Honored at the May 16, 2007 awards luncheon held at the Four Points by Sheraton in Greensburg were: Nancy E. Kukovich, 2007 Athena Award winner; Tara Marhefka, YWCA Rising Star Award winner; Marjorie Montanari, 2007 Community Service Award winner; and Donna Perone, 2007 Seton Hill University Entrepreneurial Excellence Award winner.

As president and chief professional officer of the United Way of Westmoreland County, Nancy E. Kukovich strives to provide assistance to the many charitable organizations throughout western Pennsylvania that reach out to the needy.

From 1977 to 1981, she was the executive director of the Union/Snyder Office of Human Services. For two years, she was the special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare where she met Dr. Helen O’Bannon, secretary of public welfare, who became her mentor. Kukovich also served as president and chief executive officer at the United Way of Pennsylvania for three years.

As deputy director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg), Kukovich developed the Inter-Governmental Transfer, a complex effort that netted the state’s nursing homes billions more in federal reimbursement money during the last decade.

Kukovich is an active volunteer with multiple organizations. She has served with the Easter Seals since 1990 and is a member of the National Easter Seals Public Affairs Committee. She also sits on the board of directors of the Easter Seals of Southwest Pennsylvania, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnerships on Aging, the southwest chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. She also serves on the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children and the Governor’s Commission for Children.

Locally, Kukovich is involved on the boards of Adelphoi USA, the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, and the Westmoreland Citizen’s Advisory Board for Parks and Recreation.

Kukovich is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College (Minnesota) where she earned a bachelor of arts in political science. She also earned a graduate degree in public accounting and public administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

“I learned very early about the joy in helping others,” says Kukovich, who has always been driven by service to others. “I’m just grateful that I get to do what I do all day long.”

The Athena Award, sponsored by National City Bank, is presented to an individual who demonstrates excellence, creativity, and initiative in her/his business or profession; provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

Tara Marhefka is a disability claims adjudicator for the Bureau of Disability Determination and a parenting instructor for the Pennsylvania Prison Society at the State Correctional Institution in Greensburg.

A graduate of Southmoreland Senior High School in 1998, Marhefka earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology with minors in history and biochemistry from St. Vincent College in 2002. She joined Pennsylvania Business and Professional Women during her junior year of high school and is now the current president of the Scottdale BPW local chapter. She also serves as the Individual Development Chairperson of District 3 and formerly was the District 3 Young Careerist Chairperson. She is treasurer of the Scottdale Friends of the Library and a MathCounts committee member.

As T-ball coach and manager for the Firestones and assistant coach for the National City junior division team in the Greater Scottdale Girls Softball League, Marhefka looks to playing and coaching softball to balance her busy lifestyle. She also coaches and plays for Alt’s Tax Services team in the YWCA Girls Softball League.

Sponsored by the YWCA of Westmoreland County, the YWCA Rising Star Award is presented to a young career woman under the age of 30 who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities and the potential to attain marked achievement in her chosen field by surpassing expectations, raising the bar, and setting new standards for success.

For four-and-a-half decades, Marjorie Montanari, R.N., Ed.D., has dedicated her life to the nursing field as a nurse, instructor, and administrator. After working seven years as a registered nurse in the medical/surgical unit of Citizens General Hospital (New Kensington), Dr. Montanari taught nursing from 1956 until her retirement in 1993. She served as instructor, coordinator, director of the school of nursing, and administrative assistant responsible for patient care at Citizens General hospital.

In 1976, she became the resident administrator at the Kiski Education Center before joining the faculty at Westmoreland County Community College as assistant professor in nursing, director of the associate degree nursing program, and finally as division chair, Allied Health and Nursing. Dr. Montanari continued her own education, while teaching others, earning a bachelor of science degree in nursing science from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s in education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a doctorate in education and administration, also from Pitt, and a master of science in nursing at IUP.

She is active in the United Way of Westmoreland County, American Red Cross, Keystone Tall Tree Girl Scout Council, Girls Scouts of the USA, Alle-Kiski Community Form, and Quota Club. She considers being appointed as a national volunteer in the Red Cross Disaster Human Resources System as her greatest achievement.

Dr. Montanari is the recipient of the Girl Scout Thanks Badge, Outstanding Women Award from the Penn State New Kensington campus, the Community Spirit Award from the New Kensington Chamber of Commerce, and the Ann Magnussen Award from the American Red Cross. She has been nominated for the Outstanding Citizens Award, Pittsburgh’s NLN Quarterback Award, and the 2004 Athena Award.

Her other community service activities past and present include the Redstone Presbytery, Alle-Kiski Hope Center, Family Services of Western PA, Order of Eastern Star #158, Peoples Library (New Kensington), Arc of Westmoreland, Health Bank, PANO, Grace Community Church, and Alle-Kiski Faith in Action.

“I believe it is our duty to help wherever we can as long as we can,” says Dr. Montanari. “Our obligation to give back never expires.”

Sponsored by First Commonwealth Bank, the Community Service Award is presented to a business woman who has contributed her time, resources, and effort to community organizations and community growth.

Donna Perone began her career as a nuclear scientist at Westinghouse in 1981. Several years later, she began managing projects for utility customers, earning the Engineering Achievement Award and assisting in the company’s successful application for the first Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Leading her division’s North American Industrial Sales, Perone was responsible for strategic sales of engineered industrial products. During her last four years at Westinghouse, she was in charge of the division’s sales and customer programs and managed the company-wide Customer Satisfaction Measurement program and operations.

In 1999, Perone became vice president of client services consulting at Right Management Consulting, a Marsh and McLennan Company. In 2004, she established Surge Point Staffing, LLC (now known as Surge Point HR Talent) in Murrysville, Pa. The company, built around the “virtual office” concept, provides regional organizations access to human resources talent.

Perone is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and Georgia Tech, where she earned a master’s degree.

The Seton Hill University Entrepreneurial Excellence Award is presented to an individual, organization, or corporation for significant achievement and innovation in promoting and supporting women-led firms through individual effort and/or personal commitment.