Meet Some of Our Board Members

Chris Buchignani

 

Leadership

 

Chris lives in Park Forest with his wife, Terri, and their four-year-old daughter, Isabella. He works as an independent marketing consultant, serves as president of The Nittany Valley Society, and is a member of the State College Evening Rotary Club. During the 2013 primary election, Chris served as co-director, with Betsy Whitman, of Friends of State High.

What is your connection to the district?
I have lived in the Nittany Valley for almost 20 years; this is my home. As a parent and engaged resident, contributing to the collaborative relationship between the community and our schools is a top priority for me.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

Because both of my parents were public school teachers, and many other members of my family have also worked in education, I grew up with a deep respect and appreciation for the importance of education and the value of good schools. Whatever service I provide the foundation honors them by acting on those lessons to benefit a community I love.


What unique trait or experience do you bring to the board?

Besides my dry wit? I hope I can help the foundation excel at outreach and communication, particularly in connecting with the many distinct constituencies that together form our unique college town community.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

I hope we will establish a strong basis for the foundation to succeed over the long-term. That means making favorable impressions and taking on successful, beneficial projects. I want the people of State College to feel good about the foundation as a means for the community to help our teachers and students get access to resources that enhance the richness of education here.


Do you have a story or experience to share about the district?

As someone who did not grow up in State College, I have been consistently impressed and pleasantly surprised at the high levels of investment in the life of the schools here. School districts are most successful when they function as a partnership between educators and the public. Judging from everything I have observed, we are so fortunate to live in a place where both the exceptional professionals and engaged citizens are smart, passionate, and dedicated to excellent outcomes.

Penni Fishbaine

 

Leadership

 

Penni has been involved in the school district for many years, serving as a member of the district’s Board of Directors since 2009, and as the School Board president during the two years of referendum communications and vote. She’s also a parent of two State High grads and a longstanding member of the State College community.

What is your connection to the district?
I have served the State College Area School District as a member of its Board of Directors since 2009. I was the School Board president during the two years of referendum communications and vote. As a parent of two State High graduates and longstanding member of the State College community, I’ve also been involved in the school district for many years. My children had a positive experience attending district schools. Both of my children acknowledge that SCASD prepared them well for college. At Easterly Parkway, I served as the PTO president among other positions and volunteered weekly in the classrooms and library. My daughter attended Houserville Elementary for 3-5th grades so I volunteered there, also. I introduced and chaired the first International Fun Night at Houserville. It has become a very successful event with students sharing information and treats from different cultures.


How do you feel the Education Foundation will benefit the school district?

Support from the foundation is a win/win for the community and the district. With the establishment of the SCASD Education Foundation, the district can receive contributions from businesses that are eligible for Education Improvement Tax Credits (EITC). An additional benefit that is increasingly more important is that the SCASD Education Foundation is able to solicit contributions that can directly enhance current district programming and provide resources for current students’ needs.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

The Education Foundation will enhance the SCASD programming while also engaging more of the community. I see it as a partnership where the foundation board members and contributors will be able to communicate the district achievements and goals to more community members. We need to tell the many wonderful stories of our many programs that are geared to students’ interests and of students’ successes at all levels. The SCASD Education Foundation will also help communicate the district’s educational vision and goals so more community members are engaged and better informed about the district. In addition, the foundation will create more awareness and increase community support around the district.


Do you have a story or experience to share about the district?

Some of my favorite memories were of the plays in Mrs. Wilkinson’s kindergarten classroom at Easterly Parkway with both of my children. The students performed in mini adaptations of Cats, The Nutcracker, and Maurice Sendak’s books. The trip to Gettysburg was also a favorite of mine. In high school, there was the excitement of intramural basketball (T-shirt design and team spirit) and the homecoming parade with the field hockey team. I served as the field hockey booster club co-president when my daughter was on the team.

Michelle Frisco

 

Leadership

 

Michelle has lived in State College since 2005. She is a Sociology & Demography faculty member at Penn State University who studies the intersection of children’s family lives, school experiences, and health outcomes. She has a daughter in first grade at Radio Park Elementary School and a son in sixth grade who attends Park Forest Middle School. 

What is your connection to the district?
I have two children in the district.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

I joined the board because I have been extremely impressed with what the district offers students in State College, but I recognize that continued community involvement and investment can even further enhance students’ experiences in our local schools.


What unique trait or experience do you bring to the board?

My background in studying schools combined with my experiences as a parent of two students in the district will help me serve the board well.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

I hope to be part of a team that works to help bring greater resources to students in the district.


Do you have a story or experience to share about the district?

I can’t bring to mind just one specific story, but I have been blown away by the education and support that both of my children received by every teacher at Radio Park (we’ve only been at Park Forest Middle School for a few weeks, so we’re still learning about that school).

Carol Grimm

 

Leadership

 

“I was born and raised in Boalsburg, Pa., attending the SCASD kindergarten through 12th grade. After graduating from PSU in Elementary Education, I went on to teach kindergarten for my entire career, with a few years of nursery school teaching at Grace Lutheran Pre-School.

What is your connection to the district?
My husband and I have three wonderful children who all graduated from SCASD.

My father and grandmother also graduated from SCASD. My grandma attended the two-room Frazier Street School. I am proud to say my mother taught kindergarten in State College for just under 30 years and my father was on the school board here for 30 years. My connection to the district is a family affair.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

Joining the Foundation is a way I can give back to a school district that afforded my children, and myself, an education that truly prepared us for our goals — an education that offered academics, arts, music and athletics, with no limits as to what we could experience and achieve.


What unique trait or experience do you bring to the board?

Growing up in this community, attending school here and then being fortunate enough to teach in the school district, I hope will enable me to benefit the Foundation and, in turn, the district.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

I hope I can follow the leadership of the Foundation in drawing more people to support school initiatives, and in turn support children and deliver an educational experience second to none.


Do you have a story or experience to share about the district?

Through my experience and my children's, I honestly have so many positive things I could write about our schools. Most importantly, the administrators, and entire staff, are so dedicated and child-centered, I am always proud to say I learned from them all.”

Doug Loviscky

 

Leadership

 

As an attorney and CPA, Doug provides estate, tax, and business planning advice to closely-held businesses and their owners throughout central Pennsylvania. Doug has held leadership positions on the board of directors of a variety of local non-profit organizations, including the Centre Region Estate Planning Council, Salvation Army of Centre County, Centre Lacrosse, Centre Soccer Association, and the Penn State Hoops Club. 

 

What is your connection to the district?
My wife and I are alumni ('88 and '86, respectively) and parents of Kendall ('15), Andrew ('17) and Keira ('24).


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

As a parent of three children in the school district, I appreciate the quality of education they have received at every step of their journey—in elementary, middle and high school. I want to help our school district and community provide our teachers and students with the resources they need to continue this level of excellence.


What unique trait or experience do you bring to the board?

I have professional and personal experience helping philanthropic individuals support local charitable organizations.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

I would like to help the school district communicate the mission and vision of the foundation so that it can become a self-sustaining organization supported by alumni, parents, and other members of the SCASD community.


Do you have a story or experience to share about the district?

I worked with the family of Bill Cahir to create a memorial fund in Bill’s name at the SCASD Education Foundation to give high school students in the journalism program the opportunity to attend national conferences and competitions. (Read more about the memorial fund on here.)

Ann McGlaughlin

 

Leadership

 

“I have lived in the Centre Region for more than 30 years and currently reside in Harris Township with my husband Ron. My two children are graduates of State High. I work as an accountant for a local small business and am a proud graduate of Villanova University.

What is your connection to the district?
I am a past member and past president of the SCASD School Board. During eight years of service on the board, I learned a great deal about the district's history and operations. Through my role in planning and decision-making, I gained first-hand knowledge of its strengths and its challenges. In my last year on the board, I was part of the effort to re-establish the district's development function, paving the way for the establishment of the Foundation.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

The State College community places great value on its public education system. Community members have high expectations, but are extraordinarily generous and proud of what they, as a community, have created and supported. The Foundation offers a way to take the programs, services and opportunities which the district provides to students to another level. I look forward to exploring that potential.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

As charter members of the Foundation board, we will help to establish how it will operate and engage with the community, and help to chart its course into the future. I hope that we are able to establish a firm and respected 'foundation' so that the Foundation's efforts to positively impact the educational experiences of students will be successful, sustainable and long-term.”

Mary Kay Montovino

 

Leadership

 

“I was born and raised in State College and attended SCASD kindergarten through graduation in 1973. I attended South Hills Business School and upon graduating, I worked at State High Main Office for several years and also served as cheerleading advisor.

What is your connection to the district?
After working at Penn State for a number of years, I returned to SCASD to work as a secretary in the Reading Center, Radio Park Elementary School, Personnel Office, Mount Nittany Middle School, Accounting Office and the Assistant Superintendent’s Office. I completed my 37-year career as an SCASD employee, retiring on June 30, 2017. My husband and both of my children also graduated from State College High School.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

SCASD has been part of my life since kindergarten. Joining the Foundation Board is a way for me to stay involved with a wonderful school district and hopefully continue to provide service.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

I hope that my vast experience as an employee will help the foundation bring awareness to the community regarding the many opportunities that are available to our students, and in turn, benefit the district.


What unique trait or experience do you bring to the board?

Having worked in many different environments in the district, I hope to bring a knowledge of the district, as well as history of the district and community to the board.


Do you have any story or experience to share about the district?

More than I can possibly put in a few words! I have said many times that I should have kept a notebook during my years working in school offices, so I could write a book when I retired! No day was ever the same and you never knew what to expect! It’s hard to believe that over 40 years ago, I began working at State High! Time sure flies when you’re having fun!

Betsy Whitman

 

Leadership

 

“I worked, variously, as a public school teacher; pre-school and college environmental educator; writer and editor (Ranger Rick books and Learning Magazine); professional storyteller; and community organizer (Rails to Trails, Earth Day 1990, Friends of State High). I live in Patton Township with my husband, Dave.

What is your connection to the district?
I’ve lived in the district since 2009. My two daughters graduated from State High. I was a co-leader of Friends of State High, the bi-partisan grassroots organization that helped the SCASD community find common ground to support the renovation of State High.


What was your inspiration for joining the board?

Public education is a foundation of democracy. State and federal funding for education have not kept pace with the needs of today’s students. Because the system of funding public education is not going to change in my lifetime, I want to supplement the SCASD education needs with my efforts.


What do you hope to help accomplish by being a part of the foundation board?

"I hope to continue to build a sense of community among and between SCASD students, teachers, personnel, and volunteers — past and present — and among any students who attend or attended one of these schools.”

Executive Director

Paul Olivett 

Paul Olivett serves as the Executive Director of the State College Area Education Foundation. He has more than 20 years of experience as a development professional, including six years at Penn State as a Director of Development. He and his wife Denise moved to State College in 1995 and have both been active volunteers in the community and the school district. Paul was a member and chair of the SCASD CAC for Finance and has been involved as a coach in a variety of youth sports programs including State College Little League, Assembly of God Boys Developmental Football League, and the State College Teener League. He also served for several years as a board member for the State College Music Academy.

Paul is also a registered PIAA Official for both basketball and baseball.

 

Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Robert J. O'Donnell

Dr. O’Donnell's desire to become an educator began during his graduate school experience as an applied mathematics student at Drexel University. He then went on to earn his Pennsylvania teaching certification prior to becoming a high school mathematics and computer science teacher in Lititz, PA. He held building- and district-level administrative positions in Lancaster, PA (Manheim Township and Hempfield School Districts). During his tenure as assistant superintendent, Dr. O’Donnell distinguished himself by leading a collaborative seven-year professional development initiative relating to differentiating instruction.Robert J. O’Donnell began his tenure as superintendent of the State College Area School District (SCASD) on July 28, 2011. Since arriving at State College, Dr. O’Donnell has worked closely with the SCASD Board of Directors, administration, faculty, staff, and our community to develop a strategic focus for the district to support the development of all students with the skills and knowledge they will need in college and the work place. The foundation for this work includes the district’s new Strategic Planning Framework. For students to learn at high levels, instruction must meet their needs.

Dr. O’Donnell is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University and earned his Master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership from Lehigh University’s Graduate School of Education. He enjoys reading books and articles, and he frequently shares these via his Twitter account: @ODonnell_Bob. He and his wife, Lori, live in State College with their three children.

 

Business Administrator

Randy Brown

Randy currently serves as the Chairperson for the Centre County Tax Collection Committee, working with the various municipalities and school districts in Centre County to establish county-wide tax collection efforts. He also has been a member of PASBO, the Pennsylvania Association for School Business Officials (PASBO) since 2005 and a member of the Pennsylvania Registered School Business Administrator (PRSBA) since 2008. He currently serves on the Legislative Committee for PASBO. Randy Brown has been with the district since 2005. In his current role as Business Administrator, Randy is responsible for all financial and business operations of the school district. In previous roles, Randy has been responsible for accounting, payroll, purchasing, printing services, and food services.

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from The Pennsylvania State University in 1988 and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2004. He is married with two daughters with whom he enjoys traveling to Walt Disney World and various cruise destinations.