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GSWPA honors local community leader at annual Awards of Distinction dinner


Johnstown, Pa.—Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) honors outstanding service and leadership to the Johnstown community at the annual Awards of Distinction dinner on Monday, April 1, 2019, at the Sunnehanna Country Club, 1000 Sunnehanna Drive, Johnstown, at 6:15 p.m. 

This event has honored men and women from the Johnstown area for their efforts in the community for the past 42 years. The 2019 recipient of the Joyce M. Murtha Excellence in Community Service Award is Mike Kane, president of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

Kane was chosen for this award for inspiring the Johnstown area to build a sustainable future through his leadership at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. His work demonstrates that the community can continue to move forward by investing in the local area and its youth.

In 2018, the Community Foundation awarded over $5 million in charitable distributions, including over $800,000 in scholarships to young people, primarily in Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties. Kane’s leadership of the Community Foundation was essential to acquiring funds for community projects, such as Johnstown Vision2025, Whitewater Park in Tire Hill, the Sandyvale Memorial Garden and Greenhouse, Artworks in Johnstown, and the Center for Metal Arts.

GSWPA welcomes keynote speaker Retired USAF Colonel Karen A. Esaias, a trailblazer throughout her time in military service. Esaias has displayed her commitment to her country through her work in counter-terrorism and intelligence. As a member of the Veteran Community Initiatives Advisory Board, Conemaugh Valley Veterans, and the Buzz Wagner Chapter of the Air Force Association, she has provided unwavering support for the veterans of Johnstown.

Esaias has been widely recognized and honored for her service to the country and community. In 2012, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown recognized Karen as a Distinguished Alumnus, and in the same year, she was inducted into the Cambria County Veterans’ Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was inducted into the Chapel of the Four Chaplains and in 2018, she was presented with the YWCA Lady Liberty Award at the Annual Salute to Women.

"To lead in a community it’s critical to demonstrate adaptability and perseverance for impactful change,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of GSWPA. “Mike Kane and Colonel Esaias embody these traits and are role models for showing girls how one person can create change.”

This event is presented by PNC Bank. Platinum sponsors for the event include GEICO, UPMC Altoona, and UPMC Health Plan.

Proceeds from the event support the Girl Scouts’ mission to develop courage, confidence and character in girls and to inspire the next generation of young women leaders. Visit for more information.