24 Alumni Fellows recognized for distinguished careers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Alumni Association will recognize 24 graduates on Oct. 26 with the lifelong title of Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Alumni Association. 

The Alumni Fellow program is administered by the Penn State Alumni Association in cooperation with the University's academic colleges, campuses and the Office of the President. Alumni are nominated by a college or campus as leaders in their professional fields and accept an invitation from the president of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty and administrators. Each Alumni Fellow will receive a commemorative award, designed and hand cast by 1972 Penn State graduate Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, an acclaimed sculptor and medalist, and a 2007 Alumni Fellow.

Complete Alumni Fellow bios and acceptance speeches will be posted on the Alumni Association’s website following the ceremony. For more information on the Alumni Fellow program, including criteria and past recipients, visit the Alumni Association's website

Toni R. Ardabell 1976 (Henrico, Virginia) is chief executive officer for Bon Secours Virginia Health System, where she is responsible for the strategic planning and operational oversight for eight acute care hospitals, ambulatory care services, and five senior care service centers in the Richmond, Rappahannock, and Hampton Roads areas. Committed to community involvement, Ardabell serves on a number of boards, including the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s Board of Directors, the University of Richmond’s Executive Advisory Council of the Robins School of Business, the Virginia Business Council, Penn State’s College of Nursing Dean’s Advisory and Development Council, the American Hospital Association’s Regional Policy Board, Richmond’s Management Roundtable, and Venture Richmond.

Anthony P. Bihl III 1978 (New Canaan, Connecticut) is chief executive officer of Bioventus, an orthobiologics company delivering products — including devices and therapies — making it a global leader in active orthopedic healing. Established in May 2012, Bioventus has more than 600 employees worldwide and works with patients, payers, and health care providers throughout the world. Bihl is known for building high-performing teams, driving operational improvements, and achieving exceptional financial results. Prior to joining Bioventus in 2013, Bihl served as CEO and president of American Medical Systems (AMS), managing its restructuring following a series of acquisitions and led its eventual sale to Endo Pharmaceuticals. Before AMS, he was CEO of Siemens Medical Solutions Diagnostics.

Jennifer Anne Chambers 1990g, 1995g (Grantville, Pennsylvania) is the senior vice president for Clinical Solutions and chief medical officer at Capital BlueCross, a leading health insurance company in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley serving 21 counties. Capital BlueCross offers health insurance products, services, and technology solutions to more than 1.3 million members. Since joining the Capital BlueCross medical staff in 2007, Chambers has led the company’s medical policy, clinical innovation, patient safety initiatives, and clinical teams. Under her leadership, the company improved its clinical services and formed new partnerships with providers. Most recently, Chambers helped establish a program to improve care for cancer patients.

Barbara G. Cohen 1974 (Chicago) is founder and president of Kannon Consulting, a Chicago-based firm that helps build strategies for clients facing changing markets. She is a sought-after counselor to businesses and nonprofit organizations across North America and a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Cohen consults with organizations in the media, technology, utility, human services, and education sectors. Clients include Tribune Company, the Clorox Company, Calvert Education, Cars.com, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and the YMCA. Clients turn to Kannon when they face deregulation, changing customer behavior, or emerging technology that will impact their success. Cohen partners with clients to help evaluate new investment opportunities, core product line repositioning, and reinvigorated growth strategies.

Frank Coonelly 1983 (Sewickley, Pennsylvania) has been president of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 2007 and is former general labor counsel to the commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB). Coonelly is responsible for the operations of the Pirates organization and is accountable for its success both on and off the field. After recently making the playoffs three consecutive years (2013–15), the team’s popularity has significantly increased. The Pirates set franchise attendance records in each of the last two seasons and was named Organization of the Year in 2015 by Baseball America. Forbes has estimated the value of the franchise has more than tripled over the last eight years.

Martin S. Craighead 1982 (The Woodlands, Texas) is chairman and chief executive officer of Baker Hughes Incorporated. Prior to his current role, he served in several key executive leadership positions with the company, including president, chief executive officer, and chief operating officer. Craighead joined Baker Hughes in 1986, and since that time has held a broad range of leadership positions throughout North America, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific region. From 2007–09, he was group president of the Drilling and Evaluation business unit, following tenures as president of both the Baker Atlas and INTEQ divisions, and as vice president of worldwide operations. He began his career at Baker Hughes in regional sales in Canada.

Kurt F. Geisinger 1977g (Lincoln, Nebraska) is director of the Buros Center for Testing and W.C. Meierhenry distinguished professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Geisinger has pioneered the application of testing and performance assessment to a broad range of endeavors. He has distinguished himself by designing authentic assessments for individuals with disabilities and is an expert in the translation and adaption of tests from one language and culture to another. He pushed the boundary of the field from the more conventional testing and assessment of academic progress in classroom settings, to measurements of the performance of police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, health service workers, and social workers in cities including Philadelphia and New York.

Robert J. Holland 1973 (Orlando) is a project executive and educator with project management experience for complex hospitality, cruise ship, entertainment, and health care/commercial/residential projects on three continents. After graduating from Penn State, Holland began working as a hospital planner/field architect for the Department of Veteran Affairs, where he was responsible for the planning and construction of health care facilities. He joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1979 and spent the bulk of his career with the company, retiring in 2006 as vice president of resort development. Significant Disney projects included EPCOT theme park; Disney’s first luxury resort, the Grand Floridian; hotels in Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong; and Disney’s first two cruise ships, Magic and Wonder.

Theodore Katsigianis 1975g, 1979g (Asheville, North Carolina) is vice president of agricultural sciences for The Biltmore Company, where he has been an industry leader since 1983. He is responsible for livestock and equestrian programs, oilseed production, and agricultural tourism at the 8,000-acre private estate in Asheville, N.C., a National Historic Landmark that welcomes more than a million guests annually and employs more than 2,000 people. Katsigianis has pioneered programs in sustainable agriculture and local food and wine, including large projects to implement solar panels, the usage of waste oils for biofuel, and cork recycling. Prior to his role at Biltmore, Katsigianis was assistant professor of animal science at the University of Maryland, where he developed extension education programs.

Joseph G. Keller 1976 (Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania) is president of Keller Engineers Inc., with corporate headquarters located in Hollidaysburg, Pa. Keller, who founded the company in 1991, oversees the day-to-day operations and works with the firm’s board of directors to ensure policies lead to continued growth. Keller Engineers provides civil engineering, structural engineering, and surveying services to the public and private sectors. Twenty-nine of the firm’s 60 employees are Penn State graduates. Keller began his career at P. Joseph Lehman Inc., Consulting Engineers. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee. Keller serves on the Industrial Advisory Committee and the Philanthropic Council at Penn State Altoona.

Joseph Kovacs III 1996g (Columbia, Md.) is vice president and chief engineer at Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT), an engineering, science, and information technology government services contractor. Kovacs manages and collaborates with engineers and scientists on developing an earth-observing spacecraft to help predict weather and monitor global climate change; deep space missions to investigate scientific theories about the universe; and scientific missions to study the moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Pluto, and the sun. Prior to joining SGT, Kovacs was a program director at Northrop Grumman Corporation and a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin Corporation. Kovacs supported development of the Polar Operational Environment Satellites, which provide daily earth observations used in weather forecasting and research.

Mario A. Lafortune 1978g, 1984g is a renowned scientist who previously conducted groundbreaking research as director of innovation at Nike Golf’s research and development facility, The Oven. He pursued high-performance products that were made for professional and amateur golfers. He is an influential figure in the field of biomechanics and the application of biomechanics toward the design of athletic shoes, apparel, and equipment. Previously, Lafortune established and served as director of the Nike Sport Research Laboratory (NSRL) at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon from 1996–2010. At the NSRL, he provided leadership for one of the world’s foremost research facilities in creating and developing new athletic products. Lafortune and his team developed highly innovative shoes, equipment, and other athletic products.

Tim O’Neal Lorah 1982 (New York City) is a senior director in Navigant Consulting’s Global Investigations and Compliance Practice, specializing in anti-money laundering, economic sanctions, anti-bribery and corruption, and financial crime compliance. Lorah graduated magna cum laude from New York Law School in 1996 and started his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Howard A. Levine of the New York Court of Appeals. He then was a senior associate at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, where he advised financial institutions on matters relating to Bank Secrecy Act/USA PATRIOT Act and sanctions compliance. Lorah then moved to Morgan Stanley and Barclays, serving as managing director and global head of anti-money laundering and financial crime compliance at both companies.

Mary Meder 1984 (Philadelphia) is the president of Harmelin Media, one of the nation’s top 10 independent media firms. Under her leadership since 2002, billings have more than doubled to $500 million annually. Harmelin Media’s growth and ongoing success can be attributed to remaining true to its founding principles of strategy, creativity, and innovation, while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. She honed her agency skills at Gray & Rogers, and Kalish & Rice Advertising. Meder is the past chair of Special Olympics Pennsylvania and currently serves on its board. In 2011, she received the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Al Senavitis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tom Ortenberg 1982 (Santa Monica, California) is chief executive officer of Open Road Films and a driving force behind the film, "Spotlight," the winner of 2016 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Ortenberg has built his career producing stories about important societal issues. Ortenberg founded Open Road in 2011 after a successful studio career as a top executive with LionsGate Entertainment and The Weinstein Company. In addition to "Spotlight," he has driven the financing, production, and/or distribution of such acclaimed films as "Crash," "3:10 To Yuma," "Monster’s Ball," "Chef," "Nightcrawler," "Gods and Monsters," the Tyler Perry and "Saw" film franchises, and Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9/11," among others.

Craig L. Pearce 1987 (Mobile, Alabama) recently accepted the position of Ben May Endowed Chair of Management at the University of South Alabama. He also maintains an advisory position at MEF University in Istanbul, Turkey, and works as an international management consultant and keynote speaker, specializing in executive leadership development. Prior to his new position, Pearce served as University Distinguished Professor at MEF University and Director of the Deloitte Leadership Institute at Ozyegin University in Istanbul, Turkey. Previously, he was dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at American University of Nigeria, and the Donald Clifton Chair in Leadership and director of the Institute for Innovative Leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

John J. Rooney 1986 (Berwyn, Pennsylvania) is managing principal of Client Excellence at Deloitte Advisory. He has significantly contributed to the success of his clients’ companies, making them leaders in their respective fields. He has also led a number of other practices within Deloitte. Most recently, he has led the Consumer and Industrial Products Industry Practice to four years of double-digit growth with more than 225 partners and more than $500 million in revenues. Previously, as Retail and Distribution Industry Sector Leader, he doubled the size of the practice in four years. Additionally, he has served as a member of the Partner Advisory Board that led Deloitte’s $300 million investment in Deloitte University, the firm’s leadership center.

Andrew J. Santacroce 1988 (Horsham, Pennsylvania) was named in Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders of 2016 for envisioning, managing, and executing technology innovations that have made a positive impact in business, and is the current vice president of technology development at TMNA Services LLC. At TMNA, Santacroce focuses on efficiencies and cost savings by streamlining processes and building synergies across multiple business units. Previously, Santacroce was responsible for launching BDP International’s first mobile application as vice president; led technology teams at Verizon for 11 years while also earning the Verizon Excellence Award; and held leadership roles at Cable & Wireless Communications, SmithKline Beecham, The PMA Group, PECO Energy, and Prudential Insurance Company.

Joanna Shields 1984 (London) is a technology industry veteran and parliamentarian currently serving as the Minister for Internet Safety and Security in the United Kingdom. Shields was ennobled in 2014 and serves as a Life peer in the House of Lords. In the Queen's honours 2014, she became an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Her ministerial responsibilities include eradicating harmful online crimes — including child abuse, child exploitation, and cyber hate — combating online extremist recruitment and radicalization, and ensuring safe and open access to the internet for everyone. Shields has been a leader and global innovator of technology companies worldwide.

Janet S. Vergis 1986, 1988g (Holicong, Pennsylvania) currently serves as an executive advisor to private equity firms, where she helps identify and evaluate investment opportunities and provides operational expertise in the healthcare industry. Recently, Vergis served as the chief executive officer of OraPharma Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company. In that role, she led the successful turnaround of the business and its subsequent sale. Previously, Vergis managed a $6 billion portfolio at Johnson & Johnson as president of Janssen Pharmaceutica, McNeil Pediatrics, and Ortho-McNeil Neurologics. She contributed to a number of Johnson & Johnson companies during her career, serving as a member of company management boards for more than 10 years.

Mary Beth Ward 1982 (Springfield, Virginia) currently serves as an environmental appeals judge on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board. She brings to the board almost three decades of litigation and management experience at the U.S. Justice and Commerce departments in matters arising under federal pollution control and natural resource laws. Previously, Ward served as deputy general counsel for the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She led a staff providing legal advice across an array of NOAA programs to manage the nation’s commercial and recreational fisheries and protect at-risk marine species and their habitat, and was recognized twice with the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the department’s highest award.

William Warren 1986, 1990g (Cocoa Beach, Florida) is vice president and leads innovation for research and development at Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi. Warren began his career as a principal member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. In 1997, he took a position as a program manager at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he directed a diverse portfolio of research and development programs. Warren joined Sciperio Inc. in 2001 as a managing partner, coordinating state-of-the-art water desalination and water-from-air technologies. In 2004, Warren founded VaxDesign Corporation and served as president and chief executive officer for six years.

Eugene A. Woods 1987, 1991g, 1993g (Charlotte, North Carolina) is president and chief executive officer of Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. Woods oversees an $8 billion nonprofit network with 60,000 employees and facilities that include academic medical centers, hospitals, physician practices, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Previously, Woods was president and chief operating officer of CHRISTUS Health, a $5 billion health system with more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities and 30,000 employees. There, he was responsible for overseeing acute, post-acute, and international operations for all of CHRISTUS Health’s regions in the U.S., Mexico, and Chile. He previously held several roles at Catholic Health Initiatives.

Thomas W. Wylonis 1967 (Kiawah Island, South Carolina) is an angel investor, educator, management consultant and scientist. Wylonis has been an angel investor to nine high-tech companies in Denmark and the U.S. Among these companies, he is currently chairman of Evaxion Biotech, a vaccine/antibody company headquartered in Denmark. He is a board member and the largest shareholder in Vertic, a digital marketing company. Wylonis also was the founding chairman of the board of Connect Denmark, a foundation that supports a majority of high-tech startups in Denmark. After Wylonis returned to the U.S. in 2007, he re-engaged at Penn State and MIT in mentor-driven programs. He has been a mentor for the electrical engineering department at Penn State since 2011.

Last Updated October 12, 2016