Chamber CEO embraced, expanded scope of duties
By Tony LaRussa
Published: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Sally Haas was the membership director for the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce for less than eight months in 1998 before being tapped as president and CEO, according to a longtime associate.
It didn't take Mrs. Haas long to put her personal stamp on the business organization.
“She was really thrust into a leadership role and quickly made the position her own,” said Bernadette Puzzuole, a past president of the chamber's board of directors. “She got involved in all aspects of the operation and took the job far beyond what anyone expected.”
Sally M. Haas of Whitehall died on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. She was 58.
While chamber membership grew from 800 to 1,100 members during Mrs. Haas' tenure as president, her impact went far beyond getting more people to join.
“Sally fully realized the importance the airport and the military base in Moon has on the entire community,” said JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman for Pittsburgh International Airport.
“We worked together on all sorts of projects ranging from attracting low-cost carriers to promoting international flights to Pittsburgh. And she had a genuine passion for the military's impact on the community and worked to make sure that those bases remained here.”
Mrs. Haas teamed with the 911th and 99th Regional Readiness Com mand to develop the Honorary Commanders Association, which was designed to promote the vital role and economic impact the military has in this region's economy.
Jenny praised Mrs. Haas for going beyond business issues by developing the “Choices” program to reach out to middle school students who are at risk of dropping out of school.
“She brought people in to speak to the students about the importance of the choices they made and to provide them role models,” said Jenny, who was recruited by Mrs. Haas to participate in the program.
State Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, who served on the chamber board when Mrs. Haas was hired, said the organization has lost “a superstar.”
“She was very thoughtful, very organized and able to unify the board of directors and keep them motivated,” Mustio said.
Mrs. Haas is survived by her husband, Allan, to whom she was married for 36 years; daughters Kristen Haas and Jill Kipper; a brother, James Obringer; and a sister, Amy Meyers.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in John F. Slater Funeral Home, 4201 Brownsville Road, Brentwood.
A prayer service will be offered at 9:15 a.m. Monday in the funeral home followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Gabriel of The Sorrowful Virgin Church in Whitehall.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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