Bill aimed at aiding PA economy passed by State Senate

Legislation requiring a one-time review of resolutions with economic significance was passed last week by the Pennsylvania Senate. 

Senate Bill 190 was sponsored by Sen. Michelle Brooks, R-Crawford/Lawrence/Mercer. 

“My bill cuts government red tape that hurts Pennsylvania’s employers, farmers, and local governments,” Brooks said in a statement. “With this change, we could see a statewide benefit from job growth and a boost to our economy.” 

The bill advances to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Regulations with an economic impact or cost to the state, to its political subdivisions, and to the private sector exceeding $1 million annually would, under Bill 190, be reviewed for their effectiveness, efficiency, and need three years following implementation. 

The agency with the regulation must review it after three years and report to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) the following findings: 

  • Status of implementation. 
  • Effectiveness and efficiency of the regulation, along with steps taken to increase efficiency in implementation. 
  • Direct and indirect cost of regulation, and whether the fiscal impact was over-or under-estimated, along with the nature of public comments on the regulation. 
  • Whether Pennsylvania’s current laws require the repeal or amendment of the regulation. 
  • If the agency with the regulation is considering changing the regulation, and whether the regulation is still required. 

Public comments about the submitted report would be collected by the IRRC for at least 30 days. IRRC would determine within 30 days of the end of the public comment period whether the regulation remains in the public interest and whether statutory changes should be considered. 

The one-time automatic review would help protect businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and individuals from costly regulations and hold state regulators accountable.

New hires and promotions in accounting, banking, health care and nonprofit sectors


Spring Township, Berks County-based Herbein + Co. Inc. named Merle Dunkelberger a senior consultant and member of the tax department. Dunkelberger has more than 40 years of public accounting, tax and leadership experience.

Banking and finance

Ithaca, New York-based Tompkins Community Bank named Laurie Grube community banking division manager of its Pennsylvania market. Grube has 33 years of banking industry experience and will oversee retail and business development strategies and manage branch operations. Paula Barron, who was senior vice president and community banking division manager of its Pennsylvania market, retired. Barron had 34 years of banking experience, 24 with Tompkins.

Health care

Lehigh Valley Health Network named Dr. Ravi Samy chief of the division of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery. Samy treats pediatric and adult otology and neurotology and specializes in skull-base tumor resection, hearing loss, working with cochlear implantation, auditory brainstem implementation and implantable hearing devices.


Bethlehem, Northampton County-based New Bethany Ministries named Michael J. Fischer vice president of its board of directors. He will serve on the organization’s executive, finance and development committees. Fischer is president and CEO of Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County-based Client 1st Financial.

-Compiled by Amy DiNunzio

Project Blueprint underway at Volunteer Center

The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley began its 2023 Project Blueprint program this week with 16 leaders from the region’s business community.  

Project Blueprint is a seven-week program where participants train on nonprofit board service to build their leadership skills and to engage and serve with local nonprofit organizations. 

Project Blueprint, which was designed to increase diversity within the nonprofit community, was established in 1987.  

The Volunteer Center has held the program each year training and developing over 500 leaders who have engaged with local nonprofits and are making a significant impact through service in the nonprofit community.  

“As our community becomes more culturally diverse, we need nonprofit boards that are reflective and responsive to these changing needs,” said Karen Smith, CEO of the Volunteer Center. “We want to help our nonprofit partners strengthen their leadership for more successful outcomes. This program engages nonprofits to network and meet the potential future board members.” 

The program is utilizing a virtual platform based on our previous success.  

Subject matter experts facilitate the various sessions including “Understanding Nonprofit Legal Factors” with Marie McConnell from Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba, P.C. and “Nonprofit Finances” with Andrea Brady from CliftonLarsonAllen LLC. Other topics include “Understanding Nonprofit Boards,” “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” and “Fundraising for the Board.” 

There are also networking and connecting sessions with area nonprofit leaders to foster relationship development and ultimately make connections for the participants to serve with these organizations. 


PPL Foundation promoting grant opportunities

Nonprofit organizations will have an opportunity to learn more about grants available from the PPL Foundation. 

The Allentown-based foundation will be having a virtual information session at 1 p.m. on Jan. 10 to update organizations on grant opportunities 

The PPL Foundation was established by PPL Corp. in 2012 to support programs that improve lives in areas served by PPL’s utilities. Since then, it has awarded more than $20 million in grant money in the community. 

The foundation said it plans to launch three new grant programs in PPL Electric Utilities’ service territory in 2023.  

Through the programs, eligible nonprofit organizations will be able to apply for grants of between $2,500 to $50,000. Grants will support programs focused on education; diversity, equity and inclusion; and sustainable communities.  

These new grant opportunities replace the foundation’s former grants awarded in the spring and fall of each year. 

Interested nonprofit organizations may register for the virtual information session by following the registration link.  

During the information session, PPL Electric Utilities and PPL Foundation representatives will provide an overview of the foundation’s focus areas and the grant process. 

Reading nonprofits to get more than $4.8M in ARPA funds

At a special meeting Tuesday, Reading City Council approved the allocation of more than $4.8 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 21 nonprofit organizations.

Here are the recipients, from minutes of the meeting posted online:

• Berks Community Health Center, $400,000;

• Berks History Center, $20,000;

• Berks Latino Chamber of Commerce, $200,000;

• CARE Inc., $200,000;

• Centro Hispano of Reading and Berks County, $500,000;

• GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, $500,000;

• Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, $500,000;

• Hope Rescue Mission, $500,000;

• I-LEAD, $200,000;

• Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading & Berks County, $404,500;

• Neighborhood Housing Service, $200,000;

• New Journey Community Outreach, $125,000;

• Million Youth Chess Club, $5,820;

• Prospectus Berco, $200,000;

• Reading Pride Celebration, $50,000;

• Reading Symphony Orchestra, $100,000;

• The Real Deal, 610, $50,000;

• Salvation Army, $100,000;

• Star City Boxing Co., $215,963;

• The Village of Reading, $143,600;

• YMCA of Reading and Berks County, $200,000.

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to provide direct relief to cities, towns and villages in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, ARPA has allocated $6.15 billion to counties, cities and local government units to support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address public health and economic challenges.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Newsmakers: Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Iron Hill Construction Management Co. and more

Cattima Millsap, Michael J. Weiss, Sino, Brian Cottone, Ronda Beemer and Joshua Tice. PHOTOS/PROVIDED


Scientific research honor society Sigma Xi elected René Fuanta associate director for its Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes Pennsylvania. He is assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Monroe County-based East Stroudsburg University.

Banking and finance

Allentown, Lehigh County-based Morton Brown Family Wealth named Jonathan D. Kerstetter a financial planning strategist. He will create customized and comprehensive financial plans.


Hanover Township, Northampton County-based Iron Hill Construction Management Co. named Jacob Smith and Steve Hull vice presidents and Mark Waddell director of operations. They were also named members of the executive committee.

Blue Bell, Montgomery County-based Penntex Construction named Brian Cottone vice president of business development in the Philadelphia area. He will work in the Blue Bell office. Ronda Beemer was named vice president of business development in the Northeast Pennsylvania region. She will work in the Allentown, Lehigh County, office. They will work together to support clients and partners.


Lehigh University named Michael J. Todd vice president for finance and administration. He will lead teams within the finance and administration division.

Health care

Allentown, Lehigh County-based Populytics Inc. named Michael J. Weiss administrator of informatics. He will oversee the teams that handle intake, normalization and aggregation of both payer claims and electronic medical records data.

West Reading, Berks County-based Reading Hospital – Tower Health named Drs. Michael Haas and Joshua Tice trustees. Haas is chief of the division of radiation oncology, chair of the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic and a member of the cancer center executive committee at McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital. Tice is a member and president of the Reading Hospital medical staff, member of the medical executive committee and chair of the credentials committee.


Bethlehem-based King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul LLC named Laura Attieh an attorney. She will focus her practice in general and special education law.


Emmaus, Lehigh County-based Altitude Marketing named Emily Coughlin graphic designer and developer. She will conceptualize, build and maintain websites and handle various other design projects.


United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley named Vince and Michelle Sorgi and Ashley Russo and spouse Dr. Joe Russo co-chairs of its 2022 Campaign. Vince Sorgi is president and CEO of PPL Corp., and Ashley Russo is president and owner of ASR Media Productions.

Allentown, Lehigh County-based Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center named Stephen Jiwanmall director of communications and marketing, Chrystina Obleschuk health equity programs manager, Braden Hudak social media coordinator, Owen Pudliner community health advocate and Mary Frasier health education coordinator.

Bethlehem-based New Bethany Ministries named Cattima Millsap director of social services. She will assist in grant writing and reporting for homeless assistance and prevention funds, oversee compliance and supervise case management-based programming and staff.

Bethlehem-based Via of the Lehigh Valley named Alivia Sinko director of community employment. She will promote the employability of people with disabilities. Lynn Schoof was named communications manager. She will support and promote the organization through print and digital media outlets and fundraising.

ReadingFilm, home of an international film festival in Berks County, named Susanna Fultz a board member. She is an attorney with Lancaster-based Barley Snyder and a member its employment and litigation practice groups.


Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County-based The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley named Natalia Stezenko general manager.

-Compiled by Amy DiNunzio

Lehigh Valley Community Foundation announces new CEO

Erika Riddle Petrozelli –


The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, one of the largest funders of nonprofit organizations in the Lehigh Valley has named a Certified Public Accountant as its new CEO.

Erika Riddle Petrozelli will assume the role Jan. 1 upon the retirement of current president and CEO, Bernie Story.

Story has served in the role since 2012 and grew the foundation’s assets from $33 million to more than $60 million during his tenure. He will step down Dec. 31, but will stay on as president for a transitional period through the end of June.

He will remain a philanthropic adviser to the foundation.

Petrozelli jointed the foundation in 2014 as director of donor services. She has served as vice president of philanthropy for the past year.

“Erika is a tremendous asset to the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and we are fortunate that she has agreed to succeed me as CEO. She has all of the necessary skills to make the Foundation even more impactful over the next decade and beyond,” said Story. “She is a true professional with proven potential to become a community leader in a very short time.”

As a CPA, she has been able to provide professional knowledge and advice about charitable giving to a wide range of Lehigh Valley residents.

Prior to joining Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, Petrozelli, was vice president of investor relations at Magnitude Capital LLC, based in New York City.

In this role, she was responsible for client service and content management for the firm’s global investor base.

Berks Community Foundation offers grants to nonprofits hurt by COVID-19

Berks County Community Foundation has launched an emergency grant program to help Berks County nonprofits fill funding gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minimum grant size is $500 and the maximum is $20,000.

The funding is meant to help with unexpected expenses or revenue losses that cannot be recovered through government stimulus measures.

Applications for COVID-19 Nonprofit Continuity Grants will be accepted online between April 1 and April 10, with decisions announced no later than April 17. Approved grants will be distributed May 1, 2020.

“The broad guidelines and range of grant size are meant to acknowledge the reality that all kinds of nonprofit organizations in our community have been impacted in all kinds of ways,” said Heidi Williamson, senior vice president for programs and initiatives at the Community Foundation, “from all-volunteer groups with annual budgets of less than $10,000, to large professional organizations with many employees and budgets in the millions…”

To apply for a grant, Berks County nonprofits can visit the following link-https://bccfgrants.academicworks.com/opportunities/716

Biz, Latino leaders push for accurate 2020 Census

For its campaign, Inspiration 2020, Latino Connection will use a van to drive to different sites where it hopes to meet people and educate them about the Census in the Latino community. -Submitted

With millions of dollars in federal funding depending on the accuracy of the 2020 biennial census, business and Latino community leaders in the Greater Lehigh Valley are working to ensure every resident is counted.

“In Pennsylvania, we receive $39 billion each year from census-derived data to support federal programs,” said Megan Briggs, director of community investments at Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

LVCF is taking a leadership role in the census, investing staff-time, resources, and funding to ensure every person is counted in 2020.

“An undercount of the estimated 670,000 Lehigh Valley residents puts federal funding at risk, while also decreasing the amount of representation our community has in government,” Briggs said.

The census, which is conducted every 10 years, is required by the Constitution. In addition to being used to allocate seats in Congress, it’s also used to determine where billions of dollars in federal tax dollars are spent.

Census data is used by businesses to determine markets and weigh new locations. It’s also used to allocate money to fix ailing infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; education programs, including worker training critical to attracting and retaining companies.

For those reasons and more several organizations are stepping up to get a complete and accurate count on Census Day on April 1, particularly among the immigrant populations who are often reluctant to respond.

LVCF, an Allentown nonprofit, committed $65,000. LVCF is collaborating with nonprofit organizations to get an accurate count in Census track areas in Allentown’s Center City, Bethlehem’s South Side and Easton’s West Ward. These areas were undercounted by more than 30 percent in 2010, resulting in a 10-year loss of federal funding.

Four nonprofit organizations are receiving $10,000 grants to implement a variety of tactics to address these areas and beyond as part of LVCF’s Civic Engagement: Census 2020 Initiative. These organizations are Promise Neighborhoods of Allentown, Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley of Bethlehem, Project of Easton, and Make the Road Pennsylvania of Allentown.

LVFC also has a Census Equity Fund to support several initiatives, including: providing organizations with technical assistance and training, building awareness through events for nonprofits, and collaborating with the region’s nonprofit, business and government stakeholders.

“An undercount will increase the demands placed on the area’s nonprofits and the philanthropic community to try to fill the gap of decreased federal funds and services,” said Bernie Story, LVCF president and CEO. “Instead of needing to make up that gap, we are proactively funding efforts and investing resources to ensure a complete and accurate count.”

In Berks County, efforts are underway to focus on getting an accurate count in target areas that include Reading and part of Maxatawny Township outside Kutztown University.

In Reading, some of these areas include parts of the downtown known to have transient populations and many immigrants, said Isabel Monterrosa, publicity coordinator for the Berks Complete Count Committee at the Center for Excellence in Local Government at Albright College in Reading.

The other area with an undercounted population in 2010 was Maxatawny Township, which stemmed from off-campus housing at Kutztown University.

“We expect that might be a problem at Alvernia University because they expanded into more off-campus housing,” Monterrosa said.

Undercounts occur when students sublet their properties to other students who are not on the lease, she added.


Counting immigrants

Undercounts can occur with immigrant populations fearful of having their status questioned even though the federal government removed a citizenship question it intended to include on Census 2020.

Part of the outreach effort involves educating people so they know the question is no longer there and that Census takers take oaths to protect the privacy of the individuals from whom they obtain data, Monterrosa said.

With more people counted, more funding is available for a wide range of programs.

“The Census data is the information that is used to develop and deliver programs all over the place,” Monterrosa said.

Communities use the money for grants for business expansion and economic development, and businesses rely on the data to project growth and help with hiring, said Monterrosa, who acts as a liaison to the Census bureau.

“The goal is to bring awareness of why it’s so important to our community,” she said. “All of the social programs will receive federal funding. They are going to benefit from these services.”

While the business community is becoming more aware of the importance of the Census, many in the general public don’t know that completing the survey is a civic duty, like voting and serving on a jury.

The 2020 Census is also the first that allows residents to respond online. This, too, Monterrosa said, will present challenges in terms of ensuring people who do not have Internet access can complete it. Access to the web is being provided via a mobile lab through the local libraries, said Dave Myers, an adviser with Berks Alliance, a nonprofit. Those labs can be sent to neighborhoods that lack internet access.

In Berks County, officials estimate that 4 to 5 percent of the county’s population, between 16,000 and 17,000 people, were missed in 2010, Myers said. “Because of that, there was a lot of funding that was missed.”


Collecting data

The Census counts everyone, including people who are homeless, in correctional facilities and nursing homes, he added.

The Berks Complete Count Committee raised $160,000 to create the outreach effort, he said.

“We have to make sure everyone is counted,” Myers said. “It’s important, obviously for funding and political reasons, but also for the data used.”

Census data affects housing affordability, business location decisions and other economic factors.

“It could mean an analysis that precludes a retailer from looking at our community,” Myers said.

From transportation funding that fixes and repairs roads and bridges to calculations of available labor force, the funding has a wide business impact.

In Central Pennsylvania, one organization is preparing to launch an initiative at the end of the year geared toward educating people, particularly the Latino community, about the importance of getting an accurate count for Census 2020.

George Fernandez, owner of Latino Connection, a marketing and communications agency in Penbrook, Dauphin County, said his organization is starting a grassroots campaign called Inspiration 2020, designed to educate people throughout the state wherever they work, live and play. The organization will use a van to drive to different sites where it hopes to meet people and educate them about the Census in the Latino community.

“We are looking for partners that want to welcome us on their job site,” Fernandez said.

With the upcoming federal election and Census 2020, Fernandez believes it’s a critical time for Latinos.

For its campaign, the organization is promoting what it describes as four pillars: music, family, faith, and community. On 60 TV screens throughout corner stores and bodegas around the state, the organization will talk about the Census and why it’s so important, he added.

“A lot of the decisions businesses make today are based on data from the census,” Fernandez said, but acknowledged there is fear of it in the Latino community.


Focus on Latinos

The Latino population is growing, which makes education around the Census that much more critical, Fernandez said, noting that Reading elected its first Latino mayor, Eddie Moran, and county commissioner, Michael Rivera.

“Latinos are front and center of the Presidential election,” Fernandez said. “I think the efforts around education are vital to the success of Pennsylvania. Pure education is going to be vital to our success.”

David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp., say they are poised to start the education campaign early next year.

“We’ll be doing a push at about the time the census information starts dropping in people’s mailboxes and people start canvassing,” he said.

The Harrisburg business community has not shown much concern or awareness about Census 2020, according to Black.

“We want to make sure we are counted and they try to get things as correct as possible, not just for our region, which is a growing region in Pennsylvania like the Lehigh Valley, but Pennsylvania as a whole,” Black said.