Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation

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Benedum Foundation Names New Trustee

PITTSBURGH (March 17, 2016) - The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced that Esther L. Barazzone has stepped down as a Trustee of the Foundation and has been elected Trustee Emerita.  Jane Werner, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, has been elected to replace Dr. Barazzone, effective March 9, 2016.

Ms. Werner has been with the Children’s Museum since 1991, and has served as Executive Director since May 1999.  The Children’s Museum serves 300,000 visitors annually at its site on the North Side, and reaches another 50,000 through outreach.  These figures represent a 277% growth during her tenure, which has also seen a growth in endowment from $300,000 to $8.3 million.

She is nationally recognized for her knowledge as to what makes a museum thrive, and how children best learn not only in a museum, but in all settings both in and out of school.  She is a leader in the “Maker Movement,” which engages children in learning through creativity.

Dr. Barazzone, who will retire on June 30, 2016, after a very distinguished career as President of Chatham University, has served the Benedum Foundation as a Trustee for 13 years.  The Foundation will continue to draw upon her extensive knowledge and commitment to the region to further the mission of the Foundation.

Benedum Foundation Announces Chief Financial Officer

PITTSBURGH (February 17, 2016) – Lawrence T. Mangan has been named Chief Financial Officer of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.  He will join the Foundation on March 1, 2016, and will oversee the Foundation’s financial operations, and support its endowment investment activities.

Prior to accepting the position with the Benedum Foundation, Mr. Mangan was the Head of Member Services of The Investment Fund for Foundations (TIFF).  TIFF is a $10 billion nonprofit investment management firm, with over 800 clients.  His prior experience includes:  President of the LTM Consulting Group, LLC, an independent financial management consulting firm; Chief Financial Officer of The Rockefeller Foundation, a $4.2 billion global private foundation; Vice President, Finance and Treasurer of the Connelly Foundation, a $260 million private family foundation in Philadelphia.  Mr. Mangan also has held several offices at the Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG), including serving as its President.  He previously served as Chair of the Audit Committee of Delaware Valley Grantmakers, and as a Trustee of the First Hospital Foundation and the Dorothea Van Dyke McLane Association.

A Pittsburgh native, Mr. Mangan earned his B.S. in Finance from The Pennsylvania State University, and his MBA from La Salle University.  At Penn State, Mr. Mangan was a track athlete, where he was the first runner to break four minutes in the mile.  After college, he competed for Nike, Inc., as a member of a sponsored team which competed in international and domestic track and field events.  Mr. Mangan twice competed in U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at 1,500 meters.

Report on West Virginia Oral Health on West Virginia Oral Health Initiative 2015.pdf

Benedum Foundation Names New Trustee

PITTSBURGH (September 22, 2015) - The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced that G. Nicholas Beckwith III has stepped down as an active Trustee of the Foundation and has been elected an Emeritus Trustee.  Illah R. Nourbakhsh of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute has been elected to replace Mr. Beckwith, effective immediately.

After receiving his Bachelor, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Stanford University, and working at NASA, Dr. Nourbakhsh joined Carnegie Mellon University and now serves in various capacities, including Professor of Robotics and Head of the Robotics Masters Program. 

Dr. Nourbakhsh’s research interests include community-based robotics and human-computer interaction.  He started the CREATE (Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment) Lab to explore socially meaningful innovation and use of robotic technologies to advance experiential learning and citizen empowerment.

He has served as an advisor or board member to the International Robotics Education Forum, the Pittsburgh Neighborhood & Community Information System, Fred Rogers Center, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and the Grable Foundation Community Cabinet, among many others.  He has been honored by the June Harless Center for Rural Educational Research and Development at Marshall University (West Virginia), Carnegie Science Center, PennFutures, and Time Magazine.  He has also been named a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Nourbakhsh has an extensive list of publications.  The most recent is his book entitled Parenting for Technology Futures, which addresses the pressing question of how children can be best prepared for a hyper-technical future, and includes advice on how, at home and at school, children will gain the technology fluency which will be critical to future success regardless of career.

Mr. Beckwith has served the Benedum Foundation as a Trustee for over 26 years.  The Foundation will continue to draw upon his extensive knowledge and commitment to the region to further the mission of the Foundation.


Over 400 registered for Try This WV Conference

June 3, 2015
By Dave Lavender

HUNTINGTON - Scroll over the Try This West Virginia website and good ideas pop out at you, as does the information to make these things happen where you live, on your block in your neck of the Mountain State woods.

Want to start a community garden or advocate for everyday recess or encourage breastfeeding, put up bike racks, start a running group or create active summer programs?

Everything you ever wanted to know about doing those 85 different projects is found on the web site in what director Kate Long calls "a feast of affordable, do-able ideas."

To help further fuel an even greater grassroots fire for making positive healthy changes in West Virginia, Try This West Virginia is hosting its second annual conference Friday and Saturday, June 5-6 on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon.

More than 400 people are pre-registered for the conference that will feature 40 breakout sessions (on everything from farmers markets and school gardens to bicycling and running programs), dozens of exhibitors, lots of health breaks for yoga, runs and exercise, as well as a keynote speech by Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

Cost is $150 for the two days, and there are scholarships available for youth and adults. Go online at for more info.

Formed about 18 months ago, Try West Virginia is funded by The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, WV Office of Child Nutrition, WV Bureau of Public Health, Unicare Health Plan of WV, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, The Bernard McDonough Foundation, Sisters of St. Joseph and Generous Promise Grant.

The purpose of the statewide coalition of about 20 groups is to promote healthy lifestyles and communities throughout West Virginia.

"We got up to speed very quickly as a state level organization because we are a coalition of 20 groups that already had their wheels rolling," Long said.

Those rolling wheels gathered a near Cass collection of steam at last year's conference. Long said last year's gathering drew more than 400 people to see 98 presenters in 30 different workshops, and really sparked a sense of pride and renewed spirits as folks from around the state got to see some of the fruits of the Try This minigrants.

In 2014, $82,000 in minigrants went to 42 different community teams from around the state that used the minigrants to help fuel positive change. Two of those grants were in Cabell County including the Fairfield Community Foodshare Project that helped build five community gardens created on vacant Huntington lots donated to the Build It Up! program by Huntington's Land Bank Program (HURA), and Try This Huntington (Cabell) that launched an effort to increase physical activity in the area for young families through zumba classes for adults and children, Mommy and Me Yoga, Supper in a Sack-Budgeting and Healthy Meal Preparation workshops, water aerobics classes, couponing and homemade baby food events.

Long said the laid-back conference of all the different folks digging in and making a difference is electrifying.

"Last year at our first conference we had 400 people yelling our slogan, 'It is up to us,'" Long said. "They yelled it enthusiastically. They know the state is not going to come down and hit them with a magic wand and the feds are not going to. We need help from the state and the feds but we are the ones who can start a running club, we can make a school-based health center. We can take all of these steps that add up to a healthy community."

Long said to help folks network year-round and create more change more quickly, the website is packed with great ideas and homegrown connections and ways to make them happen where you live.

"The website gives people a menu of what is possible because a lot of people would like to create a healthier community but they don't know what to do," Long said. "... There are hundreds of pictures on the website so when you go through it you get a wide variety of possibilities to choose from and when you choose something it gives you an array of resources that tell you how to do it. You can't go through that website without feeling proud of all of these efforts these West Virginians are trying to do about our situation."

The keynote speaker for the conference is Huntington mayor Steve Williams.

"It might seem odd at first glance for us to ask the mayor of Huntington to be our keynoter because Huntington has received a lot of press for having a lot of alarming chronic disease rates and topping a lot of the worst health lists but what better person when you look and see all of the efforts being made in Huntington to rebound and to come up," Long said. "Huntington is the underdog, and we love the underdog especially when the underdog is making great efforts. When I started looking at what all Huntington is doing on every front I was amazed."

Long said it was Try This' continued efforts to shine a light on best practices for healthy living initiatives that she kept running into Huntington's full-blown healthy living revival through such projects as the PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health), Huntington's Kitchen, The Wild Ramp, Create Huntington and the Chat 'n' Chews, Critical Mass, SCRATCH (after-school gardening program through West Virginia State University), Burrito Riders, the Litter Gitters, the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District, the healthy lunch initiatives in Cabell County Schools, and many more.

One of the several sessions featuring Huntington will be "Creating Huntington: After Jamie Oliver" featuring folks from the city of Huntington, Huntington's Kitchen, Cabell County Schools and other entities.

"The list is just endless," Long said. "Huntington is laced through the Try This West Virginia site. When I stated looking for examples I always ran into Huntington so I say what better person to have as our keynoter than this mayor. He is genuine, he is enthusiastic and I can't wait to hear what he has to say. For the healthy organizations in Huntington it was like you had a marching band going down the street and along comes a great drum major."

Long said whether it is from the conference or from folks checking out the website and then teaming up with other local organizations to start a healthy program in their neighborhood, school or area, Try This is all about trying to work to make West Virginia holistically healthier and happier.

"As we develop more fit younger generations those chronic disease rates will come down and part of it is believing that it is possible, and part of what we want to do is to really beat the drum and to change perception," Long said. "I don't mean creating a false image but letting people know what is really happening across West Virginia and that we are moving in a good direction and we want them to want to join in."

River Town issues its 2014 Report

New River CTC to host BIG Idea Competition in Princeton, WV

The State Journal
May 20, 2015

PRINCETON, WV - In an effort to help solve a problem of empty storefronts in Princeton, WV, New River Community and Technical College will join the Princeton Renaissance Project, with funding from the Benedum Foundation, to host a BIG Idea Competition at 5:30 p.m. May 28.

“This is not your average entrepreneur competition — this is targeted to a specific downtown business district and local small businesses are working together to help ensure the success of the winning contestant,” said Jill Holliday, New River CTC regional director of operations for Mercer and Raleigh Counties.

New River CTC students and community members in the audience will vote to determine the contest winner. Admission is free of cost and open to the public.

The competition will be at New River CTC's Mercer County Campus, which recently opened in the former offices of First Community Bank on Mercer Street in Princeton. Each of the five contestants will give a five-minute business pitch presentation. Contestants then will be given three minutes to answer designated audience questions about their businesses.

Brookwood Corporation has offered one month of free rent if the winner chooses to locate in one of the company's available properties. In addition, the winning entrepreneur will receive a cash award of $1,000, along with prizes donated by local businesses and community groups.

On May 21, the five contestants will meet with business mentors at New River CTC's Mercer County campus to prepare for the competition.

For more information, contact Holliday by email at or call 304-256-0262.

New River Community and Technical College serves nine counties in southeastern West Virginia from the Greenbrier Valley Campus (Lewisburg), Mercer County Campus (Princeton), Nicholas County Campus (Summersville) and Raleigh County Campus (Beaver/Beckley).


BDC helping communities in Brooke and Hancock counties eradicate blight

The State Journal
May 7, 2015

The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle is helping rid communities in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle counties of Brooke and Hancock of their blighted housing.

The BDC is currently working with the City of Weirton and Weirton Christian Center to demolish one abandoned downtown structure and is teaming with the city to address two others.

"(It's) our third abandoned house we have addressed in the panhandle,” BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said. “It really is a good opportunity to work with our partners in Weirton to spark some revitalization. It's not going to be a silver bullet. But I think our housing effort, coupled with our re-purposing of abandoned factories in Brooke and Hancock counties, can provide an impetus for some strategic revitalization efforts."

BDC Chairman Bill D'Alesio said the initiative will be a boon to Northern Panhandle communities “because we just do not have enough money to take care of all of these homes that have been abandoned.” D'Alesio said abandoned homes cause property values to decline, which can not only be detrimental to nearby property owners but also affects the community's ability to recruit business and industry.

"It's also a safety issue," adds Weirton Mayor George Kondik, pointing out that not only can kids can get hurt exploring them but miscreants also can use them for illicit activities.

Ford said Wells Fargo, the international banking and financial services company, acquires some houses after they have been foreclosed and, through its Community Urban Stabilization Program, partners with faith-based and other nonprofit groups to eliminate blight and make housing available to people with low- to moderate-incomes.

He said the BDC is currently looking at six residential properties in Brooke and Hancock counties to raze or renovate — two in Beech Bottom and one in Wellsburg, in addition to the three Weirton properties. Funding is through Wells Fargo, Hancock County Savings Bank and the Benedum Foundation.

"Communities up and down our panhandle continue to struggle with the negative effects of vacant and blighted homes, which in turn add to increased foreclosures and weaken neighborhood revitalization efforts," said Hancock County Commission President Mike Swartzmiller. "The BDC is pleased to work with panhandle officials to eliminate neighborhood blight.”

To date, the BDC has re-purposed a number of Weirton properties, including the former Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station on Pennsylvania Avenue, the former Jimmy Carey Stadium on Orchard Street, and the former Weirton Steel surplus properties on Three Springs Drive.