By Rachel Jones | Photographs by Michael Fornataro | Art Direction by Alyssa Otto and Jason Solak
The philanthropic pairs showcased in our annual Couples Who Make a Difference feature send positive ripples out in the community and motivate others to join in the support of our great city. Each of our 12 couples brings something unique to the table, but they all have one thing in common: the need to give. “There’s such an acknowledgment of philanthropy here. It truly is the city of giving,” says Sarah Shriber, area marketing director of Omni Hotels & Resorts. “That’s what I think Pittsburgh does really well. It’s not just a city of sports. I mean, yeah, we got that. Theatre? Great food? Those are there, too. But this is a very giving town, and we’re very lucky to live here. If that’s how we’re going to compete — to see who can give the most — I’m in.”
Brandi + Tyler Kennedy
It’s Sunday afternoon at Brandi and Tyler Kennedy’s home. Kid-friendly versions of pop hits are playing on TV, their one-year-old daughter, Cookie, is crunching on fistfuls of Puffs snacks, and Brandi and Tyler have traded the glamorous ensembles they rocked during our photo shoot for comfier clothes.
Moments before we sit down for our interview, the philanthropic family posed for our annual Couples Who Make a Difference feature photo shoot. In between flashes of WHIRL Photographer Michael Fornataro’s camera, Brandi started a dance party with Cookie and their pups to “Uptown Funk” and Tyler shared the story of when a shark bit a chunk off the massive tuna he caught while fishing with Brandi’s family. (And he has the pictures to prove it!) They trade tales of tattoos and their grandparents’ legacies, and Cookie’s grandmother encourages the little one to smile for the camera. Every fun, fulfilling angle of their multi-faceted lives is accounted for.
Having all of their loves in life in one place is the main reason why the Kennedys chose to raise their daughter in Pittsburgh, where Brandi is from, instead of California, where they lived while Tyler played for the San Jose Sharks, or Ontario, Canada, where he’s originally from. “Pittsburgh has everything to offer, whatever you’re in to,” Brandi says. “He’s more outdoorsy, I’m into the arts and restaurant scene. I wanted to raise my daughter in an environment where she can know all of these opportunities that are out there in the world.”
These opportunities also include working to support the community they live in. Tyler, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2007-2011, is still very involved with the team. In addition to providing post-game insight in “Kennedy’s Corner,” Tyler works with the youth of the Penguins organization, coaching the players and supporting Little Penguins Learn to Play.
Teaming up with USA Hockey, Sidney Crosby, DICK’S Sporting Goods, CCM, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, the initiative fits over 400 participants in free, head-to-toe hockey equipment. “It’s like the coolest thing ever,” Tyler says. “When they go on the ice, we get to do a little instruction and teach them how to play.”
Giving back to local youth as a couple, The Kennedys are also involved with Lending Hearts, which strives to provide emotional and social support to children and young adults with cancer, and their families, through unique activities and community outreach.
“We’re in a position where we’re out and about, and it’s so nice to speak about something that’s really important and bring light on it,” Brandi says. “I love anything with helping children. I’ve always liked kids, but it wasn’t until I had my own that it opened up this whole new world. I just want to help children as much as possible.”
Tyler chimes in, “Growing up, Bran’, has always been involved in the community and giving back. For me, as a hockey player, you’re involved with so many things through the team. But even when I was younger — my cousin [Danielle] is mentally handicapped, and you learn a lot from having someone who is mentally challenged in your family. At a young age, I figured out how to make those kids happy and learned they’re just like everyone else. Obviously, Cookie is still young, but hopefully, she grows up knowing that, too.”
They playfully discuss what activities Cookie will get into when she does grow up, whether it’s exploring the rich culture of the city or going bow fishing in one of the three rivers. (“Who would ever think you’d have that in Pittsburgh?” Brandi says with a laugh.)
“I don’t know what my daughter’s going to be into,” Brandi concludes, “but she has a place where she can choose whatever she wants. There are plenty of options in Pittsburgh.”
Patrice + Emmai Alaquiva
With vibrant personalities that shine as bright as their smiles, it was only fitting that Patrice and Emmai Alaquiva chose WQED Studios for our photo shoot. No stranger to the set, Emmai is the president and CEO of the Emmy Award-winning, full-service multimedia company Ya Momz House, which produces high-quality and creative media for everyone from CBS-TV and UPMC, to Wiz Khalifa and the late Dr. Maya Angelou. He is also one of the directors of the Daytime Emmy Award-nominated “Gamechangers” on CBS-TV, and he combined his loves of entertainment and education to create Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K., using hip-hop and rap to teach poetry. Patrice shares the latter with her students, too, as she is the Associate Director of College Counseling at Winchester Thurston School and a writing instructor for F.A.M.E. (Fund for the Advancement of Minorities in Education). “I wear many hats, and I love that I get to do that in my roles,” Patrice says. “Through working at Winchester Thurston School and F.A.M.E., I’m able to reach and teach a wide range of students.”
Expanding their reach to helping all community members, the kind couple supports a wide range of organizations, including: Northside Narratives, Baptist Temple Church, Classrooms Without Borders, Homeless Children’s Fund, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, BMe Community, and the Urban League of Pittsburgh. “The best investment we can make as human beings is to invest in other human beings,” Emmai says. “We take, therefore we give, to allow the circle of life to rotate smoothly. My passion to give back is me realizing that there are no ‘take twos’ in life, so we have to make this take the best one yet.”
Roseanne + Dr. Mark Wholey
The home of Roseanne and Dr. Mark Wholey is as colorful as their warm personalities. From grand paintings to cool glass sculptures, the creative pieces were thoughtfully curated by Roseanne, who majored in art in college but is currently the president of Roseanne R. Wholey and Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in medical coding and billing. Her transition into the medical field connected her to the love of her life: Mark, the former director of Vascular and Neurovascular Interventions at Allegheny Health Network. He spent most of his career practicing at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Shadyside, serving as the director of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology and the chairman of the Department of Radiology, and continues to support Roseanne with the interests of the foundation to help the people of Pittsburgh through philanthropic endeavors.
“We have always supported great causes by donating through our Family Foundation,” Roseanne says. “Although this philanthropic support is helpful, there is an enormous need to help raise money at a higher level.” The Wholeys have dedicated their time to countless events in the area, including The American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, St. Lucy’s Auxiliary to the Blind’s Medallion Ball, Three Rivers Youth Nellie Awards, Pittsburgh Opera’s Diamond Horseshoe Ball, and the Fashion Africana Gala. They’ve also instilled the importance of giving back in their daughter, Lauren, who volunteered over 850 hours of service in high school and was presented at both the Medallion Ball and the Cinderella Ball. “I knew I did my job when she had the opportunity to be paid for work at a camp for children but chose to volunteer her time instead,” Roseanne says.
Ellen + Benjy Grinberg
Benjy Grinberg walks down the beautiful hallway of the Community Day School in Squirrel Hill, just as he and his brothers did from kindergarten through eighth grade. But this time, he has his wife, Ellen, by his side and their two-month-old son, Izzy — who is rocking an “I Love Music” T-shirt — in his arms. This school laid the educational foundation for who Benjy is today, instilling a passion to return the favor and help the next generation of students through the school’s music program. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve donated money and equipment for them to grow their band program and music department,” says Benjy, president of Rostrum Records. “We’re also in the middle of helping Taylor Allderdice High School — where I went to high school — build a recording studio inside the school itself.”
Ellen notes the couple strives to give back to organizations where they can make a direct, tangible difference, including the United Jewish Federation, the NAACP, the Jewish National Fund, Smile Train, Animal Friends, Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, and the Melanoma Research Alliance. The latter hits especially close to home, as Benjy’s brother was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago. Seeing the impact the organization makes in his life and the lives of other patients is incredible and continues to inspire their focus on philanthropy. “We both grew up in families where giving was very important and still is,” Benjy says. “I think we’re building on that tradition.” Ellen warmly smiles in agreement, adding, “I think no matter how fortunate you are in life, it’s important to share what you have with anyone in need.”
Charlene + Dominic Petrelli
Proud alumni of the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Charlene and Dominic Petrelli remain loyal to the institution that made them who they are today by continuing to support its educational endeavors. The Petrellis were recently honored as Distinguished Alums at the college’s 50th Anniversary Gala, and Charlene serves the school year-round as a trustee. “We live by the adage of, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” says Charlene. “We have been fortunate, both professionally and financially, and believe that sharing the benefits we’ve achieved by supporting organizations that can benefit others is just the right thing to do.”
Following the adage herself, Charlene is a board member for the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and the Pittsburgh Italian Scholarship Fund, plus a co-chair of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Spring Hat Luncheon. As the vice president and chief human resources officer of EQT Corporation, Charlene also directs funds through the EQT Foundation, which partners with communities to support initiatives in the arts, community and economic development, diversity, education, and environment.
Dominic gives back to the community as well, while also working as the National Air Space Implementation Manager of the United States Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration. Avid fans of Pittsburgh’s sports teams and cultural scene, the couple enjoys attending home games, along with performances by the Pittsburgh CLO and Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild’s jazz ensembles. “We admire the people of Pittsburgh, and how we hold onto our ethnic and family traditions while adapting to change,” Charlene says. “We’re proud of the way Pittsburgh continues to reinvent itself.”
Sarah + Doug Shriber
Ever since one of their first “dates” at a charitable event, Sarah and Doug Shriber knew they shared a mutual passion for philanthropy. “It’s exciting when you have a partner who realizes there’s something bigger in the world, too,” says Sarah, area marketing director of Omni Hotels & Resorts. While Sarah supports YWCA Center for Gender and Race Equity, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Be a Sixth Grade Mentor program (part of The Pittsburgh Promise), the Omni’s Say Goodnight to Hunger initiative with Feeding America, and national human rights campaigns, Doug dedicates himself to The Kidney Foundation, The Challenge Program, and The Pittsburgh Association. As the principal of Marbury Group, Doug also created partnerships through his work to help children have incredible experiences, such as the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC patients who go fishing with former Pittsburgh Steeler Brett Keisel and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh’s participants who ice skate with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Together, they support the JCC, and they also honor Doug’s late parents, George and Elaine Shriber, with the Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute fund and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute fund, respectively. Doug even made the ultimate donation for someone in need: a kidney, which saved his uncle’s life.
Their motivation to give back became even stronger when their son, Nathaniel, was born, inspiring them to set a positive example for the philanthropists of tomorrow. “All of it started to make a lot more sense,” Sarah says. “I get a little bit ‘cheerleader-y,’ but I feel the impact you have on young people is the most important. It has to be about the kids, education, and making sure we give people a fair shot, especially in a town where you really can have it all.”
Ella + Dr. Jeffrey Antimarino
Welcoming us into Bellissimo Plastic Surgery & Medi Spa in Shadyside, Ella and Dr. Jeffrey Antimarino give us a tour of everything from the serene patient rooms to the spacious lobby, which occasionally serves as the perfect place for hosting events. Even at their place of work, the couple finds a way to incorporate their love of charitable events! The Antimarinos are committed in their support of Women’s Health Conversations, Our Clubhouse (Pittsburgh and Westmoreland County), The Salvation Army, and others, including their own initiatives: the Implant Education and Upgrade Program, and the Breast Health Awareness Initiative.
Jeffrey, a board-certified plastic surgeon and member of the American College of Surgery, the medical director of Excela Health’s Department of Breast Reconstruction, the co-director of Excela Health’s Wound Care, a speaker/surgeon consultant with Allergen Medical, and the CEO and co-founder of Bellissimo, launched the programs to help educate breast implant patients on proper screening recommendations for aging implants and general breast health, shedding light on under-publicized yet ultra-important actions for improving overall health and wellness.
“We founded Bellissimo with a focus on directly influencing the direction of patient care for the future,” says Ella, who manages marketing and public relations at Bellissimo. “The practice reflects our belief of building relationships that revolve around trust and communication with our patients.” Building relationships throughout the city via community service and volunteer opportunities, the couple and their three children strive to make a positive impact on the Pittsburgh area and beyond. “We have determined our family motto this year to be: ‘Always look for ways to make someone’s day.’”
Dr. Edward Garofolo + Dan Rossi
Inside the beautiful home of Dr. Edward Garofolo and Dan Rossi, four happy pups were excited to greet us upon arrival for our photo shoot. Bernie, Cali, Oreo, and Petey continued to dance around the living room during our interview afterwards, lovingly snuggling up to Edward and Dan on the couch. “We’re both longtime animal lovers,” Dan says, scratching Oreo behind his ears. As the CEO of the recently merged Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center and Western PA Humane Society, Dan sees firsthand the differences animal organizations and animal rights groups can make in the lives of four-legged friends.
“Giving can happen on so many levels,” he elaborates. “Not only by writing checks, but also by volunteering and participating in events in your community.” Avid event attendees themselves, the kind couple contributes to the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, City Theatre Company, and Homewood Renaissance Association, as well as the March of Dimes and Bella’s Angels. “I feel it’s important to do anything that we can to benefit and be helpful to those in need,” says Edward, Medical Director of Partners in Health UPMC and the UPMC Walk-In Clinic / Extended Care Team in Murrysville. “I was born and raised here, so it’s nice to give back to the community I’ve always been in.” Dan, who left Pittsburgh for a brief time but “boomeranged back,” says the experience gave him a greater appreciation for the city. “The importance of community here is different than it is in other cities out there,” he says. “From our standpoint, it’s about wanting the city and the people who live here to thrive.”
Krista Voda + Phil Kelley
To say Krista Voda and Phil Kelley have racked up some frequent flier miles would be an understatement. As the host of NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR pre- and post-race coverage, Krista leads trackside shows and NBCSN’s daily in-studio show, “NASCAR America,” and anchors NBC Sports’ coverage from race tracks around the country. Phil is just as busy as an independent contractor for sports television, having covered every team in the Pittsburgh area and covering NASCAR for the last two decades. “With our jobs, we have spent time in many cities,” Krista says. “And while some cities have beautiful scenery, they can lack character. That has never been the case with ‘da Burgh. There’s a pride that comes with calling Pittsburgh home.”
Supporting their home through philanthropic endeavors, the couple remains involved with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, HEARTH, and Special Olympics of PA. Krista enjoys attending events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, while Phil, a professional tractor puller, backs organizations dedicated to agricultural efforts in Western Pennsylvania and serves on the board for The Lawrence County Fair. Together, they also donate time and resources to autism awareness. “We live in a pretty hectic world where common courtesies can sometimes feel ‘not so common,’” Krista says. “We both believe that the way to unify our communities, and in the same regards, our family, is to give back to the place we call home. It’s a lesson we are trying to pass on to our daughter, too.”
Stefania + Jeffrey Romoff
While we set up for our photo shoot at Animal Friends with Stefania and Jeffrey Romoff, Stefania makes her way to the adoptable cats behind us. She’s excited to notice that the siblings who used to share the front condo have gone to their forever home together — almost as excited as she is to hold the adorable kitten, Noel, for our photos! Committed to hands-on involvement with the nonprofit, Stefania serves on Animal Friends’ board of directors, is the Development Committee Chair, and is the Fundraising Chair for Animal Friends’ Capital Campaign. The five-year campaign aims to raise $8.5 million to build a new 18,400-square-foot Animal Wellness Center, which will be a fully equipped public spay/neuter surgery clinic. “Jeffrey and I are very invested in Animal Friends’ Capital Campaign and the Animal Wellness Center. We are also very proud to support Animal Friends in general,” says Stefania, a professional photographer and owner of four “Animal Friends alumni” cats. “We truly believe in Animal Friends’ vision of ensuring the well-being of companion animals while ending pet overpopulation, abuse, and unwarranted euthanasia.”
Jeffrey, who began his career at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973 and was named President of UPMC in 1992, and President and CEO in 2006, is also dedicated to ensuring our community members have the resources and abilities to lead happy, healthy lives. “We are not originally from Pittsburgh — Jeffrey was born in New York City and I come from Milan, Italy. But Pittsburgh is our home,” Stefania says. “Pittsburghers welcomed us and made us feel part of their community. It is only natural that we want to give back.”
Regina + Darren Beatty
When she first moved to Greensburg over 10 years ago, Regina Beatty decided the best way to get to know the area and meet new people would be to get involved in the community. As a result, her husband, Darren Beatty, general manager of Wabtec Elastomers, followed suit, and together, they strive to make a difference in their community. As the perfect, philanthropic match, the couple spends their time giving back to the picturesque city of which they both work and play. Darren serves on the Greensburg Cultural Trust board and supports Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Regina served on the board of the Greensburg Community Development Corporation for six years and is currently the finance chair for the Westmoreland Symphony.
Greensburg is different from Pittsburgh in that there’s so much overlap,” Regina explains. “There’s a lot of collaboration across community members. We’re not going to be everything for everyone. It’s about finding where you can make a difference that fits best for you.” Regina, a CFP®, a private wealth strategist with Mosiac Wealth Consulting, working with business owners and high net worth families, found her niche for giving back by partnering with the YWCA to promote financial literacy for women. And with countless charitable and cultural happenings and organizations flourishing in Greensburg and throughout Westmoreland County, Regina and Darren will always have opportunities to find the best ways to give. “There’s so much in this community, and we’re proud of it,” Darren says. “We would like for that pride to continue, and we would like for our children and grandchildren to want to remain in this area. To do that, we have to invest back into the community.”
Debra + Rep. Dan Frankel
Squirrel Hill is home for Debra and Rep. Dan Frankel. It’s where they raised their children, walk their dog, and support community organizations that make a positive impact. Dan, State Representative and Democratic Caucus Chair for the Pennsylvania House, and Debra, LCSW, a psychotherapist and committee person for the 14th Ward Democratic Committee, dedicate themselves to helping others through their careers and work with nonprofits.
“It’s important to give back to the community and help people who are less fortunate, as well as to be able to contribute to organizations that are important to our own values,” Debra says. On a local level, the couple supports Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and Equality Pennsylvania. On a larger scale, Dan serves as the chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the Pennsylvania House, the co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus in the House, and on the board of trustees for the University of Pittsburgh, while Debra works with the Veteran’s Administration to train psychotherapists on interpersonal therapy for veteran clients.
“This city has provided great opportunities for every generation of my family,” Dan says. “To see this city become revitalized and recognized as a place that’s kind of been reborn is very exciting. To be a part of that — whether it’s working in the community with nonprofit organizations that have been at the grassroots of this revitalization, or at the state level, which has been a partner in making investments with the private sector that have transformed Pittsburgh in such a dramatic way — it’s always been important to Debbie and I to be a part of that and give back to that.”