Board Member Biographies

Board Member (Year joined board)

Fred Bononi (2017)

Fred is a lifelong resident of Greensburg who attended Saint Vincent College and graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. Fred is retired from work as a Certified Public Accountant and co-owner of an accounting firm which conducted independent audits of civic, non-profit, and religious organizations as well as school districts and privately owned business entities.

Fred is retired from boards of for-profit and non-profit entities, and is a member since 2001 of SCORE Chapter 555 at Saint Vincent College. Fred also serves as chairman and board member of the local cemetery.

Fred and Norine have three children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Fred enjoys studying provisions and interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code.

Douglas W. Chew (2020)

Doug grew up on a dairy farm in Hempfield Township, graduated from Hempfield Area High School, and studied biochemistry, biophysics, and chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. He served at Pitt as a faculty member teaching molecular biology and biochemistry for 11 years starting in 1992, and then as a faculty and research administrator at Pitt’s School of Medicine starting in 2010.

Doug served as an elected auditor in Hempfield Township for 6 years, and has served as a Westmoreland County Commissioner since January 2020.

Doug and his wife Cyndi live on a farm in Hempfield Township, and have three sons: Joe, Andy, and Luke. In his spare time Doug enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family.

Tammy Colt (2016)

Tammy grew up in Ligonier and studied at Penn State for a B.S. in animal bioscience and Indiana University of Pennsylvania for an M.S. in biology. Tammy is a regional wildlife diversity biologist for the PA Game Commission, serving the 10 counties of PA’s Southwest Region. Tammy previously worked as an environmental educator at Powdermill Nature Reserve, and co-authored Pennsylvania Amphibians and Reptiles: A Curriculum Guide (PA Fish and Boat Commission, 2001).

Tammy is a board member for the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, an active member of The Wildlife Society, and long time leader and volunteer for U.S. Pony Clubs.

Tammy lives in Fairfield Township, and has one daughter. In her spare time Tammy enjoys riding horses, cross county skiing, hiking, and kayaking, and is a musician and songwriter.

William Danchuk (2018)

Bill grew up in the lower East Side of New York City and then Bay Shore on southern Long Island. He studied at Union College for a B.S. in Physics and Math, and at Boston University School of Law for a J.D.

Bill started work as a patent associate and then patent attorney for Polaroid. Subsequently, he worked for U.S. Steel as a patent and licensing attorney, then as assistant manager of compliance. Also in his career, he started safety, health, and environmental firms; became director of environmental compliance for CNG and Dominion Energy; founded a firm to provide oil and gas lease and litigation work to farmers, companies, and non-profits; and started a company for fueling school buses with natural gas in addition to diesel and changing both the diesel engine and transmission to handle both fuels continually for greater efficiency.

Bill worked with the PA Environmental Council educating members of industry regarding renewable energy, and has written legislation for the U.S. and PA governments about chemical regulation and compliance. Bill serves on the board of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.

Bill and Cynthia live in New Florence, and have two daughters and two grandchildren. In his spare time Bill makes cherry and walnut classical furniture, and is a beekeeper.

Chuck Duritsa (2008)

Chuck grew up in Uniontown, studied for a B.S. in Chemistry from California State University and attended graduate school at Penn State College of Civil Engineering. He is an independent environmental services professional, and previously worked as the Director of the Southwest Regional Office of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, serving the 10 counties of PA’s Southwest Region.

Chuck serves on the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, on the boards of Rivers of Steel, the Westmoreland Conservation District, the Turtle Creek Watershed Association, and the PA Association of Conservation Districts, and on the Steering Committee for the Powdermill Nature Reserve. Previously he served on the boards of the Audubon Society of Western PA and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Chuck and Judy live in Hempfield Township, and have two daughters and one son, and six grandchildren. In his spare time Chuck enjoys woodworking, vegetable gardening, and golf.

Alyson Fearon (2019)

Alyson is originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin but has lived all over the country and world and came to this area in 2013 with her husband to be near extended family. Alyson has a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Sustainability (2014) and a Master of Sustainability and Master of Business Administration (2018) from Chatham University. She possesses over 20 years of combined work experience in various roles with the military and private sector and joined ALT in 2017. Alyson is now the Senior Director of Community Conservation & Resiliency for the Allegheny Land Trust and the lead on land use research projects; new resiliency efforts like carbon credits; non-traditional conservation efforts such as community garden preservation and urban greening; and develops and presents content on these topics through various forums. She is also an International Society of Sustainability Professionals certified Sustainability Associate and works as an Adjunct Instructor for her Alma mater.

Alyson’s husband, teenaged daughter, two cats and two dogs keep her actively engaged at their new home in Murrysville. She also enjoys exploring new cuisines, working to improve habitat on their property, and generally being outdoors.

Stephanie Jellison (2020)

Stephanie grew up in Blairsville and attended Chatham University receiving a B.A. in Environmental Studies.  Stephanie served as an AmeriCorps Service Member for the Westmoreland Land Trust from October 2019 through August 2020.  The AmeriCorps position provided a positive lasting impact.  At the end of the service period, it was clear that she wanted to devote more time and energy to the Land Trust.  Stephanie currently works at Diamond Run Golf Club on the golf course maintenance crew.

Stephanie and her wife spend most of their time caring for their pets.  They have two dogs, Cindy and Buddy, and three cats, Assefa, Remus, and Paco. Buddy loves to go hiking and has spent many days on the trails at the Otto and Magdalene Ackermann Nature Preserve.  Cindy has recently started behavior training and hopes to be on trails with Buddy soon.

Karen Jurkovic (2008)

Karen grew up in Latrobe, and studied at Indiana University of PA for a B.A. in journalism and at the University of Pittsburgh for post-graduate communications study. Karen worked as a communications professional for Kennametal Inc., Seton Hill University, and Duquesne Light Company, focusing on executive, strategic, and communications of a sensitive and/or confidential corporate nature. Since 2001 she has operated hew own communications business specializing in environmental communications.

Karen currently serves as an associate director of the Westmoreland Conservation District. She is a former long-time member of the Citizens Advisory Board of Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation and the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Southwestern PA. She is currently a member of the Westmoreland Bird and Nature Club, the Westmoreland Botanical Society, and many area watershed groups. She is also a Penn State Master Gardener.

Karen lives in Greensburg, and in her spare time enjoys boxing, painting, and the challenge of growing figs.

Brian Lawrence (2014)

Brian grew up in Hempfield Township, and studied at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for a B.A. in political science and an M.S. in geography with a regional planning concentration. Brian has worked at the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, and as a legislative aide for the PA House of Representatives. Brian is currently the deputy director of the Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development, where he directs the department’s GIS mapping, graphic and data analysis, the Technical Resources & Municipal Services Program, and serves as the HOME Program coordinator.

Brian is a member of the American Planning Association, and serves on the board of the Regional Trail Corporation.

Brian and Julie live in Greensburg and have three daughters. Brian’s hobbies or interests include ice hockey, home renovation and live music.

John Lohr (2008)

John grew up in Mount Pleasant Township, and studied at the University of Pittsburgh for a B.S. in mathematics and an M.A. in education. John taught math at the Derry Area High School and the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, then worked for the United States Department of Agriculture as the executive director of the Westmoreland/Fayette Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for 37 years until his retirement in 2013.

John is a past president of the National Association of FSA County Office Employees, and received the FSA Administrator’s Award for Service to Agriculture for his work in establishing the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. John currently serves as an associate director of the Westmoreland Conservation District and works part time helping to provide retirement and benefit training, products, and services to members of the National Association of FSA County Office Employees.

John and Carol live in Norvelt, and have three children and three grandchildren.

Andrew L. Mack (2019)

Andy grew up in Lancaster Pa and is a conservation biologist with a Ph.D from the University of Miami. He has worked for Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Academy of Natural Sciences and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Andy now works for Penn State University and has taught classes at Chatham University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Penn State. His research has spanned many topics, but with a emphasis on birds and tropical rainforests.   He developed a major conservation program in Papua New Guinea.

Andy now lives near Ligonier with his wife Lydia, who is an artist. In his spare time he enjoys observing birds and nature photography.

William Mihalco (2018)

Bill grew up in North Versailles and studied at the University of Pittsburgh for a B.S. in biology, an M.S. in water pollution control (at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health) and an M.S. in civil/environmental engineering. Bill has worked for the Allegheny County Health Department, Ackenheil Engineers, and as the manager of environmental engineering for Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

Bill serves as an associate director of the Westmoreland Conservation District, a board member of the Turtle Creek Watershed Association and the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board, and is a member of the Allegheny County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Bill and Kathy live in Harrison City, and have two daughters, four grandchildren and one great niece. In his spare time Bill enjoys spending time with the family, hunting, and training his Brittany for bird hunting.

Greg Phillips (2014)

Greg grew up in Youngwood, and studied at Slippery Rock University for a B.S. in geography and rural/urban Planning. Since 1984 Greg has served as the District Manager/CEO of the Westmoreland Conservation District, an organization dedicated to the conservation, restoration, and wise use of our natural resources.

Greg is a founding member of Sewickley Creek Watershed Association, Penn’s Corner Charitable Trust, Westmoreland Cleanways, the Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, and Overly’s Charitable Trust. Greg also served on the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and the board of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, and presently serves on the board of the Regional Trail Corporation.

Greg and Leanne live in Youngwood, and have one son. In his free time Greg enjoys stream fishing for trout, gardening, landscaping, cooking, traveling, and discovering/exploring the unbeaten paths.

Joseph Romano (2019)

Joe was born in Pittsburgh and has lived in Ohio, West Virginia, and Upstate New York. He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, having earned both a B.S. in Regional Planning and a M.A. in Geography there. Joe is a retired transportation and environmental planner and a past member of the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).   He has worked in both the public and private sectors. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, he headed the Westmoreland County Transit Authority as it executive director.

Joe has served as President of the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival and the Health and Welfare Council. He has also been an active member of the Pennsylvania Planning Association and the West Virginia Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies.

He and his wife, Chris, have lived in Greensburg for over 35 years. They have one daughter.

Malcolm Sias (2008)

Malcolm grew up in Greensburg, and studied at Penn State University for a B.S in recreation and parks. Malcolm’s first professional job was as the recreation for the Red Lion Borough Recreation Commission. Since 1982 until his retirement in 2020 he worked for the Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation – first as Program Coordinator, then Planning Coordinator, then Director of Parks and Recreation.

Malcolm is a founding member of the Regional Trail Corporation, and serves on the boards of the Labor United Celebration and the Five Star and Coal & Coke Trail Chapters of the RTC. Malcolm has also served on the boards of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival, and the Westmoreland Heritage Trail Chapter of the RTC, and is active at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Greensburg.

Malcolm and Patty live in Unity Township, and have three daughters and two grandchildren. In his spare time Malcolm enjoys gardening and yard work, hunting and trapping, and traveling.

Jeff Silka (2020)

Jeff grew up in Johnstown, PA and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a B.A. in Political Science. He received a M.A. in Public Affairs from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Jeff has served local government and economic development for the past twenty-five years in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He has previously served as manager of the cities of Johnstown and Shinnston, WV and Robinson Township, and as executive director of the Somerset County Economic Development Council. Currently Jeff is serving as the manager of North Huntingdon Township in Westmoreland County.

Through his career Jeff has served on Main Street boards various service clubs and chambers of commerce. He is currently a member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.

Jeff resides in Monroeville, PA with his wife Carralee and one son. His hobbies include fishing, hiking, kayaking and Civil War battlefields and history.

Brandon Simpson (2020)

Brandon grew up near Clarion, PA and studied at California University of Pennsylvania for a M.S. in Sport and Recreation Management. After graduation Brandon worked as the Program Coordinator for Latrobe-Unity Parks & Recreation organizing, planning and implementing recreation programs. In 2013, Brandon was hired as the Program Coordinator for the Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation. In 2018, Brandon became the Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation for the Bureau and in 2020 he became Director of Parks & Recreation, overseeing 10 parks consisting of more than 4,000 acres of parkland.

Brandon serves as President of the Westmoreland County Parks & Recreation Alliance, Treasurer of the Regional Trail Corporation, and as a board member of the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival. In 2016, Brandon received certification as a parks and recreation professional through the National Recreation & Parks Association.

Brandon and his wife Alicia reside in Unity Township, and have two children. In his free time Brandon coaches baseball and football for local youth leagues. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, recreational sports, and all things outdoors.

Virginia McCracken Stump (2008)

Virginia is a lifelong resident of Westmoreland County, growing up on a small orchard in Penn Township. She attended Westmoreland County Community College, Seton Hill University, and Saint Francis University to study busienss, information management, home economics, and renesable energy. Most of Virginia’s career was with the United States Department of Agriculture, as a manager, commercial/residential loan officer, grant scorer, lead-paint risk assessor, and commercial real estate appraiser. Virginia also worked for LSI ServiceLink, overseeing 12,000 contract appraisers. She currently is a self-employed appraiser and real estate agent for RE/MAX, and is a REDFIN representative for southwestern PA.

Virginia serves on the North Huntingdon Township Planning Commission and Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County Board. Hobbies include weight lifting, kick boxing, dance, nature photography, and Pittsburgh sports.

Virginia lives in North Huntingdon and has one daughter, twin grandchildren, and two shelter cats.

James W. Thompson (2020)

James W. Thompson grew up in Ridgway, PA. He received an Associate Degree in Business Administration, majoring in accounting, from Erie Business Center. Jim joined the U.S. Air Force that year and worked for the next four years as an accounting and finance specialist, attaining the rank of Sergeant. After his Honorable discharge, Jim earned a B.S. in Economics at Edinboro University.

Jim worked for PNC Bank from 1977 until 1997, as a Vice President-Branch Manager and small business lender. After one year of working for Southwest Bank, Jim became a Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch in Greensburg. Upon merger with S&T Bank, Jim worked there until his retirement in 2013. Jim also served in the PA Army National Guard, obtaining a commission as Second Lieutenant, and was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2002 in support of the Global War on Terror. He continued his military career with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard until his retirement as a Brigadier General (PA) in 2011.

Jim has served in various capacities on the board of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the Westmoreland Economic Development Corporation – later formed as the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland. Jim served on the Board of Westmoreland-Fayette Council, Boy Scouts of America for over eleven years, progressing from Scout Leader to Vice President of Finance, Silver Beaver Award. He also served over twenty years as a member of Rotary International, as President of the Jeannette Club, and Board Member of the Greensburg Club, receiving the Paul Harris Fellow award. Jim has served for the past twenty plus years as Treasurer of the 28th Signal Society and Co-Chair of the annual Golf Committee. The Society recently donated $7,000 to Southwest PA Veterans Home, and has also made three consecutive annual donations of $3,000 to PA Wounded Warriors.

Jim has been married to the former Rhea Jean Wile since 1971. They have three grown children: Jennifer Lott, James W. Thompson II and Emily Thompson. Jim and Rhea have four grandchildren. Jim is a hunter and fisherman, and also enjoys golf and bowling.

Theo van de Venne (2015)

Theo grew up in the Netherlands and studied at the Delft Technological University for an M.S. in mechanical engineering. He worked at Fokker Aircraft, then emigrated to the U.S. to work at Boeing and study at the University of Washington for an M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics.  Theo then worked in the nuclear division of Westinghouse where he held various engineering and project management positions until his retirement in 1996.

Theo has served on the Murrysville Planning Commission and Murrysville Council, and on the boards of the Westmoreland Conservancy, the Murrysville Community Library and its Foundation, the Murrysville Economic and Development Council, and Friends of Murrysville Parks.

Theo and Pia live in Murrysville, and have three sons and two grandchildren. In his spare time, Theo enjoys woodworking and nature photography.

John Ward (2008)

John grew up in Oakmont, and studied at Washington & Jefferson College for a B.A. in political science and at Duquesne University School of Law for a J.D. During school, John’s summer employment included work at Edgewater Steel Company, and teaching English Conversation in South Korea. John served on active duty in the U.S. Army as legal assistance officer, trial counsel and Instructor at the John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance and Military Institute. John has practiced law as an associate at O’Connell, Silvis & Godlewski, as associate and then partner at Costello & Berk, and presently as partner at Ward & Christner, P.C.

John has been active on many boards, including United Way of Westmoreland County, Washington & Jefferson College, Westmoreland County Parks & Recreation Citizens Advisory Board, the Greater Greensburg Jaycees, Special Summer Olympics, and Mountain View Rotary. John has also helped the Regional Trail Corporation, the Westmoreland County Literacy Council, and the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival.

John and Pat live in Unity Township and have four sons, two daughters, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time John enjoys traveling and reading history.