here & now

Recent Duquesne grad Samantha Barker won a regional Emmy for producing a television news package about a local walk to raise money for cancer.


Samantha Barker, Mt. Lebanon High School class of 2009, took home a regional Emmy in the College/University Production category for writing and producing a news package about a local walk for blood cancer.

Barker was inspired to cover the event because her grandfather died of cancer and her mother is a hematologist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Duquesne University this year.

Karen Donovan
Karen Donovan

Dr. Karen Russo Donovan, Mayfair Drive, is taking on a new position as associate dean of graduate programs and executive education at Duquesne University.

Donovan teaches marketing, consumer behavior and marketing strategy to graduate and undergraduate students. She says one of the perks of her position is she gets to work with Pittsburgh businesses. “I’m just enjoying it so much,” she says. “I’m loving the interaction with the business community.”

Donovan is originally from New Castle but moved to Pittsburgh when she began her undergraduate degree in nursing at Carlow University. She furthered her education at the University of Pittsburgh and shifted her focus from nursing to health care marketing, earning an MBA and a Ph.D in marketing with a minor in psychology.

She also researches health literacy and product labeling, which took her on a trip to China in 2008 and 2009. Donovan’s goal in her research is to make health product labeling clear to the consumer so there are no confusing or conflicting messages on what the product is supposed to do.

Donovan is eager to bring her experience to Duquesne. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to impact the graduate program and help the school continue on with positive momentum,” she says.

Lisa Wagner-Freeman
Lisa Wagner-Freeman

When Lisa Wagner-Freeman learned she was nominated for the Pittsburgh Fashion Week Hall of Fame, she was a bit shocked.

“I was extremely surprised,” she says. “I didn’t even know I was nominated.”

Wagner-Freeman, Austin Avenue, has a long list of fashion industry experience including modeling, retail and fashion writing. At 17 she started working as a sales associate at Carl Herrmann, and began modeling for Gimbels, Joseph Horne, and Carl Herrmann Inc., around the same time. She’s held management positions with companies such as Cache, Lillie Rubin and Chanel Cosmetics, worked as an evening wear specialist at Saks Fifth Avenue and bridal specialist at Bridal Beginning and writes for and

She’s also worked for Freeman Realty for 24 years and serves on the Board of Directors Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and is a trustee on the association’s nonprofit branch project, Foundation. When she does find moments for herself, Wagner-Freeman likes to spend time with her three grandchildren.

She offers advice to people who want to get in touch with their inner fashionistas. “Recognize your own style and don’t try to copy anyone else.”

Mt. Lebanon high school unit principal, Joel G. Thompson.
Mt. Lebanon high school unit principal, Joel G. Thompson.

Joel Thompson has been hired as a unit principal at Mt. Lebanon High School. Thompson, previously a social studies teacher at Fort Couch Middle School in the Upper St. Clair School District, has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science  and a master’s in secondary social studies education and from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to his position at Upper St. Clair he taught high school social studies at Greensburg Catholic High School.


Davin Interiors, 671 Washington Road, was named the Best Residential Designers: Pennsylvania by Build magazine. Owner Cathy Davin started the firm 15 years ago, and it just celebrated its third anniversary on Washington Road. For more:


girl scout bench
From left: Markham students Ellison Resler, Hannah Donehue, Tessa Peer, Alexandra London, Emily Berdyck, Piper Bozick, Alina Donahue, Sophia London, Thea Hipolito and Dottie Pieklik helped make the playground’s Buddy Bench.

Markham School playground has a new addition, thank to the school’s third grade Girl Scout Brownie Troop 52130. Over the summer, the troop took a wooden bench, painted and finished it, promoting it from ordinary bench to Buddy Bench.

Home Depot and Battaglia Construction donated materials for the bench.

The idea behind the bench is “Be a friend, make a friend.” If a child is unsure of what to play during recess or who to play with, they can sit on the brightly colored rainbow Buddy Bench. When a schoolmate notices someone on the bench, they can invite that child to play.

“The Buddy Bench is a wonderful addition to the playground at Markham,” says Christie Ketterman, Markham’s guidance counselor. “It allows our students to practice so many of the concepts we emphasize, such as empathy, inclusion, and friendship.”