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Fox Chapel Rotary welcomes Shady Side Academy

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Shady Side Academy President Tom Cangiano, third from left, is flanked by staff and Rotary Club of Fox Chapel Area officials at a recent Rotary meeting where the Academy became the first corporate member of the club. Pictured, from left, are Barry Leonard, Rotary membership chair and immediate past president; Jeff Day, SSA Vice President for Development; Cangiano; Charles Skinner, Rotary President-Elect; Rick Munroe, SSA Director of Annual and Corporate Giving; Kate Vavpetic, Head of the SSA Senior School and Jamie Brush, SSA Director of Alumni Relations.

In a precedent-setting move, Shady Side Academy has joined the Rotary Club of Fox Chapel Area to become its first corporate member.

It's a perfect fit, says Rotary spokesman Tom Benic, because the club long has supported student programs, and students, in turn, will invigorate the 42-year-old group.

“They have all these bright young kids, and they're involved in everything,” he said. “Part of their education is exactly what we do: service. We want to get them looking beyond the walls of school.”

Barry Leonard, rotary membership chairman and a Shady Side Academy graduate, said the corporate membership policy was developed this year to accommodate busy executives who want to participate in the service mission of rotary but don't have the time to attend weekly meetings and other events. All businesses in the Fox Chapel Area are eligible to become corporate members or join as individuals, he said.

“It's significant because we have 73 individual members,” Benic said. “This is the first membership of its kind, and we hope to recruit similar groups, like borough councils and local corporations.”

Fox Chapel Area School District is a prime candidate, Benic said.

He said he also is eyeing the more than 130 businesses in the nearby RIDC Park in O'Hara.

“We have an active group,” he said.

“There are many people who are very busy and can't come to weekly meetings. This type of membership will enable some of the staff to come when able,” he said.

Shady Side Academy President Thomas Cangiano was the featured speaker at a recent Rotary meeting and said the corporate membership will be mutually beneficial.

“My staff is excited about this opportunity,” he said. “Our students and the entire community will benefit by it.”

Founded in 1970, the Rotary operates with the goal of “service above self.”

Shady Side Academy students have received Rotary scholarships to attend the annual World Affairs Council student assembly in Pittsburgh, among other programs.

Elsewhere locally, the Rotary has supported a dozen charities and civic organizations, from libraries to food pantries, as well as international projects, such as helping to fund water-well drilling in Haiti and helping purchase a medical transport vehicle in South Africa.

Fox Chapel Area Rotary President Mary Lee Gannon said the new membership relationship will expand interaction with students.

“The academy is an important regional asset, and their administrators will strengthen our club by helping us shape and implement our general service mission,” she said. “At the same time, Rotary will now be able to work more closely with the students, faculty and staff of the Academy to help them better achieve their own mission.”

A Rotary member for nearly 50 years, Leonard said the corporate membership gives Shady Side a seat at the table.

“It won't obligate any one person to attend all the meetings and participate in all our events. But the academy itself will enjoy all the rights and responsibilities of membership. That will be good for both organizations,” he said.

Prospective members are invited to the club's weekly meetings, held at noon Wednesdays at the Pittsburgh Field Club.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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