Board of Directors
Jim Swast, President
Mr. Jim Swast joined the PWAC Board of Directors more than 20 years ago and currently serves as the Board President. Mr. Swast retired from Windstream as an Operations Manager. Mr. Swast also volunteers his time at the Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul store. A lifelong resident of the community, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and daughters, Lindsay and Erica. He also enjoys grandparenting Alice, Vince and Sydney. In his free time, Mr. Swast also enjoys archery, fishing, woodworking and snow skiing. Mr. Swast has stated, "I find it rewarding to serve on the Board because PWAC provides such essential programs for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. I have witnessed the joy and sense of self-worth our trainees have experienced when mastering a task."
Robert Watt, Vice President
Mr. Robert (Rob) Watt has served on the PWAC Board for more than 20 years and was appointed to the position of Vice-President in 2020. Mr. Watt is the President of Watt Insurance Agency in Ford City, PA. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. Mr. Watt also volunteers as the Curator for the Armstrong County Historical Museum and is a Board Member for Family A.C.T.S. In his free time, Mr. Watt enjoys spending time with his wife, Rajshree, their children Nathan and Lydia and niece, Marissa. Mr. Watt says "My sister Debra was on the staff at a Workshop in Cincinnati, OH for many years. When she passed away, I wanted to do something to contribute and carry on her legacy. I believe the Workshop is a tremendously positive experience for those individuals it serves."
Lynn Sibley, Secretary
Ms. Lynn Sibley joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2012 and currently serves as the Board Secretary. Ms. Sibley obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Education Degree from Slippery Rock University and retired from the Armstrong School District, where she was a Health and Physical Education Teacher. In her free time, Ms. Sibley volunteers in numerous positions, including County Coordinator for Ramps of Hope, Treasurer for the Manorville United Methodist Church, Reach to Recovery and the Ford City Garden Club. Ms. Sibley also enjoys gardening, reading, kayaking and playing pickleball. Ms. Sibley believes, "As a teacher, I always enjoyed seeing my students with special needs making the most of their abilities. Now, as a member of the PWAC Board, I am continually impressed with how this organization helps people to foster and improve on their abilities and move into productive and meaningful jobs in the community. I am thrilled to be a part of helping to make that happen."
Sonie Mervis, Treasurer
Ms. Sonie Mervis joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2008. She currently serves as the Board Treasurer and is a member of the Board's membership Committee. Ms. Mervis retired as the Armstrong County Treasurer after serving the County for 20 years. Ms. Mervis' first love is her family, as she has been married to her husband, Bob, for more than 50 years. Together they have 3 daughters, 4 granddaughters, 1 grandson and 1 great-granddaughter. Ms. Mervis volunteers her time at the Richard G. Laube Cancer Center and the First Baptist Church - Kittanning, where she serves as a Sunday School teacher and does women's work. In her free time, Ms. Mervis enjoys serving as an Usher at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts and is an avid gardener with a great love for flowers. Ms. Mervis believes, "It is a privilege to serve as a Board Member and see how PWAC has changed the lives of people with disabilities. PWAC is dedicated to assisting them to find dignity and self-worth through vocational training and work opportunities."
A. Ted Breuer
Mr. A. Ted Breuer is fondly known as the "longest living member of the Board", as he joined the Board of Directors in 1982. He currently serves as Chairman of the Safety and Construction Committee. Mr. Breuer attended Clarion and Penn State Universities, where he received a degree in Safety Management. He retired from the position of Corporate Manager of Safety and Health and OSHA Regulatory Compliance at Allegheny Ludlum ATI. Mr. Breuer volunteers his time with the Ford City Fire Department, Ford City Ambulance, ACMH, Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame and the Ford City Garden Club. In his free time, Mr. Breuer enjoys woodworking, trap shooting, shooting sporting clays and gardening. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, Janet, who retired as an English teacher from Ford City High School, and their daughter, Dr. Gwen Breuer, who is the Medical Director of Hospital Medicine at UPMC St. Margaret. Mr. Breuer loves to see the progress that the clients make over the years, while at PWAC. He felt compelled to serve on the Board, as he has a niece in New York who has special needs and saw early on what their workshop has done for her. "I wanted to be a part of it."
Ms. LuAnn Frerotte joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2010 and currently serves on the Activity Fundraising Committee. Ms. Frerotte retired from Windstream after 43 years as an Engineering-Construction Analyst. Ms. Frerotte also volunteers her time for Relay for Life, serving on the Banking Committee. In her free time, Ms. Frerotte enjoys crafting and gardening. Ms. Frerotte believes, "The Progressive Workshop is a great place for our clients to grow socially and intellectually as they reach their goals and become active members in the community. It gives me the opportunity to provide support to the staff in helping the clients learn new skills so that they can find jobs in the community and spread their wings."
Mr. Gene Hughes joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2011 and had previously served as Board Chair. Mr. Hughes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, which he obtained from the University of Washington, graduating cum laude. He has almost 40 years' experience working in environmental laboratories, mostly recently at CWM Environmental where he was Laboratory Director before his semi-retirement in August of 2019. Mr. Hughes is active at his church, St. John's Lutheran in Kittanning, where he serves as Assisting Minister and Lector; is a member of the senior vocal choir, senior bell choir, and the Worship and Music Committee; and where he also serves as master of ceremonies for worship services. In his free time, Mr. Hughes enjoys riding his bicycle, walking, reading, and is an avid solver of New York Times crossword puzzles. He also travels a few times a year to visit family in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. Mr. Hughes believes, "Having a job one enjoys is a key factor in having a sense of self-esteem, life fulfillment and happiness, as well as social connections with others that can't be obtained elsewhere. It is my great pleasure to serve on the Board, which helps the Progressive Workshop as it works towards helping our clients achieve these life goals."
Dr. Nancy Kennedy
Dr. Nancy Kennedy is the newest member of the PWAC Board of Directors, joining in November 2020. Dr. Kennedy currently serves as a Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Kennedy teaches and supervises Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Psychology Trainees and Psychiatric Residents at Drexel University School of Medicine, Allegheny campus. She also serves on the AHN Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Institute Executive Committee. Dr. Kennedy first obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Biology from Grove City College. She then went on to obtain a Master of Arts degree in Professional Psychology from Edinboro University and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kennedy previously volunteered as the Board President of the Armstrong/Indiana Drug and Alcohol Commission. In her free time, Dr. Kennedy enjoys reading, cooking and cats. Dr. Kennedy also loves to travel and has a particular fondness for Northern California, Napa, Sonoma Valley, and the Mexican Riviera. “Returning to the Armstrong County area after years away, I am interested in serving our community. PWAC immediately came to mind, as an invaluable source of training, support, and community connection for many years. Clients of the PWAC have unique needs that are met comprehensively through the programs and services of the agency. The skills of the clients are showcased and supported, increasing confidence and self-esteem for individuals,” states Dr. Kennedy.
Ms. Linda Kuruc joined the PWAC Board of Directors more than 20 years ago and serves on the Personnel Committee. Ms. Kuruc retired from the Freeport Area School District as a Learning Support Teacher. Ms. Kuruc obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and continued Graduate Studies at Duquesne University. Ms. Kuruc also volunteers at the Friends of Leechburg Public Library. In her free time, Ms. Kuruc enjoys spending time with her husband, David, their two daughters and her twin granddaughters. Ms. Kuruc feels strongly about the importance of being on the PWAC Board: "By believing that all work has worth, I want to help people of different abilities be successful through the continuation of programs that help achieve that goal. The Progressive Workshop, with its many dedicated staff members, has been an agency that has provided meaningful and realistic services to our community of differently abled citizens for many years. I am proud to be a member on our board of like-minded members working toward our clients' success."
Mr. Andrew Sacco joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2017. Mr. Sacco is an attorney at Steiner Sacco Law in Kittanning. He received a B.A. from Duquesne University and graduated from Widener University Commonwealth Law School. In his free time, Mr. Sacco enjoys reading, exercising, fishing and hunting. Mr. Sacco believes, "PWAC has been an integral part of the community for many years. As board members, it is our responsibility to ensure that it continues to provide support and opportunities for those in the community with disabilities."
Mr. Justin Snow joined the PWAC Board of Directors in September 2018. Mr. Snow obtained a Bachelor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is currently a Software Engineer at Penn United Technologies Inc. In his free time, Mr. Snow enjoys hunting, fishing, gaming and spending time with his wife, Kristen, and children, Bailey, Melia and Avah. Justin believes, "PWAC is an amazing organization and it has done so many positive things for this community. I truly feel that PWAC is setting a positive and uplifting example of what it means to care for one another and it makes me extremely proud to utilize my experience to serve as a board member of the PWAC."
Ms. Jennifer L. Vensel joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2019. Ms. Vensel obtained a degree from the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts and worked a number of years as a fine dining chef in the Carolinas. After returning to the area, she went on to obtain an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting from Butler County Community College. Ms. Vensel is a Branch Manager at S&T Bank and has held several positions in the bank over the last 16 years. Ms. Vensel volunteers in numerous positions, including the Kittanning Rotary Club, where she serves as President, and is a school PTO Member. In her free time, Ms. Vensel enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and family. She also enjoys cooking, baking, camping, traveling to new places, vacationing on the beach, and collecting Christmas ornaments from the places to which she travels. Ms. Vensel believes: "I am impressed with the programs that are available to PWAC's clients and the positive impact they have on their lives. I'm proud to support such a great organization that helps each client to be a productive member of the community."
Ms. Lee Walker joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2008 and currently serves on the Fundraising Committee. Ms. Walker obtained a degree from the West Penn School of Nursing and is the Owner of The Meredith Inn in Kittanning, PA. In her free time, Ms. Walker enjoys spending time with her husband. Together they share three children and one grandson. Ms. Walker also enjoys reading. Ms. Walker feels strongly about the importance of being on the PWAC Board, "My mother-in-law helped to start PWAC and I have a brother who is living with Autism and attends PWAC regularly. I feel very passionately about supporting and helping individuals who live with a disability and believe that we should focus more on their abilities."
Chris Yanoff joined the PWAC Board of Directors in 2019. Prior to joining the PWAC Board, Mr. Yanoff retired from the Pennsylvania State Police after 31 years of service. Mr. Yanoff is a graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology. In his free time, Mr. Yanoff enjoys spending time with his wife, Alice, and daughters, Michelle and Natalie. He volunteers his time with the PSP Armstrong County Camp Cadet. Mr. Yanoff also enjoys hunting, fishing and physical fitness. "I joined the PWAC Board of Directors to honor my Godson, Damian. Because I am so involved in physical fitness, I knew that it was important to bring physical fitness education to him and others with special needs. As a police officer, I have also received special training in engaging individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness and special needs and wanted to bring that to the table."