Berks’ Best 2021 judges | Berks-best
Berks’ Best judges come from business, nonprofits and academia. We’ve asked these working professionals and experts in their fields to represent our community in selecting the winners of this academic award project. They take the task seriously, spending countless hours reviewing applications and interviewing finalists. We appreciate their contributions. We could not produce Berks’ Best without them.
Mark D. Dolinski is vice president of training and professional development for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. Dolinski holds a Master of Business Administration degree in quality leadership from St. Joseph’s College of Maine, Standish, Maine; a bachelor’s degree in marketing from West Chester University; and an associate degree in business administration from Reading Area Community College and three associate degrees in insurance from Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.
Kevin K. Murphy, president of Berks County Community Foundation.
Kevin K. Murphy is president of the Berks County Community Foundation. He joined BCCF as its first employee in 1994. He supervises the business and operations of the foundation and serves on its board of directors. A State College native, Murphy graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and business. He holds a Master of Science degree in community leadership from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh.
Robert Wert holds an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in business from Pennsylvania State University. In addition, he completed the Securities Industry Institute program sponsored by the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Wert has been with Wells Fargo Advisors and predecessor companies for more than 25 years. Wert founded the Wert Investment Consulting Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.
Dr. Kristina Fennelly, assistant professor Kutztown University Department of English
Dr. Kristina Fennelly has taught composition, professional writing, and gender studies courses at Kutztown University since the fall of 2012. As an assistant professor, her research and teaching interests include the study of non-adversarial approaches to argument, deliberative discourse, and listening rhetoric. Guided by a strong commitment to first-year writers, Fennelly currently serves as co-chair for the KU English Department’s honors and awards committee, as well as vice-president of the Pennsylvania College English Association.
David Kline is an award-winning Berks County businessman, radio and television personality, writer, photographer, composer and entertainer who has worked in the entertainment industry most of his life. He is a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences as well as a member of the Americana Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Karin Mallett, WFMZ
Karin Mallett has been with WFMZ-TV 69 News since 2003 as the co-anchor of the “Saturday Sunrise: 69 News at Sunrise Weekend Edition” and as a feature and special assignment reporter. While with WFMZ, Mallett developed her popular travel series, “One Tank Trip” which can be seen on the Berks Edition every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Mallett began her television news career as a writer and producer for CNBC’s nightly consumer program “Steals & Deals.” Mallett serves on the board of directors of the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter. She was born and raised in New Jersey and is a graduate of New York University.
James P. Bitler
James Bitler is marketing communications manager for Weidenhammer in Wyomissing and has been marketing IT solutions for the firm for more than 21 years. He is responsible for planning, development and implementation of all of Weidenhammer’s marketing communications strategies, and public relations activities. He has nearly 40 years of marketing experience in the banking, health care and technology industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Kutztown University.
Michelle Neiswender is product unit manager for Weidenhammer’s educational solutions division. With 26 years of management/leadership experience, associate degree in business management and accounting, Neiswender expanded her education at Penn State University. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She manages an innovative team, with lots of skills, talent, and experience across multiple states.
Mark Werner is client experience and compliance manager with Weidenhammer. He has more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry and has held roles in sales, project management, software training, consulting and operations management. He leads the company’s efforts to enhance client experience while ensuring their teams adhere to IT compliance requirements in delivering solutions. Werner has received numerous industry certifications and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Villanova University.
Dr. M. Karen Jogan, professor of Spanish at Albright College, holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Spanish from Temple University as well as master’s degrees in English education and instructional technology. She has received two Fulbright awards as senior lecturer in theoretical and applied linguistics in Peru and Chile.
Christine Coleman Núñez
Dr. Christine Coleman Núñez is chair of the Department of Modern Language Studies at Kutztown University (May 2014 to present). She has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Temple University in Spanish and is a specialist in linguistics and second language acquisition. In addition to teaching a wide range of courses in Spanish, she also teaches the English as a Second Language certificate program at Kutztown University. Her current research focus is on community-based learning and engaged scholarship.
Dr. Patricia Pacifico has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Puerto Rico. She taught English as a second language for 15 years at the Inter American University, San Juan campus, where she also served as associate academic dean. She taught Spanish part time at Albright College for 12 years. She was awarded two Fulbright lectureships on grant writing. She has taught in the ESL program administered by Reading Area Community College and in the Seniors College program at Alvernia University.
Bill Bateman is professor emeritus and retired chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Kutztown University. He completed his undergraduate work at Ursinus College and his graduate work at Ohio State University, University of California at Santa Barbara and Lehigh University. He taught at KU for 41 years.
Dr. Brian Buerke
Dr. Brian Buerke is associate professor of physics and chairperson of the physics department at Albright College. Buerke earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, where he specialized in high-intensity laser physics and worked on a Nobel Prize-winning laser system. Since joining the Albright faculty, he has worked extensively in local education, serving as president of the Reading School District board of directors, president of the Reading Public Museum, and as a founding board member of the Reading Science Center.
Selvi Jagadesan, professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks
Selvi Jagadesan is a lecturer in mathematics at Penn State Berks. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Bharathiyar University, Tamilnadu, India. She manages and advises the International Club at Penn State Berks. She is also an active committee member in “Careers with Math Options,” a career exploration conference for seventh-grade girls interested in careers involving math, science, engineering and related fields.
Charles Ebersole earned his Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Indiana University of PA and a master’s degree in tuba performance from Temple University, and has over 30 hours of continuing study credits in music education and wind band conducting. He served as director of the Fleetwood Area High School bands for 34 years before retiring in 2019. He now directs the Ringgold Band of Reading, one of our nation’s oldest concert bands.
Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer is the horn instructor at Kutztown University and executive director of the Friends of Chamber Music of Reading.
Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer earned degrees in horn performance and music theory from Oberlin College Conservatory, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia State University in Atlanta. Gleason-Mayrhofer performs with the Mainstreet Brass, Fyve Woodwind Quintet and the Pennsylvania Sinfonia, and she is the executive director of the Friends of Chamber Music of Reading. Gleason-Mayrhofer is the horn instructor at Kutztown University and a staff accompanist.
Beverly Houck is the artistic director of the Yocum Institute for Arts Education where she produces, directs, teaches and leads Yocum’s community outreach through school residencies and workshops in all art forms. Houck studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from The University of the Arts. She was a resident actor and assistant to the artistic director at Hedgerow Theatre from 1994 to 1997, she then pursued her theater career regionally and in New York City. Houck has performed onstage, in film and television.
Dr. Rosemarie Chinni
Dr. Rosemarie C. Chinni holds a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County. She is the math and science department chair and a professor of forensic science/chemistry at Alvernia University, where she teaches analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis and physical chemistry I & II. She serves as academic adviser to the Science Association and has been involving students in undergraduate research pertaining to analytical chemistry.
Dr. Tami Mysliwiec
Dr. Tami Mysliwiec is an associate professor of biology at Penn State Berks. She holds a doctorate in microbiology and immunology from Drexel University. Her postdoctoral work was at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Her current research focuses on understanding how viruses alter host cell patterns of gene expression. She teaches classes ranging from introductory biology to biochemistry and cancer biology. She also is first-year seminar coordinator at the college.
Dr. Justin L. Smoyer is an assistant professor of experimental physics and engineering at Kutztown University. He earned a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Kutztown University. He is the founder and director of the department’s technology and prototyping laboratory and of the nanoscale thermal sciences laboratory.
Karen A. Miller is a senior fellow at the Berks County Community Foundation. A former two-term mayor of the City of Reading, she has served in senior executive positions in state and federal governments as well as the Pennsylvania Economy League, a non-partisan public policy and research organization. Elected as a fellow of the National Association of Public Administration and as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, Miller received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Indiana University (Bloomington) and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Albright College.
Dr. John R. Pankratz is chairman of the history department at Albright College, as well as an avid actor, photographer and cellist. In 2005, he created “Faces of Reading: 1000 Portraits of a City,” a project he revisited in 2015. He served as a Fulbright lecturer in Besancon, France and Dakar, Senegal, and teaches courses in both American and African history at Albright.
Dr. Victoria Williams
Dr. Victoria Williams is a professor of political science at Alvernia University. She is a graduate of Twin Valley High School and has a bachelor’s degree from Lynchburg College, a master’s from Baylor University, and a master’s and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include post-conflict reconciliation, foreign policy and political communication. Williams serves as the director of Alvernia’s Honors Program.
Taylor Seitzinger Award for Community Service
Frances A. “Franki” Aitken
Frances A. Aitken is senior vice president for finance and operations for the Berks County Community Foundation. Aitken was a senior audit manager specializing in nonprofit audits for KPMG in Philadelphia. After KPMG, Aitken worked as a contracted fiscal officer to various companies, including BCCF, which she joined full time in 1998. Aitken received her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Widener University, Chester, and is a certified public accountant. She is a trustee of the Law Foundation of Berks County and is the treasurer as well as on the board of Centro Hispano.
Michael Rivera is a Berks County Commissioner and a real estate professional at Keller Williams Platinum Realty in Spring Township. He resides in Bern Township with his wife Zylkia, and his children, Andre and Adriana. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Rivera graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He later earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Kutztown University. He was a small business owner and spent more than seven years in the banking industry. He also worked as assistant vice president of business services at the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Tammy L. Seitzinger LoRusso is the mother of Taylor Seitzinger, in whose memory the Taylor Seitzinger Award for Community Service is named. She resides in Shoemakersville with her husband, Frank LoRusso, and their three children. Taylor Nicole Seitzinger died following a car accident in March 2009. Taylor was a senior at Hamburg High School and was a high honors student and a three-sport athlete who was planning to pursue her dream at DeSales University to become a physician assistant and to play soccer. Seitzinger LoRusso has been employed by Tom Schaeffer’s RV Super Store as the office manager for 38 years. She is a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Mark Baldridge, assistant professor of art and computer science at Albright College
Mark Baldridge is an assistant professor of art and computer science at Albright College. He is an artist and an educator who has performed across parts of southern India and in the Blue Mountains of Australia, taught interactive and digital design in Mexico and South Korea and explored virtual reality and game design since 2004. He says he believes that teaching and learning are about more than conveying mere information: Techniques, technologies — these each have their myriad of YouTube videos.
Lynn Millar is a self-employed artist. Her work has been included in Pennsylvania Watercolor Society show, Baltimore Watercolor Society show and the Philadelphia Water Color Society show and she is a juried, signature member of those societies. She also has been juried into many other shows including national competitions at the GoggleWorks, Banana Factory, Ambre’ Studio, Perkiomen Valley Art Center and more. In those shows she has won multiple placings, including first place and best in show. Her work has been sold into collections around the world, as far away as Australia.
Peter Rampson is an associate professor of graphic arts and curator of the Miller Art Gallery at Alvernia University. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Industrial Design degree from North Carolina State University. He works in traditional and digital media and designs furniture.
Chip Lambdin is a retired Berks Career & Technology Center vocational/special education teacher serving 36 years in various positions. He is also a retired clinical therapist from Concern Inc. where he was employed for 14 years specializing in therapy for at-risk teens and children with special needs. He currently spends his days traveling with his wife Debbie Lambdin and volunteering for Big Brothers/Sisters and Special Olympics. He holds Master of Arts and Master of Education degrees.
Patricia Nies has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary/special education K-12 from West Chester University and was a special education teacher at Reading High School from 1980 to 1995. She then served as a special needs facilitator at Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center from 1996 to 2017 before retiring.
Laurel Schaeffer was an educator for more than 30 years teaching special education at Kids Peace and in the Reading School District. She also was an administrator at Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center for 17 years, retiring in 2018. She hold a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from Delaware Valley University; teacher certification from Kutztown University; and a master’s degree in educational leadership and principal certification from Wilkes University. She also has a director’s certification from Penn State University.