Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D., Marywood University President, recently announced that four new trustees have been elected to Marywood’s Board of Trustees.
New board members include: Sr. Nancy DeCesare, IHM, Ph.D., Philadelphia; Bernadette Gray-Little, Ph.D., Lawrence, Kan.; Rev. John M. Lapera, Clarks Green, and Daniel J. Santaniello, Roaring Brook Twp.
In addition, the slate of board officers elected for 2017-18 includes: Atty. Lisa A. Lori, Philadelphia, board chair; Mary Ellen McDonough, Scranton, vice chair; Susan Cognetti, Clarks Green, secretary, and James G. Gavin, M.S.W., Scranton, treasurer.
Sr. Nancy DeCesare has worked for more than 30 years in the fields of administration and social work. Her professional background includes experience as a front-line social worker on the streets of New York City, and, presently, as a professor of human services at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
In 2010, Sr. Nancy started The Soldiers Project for the State of Pennsylvania, a position she held until 2014. She is now the Director of the Soldiers Initiative, which provides educational and social service support to veterans and their loved ones as well as to clinicians working or volunteering in the field of veteran services.
Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, recently retired, served as the 17th Chancellor at the University of Kansas from 2009-2017. During her distinguished tenure, she advanced the university’s mission of lifting students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.
Under her leadership, the university also revamped financial aid, creating four-year renewable scholarships and expanding the Jayhawk Generations Scholarship. Dr. Gray-Little was also instrumental to the creation of Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellowships to support outstanding doctoral students, as well as the creation of KU’s first university-wide curriculum, the KU Core.
A native of eastern North Carolina, Dr. Gray-Little received her bachelor’s degree from Marywood University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Saint Louis University. She earned a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Denmark.
Rev. John M. Lapera is presently serving as the Pastor at the Church of St. Gregory in Clarks Green. Rev. Lapera has served the Diocese of Scranton in numerous leadership capacities, both at the parish and diocesan levels.
His previous assignments have included service as the director of Called to Holiness and Mission (parish restructuring) for the Diocese of Scranton; pastor, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, Kingston; pastor, Church of St. Joseph, Scranton; executive director of the Office for Parish Ministries, Diocese of Scranton; diocesan director of RENEW, Diocese of Scranton; and assistant pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Church, Scranton.
Rev. Lapera has served as president of the Board of Pastors for Bishop Hannon High School, Scranton, and for Marian Catholic Inter-Parochial School, Scranton.
Daniel J. Santaniello has served as the chief executive officer and president of Fidelity D&D BanCorp, Inc., and its subsidiary, Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank since 2010. Mr. Santaniello has held a number of leadership positions in the banking industry.
Firmly believing that community service is also his business, Mr. Santaniello has served as first vice president of the Scranton Rotary Club and was a board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His board memberships include the Northern Anthracite Bankers Association and the Chamber of Commerce Micro Loan program. He has participated in numerous non-profit fund drives and was a member of the Technology Committee of the Great Valley Technology Alliance. Mr. Santaniello holds a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Marywood University and was the recipient of the Marywood Alumni Association’s Award of Excellence in Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Board officers for 2017-18 include Atty. Lisa Lori, a partner with Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg LLP in Philadelphia. She represents national and international businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, and individuals in a full range of complex commercial litigation matters. Since beginning her service on Marywood’s Board of Trustees in 2014, she has served as secretary of Marywood’s Board, and, for the past year, as Chair. She has been a member of the Audit Committee, Financial Affairs Committee, and the Executive Committee. Atty. Lori, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Design from Marywood, initially began her career in the fashion industry before deciding to pursue a legal career.
Mary Ellen McDonough, vice chair, now retired, had served as a Certified Prevention Specialist with the Lackawanna County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Since beginning her service on Marywood’s Board of Trustees in 2009, she has served as secretary of Marywood’s Board and has been a member of the Committee on Trustees, which she chaired; the University Advancement Committee, and the Executive Committee. Ms. McDonough, who also served as vice chair during 2016-2017, earned her B.A. in Elementary Education/Foreign Language from Marywood in 1973.
She has been extremely active at Marywood University as a volunteer, both in fundraising efforts and as a leader in planning alumni activities, including service on the Marywood Alumni Association Board. In 2008, she was honored as the recipient of the Marywood Alumni Association’s Award for Excellence in Health & Human Services.
Susan Cognetti, secretary, serves as a paralegal and office manager at Cognetti & Cimini. Since beginning her service on Marywood’s Board of Trustees in 2014, Mrs. Cognetti has served as chair of the Committee on Trustees and as a member of the Enrollment Services and Student Success Committee and the Executive Committee. Additionally, she was the secretary of the board for 2016-2017.
James. Gavin, treasurer, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Care Behavioral Health Organization. He has more than 40 years of training and experience in behavioral health care, from clinical service delivery through executive management. Since beginning his service on Marywood’s Board of Trustees in 2009, Mr. Gavin has served as treasurer of Marywood’s Board and has been a member of the Financial Affairs Committee, which he chaired; the Audit Committee; the Committee on Trustees; and the Executive Committee.
A licensed social worker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mr. Gavin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Scranton and two master’s degrees—a Master of Social Work and a Master of Managerial Science—from Marywood University.