Carlow University Names Five Alumni as its 2018 Carlow Laureates

Carlow University has named five alumni its 2018 Carlow Laureates, the highest alumni honor the university can bestow.

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Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations April 24, 2018
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Carlow’s Most Prestigious Alumni Honor Will Be Awarded on Friday, May 11, 2018

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University has named five distinguished alumni as its 2018 Carlow Laureates, the university’s most prestigious alumni award.  The Laureates will be honored during a special luncheon at the Duquesne Club on Friday, May 11, 2018, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

“Carlow Laureates are alumni whose work, thought, and action demonstrate the highest standards of professional accomplishment and leadership, whether it is in their chosen discipline, in academics, or through community service,” said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, president of Carlow University.  “Recipients of this award are lasting tributes to their own professional excellence, the transformational education they received at Carlow, and the dynamic environment which helped to fuel their ambitions and their desire to make a difference in the best ways they can.”

Carlow University honors five alumni, one of which is a graduate of the last decade. The Young Laureate Award recognizes individuals who are rising stars in their field, and standing out from their peers.

The 2018 Carlow Laureates are: 

Sandra Bihary-Waltz, DBA©, MSN, RN, class of 1980, is a consultant and leader in pharmaceutical industry regulatory affairs and business management, with a focus on new drug development and regulatory strategy. A native of Penn Hills, she has lived in Delaware since 1981. She has held national and global leadership positions with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Otsuka, a Japanesekeiretsu with a global business in pharma, and was vice president of Global Regulatory Affairs at Idis Pharma (now Clinigen).  After Idis, she joined Conceptual Mindworks, Inc., as a contract consultant to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is part of Health and Human Services.

Sherry Konick Hoback, MBA, MSN, RN, class of 1996, is the president and chief executive officer of Tampa Family Health Centers, Inc., the second largest not for profit federally qualified healthcare center in Florida, and among the top seven percent in the nation. She also serves on the board for Healthy Start and Health Choice Accountable Care Organization, and is co-author of Report Writing and Case Analysis and LNC Essentials.

John O’Donnell, Dr PH, RN, MSN, CRNA, CHSE, class of 1983, is professor and chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia and director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the University of Pittsburgh. His other role at Pitt is that of the associate director at WISER, the Winter Institute for Simulation Education, which is an internationally renowned simulation center.  He has served on the National Anesthesia Safety Foundation Board from 2003 to 2015, and was recently appointed by Governor Tom Wolfe to his second term on the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing. He has published numerous books and articles and has been the principle investigator for multiple educational and research grants.

Diana Lynn Pakstis, MBA, BSN, RN, class of 1988 and 1998, is the Divisional Operations and Transplant Program Director the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh. Originally a business management graduate, she worked in the business world before feeling the call to nursing.  She earned her associate degree in nursing from CCAC and her BSN from Carlow in 1998. After graduation, she worked in clinical research, first at Contract Research Organization, Baller Research, and then at the University of Pittsburgh, as senior research review coordinator/manager of the Institutional Review Board (IRB).  After leaving the IRB, she developed a translational research program for the Division of Infectious Diseases’ transplant program, received several promotions before assuming her current role.

The Young Laureate Award

LaTrenda Leonard-Sherrill, MBA, class of 2012, is a consultant, entrepreneur, and principal at Pursuant, where she uses innovative and creative methodology to assist organizations in building equity and creating access for the underrepresented in the community.  Some of past and current community partners she has worked with include Remake Learning, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Health Department, YouthPlaces, the Heinz Endowments, and the Pittsburgh Promise to name just a few. She has served as deputy chief of education in the office of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, and has helped to transform summer youth employment in the city. She serves on multiple boards in the Pittsburgh region, and is active in a number of community organizations. 

In addition to being honored at the luncheon on May 12, the Carlow Laureates will take part in Carlow’s commencement ceremony taking place at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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