Alumni Leadership Awards Presented by Seton Hill University June 6, 2015
On June 6, 2015, Seton Hill presented the University’s Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award to 13 alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in one (or more) of the following areas: education, business and professions, science and technology, arts, voluntary services, military service and philanthropy. The alumni honored include: Marietta Rossi Spotts (SHU ’55) of Simi Valley, Calif.; Sister Lois Sculco, S.C., (SHU ’60) of Greensburg, Pa.; Ann Carroll Miller (SHU ’65) of Helena, Mont.; Inez Avalos Heath (SHU ’70) of New York, N.Y.; Patricia Mooney Loucks (SHU ’70) of South Korea; Debra Donley (SHU ’75) of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Charlene “Charlie” Burns (SHU ’80) of Durham, N.C.; Kathleen Smith-Delach (SHU ’80) of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Paulette Schutter Pipher (SHU ’80) of Greenwich, Ct.; Brenda Roger (SHU ’95) of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Dominic Aleandri (SHU ’05) of London, England, whose parents, Vince and Mary Aleandri of Luxor, Pa., accepted the award; James Yauger (SHU ’10) of Trafford, Pa.; Jennifer Makowski (SHU ’11) of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Seton Hill University established the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Awards in 1987 to recognize graduates who demonstrate outstanding achievement and leadership in education, business and professions, science and technology, arts, voluntary services and philanthropy. The Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award is one of the highest honors given by Seton Hill to a graduate. The Distinguished Alumni Leadership Young Alumni Achievement Award and the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Service Award are two additional awards the University presents to recognize outstanding Setonians.
Marietta Rossi Spotts (SHU ’55) spent her career helping others reach their educational goals. After graduating from Seton Hill with a biology major and French minor, Spotts taught science in the nursing program at St. John’s Hospital in Pittsburgh before starting her life as a homemaker and mother to five children. A different path came to her in 1974, when her husband, Jack, started his own business, and she returned to the workforce. Spotts found her calling at the Simi Valley Adult School where she developed a curriculum for its Vocational Health Programs and helped her adult students fulfill their potential. Her service included updating courses in science at the school, establishing basic computer education courses and developing a program for parents whose elementary school children were having difficulty in reading and math. Spotts continued her own education, earning her lifetime teaching certificate and a master’s degree in education from California Lutheran College in 1984. She has been honored by several organizations for excellence in teaching and has been active at St. Peter Claver Church, where she was a member of the first parish council and was the first female lector.
Sister Lois Sculco, S.C. (SHU ’60) carries forth the legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton through her deep commitment to the mission of Seton Hill University, her care and concern for students and her work to improve the lives of the underserved. After graduating from Seton Hill with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and English in 1960, Sculco entered the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2010. Sculco also holds a Ph.D. in human and organization development from Fielding Graduate Institute, an M.A. in human resource development from Azuza Pacific University, and an M.A. in English from Duquesne University. Sculco has been committed to leadership in mission integration at Seton Hill through her service as the University’s Vice President for Mission and Identity. The Mission Committee, which she chairs, serves as a model of effective practice for Catholic institutions looking to ensure a vibrant sense of their unique identities. Her work in Student Life at Seton Hill has served as a national model of appreciation and respect for students. She was one of 17 professionals selected to serve on the Wye River Writers' Group to develop the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities. The group's two-year process of conversation resulted in a document that provides a framework for reflection and conversation, planning, staff development, and assessment for student affairs professionals at Catholic colleges and universities. For her work on behalf of all students, Sr. Lois received a national award from the University of South Carolina. Early in her career, Sculco developed interest in teaching what was then called ‘minority literature,’ which led to a central part of her life’s work: Teaching about the Holocaust from a Catholic perspective and creating opportunities for faculty at other Catholic colleges and universities to do the same. She has been an integral force in building and sustaining The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill. She has helped to recruit hundreds of faculty from Catholic universities and seminaries to study at the Center’s summer program at Yad Vashem. She also contributed to the building of the program for The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference, a triennial Conference that enhances Catholic-Jewish understanding by “educating the educators.” Sculco’s commitment to the underserved has led Sister Lois to service on a number of community boards, including the Westmoreland County Community College, The Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Unity Coalition of Westmoreland County, the Greensburg Jeannette NAACP Executive Board, and the YWCA Task Force on Racial Justice. In recognition of her humanitarianism, Sister Lois received the John E. McGrady Award at the 35th Art Rooney Award Dinner sponsored by the Catholic Youth Association of Pittsburgh.
Ann Carroll Miller (SHU ’65) has dedicated herself to serving others in need. After Miller graduated Seton Hill, she earned her master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America and moved to Helena, Montana, where she worked for various public and private agencies while raising a family of nine children – five biological and four teenage girls she and her husband adopted. In 1981, the Millers created a private foundation, God’s Love, Inc., to help the poor. They began by giving away money, mostly to young parents and Vietnam Veterans traveling through the area. Three years after the foundation began, the couple opened God’s Love Shelter, which serves homeless men, women and families. Open around the clock, the shelter offers not only a place for the homeless to stay, but offers them meals, laundry and free clothing, medical services, counseling and referral services and a beautiful park and gazebo where they can relax. For this work, Miller was named the Soroptomist Woman of the Year in Helena, and she and her husband were honored as “Heroes of America” by Newsweek Magazine and received the Alexis de Tocqueville Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Inez Avalos Heath (SHU ’70) found her life’s calling when she decided to take the bilingual talents she grew up with to work by teaching others. After graduating from Seton Hill with a degree in music, and a minor in German literature, she moved to Boston with her husband who was studying for a law degree. There she began to work as a teacher’s aide and was accepted into the Master’s program in ESL/Bilingual Education at the University of Massachusetts. After earning her degree, she worked as a bilingual teacher in the Boston Public Schools for five years. After moving to Florida, Heath taught in an ESL content-integrated program as well as served as an ESL consultant with the state’s Department of Education. In 1987 she received her Ph.D. in Multilingual, Multicultural Education with a concentration in International Development Education. Three years later, Heath began her academic career as an assistant professor at the University of West Florida in Pensacola before joining the faculty at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia where she served for 17 years. Her scholarly works include several books and articles on multicultural education and teaching English language learners, as well as numerous presentations in national and international conferences. As a Fulbright Scholar in Peru (2000-01), she traveled throughout the country, and worked with the ministry of education on issues related to indigenous languages and cultures, helping to establish language policies on education of indigenous people of Peru. In 2006, she received a Senior Fulbright Award to work with foreign language teachers in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She retired from Valdosta State University, as Professor Emeritus in 2011, and moved back to her hometown, New York City to accept a position as interim faculty in the graduate program of Applied Linguistics and TESOL at Teachers College Columbia University.
Patricia Mooney Loucks (SHU ’70) has encouraged a love of reading and education in others.
After graduating from Seton Hill in 1970 with degrees in psychology, English and education, Loucks began a teaching career in various parts of the country. Along the way, she earned a master’s degree in special education from California State University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Denver. Her professional career centered in both public and school libraries. She also worked as a consultant in the Library Power program of the Dewitt Wallace Reader's Digest Fund. As a volunteer, Patricia served with Reading is Fundamental, Junior Great Books and established book discussion groups both in the United States and England. For the past 14 years, Patricia and her husband, Tom, have been living abroad in England, Japan and now South Korea.
Debra Donley (SHU ’75) has forged her own path in commercial real estate in Pittsburgh. Since 1992, Donley has worked at Gateway Center, a 9.6-acre complex of four office towers and two parking garages in Pittsburgh’s central business district, where she was the first female property manager. Since 2002, she has served as the general manager of the complex – the first female to serve in this role in the property’s more than 50-year history – and oversees leasing, property management and construction. With 4,000 tenants relying on Donley to keep Gateway Center running smoothly, she has dealt with serious events. One major crisis - a water main break that released 30 million gallons of water into the lower levels of the complex - had Donley and her team working around the clock to fully restore the buildings in just 12 days. Donley, who earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh, serves on the executive committee of Sisters Place, a supportive housing community committed to assisting single parent families who are homeless in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Charlene “Charlie” Burns (SHU ’80) has dedicated her life’s work to improving the health of people around the world. After graduating from Seton Hill with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Burns earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Penn State University. She began her career as a research scientist at Burroughs Wellcome Co., which eventually became Glaxo Wellcome. During her time in this role, Burns worked on antiviral and oncology pharmaceutical research. One of the chemotherapy drugs she worked on during this 11-year period, nelarabine, is used in the United States and Europe to fight a type of leukemia. Burns was promoted to project planner with GlaxoSmithKline in 1997, where she managed the development of drugs to treat viruses and diabetes. Another promotion in 2001 to a project leader position allowed her to direct multiple global teams developing pharmaceutical treatments for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Ten years later, as director of Project Planning and Management, Burns led a global team supporting more than 60 research and development drug discovery and development projects. Her work garnered multiple awards from GlaxoSmithKline for contributions made to various research and development efforts. Earlier this year, Burns joined PAREXEL as a director of project management. The company works with the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries for the development and commercialization of new medical therapies worldwide. Burns’ dedication to Seton Hill and its students led her to establish a scholarship in memory of her sister, Margaret Burns, Sister of Charity. Charlie’s leadership has assisted academically talented students with financial need in attaining a Seton Hill education.
Kathleen Smith-Delach (SHU ’80) has spent more than 30 years serving on behalf of clients who need an advocate in courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and on the federal level. Smith-Delach graduated from Seton Hill with a bachelor’s degree in home economics and then entered the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. During her time at Pitt, she wrote for the University’s Law Review and also served as the publication’s Executive Articles Editor. For more than 30 years, Smith-Delach has served as an attorney with Phillips & Faldowski in Washington, Pennsylvania. Her work has concentrated on civil litigation and is focused in the fields of personal injury, compensation benefits, medical malpractice, insurance law, and oil, gas and environmental law. Smith-Delach, who was named one of the Top Lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Network in 2013, is admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania and Washington County Bar Associations. She is the daughter of Mary O’Hare Smith ’50, who also received the Seton Hill Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award.
Paulette Pipher (SHU ’80) rose in the fashion industry starting with a part-time job at The Limited while she was a student at Seton Hill studying fashion merchandising. After graduation, she began working for the company in management, later taking her experience to California, where she worked for J.W. Robinson Co. department stores as a buyer for Ralph Lauren Menswear. Pipher’s work with Ralph Lauren led the fashion house to recruit her for a job as a retail analyst in 1985. Two years later, she was promoted to management for Polo and relocated to company headquarters in New York City. Pipher worked in all aspects of sales management and launched the Polo Ralph Lauren golf apparel line for men and women. In 1990, Pipher was recruited by Nautica Enterprises to be its vice president of retail development, where she managed the growth of the menswear businesses. After working as executive vice president of sales, Pipher was promoted to president of Nautica Jeans Company, Nautica Womenswear and Nautica Childrenswear in 2000. Pipher developed and managed these new business lines and helped build Nautica Enterprises to more than $750 million in sales in 2004. Pipher set out on her own in 2005, starting Rhone Partners, a real estate development and marketing company in Greenwich, Ct. She has kept ties to the fashion world as a consultant to apparel and design firms. Her most recent work includes helping to launch designer David Chu’s mens’ apparel business in Italy and China and managing the designer’s licensee businesses in the United States. An active volunteer in her community, Pipher has chaired the Greenwich Hospital Auction gala, assisted with fundraising for the Bruce Museum and the Junior League of Greenwich, and is chair of the Sacred Heart School benefit event. She also teaches Sunday School at First Presbyterian Church in Greenwich and served on the Children’s Ministry Committee.
Brenda Roger (SHU ’95) has focused her career in creative areas, whether it be fashion design, art or photography. For 13 years, Roger, who graduated from Seton Hill in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in studio arts and a minor in fashion design and textile analysis, owned Edith Singer Custom Clothing in Pittsburgh, where she designed her own line of custom fashion. She has served in various capacities at art and historical museums in the Pittsburgh region and currently works as an educator at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh. In addition, Roger serves on the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art and assists in its fundraising efforts. One of her most rewarding projects was her work at the Pace School in Churchill, Pennsylvania where, as artist in residence, she assisted autistic students in creating a two-panel mural that hangs at the school. Roger teaches photography as an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Allegheny County, and studied photography with an emphasis on alternative processes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Her photography has been honored by the American Society of Media Photographers, and she received an Emerging Photographer’s Grant in 2012 from Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Roger’s work has been seen at exhibitions across Western Pennsylvania, as well as Oregon, Colorado and Arizona, including a show curated by the former director of the Andy Warhol Museum.
Dominic Aleandri (SHU ’05) has found success in his work as an international fashion and advertising photographer. After graduating from Seton Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design, Aleandri worked for a time in the Pittsburgh area doing design work, but he quickly realized he wanted to pursue his passion in photography. Aleandri left his hometown of Luxor, Pa. and continued his education in London, England, where he received degrees in visual communications from American Intercontinental University and London South Bank University.
Aleandri apprenticed with internationally acclaimed photographers John Rankin Waddell, Jon Gray, and James Brown to learn from master craftsmen on his way to receiving his license from the British Institute of Professional Photography. Today, he owns his own studio in London as a fashion and advertising photographer. His work has been featured in campaigns for international fashion designers, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Versace and companies such as Samsung, Sony and Blackberry. Through his work, Dom has met celebrities such Kevin Spacey and the Rolling Stones. He valued the opportunity to serve as a volunteer for the primatologist Jane Goodall in London. Aleandri’s parents, Mary and Vince Aleandri, accepted the award on his behalf.
James Yauger (SHU ’10) has built a career helping veterans pursue their education and find jobs because of his own experiences. Yauger used his GI Bill® benefits to enter Seton Hill’s Adult Degree Program after three years in the Army, which included a deployment to Iraq. After earning his degree in business with an entrepreneurial studies minor, Yauger began his career assisting other veterans, starting at Seton Hill, where he served as a program counselor in Enrollment Management. He also served as advisor of the Student Veterans Club, an organization he founded as a student. In 2013, Jim joined VetAdvisor LLC, developing strategic training materials specific to veteran centric issues in the workplace and institutions of higher education. Earlier this year, Yauger joined the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to head the Service to Opportunity program, a new initiative designed to attract and connect post 9/11 era veterans with employers in the Pittsburgh region who are looking for talent in the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. Yauger was recognized nationally as an Horatio Alger Military Scholar in 2006; was selected to serve on the National Student Council for Student Veterans of America; and was among the inaugural cohort of The Community Leadership Course for Veterans sponsored by Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.
Jennifer Makowski (SHU ’11) is busy working for two different companies while pursuing dual master’s degrees. Since graduating from Seton Hill with a degree in corporate communications and minors in business and dance, Makowski has been working for both PNC and for Bonnie Walker Events. In her role at PNC, she is developing the executive guest services program for the company’s new Tower currently under construction in downtown Pittsburgh. Her job at Bonnie Walker Events as a special events coordinator has her traveling the country working with elite, celebrity clientele, including Troy Polamalu, John Legend, Wiz Khalifia, and Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union. Makowski is also studying for master’s degrees in business administration and public relations at Point Park University. She also gives back to the community by teaching individuals who are paraplegic how to waterski with the HOPE Network and serving as a volunteer with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Additionally, she works closely with the Troy and Theodora Polamalu Foundation and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Her accomplishments led her to be named one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest in 2013.