BY TOM LAVIS
The YWCA of Greater Johnstown will honor seven women from the area for their contributions to the community during the 27th annual Tribute to Women on May 23.
The event will feature a reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 at Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St. in downtown Johnstown.
Making a difference
Diane Lopez of Lower Yoder Township is making a difference in the lives of others and has been chosen as the 2013 Yellow Rose honoree.
The Yellow Rose Award, chosen by the YWCA board of directors, is presented to a person who strives to create opportunities for women’s growth, leadership and power to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.
Other honorees are nominated by their peers, who submit a biography about the nominee and her contributions.
A selection committee reviews the biographies with the names removed and makes selections based on the merits of the information provided.
The recipients are Sally Stewart, arts and letters; Renée Carthew, business; Amanda Artim, community service; Laura Perry-Thompson, education; Edith Scaletta, nonprofit/government; and Dr. Jeanne Spencer, professions.
The task of selecting the honorees is a challenging process for YWCA officials.
“This year, out of the 45 outstanding nominations received, seven magnificent women have been chosen to be honored for leadership in their chosen profession as well as accomplishments and commitments to Cambria and Somerset counties,” said Valerie Deater, event chairwoman who has served on the Tribute to Women committee for 17 years.
“There are so many distinguished women in our community, and we are excited to celebrate our 27th year of recognizing them.”
Yellow Rose Award
Diane Lopez is chief executive officer and treasurer of G.A.P. Federal Credit Union.
Lopez, a daughter of Francis and Glory Grattan of Westmont, is a graduate of Bishop McCort Catholic High School and Penn State University, where she earned a degree in animal production.
She moved to Houston, Texas, and worked as a federal grain inspector with the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
On her first day of work for FGIS, she met her future husband, Larry Lopez. They have been together for 33 years, and have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Lopez later worked as a cattle accountant for 11 years at Granada Corp., followed by a stint with Yuma Co., an independent oil and gas concern.
While visiting for a niece’s christening, she interviewed for a job at Johnstown’s Post Office Employees Federal Credit Union, which eventually changed its name to G.A.P. Federal Credit Union.
Lopez accepted the job of manager in training in October 1995. She was named CEO in 1996 and appointed treasurer in 2001.
She worked during the day and attended St. Francis College at night, eventually graduating in December 2000 with a master’s degree in human resource management/industrial relations.
Lopez is a past board member for the American Heart Association; serves on the Credit Union Complex Board as president; and is the treasurer of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Johnstown Chapter of Credit Unions.
Arts and Letters Award
Sally Stewart of Richland Township, a retired teacher and supervisor from the Greater Johnstown School District, is the recipient of the Arts and Letters Award.
Stewart’s love of drawing started when she was a child and eventually led to her choice of art education as a college major.
She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the former Indiana State Teachers College, now Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Stewart chose to pursue two careers – artist and teacher.
Composition, perspective and style are the hallmarks of Stewart’s works.
Stewart has received numerous awards for her watercolor and wood-carved artworks.
During the 30 years she taught and supervised art in the Greater Johnstown School District, she learned that as she became a better artist her ability to engage with youngsters in their art experiences was enhanced.
Stewart exhibits with a local art group and has created artworks for several organizations and churches.
In 1985, she received an Outstanding Alumni Award from IUP for service and leadership.
In 2011, she was inducted into the Artists Hall of Fame at the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center.
Her efforts reached global proportions in 2007 when she answered a challenge by the Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) to design a gift which could be replicated and would speak of the church’s worldwide outreach.
She created 50 crosses which have been given as gifts by church hierarchy to world church dignitaries and have gone to more than 20 countries.
Renée Carthew of Upper Yoder Township is the recipient of the Business Award.
She is city editor of The Tribune-Democrat.
Carthew, a lifelong resident of Johnstown, is a daughter of the late Edward L. and Teresa F. Carthew, formerly of Brownstown.
She is a graduate of Ferndale Area High School. While a senior at Ferndale Area, she was hired by The Tribune-Democrat to work in its Circulation Department on weekends when the newspaper decided to publish a Sunday edition. She also worked in the newspaper’s Business Office on weekday afternoons.
After graduating from high school, Carthew was hired full time in the newspaper’s Editorial Department, doing clerical assignments as a copy person. Through hard work and determination, she advanced progressively to news assistant and then copy editor and features editor.
After recently being promoted to city editor, Carthew now supervises and assigns reporters, copy editors and photographers while also editing copy, writing headlines and paginating pages.
Her work in the newsroom has included assignments as lead editor on numerous special projects, including: Vision, a review of the region’s economy; summer and winter guides; Thunder in the Valley; “Your Story”; Outdoors in the Laurel Highlands; and Focus on the Arts, to name a few.
She coordinated stories, designed and edited pages, and assigned photographs for the following books: “The Shanksville Story: How a Small Town Was Changed Forever”; “Heroes Were Made,” the story of Flight 93 – the victims, the memorial and the community of supporters; and “Homelands,” stories celebrating the history and culture of the many ethnic backgrounds of the region.
In 2011, Carthew earned a Golden Quill Award for “Homelands” from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, and led the “Homelands” series throughout 2010. This series received the Ray Sprigle Memorial Award for Excellence in Print, best in show.
Carthew has three brothers, Michael (Patty), Alamo, Calif.; Edward (Denise), Lexington, Ky.; William (Valerie), Fishertown; and a sister, Elizabeth (Clayton) Shank, Richland Township.
She is affectionately known as “Nae Nae” to her nephews and niece: Dominic, Don, Ed and Matthew Perry, and Bryan, Chris and Jennifer Carthew. She also has seven other nieces and nephews, all living out of the area, and 19 great-nieces and great-nephews.
Carthew volunteered at St. Vincent dePaul Family Kitchen on Bedford Street in Johnstown.
She is an aquatics aerobics instructor at the YWCA and also helps teach children to swim.
Community Service Award
Amanda Artim of Richland Township is the honoree in the community service category.
Artim is the founder of the Our Community, Our Children Pediatric Project that raises money to support projects involving children in the Conemaugh Health System.
She is the event chairwoman for the annual Our Community, Our Children Chef Auction in partnership with the Conemaugh Health Foundation.
Artim is the director of admissions at Cambria-Rowe Business College, responsible for admissions and marketing for the Johnstown and Indiana campuses.
She and her husband, Mike, have been married for 10 years. The couple has two children, Austin, 9, and Savannah, 6.
When her son was hospitalized for a severe flu virus in 2007, Artim saw that the decor in the pediatric rooms was not appealing to youngsters.
She started a campaign to remodel the rooms to make them more welcoming and to “pay it forward” for all the outstanding care her son received while hospitalized.
The goal was to raise $40,000 to remodel all of the rooms, and after a few small fundraisers, Artim realized she needed a larger, signature event to raise the money.
She decided to create chef auction, where people could sample some of the best food from local restaurants and bid on special private dining experiences and packages.
The initial auction was held in 2008 and raised more than $12,000.
In 2012, the auction netted $48,000, bringing the five-year total to more than $150,000.
After completing the remodeling of the pediatric rooms, the auction proceeds have been used to build a new family waiting area for the pediatric floor, purchase equipment for the neonatal intensive care unit, remodel two ambulatory surgery rooms at Lee Campus and supported projects for adolescent and teen trauma.
Artim and her husband are active in the community, particularly in the areas of children, youth and education.
The Education Award goes to Laura Perry-Thompson of Richland Township.
Perry-Thompson, a native of Johnstown, is the social work program director at Pitt-Johnstown.
She attended Pitt-Johnstown, and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1973 at the Pittsburgh campus.
In 1976, she earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Pittsburgh.
After beginning her professional career with Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, Perry-Thompson returned to Johnstown in 1980, where she worked for more than 20 years at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center as a behavioral health and employee assistance program coordinator, psychotherapist and psychiatric social worker.
In 1996, and while working full time, she enrolled in the inaugural University of Pittsburgh master of social work program, and earned a degree in 2000.
She joined the Pitt-Johns-town staff in 2003 with the Personal Counseling Center and Academic Success Center.
In January 2007, she was named program director of the University of Pittsburgh Master of Social Work Program on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.
She serves as full-time faculty and is responsible for teaching foundation and direct practice courses. She is involved in the recruitment of students who come from Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland counties and beyond.
She also serves as field liaison and adviser, which gives her the opportunity to work closely with many of the social-service agencies and organizations in these counties.
During spring break 2013, Perry-Thompson had the opportunity to travel with a group of seven students to Belgium, where she taught a course in contemporary issues in global health care.
Perry-Thompson has a long record of active involvement in community groups that promote the equality of all persons.
She served on the Women’s Help Center board of directors for more than 25 years and is currently president-elect. She also serves on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) executive committee, the National Association of Social Workers and the Cambria County Health and Welfare Council.
Perry-Thompson is certified by the American Red Cross as a mental health specialist. She also is a member of the Johnstown Symphony Chorus. She is actively involved in Christ Centered Community Church, where she serves as Sunday school and Bible study teacher, and mentors new members.
She and her husband, John, have a son, Eugene of Greensboro, N.C.
Edith Scaletta of Stonycreek Township is the recipient of the Nonprofit/Government Award.
Scaletta, a daughter of the late Leroy and Thelma Stutzman, is the nursing home administrator at the Church of the Brethren Home in Windber.
After graduating from Greater Johnstown High School, she attended Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and graduated in 1969. Scaletta married after graduation and moved to Altoona, where she worked in Altoona Hospital’s operating room.
While expecting their first child, the couple moved back to Johnstown to be near family. Scaletta chose to be a stay-at-home mother until returning to the workforce in 1973.
The Church of the Brethren Home added a wing to accommodate 76 additional residents, and Scaletta was hired as registered nurse supervisor. As the years passed, she did in-servicing and policy writing while attending Pitt-Johnstown, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and certified in gerontology.
Scaletta became the home’s first registered nurse assessment coordinator and was responsible for ensuring that new Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act regulations were met.
In 1991, she was promoted to the position of director of nursing services.
With the encouragement of then-home administrator, Thomas Reckner, she continued her education to obtain a nursing home administrator degree and was promoted to assistant administrator.
In 2002, Scaletta was promoted to administrator, and the Church of the Brethren Home became part of a continuing care retirement community called Brethren Home Community Windber.
Scaletta partnered with Karen Chirillo of Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center to create a teaching facility for high school nurse’s aide students to gain experience.
Scaletta is the chairwoman of the School Health Assistant/Adult Nurse’s Aide Occupational Advisory Committee at vo-tech. After seeing the success of the nurse’s aide program, the practical nursing program from vo-tech used The Church of the Brethren Home to receive practical training and Scaletta serves on its advisory committee.
Currently, Mount Aloysius students are provided on-site education at the Church of the Brethren Home.
Scaletta also serves on Pitt-Johnstown’s education panel for Cambria and Somerset counties, which supports continuing education credits for professional health care in western Pennsylvania. Scaletta has mentored two qualified candidates to become nursing home administrators.
Dr. Jeanne Spencer of East Taylor Township is the honoree in the professions category.
Spencer is program director of the family medicine residency program in the Conemaugh Health System.
While neither of Spencer’s parents were college educated, they instilled in their daughter a can-do attitude that eventually led to her enrollment into medical school at the University of Rochester in New York.
She met her husband, Rob, during medical school. They left Rochester and came to Johnstown and found people friendly and welcoming.
She found her medical residency at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center challenging and rewarding and was selected chief resident. Upon graduation, Spencer entered a faculty position at the hospital and discovered a love for teaching family medicine.
She works in the office, hospital and nursing home seeing patients of all ages. Treating infants and children is the favorite part of her practice.
An opportunity arose to partner with the University of Pittsburgh to help the HIV patients in Cambria and surrounding counties.
Knowing HIV is a challenging disease to treat, her goal is to work with a skilled team of pharmacists, dietitians, case managers, psychologists and residents to help patients lead productive lives for years.
After complaining that family physicians were not mentioned in breastfeeding training, Spencer was asked to join the Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition. Her years chairing the coalition brought the opportunity to make breastfeeding more accepted across the commonwealth.
The birth of the first of two sons inspired Spencer to begin writing about infant nutrition. Her first article was accepted for publication in the American Family Physician journal. Since then, Spencer has written a textbook on children's health.
Her article on breastfeeding problems posted on UpToDate, the world’s leading medical database, has been opened 51,000 times.
She and her husband have been married for 23 years. They have been dedicated foster parents, who also have adopted two children.
Tribute honorees nominated by their peers
BY RUTH RICE
Selecting the honorees for the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Awards is a hush-hush process.
Nominees are chosen by those in the community for the arts and letters, business, community service volunteer, education, nonprofit/government and professions awards.
The nomination form is a difficult one to fill out because the nominee’s name, place of work or any other identifying factors cannot be included.
“Our goal is to be very objective,” said Diane Lopez, YWCA board president and this year’s Yellow Rose winner.
“This lends credibility. Someone nominated you. We value our nominators because it takes time to write, and it shows you made an impact on them. You can truly win on merit and credibility.”
Sometimes it might be the nominator’s writing skill that pushes their entry over the top, even by a tenth of a point.
“Maybe someone didn’t paint a complete picture while someone else used more detail in their nominee’s area of expertise,” Lopez said.
“The person could be known in the community for the work they do, and their nominator delves into the details. It can be difficult not to give away who they are.”
Once nominations are received, they are gone over to make sure any inadvertent slips revealing the nominee’s identity are marked out before reaching the nomination committee, which is made up of past honorees.
“We ask past honorees if they want to do it,” Lopez said.
“This is our 27th year, so we have a nice pool to draw from.”
The nominating committee contains no board members, but Lopez said she has gone through the process in an emergency when another member couldn’t be there.
Nominees are rated on the basis of their contributions in three areas – their outstanding achievements in the chosen category, their professional leadership and individual accomplishments and their volunteer efforts and community service as well as their position as a role model for other women.
Copies of the nomination form are given to smaller committees of four, with the winner in a particular category from last year reading the nominations for that category this year.
If a committee member believes she knows the nominee despite the measures taken to insure secrecy, she is asked to excuse herself from reading that nomination and to give the form to another member.
After all the nominations have been read and rated, the chairwoman tabulates the rating and declares the honorees in each category.
Lopez said in the event of a tie, which has happened more than once over the years, a different group is called in to read the nominations that have tied.
The Yellow Rose Award is more subjective with no secret selection process.
Board members choose a recipient who exemplifies the mission of the YWCA by being heavily involved in activities that promote the elimination of racism and discrimination, being a major participant in activities to empower woman and being a role model who inspires other women.
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