoring high school and college students and volunteering as a guest speaker in elementary schools. Bilik DeFazio counsels senior groups and community organizations on several topics including identity theft and the fundamentals of estate planning.
The YWCA Rising Star Award will be presented this year to Marisa Yaniszeski. A 2001 graduate of Norwin Senior High School, she spent her teenage years traveling to state, national and world martial art tournaments. Upon graduation from high school, she continued her studies at Westmoreland County Community College and then at the University of Pittsburgh. She has won numerous medals and trophies in divisions such as forms, board breaking, weapons and sparring. In 2006, she was crowned Women’s Sparring Team Grand Champion in Acapulco, Mexico. In 2004, Yaniszeski started teaching Tang Soo Do to children, teens and adults. She relocated to Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2005 to teach at PKSA Karate California. While there, she served as the manager and instructor for the main school and as the manager and head instructor for the California-South location. She moved back to Pennsylvania in 2007 and taught at CS Kim in White Oak for two years. Two years later, Yaniszeski teamed up with the Greensburg YWCA and began teaching the Kids Power Karate Program to local school students. With a remarkable number of students, she decided to open her own martial arts business in 2010. Although she believes self defense is important, her number one priority is helping students better themselves. Each class teaches ideals such as honor, discipline, respect and self-confidence in addition to the basics such as the importance of being a good person and doing what is right.
Recipients will be recognized at the Winners’ Circle Awards luncheon to be held on Wednesday, May 19, at Four Points by Sheraton in Greensburg. Networking and registration will start at 11:30 a.m. with lunch at 12 noon.