The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 10, 2014

Girl Scouts will honor women’s achievements

JOHNSTOWN — Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania is set to celebrate another year of achievement.

The organization will hold its 37th annual Awards of Distinction dinner April 28 at Sunnehanna Country Club, 1000 Sunnehanna Drive, Westmont.

A private reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the general reception at 6:15. The dinner and the program will start 6:30.

“This is our longest-running event – 37 years is pretty remarkable – and it’s a great occasion for Girl Scouts and Johnstown,” said Allison Burns, events manager with Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.

The awards program is the premier fundraising event for Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, with all proceeds going to support Girl Scout initiatives.

Joyce Murtha, widow of congressman John Murtha, will again serve as the event’s honorary chairwoman.

Phebe Novakovic, chairwoman and CEO of General Dynamics, an aerospace and defense company located in West Falls Church, Va., will be the guest speaker.

She joined General Dynamics in 2001 and became president and chief operation officer in 2012. Novakovic has served as chairwoman of the board and CEO of General Dynamics since January 2013.

“We’re excited to have her because she shows that women can be at the forefront in a male dominated field, and we’re looking forward to hearing her insights and lessons she learned along the way,” Burns said.

This year, the 2014 Community Service Award will be presented to Stella Somiari, senior director at Windber Research Institute. The award recognizes one outstanding member of the community who embodies the Girl Scout mission of courage, confidence and character and who strives to make the world a better place.

Somiari has served as the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania board chairwoman since 2011 and soon will step down from that role, Burns said.

“She served during a critical time when we were merging 27 counties to make up Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania and helped lead that initiative,” Burns said. “She’s not only a special woman to the council but to the Johnstown community.”

In addition, Girl Scout Troops 40976 and 40921 will be honored for creating a video about breast cancer awareness that features Joyce Murtha. The project earned the girls their Silver Award.

The dinner usually attracts around 230 people and is sold out every year.

“We hope people will feel inspired by our keynote speaker and awardee and also have a better understanding of what Girl Scouts is doing in the community,” Burns said.

Tickets for the dinner are $125 per person and $225 for a pair. Reservations are required by April 18.

To order tickets, call (412) 594-2210 or visit

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


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