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Press Releases

June 24, 2024



Wellenbach unanimously approved during Society’s Annual Meeting in Scranton 


WILLOW GROVE (June 24, 2024) – In a unanimous vote during its Annual Meeting in Scranton, members of The Pennsylvania Society elected Patricia Wellenbach, the President & CEO of Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, as the Society’s next president. Wellenbach succeeds Elizabeth Preate Havey, who served as president since 2022. Formed in 1899, The Pennsylvania Society has more than two-thousand members around the Commonwealth, the United States and the world and is the longest-lived organization of its kind in the country.


“My sincere thanks to Liz for serving the Society with distinction over these last two years,” said Wellenbach. “I welcome the opportunity to serve as President of The Pennsylvania Society and work in partnership with the members of Council to advance the Society and its mission and values. Now more than ever, the Society’s commitment to civic engagement, civil discourse and fellowship will distinguish us in all that we undertake on behalf of the Commonwealth and its citizens. 


“In 2026, our country will celebrate 250 years of democracy and Pennsylvania will be in the spotlight. It is my hope that the Society will be an exemplar of the vision that the Founders saw for the future of the democracy they created.” 


Patricia D. Wellenbach was named Strategy Advisor to the CEO of Please Touch Museum in November of 2015 as part of a planned leadership succession, and in March 2016, she assumed the helm of the Museum as its President and CEO. Founded in 1976, Please Touch Museum is an internationally recognized leader in integrating play and early childhood learning. She was selected as the incoming CEO based on her demonstrated experience in managing complex organizations undergoing transformational change and creating business models that assures long-term sustainability for those businesses.  


“I could not be more delighted to pass the presidential baton to Trish, who during her time serving on Council already has proven to be an exceptional leader and steadfast steward of the Society,” said Preate Havey. “Working together with our new Executive Director Heather Greenleaf, Trish is well positioned for a successful tenure as the Society’s next president.”


Since 2021, Wellenbach has served as the first woman board chair of Thomas Jefferson University, one of the largest employers in Philadelphia. She is also a recipient of the Directorship 100 Award from the National Association of Corporate Directors.


A cum laude graduate of Boston College School of Nursing, Wellenbach also holds a certificate from the UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Healthcare Executive Program. She is frequently invited to speak on topics including leadership, organizational change, and governance.


Trish and her husband, Larry McMichael, reside in Philadelphia. She is an active member of the Union League, a member of the board of directors of NCAD Philadelphia, and served on the Transition Steering Committee for Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker. She enjoys spending time with her extended family including her five grandchildren and spending summers boating on the Chesapeake. 

June 10, 2024




WILLOW GROVE (June 10, 2024) – The Pennsylvania Society today announced winners of its 18th 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 178 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 taken from a letter Franklin sent to Samuel Cooper in May 1777: 


“Tis a Common Observation here that our Cause is the Cause of all Mankind; and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own. ‘Tis a glorious Task assign’d us by Providence; which has I trust given us Spirit and Virtue equal to it, and will at last crown it with Success.”


The winning entries chosen by the judging panel are:


1st Prize – Emma Noss, Avonworth High School, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County;


2nd Prize – Shloka Kari, Downingtown East High School, Exton, Chester County; and


3rd Prize – Morgyn Thomas, Somerset Area Senior High School, Somerset, Somerset County. 


“Scholarship is a very important aspect of our charitable giving, and we are so pleased to recognize these talented students from across the Commonwealth,” said Heather Greenleaf, executive director, The Pennsylvania Society. “Emma, Shloka, and Morgyn’s essays were thoughtful and well written and we know the hard work they each illustrated in their essays will continue into their senior year. We’d like to congratulate all three winners and their families and wish them well on the remainder of their high school career.”


Emma will receive a $6,000 scholarship for 1st place; Shloka will receive $4,000 for 2nd place; and Morgyn $2,000 for her 3rd place finish. 


June 4, 2024​


B​y Elizabeth Preate Havey

As Pennsylvania and our nation brace for a presidential election season unlike any other, one thing unlikely to be in large supply is civility. It’s almost as if that’s become a dirty word in politics. Bipartisanship is hard enough. Civility? That seems at times unattainable.

And yet, as my two-year term as president of The Pennsylvania Society comes to a close, I find myself considerably more hopeful that the next generation of public servants will seek to restore some civil order. In fact, I’m counting on them to deliver if we are to attract talented young people to careers in public service in communities all across Pennsylvania.

My hopefulness stems from our emerging leaders under the age of 35 who have become more active with PA Society in recent years. These are bright young men and women who crave opportunities to discuss and find solutions for difficult issues of the day but in a forum that prioritizes the type of civil behavior that is part of the very fabric of this organization, where civility is imbued in our more than 125-year history.

This hasn’t happened by accident. As I look back on my term, I am most proud to have led the creation of PA Society’s Keystone Committee, comprised of young members from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia – and points in-between – to help guide new initiatives focused on engaging the next generation of Society leaders.

For many years, Allegheny College, one of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges located in northwest Pennsylvania, bestowed a Prize for Civility in Public Life. It was born out of research that showed a troubling rise of incivility in U.S. politics, and its negative impacts on political participation, particularly among young people.

Allegheny researchers found that young people are extraordinarily service-oriented. Yet while volunteerism was up among young people, political participation was down. That is a trend we must reverse. And I truly believe that Pennsylvanians, and all Americans, want and need civility in politics.

So, count me among the hopeful. I am hopeful because of Pennsylvanians like Taylor Cobb in Philadelphia and Matthew Wachter in Erie. Taylor, whose diverse career spans business development, fundraising and media, and Matthew, an executive with the Carnegie Foundry, are among our Keystone Committee members who share a deep affection for our state, pride in giving back to the commonwealth and a commitment to civil engagement. They are active in their respective communities and are desirous of creating greater opportunities for younger Pennsylvanians to attend Society events by lowering the boundaries to entry and making membership more accessible to those 35 and under.

The Pennsylvania Society is a special place. Unaffiliated with any particular political party, business or profession, PA Society is simply a place where Pennsylvanians from all backgrounds come together to celebrate service to the commonwealth and to humanity in general. I am proud to say it is still growing and thriving in its third century of existence, the longest-enduring organization of its kind in the country.

And thanks to our Keystone Committee, we are well positioned for the future, with charity, community and, yes, civility as our pillars.

May 6, 2024



Presentation to come at 126th Annual Meeting of the Society in Scranton


WILLOW GROVE (May 6, 2024) – Elizabeth Preate Havey, president of The Pennsylvania Society, today announced that longtime Scranton farm owner, civic leader and philanthropist Keith Eckel will receive the Society’s Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award for his many contributions to the economic and agricultural progress of Pennsylvania and for his generous philanthropy that includes helping children who have experienced life-altering trauma. The presentation will be made at the 126th Annual Meeting and Reception of The Pennsylvania Society on May 23 at the Country Club of Scranton.


“The Pennsylvania Society Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award is not an annual award, but rather is given only when the Society’s Council has identified a worthy recipient,” said Preate Havey. “Keith Eckel, through his decades of service to Pennsylvania’s agricultural community and through civic leadership and philanthropy that continues to positively impact the lives of young Pennsylvanians, is certainly worthy of this honor.


“Keith’s work in farmland preservation alone would be cause for recognition. But Keith has done so much more, from mentorship and improving educational opportunities for Pennsylvanians through his leadership at Penn State to supporting life-healing treatment for children. The Pennsylvania Society is proud to recognize Keith and thanks him for his leadership and generosity of spirit that makes Pennsylvania a better place.”  


Born in Scranton in 1946, Keith W. Eckel is owner of Fred W. Eckel Sons and President of Eckel Farms Inc. He partnered with his father and older brother, Doug, to expand their once-small dairy, vegetable and grain operation. Keith has lived and worked on the same farm his entire life. The farm enterprise grew over time, to producing and packing 300 acres of fresh tomatoes, growing 600 acres of corn, 300 acres of wheat, and 40 acres of pumpkins, among many other crops.


Mr. Eckel served as a trustee of Penn State University from 2001 until 2016 and chaired the Governance and Legal and Compliance committees. He served as board Chairman of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Keith is a former member of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association and the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Board. Appointed by USDA Secretary Dick Lyng, he was a charter member of the National Dairy Board. Keith was elected to the PA Farm Bureau Board in 1975 and served as president of the PA Farm Bureau beginning in 1981. Pennsylvania’s leadership in farmland preservation can be traced back to Keith’s leadership working alongside Governor Robert Casey. Keith is proud that Pennsylvania leads the nation in farmland acres that have been preserved and that agriculture remains Pennsylvania’s largest industry.


A mentor to many, Keith’s philanthropy is perhaps best known for his generous contribution of 32 acres of farmland that allowed for the dramatic expansion of Marley’s Mission in Clarks Summit. Since 2009, Marley’s Mission utilizes twelve horses in a team approach to healing children and their families who have experienced trauma. Provided free of charge, this form of therapy does not include horseback riding. Rather, the work with horses and children is completed on the ground helping children develop solutions in their own lives and breaking barriers in their own healing.


Among the previous recipients of the Society’s Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award are Rachel Carson (1999); Louis Appell (2005); Susan Hirt Hagen (2010); Patrick Solano (2016); and S. Dale High in (2023).

July 19, 2023



Thomas Hagen, Roger Richards, and Andrew Sordoni to be Recognized for
Decades-Long Devotion to The Pennsylvania Society


PITTSBURGH (July 19, 2023) – The Pennsylvania Society, as part of its 125th Year celebration, has announced the creation of a new award to be presented just once to honor three longtime, transformative Society leaders: Thomas Hagen, Roger Richards, and Andrew Sordoni. The new Barr Ferree Award, named for the founder of The Pennsylvania Society, will be presented at the 125thAnnual Dinner this December in New York City. An invitation-only reception for family and friends will be held in their honor the Friday evening of PA Society Weekend.    


“On the occasion of the Society’s 125th year, it is appropriate that we acknowledge the vision, dedication and unflagging devotion of these three remarkable Society leaders,” said Society President Elizabeth Preate Havey. “Together, these three men share Mr. Ferree’s unselfish service and loyal stewardship to the organization, and his devotion to the Commonwealth. Their ongoing, decades-long efforts have unquestionably maintained the health and history of this organization. All three prioritized civility and civil discourse which continues to be a hallmark of The Pennsylvania Society.  


“Tom, Roger, and Andy will be the first – and only – recipients of the Barr Ferree Award. I cannot imagine a more deserving trio of leaders who helped bring the Society into the 21st century, resulting in a more diverse and inclusive organization that more truly reflects today’s Pennsylvania. Their good counsel and judgement have benefited all of us who have served in Society leadership over the last 40 years. We look forward to celebrating their civil leadership, friendship, and years of dedicated service together with them and their families this December.”


Due to his loneliness in New York, and longing to be with friends who shared his beloved Pennsylvania roots, Barr Ferree founded The Pennsylvania Society in 1899. He served as its director and secretary until his death in 1924 and was a devoted and loyal steward of the organization. Ferree was a graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High School and the University of Pennsylvania. He had a long and distinguished career as manager and owner of the Leonard Scott Publication Company in New York and was a world-renowned lecturer on architecture. But his ultimate passion was The Pennsylvania Society. Upon his passing, he was remembered as an inspired and untiring director whose generosity proved him a true friend in times of trouble with “an antique nobility in his devotion to Pennsylvania.” It is these same attributes for which Hagen, Richards, and Sordoni will be honored with the Barr Ferree Award.


Thomas Hagen has been a business and civic leader for more than 60 years. He is chairman and a former CEO of the Fortune 500 listed Erie Insurance Group. He is also chairman of Custom Engineering Co., and founder of Historic Erie Preservation Trust. Hagen served as the first Secretary of the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) in the Governor Tom Ridge Administration and was co-founder and past chairman of Team Pennsylvania Foundation. Thomas Hagen is a recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award. He has been a member of the Society since 1981 and served as Society President from 1995-1997.


Roger Richards has been a lawyer, businessman, and community and political activist in Erie and across Pennsylvania for the past 50 years. His career began as a page in the Pennsylvania Senate going on to serve both Republican and Democratic governors for decades, starting with Governor Scranton in 1965. Through his long-standing affiliations in Harrisburg, Richards has helped to secure over $200 million in capital for the Bayfront Convention Center, Warner Theatre, Erie Insurance Arena and regional hotels. Richards owned Bliley Technologies and Sunburst Electronics in Erie for many years. Richards has been president of Richards & Associates, P.C. for the past 43 years representing corporations, investment bankers, and local governments, among others. A member of the Society’s President’s Circle and a member since 1971, Richards served as Society President from 2016-2018.


A lifelong resident of Luzerne County, Andrew Sordoni served as an officer of Sordoni Construction Services for more than fifty years, during which time he also held executive responsibilities in manufacturing, hotel management, real estate development and telecommunications businesses. From 1979 until 1993, he was chairman and/or president of C-TEC Corporation. Active in business, civic and political affairs throughout his adult life, Sordoni is also an enthusiastic and dedicated collector of American Illustration and Comic Art and a producer of jazz recordings. He began attending the Annual Dinner of the Society in 1967, and was the youngest Society president, having served from 1988-1991.


The 125th Annual Dinner of The Pennsylvania Society will be held on December 2, 2023 in New York City. This year’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement recipients are Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer of Philadelphia.  

June 8, 2023



Neubauers to be honored for their remarkable dedication to the Commonwealth and
its citizens through their commitment to youth and education,
community safety and the arts


Gold Medal to be Presented at Historic 125th Society Dinner in NYC



PITTSBURGH (June 8, 2023) – Elizabeth Preate Havey, President of The Pennsylvania Society, today announced that Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer of Philadelphia will receive The Pennsylvania Society’s 2023 Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement at the Society’s Annual Dinner on December 2, 2023 in New York City. This year’s Annual Dinner will be the Society’s 125th and will bring its members and friends together to celebrate and honor Pennsylvania’s leadership in the economic and industrial life of our nation.


Joseph Neubauer was the longtime chairman and CEO of Aramark Corporation and served as chair of the board of the Barnes Foundation. Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer spent 27 years working for Fortune 500 companies, later establishing a practice devoted to solving strategic marketing problems. Together, the Neubauers collaborate on multiple Foundation initiatives, primarily focused on education, community safety, and the arts.


“Few philanthropic and civic leaders have had the breadth of impact as Jeanette and Joseph Neubauer. From improving K-12 urban education and reducing gun violence to investing in valuable research on US Jewry and creating a permanent, public home to one of the great art collections in the world, the Neubauers’ legacy is profound and lasting,” said Preate Havey. “While so many of their contributions can be felt directly in Philadelphia and across the Keystone State, the fact is their impact is global. That is why The Pennsylvania Society is pleased to bestow the honor of the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement to Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer.” 


The Neubauers’ efforts to improve education in Philadelphia are focused on the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders, which builds the leadership and management skills of principals. These leaders learn how to strategically plan, to gather and interpret data that indicates, in real time, where success is being achieved and where additional support is required, and how to build stronger school cultures. Another major initiative concentrates on success in ninth grade, keeping students on track and far more likely to graduate high school.
Commitment to youth also includes improved transparency in the juvenile justice system and support for Project H.O.M.E.’s efforts to provide permanent housing for LGBTQ+ youth. Their evidence-based strategy to reduce gun violence has created employment opportunities, transformed vacant lots, and piloted community policing efforts.


Their leadership in the arts provided Philadelphians a permanent, public home for the remarkable Barnes collection and the future home of the Calder Gardens. They are the founding sponsors of the Metropolitan Opera High Definition Broadcasts, now simulcast to over 72 countries. This initiative has cultivated a new taste for opera in much younger audiences worldwide.


The Neubauers’ interest in strengthening Jewish continuity led to their support of three major Pew Research Center studies investigating trends in Jewish life and attitudes in the United States and in Israel. The data sets associated with these studies are used by a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations seeking to serve their communities.


The Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement was founded in 1908 and is presented annually to a prominent person, or persons, in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry. In addition to the honor itself, The Pennsylvania Society contributes $25,000 annually to a Pennsylvania charity chosen by the recipient of the Gold Medal, subject only to the approval of the Society Council. The Neubauers’ charity will be announced at the Annual Dinner.


“The celebration of the Society’s 125th Annual Dinner is sure to be a special night – and the weekend events that always surround the Dinner will be a welcome opportunity for Pennsylvanians to come together in friendship and good will,” added Preate Havey. “We ask our members to keep their eyes out for their formal invitations and RSVP quickly as we expect tickets to go quickly given the special significance of our 125th.” 


The Annual Dinner will once again be held at the New York Hilton Midtown with plans to return to the Waldorf Astoria as soon as renovations are complete.



March 13, 2023




Presentation to come at 125th Annual Meeting of the Society in Lancaster


PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2023) – Elizabeth Preate Havey, president of The Pennsylvania Society, today announced that longtime Lancaster business, community and philanthropic leader 
S. Dale High will receive the Society’s Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award for his many contributions to the economic progress of Pennsylvania and for his commitment to his Lancaster community through unique and innovative philanthropy. The presentation will be made at the 125th Annual Meeting and Reception of The Pennsylvania Society on April 27 in Lancaster.


“Unlike our Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement which is presented every year, the Society’s Distinguished Citizen honor is only bestowed when the Society’s Council has identified a worthy recipient,” said Preate Havey. “We certainly have found that person in 
S. Dale High, Chair Emeritus of High Industries and High Real Estate Group. 


“Since he joined the family business full-time in 1963, Dale has used a values-based leadership approach that grew the business in new strategic directions. Just last year, it was announced that Dale transferred his ownership stake to the High Foundation, emboldening the Foundation through an extraordinary act of business leadership and philanthropic vision that will benefit communities for generations to come. Pennsylvania has been fortunate to call him a citizen, and we look forward to presenting Dale with this unique honor next month in Lancaster.” 


Formed in 1980, the High Foundation has been recognized as a thought leader and community partner, supporting philanthropic efforts in Lancaster County and beyond. High Foundation’s 40-year legacy of impact spans improvements in education, health and human services, arts and culture, environmental stewardship, and social enterprise.


From its beginnings in 1931 as a welding shop to its status today as a diverse and growing organization consisting of multiple businesses, S. Dale High established a reputation for excellence in serving customers, quality in all products and services, personal and corporate integrity, and beauty in projects affecting the environment. High employs nearly 2,000 co-workers in 11 businesses at 38 locations across six states.


A graduate of Elizabethtown College, S. Dale High led new strategic growth, acquiring companies and starting new ventures. Under the High Foundation that he created, profits will be invested into the Lancaster community, and other communities where High provides economic investment and employment, by providing co-workers a direct line to create more thriving, vibrant communities where they live and work. This gift continues the legacy of Mr. High’s transformative and innovative leadership, which has guided High in using business as a force for good in the community for decades. 

Among the previous recipients of the Society’s Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award are Rachel Carson (1999); Louis Appell (2005); Patrick Solano (2016); and C. Alan Walker (2022).



November 22, 2022



PITTSBURGH (November 22, 2022) – As the daughter of an elected official, I was used to joining my father at all different kinds of political and civic events. Fundraisers, parades and county fairs were among the many functions I attended growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania.


I learned at an early age that politics was a contact sport — especially when your father is a Republican seeking votes in the birthplace of popular Democrats like Governor Robert Casey. I quickly came to realize that not everyone loved my dad like I did — and they weren’t afraid to make that known. A thick skin and a short memory were prerequisites.


I soon discovered that not all of these events we attended were created equal. I was just 18 when my father took me to New York for my first Pennsylvania Society dinner. The annual gathering, which dates back to 1899 and is held at the grand Waldorf Astoria hotel in early December, brought political, business and civic leaders together from all regions of Pennsylvania with the purpose of celebrating and honoring good works done by fellow Pennsylvanians. It also emphasizes charity and community. Governors, senators, lobbyists and captains of industry all attend.


The real beauty of PA Society weekend is that civil and respectful conversation isn't just commonplace — it is expected. Angry barbs and hateful rhetoric are replaced with a welcoming smile and a handshake, or even a hug, if you can imagine that.


PA Society is an event each year I truly look forward to. It is the one time where those with opposing political points of view — oftentimes diametrically opposed — can find a common purpose and appreciate the things we all have in common, rather than highlight our differences.


My father, who was Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, would make it a point each Society dinner to seek out his political opponents to say hello and even explore opportunities for partnerships to get things done for Pennsylvanians. I have made lifelong friends with people I met at the Society dinner — people I likely never would have met nor embraced otherwise due to our political differences.


So, it is particularly meaningful to me that I now have the privilege to lead The Pennsylvania Society as its president. In fact, I’m the first woman to have the honor to do so. And, like my immediate predecessor and friend, Ed Sheehan, I too am committed to ensuring that PA Society weekend remains a place of civility, free of the venom that too often accompanies our politics. And not just our politics. Even today’s business leaders have seen fractures in civil discourse.


I’m delighted that we will present this year’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement to the charitable-minded Broadhurst family of Pittsburgh, who own and operate Eat’n Park restaurants. With their iconic ‘smiley face’ cookies, the Broadhursts seem to understand and embrace the value of civility across corporate America. I look forward to celebrating their example on Dec. 3.


I will confess that there have been times recently where I struggled to maintain civility given my own political involvement. As secretary of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party and the Montgomery County Party, I have found myself, more than once, on the receiving end of some pretty stinging, and unfair personal attacks, especially during this recent election season. I have had to catch myself before reflexively firing back. My affiliation with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where I proudly serve on the board of directors has reminded me why it’s best that I don’t engage.


At a time when political polarization has reached new levels, the Constitution Center is the leader on civil debate about our Constitution. The Center brings together people of all ages and political perspectives to teach students about our founding documents. And to exemplify the importance of civil debate in America, the Center recently elected the liberal Supreme Court Justice Breyer and conservative Justice Gorsuch as honorary co-chairs of the Center.


We must learn to disagree without being disagreeable, without name calling and hate. Institutions like the NCC and The Pennsylvania Society thankfully promote the kind of civility that is critical to making this country the best place to live in the world. It is important to support these kinds of institutions and participate — now more than ever.


Elizabeth Preate Havey, an attorney at Dilworth Paxson in Philadelphia, is president of The Pennsylvania Society and serves as secretary of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and chairwoman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee. She is the daughter of former Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate.




October 13, 2022





New effort focuses on engaging next generation of leaders to lower the barrier of participation in Society events throughout the year 

PITTSBURGH (October 12, 2022) – Elizabeth Preate Havey, President of The Pennsylvania Society, today announced the formation of a new Keystone Council made up of Society members from across the state to help guide new initiatives focused on engaging the next generation of Society leaders.  


“As an organization representing all Pennsylvanians, we are pleased to announce our Emerging Leaders Initiative to engage the next generation of Society members,” said Preate Havey. “The Keystone Council’s first act is to make our Annual Dinner and membership more accessible to members age 35 and under by lowering their barrier for entry. For this age group, the opportunity to build new relationships and expand their networks across the state is invaluable. I know it was for me when I was early in my career. The Society is committed to play a helpful role in their growth in the Commonwealth.” 


The Society is pleased to offer the following exciting new opportunities to Emerging Leaders: 

  • A reduced ticket price to the Annual Dinner in New York for just $350 

  • The choice to attend an exclusive ‘Dessert Reception Only’ event after the Dinner for $135 – the first time the Society has held such an event 

  • An Emerging Leaders NYC hotel room block option at a cost significantly less than other area offerings 

  • An Emerging Leaders pin to wear at the Annual Dinner so longtime members can identify you and connect 

  • Reduced Society Annual Membership rate of $100 per year 

“We know that members join the Society for fellowship with Pennsylvanians who share a deep affection for our state, pride in giving back to the Commonwealth, and a commitment to civil engagement,” said Julien Scranton, the Society’s Executive Director. “As always, Society events provide a forum for civil discussion and our revenues have made possible millions of dollars in charitable contributions to Commonwealth non-profits and college-bound high school students. We look forward to welcoming these emerging leaders from all 67 counties.” 


Members of the new Keystone Council come from across the state and will help guide the initiative. Members include: 

  • Taylor Cobb (Reify Solutions)                

  • Maria Hudacek (Merrill Lynch) 

  • Blake Lynch (WITF) 

  • Michael Magnatta (Goldman Sachs) 

  • Clare Pozos, Esq. (Dechert) 

  • Robert Trinkle (PNC Private Bank Hawthorn) 

  • John Ventura (WSFS Bank) 

  • Matt Wachter, Esq. (Carnegie Foundry)  


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

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