About the Pennsylvania Commission for Women
The Pennsylvania Commission for Women, which was created by Executive Order and consists of volunteer members, is responsible for advising the Governor on policies and legislation that impact women; supporting economic and civic opportunities for women; encouraging mentoring programs for girls and young women; identifying programs and opportunities for the benefit and advancement of women; and serving as a resource center for Pennsylvania women. The Commission also acts as an advocate for policies and legislation it feels serves the best interest of women and girls in Pennsylvania. Read more about the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.
- Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf Join Commission for Women to Honor Female Veterans During Women’s History Month
- First Lady Frances Wolf, Pa. Commission for Women Mark 19th Amendment Anniversary with Exhibit Honoring Pennsylvania Women
- Nominations Sought for 2019 Female Veterans Day
- Governor Wolf Signs Domestic Abuser Gun Ban, Urges Legislature to Close Gun Show Loophole
- Governor Wolf Gives Keynote at Pennsylvania Conference for Women
- First Lady Frances Wolf, Pa. Commission for Women Host Roundtable on Equal Pay, Call for Solutions to End Gender Pay Gap
- Governor Wolf Announces Committee to Address Maternal Mortality
- First Lady Frances Wolf Joins ‘Girls Who Code’ CEO to Highlight Investment in STEM Education for Young Women
- First Lady Frances Wolf Hosts Roundtable on Equal Pay, Encourages Continued Action to End Gender Pay Gap in Pennsylvania
- First Lady Frances Wolf Visits Harrisburg University, Highlights Governor Wolf’s Investments in STEM Education through PAsmart
- Governor’s Advisory Commissions Urge Reunification of Immigrant Families
- Governor Wolf Praises Passage of Bipartisan House Bill to Assist New Moms
- Executive Order: 2018-18-03 – Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth
- Governor Wolf Takes Action on Equal Pay for Women
- Wolf Administration Screens Documentary to Inspire Entrepreneurs and Discuss Small Business Issues in Pennsylvania
- First Lady Frances Wolf Joins Adjutant General and Pennsylvania Commission for Women to Honor Female Veterans During Women’s History Month
- Commission for Women Urges House to Vote Against Senate Bill 3
- Governor Wolf Names 13 New Members to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women
Read More News
- Governor Wolf, First Lady, Commissions Pen Joint Letter to Congress in Support of DREAMers
- Governor Wolf, Advisory Commissions Stand United Against Hate
- Wolf Administration Hosts Forum on Women in Public Service, Transportation
- Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf Join Commission for Women to Honor Female Veterans During Women’s History Month
- Governor’s Advisory Commissions Stand Against Hate
- Pennsylvania Commission for Women Statement on PA House Bill 1948
- Pennsylvania Commission for Women Statement on the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s Sexual Harassment Investigation
- Pennsylvania Commission for Women Statement on House Bill 1948
- First Lady Frances Wolf, PA Commission for Women Host Girls on the Run Sleepover at the Governor’s Residence
- BLOG: Honoring the Women Who Keep Us Safe
- BLOG: Fighting for Pennsylvania’s Women and Girls
- PA Commission for Women Joins PCAR, State System of Higher Education to Host Campus Sexual Assault Film Screening and Panel Discussion
- Governor Wolf Names New Members to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women
- First Lady Frances Wolf – Honorary Chair
- Megan Healey – Executive Director
- Randi Teplitz – Commission Chair
- Anne Ard
- Donna Barbetti
- State Representative Karen Boback
- Dana Brown
- Jessica Brubaker
- Im Ja Choi
- State Representative Carolyn T. Comitta
- Congresswoman Madeleine Dean
- Kristen Houser
- Susan Jacobson
- Denise Johnson
- Jazelle Jones
- Claire Kelling
- Grace McGregor Kramer
- BJ Leber
- Leslie Anne Miller
- Nancy Mills
- Deborah Melamut Minkoff
- Tina Nixon
- Lesley Ridge
- Abaigeal Rooney
- Jessica Rothchild
- State Senator Judy Schwank
- Patti Stirk
- Rosa Clara Stroh
- Salima Suswell
- Tiffany Tavarez
- Lesley Ward
- Tracey Welson-Rossman
- Erin Willford-Skipworth
- Michelle Zmijanac
First Lady Frances Wolf – Honorary Chair
The daughter of an American diplomat, Frances Donnelly Wolf, born in Brooklyn NY, grew up abroad, living in Iran, Germany, France, Pakistan and Great Britain. Frances is an oil painter, drawing inspiration from the written word in both poetry and prose. Her work is shown in galleries and museum exhibitions throughout Pennsylvania.
Prior to her work as an artist, Frances has had a rich professional career. She worked in the Consular section of the American Embassy in London where she reviewed visa applications for visitors to the United States. She was also a market researcher at Cahners Publishing Company, currently known as Reed Business Information, in Boston where Frances and Tom lived as he pursued his doctoral studies at M.I.T. She reviewed the placement of advertisements in the company’s publications and analyzed their effectiveness to their readers. Returning to Tom’s hometown, Frances joined Buchart Horn, a leading engineering, architecture and planning consulting firm based in York, Pennsylvania. Here she specialized in securing and planning for water distribution and wastewater systems for communities both in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Frances has been actively engaged in the civic life of her York County community where she has focused on issues concerning urban redevelopment and education. For several years she volunteered extensively in the public schools her and Tom’s daughters attended, eventually organizing and heading a young author’s workshop for elementary school students. Frances has held leadership positions on the boards of the York County Community Foundation; the York County Planning Commission; York’s Martin Memorial Library; Atkins House, a halfway house for female offenders; the York Jewish Community Center; the Women’s Giving Circle of York; and Franklin & Marshall College.
Frances earned a BA in South Asian History from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, England. She has taken graduate planning courses at Boston University and architectural design courses at the Boston Architectural Center. She holds a second BA from Franklin & Marshall College in Studio Art and History of Art. Frances also earned an MA in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College where her thesis focused on three paintings by Diego Velazquez.
Frances became the 45th first lady of Pennsylvania when Tom was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor on January 20, 2015.
Frances and Tom live in his hometown of Mt Wolf. They are the very proud parents of two grown daughters, Sarah, an architect, and Kate, a geologist, and son-in-law, Jamie, a property developer.
Megan Healey – Executive Director
As executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, Megan manages a 33-member, statewide commission of women appointed by Governor Tom Wolf who serve as advocates for policies and legislation that impact Pennsylvania’s women and girls.
Megan also serves as deputy chief of staff for First Lady Frances Wolf, whose office administers the Commission for Women.
Megan first joined the Office of the Governor in 2015 as a deputy press secretary, after nearly ten years as a broadcast journalist. While working as a deputy press secretary, Megan oversaw communications and media relations for the administration’s policies and initiatives on education, consumer financial protection, agriculture, and public safety.
Upon earning a communications degree from Cornell University and completing challenging internships at both ABC News in Washington and CNN in Atlanta, Megan worked in markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Most recently, she spent 6 1/2 years in Pennsylvania’s state capital of Harrisburg as a general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WHTM-TV. During her time at WHTM, Megan covered an array of topics, including state politics and government.
Megan’s experience as a journalist, coupled with her strong social media skills, provided for a seamless transition into the world of government communications and advocacy. Her favorite aspects of the job include planning public events and announcements on behalf of the Governor and First Lady, while promoting the Administration’s policy agenda through multiple channels, including the Commission for Women.
She resides in Harrisburg with her husband and young daughter.
Randi Blackman Teplitz – Commission Chair
Randi Blackman Teplitz has been an advocate for women and other vulnerable members of our community for her entire adult life. She is currently a Professor in the Legal Studies Division at Central Penn College in Summerdale, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg.
A lawyer by training, Randi began her career by representing victims of domestic violence in protection from abuse, custody, divorce and economic support cases. She served as a Staff Attorney at Central Pennsylvania Legal Services (now Mid-Penn Legal Services) and then as the founding director of the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg’s Domestic Violence Legal Center.
While Randi was proud of her work as a lawyer, she sought to expand her impact by training the next generation of public interest lawyers, which led her to move into teaching paralegal, pre-law, and law students. Her work over the past decade with those students – many of whom are themselves from vulnerable and underserved communities – has convinced her that the best way to make a positive impact is to lay the foundation at a much earlier age.
Randi is a graduate of Temple University and the Widener University School of Law. She was named one of the 50 Top Lawyers in Pennsylvania “On the Fast Track” by the Pennsylvania Law Weekly and the Legal Intelligencer, and received a “Woman of Distinction” Award from the Soroptomist Club International. She was nominated for Central Penn College’s Todd A. Milano Faculty Excellence Award in May 2008 and May 2013.
She resides in Susquehanna Township with her husband Rob, two sons, and a rescued whippet dog. She is an active volunteer with her sons’ public schools and other community organizations.
Anne K. Ard
Anne K. Ard has served as Executive Director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC), a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center, since 1997. In that role, she has provided leadership at both the state and local level.
Anne was appointed by Governor Rendell to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in 2007 and served until 2010 on the Commission and as Chair of the Victims Services Advisory Committee. Anne has also served on the Board of both the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Locally, she serves as the Chair of the Centre County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force and as a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board. She writes a monthly column, Healthy Relationships, for the Centre Daily Times newspaper.
Prior to her work at the CCWRC, Anne was a Senior Diversity Planning Analyst in the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity at Penn State. In that role, she worked with the Commission for Women and the Commission for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Equity. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Anne came to State College in 1981 as a campus minister specializing in women’s issues and social justice, a position she held for nearly ten years. Anne received her BA from Centenary College, a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary, and her Ph.D. from Penn State. She lives in State College with her husband, Tom Poole, and has two adult children, Katy and Russell Jordan.
Biography to come.
State Representative Karen Boback
Now serving her sixth term, state Rep. Karen Boback, Ph.D. was elected in 2006 to serve the 117th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Residing in Harveys Lake, Karen is a lifelong resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania and understands the issues facing her district.
Karen’s goal is to be accessible, approachable and attentive to the concerns of the citizens of her district. She is a known advocate for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens and the environment, and is a founding member of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Elder Abuse Task Force. She is also an advocate for the Commonwealth’s children. In 2014, Boback authored House Bill 1420, which mandated pulse oximetry testing for newborns. This is one of the most effective ways to detect potentially life-threatening heart defects. The bill gained passage in the General Assembly and was signed into law as Act 94 of 2014. This session, Karen will serve on the House Appropriations, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. She will also serve on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Tourism and Recreational Development, and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees. She is also the subcommittee chairman on Arts and Entertainment for the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee. Dedicating her life to improving education, Karen has been a positive influence on the youth of her community. She taught in the Tunkhannock Area School District for 33 years and served as an adjunct professor at Wilkes University and Misericordia University. Not only has Karen been devoted to teaching, but she also has enthusiastically pursued information and learning for herself. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary/special education from College Misericordia, two master’s degrees – one in elementary guidance (Marywood University) and the other in education with a specialization in technology (Misericordia University) – and a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Karen has been recognized on several occasions for her impact on education. She was nominated to represent her school district in the 1994 edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and the 1988 edition of Who’s Who in American Education. Karen also was presented the Excellence in Education Award by College Misericordia in 2006. In addition to her educational accolades, Karen was named Harveys Lake Citizen of the Year in 2006; “Best of the Back Mountain – Elected Official 2008 and 2009;” the 2008 Session “Best of Breed” Legislator Award from the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs; the 2009 Mother Mary Catharine McGann Alumni Achievement Award from Misericordia University; the Tunkhannock Business and Professional Women’s Club Woman of the Year Award 2009; the District 8 Business and Professional Women’s Club Woman of the Year Award 2010; has been named in the 2009 edition of Who’s Who in American Politics; and received that NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) 2012 Guardian of Small Business Award. As someone who highly regards community involvement, Karen participates in the following organizations:
- The Greater Federation of Women’s Club – Harveys Lake
- Dallas Rotary
- Dallas Rotary
- Harveys Lake Lion’s Club
- Tunkhannock Business and Professional Women’s Club
- Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce
- The Federation of Sportsmen’s’ Clubs
- The Luzerne County Farm Bureau
She is past president of the Back Mountain Memorial Library board of directors and Dallas Women of Rotary. She served on the board of directors of Harveys Lake Protective Association and the Junior League of Wilkes-Barre. She is an auxiliary member of the American Legion in Harveys Lake, and an active member of her church, Our Lady of Victory, where she is a lector and minister of the Eucharist. Karen and her husband, Bernard J. Boback Jr., have two children, Karen Christina and Bernard J. Boback III.
Dana Brown began her tenure as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics and assistant professor of political science at Chatham University in July of 2010. Dr. Brown earned her doctorate in American Politics and Women and Politics at Rutgers University where she also received her master’s degree in political science.
Prior to her work at the Center she completed a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Allegheny College where she earned her BA in political science.
Dr. Brown has presented research on women in politics, political psychology, political media, and political participation by women of color. The White House has acknowledged her work at the Center by inviting her to participate in a conference on girls’ leadership and civic education.
Dr. Brown is currently a member of the Community Advisory Board for the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Race & Gender Equity, the Executive Women’s Council and its Women on Boards Committee, and 74% Kitchen Cabinet at Robert Morris University Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. Dr. Brown is also a Pennsylvania delegate to the Vision 2020 program at the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University, the Ellis School’s Council on Innovation, and serves on the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. In 2014 Dr. Brown was recognized in Pittsburgh Magazine as one of Pittsburgh’s “40 Under 40” and served on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Transition Team for the Department of State.
Jessica Brubaker has a background in nonprofit consulting, specializing in strategic and business planning, and is the co-founder and board president of Keystone Kidspace, a new venture that will provide innovative and collaborative learning opportunities for York County families and children. She has extensive governance experience, having led the board of York’s Central Market during its recent multi-million dollar revitalization efforts and served as a trustee of the Cultural Alliance of York County, the York Jewish Community Center, and Working Class, an emerging community makerspace.
She was deeply involved in the start up of York Academy Regional Charter School, a multi-district International Baccalaureate school located in downtown York. She is also an active member of the Women’s Giving Circle and was a founding member of the YorIT Social Venture Fund of the York County Community Foundation. Jessica grew up in Montreal, Canada and is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School. She currently resides in York, PA with her husband and two sons.
Im Ja P. Choi
Ms. Im Ja P. Choi is a Korean American entrepreneur who founded Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSi), a nonprofit home healthcare organization serving the needs of homebound Asian American seniors with language barriers. After her daunting experience caring for her own mother with cancer, she realized a critical gap in homecare services and founded an agency for Korean American seniors, but later expanded her program to all Asian Americans and other underserved seniors.
Ms. Choi also established, in 2006, Penn Asian Vocational Institute (PAVI), a vocational school to train entry-level healthcare workers. In December 2013, PASSi opened a culturally considerate adult day care center, Penn Asian Jubilee Center which serves over 90 seniors as of September 2015.
Ms. Choi has been active in her community as a board member and council member for many organizations, including Temple University College of Health Administration, President’s Advisory Council of the Montgomery County Community College, Diversity Council of the PA Department Aging, and the Philadelphia Asian American Women’s Coalition.
Ms. Choi was recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in October 2014, and received the nationally acclaimed Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2013. The New York Times featured Ms. Choi in January 2014 as a leader in the field of culturally considerate aging, as well as the organization’s significant work. She is also a special lecturer on the issue of cultural competence in long term care at the University of Pennsylvania and Changwon University in Korea.
Ms. Choi earned a MS degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Montgomery County Pennsylvania with her husband, Jung Choi, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.
State Representative Carolyn T. Comitta
Carolyn T. Comitta is serving her first term as State Representative for the 156th Legislative District in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Comitta began her career as a public school educator, developing special and gifted education programs. Since 1988 she has worked with World Information Transfer, Inc., in General Consultative Status with the United Nations promoting awareness of health and environment issues.
Comitta is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Thomas Comitta Associates (TCA). In this capacity she provides experienced leadership based on a strong commitment to the planning and design field, environmental sustainability, education, and public health.
After serving four years on Borough Council, Comitta became the first woman and first bipartisan-elected mayor of West Chester. As mayor and member of the Borough Council and through decades of participation in local, state, national and international organizations, she has gained a deep and broad knowledge of public policy and governance.
Comitta lives in West Chester, PA with her husband, Tom. They have two grown children.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean was elected in 2018 to represent Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District.
Previously, Congresswoman Dean served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 153rd Legislative District. She brings with her nearly three decades of experience as a lawyer, writer and teacher.
Kristen Houser is the Chief Public Affairs Officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR). As a leading expert on sexual violence, Houser has dedicated over two decades of her career in the public health and nonprofit fields as an advocate for sexual assault prevention and women’s health and wellness.
Kristen stepped in to the roles of activist and spokesperson as a student leader during her undergraduate years at Penn State University. Since then she has utilized those skills in many positions. Houser served as the Executive Director of the Centre Volunteers in Medicine, a non-profit that serves and advocates for the medically underserved in Centre County and fostered philosophical and practical changes to a county-wide task force of organizations mental health, substance abuse, and homeless services to people who have co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in Omaha, NE. She has served as President of the board of directors of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Director of Programming at the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition, and an Emergency Advocate Specialist at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
She has provided training and assistance to victim service providers across the United States as well as to journalists, prosecutors, police, probation officers and medical professionals; provided testimony on sexual assault related legislation to state legislatures and Congress; and assisted with the creation, drafting and revision of state and federal legislation. Houser has become a go-to source for providing context and expert opinion to national, regional, and international media on sexual assault issues and cases.
Houser received her Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and Minor in Women Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Houser currently serves on the board the Penn State College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society, and is the recipient of the 2006 Penn State Alumni Achievement Award for the college of Health and Human Development for outstanding professional accomplishments prior to age 35.
Houser was honored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with the Melba Cope Community Associate Award in 2004, named as a 2013 YWCA Harrisburg Woman of Excellence, and received the AAUW Harrisburg chapter’s 2014 Community Woman of the Year award.
Kristen currently resides in York, Pennsylvania.
Susan Jacobson is President of Jacobson Strategic Communications a public relations and public affairs company based in Philadelphia with offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Boston and South Florida. Susan and her company have won numerous awards including the Most Admired CEO Award and the Women of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The Company received the Wharton SBDC Philadelphia 100 designation as the fastest growing woman owned business in the region, and the PA Public Relations Society Award for best public affairs campaign. Jack and Suzy Welch recently profiled Jacobson Strategic in their New York Times best-selling book.
Before working in the communications sector, Susan served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Philadelphia. In 1999, the Mayors of Pennsylvania presented Susan with the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities Award for Outstanding Service.
Susan is a member of the Board of the Committee of Seventy and serves on the Executive Board of Settlement Music School. She is the Pennsylvania State Lead to the White House Office of Public Engagement and is a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the National Business Forward Board.
Denise Johnson has served as the Chief Medical Officer of Meadville Medical Center (MMC) since 2008. She has been responsible for all aspects of the hospital’s quality management program, the osteopathic family practice residency, patient experience, and physician recruiting.
While she has been in this role, MMC has been awarded many state and national honors for hospital quality and patient experience. Dr. Johnson led the further development of the quality management system resulting in MMC becoming the first hospital in Pennsylvania to be DNV accredited and ISO certified.
Before the Meadville Medical Center, Dr. Johnson spent 13 years in private practice as co-owner and physician at Meadville OB/GYN Associates.
She currently serves on the PCAR Board of Directors as the Vice President. Dr. Johnson was formerly on the boards of Family Health Council (Now Adagio), The Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund, The Vantage Quality Board and others. She has been an active participant in many community and civic groups related to women’s issues especially sexual violence prevention and victims’ services, In addition, she had travelled abroad to provide women’s health care on mission trips in the Caribbean, South America and in Africa.
Dr. Johnson completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University in Massachusetts, medical school at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, and her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jazelle Jones has held the positions of Deputy Managing Director and Director of Operations for the City of Philadelphia since 2005. She is responsible for the oversight, coordination and execution of City services for the hundreds of parades, festivals, concerts, athletic events, fundraisers and major motion picture film productions held each year in Philadelphia.
As Deputy Managing Director and Director of Operations, Ms. Jones is also responsible for monitoring and analyzing the departments’ performance, cost analysis and reimbursements, and serves as a catalyst to encourage cooperation and collaboration both internally and externally. Other special projects have included: Presidential Visits, British Monarchy Visits, Project Brotherly Love (Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort), FEMA liaison (recovered $4M in reimbursements to the city), Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel University, Extreme Home Makeover, Lebanese Repatriation Effort, Liberty Medal Ceremony, 150th Anniversary of the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia Crime Summit Conference.
Ms. Jones was originally appointed by the Mayor in November of 2001 as the Director of Planning for the Mayor’s Office of Community Services, the City’s Anti-Poverty Agency. Prior to joining the City of Philadelphia, Ms. Jones held numerous managerial positions in the private sector. She is the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence, the American Red Cross Humanitarian Award, the Mayor’s MVP Award and the NAACP National Voter Fund Award. She and her husband, 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. have four children and live in the Wynnefield neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Claire Kelling is a Dual PhD Candidate in Statistics and Social Data Analytics at Penn State University. Throughout her academic, professional, and extracurricular activities, she has systematically chosen positions and experiences that will allow her to develop the analytical skills, political awareness, and theoretical grounding to inform public policy.
Her work lies at the intersection of data analytics, criminology, public health, and political science. Her goal is to integrate evidence-based practice and policy on violence using the power of big data.
Claire is a recipient of an “It’s On Us” Pennsylvania grant, which allows her to work towards changing the culture around sexual violence prevention on her campus. She also has been working to revamp the Title IX training received by faculty, students, and staff, and is a Student Coordinator of the “Stand for State” bystander intervention program, which incorporates education on sexual assault, mental health and racial bias. Claire is a Presidential Appointed Member on the university’s Commission for Women. She has recently been chosen to serve on the national Student Advisory Committee for It’s On Us and also serves nationally as a Graduate Fellow with Futures Without Violence. Claire was also recently honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” for her work to prevent sexual violence on college campuses.
As a triplet from a small, one-stoplight town, Claire learned quickly what it meant to be a global citizen, working for the common good and for peace. As one of three, Claire often had to come up with creative solutions to daily challenges and bickering. She was often declared the “peace-maker” between her siblings, especially in the crowded family car. Even though they are rarely in the same vehicle together anymore, she has learned to embrace her task of working towards a more peaceful society. Claire fundamentally believes that violence is not inevitable and that we must move from coping strategies to deal with violence towards focused efforts targeted at prevention.
Grace McGregor Kramer
Grace McGregor Kramer was born and raised in Scranton, PA, and currently resides there with her husband, Michael and her children, Teddy and Virginia. She is a 2010 graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently the Director of Strategy and Operations for her family’s business, McGregor Industries, a miscellaneous metals and stairs manufacturer.
McGregor Industries is a proud employer of union ironworkers. She represents the fourth generation of family in the business, which will be celebrating 100 years in business in 2019.
Grace comes from a long line of political activists and is very passionate about paid family leave, affordable childcare, quality education, and equal rights for all Americans. She was elected as a district level delegate for Hillary Clinton to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where she served as a Delegate Whip.
Grace currently serves as Vice President of the Scranton Preparatory School Alumni Board of Governors, as well as Marketing Chair for Heritage Valley Partners.
BJ Leber has been President & CEO of Adagio Health for three years. In that time, she has strengthened the organization’s financial position and re-committed it to providing health and wellness services to all women with an emphasis on those in need.
Services include family planning, nutrition (WIC- Women, Infants and Children and Power Up in-school programming), breast and cervical cancer screening and education. $2 million in local foundation support has been key to the turn-around and has enabled planning for a vibrant future. Partnerships with community organizations are providing opportunities to provide services to a broader population including the LGBTQAI+ community, women with opioid addictions and women veterans. Adagio Health serves 150,000 women a year in Western Pennsylvania.
Ms. Leber is a recognized leader in the field of nonprofit management. She previously served as President & CEO of The Western Pennsylvania Hospital Foundation and The Forbes Health Foundation. In that capacity, she guided the foundations to support significant investments in the hospitals’ efforts to serve women and infants and in their local communities. During her tenure, she directed the West Penn Hospital Foundation’s largest gift ever — $20 million to the hospital’s labor & delivery unit.
Prior to her work at the West Penn Hospital Foundation, Ms. Leber served as Interim CEO for the YWCA. She served as Chief of Staff for Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor. She was VP & Station Manager for WQED Pittsburgh’s Public TV and Radio Stations.
She was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and serves as Chair of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which is charged with overseeing the City of Pittsburgh’s finances.
She is member and past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. She is on the boards of Family Planning Councils of America, Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting (WESA and WYEP Public Radio Stations), Highmark Caring Foundation and former board chair of Leadership Pittsburgh, VisitPittsburgh, Brother’s Brother International Foundation and Pressley Ridge Schools.
Leslie Anne Miller
Leslie Anne Miller is an attorney, community leader and philanthropist. She has served as an advisor to Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia; General Counsel to the Honorable Edward G. Rendell; acting President of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, when it opened in 2001; and as a practicing litigator for more than 25 years.
She is active in a wide variety of non-profit and cultural organizations including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Committee of Seventy, The Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Penn Medicine Board of Directors, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and Mount Holyoke College, where she was Chair of the Board of Trustees. She has received numerous honors and awards throughout her career which include honorary degrees from Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University and Wilson College, and selection as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.
She and her husband, Richard Worley, live in Bryn Mawr.
Biography to come.
Deborah Melamut Minkoff
Deborah Melamut Minkoff enjoys a nationwide coverage litigation practice. Deborah also devotes a significant portion of her practice to counseling clients on evaluating and reducing risk in complex liability coverage disputes.
Deborah’s representative cases include disputes under claims-made liability policies, medical professional liability coverage, employers’ liability coverage, commercial general liability coverage, retention and allocation issues, and sexual misconduct claims under both professional liability and commercial liability coverages. Deborah has obtained important holdings for the insurance industry in cases of first impression, and lectures on claims-made coverage, self-insured retentions and large deductible policies, negotiation skills, and risk tolerance.
Deborah has been recognized as a Super Lawyer annually from 2008 through 2016, and as a Best Lawyer in America in the area of Insurance Law. In December 2012, Business Insurance recognized Deborah as one of its 25 “Women to Watch.” In October 2015, Governor Tom Wolf appointed Deborah to Pennsylvania’s Commission for Women.
Deborah graduated from Franklin and Marshall College. She is a graduate of Villanova Law School. While in law school, Deborah was a member of the Villanova Law Review and received the Pulling Award for outstanding student authorship. Deborah is an adjunct professor at the Drexel University School of Law, where she teaches Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiation.
Tina joined PinnacleHealth System (PHS) May 2015. Prior to coming to PHS Tina was Director of Resource Development from 2000 until June 2004 when she was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA Greater Harrisburg.
In her new role at PHS Tina ensures that all business and clinical programs and services delivered by PHS are consistent with the PHS mission and aligned with the strategic plan and community benefits programs. As Chief Diversity Officer Tina is responsible for developing and managing staff trainings to enhance understanding of diversity and inclusion; manage best practices and identify and improve diversity trends, plans and goals.
Tina is a native of Harrisburg and a graduate of East Stroudsburg University, with a B.S. in political science and sociology. Her career started in the Pennsylvania State Legislature working for former Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis. She has worked in the human service field for over 22 years, collaborating on issues dealing with hunger, homelessness, the welfare-to-work program, health care, domestic violence, sexual assault and childcare, and is compelled to make sure those less fortunate have a voice.
Although Tina’s career has allowed her to travel and work around the country, she is happy to be living in Harrisburg with her husband, James Nixon, and their 18 year-old twins who are now college bound.
Lesley Ridge is a writer and digital devotee with a penchant for social media. Ridge started Socialution Media, a digital marketing agency, to help business owners and professionals build online communities around their brands.
Her work landed Ridge on Erie Reader’s “40 Under 40” list in 2014 as well as a nomination for Innovation Collaborative’s Disrupt Erie award for “startup of the year” in 2015. Prior to starting Socialution, Ridge worked for a consumer marketing agency in Boston, building online communities for brands like Nasoya, Trendy Top, Safety 1st, and VO5. She was also the digital services manager for a public affairs startup in Washington, D.C., strategically fusing traditional and digital media and raise awareness of clients’ initiatives, resulting in increased revenue and brand recognition.
When she’s not tweeting, pinning, and posting for clients, Ridge is active in the Erie community. This past year, Ridge graduated from the inaugural Erie County Civic Leadership program and was recognized with the Jefferson Leadership Award by her peers and program directors. She serves on several boards including: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Family Services of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Meals on Wheels Metro Erie, Young Erie Professionals, The Women’s Roundtable, and the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. Ridge is a contributor for the local chamber magazine, ERIE, and can be found on Presque Isle State Park, often training for her next half marathon race.
Abaigeal Rooney’s experience lies in the field of human services. Abaigeal received a degree in Psychology / Women’s Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May 2014.
Upon graduating, Abaigeal worked as a residential counselor at a youth shelter which served homeless, abused, neglected, and underprivileged children in the New Hanover County, NC.
Abaigeal returned to her hometown of Bethlehem, Northampton County, in the spring of 2016 and worked in the community as a family based therapist serving children and families with high mental health needs. She is currently pursuing a career in real estate.
Jessica Rothchild is originally from Hazlet, NJ and is currently living in Scranton, PA. She received her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees from the University of Scranton. Jessica works as a physical therapist for Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in an outpatient setting with both adults and pediatric patients.
She is an activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and has been President of the board of Equality Pennsylvania for two years. She previously served as the President and Founder of Scranton Inclusion, the University of Scranton’s first student LGBT organization. She regularly speaks on campuses and across the state on issues affecting the LGBT community.
State Senator Judy Schwank
State Senator Judy Schwank represents Pennsylvania’s 11th Senatorial District, which includes the city of Reading and many of its surrounding boroughs and townships.
Since her appointment in 2011, Sen. Schwank has championed issues that directly affect women and children. She has worked across the aisle to reintroduce Postpartum Depression legislation to extend early intervention services to newborn and infant children of mothers affected by the disorder.
Sen. Schwank is a co-chair of the legislature’s Women’s Health Caucus, and was instrumental in passing the intimate partner harassment bill, which made it a crime to publish unapproved, sexually explicit pictures of a former partner. She also works with Pre-K for PA, and was recently named the group’s 2017 Pre-K Champion.
And her focus on women’s issues doesn’t subside when she leaves Harrisburg. In Berks County, she advocates for Berks Teens Matter, an organization dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy. She volunteers with Ready.Set.READ!, and initiative to improve reading levels in children, and serves on their Board of Directors.
Patti Stirk began her career as a junior programmer contracted to the U.S. Naval Avionics Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her career rapidly progressed, as she became a software engineer with a private software development firm focused on Quality Control in the automotive and manufacturing industries.
Upon returning to her home state of Pennsylvania, Stirk joined a small family-owned software firm based in York, Pa. She created a regional consulting business segment that became the firm’s leading profit center which she then spun off as a separate company four years later.
She successfully led Star Systems Engineering, Inc. for the next 21 years. She was named one of the “Pennsylvania 50 Best Women in Business” in 2004, and her firm was a finalist for “Small Business of the Year” several times. After selling her business a year ago, Stirk is now involved with three start-up technology companies. Stirk also serves as a free-lance photographer and part-time voice artist.
Stirk holds a bachelor of science from the York College of Pennsylvania, with dual majors in computer information systems, and business management. She also earned a master’s in business administration from York College. She served two terms as the president of YCP’s Alumni Association, and currently serves on the school’s Collegiate Council. Additionally, Stirk serves the school in various advisory positions in: the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, the Engineering Department, the Business Department, the Graham Innovation Scholars program, Athletic Department, and the Communications Department. Stirk was named to the Sigma Iota Epsilon Business Honors Fraternity in 2006, and she was awarded the “York College of PA Distinguished Alumni Award” in 2007.
She resides in downtown York City along with her husband Jeff Hines and two street rescue cats.
Rosa Clara Stroh
Rosa Clara Stroh is vice president and treasurer of The Hershey Company, the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America. Stroh is responsible for managing the company’s corporate liquidity, the financial risks of the company, the relationship between the company and commercial banks, pension managers, and insurance providers.
Stroh’s other responsibilities include implementing the appropriate capital structure of the company and providing leadership to Hershey’s Enterprise Risk Management activities. Prior to joining Hershey, Stroh was an international lending officer for The Hamilton Bank and previously worked as a credit officer in the banking industry. She joined The Hershey Company in 1982 in the Pension Asset Management Group and held other increasingly responsible positions in her career within the Finance organization.
Stroh serves on Penn State Harrisburg’s Board of Advisors, and as a mentor at Penn State. Stroh is a board member to Hershey Netherlands B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Network of Executive Women, Chicago, IL and the National Association of Corporate Treasurers. Stroh has contributed to financial risk management articles published in Treasury and Risk magazine, as well as being featured in the book, The New Woman Rules. Born in Ecuador, Stroh remains connected to her homeland by supporting charitable organizations that benefit children. She also serves as a mentor at The Hershey Company’s Women’s Council.
Stroh and husband, Brady, live in Hummelstown, Pa. They have two children, Adriana and Antonio.
Salima Suswell is the President and CEO of Evolve Solutions, LLC., which she founded in 2010. Evolve Solutions is a management consulting firm specializing in Government Relations, Public Affairs and Marketing, Community Engagement, and Special Event Production.
Prior to establishing her own company, Salima worked as a Senior Litigation Specialist with the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Salima remains actively involved in the political process within the Philadelphia – Delaware Valley region, contributing her expertise and talents to local political organizations and campaigns. Among Salima’s noteworthy contributions are the leadership and production of the Annual Philadelphia City Hall Ramadan Iftar Dinner, held at the Mayor’s Reception Hall at City Hall; her role as Project Manager and Steering Committee Member of the Philadelphia Eid Coalition, who worked successfully to obtain the recognition of the two Islamic (Eid) Holidays in Philadelphia Public Schools and various Charter schools; and her role as Chair of the Muslim American Host Committee for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Salima serves as an Executive Committee member for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Philadelphia Chapter, with a focus upon Government Relations and Community Outreach. Salima also serves as the National Diversity Director for Council for Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP).
Salima has received distinguished honors and awards from the Women-UP Organization of Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Muslim Youth Association, and the United Ummah of Philadelphia – to name a few. In 2009, Salima was featured on a CNN special program, entitled “CNN Presents – Faith and Money in America.” Salima’s work has been acknowledged in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Tribune, the Philly Public Record, Billy Penn, and other news outlets. Among her many speaking engagements, Salima was honored to address a crowd of over 50,000 individuals at the Women’s March on Philadelphia in January 2017.
Salima and her husband, accomplished businessman Derrick Suswell, share a daughter Laila Suswell and reside in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.
Tiffany Tavarez serves as Vice President of Community Relations at Wells Fargo, where she ensures the Northeast’s Community Relations team and business line partners are meeting the company’s corporate responsibility objectives and priorities.
She also focuses on creating programs around strategic philanthropy and team member volunteerism, as well as managing signature community initiatives across the five-state region (PA, NY, NJ, DE, CT). Her experience includes working with PECO, Comcast, First Person Arts, Temple University & the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
She was named one of the top 55 “Connectors & Keepers” in the city by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia. She was also featured in 30 Over 30 of Philadelphia’s Most Inspiring Women by online magazine, Femme & Fortune. The Women’s Leadership Initiative of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey presented her with the inaugural 2016 Emerging Leader Award for exemplifying what it means to give, advocate and volunteer. The Urban Affairs Coalition presented her with the Inaugural Friends of the Coalition Leadership Award. She has also received the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Minority Business Leader Award and IMPACTO’s Most Influential Latinos in the Delaware Valley Award (2015).
Philadelphia City Council, in partnership with the African American Children’s Book Fair, recognized her leadership in support of work with community-based organizations that champion reading and literacy. Most recently, she was awarded a proclamation by the City of Philadelphia in honor of Dominican Independence Day for her leadership in the Dominican-American community as well as honored by AL DIA as part of their inaugural “Women at the Top” campaign which celebrates Latinas from the Greater Philadelphia region who are disrupting the status quo through inspiring achievements and leadership.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Additionally, she serves on the Advisory Council of Temple Contemporary and on Philadelphia Magazine’s Diversity Advisory Committee as well as part of the inaugural Philadelphia Council for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She recently served as a member of Franklin Challenge: Project Runway, an innovation think tank between the Committee of Seventy and the Philadelphia International Airport. In addition to being the first person in her family to attend college, she was also the first person to earn a full-tuition scholarship to Temple University’s Tyler School where she earned her BFA – bringing her to the City of Philadelphia. She later earned her MA from University of the Arts. Her mentees – the talented, young future leaders in the region – serve as her primary source of community leadership and personal inspiration.
Lesley Ward is an Actuary at Highmark Health in Camp Hill. She has degrees in both Sociology and Actuarial Science from Penn State. As a woman in a math career, Lesley has a particular enthusiasm for promoting opportunities for girls to discover and pursue STEM interests.
As a mother to two awesome daughters, Lesley has volunteered with organizations that support and encourage girls to be the best they can be. She is in her ninth year of being a Girl Scout troop leader and in her sixth season of coaching Girls on the Run.
Lesley is a passionate advocate on issues that impact women, immigrants, science and the environment, among other causes. She has also created a social media network to serve as an informational resource on public policy issues and to promote advocacy opportunities. Lesley is very excited to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women so that she can work at the state level to positively impact the women and girls in Pennsylvania.
Tracey Welson-Rossman is one of the founding members and CMO of Chariot Solutions, a premier software development consulting firm in Philadelphia.
Her position at this company resulted in her founding TechGirlz.org, a national non-profit inspiring middle school girls to embrace tech for their future careers. TechGirlz has worked with 10,000 girls since its founding. She is also a mentor and an advocate for women in tech and tech startups.
She is one of the founding board members of Philly Startup Leaders, the largest tech entrepreneur organization in the area. She is also a board member for Creating IT Futures and the Economy League of Philadelphia.
She is a contributor for Forbes.com and Code Like A Girl.
Erin Willford-Skipworth is a Federal Contracting Officer Representative at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore, MD. Erin is responsible for managing contracts that support the innovation of health care delivery and payment systems.
Prior to this, she was a Marketing Manager at the Pennsylvania Lottery, contributing to programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians.
Erin serves as Associate Pastor of Congregational Care at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in York, PA. Erin works with nonprofits and community associations within the York area to deliver support services and youth activities to the local church and community. Erin is devoted to biblical writing, teaching and preaching.
In 2016, she was the keynote speaker at the Central Baptist Association of Pennsylvania “Women of Distinction” annual awards ceremony. In the future, Erin hopes to develop avenues that provide financial assistance to women who wish to pursue higher education in religious studies.
Erin has also served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Harrisburg and was a member of Blacks in Government (BIG), an organization dedicated to promoting equity in all aspects of American life, excellence in public service, and opportunity for all Americans.
Erin earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University, where she was a member of the Howard Gospel Choir. She also holds a Master of Public Administration from Penn State University. Currently, Erin is working on a PhD in Biblical Leadership at Lancaster Bible College.
Erin resides in Shrewsbury, PA with her husband Radee and two sons Xavier and Julius.
Michelle Zmijanac has had a long career in both medical and business environments. She currently serves her community as a Stephen Minister, Church Elder, Family Promise cook and Produce for People volunteer.
Her professional experience includes positions in administration as a PR Liaison at Mercer County School District; as a Regional Marketing Director at Sawyer School; Business Development Director at TRACO; Business Development Director and HIPPA Compliancy Officer at Aliquippa Community Hospital and Pharmacy Inventory Control Tech at Allegheny General Hospital.
She is married to Michael. They have two grown children, one granddaughter, a rescued pit bull named Jada, and a one-eyed kitty named Zymba. Mike is a retired English Teacher and continues work as the Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at Aliquippa High School. For fun, the couple volunteer as gardeners for an “Uptown Garden” in Mt. Lebanon.
Mrs. Zmijanac is a 32-year resident of Mt. Lebanon and a life-long resident of Allegheny County. She is a graduate of Duquesne University with a BA in English. Current community service activities include: Vice Chair of the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board and Board Member of the Veterans Planning Board of Mt. Lebanon, The Veterans Breakfast Club, Women on the Move, MS Society of Pittsburgh and Lebo Brew Fest Committee.
Michelle is active in politics as well and serves as Chair of the Mt. Lebanon Democratic Committee where she helped increase Democratic voter registration to 53% in the district since 2008 and an increase of overall voter participation by 3.6%; Vice Chair of the Chartiers Valley Democratic Chairs Committee, and Member of League of Women Voters.
Equal Pay Advocacy
Did you know that Pennsylvania women make just 79 centers for every dollar made by a man? The wage gap costs women an average of $10,000 a year, which affects the entire family. The Commission for Women is committed to closing the gender pay gap in Pennsylvania. We support Governor Wolf’s 2018 Equal Pay Executive Order, and are working with First Lady Frances Wolf to advocate for legislative and private sector policy changes statewide.
- House Bill 830 (Rep. Maria Donatucci)
- House Bill 931 (Rep. Maria Donatucci)
- House Bill 1243 (Rep. Brian Sims)
- Senate Bill 1200 (Sen. Christine Tartaglione)
- Senate Bill 1201 (Sen. Judy Schwank)
- Senate Bill 578 (Sen. Anthony Williams)
Call your legislator today and tell them it’s time to take action on Equal Pay in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Female Veterans Day Nomination Form
Each year during Women’s History Month in March, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women hosts a Female Veterans Day Ceremony at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg in which women veterans from around the state are recognized for their selfless service and sacrifice for our country.
If you know a woman veteran deserving of this honor, please submit a nomination using this online form.
For more information, call 717-831-3224 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southwest PA Says NO MORE
Women and Girls Foundation
The American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV)
Women’s Law Project
Pennsylvania National Organization for Women
Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics – Chatham University
Girls on the Run
It’s On Us
PA Breast Cancer Coalition
PA Conference for Women
Megan Healey — Executive Director
Phone: (717) 831-3224