Elizabeth Lewis, M.Ed. is the Director of STANDING FIRM. Beth brings to STANDING FIRM in-depth leadership experience in the non-profit sector including major organizational development and program direction at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and consulting roles with the Magee Women’s Research Institute and Foundation. After starting her career in victim advocacy and service delivery design for rape and child sexual abuse response systems, she joined the for-profit arena in the Employee Assistance field, implementing multinational corporate EAP’s and local employer programs across western PA. Beth is a member of the Ethics Committee as Children’s Hospital and has published articles and presented at national conferences on Patient and Family-centered Care.

You can reach Beth at: or 412-894-4571

Senior Account Executive

Susan DeGregorio, M.S., J.D. is the Senior Account Executive at STANDING FIRM. She is the point of contact for STANDING FIRM’s Members and is our primary trainer. Susan has almost 30 years of consulting experience including facilitating leadership and employee training sessions. During her consulting career, she worked with organizations  of all sizes and in all industries to develop and implement employee benefit and workplace well-being strategies and policies. Susan is an Executive Service Corps volunteer for the Bayer Center for Non-profit Management, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a member of the  Three Rivers Adoption Council Board of Directors.

You can reach Susan at: or 412-894-4569

Program Associate

Molly Updegrove is the Program Associate at STANDING FIRM.  She has been involved in partner violence awareness since 2013, and volunteered for a shelter in Butler County for two years.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work and minor in Political Science from Slippery Rock University.  She is currently attending The University of Pittsburgh for a Master’s degree in Social Work, specializing in Community Organizing and Social Action and is a Public Policy Intern at Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

You can reach Molly at or 412-894-4568

Development Assistant

Lauren McKenzie is the Development Assistant at the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and STANDING FIRM, serving as the internal communications point of contact for the Development Department. She has honed skills in community planning and outreach, policy research and implementation, and administrative support. Lauren has worked in the nonprofit sector for five years, with Homestead Community Development Corporation, Hawaiian Community Assets, Mālama Kauaʻi, EarthShare National Headquarters, The Clean Air Council, and Philadelphia Urban Creators. Along with this, Lauren has served as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Philadelphia Urban Creators, and Mālama Kauaʻi. Lauren graduated from Temple Fox School of Business with a focus in Legal Studies of Business in 2017.

You can reach Lauren at

Meet our Founder!

Patricia Cluss, Ph.D., is the Founder of STANDING FIRM and continues to work with us as a Special Projects Consultant. Retired from her faculty position in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, she works as a licensed psychologist and consultant for regional nonprofit and health-related organizations. At Pitt, she engaged in research and program development in partner violence, smoking cessation for special populations, and pediatric obesity and published a number of articles about partner violence in academic journals. Dr. Cluss has been an expert member of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Intimate Partner Violence Homicide Review Team and a consultant for a PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency-funded research project at the University of Pittsburgh that is describing the methodology and impact of batterer intervention programs in the region.