The Mt. Lebanon School District has recognized five Mt. Lebanon High School graduates with its Great Alumni Award. The award, now in its 17th year, is a project of the high school student council, which chooses the awardees with input from a selection committee composed of students, faculty, administrators and past Great Alumni Award recipients. This year’s honorees are:
Michael Antonelli, Class of 1998
Antonelli is an active-duty police officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, where he is a SWAT team leader. After being shot in the face causing the loss of his right eye while conducting a traffic stop in 2005, he turned down both a lifetime of disability and a career at a desk job, instead fighting to return to active duty. He broke barriers in monocular discrimination, and has worked to develop programs to keep police safe, counsels injured officers, and teaches leadership classes within the Indianapolis Police Academy. He is a co-founder of the department’s Save-A-Cop program, which created a way to improve the forensic collection of firearms, leading to a 75 percent increase in prosecution against gun-related crimes in the program’s first year. His awards include the 2005 Indianapolis Police Officer of the Year, four Medals of Bravery, a departmental Purple Heart, four Medals of Valor, and two Medals of Merit.
Ali Michael, Class of 1996
Michael is the director and co-founder of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators, which provides immersive racial identity training for teachers in order to build anti-racist schools. It has trained 700 teachers and continues to train educators across the nation. She also teaches diversity, equity and inclusion at Princeton University and the Equity Institutes for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. She has won multiple awards for her work in anti-racism, including the 2017 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award for Raising Race Questions: Whiteness, Inquiry, and Education.
Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Class of 1967
Kraetsch Hartsough is the president and founder of KH Consulting Group and an associate adjunct faculty member at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. During the pandemic, she served as Executive Director for the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission, the first-ever independent commission to establish boundary lines for electing the Board of Supervisors. She has also served with many executive women’s groups, including Northwestern University’s Council of 100, the Organization of Women Executives (former president), Women in Film (mentor), the National Association of Business Owners, Los Angeles (former board member), and the Women’s Leadership Council. She received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who in 2018.
Dick Williams, Class of 1963
Williams founded Valquip Corporation in 1977, which was acquired by Tyco International in 2000. In 2006, he was Founding Chairman of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School which has sent more than 1,200 disadvantaged, inner-city boys to college. He is currently chair of HC Capital Trust, part of the investment advisor firm Hirtle Callaghan. He is also chair of Boys’ Latin Foundation. Williams served for many years as a board member and later chair of Jefferson Health System, as well as serving on the boards of Thomas Jefferson University and The Haverford School. He also started the Pittsburgh Club in Philadelphia.
James Bigham, Class of 1949 (deceased)
Bigham enjoyed a successful career in aeronautics. He graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering and served in the U.S. Air Force in Germany as a flight instructor for NATO. Following his discharge, Bigham worked as an aircraft structures engineer for Boeing, working on the 707, 727, TFX, and C-5, among others. After earning an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, Bigham went to work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, where he became the project manager for the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle used to train Apollo astronauts in the space program. Bigham died in early 2022 and was buried with full military honors.