NA announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni
The North Allegheny Foundation has announced its 2019 class of Distinguished Alumni.
The awards recognize North Allegheny alumni who have made significant contributions to society.
The honorees will be recognized at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala on Jan. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh — Cranberry.
Tickets are $59 and are available at www.connect2NA.com.
This is the second year for the Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni are:
IN THE ARTS — JEFF SEWALD, CLASS OF 1979
Jeff Sewald, 57, is an award-winning writer and filmmaker in an array of topics ranging from politics to literature, business to sports. His work has brought him in contact with a host of luminaries, including American historian David McCullough, journalist Tom Brokaw, author William Styron, publisher Steve Forbes, the National Football League’s Mike Ditka, and rock legend Lou Reed. He founded JMS Media LLC in 2000, and has garnered five Telly Awards, two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, and two Golden Quills from the Western Pennsylvania Press Club for his documentary films, magazine columns and newspaper features.
He currently lives in Wexford.
“When I heard that I was named one of NA’s distinguished alumni, I smiled, remembering my time there in the late-1970s. I have nothing but fond memories of my high school days, from the classroom to the football field, and from the baseball diamond to the theatre stage. I formed meaningful friendships at NA, some of which are still alive-and-kicking today,” he said.
IN BUSINESS — YIE-HSIN HUNG, CLASS OF 1980
Yie-Hsin Hung is the chief executive officer of New York Life Investment Management LLC, New York Life’s global multi-boutique third-party asset management business. Under her leadership, NYLIM increased its third-party assets nearly three-fold to nearly $311 billion. She also led the firm’s successful expansion into Europe, Asia and Australia, and was named to American Banker’s “Most Powerful Women in Finance” in 2017.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and her MBA from Harvard University.
She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.
IN COMMUNITY SERVICE — LARRY RICHERT, CLASS OF 1976
Larry Richert, 60, graduated from NA after his junior year and attended Clarion University. Since the early 1980s, he has been a constant in Pittsburgh radio and television, including a 10-year stint as a weather anchor with KDKA and host of the KDKA Radio Morning News portion of CBS Pittsburgh. He also is the public address announcer at Heinz Field for the Steelers and joined the Pitt Panthers Football broadcast team where he reports from the sidelines and hosts the pre-game show.
He lives in Gibsonia with his wife, Cindi, and has three grown children and three grandchildren.
Richert credits one NA teacher, in particular, for shaping him into the success he is today — his speech teacher John Woffington.
“He challenged me to become a better speaker and probably didn’t realize that he had such a significant impact on me at the time,” Richert said. “I have a lot of respect for my teachers because they changed my life. A word or phrase of encouragement can move mountains.”
IN EDUCATION — GREGG BEHR, CLASS OF 1991
In his 12th year as executive director of the Grable Foundation, Gregg Behr, 46, manages a grant making portfolio advancing high-quality early childhood education, improved teaching and learning in public schools, and robust out-of-school time support.
In 2016, the White House recognized him as a Champion of Change for his efforts to advance learning. In 2015, he was recognized as one of America’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, and Trailblazers by the Center for Digital Education. In 2014, he accepted the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award on behalf of Pittsburgh’s efforts to reimagine and remake learning. In 2013, the Western PA Forum of School Superintendents presented him with their Voice of Advocacy Award. In 2012, he was honored with a doctorate of humane letters from Saint Vincent College for his work on behalf of children and youth, and in 2010, he received the Lay Leader Award presented by the Pittsburgh Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the same award once given to one of Gregg’s heroes, Fred Rogers.
Behr graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Duke University’s School of Law and Public Policy. He and his family reside in Ohio Township.
IN GOVERNMENT — GLORIA FLORA, CLASS OF 1973
Gloria Flora, 63, is an educator, presenter and consultant in climate change, sustainability, and large landscape conservation/restoration. She is co-founder of the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a place often described as an American Serengeti for its abundant populations of wildlife, birds and fish. The organization gained permanent protection of the region and expanded it by 67,000 acres. As supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in north-central Montana, she made a landmark decision to prohibit natural gas leasing along another 356,000 acres of wilderness.
She has earned 15 prestigious awards for her work. One of her favorites is from the African Rainforest Conservancy, which named a newly discovered rare species of toad after her in honor her lifetime achievements in forest conservation. The toad was named Nectophrynoldes florae.
“I’m delighted to be recognized as an outstanding alumnus from NA,” she said. “There are so many outstanding graduates, it’s an honor to be among those recognized.”
She and her husband reside in the far northeastern corner of Washington state.
IN LAW — JERRY RICHEY, JD, CLASS OF 1967
As a student at North Allegheny and, later, the University of Pittsburgh, Jerry Richey was a stand-out athlete, excelling in track and cross country.
At NA, he was a six-time state champion and, more than 50 years later, still holds the school record in the one-mile/1600-meter run.
While at Pitt, he was a five-time NCAA All-American; a two-time NCAA champion in the two-mile and distance medley relay; a sub 4-minute miler at age 19 (one of only 27 people in the USA to accomplish this feat); a 1968 Olympic Trials finalist; and a member of the 1971 world-record holding indoor distance medley relay team. He was recognized as the best distance runner in the history of the University of Pittsburgh, and continues to hold the Pitt records in the one-mile, two-mile, and metric equivalents.
In 1973, he was inducted into the Western PA Sports Hall of Fame.
During its inaugural year in 1997, he was named to the North Allegheny Athletic Hall of Fame.
Equally impressive is Richey’s distinguished legal career. He started as a partner in a prominent Pittsburgh-based law firm before leading the law department of one of the region’s major corporations, CONSOL Energy. From there, he returned to the University of Pittsburgh to serve as senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer until his retirement in 2015.
Richey credits Russ Cerny — his former biology teacher and cross country coach at NA — with having a major influence on his life.
“He coached the most successful cross country program in the state. Charismatic and always positive, he taught team members to dream, to work hard, and to have fun while pursuing a goal,” said Richey, 69, who currently lives in San Carlos, Calif.
IN MEDICINE — WILLIAM G. KEARNS, PhD, CLASS OF 1970
Dr. William Kearns is world-renowned in the field of genetics, particularly preimplantation genetics and cancer genetics.
He is the co-founder, president, and chief scientific officer of AdvaGenix, the first all-encompassing preimplantation genetics laboratory that employs next-generation sequencing for all testing. The lab provides the most advanced bioinformatics platform to detect, annotate and classify genomic variants associated with multiple disorders, including oncology for patients with active cancers, hereditary cancer, cardiology, metabolism, pediatric disorders and many others.
Dr. Kearns also is an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves on the faculty of as a medical geneticist.
IN SCIENCE — TIMOTHY HOELLEIN, PhD, CLASS OF 1996
Dr. Timothy Hoellein, 40, is assistant professor in the department of biology at Loyola University in Chicago. His research focuses on the affects of our environment on fresh water lakes, rivers and streams.
His testimony in front of the Indiana State House committee led to a state-wide ban of microbeads — tiny solid plastic particles used as exfoliating agents in cleansing products, which are rinsed down the drain and into lakes, rivers and oceans, contaminating the water sources and entering the food chain through marine life.
Indiana was the first state in the country to ban the toxin. Other states and countries have followed.
To Hoellein, his science is more than a passion. It is an art.
“The trash we pull from polluted rivers includes materials like rusted metal, broken glass, and plastic. Some of the items are fascinating to look at as they are partially transformed by their time in the environment,” he said. “I’ve been attaching these items to painted canvases. My aim is to express the overarching idea that our trash is now a permanent part of the earth’s geologic record, and will impact the environment for eras to come.”
UNDER 40 — BEN BUTLER, CLASS OF 2010
Ben Butler, 27, founded the award-winning marketing communications firm Top Hat in 2013. The six-person agency located in Millvale is widely known for its Silver-Anvil award-winning “Will Work for Beer” campaign in which the agency offered to work for one brewery entirely in exchange for beer. The effort scored the agency national attention and Lord Hobo Brewing Company in Boston — the fastest growing regional craft brewery in the country — as its first beer client.
“The most prestigious award you can get in the communications industry is a Silver Anvil. They call it the ‘Oscars of PR,’ and you can pretty much retire when you get one,” Butler said.
“This year, two of our entries were named finalists and ultimately won in their respective categories against some of the biggest brands in the world.”
NORTH ALLEGHENY EDUCATION — CHRIS JACKSON
In addition to the distinguished alumni, the North Allegheny Foundation will honor Chris Jackson, a health instructor and physical education teacher at Peebles Elementary School in McCandless. Jackson has been named the Pennsylvania Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
Jackson began his career with NA in 2007 and holds a bachelor of science degree in movement science from Liverpool University in the United Kingdom.
He earned a master’s degree in exercise sciences from West Chester University in Chester County, Pa.,where he also obtained his teaching certificate.
Laurie Rees is a
Tribune-Review at contributor.