Karen Williams Martin (A&S 1965) is co-founder of thrive & seek™ DIGITAL ARTS LEARNING, which focuses on mobile learning, the "gamification of education" and financial literacy-in-life empowerment skills for youth. An experienced entrepreneur who established multiple optical retail stores in Florida, she served as president of Eyewear Artistry-Midtown Inc. and created Morgan LLC for real estate, business investing and management consulting, where she continues as a managing member. Martin has received numerous awards for excellence in business practices and creative innovation, including Small Business of the Year (Venice Chamber of Commerce), Women Owners Network Major Innovation for Advertising, Sarasota South County Woman of Distinction, 20/20 Magazine “Best & Brightest”, and Professional Opticians of Florida (POF) Optician of the Year. She is the founding chairman of the Owner/Manager Network for POF, for which she received the President’s Award. Karen has served on the board of the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce and as a charter member and chairman of the Chamber’s Ambassadors. She also served as secretary of the board of directors for the POF. A dedicated community advocate and volunteer, Martin has tutored many young, at-risk students to greater success through the Homework Assistance Program at Laurel Civic Association. In 2010, she received the prestigious national President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama. She earned her degree in medical secretarial science at Point Park in 1965.
Melvin Gornic (BUS 1973) writes that he is now semi-retired. He is an EA or Enrolled Agent, a tax professional licensed by the Internal Revenue Service to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Gornic earned his degree in business administration at Point Park.
Ben Mount (COM 1976) received his master's degree in public health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in May 2012. He works as director of the Atlantic County (NJ) Division of Public Health. Mount earned his degree in journalism and communications at Point Park.
Heather Berman (COPA 1986), a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette, produced a performance of the Colombian recording artist Jontre at the 2013 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival last June. The founder and artistic director of HB Productions, she became the North American representative for Jontre in 2012. A native of Pittsburgh who earned her bachelor’s degree in dance at Point Park, she landed her first professional dance job at the age of 16 with Hanna Barbera and later joined Don Brockett Productions. HB Productions is the culmination of Berman’s extensive experience in the entertainment business as an actor, dancer, model, choreographer, producer and manager. She designs each entertainment event through a curatorial process that includes selecting performers from HB’S exclusive talent roster which includes the highest caliber ballroom and Latin dancers, former Rockettes, Broadway performers, musicians and other specialty acts who perform at various corporate, private and gala events. Visit www.heatherberman.com.
Debra Valentine-Gray (COM 1989), IUP’s Pittsburgh regional advancement officer at Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Pittsburgh, was named a 2013 Woman of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier at a ceremony last June. Women of Excellence are nominated because they have excelled in positions not traditionally held by African-Americans and women. Among her accomplishments at IUP, Valentine-Gray has stewarded a partnership between the Heinz Endowments and the College of Education and Educational Technology that resulted in the Pittsburgh Promise Plus Program. Prior to joining IUP in 2008, Valentine-Gray served Junior Achievement of Southern California as senior development director and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles as director of resource development. In addition to her nonprofit experience, she has 20 years of experience in corporate marketing and administration.
A Call for Support
Friends and family of Stephanie Lang Bittner (COPA 1993) and her husband Rich Bittner (COPA 1991), both dance graduates of Point Park, have joined together to help support the Bittners as they recover from injuries sustained in a car accident last summer. On June 15, Stephanie and Rich and their young son Cooper survived a violent automobile collision while visiting family in Baltimore. A vehicle crossed three lanes of traffic and struck their car head-on. Stephanie's injuries include a shattered vertebrae and broken ribs. Rich's injuries included a fractured sternum which cannot be surgically repaired and will take months to heal. Fortunately Cooper was properly belted into his car seat and received only a neck abrasion that has healed. A former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and adjunct professor at New York University, Stephanie is a freelance choreographer, director and longtime member of the staff of Pilates on Fifth in New York City. Rich was due to begin his position as the general manager for Pilates on Fifth just two days after their accident. To express support or make a donation toward out-of-pocket expenses associated with Stephanie’s surgery, care and rehabilitation, visit http://tinyurl.com/bittnerfund.
Melissa (Dloughy) Bender (A&S ‘07) writes to share the news that she was honored with Fitness Magazine's Face of Fitness Reader's Choice Award. Read an interview with her at: Fitness Magazine's website: http://tinyurl.com/melissabender.
Shiho Nigai (COM ’13), who earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising with a minor in multimedia last May, has accepted a job in promotions and digital marketing at Trans Cosmos in Tokyo. A native of Tottori, Japan. Nigai completed an internship with the Japan-American Society of Pennsylvania, served as a volunteer for various organizations in the Downtown Pittsburgh community and worked in the Office of International Student Services and Enrollment as a student.
Charlene Bidula (COM ’03, BUS ’09) has been promoted to manager of communications and new media at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. She earned two degrees at Point Park: a bbchelor’s degree in broadcasting in 2003 and an M.B.A. in sport, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) in 2009.
David Flora (COM 2009) is a production specialist for the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball Organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications and broadcasting at Point Park
Shanna (Murphy) Carrick (BUS ’10) has been appointed director of ticketing and development at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. She earned her M.B.A. degree in Point Park’s Sport, Arts and Entertainment Management (SAEM) program.
Darin Kowalski (A&S ’10) won a big amateur tournament last May as he shot an impressive 7-under par to win the 36-hole Western Pennsylvania Mid-Amateur Championship by five shots at Lake View Country Club. Kowalski, who played for the Point Park men’s golf team as a senior in 2009-10, fired rounds of 69 and 68 for a two-round score of 137. All 36 holes were played on Thursday, and Kowalski led a group of three players by three shots after 18 holes.
Minyvonne Burke (COM ’11) writes, “I recently graduated from Hofstra University in New York with my master's degree in communications. And I was blessed enough to land a job for an online newspaper as an entertainment writer. I am so excited and owe my experiences at Point Park for helping me reach my goals!”
Pete Bridge (COM ’13) and Hannah Frye (COM ’12) got married on June 8, 2013 in Sharpsburg, Pa.
Marcy Byrne (BUS ’10) writes, “we proudly announce the adoption of our daughter Ava Elizabeth. She was born on February 13, 2013.”
Tomeka R. Davis (BUS ’00) writes to announce, “I am producing an original play, based on my book, Cactus Gems, and I would like to include actors from Point Park, if possible. I wrote for MTV for my internship while I was attending the University and I had the opportunity [as a student] to perform as an actress as well. I started acting at Point Park and I would like to extend the same chance to beginning actors. You can find more information about my book, Cactus Gems, on Barnes and Nobles or Amazon websites. Thank you.” Davis can be reached at email@example.com.
Justine Coyne (COM ’09, ’12) joined the Pittsburgh Business Times as a reporter in June, 2013. She covers manufacturing and higher education. Coyne has also been a freelance photographer for the past six years, specializing in family portraits, newborn photos, weddings, promotional photos and video for local businesses.