UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alumni leaders power the Penn State Alumni Association. There are nearly 300 affiliate groups that aim to unite Penn Staters through shared interests, academic colleges, campuses and geographic regions. These groups are led by dedicated volunteers, with guidance from the Alumni Association.
The Alumni Association celebrated the inspiring efforts of these groups and their leaders last month during the 2022 Volunteer Awards. Nine groups were recognized, as well as four recipients of individual honors made possible by generous endowments from alumni. You're invited to check out the list of honorees below and watch the archived livestream of the awards ceremony.
As of July 2022, association members have access to the entire affiliate group network — including local chapters — with no additional cost or action required. You can find groups that match your affiliation to Penn State at alumni.psu.edu/groups.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARD: HARRISBURG ALUMNI SOCIETY
The Harrisburg Alumni Society received this year's Professional Development Award, presented to groups who offer exceptional professional development programs to help members grow and advance in their professional careers.
During the pandemic, the Harrisburg Alumni Society helped to create a virtual series, “Capital Connections: At Home,” which brought Penn State Harrisburg to alumni by having faculty and alumni speak about topics in their area of expertise. Over the course of a year, the society hosted 11 episodes. These programs included several presented by Harrisburg alumni, including a travel seminar called “On the Road Again,” and a program on leadership entitled, “The Art of You Leading You.”
The creation of the series allowed the society to better connect with their alumni from everywhere, and the society looks forward to continuing to host interesting and informative webinars.
SCHOLARSHIP DEVELOPMENT AWARD: NAVAL ROTC
The Scholarship Development Award recognizes efforts specifically targeted to raising money to support student scholarships. This year's recipient is the Naval ROTC. In 2017, a group of newly commissioned Naval and Marine Corps Officers approached the Penn State Naval ROTC AIG to serve as custodians for a class gift of $1,300 that they wished to be awarded as a scholarship to a junior midshipman who was attending without the benefit of the full Navy Scholarship. The AIG members "passed the hat" and bumped that amount to $2,500 to award the first-ever Penn State Naval ROTC Alumni Scholarship in the spring of 2018. Continuing with that year through 2021, the AIG began passing the hat and awarding that scholarship to a deserving midshipman.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE PROJECT AWARD: NORTHERN NEW JERSEY CHAPTER
The Northern New Jersey Chapter received the 2022 Outstanding Service Project Award, which recognizes the efforts of our affiliate groups to give back to their communities through local or national service projects.
The Northern New Jersey Chapter prides itself on helping those around them and they have continued to do so despite challenging times. The chapter supported the following this year:
- Light the Night Walk for Leukemia and Lymphoma
- The American Heart Association Walk
- Color A Smile, a local nonprofit that collects and distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, troops overseas, and anyone in need of a smile
- Hugs for the Troops, a program dedicated to brightening a soldier’s day with a care package, card, or letter of encouragement
- Valentine's Day for the Troops. Started by a New York City radio stadium, the goal was to receive 50,000 Valentine's Day cards to send to the troops. The chapter supported this effort by promoting and sending cards.
- Penn State tickets for servicemembers/women
- Penn State's Student Care and Advocacy Emergency Fund
- Many more
JOINT ACTIVITIES AWARD: YORK AND LANCASTER COUNTY CHAPTERS
The Joint Activities Award recognizes collaborative efforts of two or more alumni groups. This year, the award goes to the York and Lancaster County Chapters, which have held a Chapter Challenge during March over the last several years. This entails meeting at a local establishment along the border of the two counties for happy hour to socialize and collect goods. The donations are taken to the Lion's Pantry at the University Park campus by Dick Booth, a board of directors member for both chapters. While the "challenge" is which chapter brings the most canned goods to the restaurant, the chapters always call the results a tie — keeping the focus on how the chapters are helping students who are experiencing food insecurity. In the words of York County Chapter President Lori Houser, "The real winner is the Lion's Pantry and our food-insecure students."
FUNDRAISING AWARD: NORTH TEXAS CHAPTER
The Fundraising Award recognizes exceptional efforts to raise money to support initiatives across Penn State, including THON, community organizations, national charities and other University programs. This year’s honoree is the North Texas Chapter.
Chapter President Jeff Zawadzki avoided haircuts for 18 months during the Covid-19 pandemic, but instead of simply heading to the local barber, he decided to turn his first post-pandemic cut into a THON fundraiser: Jeff’s Hair vs Pediatric Cancer. If $1,000 was raised, Jeff would get a normal, pre-pandemic haircut. If $2,000 was raised, he would buzz it all off. If $3,000 was raised, he would buzz it all off live on social media during halftime of the Penn State vs. Maryland football game. Jeff and his wife, Tina, also agreed to match every dollar up to $4,000. Donations continued to build until $3,000 was raised. Jeff continued to raise awareness by dangling the matching funds, and the $4,000 goal was reached two days before the game. After some last-minute donations during the livestreamed haircut, a total of $8,840 was raised.
THE NED BROKLOFF AWARD FOR ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AFFILIATE GROUP INNOVATION: INDUSTRIAL AND MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING SOCIETY
This year's Ned Brokloff Award for Alumni Association Affiliate Group Innovation is awarded to the Penn State Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Society. The society’s 2021 Diversity Campaign highlighted the work being done by people of varying backgrounds, careers, race, gender, and other self-identified aspects of diversity. This initiative produced 39 diversity posts resulting in over 15,600 impressions while increasing engagement and total membership in the group. In addition, holiday-specific messages showcased Penn State or Industrial Engineering-related history and initiatives. For example, the society shared the message from Marcus A. Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity, about Juneteenth, and related it to the fresco in Old Main. And for International Women’s Day, a message highlighted the first women to attend Penn State — Ellen Cross and Rachel Ewing — and related that history to Dean Justin Schwartz’s goal for the Penn State College of Engineering to achieve gender equity among the undergraduate student population.
FELLOWSHIP AND NETWORKING AWARD: CHARLESTON CHAPTER
The Fellowship and Networking Award recognizes groups whose programs and events are typically of a social nature and provide alumni an outlet to gather to interact with each other in a relaxed and fun environment. This year’s recipient is the Charleston Chapter. After more than a year in lockdown and fatigue from online events, the Charleston Chapter hosted an amazing outdoor event, with masks and social distancing encouraged, to reinvigorate the Penn State spirit in lower South Carolina. They created a mini version of a beloved Penn State/State College tradition in greater Charleston: The Arts Festival!
This event was planned with one of the most important Alumni Association goals in mind, which is to build a sense of alumni community with true pride for the Blue and White. The praise and gratitude from attendees made chapter members realize they had achieved the community- and pride-building goals.
TRACY AND RICK RIEGEL PINNACLE EVENT EXCELLENCE AWARD: CONNECTICUT VALLEY CHAPTER
The Tracy and Rick Riegel Pinnacle Event Excellence Award is given to a group who built an event from the ground up and worked to grow the event year after year, reaching a pinnacle of success. This year's award went to the Connecticut Valley Chapter, which took over the “Home for the Holidays” bus service in 1998. The bus service has been, by far, the major force behind the Connecticut Valley Chapter having both an endowed chapter scholarship and a trustee scholarship with a combined book value of $320,000. The bus service has even been used as a recruiting tool for prospective students throughout New England by both alumni and Penn State admissions counselors. Beyond the numbers, the chapter says the most gratifying aspect of the bus service has been providing a valuable service to many Penn State families. The many cards, letters, and emails of appreciation from parents and students testify to that.
JOAN M. MCCLANE RECENT ALUMNI AWARD: HUNTER DAVEY
The recipient of the 2022 Joan M. McLane Recent Alumni Award is Hunter Davey.
The Joan M. McLane Recent Alumni Award was endowed by Joan McLane, a 1994 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in administration of justice, and an active volunteer serving the Alumni Association. McLane has been giving back to Penn State since graduation, and in 2004 she received the Alumni Association's Recent Alumni Award — the very honor that now bears her name. Her support and volunteerism set an example to alumni everywhere.
K. DAVID WEIDNER DIVERSITY AWARD: BRANDON MCGRAW
The recipient of the 2022 K. David Weidner Diversity Award is Brandon McGraw.
The K. David Weidner Diversity Award was endowed by and named for an alumnus who has championed diversity and inclusion, to make sure that ALL Penn Staters are welcome in the Penn State family. David Weidner, a 1996 Penn State graduate with a doctorate in education administration, and his husband, Bill Gannon, endowed this award to recognize an individual who has significantly contributed to fostering diversity at Penn State and the Alumni Association.
PHILIP PHILIP MITCHELL ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD: MARK POBLETE
The recipient of the 2022 Philip Philip Mitchell Alumni Service Award is Mark Poblete.
The Philip Philip Mitchell Alumni Service Award recognizes an individual who has significantly contributed to the area of public service by sharing or volunteering his or her talent, time, and resources on behalf of the University. Philip Philip Mitchell, a 1943 journalism graduate, endowed this Alumni Service Award in 1981.
KAY AND ERNIE SALVINO VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: DAVID HOFFMAN
The recipient of the 2022 Kay and Ernie Salvino Volunteer of the Year Award winner is David Hoffman.
The Kay and Ernie Salvino Volunteer of the Year Award was endowed by the Salvinos in 2013. This award is given to a volunteer who has provided exemplary service to Penn State and the Penn State Alumni Association.
Congratulations, and thank you to all of this year's Volunteer Awards honorees!