Maurita Bryant, MS

Maurita currently serves as Cold Case Investigator for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Prior to this role, she served as Assistant Superintendent for the Allegheny County Police Department. As the former Assistant Chief of Investigations for the City of Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Police, Maurita spent 39 years in law enforcement with the Bureau, 23 of which were in a supervisory capacity. Maurita began her career in law enforcement in 1977 as a recruit and served in various other assignments before moving into leadership positions in the Bureau. She is affiliated with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Western Pennsylvania FBI Academy. Maurita holds a Master of Administration of Criminal Justice and a bachelor’s in criminal justice, both from Point Park University. She has also received training from IACP Leadership in Police Organizations, Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, the Police Executive Research Forum and the Justice and Safety Institute, to name a few.

Richard Citrin, Ph.D., MBA

Richard brings more than 25 years of business leadership and consulting experience to his clients and their organizations at Citrin Consulting. As an organizational consultant and executive coach, Richard has worked with many large and small organizations and has been involved with Standing Firm since its founding days; most recently serving as chairman of the Advisory Council for six years. An active community volunteer, Richard serves on the boards of arts and human service organizations and the planning commission of O’Hara Township.

The Hon. Valerie Gaydos

Valerie is a results-oriented entrepreneur, investor and start-up business advocate with a proven track record in building profitable businesses for more than 20 years. Valerie earned a BA from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She founded her first company, Capital Growth, Inc. (CGI), in 1994 as a venture capital data and information publishing company and has bought and successfully sold several small and medium sized business properties over the last several years. Valerie co-invests with various investor groups including Hivers & Strivers which focuses on investing in, and mentoring start-up companies run by U.S. Military Academy graduates. She served as President of the Pennsylvania Angel Network, Director of the Private Investors Forum, and is Founder of the Angel Venture Forum. In her spare time, she races sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay. She is currently running for the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives District #44 (Allegheny County) to be a strong advocate for Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and innovators.

Patricia R. Giudici

Patricia is a Senior Manager at Schneider Downs & Co, Inc. Patricia has over 15 years of experience in the accounting profession serving a variety of industries. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration Degree in Accounting from Clarion University and is a licensed CPA in the state of Pennsylvania. She has experience in serving diverse groups of privately owned companies within a variety of industries. In her current role, Patricia is responsible for audit, compliance, and consulting engagements for her clients, and staff training and development. Patricia has spent a substantial amount of time providing technical guidance and education topics to clients and staff. Additionally, she is a frequent speaker on recently issued accounting standards.  Patricia also participates as a board member of Bethlehem Haven and a member of the board of trustees for the Catholic Cemetery Association. Additionally, she is a past graduate of Leadership Development Initiative XX through Leadership Pittsburgh.

Katharine “Kit” Needham                                                       

Kit is Assistant Dean for Entrepreneurship Initiatives and Director for Project Olympus for Carnegie Mellon University. She provides start-up advice, business strategy planning, connections to industry experts, advisors and the business community to student, faculty, staff and alumni startups. She is a certified Instructor for the National Science Foundation’s iCorps programs and an Amazon Alexa Innovation Fellow.

Kit is an investor in BlueTree Venture Capital (formerly BlueTree Allied Angels) and 412 Ventures of BlueTree Allied Angels. She is a long time Advisory Board member of Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, and a Charter member of TiE Pittsburgh.

She was a Senior Vice President at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development working on education and economic development initiatives. Prior to that, she was Chief Operating Officer of Mellon Lab which was responsible for creating revenue-producing businesses for Mellon Bank. She also provides consulting services to promote economic growth to Chambers of Commerce, individual entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.

Kit is a Board member of the Women’s Center & Shelter for Domestic Violence, and an Advisory Board member for STANDING FIRM. She is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XIX.

Mike Orehowskywhite man with short hair, white shirt and suit jacket

Michael offers an exemplary track record for increasing business process efficiencies through simplification and application of best practices. His ability to deliver tangible improvement is the result of his unique blend of experience and skills in operational and strategic leadership. Over the course of his career, Michael has gained deep operational experience across all facets of the retail industry.

As a culture driver in the Pittsburgh office, Michael brings organization, mentorship, calmness, and a get-it-done attitude to the Operations Excellence practice. He is also the co-lead of the employment engagement committee.

Michael joined West Monroe in 2018 from Giant Eagle, Inc., where he was a retail executive for 13 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Penn State University.

Michael lives north of Pittsburgh, where he shares 14 acres of land with his wife, two kids, and four dogs. The family values the secluded nature their home offers without being too far from civilization. They also love to travel; a trip exploring Iceland and staying in a new part of the island each night is a highlight.

Michael is on the advisory board for STANDING FIRM, an organization focused on ending partner violence by empowering employers to recognize and respond to the workplace effects of partner violence.

Anne Palmerine woman with long hair, black jacket and printed blouse

Anne serves as Vice President, Customer Engagement and Enrollment Services, UPMC Health Plan.

Anne joined UPMC in April 2003. Anne has a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

She has 30 years of experience managing customer service contact centers, with a focus on fostering a strong culture, customer retention, growth, and sales. Anne leads UPMC’s Member Services, Enrollment Services, Coordination of Benefits, and Retail Teams. Her accomplishments include implementation of a highly esteemed Health Care Concierge program, deployment of numerous call center applications and enrollment systems, driving first call resolution and service recovery, integration of an omnichannel experience, launch and leadership of our 9 retail locations, and most importantly fostering an engaging and caring culture. Her Contact Center has achieved JD Power Call Center Certification nine times. The most recent awards for her teams are Best Large Contact Center and Best Strategic Value to the Organization from ICMI in 2022, Best Large Contact Center (200+ seats) from CCW Excellence 2022 Awards, and Customer Service Best Use of Technology (Gold), Best Customer Service Recovery Team (Gold), Best Customer Satisfaction Program (Gold), Best Back-Office Customer Service Team(Gold – six years in a row), Front-Line Customer Service Team (Retail Operations) (Silver), and Best Large Contact Center 200+ (Silver) for the Stevie® Awards 2023.

In Anne’s personal life she enjoys spending time with her family of 5 children, watching her sons coach and play baseball, riding her bike, running, and walking.

Patricia Raffaele

Pat Raffaele serves Pat Raffaele serves as the Development, Public Relations & Research Director at the RYR-1 Foundation. Prior to this role, Pat served as director of Business Partnership & Development for The Center for Health Affairs and CHAMPS (The Center) in Cleveland, Ohio.

Before joining The Center, she served as the Chief Relationship Officer for Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania. In her role, she developed a successful sponsorship and Allied membership program, creating relationships and raising funds to support member services. She also raised more than $1 million in grants supporting members and initiatives in community health and health equity. This outreach included funding to implement a community health worker model in two communities; and funding during the height of the pandemic to provide food access support to thousands of healthcare staff members working in long-term care.

She also served as the strategic communicator for the organization and led advocacy-related initiatives on the local, state, and federal levels. She recruited and retained members, supported several member committees, and provided member education programs.

Her career also included working in public relations at Indiana Regional Medical Center and honing her writing skills as a journalist for local and national publications.

A graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, Pat’s community engagement focuses on improving community health in the region. Currently, she serves as a member of the Advisory Council of STANDING FIRM and as a member of the Sustainability Committee for Global Links. She is also the incoming president of the Pittsburgh Society of Association Executives.

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism with minors in political science and business administration and a Master of Arts degree in corporate communications, both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

William Ries

William Ries is UPMC Health Plan’s Senior Director of Government and Industry Relations. In this role, Bill is responsible for building relationships with government leaders and managing UPMC Health Plan’s presence in Harrisburg, PA. Prior to joining UPMC Health Plan, Bill served as Director of Government Relations for PPG Industries. He also worked in Washington, DC as Chief of Staff to a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, and in Harrisburg as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee. During this time, Bill was involved in several conference committees and negotiating groups to enact state budget, property tax, business tax, and purely public charities legislation. Bill received his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and is a veteran advocate of several political campaigns, including congressional and presidential elections. He resides in Wexford, PA with his wife and three sons.

Kevin Wilkes

Kevin is a recognized expert in the security industry with an established reputation for excellence and a proven history of creating and developing unique strategies to reduce risk, protect assets, and drive down loss. After a distinguished career in law enforcement, Kevin joined the public sector where he was Senior Vice President, Midwest Regional Director of Risk Control Services and Security Risk Consulting Practice Leader for Willis Towers Watson. After 10 years at Willis Towers Watson, Kevin is currently employed with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to safeguard the guests, staff, properties, events, and brand of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. In addition, Kevin also serves as an Associate Security Representative/Consultant for the National Football League (NFL).


Security Alert

Internet usage can be monitored and is impossible to erase completely. We recommend opening up our website on incognito to ensure there is no browser history after your visit. 

Click the red “X Exit” Button in the bottom-right corner at any time to leave immediately.