Marion Munley Elected to the American Association for Justice Executive Committee

Munley Law is pleased to announce that partner Marion Munley has been elected by the members of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Board of Governors to serve on the AAJ Executive Committee.

“It is an immense honor to serve alongside the nation’s top trial lawyers on the AAJ Executive Committee,” Munley said. “I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity to advance the mission of the AAJ and uphold Americans’ rights to a jury trial.”

The American Association for Justice is a nationwide network of trial lawyers whose mission is to promote a fair and effective justice system and to ensure that people who suffer injury due to negligence or misconduct can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when up against powerful interests.

Munley has a longstanding record of service and leadership within the legal profession. A longstanding member of AAJ, she currently serves on its Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees for the National College of Advocacy, and on a number of committees. She belongs to the AAJ Women Trial Lawyers Caucus and served as chair from 2016‐2017, and to the AAJ Trucking Litigation Group where she became the first female chair in 2018. She was twice awarded the AAJ Above and Beyond Award for exceptional contributions to the organization, and in 2020 she received the Distinguished Service Award for special assistance to the organization’s president. Munley was also recently presented with the prestigious Marie Lambert Award from the AAJ Women Trial Lawyers Caucus. Among her other professional affiliations are the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Society of Barristers, and the Summit Council.

Munley has earned triple board certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Civil Trial, Civil Practice, and Truck Accident Law. She has been named to the Best Lawyers in America list by Best Lawyers since 2012 and was selected as “Lawyer of the Year: Personal Injury – Plaintiffs” for the Allentown Metro Area in 2020. Marion has also been selected to the list of Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for the last 15 years and has been consistently recognized as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Pennsylvania by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Scranton Area Community Foundation Announces 2020 Scholarship Recipients

The Scranton Area Community Foundation is proud to announce its 2020 scholarship recipients, benefitting 150 local students from various schools in the area from scholarship funds administered by the Foundation. A total of $442,805 was recently distributed through 49 scholarships, including the #GaryInspiredMe Scholarship, the Matt McGloin Scholarship, the Neal J. Fasula Scholarship, and the highly-competitive James F. Swift scholarship.

Scholarship recipients are selected annually by various scholarship committees at the Foundation. The complete listing of all 2020 scholarship recipients is detailed below.

“We are grateful to the generous donors who make these scholarships possible to benefit so many students from across the region,” stated Scranton Area Community Foundation President and CEO, Laura Ducceschi. “The Foundation proudly manages many scholarship funds established by charitable donors who wish to recognize and support outstanding students,” she added. “These scholarships aim to make higher education more attainable for so many in our region.”

The Scranton Area Community Foundation is a partner with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in their Partnership for Access to Higher Education (PATH) Program to offer qualifying students additional financial aid. Through PHEAA, many scholarship recipients may be eligible for additional dollars toward their tuition.

Typically, Scranton Area Community Foundation scholarship recipients are recognized at scholarship award ceremonies but, due to the current public health crisis related to COVID-19, this was not possible this year.

For more information on any of the scholarships at the Scranton Area Community Foundation, please contact Brittany Pagnotti, Communications Manager of the Scranton Area Community Foundation at 570-347-6203.

To establish a scholarship fund in honor of or memory of a loved one or to include a scholarship as a legacy gift in your estate plans, please contact the Scranton Area Community Foundation today or visit safdn.org to learn more.

2020 Scholarship Recipients

#GaryInspiredMe Scholarship
Yasmin Ramirez (West Scranton)
Robert Lugiano (Lake-Lehman)

Caroline Ace, LPN/Angela Muchal, LPN Scholarship
Kierra Kveragas (Career Technology Center)

Catherine A. Alu Memorial Scholarship
Maria Augusta Bell Pendon (Dunmore)

Todd Angelo Memorial Scholarship
Minahil Sami (University of Scranton)

Blakely Borough Scholarship
Allison Bennett (Valley View)

Constance M. and Joseph A. Brocavich Memorial Scholarship
Andrew Joseph Smith (Holy Cross)
Travis Bridgeman (Scranton Prep)
Grace Ann Kapacs (Scranton Prep)
Dominic Menichini (Scranton Prep)

Cinderella’s Closet Scholarship
Michalie Mazurkivich (Pittston Area)

Jeffrey Morgan Davis Memorial Scholarship
Amaya Jackson (Holy Cross)

Jason Evans Memorial Wrestling Scholarship
Thomas Kerrigan (Abington Heights)

Joseph (Firp) and Charles Pacino Scholarship
Michael Nowak (Lakeland)

Angelina Fricchione and Michael Cupple Scholarship
Dipam Shah (Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine)

Junior League of Scranton Scholarship
Yasmin Ramirez (West Scranton)

John and Grace Kreig Scholarship
Alexandra Mitchell (Riverside)

Dr. E.C. LaCoe Scholarship
Sadie Henzes (Abington Heights)
Allison Nealon (Abington Heights)

Greg Legg NEPA Diamond Scholarship
Joseph Cencetti (Pittston Area)

Patrick Andrew Luptak Scholarship
Gavin Beck (Riverside)
Anna Bajor (North Pocono)
Yasmin Ramirez (West Scranton)
Maria Augusta Bell Pendon (Dunmore)

Matt McGloin Scholarship
Yasmin Ramirez (West Scranton)
Joseph Evanosky (West Scranton)

Chris Moran Scholarship
Aidan Mullen (Abington Heights)
Nina Sampogne (Abington Heights)
Jordan Kazmierski (Mountain View)
Rachel Klein (Mountain View)

Russell J. O’Malley and James E. O’Brien Memorial Scholarship
Andrew C. Faist Jr. (Lackawanna Trail)

Jane H. Rushmore Memorial Nursing Scholarship
Amy White (Career Technology Center)

James M. Akens North Pocono Athletic Trust Fund
Alahnna Balbach (North Pocono)

American Legion A. Pierson Hurd Academic Scholarship
Destiny Farmer (Valley View)

Sarah Beth Beynon Memorial Scholarship
Nanda Zheng (Pittston Area)

Margaret Briggs/Lackawanna College Scholarship
Alexander Mitchell (Lackawanna College)
Alexis Featherman (Lackawanna College)

Sean J. Calpin Automotive Technology Scholarship
Jonathan Wilga (Johnson College)

Joseph J. Costa Memorial Scholarship
Miguel Salvador (Lackawanna College)
Jared Colletta (Lackawanna College)
Gilbert Diaz (Lackawanna College)

Dulcey Degilio Scholarship
Allison Nealon (Abington Heights)

Danielle Faramelli Scholarship
Ally Welsch (Valley View)

Jefferson Scholarship
Tristen Kalt (Lakeland)
Aniesa Dragwa (Lakeland)
Samantha Mushak (West Scranton)

Keisling Family Scholarship
Anna Bajor (North Pocono)

Joseph P. McDonald Memorial Scholarship
Daniel Walsh (Dunmore)
Steven Borgia (Dunmore)

The Melvin-Deininger Scholarship
Samantha Mushak (West Scranton)

Jennifer Morgan Scholarship
Isabella Mancini (Pittston Area)

Pay It Forward Scholarship
Bryan Melliand (Penn State University)

Ashley and Erin Williams Memorial Scholarship
Madison Carpenter (North Pocono)

Ann Wall Scholarship
Nick Maskaly (Lackawanna Trail)

Raoul Wallenberg Scholarship
Devin Welch (Williamsport Area)

Dr. Bernard Shair Memorial Scholarship
Minahil Sami (University of Scranton)

Neal J. Fasula Scholarship
Jordan Adams (West Scranton/Career Technology Center)
Gavin Beck (Riverside)
Mia Castellano (Edinboro University)
Danielle Cook (University of Scranton)
Haley Leonard (West Scranton)
Bryan Melliand (Penn State University)
Adam Nitch (West Chester University)
Will Oliphant (Misericordia University)
Steve Paszek (Johnson College)
Kyle Rusinko (University of Scranton)
Alexis Smith (Hofstra University)
William White (Penn State University)

James F. Swift Scholarship
Tanner Begin (Lakeland)
Ashley Capone (Holy Cross)
Andrew Cummings (Old Forge)
Caitlin Doughton (Scranton Prep)
Fione Evans (Scranton)
Marguerite Flynn (Scranton Prep)
Nicholas Guerra (West Scranton)
Tori Kovalchick (Holy Cross)
Kristen Lello (Riverside)
Rebecca Lucas (Dunmore)
Olivia Manarchuck (Carbondale Area)
Tyler Muskey (Riverside)
Antonio Pugliese (West Scranton)
Nina Sampogne (Abington Heights)
Taylor Seprosky (Valley View)
Eric Spivak (Scranton)
Christopher Talluto (Mid Valley)
Makenna Thorpe (Abington Heights)
Ryan Turlip (Valley View)
Alec Yanisko (Dunmore)

John R. and Maureen J. Pesavento All Saints Interparochial Academy Scholarship
Samantha Greenfield (Scranton Prep)
Luke Mozeleski (Holy Cross)

Scranton Central High School Alumni Scholarship
Julia Loury (Scranton)

Scranton Central High School Class of 1964 Scholarship
Julia Loury (Scranton)

Chris Till Sender Scholarship    
Karaline Howey (Riverside)  

Midori Yamanouchi, PhD Scholarship
Julia Loury (Scranton)

Teddick Family Scholarship
Sadie Bosscher (Elk Lake)

Tolerance Scholarship
Phoebe Hnatko (North Pocono)

Edward C. Snyder Memorial Scholarship
Sarah Ounsworth (Marywood University)

Marywood University’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program Celebrates Program Milestone

Marywood University’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program (Psy.D.) celebrated graduating the 100th student from its program at the University’s 102nd commencement ceremony on August 15, 2020, during a virtual ceremony.

Marywood’s Psy.D. program accepted its first six students in 2001 and became an American Psychological Association accredited program in 2006. Alumni of the Psy.D. program work in a variety of settings, including private practices, medical centers, community mental health centers, college counseling centers, correctional facilities, and in the military.

The APA-accredited Psy.D. program at Marywood University prepares students to provide evidence-based and culturally-sensitive clinical services to diverse populations. Students develop competencies in nine areas, including research, ethical and legal standards, individual and cultural diversity, professional values and attitudes, communication and interpersonal skills, assessment, intervention, supervision, and consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills.

For additional information about Marywood University’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, please visit marywood.edu/psychology/psyd, or call the Office of Admissions, at (570) 348-6234.

Licensed Psychologist Joins The Wright Center’s Scranton and Mid Valley Practices

Originally from Dickson City, Colleen Brown, Psy.D., recently returned to the area to join The Wright Center for Community Health as its first licensed psychologist. Dr. Brown specializes in working with children, adolescents and adults with a variety of mental health issues, but has specialized training with children with severe mental illness as well as those who have experienced abuse or violence. At the Wright Center, Dr. Brown will complete both therapy services and psychological assessments for patients of all ages.

Dr. Brown graduated from Mid Valley Secondary Center in Throop, and earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a master’s degree in general psychology from New York University, and graduated from La Salle University, Philadelphia, with master’s and doctorate degrees, both in clinical psychology.

For the past two years, Dr. Brown worked as an outpatient clinician at a private practice in the Cayman Islands. She has worked in a variety of settings in the United States, including community mental health clinics, day/partial hospitalization programming, crisis programming, residential settings, school settings and juvenile detention facilities in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware. Dr. Brown will see patients at the Wright Center’s Scranton Practice, 501 S. Washington Ave., on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and its Mid Valley Practice, 5 S. Washington Ave., Jermyn, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 570-230-0019.

State Transportation Commission Adopts Updated 12-Year Transportation Program

The State Transportation Commission (STC) updated the 12-Year Program. The new plan anticipates $64.8 billion being available over the next 12 years for improvements to roads, bridges, transit systems, airports and railroads.

The 12-Year Program, or TYP, is a multimodal, fiscally-constrained planning tool used to identify and prioritize Pennsylvania’s transportation projects and the funds needed to complete them. State law requires the STC to review and update the 12-Year Program every two years. No capital project can move forward unless it is included in the 12-Year Program.

The newly adopted program, which takes effect October 1, anticipates the following funding availability in the first four years of the TYP from federal, state and local sources:

  • $11.4 billion for state highway and bridge projects;
  • $9.4 billion for public transit;
  • $321 million for multimodal projects;
  • $228 million for rail freight; and
  • $138 million for aviation.

“Investments in transportation are critical for keeping our communities connected to the global economy,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “While additional investment in our large transportation network is certainly needed, PennDOT takes pride in being a responsible steward of federal, state and local dollars to help improve infrastructure across all modes.”

The TYP also highlights some of PennDOT’s major accomplishments over the past two years, such as becoming REAL ID-compliant, as well as impacts to transportation in Pennsylvania because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four Rural Planning Organizations, 19 Metropolitan Planning Organizations and one independent county partnered with PennDOT in the review and development of the update. Now that the STC has approved the update, it has been submitted to the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for review and approval. The Federal Highway Administration coordinates with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review the plan’s conformity with air quality requirements.

Public input early in the 12-Year planning process played a key role in identifying investments in the various transportation modes.

The State Transportation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of PennDOT and consists of 10 appointed citizens as well as the majority and minority chairs of the state House and Senate Transportation committees.

For more information about the TYP, visit www.TalkPATransportation.com.

Scranton Area Community Foundation Awards $20,000 Grant to Electric City Connection Project

Founders of the Electric City Connection are pleased to announce the project has expanded and will continue through summer thanks to a $20,000 grant from Scranton Area Community Foundation. The Electric City Connection supports Scranton residents facing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and helps generate revenue for local restaurants facing their own set of economic challenges during this crisis.

Developed by The University of Scranton, the project is the result of coordinated efforts between the University’s Office of Community Relations, Scranton Tomorrow and Friends of the Poor. Since the onset of the project in March, members of the community donated $26,955 through Scranton Tomorrow’s website to fund gift cards to 20 local restaurants. Friends of the Poor distributes the gift cards to Scranton residents in need. With the additional funding from Scranton Area Community Foundation, the project will provide more than 3,000 meals to those coping with food insecurity.

Electric City Connection partners are grateful for the Scranton Area Community Foundation’s generous support. With this funding in place, the project will continue serving those facing economic hardship this summer, and expand to include senior citizens and residents with disabilities living in Downtown Scranton high rises. Continuation of the project also provides a much-needed economic boost to local restaurants at a critical time.

“This is a great opportunity to address challenges surrounding food insecurity in Scranton, which have been elevated during the COVID-19 crisis,” stated Laura Ducceschi, President and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. “Thanks to generous support from donors to the NEPA COVID-19 Response Fund, the Scranton Area Community Foundation is able to provide support for the Electric City Connection project.”

Scranton Tomorrow will continue accepting donations for the duration of the project. To make a contribution, click here.

The Importance of Masks

Our president, Bob Durkin, recently collaborated with Dr. Steven Scheinman, president and dean of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, on a column for the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Bob Durkin and Dr. Steven Scheinman

In March, our community’s largest concern about new coronavirus was whether it would cancel the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Now, these five months later, that fear seems quaint. Businesses, schools and churches have been hit with much bigger challenges and are still looking to regain their footing after first receiving the gubernatorial green light to reopen and then being urged to scale back.

Hundreds of businesses, large and small have suffered the economic hardship of closures, restrictions on services, the costs of safety equipment and supplies – and layoffs of good hardworking employees. These business owners and their employees are our families, friends and neighbors. Many are struggling to hang onto their livelihoods, their legacies, their dreams.

A recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that nearly 70% of small business owners fear that another wave will lead to a second shutdown.  For a great many that would signal the end of those dreams of business success and personal financial wellbeing. 

Our community has sacrificed enough and been patient long enough – we deserve a return to some sense of normalcy. Face coverings are vital to regaining that normalcy.

Further, as thousands of students prepare to return to our area and help us to achieve that sense of normalcy, recent scenes of mask-less people gathered close to one another in public settings across the region are distressing and may set us back months after we’ve enjoyed some hard-fought progress.

To state it bluntly: Our only hope of keeping our students here, our businesses open and our neighborhoods on the mend is to follow the safety protocols we know prevent the spread of COVID-19: keep your distance, avoid gatherings of more than 25 people, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and wear a mask. The reason is simple: the virus spreads in droplets exhaled by a person who is infected. If that person is wearing a mask, others are wearing masks and all are appropriately distanced, those droplets simply can’t infect another person.

The common objections to masking just don’t make sense if our goal is to preserve our freedom of movement. For example:

  • Masks are hot and uncomfortable. It’s true. Isn’t it better, however, to be out in public, shopping, dining or doing something else you enjoy rather than sheltering at home, even if being out means being a bit uncomfortable?
  • Masks should be a personal choice. Think of the things we’ve done together to promote better health. Widely adopting the use of seatbelts has mitigated trauma-related injuries and deaths. Smoke-free public places are a result of a cooperative public health effort. People demand a vaccine for this present coronavirus precisely because mandated childhood vaccines have been so successful at preventing once-dreaded diseases like polio and measles. Masks are a sign of public commitment to stopping this coronavirus in its tracks so we can all regain a semblance of pre-COVID life.
  • CDC’s stance on masks has changed. I don’t know what to believe. In this case, science may be falling victim to its own success. Our doctors and researchers have gotten so good at preventing and curing disease that the public has come to expect overnight solutions. The most startling feature of this coronavirus that it is a novel virus. Scientists have never seen it before. We can make predictions based on other viruses, but those are what all scientific hypotheses are – educated guesses. We know much more now than we did in March . . .  and one thing of which we are now definitely certain is that coronavirus is spread via exhaled droplets. Cover the mouth and nose and those droplets have difficulty spreading. If others are similarly masked, the droplets have nowhere to go.
  • I don’t have any symptoms. If you are young and healthy, you could have COVID-19 and not even know it. Wear the mask to protect those who don’t enjoy such a robust immune system. Our colleges and universities will expect their young and healthy students to don masks.

If you’ve heard these arguments before and remain unpersuaded, consider a philosophical argument, grounded by probability science known as Pascal’s Wager. Even if you don’t believe the mask is stopping COVID-19, isn’t it better to wear it and be proven right than to refuse, infect others and be proven dead wrong? Right now, masks and social distancing are our only weapons against spread of this virus.  The best way – the only way – to avoid a second shutdown is to use them.  To shun masks, gather in large groups, and reopen prematurely is the surest way to bring on a second wave and second shutdown.  It’s your choice.

Geisinger Welcomes New Provider to 65 Forward Health Center

George Avetian, D.O., a family medicine physician, has joined the Geisinger 65 Forward Health Center team in Luzerne County.

Dr. Avetian earned his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine after completing undergraduate studies in biology at Villanova University. He completed his residency at the former Metropolitan Hospital (now Springfield Hospital) in Springfield, Pa.

A Pennsylvania native, Dr. Avetian joins the 65 Forward team following his time practicing family medicine in suburban Philadelphia. Dr. Avetian was part of the Department of Family Medicine at Delaware County Memorial Hospital and maintained a private primary care practice in Upper Darby since 1983. He has also served since 2011 as a senior medical advisor to Delaware County.

“I’m excited to join a unique program like 65 Forward that is helping to make health easier for people,” said Dr. Avetian. “Having longer appointments makes it easier to develop strong patient relationships, and those make it easier for me to make sure patients are getting the care and resources they need to stay healthy.”

Dr. Avetian is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians and is a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Dr. Avetian is currently seeing patients at the Geisinger 65 Forward Health Center in Kingston but will move to the new Geisinger 65 Forward Health Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre when it opens in October. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Avetian or tour a Geisinger 65 Forward Health Center, call 570-740-3096. To learn more about Geisinger 65 Forward, visit geisinger.org/65forward.

Chamber Hires New Finance Assistant

The Chamber has announced the addition of Lisa Bandru as the finance assistant II.

Bandru is responsible for the accounting and finances for the Chamber and its affiliates, The Scranton Plan, Leadership Lackawanna, and Skills in Scranton. She processes accounts payable and receivable, prepares invoices, as well as special reports, and maintains the general ledger. 

Bandru comes with years of experience in the finance industry with her previous career at Kriger Construction, Inc. as an accounts payable specialist. She has also worked for Leeward Construction/E.R. Linde and James W. Stuchko/Ameriprise Financial Services, as well as in medical billing.

Bandru attended Lackawanna College and Lakeland Jr. Sr. High School. She is also a fundraising committee member of the Andrew Mazza Foundation.