GREENSBURG, PA- Governor Mark Schweiker and Pennsylvania First Lady Kathy Schweiker honored Seton Hill University alumna and trustee and Former First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Michele Moore Ridge as a 2002 Pennsylvania Distinguished Daughter on October 30th at the state’s capital. Mrs. Ridge is one of nine 2002 Distinguished Daughters. Tom Ridge, former Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and current Homeland Security Advisor, surprised his wife by attending the event.

During her tenure as First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Ridge’s top priority was the prevention of violence against youth. She chaired and remains a member of the Governor’s Community Partnership for Safe Children. A community-based initiative, the project seeks to curb violence by and against youth by reducing child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, academic failure, illiteracy and other factors that make youth more likely to commit crime.

Her current role as Director, Strategic Development and National Spokesperson for Communities that Care for Channing Bete Company, Inc. represents an extension of her commitment to children. Mrs. Ridge works to mobilize communities, states and local governments to cooperate and collaborate to stretch scarce resources for the use of prevention methods in effecting positive change.

As the result of her dedication to the betterment of young people, Mrs. Ridge was chosen by President George W. Bush in May 2001 to serve on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. This program annually recognizes the nation’s outstanding high school students for their academic achievements and excellence in the arts.

Mrs. Ridge has received a number of awards for her endeavors including: the Seton Hill University Doctor of Humane Letters; National Center for Family Literacy’s William F. Goodling Award; Society for Prevention Research’s Public Service Award; Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg’s Humanitarian of the Year Award; Please Touch Museum’s Great Friend of Kids Founders Award; PA Citizens for Better Libraries Citizen of the Year Award; Children’s Playroom, Inc.’s Child Advocate Award; Republican Women in Government’s Woman of the Year Award; Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia’s Friend of the Family Award; National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) Gold Screen Award; Hadassah Presidential Award for Dedication to Women’s and Family Health and Education Issues; American Diabetes Association’s Pennsylvanians of Vision Award; Bucks County Boy Scouts Woman of the Year Award; Shirley Dennis Award for Community Service; Second Harvest Food Bank Bread Box Award; Gannon University Friends of Educators Award; American Association of University Women Award for Outstanding Community Service; and Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition Pink Ribbon Award.

After graduating from Seton Hill University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in European history, Mrs. Ridge went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh. She later achieved recognition as the executive director of the Erie County library system, as a producer of the radio program “Library Medley” that is distributed widely by the Public Broadcasting Service and as a volunteer of remarkable accomplishment in the City of Erie and throughout the Commonwealth.

Mrs. Ridge joined the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees in June 2002 and currently serves as Chair of the President’s Advisory Council, a leadership group of alumni working collaboratively to enhance the University’s visibility at the national level.

In addition to Mrs. Ridge, the 2002 Distinguished Daughters are: Edna Andrade of Philadelphia, professor emeritus of the University of the Arts and artist; Jeanne Bovard of Fleetville, Lackawanna County, director of the Scranton Area Foundation; The Honorable Anita Brody of Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, federal judge in the 3rd U.S. District Court; Esther Bush of Pittsburgh, president and CEO of the Urban League of Pittsburgh; Rena Rowan Damone of Philadelphia, business woman, fashion designer and founder of the Rena Rowan Foundation for the Homeless; Helen W. Drutt English of Philadelphia, gallery director, educator and author; Dr. Happy Craven Fernandez of Philadelphia, president of Moore College of Art and Design, former Philadelphia councilwoman and former university professor; and Sister Grace Ann Geibel of Pittsburgh, president of Carlow College, a Sister of Mercy, musician and educator.

Since 1949, the Commonwealth has honored outstanding women as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania for their contributions to local, state and national communities. Since the first group of Daughters was named, 395 women have been acknowledged as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania. There are 162 still living today. Those selected to receive this honor are nominated by state and local civic organizations. Previous honorees include: Pearl Buck, 1950; Grace Kelly, 1954; Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower, 1955; Genevieve Blatt, 1956; Marian Anderson, 1958; Lisa Richette, Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Virginia Thornburgh, 1991; and Christine James-Brown, 2000.

# # # # #