Blogger Roll Call
Bob Batz • David L. Burrows • Lizzie Diller • Ria Fruscello • Abigail Gary • Lisa A. Goldstein • Brittany Goncar • Karen Gottschall • Beverley Gray • Cathy Kaplan • Thespine Kavoulakis • Maura Linehan • Mia McPherson • Nichola Moretti • Carolyn Newkirk • Rob Papke • Jennifer Papale Rignani • Shannon Venditti • Al Vrabel • Diane Vrabel
Bob Batz Jr.
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.
David L. Burrows
David L. Burrows is a long time resident of Mt. Lebanon, where he lives with his wife Judith on Pat Haven Drive. He received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. David was a physics teacher for the Pittsburgh Board of Education for 37 years before his retirement. He owns several classic British sports cars and often writes automotive articles for national and international magazines. David is also an enthusiastic collector of militaria, which has enabled him to be a regular contributor and staff writer for the national publication The Military Trader for the past five years.
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).
Ria Fruscello, better known as Motivational Mom in the world of blogging, grew up in the small, college town of Indiana, PA. She moved to the South Hills of Pittsburgh after college and is currently a Stay at Home Mom to three kids. Ria 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 Women’s Club of Mt. Lebanon.
Abigail grew up in Mt. Lebanon, went away to college, and lived for decades in the New York area, where she raised three sons and three greyhounds and wrote copy for major ad agencies. She and her husband recently retired to Mt. Lebanon, where she appreciates the low housing prices, restaurant scene and lack of traffic. She’s still getting used to the Pittsburgh accent, however.
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.
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.
Brittany Goncar Butler
Originally from Shaler, Brittany made her way to Mt. Lebanon with her husband Brian. They got married and moved during 2020. A technical writer by trade, Brittany enjoys a wide array of writing to keep her creative juices flowing. She graduated from Chatham University with a BFA and MFA in English and Creative Writing.
Brittany loves to run and lift weights. In fact, she is a certified RRCA Distance Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She also enjoys crocheting, walking her dog Julius, and rooting for the Blue Devils at the Lebo football games with her husband!
Karen Gottschall wrote her first blog by happenstance after she was hired as
the administrator for Mt Lebanon’s Public Information Office, and she couldn’t be more pleased how things worked out. She grew up in Baldwin Township, then after college lived in Northern Virginia, working at the Washingtonian Magazine, and Philadelphia before moving back to Pittsburgh to raise her children. Settling in Dormont, she was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years, then spent 7 years at the circulation desk at the Mt. Lebanon Library, followed by several administrative positions. Karen enjoys staying active with exercise, live music, microbrews, spending time with her adult children (wherever they happen to be living at the time), and travel near and far.
Beverly Gray is a transplant to Pittsburgh, born and raised in Pittsburgh’s sister steel city, Bethlehem. After meeting her husband, a Mt. Lebanon grad, she established her roots here, raising two boys and unofficially adopting another, in a house above the high school football field. A graduate of WVU and University of Pittsburgh, she worked as a training and development consultant before making the decision to stay home to raise a family. She now works for the school district and is a certified yoga instructor for the Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh, teaching classes, workshops, and private lessons as time permits. She is passionate about the healing power of yoga and meditation through the practice of self-awareness and shares this through her writing. Her loves are her family, yoga and meditation (both a must for living above a football field), reading and pretending to be a good cook.
Cathy Kaplan grew up in Upper St. Clair and eventually made her way over to Mt. Lebanon, where she now resides. She graduated from Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Communications. She works as a project manager, and also has spent time on the Steering Committee for Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk.
Cathy squeezes in as much writing as she can at night. She lives with her husband, daughter, a dog and three cats … and of course, fish. When not writing or working, Cathy and her family spend the weekends hiking, camping and being outside. They do anything they can with their dog, Nukka.
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.
Maura is a native of Mt. Lebanon and a graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in Psychology. Outside her coursework, Maura has had a long interest in journalism and has been a student journalist at both Mt. Lebanon High School and RMU. Her journalism has been recognized by organizations that include the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, the Pennsylvania News Media Association, and the Society of Collegiate Journalists. Since graduating, Maura has returned to her home town and started her career with UPMC Asbury Heights.
Mia McPherson is an award-winning writer and content creator specializing in B2B technology, marketing, and human-interest stories. She is the former Content Director and Editor-in-Chief of Oracle Customer Experience media properties. Mia holds a BA in Journalism and MBA with a focus on Organizational Leadership, and is currently working in her dream roles as stay-at-home parent and freelance writer.
Nichola Moretti is an instructor for Axios Tutoring of the South Hills and a former adjunct professor at Robert Morris University and the Community College of Allegheny County’s North and West Campuses. Among other roles, she has worked as a photographer, writer, editor and blogger. In 2005, she moved with her two boys, and their dad to Mt. Lebanon, where Anthony and Nichola are now exploring the glories of an empty nest.
Carolyn Newkirk, an avid runner, is married to Mark, a reluctant runner (his words). They have two children and a dog named Piper. Carolyn and Mark moved to Mt. Lebanon in 2000, because it was the ideal place to raise a family. In 2010, Carolyn intended to only run one full marathon and check it off her bucket list … 20 marathons later and counting, she has changed her goal to run a full marathon on every continent. When she is not running, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, paddling, indoor rowing, reading, hiking, and dining at restaurants fit for foodies. In addition, she raises awareness and money for ovarian cancer through fundraising and running the Pittsburgh Marathon. She is passionate about nutrition, fitness and creating a healthy balance of work, family and adventures.
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.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.
Jennifer Papale Rignani
Jennifer Papale Rignani published her first article in Pittsburgh Magazine in 1998. She is a professional writer and start-up flower farmer. The former resident of Mt. Lebanon lives in Mercer County with her husband, 15-year-old daughter Violet and twins who come home from college frequently.
Shannon, a 2004 Graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, worked as the Mt. Lebanon Magazine Art Director for two years after four years at FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm. Previously, she was the production manager for Aspen Magazine in Aspen, Colorado. She has a masters in Media Arts and Technology from Duquesne University, where she also played Division I soccer. Shannon lives in Murrysville with her husband, Mike, daughter Eleanora and son Milo!
Al Vrabel was born in Clairton, Pa., to a family of 11 children. Though he has lived in Mt. Lebanon for 39 years, he remains proud of his Clairton roots and often writes about growing up in a steel town where everyone’s dad worked in the mill. Al attended Duquesne University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in English in 1975 and also attended graduate school. He pursued various career paths throughout his life, including being an insurance agent, stockbroker, and piano salesman.An avid runner and fitness enthusiast, Al has competed in the Pittsburgh Marathon and has run in every Great Race since that event started more than 30 years ago. Besides writing poetry, essays, and short stories for his own enjoyment, Al loves music, playing both the piano and guitar and singing and composing songs.Now retired, Al enjoys golfing, traveling, spending time with his wife Diane and son Mark, and taking classes at the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
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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