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Meet the Berks’ Best 2024 judges

Berks’ Best judges come from the business world, government, nonprofits and academia. We’ve asked these working professionals and experts in their fields to represent our community in selecting the finalists and winners of this academic award project.

The judges spent many hours reviewing 239 applications and nomination letters in 2024 and interviewing the finalists. Berks’ Best could not be held without them.

Business

Mark Dolinski
Mark Dolinski

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; 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
Kevin K. Murphy

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 head and shoulders
Robert Wert

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.

Career and Technology Education

Head and shoulders of Dan Fogarty Berks Workforce Development Board in 2015
Daniel W. Fogarty, COO Berks County Workforce Investment Board. (Reading Eagle file)

Dan Fogarty serves as chief operating officer for the Berks County Workforce Development Board. Since 2014, he has led an exceptional staff in developing and implementing effective workforce development plans and priorities for our region. Previously, Fogarty held human resource management positions with leading Pennsylvania employers including Carpenter Technology Corp., a manufacturer of specialty steels, in Reading. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, which he attended on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Fogarty and his family reside in Kutztown.

Head and shoulders of Linda Sayer
Linda Sayer, retied RMCTC instructor

Linda Sayer holds an instructor’s license from the PA State Board of Cosmetology and was employed at Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center as a cosmetology instructor for 21 years, retiring in 2022. She previously was employed as the cosmetology instructor at Pottstown High School, a supervisor at Randy Rick Beauty Academy for five years and as a cosmetology instructor at Empire Beauty for five years. Sayer holds a master educator certificate from Milady and attended Temple University. She also was a a SkillsUSA adviser at RMCTC.

Glenn Riegel
Glenn Riegel Photography

Glenn Riegel

Glenn Riegel is a retired Berks Career & Technology Center vocational teacher who served 32 years as the commercial photography instructor at the BCTC West Campus. Highlights of his time at BCTC were serving eight years as chairperson for the State SkillsUSA Photo Competition and overseeing the photo students involved in the BCIU Secondary Art Competition. Photography has been a passion and a vocation for him for more than 40 years. Riegel worked in the commercial photo industry before his employment as a teacher and continues to do freelance portrait, sports and aviation assignments. Wildlife photography and documenting points of historical value also are a passion. His work has been published in books, magazines and featured in juried photo art exhibits and received local, national and international awards.

Communications

Head and shoulders of Jason Brudereck
Jason Brudereck (Courtesy of Jason Brudereck)

Jason Brudereck is the head of public relations and communications at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Winterthur, Del. He previously served as director of communication for Berks County Community Foundation for eight years and as a reporter and columnist for the Reading Eagle for 15 years. A lifelong resident of Berks County, Jason has volunteered for several local nonprofits, including as president of the board of the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks. He currently serves on the Berks County Public Libraries Advisory Board. Brudereck earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a minor in history from Boston University.

Dr. Jodi Radosh(Courtesy of Dr. Jodi Radosh)
Dr. Jodi Radosh(Courtesy of Dr. Jodi Radosh)

Dr. Jodi Radosh is a full professor and chair of communication and digital media department at Alvernia University. She is also the Neag Professor for Teaching Excellence and Innovation. She earned a Ph.D. in mass media and communications and a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University. She received a bachelor of arts degree in communications and English from Rutgers University. Radosh worked as a television reporter for various news stations including WGAL-TV. She co-wrote two textbooks “Shoot, Edit, Share, Video Production for Mass Media, Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations” and “The Broadcast News Toolkit – Inside the Digital Newsroom” by Routledge Publishers.

Joseph Swope(Courtesy of Joseph Swope)
Joseph Swope(Courtesy of Joseph Swope)

Joseph Swope recently retired from UGI Utilities Inc., a natural gas and electric utility, after a 30-year career managing the company’s communications functions. Previously, he served as director of public relations at the then-Alvernia College for 10 years and taught as an adjunct faculty member in the communication department for more than 30 years. Swope also has published five books with Black Rose Writing, an independent publisher. His sixth book, “Dark Age Monarch: Uther Pendragon” will be released in October. Swope’s books cover multiple genres: historical nonfiction, a children’s book, science fiction and fantasy. Swope earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from Alvernia and his master’s degree in journalism from Temple University.

Computer Science

Head and shoulders of Joy McFerren
Joy McFerren

Joy McFerren is a strategic HR business leader with experience in HCIT, medical devices, manufacturing, distribution, pharmaceutical and hospitality industries. She is the director of human resources for Weidenhammer. Additionally, she teaches the SPHR-CP and SPHR-SCP review course for Lancaster SHRM and Penn State Berks, where she is an adjunct professor. McFerren is a consultant for the Samaritan Business Center and has more than 30 years of experience as a leader in human resources. She has a bachelor of science degree from Elizabethtown College and her master’s degree from Millersville University. She resides in Lancaster, where her son and daughter have homes nearby.

John P. Weidenhammer (Matt Rainey/Weidenhammer Creative)
John P. Weidenhammer (Matt Rainey/Weidenhammer Creative)

John P. Weidenhammer is chairman and CEO of Weidenhammer, a global information technology company headquartered in Wyomissing. He graduated from Reading High School in 1967 and received a degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University in 1971. Before founding Weidenhammer in 1978, John worked for Carpenter Technology as a software developer and Ernst and Young as a management consultant. He lives in Wyomissing with his wife of 40 years. He is a volunteer and board member for numerous nonprofit organizations.

Head and shoulders of Charles Zwicker
Chuck Zwicker

Charles G. Zwicker serves as president and chief operating officer for Weidenhammer, a global digital transformation and consulting firm headquartered in Wyomissing. Zwicker received a degree in business administration and marketing from Bloomsburg University. He has spent his entire career in the technology industry, serving in multiple roles. He and his wife of more than 30 years live in Fort Washington, Montgomery County. Zwicker serves his community in multiple areas including the Boy Scouts of America, the Montgomery County Election Board and as a steering committee member at LaSalle College High School. He is a board member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and co-chairs its Middle Market Growth Network.

Mathematics

head and shoulders of Dr. Brian Buerke
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.

Head and shoulders of Ryan Hassler
Dr. Ryan Hassler, professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks

Dr. Ryan Hassler is a teaching professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics education from Clarion University, an master of science degree in applied statistics from Villanova University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics and science education from Temple University. His current research involves a $750,000 National Science Foundation grant for increasing recruitment and retention among underrepresented minorities in engineering. As a former high school math teacher, a small-business owner and current chair of the board of directors at Helping Harvest Food Bank, Ryan is invested in making Berks County a better place to learn and live.

Head and shoulders of Selvi Jagadesan
Selvi Jagadesan

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.

Performing arts

Head and shoulders of Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer holding French horn
Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer

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(Courtesy of Beverly Houck)
Beverly Houck(Courtesy of Beverly Houck)

Beverly Houck is the senior manager for events and entertainment at Dutch Wonderland and the Cartoon Network Hotel in Lancaster. Prior to this she spent 18 years at Yocum Institute for Arts Education in various roles, including director of outreach, artistic director and teaching artist.

Head and shoulders of Dr. Julia Matthews
Dr. Julia Matthews

Dr. Julia Matthews is associate professor of theater and associate dean for academic success at Albright College and regularly directs for the Domino Players. She earned her bachelor’s degree in acting from the North Carolina School of the Arts and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in dramatic literature from the University of St. Andrews and the University of Warwick, U.K. Matthews has taught at Wesleyan College and Kennesaw State University, and worked as a dramaturg, director and teacher with Atlanta theater companies. She lives in Wyomissing with her husband, James N. Brown, and their two sons.

Science/Environment

Head and shoulders of Kim Murphy
Kim Murphy

Kim Murphy joined Berks Nature (then Berks County Conservancy) in January 2004 and serves as president. She works with a dedicated staff to improve and protect our land and water resources, and to connect people to nature thus conserving Berks County’s unique cultural and environmental resources for the benefit of future generations. She has extensive experience in fundraising, community relations, watershed wide regional partnerships, education and in particular nature-based educational programs. She graduated from Penn State University, University Park. She serves on the statewide board of We Conserve PA and shares her time with many other organizations in the community.

Head and neck of Dr. Tami Mysliwiec
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.

Social Studies

John Kramer is director emeritus of the Albright College Center for Excellence in Local Government. He founded the center in September 1994 and served as its director until his retirement in August 2012. Kramer’s community involvement has included serving as a school board member for the Reading School District and on the board of directors of Northeast Alumni Association; New Journey Community Outreach Inc.; the City of Reading Main Street Program; Leadership Berks; the Berks County Conservancy (Berks Nature); and the City of Reading Police Diversity Board in addition to being a member of United Way Allocation Task Forces.

Head and shoulders of Victoria Williams
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

Head and shoulders photo of Franki Aitken
Frances A. “Franki” Aitken, chief operating officer at Berks County Community Foundation.

Frances A. Aitken is chief operating officer for 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 the community foundation, 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 the president of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a board member for the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation. She is a former board member of Alvernia University, Daniel Torres Hispanic Center and Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Head and neck of Rob Turchi
Robert Turchi, CEO of Hope Rescue Mission

Robert Turchi has served those in need in the community as CEO of Hope Rescue Mission for more than 12 years. He majored in theology at Cairn University and criminal justice at Bucks County Community College. Turchi has served as a short-term missionary in numerous Spanish-speaking countries, including Peru, where his wife grew up. He has years of experience mentoring at-risk youth in Philadelphia and serving as a police and prison chaplain. Turchi said he was deeply honored to serve as a judge in memory of Taylor Seitzinger’s life and commends all award applicants living out community service.

Visual arts

Mark Baldridge, assistant professor of art and computer science at Albright College
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 and teaches in the game and simulation major. He has been around the world and would like to see more of it.

Head and shoulders of Fran Parzanese
Artist Fran Parzanese

Fran Parzanese is a retired elementary teacher who has been painting primarily in watercolors for the past 40 years. She teaches watercolor at Goggleworks Center for the Arts, where she maintains a studio. She also is a member of Art Plus Gallery and is a past president of the Berks Art Alliance.

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.

World languages

Head and neck of Dr. Karen Jogan
Dr. Karen Jogan

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.

Head and shoulders of Antonella Merolla
Antonella Merolla, instructor of Spanish and Italian at Alvernia University

Antonella Merolla is an instructor of Spanish and Italian and the world languages coordinator at Alvernia University. She teaches various language courses. She completed her master of arts in Spanish language and literature at Middlebury College and her undergraduate studies at Immaculata College, earning a bachelor of arts in Spanish and a certificate in Italian.


Source: Berkshire mont

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