Champions for Children

Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 5:30 pm

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Champions for Children is our annual gala to honor local “Champions” for their commitment to improving the lives of children in our region. The gala raises essential funds to further our mission to “advance the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness in Southwestern PA, guiding them to be productive, empowered citizens”.

This year’s Champion is A Plus Schools (Executive Director, James Fogarty).

Thank you to our sponsors and volunteers for supporting this year’s event. Flip through the program booklet below.


Past Champions & Awardees:

  • Champions For Children: Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation and Mark R. Gensheimer, President C.S. McKee
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Harry J Soose, Jr.
  • Champion For Children: Karina Chavez
  • Champion for Children: Evan Frazier
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Nicole Anderson
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Wil Barber
  • Champions for Children: Ray & Kathy Buehler
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Maurita Bryant
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: George Szymanski
  • Champions for Children: Andy and Cindy Russell
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Dr. Liz Miller
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Dr. Erik Garrett
  • Champions for Children: Scott and Sue Lammie
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Honorable Judge Dwayne Woodruff
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Dick DeLuca
  • Champions for Children:
    • Bender Consulting Services
    • Buncher Company
    • Citizens Bank
    • Diocese of Pittsburgh
    • Dollar Bank
    • Fragasso Financial Advisors
    • Heinz History Center
    • Massaro Corporation
    • McKamish Inc.
    • Pennsylvania State Education Association
    • Pitt Ohio Express Inc.
    • Schneider Downs & Co.
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Nancy Hubley (Managing Director, Education Law Center)
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Julie Jarbeck Walko and Don Walko
  • Champions for Children:
    • The Heinz Endowments
    • The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Linda A. Dickerson Awards:
    • Kaitlyn Nykwest (HCEF Afterschool Instructors)
    • Laura Wengerd (HCEF Afterschool Reading Specialist)
    • Laura Hughes (HCEF Afterschool Instructors)
    • Mary Clemons (HCEF Afterschool Instructors)
    • Jeanne Zell (HCEF Afterschool Instructors)
    • Kim Reed (HCEF Afterschool Instructors)
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Ted Sobek (Hundred Acres Manor)
  • Champion for Children: Robert Fragasso (CEO and Chairman of Fragasso Financial Advisors)
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: John Lovelace (President, UPMC for You, Inc.)
  • Joe Lagana Volunteer Award: Joe Lagana (HCEF)
  • Champions for Children:
    • Brett Keisel (Pittsburgh Steelers)
    • Sara Keisel
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Joann Cyganovich (Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS)
 Champions for Children:
  • Ralph Papa (Chairman, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania)
  • Ruth Anne Papa
  • Champion for Children: Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak (Secretary for Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
  • Linda A. Dickerson Awards:
    • Joe Lagana (HCEF Fouder)
    • Becky Rodgers (HCEF Founder)
    • Curt Miller (HCEF Founder)
  • Social Justice in Education Award: Reverend David Zubik (Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh)
  • Champion for Children: Gwen Elliott (Founder of Gwen’s Girls) (given posthumously)
  • Linda A. Dickerson Award: Father Regis Ryan (Executive Director of Focus on Renewal)

Linda A. Dickerson Award: Dr. James Withers (Founder, Operation Safety Net)

Champion for Children: Linda Dickerson (Principal, 501(c)(3)2)

Champions for Children:

  • Richard Garland (Director of Violence Prevention, Allegheny County Office of Community Services)
  • Janet Korenich (Principal, Seville Elementary School, North Hills School District)
  • Gail Odorcich (Educational Coordinator, Allegheny Homeless Children’s Initiative)
  • Richard Venezia (Administrator, Allegheny County Bureau of Hunger and Housing)
  • Jack Wagner (Auditor General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)

Champions for Children:

  • Marc Cherna (Director, Allegheny County Department of Human Services)
  • Stacy de las Alas (Child Counselor and Preventive Education, Specialist, Crisis Center North)
  • Myra Powell (Program Supervisor, Three Rivers Youth – The Hub)
  • Jennifer Williams (Director, Health Care for the Homeless)
  • Sister Linda Yankoski (President, Holy Family Institute)

Champions for Children:

  • Judge Max Baer (Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County)
  • Dr. William Pope (Superintendent, Upper St. Clair School District)
  • Sister Liguori Rossner (Founder, The Jubilee Association, Inc.)
  • Dr. Walter Howard Smith, Jr. (Executive Director, Family Resources)

Champions for Children:

  • Jessika Boyle (Student, St. Sebastian Elementary School)
  • Congressman William J. Coyne
  • Dr. David Epperson (former Dean, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Fairview Elementary School
  • Phil Pappas (Director Emeritus, Community Human Services)
  • Reed Smith, LLP

Champions for Children:

  • Dr. Helen Faison (Director, Pittsburgh Teachers Institute)
  • Christine Schipani (Teacher, Independence Middle School, Bethel Park)