Blogger Roll Call

Bob BatzEmily ChiodoMelissa CicoziJennifer CurranLizzie DillerMaria FruscelloAimee GirodLisa A. GoldsteinMark GriskeyKathy HrabovskyCpl. Jamie HughesThespine KavoulakisBlaise LarotondaMJ MeenenCarolyn NewkirkRob PapkeTodd PritchardJennifer Papale RignaniRekha ShuklaMarina SiegertNancy SmithCliff TuttleDiane VrabelElaine WertheimYvette Yescas

 

Bob Batz Jr.

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Bob Batz Jr. is writer and editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and post-gazette.com, where he likes to write about craft beer among many other topics. He’s active in the Association of Food Journalists, which he now serves as vice president. He’s a regular at both Mt. Lebanon farmers markets, but considers the Mt. Lebanon Lions market to be “his” and rarely misses a Wednesday. He and his wife and son live in Sunset Hills in a Spanish-style stucco house he bought in 1994. One of their hobbies is growing organic fruit, vegetables and flowers for the neighborhood deer. Return to top

 

Emily Chiodo

EmIly_Chiodo2_websizeEmily Chiodo is a Lebo native and Carnegie Mellon grad who moved away for a few years and, not surprisingly, returned to the area.  Now she makes a valiant effort to delight in all that this city and its wonderful neighborhoods have to offer.  A copywriter by trade, Emily has worked for local architecture and engineering firms, as well as Carnegie Science Center and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  She also has blogged for the Cultural Trust and the Three Rivers Arts Festival.  Between all the writing, Emily can usually be found talking up a storm.
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Melissa Cicozi

Melissa Cicozi grew up in New Jersey, earned her undergraduate degree and worked in St. Louis, Missouri. She then moved to Pittsburgh where she has melissa_cicossiworked, earned her Masters, married and raised a family. Three decades ago she was certified in crisis counseling, tax preparation, Nautilus training and aerobic instruction—in no particular order. Today she is the Assistant Head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University.  She served on Mt. Lebanon’s Parks Advisory Board for six years, is currently the vice president of the Board for Construction Junction, and has served as co-chair of the Mt. Lebanon Earth Day Committee for five years.  Her interests include gardening, exercising, eating out, cooking without wheat or dairy, sustainable living and bargain hunting.  Her past jobs have included everything from bar tending, to being a cooking teacher for troubled kids, to cosmetically renovating old apartment buildings, to summer stock theater.

Melissa lived in Shadyside and Wilkinsburg before moving to Mt. Lebanon with her family in 1992.  Her daughters have attended Howe, Mellon, and MLHS. Her husband, Paul, is the Director of James Gallery in Pittsburgh’s West End.  Her dog, Jamie, is unemployed and living at home.
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Jennifer Curran

Jennifer is a CPA currently staying home with her two children, Joseph and Nora.  She and her husband met in college at the University of Notre Dame and currently reside near Beverly Road.  Jennifer enjoys traveling, cooking, knitting, and restoring their 90-year-old home.
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Lizzie Diller

Lizzie is a former practicing attorney turned stay-at-home mom. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University School of Law, she would rather live in Pittsburgh than anywhere else. Lizzie met her husband, Derick, online. After dating for about a year, they got married, bought a house, moved, had a baby, and Lizzie stopped practicing law, all in the same year. They even managed to squeeze in their baby’s baptism. It was a hectic time. Her goals are to read to him and take him for a walk every day. She also spends embarrassing amounts of time shopping online for comfy mom clothes and trying to find people to hold her baby so she can swim laps and bake cookies (which cancel each other out calorie-wise).
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Maria Fruscello

Maria Fruscello, better known as Motivational Mom in the world of blogging, grew up in the small, college town of Indiana, PA. Maria FruscelloShe moved to the South Hills of Pittsburgh after college and is currently a Stay at Home Mom to three kids. Maria is happily married to her wonderful husband, Nick.

In April 2008, Maria decided to make some life changes and in one year, went from being a couch potato to a marathon runner. That decision was, by far, the best decision she ever made and now she feels compelled to share her knowledge with others.

When she isn’t running, Maria can be found reading, spending time with her family, or volunteering throughout Mt. Lebanon with the MLJWC.
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Aimee Girod

Aimee and her husband, Jack, have lived in Mt Lebanon for the past 11 years. She is a nurse with more than 20 years experience in healthcare. She has her diploma in nursing from Washington Hospital School of Nursing, her bachelor’s in Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and her master’s in Nursing and Business from Case Western University in Cleveland.

She loved hands-on nursing but after her four children were born she went to the classroom and was an instructor for Waynesburg University in both their nursing and business administration programs.
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Her passion for helping others took her back to health care but this time in the private sector where she received a certificate in Plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and is a consultant and blogger (meatlessmentor blog) in the Pittsburgh area helping families transition to a healthier lifestyle. She is also a certified spin instructor and teaches spin and fitness classes locally.

Aimee is active in the Mt Lebanon community and has served as President of St Paul’s Episcopal Nursery School and the Lincoln Elementary PTA. She coaches for the Mt. Lebanon Basketball Association and has also volunteered as a coach for soccer and basketball for the Recreation Department.

She is passionate about health and fitness and enjoys sharing her family’s success with other families.

In her free time (yes there is still some) she enjoys the outdoors with her four children who are all under the age of 11, husband Jack, their dog Charlie and cat Figaro.
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Lisa A. Goldstein

Lisa A. Goldstein may have grown up in Buffalo, NY, but hasn’t lived there since college, so snow jokes no longer apply. After college in upstate NY, she followed her now-husband Aaron Steinfeld — also a Buffalonian — to Ann Arbor, MI, where he was working on his Ph.D. Then it was his turn to follow her to Berkeley, CA, where she got her Master’s in Journalism.

Lisa Goldstein

When they were ready to start a family a few years later, they wanted to move back east to be closer to family and friends. When Aaron got a job at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, they moved to Squirrel Hill in 2001. They’ve been residents of Mt. Lebanon since December 2005 when they bought their first home. They have a son at Lincoln Elementary, a daughter at Jefferson Middle, and a cat who secretly plots their demise.

In addition to being a freelance journalist who specializes in writing about disabilities, parenting, technology, and health, Lisa volunteers for the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Advanced Bionics, Reading is Fundamental, and is a trustee on the Temple Emanuel board. She is also a voracious reader who loves TV, movies, games, travel, going out to eat, and avoiding snow whenever possible.
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Mark Griskey

Originally from Western PA, Mark graduated from the University of Maryland in 1993.  He lived in Washington, DC and Portland, Oregon before relocating to Mt. Lebanon in 2004.Mark_Griskey

Telecommuting from his home office, he is the Director of Systems Architecture for the publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. He is an open source software advocate who loves to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers, take infrared photographs and travel independently.  Summer weekend evenings will find him sitting on his deck with a glass of Oregon Pinot Gris while tending to his hand built smoker.
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Kathy Hrabovsky

Continuing her education and educating others are two of her lifelong goals.  After graduating from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1982, BARCH, and practicing architecture for approximately 30 years, she returned to Carnegie-Mellon in 2009 to pursue a Master of Science in Sustainable Design, MSSD, in order to further her education in Sustainable & Green Design, to pursue her passion for Sustainable Community Development, and to develop teaching opportunities in Western PA. She began teaching in the Interior Architecture Program at Chatham in the summer of 2011.Kathy_Hrabovsky_websize

In addition to teaching at Chatham, she maintain a residential architecture practice (www.kah-architects.com) in the South Hills of Pittsburgh; volunteers as a member of the environmental sustainability board in Mt. Lebanon, volunteers as a member of the Mt. Lebanon School District Utility Management Team; volunteers as an architectural consultant for the CDCP’s RenPlan Program; volunteers for the WGF when called upon to assist with fundraising; and volunteers in the Mt. Lebanon Schools as a forensics judge and Odyssey of the Mind Coach.

In addition to academic degrees, she is a member of the AIA; a LEED AP, accredited in New Construction (NC) and Commercial Interiors (CI); a RESNET Home Energy Rater; and a BPI Analyst 1 (though she does not maintain the credentials for RESNET and BPI).

Born in Pittsburgh, she has lived in New York City and Chicago for a combination of 15 years, before returning to Pittsburgh, to raise her family more sustainably, in 1997.  Her family—her husband and two children–is an important part of her life.  Together, they support the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Phipps Conservatory, the Society for Contemporary Craft, the Carnegie Museums and WESA.
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Cpl. Jamie Hughes

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Cpl. Hughes has worked in the Mt. Lebanon Police Department since 1992. He is currently assigned to the Crime Prevention Unit, along with Officer Scott Kunz. In addition to public appearances at places like Citizen’s Police Academy, bike rodeos and the car show, the officers in the CPU visit each of our schools to teach children how to stay safe and avoid becoming victims of crime.
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Thespine Kavoulakis

Thespine Kavoulakis

A nearly life-long resident of Mt. Lebanon, Thespine Kavoulakis moved to a new home in La Jolla, California last year when her husband became Chancellor of UC San Diego. Thespine spends the school year in California with two of her three children, but commutes back to Pittsburgh with them during school breaks and summer vacation to catch up with her friends, family and older child, whose job it is to ship regular supplies of Mineo’s pizza, chipped ham, and Utz pretzels to California.

Along with raising three children, Thespine has spent the last 25 years as a freelance writer, both in corporate and business communications as well as magazines. In her dreams, she would like to be organized and have a clean car, but at the moment she is distracted with a variety of endeavors that mostly focus on what each of us can do to make this world a better place for everybody.
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Blaise Larotonda

Blaise_Larotonda_websizeGraduate of Penn State University, 1978.  B.S. Law Enforcement and Corrections.
Mt. Lebanon Police Department 1978-2003.
Magisterial District Judge 2003-present.
Married and raised two great children, both serving in the military:  29-year-old daughter in the Navy, 26-year-old son in the Army, both are officers.
More than 25 years of coaching local Mt. Lebanon sports including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and hockey.
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MJ Meenen

MJ Meenen MJ_Meenengrew up in Mt. Lebo; after Allegheny College and grad school in DC, she lived in New England for eight years.  Her passion is to help empower groups to start new things, solve new problems and embrace a big vision to make the world a more interesting and compassionate place.

Favorite philosopher: Ralph Waldo Emerson. Loves travel, sports, the arts, design, national politics, irony and volunteering.  Currently serves on the board for the Denis Theatre Foundation and works at Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh.  MTL roots trace back to granddad Frederick Valicenti, a first generation Italian immigrant, who moved his family to Mt. Lebanon and built many stone, ranch and cape houses in Mt Lebanon, from the ‘30s to the ‘70s.
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Carolyn Newkirk

Carolyn Newkirk, an avid runner, is married to Mark, a reluctant runner (his words). They have two children and a dog named Piper. Raised in the South Hills, Carolyn graduated from Mt. Union College in Ohio with a B.A. in French and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Master of Education in Nutrition. She is a Registered Dietitian and worked as a Compliance and Training Manager at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healcarolynsizedthcare for over 15 years. In 2000, she and Mark moved back to Pittsburgh from Dayton, OH, where Carolyn completed her dietetic internship at Miami Valley Hospital. They chose to settle in Mt. Lebanon, because it was close to her mom and the ideal place to raise a family.

In 2010, Carolyn intended to only run one full marathon and check it off her bucket list…12 marathons later (Pittsburgh-6 times; Cleveland, OH; Santa Barbara, CA; Pauillac, France; Reykjavik, Iceland; Portland, OR; and New York City), she has changed her goal to run a full marathon on every continent.

When Carolyn is not running, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, paddling (outrigger canoes, stand up paddle boards, and dragon boats), indoor rowing, reading, hiking, skiing, and dining at restaurants fit for foodies. She also volunteers at Mellon Middle School in the writing lab to help students with their English papers. In addition, she raises awareness and money for ovarian cancer through fundraising and running the Pittsburgh Marathon. Carolyn is passionate about nutrition, fitness, and creating a healthy balance of work, family, and adventures.
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Rob Papke

Rob moved to Mt. Lebanon from Denver in 1995.  Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent for the past 17 years, he spent 20 years in the restaurant industry. When his children started high school, the volunteer work within the PTA began to wane, so he decided to re-enter the work force and he took a job in the fashion world.Rob_Papke_websize

During his time in the restaurant industry he developed a love for cooking, especially with fresh seasonal ingredients and knowledge of French, Italian and Californian wines.  As a stay-at-home parent, he learned how to give a piece of furniture a second life by rescuing discarded items from the trash and transforming them into works of beauty. His time in the world of fashion has given him a new understanding of the interplay of colors, patterns and fabric.

He enjoys cooking, gardening, photography, music, art, non-fiction/history, politics, visiting museums, environmental concerns and hiking.
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Todd PritchardTodd Pritchard

Todd Pritchard, Chief of Medical Rescue Team South, started with MRTSA in 1985 as a volunteer and became a full time staff paramedic in 1987. He has been chief since 2007. He is a 1981 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School and he became involved with EMS after graduating from college.
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Jennifer Papale Rignani

Jennifer Papale Rignani published her first article in Pittsburgh Magazine in 1998.Jennifer_Rignani2 Since then she written about food, parenting, lifestyle and social issues for many publications including: Main Line Today, New Jersey Savvy Living, Edible Jersey, The Sandpaper, The Press of Atlantic City, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the online daily patch.com.

She is an avid cook, movie and interior design buff. Jennifer and her husband reside in Mt. Lebanon with three daughters, a Puggle and a cat. When not blogging, Jennifer works as a writer and fundraiser.
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Rekha Shukla

Rekha Shukla is a consultant concentrating in research and evaluation, grant writing,  project development and strategic planning.  She holds a Master of International Affairs Degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has nearly 20 years of development and Rekha_Shukla_websizemanagement experience gained in public and nonprofit organizations in Asia, New York and Pittsburgh.

She has worked with international nonprofit organizations, managing an International Affairs office for the American Friends Service Committee in Bangkok, Thailand, where she served as a liaison among organizations in South East Asia and China. She evaluated and helped develop income generation programs in India and Jamaica. In her tenure at the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, she worked with private developers, banks, government and non-profit organizations to develop new construction and rehabilitation programs for affordable housing.

Rekha moved to Mt. Lebanon along with her husband when he took a position at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette some 15 years ago. They have raised their two teen aged sons here. Since moving to Mt. Lebanon she has served as president of the Mushroom Family Learning Center’s Board, served on the Community Relations Board of Mt. Lebanon and as secretary for the Mt. Lebanon Aqua Club. She joined the board of Outreach Teen and Family Services in 2012.
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Marina Siegert

Dr. Marina Siegert received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of California at Davis in 1996.  She then completed an internship at the Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic near Sacramento, CA.  The internship program provided one year of intensive trainingMarina_Siegert_websize in several specialty areas including Internal Medicine, Surgery, Radiology and Emergency Medicine.  Dr. Siegert also completed a fellowship at UC Davis in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care.

Originally from Southern California, Dr. Siegert practiced at the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, a 30+ doctor facility, for 10 years.  There she worked alongside many specialists, assisted in training nearly 100 interns, and was the veterinarian for a number of celebrities.  In 2008, she and her husband decided to move their family back to his hometown of Mt. Lebanon, PA.

Dr. Siegert shares her home with her husband, two young children, two dogs – George, a Pit Mix, and Jack, a German Shepherd, and her cat, Chicken.  In her free time, she likes to run, hike and spend time with her family.
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Nancy Smith

Master GardeNancy_Smithner Nancy Smith has been designing gardens since 1990. The former art teacher in Maryland public schools graduated with a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. Her home has been on the Mt. Lebanon Library garden tour twice and on the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Tour in 2009.

An active volunteer, she also has served in leadership positions in the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy, The Mt. Lebanon Parks Advisory Board and the Friends of the Mt. Lebanon Library.
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Cliff TuttleCliff_Tuttle_websize

Cliff Tuttle is a long-time resident of Mt. Lebanon.  He is celebrating four decades as a lawyer in 2013. Check out his blog at pittsburghlegalbacktalk.com.
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Diane Vrabeldvrabel
Diane Vrabel is a Pittsburgh native who has lived in Mt. Lebanon for 36 years. A baby boomer, she grew up during the ‘60s in the nearby neighborhood of Brookline.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in journalism from Duquesne University, she started working for the Internal Revenue Service in 1977. Throughout her 36-year career, she held various positions within the agency, including tax specialist, manager, instructor, newsletter editor, and training coordinator. She also obtained a master’s degree in communications from Duquesne in 1991.

Since retiring in 2013, Diane has been immersing herself in a wide range of fun activities. She does freelance writing, volunteers at the Mt. Lebanon Library’s Book Cellar, takes art and exercise classes, and is learning to play the piano. Other things she enjoys are reading, drawing, traveling, hiking, and bicycling. She has been a volunteer for the Mt. Lebanon School District PTSA and is an active member of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Diane lives on Arden Road with her husband Al and 18-year-old son Mark. She is thrilled to contribute to the Mt. Lebanon Magazine since writing is her biggest passion.
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Elaine WertheimElaine Wertheim

Born and raised in Mt. Lebanon. Received a BA and MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism. Taught Art History at Northern Community College for 12 years. Moved back to Mt. Lebanon in 1986. Teaches film classes and art history classes for Mt. Lebanon Adult Education program. Teaches art history and film classes at The Chautauqua Institution. Writes about movies and domestic architecture for mtl Magazine. Because of her profession, she spends a lot of time in the dark.
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Yvette Yescas

Yvette Yescas grew up a long way from Mt. Lebanon. Her earliest memories are of a grandmother who would come home Yvette_Yescas_websizecovered in soot and sweat after working all day at a copper smelter in Arizona. Unlike grandma, you won’t find Yvette operating a crane. You will find her walking, occasionally tripping, on the sidewalks of some of the most historically significant neighborhoods of Mt. Lebanon. She serves on our Historic Preservation Board, and you might find her speaking to the Commission amongst her duties. For Yvette, Mt. Lebanon is a long way from home, both figuratively and literally, but she is delighted that her kids have roots here.

In her not-so-free time, she works for a charitable organization. Her husband is a computer geek, and their two daughters attend Mt. Lebanon Public Schools.
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Interested in joining Lebolife blogs? Let us know. Email Editor in Chief Susan Morgans  smorgans@mtlebanon.org or Online Editor Laura Lilley at lpace@mtlebanon.org.