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Monessen library honors two women

| Thursday, July 18, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
Kathy Manderino
Jessica L. (Garfola) Wright

Two of Monessen's most successful women will return to their hometown to help raise money for its library.

Jessica L. (Garfola) Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness for the U.S. Department of Defense, and former state Rep. Kathy Manderino will be the guests of honor at the fourth annual Monessen Public Library fundraising event.

“A Conversation with Monessen Women of Distinction” will take place 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 3 at the St. Spyridon Hellenic Center, Monessen.

Chairwoman Susanna Swade, who serves as library board treasurer, said officials are thrilled to welcome Wright and Manderino.

“They have been very successful in male-dominated careers, and we are so happy they will be our guests of honor,” Swade said.

Wright was appointed to her position Jan. 1. She is the senior policy advisor to the secretary of defense on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million National Guard and Reserve personnel, and 680,000 Department of Defense civilian workers.

Wright retired as a major general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Her 35-year career culminated in her final assignment as commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

She was the first female aviator in the Army National Guard. Wright commanded the 28th Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division at Fort Indiantown Gap from June 1997 to November 1998.

Wright is married to retired Lt. Colonel Charles Wright. They have one son, Mike, who was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2012.

Manderino is senior vice president of Intercommunity Action Inc., a community-based organization in Philadelphia serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, behavioral health needs, and older adults.

From 1993 to 2010, Manderino represented the state House 194th Legislative District in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

She served on the Appropriations, Health and Human Services, Insurance, and Judiciary committees.

She chaired the Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Family Law, and the House Committee on Ethics.

She is member of the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Women in the Profession Commission and is a past PBA board governor and chairwoman of its house of delegates.

Prior to her election to the Legislature, Manderino practiced law at Fox Rothschild LLP. She graduated from Monessen High School in 1976, Penn State University in 1980, and the Temple University School of Law in 1989.

Swade said Wright and Manderino will join an elite group of Monessen natives the library have honored over the years: philanthropist John Husher in 2010; athletic sisters Suzie Williams Broadhurst and Jamie Williams Zimmerman in 2011; and Monessen football coach Joe Gladys last year.

Board President Madeline Dudas said the event is a way to not only raise money for the library, but to showcase city success stories.

“These are people extremely successful in their fields who never forgot Monessen,” Dudas said.

While past events have included testimonials from the guests' relatives and friends, Swade said this year's fundraiser will be different.

“We decided to do a Barbara Walters format,” Swade said.

She explained Wright and Manderino will be interviewed on stage by moderator Marissa Scarvel Sacco of Monessen.

Those in attendance will have opportunities to talk to the women at the end of the program.

Individual tickets are $50 and include a social hour with an open bar from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner. Each table will be treated to a tray of homemade cookies, compliments of the Monessen Friends of the Library.

Tickets are on sale at the Monessen Public Library, 326 Donner Ave., by calling Swade at 724-684-3894 or online via PayPal at

All proceeds will benefit the library.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at

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