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New & Notable - February 2021

Pine Township Resident Named President and CEO of The Buncher Company

David B. Heaton, a longtime resident of Pine Township, has been named president and CEO of the Buncher Company, Pittsburgh. He succeeds Thomas J. Balestrieri, who will remain as president emeritus. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree, Heaton had been with Oxford Development Company for over 20 years and served as a project manager, director of construction, and vice president of development before being named chief operating officer in October 2019. The Buncher Company is a closely held, Pittsburgh-based firm that has been developing real estate in southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere since 1954.

Dr. Jeffrey Astbury Represents Butler Health System on COPE Panel

Jeffrey Astbury, MD, FASE, FACC, FASA, MSBE, MSEE, vice-chairman for cardiovascular services, Department of Anesthesiology, Butler Health System, was recently a panelist for the Council on Perioperative Echocardiography (COPE) at the virtual 31st American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) Scientific Sessions. Dr. Astbury spoke about how to excel as an intraoperative echocardiographer while maintaining a busy clinical practice with other professionals in the field. He also recently hosted an online forum called “Ask the Expert” for the Council on Perioperative Echocardiography of the American Society of Echocardiography, during which he fielded questions from physicians regarding miniature TEE used in the ICU, complexities of transthoracic echocardiography use in the perioperative period, and echocardiographic techniques used to guide atrial transseptal puncture. In addition, in December, Dr. Astbury participated on a panel discussion for the steering committee of the Council of Perioperative Echocardiography focused on planning educational initiatives for 2020-2021.

Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy Sponsoring Mini-Geotrail

The Rachel Carson Trails (RCT) Conservancy is sponsoring its first Mini-Geotrail in North Park to give new and younger hikers the opportunity to try geocaching while discovering the beautiful RCT. Users can print maps to plan their adventures and choose from one of four difficulty levels. After completing their adventure, they can send in their clues for a prize. Those who find three cache clues earn a Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy pin; five clues earn a patch, and 10 or more earn a Rachel Carson Trails hat. For more information, visit

UPMC Opioid Recovery Center Relocates to Mercy Hospital

As opioid use disorder rates continue to rise, the UPMC Internal Medicine Recovery Engagement Program (IM-REP) has been relocated to UPMC Mercy to ease the transition of care from inpatient to outpatient services for patients in recovery. The IM-REP is a specialized clinic dedicated to rehabilitation services that include medications for opioid use disorder, behavioral health counseling, community-based support and guidance from peer recovery specialists, social service support from licensed social workers and primary medical care. While all UPMC hospitals and locations provide health care resources for patients with substance use disorders, the IM-REP center along with UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, are distinguished as Centers of Excellence in Pennsylvania.

CCAC students selected as Democracy Fellows by the Campus Vote Project

The Community College of Allegheny County enjoys a legacy of civic engagement on the part of its students. The college received a Bronze Seal (2016) and a Gold Seal (2018) for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement from the All IN Campus Democracy Challenge for achieving student voting rates above the average. This year, CCAC President Quintin Bullock was proud to sign on to the Presidents’ Commitment to full student voter participation in the 2020 election. This commitment was bolstered by the efforts of CCAC students Madysen Kelly and Sabrina Ukasik, who were selected by the Campus Vote Project to serve as Democracy Fellows. As such, they have assisted CCAC’s Civic Engagement Coordinator and History Professor Dr. Jacqueline Cavalier with student voter registration and student voter education efforts throughout the 2020 election season. Despite the restrictions and the inability to gather in person due to COVID-19, Kelly and Ukasik organized student activities, including a virtual “Ask All” event, in which students had the opportunity to ask any questions they may have had about the election in a relaxed environment.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Rated Exceptional by National Cancer Institute

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center received an “exceptional” score, the highest achievable rating—and its largest grant to date—when it was recently renewed as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for another five-year period. The award also includes a $30 million grant to be used to advance the groundbreaking research that serves as the foundation for UPMC Hillman’s nationally ranked patient care. Working in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the center is among an elite group of just 51 cancer centers with this designation in the U.S. and the only such center in western Pennsylvania.

Terri and Tom Bone

Magee-Womens Research Institute Receives $1 Million Gift for Prematurity Research

Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) recently announced a $1 million gift from Terri and Tom Bone for ongoing prematurity research taking place at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). MWRI, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is the largest independent research institute focused solely on women’s health and reproductive biology. An executive in residence for accounting at the University of Pittsburgh, Terri Bone’s passion for women’s health research led her to become a board member of MWRI in 2013. She also serves as the vice president of finance for The 25 Club, which supports newborn medicine, neonatal research, and fetal interventions at Magee.

Veronica Dorsch Vezzani, MD

New Primary Care Physician Joins BHS

Veronica Dorsch Vezzani, MD, joined BHS Primary Care in January, 2021 and will be seeing patients at 322 South Main Street, Zelienople, PA 16063. Dr. Vezzani completed her pre-med studies at Gannon University in Erie, and received her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. She completed an internship in General Surgery at the Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, WA and a family practice residency at Heritage Valley Health System. Dr. Vezzani was Commander of the 31st Medical Detachment in Operation Joint Endeavor and went on to be awarded the NATO Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal. Dr. Vezzani is board-certified in family medicine, with a particular interest in treating patients with diabetes and obesity. She is a graduate of Seneca Valley High School. To make telehealth or in-office appointments, call 833-391-0737.

McCutchens Continue Support for Pittsburgh and 412 Food Rescue with Generous Donation

As a year of soaring unemployment and food insecurity drew to a close, former Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew McCutchen and his wife, Maria, continued to reaffirm their love for Pittsburgh with a generous donation to local nonprofit 412 Food Rescue. To date, the McCutchens’ contributions have included enabling the organization to secure two trucks for large food deliveries, volunteering as part of the Project Pittsburgh initiative, and this year-end donation. 412 Food Rescue uses technology to mobilize a network of volunteer drivers, who ferry surplus and donated food to access points for food-insecure communities. Andrew McCutchen was one of the organization’s first celebrity supporters and has consistently contributed to its work.

Fox Chapel and Dorseyville Middle School Students Bring Home Wins in Forensic Tournaments

Several Fox Chapel Area High School students and one Dorseyville Middle School student placed in virtual forensic tournaments held in December 2020. Two Fox Chapel Area High School students were named winners in the annual Big Grizzly Invitational Forensic Tournament; the Policy Debate team of senior Jackson Romero and junior Ian Mackey-Piccolo were awarded the status of tournament co-champions. The team was undefeated with a perfect 6-0 record. Fox Chapel Area High School freshman Lilly Friedman won second place in Informative Speaking at the 46th Annual North Catholic High School Forensic Tournament. Seven Fox Chapel Area School District students placed in the Upper St. Clair High School Sparkle Season Charity Tournament. The Policy Debate team of senior Jackson Romero and junior Ian Mackey-Piccolo were undefeated and won first place; in Parliamentary Debate, the team of senior Anthony Nguyen and sophomore Silas Owens also won first place; freshman Lilly Friedman tied for second place in Impromptu Speaking; and sixth place went to freshman Isabella White in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Additionally, Dorseyville Middle School eighth grader Moonyoung Hwang was awarded sixth place in Impromptu Speaking.

FCAHS Students Win Awards at Pitt & Montreal Model UN Conferences

Several Fox Chapel Area High School students recently won awards at two virtual Model United Nations (UN) conferences. Best Delegate (first-place) individual winners at the 24th Annual University of Pittsburgh Model UN Conference were seniors Aidan Ireland and Cecilia Rike, and juniors Patrick Alexander and Janise Kim. Outstanding Delegate (second-place) winners were juniors Nathaniel Mueller and Omar Shalaby. Additionally, the team of senior Benjamin Rickin Marks, juniors Janise Kim and Omar Shalaby, and sophomore Ethan Tan received first place by being named the Best Large Delegation. The Outstanding Small Delegation (second-place) award went to senior Cecilia Rike and junior Sydney Kennedy. Four Fox Chapel Area High School students also won diplomacy awards at the virtual Montreal UN Conference hosted by Dawson College in Montreal, Canada. Senior Aidan Ireland, juniors Patrick Alexander and Siddharth Yende, and freshman Connor Mazzoni all received Diplomacy Awards. The awards given are based on the qualities of diplomacy, including kindness and good character; empathy; collaboration, togetherness and teamwork; passion and drive; charismatic leadership; and positivity and engagement with people, policies, and issues.

New Achieva and Autism Connection Affiliation to Benefit Disability Community

Southwestern Pennsylvania-based Achieva, a disability advocacy and service organization, and The Autism Connection of Pennsylvania, a statewide advocacy organization for people with autism based in Pittsburgh, recently announced a new affiliation between the two nonprofit corporations. The new relationship commenced on Jan. 1, 2021. The decision by the two charities will connect their related missions serving people with disabilities, empowering the nonprofits to better advocate for children and adults with disabilities and their families. The Autism Connection of PA will join four other affiliated organizations in the Achieva Family of Organizations, which include The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, Achieva Support, Achieva Resource, and Achieva Family Trust.

Fox Chapel Area Telethon Raises More Than $16,400 for Sharpsburg Library

Fox Chapel Area School District students streamed their 31st annual telethon Dec. 23, 2020, and raised more than $16,400 for the Sharpsburg Community Library. This year’s total brings the money raised by Fox Chapel Area students and staff to more than $918,383 over the last 31 years for various local and regional charities. The 2020 telethon included a retrospective in celebration of the 31st year and featured alumni and a special look back at the last 30 years of the traditional annual event. It also involved students and staff from all six schools in the Fox Chapel Area School District. The public may still make donations to the telethon through the website at

CCAC Expands Clean Energy Leadership with Extensive 540-Kilowatt Solar Installation

Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) recently announced that it received the green light to move forward with an extensive new solar installation that will produce more than a half a megawatt, or 540 kilowatts, of electricity annually–or enough energy to power almost 90 homes. The new solar array, to be installed by BAI Group, LLC, of State College, PA, will save CCAC about $750,000 in energy costs over the next 28 years. And thanks to a Power Purchase Agreement with BAI, the college does not anticipate having to spend any of its own money on the project. The project was facilitated in part by the Pennsylvania Solar Center, which worked with CCAC for several months through its GET Solar (Galvanizing our Energy Transition) program. GET Solar provides technical assistance and financial guidance to entities interested in making the switch to solar power.

Dr. Sean Aiken

Shaler Area Superintendent Successfully Defends Dissertation

Shaler Area School District (SASD) is proud to announce that in January, Dr. Sean Aiken successfully defended his dissertation, “Lived Experiences of Authentic Leaders during the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis: A Qualitative Study of Superintendents.” In his dissertation, Dr. Aiken studied authentic leadership of K-12 superintendents in response to crisis, specifically the current COVID-19 pandemic, exploring how school superintendents developed as authentic leaders and how their leadership has impacted their school district during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. A Doctorate in Education will be conferred on Dr. Aiken at Point Park University’s commencement ceremony on May 1, 2021. Dr. Aiken also holds a bachelor’s degree from Malone University and a master’s degree from Regent University. He received his Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility from the University of Pittsburgh.

Shady Side Academy Partners With the University of Pennsylvania to Offer Social Innovators Program

Shady Side Academy is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania and Schoolyard Ventures, an organization that develops university-level, real-world learning opportunities for ambitious high school students, to offer The Social Innovators Program for Senior School students. The 12-week virtual program allows students to learn about social entrepreneurship and experience it first-hand, while earning a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from Penn. Shady Side is the only school in Pittsburgh invited to participate in this unique initiative. During the program, students learn how to launch ventures of their own that create value and a positive impact on society. The program runs from Feb. 22 to May 23, 2021, with classes meeting virtually one evening per week. At the end of the program, students will present their work and participate in a virtual graduation. Learn more about the program at

Community Liver Alliance Launches Awareness Campaign The Knock-Knock Challenge

The Community Liver Alliance (CLA) is announcing the expansion of the organization to a national nonprofit with a “Knock-Knock” Virtual Challenge. The Knock-Knock Challenge kicks off on March 2 and will be a virtual challenge, employing social media channels to allow participants to tell their favorite Knock-Knock joke. Participants will record themselves telling their best knock-knock joke, share with the CLA, and challenge their friends and colleagues to “beat” their joke. The Knock-Knock Challenge videos will be shared on the CLA’s YouTube channel, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages. For a list of where the Knock-Knock Challenge can be found and for information on how you can be a part of this fun campaign, visit

Seneca Valley Cyberpatriot Team Places in Gold Division

One Seneca Valley student understands the power of the internet and the power of young women coming together. Junior Veronica Pimenova is the founder of Seneca Valley's first-ever Women in Engineering Cyberpatriot team which placed in the Gold Division, the second-highest division possible. Cyberpatriot is an Air Force Association cybersecurity competition that is held globally each year. Along with Miss Pimenova, members of the team include juniors Courtney Beals and Vivian Palmer, and senior Dilini Ranaweera.

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