September 10, 2021


Sivad Johnson of Detroit honored posthumously for his heroic efforts 

to save three drowning children

SOMERSET, PA (Sept. 10, 2021) – Edward Sheehan, Jr., President of The Pennsylvania Society, today joined with Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial to announce that Sivad Johnson has been selected as the first-ever Flight 93 Heroes Award recipient. The announcement was made standing on Memorial Plaza at Flight 93 National Memorial one day before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Sheehan presented the Johnson family with a check for $5,000 on behalf of The Pennsylvania Society. 


The Flight 93 Heroes Award was created by the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial to honor the remarkable bravery shown by the 40 passengers and crew members on board Flight 93 and to ensure their story is told to future generations. The award identifies individuals who act with extraordinary heroism; show courage at the risk of one’s own personal safety; and who put the physical well-being of someone else above themselves.


“Pennsylvania and Flight 93, and certainly the families of those who were on board the airplane, will always have a special and unique bond,” Sheehan said. “And so, the leadership council of The Pennsylvania Society has committed for the first five years of the Flight 93 Heroes Award to present a contribution to the honoree. It is The Pennsylvania Society’s way of honoring the recipient and their family and thanking them for reminding all of us of what selfless sacrifice looks like and the importance of the Flight 93 story.”


Sheehan said the Johnson family has shared that they intend to establish a trust for Sivad’s daughters and to give a portion to the charities of their choice in Sivad’s honor.


Johnson, a Detroit firefighter, was off duty on Aug. 21, 2020 and walking with this daughter when he heard three girls in the Detroit River screaming for help. He told his daughter to call 911 and immediately jumped into the water. Johnson died trying to save the girls. It is believed he was caught in a rip current. The three girls were rescued. 


“Sivad Johnson’s actions help to remind all Americans – and those watching across the globe – of the remarkable bravery shown by the 40 passengers and crew members on board Flight 93,” Sheehan said. “The Flight 93 Heroes Award will now become a way for us to tell that story, year after year, connecting the heroic actions of 9/11 to stories of heroism all across this country, today and tomorrow.”



June 8, 2021




December 4 Event Will Spotlight Pennsylvania’s COVID Heroes  


PITTSBURGH (June 8, 2021) – Edward Sheehan, Jr., President of The Pennsylvania Society, today is pleased to announce that the organization’s Annual Dinner is set to return to New York City on December 4, 2021. For the first time in the Society’s 122-year history, the Annual Dinner was canceled in 2020 in light of the global health pandemic. Sheehan says this year’s Annual Dinner will provide an ideal forum to shine a light on Pennsylvania’s frontline workers who have contributed greatly to the health and safety of the Commonwealth. 


“The Pennsylvania Society Annual Dinner comes at the start of the holiday season and is a time when we come together as friends to celebrate service to the Commonwealth we all love,” said President Sheehan. “I know our members missed that opportunity very much in 2020. So, it will be particularly special to gather again this December as we continue to pay special tribute to our fellow Pennsylvanians on the frontlines of the pandemic who have allowed us to resume this festive event. We have been proud to recognize their outstanding work on Instagram using the hashtag #pacovidheroes.” 


The Annual Dinner will once again be held at the New York Hilton Midtown. The Pennsylvania Society will work closely with the Hilton to follow all government guidelines related to indoor capacity, social distancing and any other New York City COVID-19 health requirements.  


“We will do everything to ensure the safety of our members and work with the Hilton every step of the way,” said Julien Scranton, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Society. “New information is continually released, and we will keep everyone apprised as we move through the event planning process, especially as it relates to seating capacity. For now, we are excited to bring the dinner back to celebrate with and honor Pennsylvanians!” 


A Gold Medal winner will be announced over the summer, along with additional details about the event. Updates will be shared on the homepage of the Society’s website,   


May 20, 2021



PITTSBURGH (May 20, 2021) – The Pennsylvania Society – now in its 122nd year of honoring achievement, rewarding excellence, promoting good will and celebrating service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – recently welcomed three new members to its leadership Council. President Edward Sheehan, Jr. said Evan Frazier, Deborah Rice-Johnson and Dr. Susie Shah each bring unique skills and a passion for Pennsylvania that will greatly benefit the organization. 


“We are delighted to welcome Evan, Deborah and Susie to Council, where they will undoubtedly help the Society continue to grow and to ensure ours is an organization welcoming to all Pennsylvanians,” said Sheehan. “Each of these three outstanding individuals are leaders in their communities and who appreciate why it is important that we encourage and publicly recognize selfless service to our Commonwealth.”


The Pennsylvania Society provides members fellowship with Pennsylvanians who share a deep affection for Pennsylvania, pride in giving back to the Commonwealth, and a commitment to civil engagement. The Pennsylvania Society celebrates the diversity of the Commonwealth and of its members. Society members come from many professions and walks of life and live throughout Pennsylvania, the United States and the world. 


Evan S. Frazier – Pittsburgh 

Evan Frazier is president and CEO of The Advanced Leadership Institute, an organization aimed at cultivating African American executive leadership to strengthen companies, institutions, and communities. It was Frazier’s early vision that led to the formation of The Advanced Leadership Initiative in 2018 that focused on building the pipeline of talented African American leaders in Pittsburgh.


Deborah L. Rice-Johnson – Pittsburgh

Deborah Rice-Johnson is president of Highmark Inc. and chief growth officer of Highmark Health. She is known as an innovative health insurance leader, driven by a passion for reinventing health care experiences and pioneering provider relationships designed to keep care close to home and change antiquated reimbursement methods. Ms. Rice-Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in the health insurance industry. 

Susie J. Shah, M.D. – Philadelphia​

Dr. Susie Shah has been practicing Diagnostic Radiology, specializing in Breast Imaging, since 1998 in Philadelphia. She completed her internship at Pennsylvania Hospital and residency training at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Dr. Shah was board certified in 1998 by the American College of Radiology, and has been practicing Diagnostic Radiology. She worked at Regional Radiology in New Jersey from 1998 to 2002, and since 2002 has practiced at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia. 

April 14, 2021




PITTSBURGH (April 14, 2021) – The Pennsylvania Society today announced winners of its 15th Annual Benjamin Franklin Scholar Award. The Award, created in honor of one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, comes with $12,000 in total prize money for the three winners. The writing competition is open to Pennsylvania public high school juniors and received more than 110 submissions. Students submit an original essay of not more than 750 words discussing the modern day relevance of a selected Franklin quote. This year’s quote was, “A great Empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.”


The winning entries chosen by the judging panel are:


1st Place – The Flames of Unrest by Sophie Lu, North Allegheny Senior High School in the North Allegheny School District, Allegheny County;


2nd Place – The American ‘Empire’ by Amulya Nasta, Penncrest High School, Rose Tree Media School District, Delaware County; and


3rd Place – The Fight for Suffrage, Continued by Aditi Srivastava, South Fayette High School, South Fayette Township School District, Allegheny County. 


“These three young women inspired our judging panel with their creativity, wisdom and ability to connect our nation’s earliest days to the challenges that continue to confront us nearly 250 years later,” said Julien Scranton, executive director, The Pennsylvania Society. “The Pennsylvania Society brings together Pennsylvanians from all walks of life to honor achievement and recognize greatness. We are delighted to recognize Sophie, Amulya and Aditi, congratulate them and their families on this academic achievement, and wish them well as they head into their senior years.”


Sophie will receive a $6,000 scholarship for 1st place; Amulya will receive $4,000 for 2nd place; and Aditi $2,000 for her 3rdplace finish. All three essays can be found at   


January 18, 2021

Pennsylvania Society President Edward Sheehan Jr. authored an op-ed featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Please click here to read his essay.



December 4, 2020

Pennsylvania Society President Edward Sheehan Jr. authored an op-ed featured in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Please click here to read his essay.



July 6, 2020



Annual New York City Dinner Canceled in Light of Global Health Pandemic; 

Dinner Will Resume in Manhattan in 2021


PITTSBURGH (July 16, 2020) – The Annual Dinner of The Pennsylvania Society, scheduled for December 5th in midtown New York, has been canceled in light of the global health pandemic. A Gold Medal winner will not be named in 2020. Instead, President Edward Sheehan, Jr. says The Pennsylvania Society will focus its efforts this year on saluting the extraordinary efforts of Pennsylvania’s frontline workers from across the Commonwealth who have worked tirelessly in difficult conditions to keep their fellow Pennsylvanians safe. 


“Canceling the Annual Dinner was not an easy decision, but it was the only decision,” said President Sheehan. “So much remains in doubt regarding the severity of the COVID-19 virus this fall and winter. Our leadership Council simply was not comfortable putting our members and their guests at risk. By announcing now, we provide attendees with time to adjust their holiday plans. 


“More importantly, we can begin to plan activities that properly honor Pennsylvania’s frontline workers who have sacrificed much during an unprecedented health crisis for their fellow Pennsylvanians. The Pennsylvania Society is all about celebrating service to the Commonwealth we all love, and so we can think of no better focus this year than celebrating these selfless men and women. 


“We very much look forward to returning to New York in December 2021 and resuming the presentation of our Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement.”


The much-anticipated annual holiday dinner has recognized a Gold Medal recipient since 1908. Past winners include such luminaries as Andrew Carnegie (1911); General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1947); Arnold Palmer (1972); and Guion Bluford (2011). The Pennsylvania Society contributes to a Pennsylvania charity chosen by the recipient of the Gold Medal.   


Details about activities to salute Pennsylvania’s frontline workers will be shared in the months ahead. 


Contact: Steve Aaron

President, SRA Communications

(717) 554-8614