WHIRL Magazine’s 7th Annual Couples Who Make a Difference

We report on nearly 2,000 events annually at WHIRL Magazine, from small neighborhood fundraisers, to business networking events, to major non-profit fundraising galas. And every time, we meet new people who are working hard for the causes they love. We take note of everyone we encounter, paying special attention to the couples who are joined in their commitment to community service.

Here are our 2011 Couples Who Make A Difference in Western Pennsylvania. We are honored to recognize these special people who are giving their time, energy, and funds to create positive changes for all of us. Read on, and be inspired!

By Lauren Mifsud / Photography by Megan Wylie Ruffing / Art Direction by Mackenzie L. Hoops


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“For us, Pittsburgh is real, it’s authentic, it has history. Along with the sports, arts and culture here, I believe that even though it’s a city, it has known how to stay small in the right ways.” — Susan McGalla

For the past two years, the McGallas have chaired the Hillman Cancer Center Gala, one of the largest grossing philanthropic events of the year. Susan is also a University of Pittsburgh trustee and is on the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Council.

The McGallas support the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Susan was recently announced as the new CEO of Wet Seal, Inc., and Steve runs a wealth management practice with his partner UBS Financial Services.

“Find something that you’re passionate about, and don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s important to know that you are making a difference,” Susan says.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“Volunteering and supporting these organizations is our way of giving back.” — Colleen Travis

As the 2010 chairs of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake Soiree and Pointe in Time Ball, the couple helped to raise $330,000 to benefit the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s main stage productions and youth education initiatives.

The pair supports Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, POISE Foundation, WQED, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Light of Life Rescue Mission, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Colleen volunteers in the Pittsburgh community, and Denny is a tax attorney and Principal at Travis Wealth Management Strategies.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“Pittsburgh has a wonderful dining scene. There are numerous restaurants and bars doing some really progressive and innovative things, and it’s only getting better.” — Allen Chen

Vicky and Allen are the owners of Tamari Restaurant, and they are impacting the burgeoning dining scene around Pittsburgh both through their work and in their passion for giving back to the community.

The couple supports the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Grow Pittsburgh, and Share Our Strength.

“We have a vested interest in making Pittsburgh the best it can be. Whether it’s giving back to community organizations or supporting local businesses, we’re committed to the advancement of the community,” says the couple.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“It is important to give back to the community because it fulfills me personally, and it helps to ground my values and teach my children the importance of thinking of others.” — Gretchen Busquets

The Busquets are regular donors to some of the most pet-friendly charities and organizations around town, including the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and the Animal Rescue League. Gretchen, as part of the Parents’ Association for Winchester Thurston, helps to organize the funding of education scholarships to 33 percent of students attending the school.

The duo supports Foundation Fighting Blindness, Animal Friends, Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Light of Life Rescue Mission, and Winchester Thurston School.

Gretchen is a full-time volunteer and mom, and Miguel is an owner and partner of Associates in Ophthalmology and the Director of both the Division of Clinical Research and The Vitreoretinal Fellowship Program.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“I take a lot from Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh offers a lot to us, so it’s a pleasure to do something like give back to the city and the community that gives us so much.” — Tim McVay

The couple recently chaired Family House’s Vino at the Casino benefit. David is a trustee for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Tim is on the board of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and with the help of his mother, Mary, is chairing the upcoming Civic Light Opera Guild’s Pink Frolic Ball, Glama Rama.

The pair supports Family House, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and Civic Light Opera.

Tim is Deputy Counsel for the Judicial Automation with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and David is the Assistant Vice President of PNC Bank’s Private Client Group.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“People care about their neighbors in Pittsburgh. We love the strong family traditions and generational ties throughout the city.” — Dara Henne

The Hennes serve on the boards of some of the most recognized organizations in Pittsburgh. Dara is on the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Ambassadors Board, the Board of Directors of Foxwall EMS, and the St. Margaret Foundation’s Community Board. John is on the Board of Directors for the Imani Christian Academy, Coalition for Christian Outreach and Jewelers of America.

The Hennes support numerous local organizations including Coalition for Christian Outreach, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, Imani Christian Academy, Little Sisters of the Poor, The Children’s Home, and The Pittsburgh Project.

Dara is an attorney, currently serving as full-time mom to the couple’s four sons, and John is the president of Henne Jewelers.

“By giving back to the community, we are able to demonstrate for our sons that the best way to feel happy and content in life is to give of yourself,” Dara says.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“We love the people in this town. They stick here, they’re very prideful of their town, and everyone in Pittsburgh is as an ambassador of their town across the world.” — Dave Hammer

The Hammers are passionately involved with Genesis of Pittsburgh, an adoption agency and education source for young mothers in high school.

The pair actively supports Genesis of Pittsburgh, Auberle, and a variety of community and non-profit organizations supported by Huntington Bank such as the Huntington Kids’ Club.

Janet is an advocate and volunteer for many community organizations, and Dave is the president of Huntington Bank in the Pittsburgh Region.

“If you look around your own community, church, and schools, in every nook and cranny of this city there are people in need,” Janet says.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“Try to give every day, even if it’s just a little act of kindness; pass it on.” — Dr. Lisa Cibik

Lisa is on the board of the Pittsburgh Opera and the Audia Caring Heritage Association. The couple chaired the Pittsburgh Opera’s 2010 Maecenas Gala and has been invited to chair the 2011 event as well.

The couple supports Pittsburgh Opera, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The Pittsburgh Oratory, and Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.

Lisa is an owner and partner of Associates in Ophthalmology and the Medical Director of Associates in Surgery Center, and Bernie is an executive for PJ Dick and Trumbull Corporation.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“Everything about the city is so special, but no matter where you go, you can never top the people in Pittsburgh.” — Laura Penrod Kronk

Laura is a volunteer president for the Ladies Hospital Aid Society and is on the Board of Urban Impact Pittsburgh, the JEwish Healthcare Foundation, Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation, The Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, Saltworks, Pittsburgh Serving Leaders, and the Pittsburgh Opera.

The duo supports the Ladies Hospital Aid Society, Urban Impact Pittsburgh, Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania, and Communities in Schools.

Laura is a dedicated community volunteer, and Claude is the retired President and CEO of J&L Specialty Steel.

“Pittsburgh is by far the most genuinely philanthropic city in the world. I’m touched by the level of giving across the board,” Laura says.


whirl magazine couples who make a difference

“It’s an affordable city, and everyone comes together for our sports teams. People are proud to be Pittsburghers.” — Jennifer Golen

The Golens, with the help of local real estate and mortgage professionals, donate thousands of dollars every month through their charity organization, Home is Where the Heart Is.

The couple formed the charity through their company Clear to Close Settlement.

The program supports Pennies from Heaven, Habitat for Humanity, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Wounded Warrior Project, Communities in Schools, and Philabundance.

“Everything you do around you comes back to you. It’s rewarding,” Jennifer says. Mark agrees: “It’s important to make sure people have a chance, so we do whatever we can to give back.”

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