Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf Recognize 8 Women as Pennsylvania’s 2017 Distinguished Daughters

October 04, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf today recognized eight outstanding women from across the state as this year’s Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania. The women were honored with medals for their achievements at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.

“This incredible group of women is here today because of a unique and important contribution each has made in her own community and beyond,” Governor Wolf said. “Frances and I recognize their hard work and dedication, and we are honored to name them as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania.”

The 2017 Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania include Dr. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold (Lebanon), Laurada Byers (Philadelphia), Mary Colvert Carroll (Naalehu, HI), Diane P. Holder (Pittsburgh), Susan Kemenyffy (McKean), Beverly Lange (Ardmore), Andrea Mitchell (Washington, D.C), and Cynthia Shapira (Pittsburgh).

“Tom and I are proud to honor 2017’s Distinguished Daughters, who have given so much of themselves to others, in both their professional and philanthropic lives,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “We can’t thank them enough for the impact they have made, and hope that this important distinction will help inspire the next generation of Pennsylvania girls and women to set their own bars high.”

Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania began in 1948 to honor women who have shown distinguished service through professional careers and/or voluntary service. The women are nominated to receive the honor by non-profit organizations within Pennsylvania. They do not need to be natives of Pennsylvania, but must have lived in the commonwealth at some point.

The 2017 Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania and condensed resumes are listed below:

Jeanne Donlevy Arnold

Jeanne Donlevy Arnold has been recognized as a national leader in nursing and healthcare and as a dedicated community advocate and philanthropist. She retired as Senior Vice President at Good Samaritan Health Systems where she pioneered numerous community programs and a pioneering distance learning program for nurses.

She and her husband founded the Hummingbird Program, a pediatric palliative and complex care program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and were honored by Penn State as Philanthropists of the Year for their many contributions to the institution.

She is a long-time member of the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America, where she is leading a task force for the prevention of childhood obesity and has served on the boards of Lebanon Valley College and Fulton Opera Theatre.

Throughout her professional and volunteer leadership, Jeanne has fostered change through her ability to engage, empower and unite people to her causes.

Laurada Byers

Laurada Byers is the founder of the Russell Byers Charter School (RBCS) which she opened in 2001 as a tribute to her late husband, a well-known Philadelphia columnist. By 2018, RBCS will serve 725 elementary and middle school students from approximately 42 neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

She currently chairs Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, an alliance of high-performing public charter schools in the city. She is the founder of the Philadelphia Film Festival which is celebrating its 26th year.

She has received wide recognition for her community service, including Philadelphia Magazine’s Volunteer of the Year Award and the Drexel University School of Medicine Woman One Award. She is the author of two Book of Blessings which have sold over 55,000 copies. She earned her MBA from Temple University and is a real estate broker. She lives in Center City Philadelphia and has two children and three grandchildren.

Mary Colvert Carroll

Mary Colvert Carroll has been a founder, officer or member of over 30 non-profit local and national boards focusing on economic development, conservation and self-help.

She founded Philadelphia Hospitality to promote Philadelphia tourism and initiated the restoration of Philadelphia’s City Hall. As Chairman of the Friends of Independence National Park she established Philadelphia Open House. She founded a national park regional advisory board and received the Conservation Service Award, the U.S. Department of Interior’s highest award for supporting organizations.

She established the Philadelphia YMCA’s first international committee and its partnership with the YMCA’s in South Korea and Russia and founded the Nepal Foundation which adopted a remote community in Nepal of over 5,000 residents.

She was the First U.S. citizen to receive the “Friend of Nepal Award” from the Association of the Nepalis in the Americas, and in 2014 she was appointed by the Government of Nepal as Honorary Consul of Nepal. She graduated from the University of Miami, Magna Cum Laude with a BA degree.

Diane P. Holder

Diane P. Holder has worked in the health care field for more than 30 years and currently is President and CEO of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan, providing strategic direction for UPMC’s health management companies which serve over three million members and recognize revenues approaching eight billion dollars.

A dedicated advocate for people with mental illness and addiction problems, Ms. Holder was the founding CEO of Community Care Behavioral Health.

A champion for women in the workplace, Ms. Holder received the Allegheny Conference 2014 Athena Award and was recognized as a “Woman who Makes a Difference” by the International Women’s Forum in 2015.  She serves on numerous not-for-profit boards and is the first woman board Chair of the Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian.

Susan Kemenyffy

Susan Kemenyffy is widely recognized for her significant achievements in American ceramics, especially Raku, and her numerous international exhibits and lectures on art and gardening.

She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Governor’s Pennsylvania Artist of the Year Award. She served as Chairman of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts where she is a Trustee Emerita, as President of the Erie Art Museum and Trustee of the Erie Community Foundation. She continues her life-long commitment to advocacy for a wide panoply of art forms for creative expression, including studio, garden, political, visual, spoken and written arts.

She received her BFA from Syracuse University, studied at the Art Students League in Woodstock, NY and her MA and MFA from the University of Iowa.

Beverly Lange

Beverly Lange is an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she served on the faculty for over 40 years and as Medical Director of Pediatric Oncology.

Dr. Lange is recognized as an educator, clinical investigator and expert in pediatric leukemia and the infectious and cognitive complications of cancer treatment. She received Lifetime Career Awards from the Children’s Oncology Group and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology /Oncology. She served on the boards of Bryn Mawr College, American Board of Pediatrics, NIH Pediatric Central Institutional Review Board and Philadelphia Opera Company.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Bryn Mawr College, her Medical Degree from Temple University, her residency at Philadelphia General Hospital and completed her fellowship work at the University of Pennsylvania. In May 2017 she earned her final degree: Master of Public Health.

Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell is a veteran chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, and is also the host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” on MSNBC.

Since joining NBC News in 1978, she has covered the White House, Congress, the State Department and National Security, appearing regularly on all NBC News and MSNBC programs. Mitchell’s extensive reports over decades include the Reagan/Gorbachev summits, exclusive interviews with Fidel Castro, the Iran nuclear talks, conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and assignments in Iran, North Korea, and Vietnam.

She has covered every political campaign for NBC News since 1980, most recently as the lead correspondent assigned to Hillary Clinton.  Frequently honored by her peers, Mitchell authored the best seller, “Talking Back,” about her experiences as one of the first women in broadcast news.

Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she is the immediate past Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Cynthia Shapira

Cynthia Shapira is President of the Shapira Foundation. She is Chair of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education and a Vice-Chair of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees. Shapira was a Vice-Chair of Governor Wolf’s transition team, and a Corbett appointment to the Pennsylvania Women’s Commission.

She is on the boards of the Allegheny County Airport Authority and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. She is immediate past chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, former chair of Chatham University’s PA Center for Women in Politics and served on the boards of Point Park University, Pittsburgh Promise, United Way of Allegheny County, and WQED Pittsburgh. She founded the 21 & Able Initiative and is Honorary Co-Chair of Allegheny 365, both organizations serving young people with disabilities.

A former non-profit and higher education management consultant, she holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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