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North Hills Monthly

New & Notable August 2020

Jul 30, 2020 08:57PM ● By North Hills Monthly Magazine
Simoneaux Named to National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families
Tiffini Simoneaux, youth and education manager in Mayor William Peduto’s Office of Equity, has been named an inaugural member of the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families (NLC YEF Institute) Early Childhood Municipal Fellows program. Over the next 18 months, the NLC YEF Institute will equip fellows with the knowledge and skills to navigate the political landscape and leverage municipal policies and practices to help address longstanding inequities embedded in local government institutions that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and highlighted by recent political uprisings. This is the first fellowship program for the NLC YEF Institute.

Mayor Peduto Names Andrew Dash Director of City Planning
Mayor William Peduto has appointed Andrew Dash as director of the Department of City Planning. Dash, of Manchester, has been acting director of the department since June. Dash’s department has a wide range of responsibility for development-related efforts including neighborhood and parks planning, sustainability and resilience, zoning and permitting, public art, and Americans with Disabilities Act support.

Ground Broken for New UPMC St. Margaret New Kensington Family Health
In June, St. Margaret Foundation (SMF) and UPMC St. Margaret broke ground for the new home of UPMC St. Margaret New Kensington Family Health at 1080 Fifth Ave. in New Kensington. Key officials on hand for the hard hat and shovel ceremony were PA Sen. Jim Brewster, Rep. Frank Dermody, New Kensington Mayor Thomas Guzzo, and Joni Schwager, executive director of Staunton Farm Foundation. Joining them was Jonathan Han, M.D., medical director, UPMC St. Margaret New Kensington Family Health Center, and program director of the UPMC St. Margaret Family Medicine Residency Program. The center’s current clinic provides more than 16,000 patient visits annually, and will expand from 4,700 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft. to accommodate the growing population and community public health needs, as well as provide space for a partnership with other community/social service agencies.

Seneca Valley Catches Attention of Experts in Education
No one could have imagined how the last few months of the 2019-20 school year would play out for K-12 students across the nation and the world. Seneca Valley School District pivoted quickly with its COVID response, and its approach caught the attention of experts in the education field. The district was invited to participate in a nationally published white paper by the National Center on Education and The Economy (NCEE). In the detailed document, eight school districts from across the country were interviewed and shared their stories. You can read The Mother of Reinvention: How System Leaders Respond in a Crisis on the NCEE website at

Abdalla Joins Pittsburgh Opera Board of Directors
Tarek Abdalla has joined the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Opera, bringing a global perspective, a sharp mind, and considerable acumen to the organization. Abdalla is a partner at law firm Jones Day, where he represents contractors, owners, developers, equipment suppliers, engineers, and architects in major public and private projects in the energy and construction industries including power plants, pipelines, and other energy infrastructure. A National Diversity Council 2018 Leadership Excellence Award winner, Abdalla completed his B.A. at Duke University, his J.D. from West Virginia University, where he was lead articles editor for the West Virginia Law Review, and was elected to the Order of the Barristers for excellence in trial advocacy.

Fox Chapel Area Athletic Director Elected To WPIAL Board
Fox Chapel Area School District Athletic Director Michael O’Brien has been elected to the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Board of Control, becoming the district’s first administrative representative to serve on the governing organization. His one-year term began July 1, 2020. In this role, O’Brien will be part of a 19-member group that oversees all activities and decisions regarding the 132 WPIAL-member schools. During his almost 16 years with the Fox Chapel Area School District, O’Brien has overseen numerous renovations and improvements at the high school and Dorseyville Middle School, including the addition of new artificial turf practice fields. He was intricately involved in the renovation of the high school pool with a state-of-the-art natatorium, and also realigned the middle school sports seasons to not only better align with those at the high school, but to enable younger student-athletes to join varsity and junior varsity members in activities such as preseason strength and conditioning training. Additionally, O’Brien helped implement the Unified Sports Program in conjunction with Special Olympics, which received recognition as a 2019 National Banner Unified Champion School.

BHS Nationally Recognized as a Best Maternity Care Hospital by Newsweek 
Butler Memorial Hospital was recently named to Newsweek’s 2020 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals. The distinction recognizes facilities that have excelled in providing care to mothers, newborns and their families, as verified by the 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Hospitals named as a Best Maternity Care Hospital have fully met The Leapfrog Group’s standards for maternity care on evidence-based, nationally standardized metrics, which includes lower rates of early elective delivery, NTSV C-section, and episiotomy, as well as compliance with process measures including newborn bilirubin screening prior to discharge and blood clot prevention techniques for mothers delivering via C-section. Butler Memorial Hospital was one of fewer than 250 hospitals to receive the prestigious accolade.

Carnegie Science Center Hosting Women in STEM Speaker Series
Carnegie Science Center has established the Women in STEM Speaker Series, a weekly virtual event featuring interactive conversations with inspiring role models who have established themselves as experts in a variety of STEM fields. The series will be hosted by the Science Center via Facebook Live every Wednesday at 11 a.m. through Sept. 30, 2020. Recordings of the conversations will be available on YouTube following the livestream. In August, the series will feature conversations with Dr. Roselin Rosario-Melendez, associate principal chemist and project leader at L’Oreal; Dr. Rika Wright Carlsen, associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Robert Morris University; Ellen Bachman, inside sales engineer at Eaton; and Kay Savage, senior data scientist at Spotify. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions during the livestream or in advance by emailing Kaitlyn Zurcher at

Pet Safety Kits Available for Those Leaving Unsafe Situations
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 65 percent of victims impacted by domestic violence report a primary barrier to leaving their abuser is fear of abandoning their pet. Crisis Center North’s Paws for Empowerment program, with funding secured through the Pittsburgh Foundation and generous donors, has created dozens of Pet Safety Kits for those leaving abusive or unsafe situations. The Pet Safety Kits are available to CCN clients and provide emergency and essential resources for caregivers’ pets and include food, comfortable bedding, a safety harness and care supplies. For more information, contact CCN's main office at 412-364-6728. Supplies are limited and will be given out based on need on a first-come/first-served basis.

Butler Health System Welcomes Eric Huss as CFO
Eric Huss recently joined Butler Health System as its chief financial officer. Huss started his career at Ernst & Young where he earned his CPA in public accounting, and has held various financial management positions at UPMC. He held the position of CFO at Gateway Health for over a decade and most recently served as executive vice president of finance and administration, CFO at Health Partners Plans in Philadelphia, PA. Huss earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from West Virginia University.

Enrollment Open at Saint Joseph High School
Saint Joseph High School is now enrolling students in grades 9-11. Transfers are welcome. Application fees are waived for students enrolling now through the fall. Financial aid is available. Call to set up an appointment with Admissions Director Mrs. Shane Palumbo '92, 724-226-4932 or

UPMC Provided $1.4 Billion in Community Benefits in FY 2019  
UPMC has released its 2019-20 Community Benefits Report, showing its longstanding and sustaining commitment to meet the many diverse needs of all the communities it serves throughout Pennsylvania, western New York and western Maryland. The report details how UPMC provided $1.4 billion in IRS-defined community benefits during Fiscal Year 2019, up by $175 million from last year. UPMC’s total economic impact of $42 billion nearly doubled in the last five years. UPMC’s $1.4 billion in community-focused programs last year equals nearly $4 million per day or more than 15 percent of net patient revenue; the statewide average for hospitals’ contributions is 9 percent of net patient revenue. To learn more, visit

Seneca Valley Wins Awards in NSPRA and PenSPRA Publications Contests
Seneca Valley earned five awards in the National School Public Relations Association’s (NSPRA) 2020 Publications and Digital Media Contest and four awards in the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association’s (PenSPRA) Excellence in Education Communications 2019 Contest. The Seneca Valley communications department received two Awards of Merit for their social media campaign #SVIntheClassroom and for their video, Transformation by Redesign: Student Rigor. Additionally, they received three Honorable Mentions for the 2019-20 SV calendar, See the Good, the SV Raider Pride E-Newsletter and the digital version of the SV Annual Report, Transformation by Redesign. In the PenSPRA contest, the SV communications department received an Award of Excellence for Seneca Valley’s Transformation by Redesign video, and three Awards of Honor for the SV Raider Pride E-Newsletter, the digital version of the 2018 SV Annual Report, Learning Together, Growing Together, and for the social media campaign #SVIntheClassroom. Linda Andreassi, director of communications and Katie Huttinger, media support specialist, coordinate and develop publications for the Seneca Valley School District.

Kerr Elementary Needs Site-Based Team Community Member
Kerr Elementary School in the Fox Chapel Area School District is in need of a community member to serve on the school’s site-based management team for a two-year term that will start Sept. 4. The team is responsible for helping to make decisions concerning the operations of the school and meets monthly. The community representative must reside in the Kerr Elementary School attendance area and have no children currently attending any Fox Chapel Area schools. Anyone interested in filling the open position must write a letter of interest postmarked on or before Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Applicants will be selected by a lottery system.  Letters should be addressed to Kerr Elementary School Principal Paul Noro, Ed.D., at  Kerr Elementary School, 341 Kittanning Pike, Pittsburgh, PA 15215.  Letters of interest can also be emailed to Noro at

Fairview Elementary Site-Based Team Needs Community & Parent Representatives
Fairview Elementary School in the Fox Chapel Area School District is in need of a community member and a parent to serve on the school’s site-based management team, each for two-year terms. The terms will start Sept. 1, 2020. The team is responsible for helping to make decisions concerning the operations of the school and meets monthly. The community representative must reside in the Fairview Elementary School attendance area and have no children currently attending any Fox Chapel Area schools. The parent representative must have at least one child attending Fairview Elementary for both years of his/her tenure as a parent representative. Anyone interested in filling the open position must write a letter of interest postmarked on or before Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Applicants will be selected by a lottery system. Letters should be addressed to Fairview Elementary School Principal Stephen Edwards at  Fairview Elementary School, 738 Dorseyville, Pittsburgh, PA 15238. Letters of interest can also be emailed to Edwards at

City of Pittsburgh and BOOM Concepts to Create Social Justice Public Art Program
The City of Pittsburgh plans to partner with BOOM Concepts to create a responsive social justice public art program on city-owned properties. BOOM Concepts is a Pittsburgh-based creative hub for artists. Through the proposed program with Mayor William Peduto’s office and the Department of City Planning, BOOM will do a call for artists, help artists monetize their art works and perform a community engagement process on sites and programming. The City plans to put $5,000 into the agreement with BOOM and then seek matching funds from local philanthropies.

COVID-19 Related Grants Available to Help Nonprofits, Businesses and Organizations
With small businesses and community nonprofits feeling the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, local organizations and businesses are encouraged to apply for several COVID-related grant programs. These include the PA Department of Agriculture: Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund; the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development: Neighborhood Assistance Program and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development: COVID Relief to Small Businesses. Deadlines for the programs are in August; visit State Rep. Sara Innamorato’s site at to learn more. 

Leech Tishman Launches Hospitality, Restaurant and Bar Industry Covid-19 Resource Center
Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, LLC has launched a Hospitality, Restaurant and Bar Industry Resource Center for COVID-19 legal services. The Resource Center offers restaurant, bar and hospitality industry clients that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic information and tools to navigate complex state and local mandates that have severely affected the way they do business as well as information on other pandemic-related legal issues. The center seeks to assist companies across this industry to address financial losses, get back to business, and protect the health and safety of their customers and employees. To learn more, visit

Animal Friends Hosting Paws to the Pavement Virtual 5K
Lace up your jogging shoes and get ready to hit the ground running for Animal Friends’ Paws to the Pavement Virtual 5K on Saturday, Aug. 8-Sunday, Aug. 16. If walking is more your style, set your own pace for a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood, a walk in the park or a hike on your favorite trail. Each and every participant will receive an Animal Friends’ aluminum water bottle. For your chance to win more great prizes, encourage your friends and family to support your run with a lifesaving donation! Register at

Aquinas Academy Student Honored as One of World’s Brightest Young Students 
Aquinas Academy's Thomas Bird has been honored as "one of the brightest young students in the world" according to a statement by the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Bird, a Beaver resident, is a rising fifth grade student at Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh. He received a High Honors Award for his exceptional performance on the SAT, ACT, or similar assessment taken as part of the CTY Talent Search; less than half of CTY Talent Search testers qualify for CTY High Honors Awards. Honorees also qualify for CTY's summer and online programs.

La Roche University Announces Reopening Plan for 2020-21 Academic Year
La Roche University recently presented its health and safety plan to reopen campus for the 2020-21 academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As learning and operations resume on campus, the University will follow the health and safety protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Allegheny County Health Department. La Roche’s reopening plan details new safety measures, policies and procedures, including face coverings or disposable masks worn by all individuals in all public settings on campus, whether indoor or outdoor; daily temperature and symptom screenings for faculty, staff, students, visitors and vendors; social distancing protocols; reducing the density of the number of students in classrooms and residence halls, and more. Visit to view the full plan.

UPMC Children’s and Pitt Researcher Receive $2.59 Million NIH Grant for Diabetes Gene Therapy
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has awarded a grant of $2.59 million to George Gittes, MD, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and co-scientific director at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The grant will be used to support continuing development of gene therapy technology that may have the potential to cure Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than 34 million people in the U.S. Developed by Gittes, the gene therapy technology has restored normal glucose levels in the blood of mice by reprogramming beta cells in the pancreas.

Seneca Valley Approves Health and Safety Plan for Return to School
The Seneca Valley school board of directors approved the 2020-21 Seneca Valley Health and Safety Plan for Return to School in July, which will serve as a guideline for all reopening activities. As part of this planning, the district sought feedback and input from various stakeholder groups, and the plan incorporates guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADoH), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Seneca Valley will continue to monitor the health and safety plan throughout the year and will update the plan as needed. For more information, visit

Tina Marie Cerny Named New Operations Director at Prime Stage Theatre
Prime Stage Theatre has announced that local theater veteran Tina Marie Cerny will be taking on the role of operations director at the theater company, replacing  cofounder Connie Brinda, who is stepping down from the position. Brinda founded Prime Stage with her husband, Producing Artistic Director Wayne Brinda, in 1995. Since then, Prime Stage has become one of the region's most recognizable names in theatre, offering high quality, professional stage productions to the public, as well as enriching the lives of thousands of local students through its educational programs.  A graduate of Catawba College in North Carolina with a B.A. in Theatre Arts, Cerny has been living in Pittsburgh and working in the local theatre community since 2006. She served as cofounder and production manager of Throughline Theatre Company for six years before joining Prime Stage as production manager in 2017.