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Civic Impact

A former Steeler, a PSU standout -- 14 men are first-time honorees for Women and Girls Foundation

And now for something completely different: The Women and Girls Foundation for the first time is giving their annual awards exclusively to men.
While every year for the past seven years the foundation has been celebrating women in a different sector of society, CEO Heather Arnet says the group has long been discussing a way to reward the good works of their male allies. The awards ceremony -- "Celebrating woMEN!" -- will take place on Dec. 1 at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. The honorees are:

  • Jim Abraham, Law Office of James E. Abraham LLC
  • Gregg Dietz, University of Pittsburgh and Shaler Area High School
  • Tanner Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania State University student
  • Rep. Dan Frankel, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Dr. Freddie Fu, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine
  • William Gay, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Michael Aaron Glass, Dress for Success Pittsburgh
  • George Greer, The Eden Hall Foundation and H.J. Heinz Company
  • Andrew Hoover, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
  • George Kantor, Carnegie Mellon University and Girls of Steel
  • Maxwell King, Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media
  • Lou Rood, Belle Vernon Area School District and Pittsburgh Passion
  • Hon. Gene Strassburger, Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Freddie Fu, for instance, is being recognized for bringing an unusual number of women into the sports medicine field in Pittsburgh. "Freddie has really broken down so many barriers for women in that field," says Arnet, calling the Steelers "singular in the NFL" for having physicians, therapists and others on their training, therapy and treatment teams. And while the national average is five-percent female faculty and residents in academic orthopedic surgery departments, the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, which Fu chairs, has 19 percent female faculty and 29 percent female residents.
Tanner Fitzgerald (son of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald) was one of the more surprising nominees, says Arnet, since he is still a Penn State undergraduate. He is president of Men Against Violence, which addresses the sexual assault of women, on PSU's main campus, and has worked at the Center For Women Students there. He also helped bring ”Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March To Stop Rape, Sexual Assault, and Gender Violence” to Penn State. "We all know way too much about the culture of athletics here," says Arnet. "We'd like to see even more college-age men taking leadership roles."
Jim Abraham, who works with Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania, was also chosen for an award -- recognition of how important women's health issues remain, especially with family planning becoming such a subject of contention during the recent election. And former Steeler William Gay was chosen for his continued commitment to helping the Women’s Center and Shelter here. When Gay was 8, his mother died as a result of domestic violence, which has been his inspiration ever since. "There are way too many stories like his and he is really a brave and compassionate person," says Arnet.
A special honor is being given to Dr. Gary Cuccia, whose teenage daughter, Demi Brae Cuccia, was killed by her boyfriend in 2007. Cuccia has created protocols for teachers and administrators to learn the warning signs of escalating domestic violence situation, so they are able to take action. He also speaks at numerous school assemblies to educate teens on preventing future tragedies.
It was difficult picking these honorees among the 47 nominations, Arnet says. The Women and Girls Foundation has therefore created a book with all nominees' stories, which is available for purchase by contacting the foundation.
Says Arnet: "We hope everyone can be inspired by their stories."
Do Good:
Want another way to help women and girls? Get involved with the Women's Law Project -- a cause the Women & Girls Foundation is involved with too. They're looking for volunteers here.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Heather Arnet, The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania
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