Penn State Harrisburg celebrates alumni achievement

Alumni Award Winners

Alumni Achievement Awardees from left to right:  Cate Barron, Dennis Butler, Robert M. Francis, Heather Neary, and Michael C. Potteiger.

Credit: Penn State Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg presented Alumni Achievement Awards to one graduate of each of the five academic schools who has demonstrated outstanding professional accomplishment. The awards were presented during the Alumni Awards Dinner in October 2017.

Cate Barron '13g, American studies

A leader in Pennsylvania journalism, Cate Barron, honored by the School of Humanities, began her career as a radio news director before joining the Lewistown (Pennsylvania) Sentinel newspaper as a reporter.

During her 30-plus years at The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, she held positions including features editor, managing editor, and editor. In 2013, when the newspaper and its PennLive website became PA Media Group, Barron was named vice president of content. She led the transition to a digitally-based newsroom that included converting the paper to a three-day-a-week publication. Since then, PennLive has become one of the largest news and sports websites in the state.

Dennis Butler '93, mechanical engineering technology

Honored by the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, Dennis Butler is a partner at intellectual property law firm Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel LLP. He advises clients ranging from individual inventors to Fortune 500 companies on protection and enforcement of their intellectual property rights. 

Butler joined the Panitch attorneys in 2000, after having worked as an engineer for Boeing Defense and Space Group and United Technologies — Pratt & Whitney Division. Butler’s current work focuses on protection of intellectual property for medical device and equipment companies resulting from his time as patent counsel for the spine division of Synthes, Inc., now Johnson & Johnson’s Depuy Synthes Companies.

He holds a juris doctorate from Temple University and a master's degree in engineering mechanics from Penn State. Butler and his wife, Haley Butler, also a Penn State graduate, maintain a scholarship at Penn State Harrisburg to assist engineering students seeking internships.

Robert M. Francis '72 graduate in social science

The School of Behavioral Sciences and Education honored Robert Francis, who has worked for over 40 years in leadership positions at the local, state and national levels in service to young people and families.

His experience includes work in community and youth development, juvenile justice, child welfare and behavioral health. Since 1991, he has been the executive director of RYASAP: Catalyst for Community Change, a youth and community leadership development and social change coalition in Connecticut. He founded the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, a statewide advocacy organization for youth involved with the juvenile justice system and Public Allies of Connecticut, a leadership development program for young adults.

Francis is a graduate of The Health Forum’s Creating Healthier Communities Fellowship in San Francisco, California, which consists of 50 leaders nationally who focus on addressing leadership, community development and policy change in healthcare.

Heather Neary '90g MBA

Heather Neary, honored by the School of Business Administration, was named president of Auntie Anne’s, the world’s largest franchiser of hand-rolled soft pretzels, in November 2015.

Neary joined Auntie Anne’s in 2005 and has held various roles in which she was responsible for the oversight of marketing, communications, the franchise business consultant team, research and development, product innovation, and the franchisee leadership team. Most recently, she served as vice president of global marketing.

She serves on the board of directors for the Lancaster YMCA and the board of advisers for Penn State Harrisburg, and is a mentor for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Women in Business program. Neary received the Penn State University Alumni Achievement Award in 2009.

Michael C. Potteiger ’89, criminal justice

Michael Potteiger, honored by the School of Public Affairs, has served as a member of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole since 2011. He was appointed chairman in January 2012, a position he held until September 2014.

Potteiger served as the chief adult probation officer of Northumberland County, where he implemented Treatment Courts for offenders with behavioral issues. In 2006, he was recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of Probation, Parole and Corrections with the Probation and Parole Professional of the Year award.

In 2008, Potteiger became director of Adult Probation and Parole Services in Dauphin County. As director, he focused on developing and utilizing programs with an emphasis on re-entry that engaged family members in the process. He was instrumental in bringing specialized courts to Dauphin County with the implementation of Drug and Mental Health Courts.

About the artist, Sharon Siegfried

This year’s Alumni Achievement Award was designed by Sharon Siegfried, manager of visual communications at Penn State Harrisburg, where she is responsible for the graphic design and visual standards of printed and digital materials. Siegfried’s career as a graphic artist spans decades. Her one-of-a-kind artwork was created especially for the award winners using various graphic design techniques. She also is an accomplished photographer.

Siegfried is a graduate of the Antonelli Institute of Art and Photography in York, Pennsylvania, with a degree in commercial art. Before joining Penn State Harrisburg, she worked for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts as creative production manager and at Penn State’s College of Medicine as a graphic artist in BioMedical Communications.