Leadership Lackawanna Core Team Celebrates Keystone Mission Project

Leadership Lackawanna Core class members meet with Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti and Justin Behrens, executive director, Keystone Mission.
Front row, left to right: Justin Marino of United Neighborhood Centers; Mayor Paige Cognetti, City of Scranton; Vivian Williams, Scranton Area Foundation; Justin Behrens, Keystone Mission; Meredith Mercuri, Barry Callebaut; Jennifer Shoemaker, Outreach Center for Community Resources; Robert Welsch, Tobyhanna Army Depot; and Michelle Cook, Community Bank, N.A.
Back row, left to right: Jesse Novatski, Penn State Scranton; and Patrick Keehan, University of Scranton Small Business Development Center.

One of this year’s Leadership Lackawanna Core Program teams recently celebrated their community service project for Keystone Mission in Scranton.

Homeless individuals without identification have difficulty accessing the critical services and benefits that can move them out of homelessness and poverty. To help Keystone Mission serve these individuals, the Leadership team worked with the organization to design, outfit, and equip a utility van that provides opportunities for homeless individuals to receive photo identification, social security cards, and birth certificates. 

This “mobile office” van is stocked with essential items, but more importantly, allows the Keystone Mission staff to conduct on-site outreach to homeless individuals. The team marketed the van to the community, secured community partners to obtain more supplies, and secured donations to pay for the project.

“On behalf of Team Keystone, I would like to thank all our community members who generously donated their time, items, and resources to this great cause. It has been our pleasure working with Keystone Mission in assisting them to be able to do such important work in our community,” said Justin Marino, Core Program participant from Team Keystone.

Each year, the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program class completes various service projects helping to fulfill a need in our community. By working with fellow non-profit organizations, class participants expand their leadership abilities and further develop their skills.

“I am truly thankful to the Leadership Lackawanna class of 2021 for supporting our effort to build relationships and a community of hope across NEPA. To help the homeless men and women takes the community to come together. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!” said Justin Behrens, CEO, Keystone Mission.

Natalie O’Hara – Empower Conference Speaker

Natalie O’Hara is the president of D&O Enterprises, a construction company that has been family owned for three generations. In her tole, she brings the experience she received at Turner Construction Co., a large international firm, where she acted as field engineer and cost engineer on projects ranging in size between $11MM and $108MM. Natalie also has extensive project coordination, estimating, and management experience from her role at PACE/CM, Inc.

Some of her more prominent projects include:

  • NET Credit Union Olyphant Branch Renovation, Olyphant, PA
  • Pediatric Dental Specialists Office Renovation, Clarks Summit, PA
  • Ricketts Glen State Park Development, Fairmont, PA
  • Tobyhanna State Park Rehabilitation of Day Use Area, Tobyhanna, PA
  • Lackawanna County Courthouse Renovations, Scranton, PA
  • Scranton Police Headquarters, Scranton, PA
  • Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, Scranton, PA
  • Allied Services Personal Care Facility (Allied Terrace), Scranton, PA

Natalie graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University in 1993 and has completed the Engineer-in-Training certificate program.

Elizabeth Graham – Empower Conference Speaker

Elizabeth “Liz” Graham is chief operating officer and co-owner of Riggs Asset Management Company, Inc. Riggs is one of Northeast Pennsylvania’s largest independent investment advisory firms building and preserving wealth for families and institutions for more than 30 years. Ms. Graham works with individuals and families to manage their investments as well as serve as a financial sounding board during periods of transition from selling a business to retirement or career change to death or divorce.  Devoted to her clients, she endeavors to help clients understand the financial dynamics at play in the investment markets and bring a strategic and common-sense approach to growing their wealth.   

With a passion for giving back to the community, Ms. Graham is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, the first woman to Chair that Board in the Organization’s 135-year history. She has served as Chair of the Boards of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce; The Diamond City Partnership; and The Nuangola Lake Association and the Bear Creek Association.   In June 2009, Ms. Graham was recognized by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce with the ATHENA Award.  This award is given out once a year to the woman who has made significant contributions to the business and local community.  In March 2009, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal recognized her as one of the “Top 25 Women in Business” and in 2001 that same publication recognized her as one of the “Top 20 Executives Under 40.”  In 2003, she co-founded Circle 200 a by-invitation only forum for senior executive women in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she continues to serve as an Advisor and Member of its Board.  Today, Circle 200 counts more than 100 women leaders in its membership.  In 2021, Ms. Graham was asked to help develop Fork Over Love, a non-profit organization geared toward providing financial support to restaurants hit hard by the pandemic and providing food to those dealing with food insecurity.  In five months, Fork Over Love has reinvested more than $80,000 into local restaurants and provided more than 8,000 meals to families in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Ms. Graham speaks regularly on topics centered around finance and leadership.

Carla Romo – Empower Conference Keynote Speaker

Carla is a speaker, author, co-host of The Love Fix, and certified life coach. She helps people push through their BS (blind sides) so they can thrive in all aspects of their life. Basically, she’s your cheerleader, here to watch win at any stage in life.

She’s watched clients get married, change careers, get over their ex/heartbreak, start a business, fall in love, and follow their life’s purpose. Nothing is off limits – from debunking the fear of “never finding love again” to switching to a career path you’ve been itching for. Anything that has to do with pushing past B.S. (AKA your sneaky inner voice)…she’s your girl!

At age 24, Carla hit rock bottom when she found herself in another toxic codependent relationship and in a cycle of burnout from her career in TV. But, this time, she got up and learned how to break free from codependency and get out of burnout. Inspired by her own self-growth journey, Carla took lemons and made the best damn lemonade she ever tasted.

Today, Carla coaches clients one-on-one or in groups via phone or video call and leads highly sought-after in person/virtual talks and workshops worldwide. You may have seen her featured in collaboration with Milwaukee Bucks, BRAVO, Verizon, Cosmopolitan, Bumble, Simon Business School, Lifetime, Nissan, as well as the high-rated iTunes Podcasts.

Carla is here to let you know that the most important relationship you will ever have is with your damn self – so it’s time you push past BS (blind sides) stopping you.

Dr. Lia Richards-Palmiter – Empower Conference Speaker

Lia Richards-Palmiter, Ph.D., champions the practice of cultural competency both in her role at Marywood University and as a member of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Board of Directors.

Holding the core belief that all patients should be treated with dignity, Dr. Richards-Palmiter aims to instill these values in young learners as director of diversity at Marywood University. Her office promotes diversity awareness on campus by helping to integrate diversity into the curriculum, actively recruiting diverse students and faculty, and hosting clubs and organizations that support these ideals. In addition, Dr. Richards-Palmiter serves as a lecturer in the administration and leadership program.

Dr. Richards-Palmiter joined The Wright Center board to ensure the organization fulfills its mission of delivering healthcare that meets the unique social, cultural and linguistic needs of the community it serves.

A South Abington Twp. resident, Dr. Richards-Palmiter is also committed to mentoring those in underrepresented groups within the community. She works with the Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Jr. Commission as well as the local 4-H Club.

PA Department of Health Mask Order Reflects Latest CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam announced that the commonwealth’s mask order reflects the announcement made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier today.

On March 16, 2021, the SOH amended the commonwealth’s mask order by adding language directing to the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people allow for no face coverings. That means that today’s CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. Masking requirement will still be in place as otherwise provided under the CDC guidance and for unvaccinated individuals until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

“Today’s guidance from the CDC affects only people who are fully vaccinated” Acting Secretary Beam said. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine that is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can completely lift the masking order.”

The CDC today provided guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Under the guidance, individuals are still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. In addition, all individuals will still need to follow guidance at workplaces and local businesses.

For more information on the CDC guidance,
visit here.

People can find vaccination locations near them using Vaccines.gov, also known as Vaccine Finder. Individuals also can text their zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible vaccination sites in their area.