here & now

Mt. Lebanon high school’s 2017 National Merit Semifinalists. /Photo: Cissy Bowman

CONGRATULATIONS NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLAR FINALISTS! Eleven Mt. Lebanon seniors have been selected National Merit Semifinalists and will now move through the scholarship competition. They are:  Grace Brown, William Buerger, Jackson Debski, Anne Jin, Katherine McRury, Abby Mirra, Nikolas Mustian, Otis Smith, Mariana Tandon, James Wang,  and Jonathan Yang.

About 1.6 million students nationally in about 22,000 schools compete in the National Merit Scholarship Program, a nonprofit academic competition for university scholarships sponsored since 1955.  They qualify based on the results of the PSAT test they take as juniors, which measures critical reading ability, math problem solving skills and writing prowess. Based on the results of the October 2016 PSAT, the Mt. Lebanon semifinalists are among fewer than one percent of the students across the country who took the test.

“The entire Mt. Lebanon school community congratulates our National Merit Semifinalists,” says High School Principal Brian McFeeley.  “We continue to be impressed by the outstanding achievement and hard work demonstrated by our students, and it is also a credit to the wonderful teachers and support staff at our school.”

A select group of students from among the national semifinalists will be named finalists and be eligible for National Merit Scholarships.

This year’s Mt. Lebanon High School Great Alumni class is, from left, Dr. Cheston Berlin, Class of 1954; Tacy Byham, Class of 1986; Michael Riemer, Class of 1978; and Dr. Judith Balk, Class of 1981. /Photo: Cissy Bowman

GREAT ALUMNI This year’s Mt. Lebanon High School Great Alumni Award recipients are: Judith Balk, M.D., Class of 1981; Cheston M. Berlin, M.D., Class of 1954; Tacy Byham, Ph.D., Class of 1986, Steffanie Jones Lewis, Class of 1954, Linn F. Mollenauer, Ph.D., Class of 1954, and  Michael J. Riemer, Class of 1978. A committee of administrators, faculty, students, and alumni select the winners based on their exceptional work in improvinng the lives of others, involvement in community service or achievement in a professional field. To nominate someone, contact High School Activities Director Judith Kolko at 

Steffanie Jones Lewis, Class of 1954

Judith Balk, M.D., Class of 1981, received her M.D and an M.A. in public policy from the University of Pennsylvania and holds a master of public health from the University of Pittsburgh. After her training in obstetrics and gynecology, she focused her work on combining integrative medicine and women’s health and developed a national reputation as an expert in this field. Balk, who is also a licensed acupuncturist and a certified yoga teacher, has dedicated her career to finding alternative solutions for difficult health challenges by integrating acupuncture, mind-body skills, and nutrition for women in the menopause transition, women who are cancer survivors, and women with other midlife medical issues… Cheston Berlin, Class of 1954, has been a a practicing pediatrician for 54 years and a professor at M. S. Hershey Medical School for the past 47 years. Dr. Berlin conducts research in pediatric pharmacology, nutrition and  lactation. drugs in human milk, Tourette syndrome, and newborn screening. He also cares  for children with Phenylketonuria (PKU), which afflicts many children in the Amish and Mennonite communities. Early in his career, he established the first pediatric intensive care unit in the United States at the National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. … Tacy Byham, Ph.D., Class of 1986, is the CEO of Development Dimension International (DDI), a global leadership consultancy that helps companies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations around the world transform the way they select, develop, and accelerate leaders. Her #LeadLikeAGirl presentations before college and business audiences demonstrate her commitment to mentoring women as they advance in the workplace. Byham has spearheaded successful fundraisers for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Mount Holyoke Club and the

Linn Mollenauer, Class of 1954

Junior League. She has been a board member of Pittsburgh Musical Theater, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and is currently a board member of City Theatre… Steffanie Jones Lewis, Class of 1954, entered the workforce as a teacher. Within a decade, she had taught in five states. After moving to Alaska for a teaching position, she and her late husband established an air taxi company, Parkair, which served the southern coast of Alaska. As a radio dispatcher in Alaska, Lewis assisted with search and rescue efforts of stranded and injured fishermen. She earned a law degree from the California Western School of Law, returned to Alaska, and became the owner of a commercial salmon seining business. A subsequent move to Virginia resulted in her developing an interest in immigration law, her current practice area…  Linn Mollenauer, Class of 1954, received a bachelor of engineering degree in physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. After teaching for seven years at the University of California-Berkeley, he joined Bell Laboratories, where he focused on the application of solitons and other nonlinear effects in optical fiber pulse propagation to ultra-long-distance transmission. Mollenauer retired from Bell Labs at the end of 2003, and became an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona at Tucson. During this time, he wrote the textbook Solitons in Optical Fibers: Fundamentals and Applications with co-author James P. Gordon. Mollenauer holds the Stuart Ballantine Medal from the Franklin Institute in consideration of the importance of the work on the soliton laser and of its potential application in high speed optical communication. He was also elected a  Bell Laboratories Fellow… Michael Riemer, Class of 1978, is a former Mt. Lebanon police officer. As a crime prevention officer, he taught classes on the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, bullying, cyberbullying, and internet predators. Riemer also worked collaboratively with the Mt. Lebanon PTA Council, the Mt. Lebanon School District’s Drug & Alcohol Task Force, and Outreach Teen & Family Services. Reimer developed the Mt. Lebanon School District’s security training for dealing with an active shooter. Since 2013, Riemer has been a Mt. Lebanon school director. He also is the Emergency Disaster Services Director for  the Western Pennsylvania Salvation Army.

Rachel Wiles at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals in Oklahoma City

Mt. Lebanon High School senior Rachel Wiles, Rock Haven Lane, took home a Reserve Champion (second place) finish at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals in Oklahoma City. This was Wiles’ third trip to the national competition. Her Reserve Champion award was in the Western Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship category. Horsemanship is judged by the rider’s posture and control of the horse in a variety of gaits. Wiles also competes in reining, which involves guiding a horse through a patterned course. At the national finals, riders do not compete on their own horses, but are assigned horses at random. “That I think is the hardest part,” says Wiles.Wiles is a member of the Marciak Performance Horses team at Caustelot Farms in Cecil. She spends about 10 hours a week training for the competitions. “Juggling school and competitions can sometimes be stressful but it’s manageable,” says Wiles.


Sunnyhill Drive resident Elizabeth Chiappetta, a principal at Robert Peirce & Associates, has been elected president of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Chiappetta, a member of the association for the past 10 years, and has served on the executive board for the past five years. The Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association brings together members of the bar and the judiciary to improve and advance trial by jury and trial advocacy. Through education, training and community initiatives, members work to promote and improve methods for advocating for people who have been injured.

Chiappetta has been with Robert Peirce & Associates since 2007 and specializes in matters related to nursing home abuse and neglect, medical malpractice personal injury and the Federal Employees Liability Act. She graduated cum laude from Boston College and  earned her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law.

President Ken Gormley (center) with the 2017 Century Club of Distinguished Duquesne Alumni inductees, from left: Brian Sullivan, B’82; the Hon. Terry McVerry, A’65, L’68; Jeanine Hayden, A’69; and Len Komoroski, A’82.

Two Mt. Lebanon residents, Terrence McVerry and Brian L. Sullivan are new member of the Century Club of Distinguished Duquesne University Alumni. The club was established during Duquesne’s 100th anniversary in 1978 to recognize graduates with exemplary records of professional achievement and service to the university and their communities.

McVerry, Class of 1965 (undergraduate), and 1968 (law), is a retired judge from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Prior to being named to the bench, McVerry worked as a prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, followed by a 25-year career in general legal practice with the firms of Grogran, Graffam, McGinley & Lucchino; and McVerry, Baxter, Cindrich & Mansmann. In 1978, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing Pittsburgh’s South Hills for six terms through 1990. Among McVerry’s legislative achievements were the 1980 reform of the Commonwealth’s divorce code and the establishment of statewide criminal sentencing guidelines. Gov. Tom Ridge appointed McVerry to a judicial seat in the Family Division of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in 1998, where he served until 2000. One of the architects of Allegheny County’s Home Rule Charter, McVerry served as the first county solicitor under the new form of government, before being nominated by President George W. Bush to the Federal District Court in Pittsburgh in 2002.  He became a senior judge of the court in 2013 and retired from the bench last year.

Sullivan, Class of 1982, is senior vice president and central region director at Putnam Investments. He is responsible for oversight, management, growth, development and sales results of 16 wholesalers in 18 states. He has helped to manage more than $30 million in investments for the National Basketball Association players’ pension fund and a major portfolio for the PGA Tour. Sullivan serves on the board of directors of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is a supporter of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Also a member of Duquesne University’s board of directors, he has served on the advancement committee and has endowed both a scholarship fund and a co-investment fund allowing students to gain real-world experience in managing assets.