Annual Awards of Excellence

ACHIEVA's 2018 Annual Awards of Excellence is at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at the Sheraton, Station Square, Pittsburgh. Should you wish to receive an invitation, please contact Peggie Watson at 412.995.5000 x420 or

Congratulations to the 2018 honorees:

Advocacy - Mary Anderson Hartley
Honoree demonstrates exemplary accomplishments in advocacy either individual or systemic, information sharing and education that supports the empowerment of people with disabilities and their family members.

Marsha S. Blanco Excellence in Community Leadership - Nancy Thaler
Named in honor of ACHIEVA’s long-time president and retired CEO.  Nominees should demonstrate an exceptional, proven record of leading the way for people with disabilities and their families. 

Community Awareness - Sean and Mandi Casey - Miracle League of the South Hills
Honoree demonstrates commitment to creating and promoting an inclusive and welcoming environment in all areas of community life for people with disabilities and their families.

Employment - Oxford Development Company - Joseph G. Piccini, VP Property Management
Honoree demonstrates excellence in providing competitive - integrated employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities.      

Family Supports - Christina Abernethy
Honoree demonstrates accomplishment in supporting family members who have loved ones with disabilities.

Legal Services - Carlson Lynch Sweet Kilpela & Carpenter
Honoree is an attorney, law firm or legal department who have used their professional skills to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

Yvonne Zanos Excellence in Media - Jennifer Szweda Jordan - Unabridged Press
Honoree demonstrates commitment in reporting issues that are important to people with disabilities and their families.

Professional Service - Dr. Robert Arnhold, Ph.D. - Slippery Rock University
Nominee demonstrates exemplary use of professional skills to strengthen ACHIEVA as an agency or strengthen the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Joe Ott Award - Brian Long, Chairman, Seubert & Associates
Named in memory of a long-time volunteer and past ACHIEVA Board chair who exemplified outstanding leadership. Nominees should demonstrate outstanding vision, volunteer leadership and generosity of spirit.

Tony Leech Award - Lydia Wert
Named in memory of a past ACHIEVA Board chair and one of the organization’s most inspiring volunteers and leaders. The Tony Leech Award is a $1,000 gift awarded to an individual with a disability who has leadership qualities and strength of spirit, as was admired in Tony.

Sattler Humanitarian Award - Michael Dever, Esq.
ACHIEVA’s highest honor, the Sattler Humanitarian Award is named for the late Sara and Leo Sattler and is given to volunteers who have made continuous, outstanding contributions on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The nominee should demonstrate leadership skills, community involvement and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.

Cecil & David Rosenthal Community Award -  Honored Posthumously as the Recipients of the Inaugural Community Award - Cecil and David Rosenthal
Named in memory of Cecil and David Rosenthal. The Cecil and David Rosenthal Community Award is a $1,000 gift awarded to an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability who - by virtue of how they live their life - has embraced their community and their community has embraced them as so admired in both Cecil and David.

ACHIEVA strives to support and empower individuals with disabilities and their families, making it our mission to create a community where disability is a distinction that makes no difference.  We make it our responsibility to encourage those in the community who advocate for the same mission as ACHIEVA. 

The 2017 honorees:

Excellence in Advocacy
PA Health Access Network (PHAN)

Excellence in Community Awareness
Bruce Sickler, President, American Airlines, Abilities Employee Business Resource Group

Excellence in Employment - Iron City Workplace Services (ICWS), Phil Sonnenklar, President

Excellence in Family Supports - Claudia Stoner and Grant Stoner

Excellence in Legal Services - Carol Horowitz, Esq., Disability Rights Pennsylvania


Excellence in Legislative - PA State Representative Dom Costa 

Yvonne Zanos Excellence in Media - Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, HBO Vice News (Accepted by Nancy Murray)

Excellence in Professional Service - Dr. Rory Cooper, Director, University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL)


Excellence in Volunteerism - Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA)

Joe Ott Award - Chaz Kellem

Tony Leech Award - Paul Cline

Sattler Humanitarian Award - Beth Fulena, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic 


Marsha S. Blanco Excellence in Community Leadership Award – named in honor of ACHIEVA’s long-time president and retired CEO.  Nominees should demonstrate an exceptional, proven record of leading the way for people with disabilities and their families.