Mt. Lebanon High School welcomed the recipients of the 2017 Great Alumni Award to the high school on October 6. The high school held a luncheon to honor the awardees during the day and a special recognition was held at the football game that night.
This year's 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; Michael J. Riemer, Class of 1978.
The Great Alumni Award is a project of the Mt. Lebanon High School Student Council. Administrators, faculty, students, and alumni serve on the selection committee. This is the 13th year of the award program. The recipients of the Great Alumni Award are selected based on exceptional work in at least one of the following areas: improvement in the lives of others, involvement in community service or achievement in a professional field.
JUDITH BALK, M.D. CLASS OF 1981
Dr. Balk is a graduate of Washington University (Bachelor of Arts), the University of Pennsylvania (Master of Arts in Public Policy and a Medical Doctor degree), and the University of Pittsburgh (Master of Public Health). After her training with a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, she focused her work on combining integrative medicine and women's health and developed a national reputation as an expert in this field. Dr. Balk grew her skill set by studying functional medicine and completed advanced training in mind-body medicine. She also became a licensed acupuncturist and a certified yoga teacher. She 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, cancer survivors, and women with other midlife medical issues. Dr. Balk volunteers her time as a physician at Casting for Recovery retreats for breast cancer survivors. The retreats focus on the medical and emotional aspects of breast cancer while teaching mindfulness, patience, and developing peer support as the survivors learn to fly fish. She is also actively involved at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills as a Board Member, torah reader, and volunteer. Dr. Balk and her husband, Andrew Schaer, are the proud parents of Jordan ('12), Brady ('14) , and Maya ('17).
Dr. Balk was nominated by her classmate and 2015 Great Alumni Award winner Lawrence Lebowitz.
CHESTON M. BERLIN, M.D. CLASS OF 1954
Dr. Berlin has devoted his career to improving the lives and health of others as a practicing pediatrician for fifty-four years. He has been a Penn State University Professor at the M. S. Hershey Medical School for the past forty-seven years. In recognition of his esteemed career, Dr. Berlin is only the third person to be appointed an Honorary Alumnus of Penn State University's College of Medicine. Dr. Berlin directs a pediatric clinical office, teaches at the medical school, and conducts research in pediatric pharmacology, nutrition, lactation, drugs in human milk, Tourette syndrome, and newborn screening. His major clinical effort in recent years is caring for children with Phenylketonuria (PKU) of which many children afflicted are of the Amish and Mennonite communities. Several times a year Dr. Berlin provides pro bono care of the Amish families. 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. Dr. Berlin and his wife, Anne, reside in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and are the proud parents of and the proud grandparents of .
Dr. Berlin was nominated by his Class of 1954 classmate Carolou Fidder Marquet.
TACY M. BYHAM, Ph.D. CLASS OF 1986
Dr. Byham is the CEO of Development Dimension International (DDI), a global leadership consultancy that helps the world's most successful companies, educational institutions, and
nonprofit organizations transform the way they select, develop, and accelerate leaders. The global and local effect DDI has on the community is recognized through various accolades by those who have been impacted by its work. Accomplishments like these may be, in part, due to her degrees in mathematics and computer science from Mt. Holyoke College. Additionally, getting her masters in Industrial Organizational psychology from the University of Akron has proved to be beneficial in Dr. Byham's career. Her #LeadLikeAGirl presentations before college and business audiences demonstrate her commitment to mentoring women as they advance in the workplace. In her recent article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Dr. Byham highlighted the need for women to more accurately assess themselves as effective leaders to fully reach their workplace potential. As an advocate for women's professional success, she discovered that women-led organizations generated "better financial results" a majority of the time. Dr. Byham's book, Your FIrst Leadership Job, coauthored with Rich Wellins, was released in 2015 to excellent reviews. Dr. Byham has spearheaded numerous successful fundraisers that have supported the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, the Mount Holyoke Club of Pittsburgh and of Great Britain, and the Junior Leagues of Pittsburgh, London, Akron, and New York City. She has also been a board member of the Pittsburgh Musical Theater, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and is currently a board member of City Theatre. Dr. Byham resides in Mt. Lebanon along with her son, Spencer, who currently attends Mt. Lebanon High School. And according to her son, when her schedule isn't too busy, she enjoys a mean Zumba class.
Dr. Byham was nominated by her friend Cecile R. Usner.
STEFFANIE JONES LEWIS CLASS OF 1954
Mrs. Steffanie Jones Lewis entered the workforce as a school teacher. Within less than a decade, she had taught in five states across the United 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 and grew to be successful. As a radio dispatcher in Alaska, Mrs. Lewis many times assisted with the search and rescue efforts of stranded and injured fishermen. She obtained 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 where she is currently a managing partner at the International Business Law Firm. Mrs. Lewis works tirelessly on behalf of immigrants who have skills that are otherwise unavailable in the United States and supports the rights of American and foreign nationals in courts. She and her husband, Alfred, reside in Arlington, Virginia. They are the parents of Jennifer, Yani, and Kieren and the proud grandparents of four grandchildren.
Mrs. Lewis was nominated by her Class of 1954 classmate Judith Musgrave.
LINN F. MOLLENAUER, Ph.D. CLASS OF 1954
Dr. Mollenauer received a Bachelor of Engineering Physics degree from Cornell University and a PhD in physics from Stanford University. After teaching for seven years at the University of California - Berkeley, he joined the technical staff of Bell Laboratories where he focused on the application of solitons and other nonlinear effects in optical fiber pulse propagation to ultra long distance transmission. Retired from Bell Labs at the end of 2003, in the winters of 2005 and 2006, he was an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona at Tucson. During this period of time, he wrote the textbook Solitons in Optical Fibers: Fundamentals and Applications with co-author James P. Gordon. Among his many honors, Dr. Mollenauer received 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 to be a Bell Laboratories Fellow for the seminal contribution of the generation, understanding, and system applications of optical soliton. Dr. Mollenauer and his wife, Marjorie, live in Colts Neck, New Jersey, are the parents of David and James, and the proud grandparents of three grandchildren.
Dr. Mollenauer was nominated by his Class of 1954 classmate Barbara Center Mann.
MICHAEL J. RIEMER CLASS OF 1978
Mr. Riemer first served the Mt. Lebanon community as a police officer and then as the Public School Education officer who became known to all of the elementary aged students as he taught the children about the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, bullying, cyberbullying, and internet predators. Since 2013, Mr. Riemer has been a Mt. Lebanon School District Board of School Director. Throughout his police career, Mr. Riemer worked collaboratively with the Mt. Lebanon Parent Teacher Association Council, the Mt. Lebanon School District's Drug & Alcohol Task Force, and the Outreach Teen & Family Counseling Organization. Mr. Reimer developed the Mt. Lebanon School District's security training for dealing with an active shooter. He is currently serving as the Emergency Disaster Services Director of the Western Pennsylvania Salvation Army in which he has directed relief work for disasters in New York City and throughout Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Riemer has volunteered as an elder at Bower Hill Community Church and as an advocate and speaker for both the Center for Organ Recovery and Education and the National Kidney Foundation. Mr. Riemer and his wife, Catherine, reside in Mt. Lebanon and are the proud parents of Rebecca ('10) and Megan('14).
Mr. Riemer was nominated by his friend Alfonso Frioni, Jr., Esq.