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Outstanding Alumni Lecture

The School of Labor and Employment Relations Outstanding Lecture is an annual event offered by the School and the Alumni Affiliated Program Group. The talk is open to the public.

If you would like to nominate an LER alumni for this award, please contact .

Rex Simpson

2017 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Rex Simpson '70

Rex Simpson is a 1970 Penn State Labor Studies graduate and a 1975 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School Of Law.  He joined the Penn State LER faculty in 2013 after a 40-year career in human resource management with an emphasis on labor relations and labor law.  Rex is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania as well as in California, his current home.  As a full-time LER Professor of Practice, Rex teaches a variety of online courses in labor law and human resources and was named the inaugural winner of the Kelley Willits award for excellence in online teaching in 2011.

Rex had a varied career in the private sector before joining Penn State.   He worked in human resources and employee relations in the retail industry (department stores JCPenney and Macy’s), the automotive industry (Honda), and tire manufacturing (Yokohama).  He worked in all of the core areas of HR and eventually was given responsibility for directing the entire HR operation. Along the way, he also worked as an in-house labor counsel. And prior to his time in private industry, he spent almost five years with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at its Pittsburgh Regional Office as a field attorney (his first case with the NLRB involved the Student Book Store in State College). Besides his general HR focus, Rex has done extensive labor relations work; handling organizational campaigns, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and handling arbitrations. He has also participated in several jury trials as a key witness and/or second seat counsel in Ohio, Michigan, and California for cases involving wrongful termination and sexual harassment.

At Penn State, Rex was one of the first two practitioners hired to teach a course in the School of LER’s online MPS program back in 2009.  He has also been active with the LER Alumni Board (the APG), since 2009, serving as its co chair for several years.  Rex is a proud Penn Stater and a Nittany Lion season ticket holder who makes the trek across country for two to three games a year.

He is married, with four children and resides in Huntington Beach, California.


Andrew Krafts

2016 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Andrew J Krafts '91

Andrew J Krafts is currently the Deputy Chief Counsel to National Labor Relations Board Member Lauren McFerran.  Andy has served the Agency in a variety of positions since joining its Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Branch in 1999, and has held the Deputy Chief Counsel position since 2010.  Overall, he has more than 20 years of experience in labor and administrative law and in labor relations.        

As Deputy Chief Counsel, Andy leads a team of supervisors, attorneys, and office professionals responsible for assisting Member McFerran to fulfill her duties under the National Labor Relations Act, principally to decide and issue written opinions in unfair labor practice cases and election cases.  In addition to managing that team, Andy advises Member McFerran on various institutional and personnel issues, as well as on interagency matters.  Over the past 10 years, he also has frequently represented management in collective bargaining with the unions representing the Agency's attorneys and other professionals, and on several labor-management committees designed to informally resolve workplace concerns.      

Andy's previous experience includes roles as Assistant General Counsel at the United Steelworkers Union and as an attorney for the Communications Workers of America.  He graduated in 1991 from Penn State with a degree in Labor and Industrial Relations and received his law degree in 1994 from The George Washington University School of Law.

Andy resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Tina M. Ebert ('92), and their two wonderful daughters, Sarah and Hannah, both of whom are already huge Penn State fans!

2015 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Jackie Brova '75

Jackie Brova is currently an independent HR Consultant having recently retired from Church & Dwight Co., Inc.* as the Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources where she held that position for 9 years. She has 40 years of human resources, employee relations and labor relations experience.

As Executive Vice President of HR at Church & Dwight, Jackie lead a global team responsible for leadership development, talent acquisition, compensation, benefits, HRIS, employee relations, and employee communications. Reporting to the CEO and Chairman, she worked closely with the Church & Dwight Board of Directors on executive compensation and governance matters.  

Her previous experience includes roles as General Manager of Corporate Compensation and Benefits as well as Manager, Union Relations at Bethlehem Steel. She graduated in 1975 from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Labor Studies and received an MBA from Moravian College. She also attended the University of Virginia’s Executive Development Program at the Darden School. 

Jackie currently is a member of the Labor Studies and Employment Relations Affiliate Alumni Board at Penn State and is a Board Member and Trustee for ArtsQuest, a non-profit music and arts organizations located in Bethlehem, PA. 

She was recognized by the University in 2012 with the Liberal Arts Alumni Society – Service to Pennsylvania State Award. She also established in the names of her parents, Victor & Joyce Brova, a financial needs based scholarship for students in the Liberal Arts. 

*Church & Dwight Co., Inc. is a consumer package goods company, with $3.5B in annual sales and a Market Cap of over $10B. Founded over 150 years ago, CHD employees 4,200 employee in 8 countries. 

Brands in the portfolio include Arm & Hammer, First Response, Orajel, Trojan, Nair,  OxiClean, Spinbrush, Li’l Critters. 


For some of Jackie's take aways from the talk please click here.

2014 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Adam Taliaferro'05

On a Saturday in September, with less then two minutes remaining in Penn State’s game
against rival Ohio State, Adam Taliaferro made a routine helmet-to-helmet tackle that
would change the course of his life. The Voorhees, N.J. native had broken his neck -- the
same injury suffered by actor Christopher Reeve.


Adam lay motionless on the field. Given only a three percent chance of ever walking
again by medical personnel, Adam had very different ideas and today he not only walks,
but he walks well.


"Adam is our miracle," says legendary Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. Adam is the
personification of triumph over tragedy, an inspiration to his teammates, his Penn State
family, and anyone who hears his story.


Prior to his injury, Adam was a National Football League prospect. A cornerback, he was
ranked the seventh best high school player in the nation when he graduated as a National
Honor Society member. Offered scholarships to numerous schools, Adam chose to play
for Penn State and Coach Paterno.


The talented, personable and vibrant young man and his family would have nothing of
the devastating diagnosis after he was injured on Sept. 23, 2000. Through his incredible
determination and courage, tireless rehabilitation and desire to return to a normal life,
Taliaferro was incredibly walking on his own five months after his injury.
A little more than 11 months after his horrific injury, Taliaferro completed one of the
major goals he had established soon after the injury. On September 1, 2001, he walked,
then skipped and jogged onto the Beaver Stadium turf in front of a jubilant record crowd
of more than 109,000, leading the Nittany Lions onto the field against the Miami
Hurricanes.


Though playing football was removed from Adam's future, his inspirational tale of
recovery has been followed throughout the nation, leading authors Scott Brown and Sam
Carchidi to chronicle his remarkable story in their 2001 book, Miracle in the Making.
Taliaferro began taking a full academic course load again at Penn State in the 2001 Fall
semester while continuing his rehabilitation. He remained a part of the Penn State
football team as a student-assistant coach and received the Maxwell Football Club's Spirit
Award, given to a college football player who displays courage and heart in overcoming
adversity. Adam also was the recipient of the Bob Mitinger Award, presented to a Penn
State senior who personifies courage, character and social responsibility. Adam was also
chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
In May 2005 Adam walked across the stage and was awarded his Penn State degree in
labor and industrial relations. In May 2008, Taliaferro earned his law degree from the
Rutgers School of Law-Camden. He worked as an attorney for the last five years and
recently accepted a position with Bristol Myers Squibb handling State Government
Affairs. In November 2011, Adam was elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders of
Gloucester County, New Jersey and continues to hold office. He was also elected in the
Spring of 2012 to the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, The Pennsylvania State
University.


Within months of his injury, Adam and his family created the Adam Taliaferro
Foundation, which provides emotional, financial and educational assistance to individuals
who suffer catastrophic head or spinal cord injuries. The foundation also provides
support for research and prevention of those injuries. Adam and the foundation host a
high school all-star game every summer titled the “Adam Taliaferro Classic.”
The foundation has raised over $1,000,000 to assist individuals and their families who
have suffered devastating injuries similar to Adam’s.


The Philadelphia Sportswriters Association recognized the efforts of Adam and his
foundation in 2009, as he was presented the Humanitarian of the Year Award for his
philanthropic efforts.


Through his foundation, Adam continues to provide hope for so many people who feel
that there is no reason to hope at all. Adam says it best in saying, “I’ve been blessed in
more ways than one…and it’s now my mission to share my blessings

 Mary MacDonald

2013 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Mary Lehman MacDonald '82

Mary Lehman MacDonald is director of AFT Healthcare, the health care division of the American Federation of Teachers, representing nearly 70,000 nurses and health professionals and 1.5 million teachers, educational support staff, state and municipal employees and other consumers of health care. She is involved in the development of organizational policy related to health care. Prior to joining the AFT, Ms. MacDonald worked for the national AFL-CIO as Assistant Director of the AFL-CIO Community Services Department and as staff for the AFL-CIO Labor Law Task Force. She also served on the faculty of the labor extension division of Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  Ms. MacDonald received her BA in Labor Studies from Penn State University and her MS in Labor Relations from Cornell.

Nik Shah

2012 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Nik Shah '95

Since joining PricewaterhouseCoopers in March 2000, Nik has developed and implemented strategic human resource programs that attract, retain and motivate employees and align their objectives with the overall strategy of the organization.

He has held human resource positions in a number of leading corporations, including Westinghouse Electric,, CBS Broadcasting, and Amazon.com.  Nik has also consulted with a number of leading clients including Peoplesoft, Sunrise Senior Living, Capital One, AARP, BASF, Red Hat, Morgan Stanley, Xerox, AES Power Corporation, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, World Bank and many more. 

Nik is a 1995 graduate and received Bachelor of Science degrees in both Labor and Industrial Relations and Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  He also holds a Master in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.  Nik is a Certified Compensation Professional from the World at Work Association and is an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management, IHRIM (HR Technology) and various local HR organizations.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Nik has been an active alumni supporter of our School for many years. He has served as a mentor and has been a frequent speaker in LER classes and our student organizations.  He has established the Dilip and Bharati Shah Award honoring his parents and has been an active member of the LER Alumni Program Group since 2005. It is this combination of professional accomplishments and dedication to helping the School that led the LER Alumni Board to honor Nik as the 2012 Outstanding LER Alumni.

Joseph Costello

2011 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Joseph Costello '78

Joseph J. Costello is the practice group leader of Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice and Morgan Lewis Resources, the firm's workplace training, employment audit, and counseling enterprise. He is responsible for the strategic and day-to-day management of these operations across each of the firm's offices. In his legal practice, Mr. Costello represents employers in a broad range of employment litigation matters and administrative agency proceedings, and provides counseling in connection with human resources and benefit-related decisions.

Mr. Costello regularly handles complex class actions and litigation involving multiple parties. These matters have included ERISA actions challenging the prudence of benefit plan investment decisions, the legality of plan design decisions, and the adequacy of fiduciary disclosures; employment discrimination cases under Title VII, the ADEA, and state law; and trade secret and noncompete agreement disputes. Mr. Costello has also advised employers on legal and practical issues associated with reduction-in-force programs, mergers and acquisitions, workplace investigations, employee discipline, accommodations and leave under the ADA and FMLA, and union-management relations. He has represented employers before various administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board.

From 2004 through 2012, Mr. Costello was named one of the leading U.S. lawyers for employment law by Chambers USA, based on the views of clients, peers, and other industry professionals. Chamberscalled Mr. Costello "one of the premier ERISA attorneys in the country" and noted that his clients value his ability to "reduce the subject to a user-friendly form so no one comes out of a meeting not understanding."

Mr. Costello received a B.A. in Labor Studies from Penn State in 1978 and a Master of Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell in 1980. After working as a labor relations representative for Bethlehem Steel Corporation for two years, he attended Stanford Law School where he received his J.D. in 1985. He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits.

Charlene Binder

2010 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Charlene Binder '82

Charlene Binder is an accomplished leader and human resources professional whose career includes top roles at Fortune 500 and leading consumer packaged goods companies, such as Hershey, Dannon, and Unilever where she was instrumental in implementing and driving positive change to enhance profitability, sales growth, and employee engagement on a global scale.   
For the past two and a half years, Charlene was the Chief People Officer for The Hershey Company where she was responsible for global human resources, including talent and organization capability, total rewards, compliance and employee systems, values and culture; corporate communications, corporate social responsibility and flight operations. Most notable among her accomplishments was the transformation of the Human Resources organization where she redesigned the roles, governance, technology and overall Human Resources culture on a global scale.

Scott Buchheit

2009 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Scott Buchheit '73

Scott Buchheit holds degrees from the Cornell ILR School and the Temple University School of Law. He has been a full-time arbitrator for over 25 years and is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, a designation that places him among the top practitioners in the arbitration field. Scott spoke to a packed house of 180 students, faculty, and alumni on his successful career as an arbitrator and on career possibilities for LER students in the field of dispute resolution.

Doug Allen

2007 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Doug Allen '73

Doug Allen is the Executive Director of the Screen Actors Guild, AFL-CIO, and was formerly the Assistant Executive Director of the NFL Players Association for almost twenty-years. Allen was recently named to this high-profile position following his career as Gene Upshaw's deputy with the NFLPA, where he took the lead in developing the highly successful Players Inc. collective licensing program. Doug has been an Alumni Program Group (APG) Board member since its inception over ten years ago and has served two terms as the Board's president. Doug will be giving the Outstanding Alumni lecture, entitled "Why Actors and Athletes Need Unions," on Thursday, November 1st, at 8:00 PM in 121 Sparks Building at University Park.

Karen Thornton

2005 Outstanding Alumni Lecture 

CDR Karen Thornton '75

Senior Systems Analyst, Applied Engineering Management, Fairfax, VA.

Ms. Thornton currently works as a senior systems analyst in the corporate world, but she began her career in the Navy. After graduating from Penn State, she entered Officer Candidate School in the Armed Forces. After an initial assignment to the Naval Communications Facility at Guam, she was one of the first women to attend flight school, and was assigned to her first squadron as a Helicopter Combat Logistics pilot, flying the H46 Sea Knight helicopter. She was the first female in the HC-6 squadron, located at Norfolk Naval Air Station, where she spent time slinging heavy cargo loads between ships at sea.

Over the course of her tour in HC-6, she was very successful and landed a job in Washington as a detailer, a labor management position, and was rated as the number one aviation detailer for her military rank. Following her Washington assignment, Ms. Thornton went back to sea flying as a Detachment Officer-in-Charge (OIC) supporting a scientific research vessel. Her final Navy tour was back in Washington working in the Navy International Program Office, working on policy for foreign military sales. Ms. Thornton retired from the Navy in 1995.

Ms. Thornton's fist job in the corporate world was as a consultant to the Agency for International Development with their business reengineering efforts. After a very successful two years, she elected to join a small female-owned software engineering firm, Applied Engineering Management, where she became proficient in Oracle database management and now works on the database that keeps track of all current Navy personnel and dependents and Navy Civil Service personnel and is the data source for budget decisions in the Navy. She also manages approximately 15 personnel that support a number of contracts at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (the SEABEES).

Thomas Giotto

2004 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Thomas S. Giotto

 
phone (412)392-2068

Thomas S. Giotto is a member of the Board of Directors at Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling and serves as Secretary of the Firm. He is a member of the Firm’s Labor and Employment practice group.

Concentrating his entire practice on representing management in all aspects of labor, employment and employment-related litigation, Mr. Giotto counsels clients in a wide diversity of industries and business sectors.

Mr. Giotto received his B.A. degree in both Labor Studies and General Arts and Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University. He received his J.D. degree from Duquesne University School of Law, evening division, while working for U.S. Steel Corp. in Labor Relations. Mr. Giotto was named one of the top employment law attorneys in both the 2005 Client’s Guide of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers 2005.

J Hamilton

2003 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

J. Stephen Hamilton '67

President and CEO of Chemlogix, LLC

Talk Title "It 's Not Who You Know, But How You Treat Them"

Steve Hamilton is President & CEO of ChemLogix which provides integrated logistics solutions for the Chemical Industry. Prior to ChemLogix he was President & CEO of GATX Chemical Logistics. Leaman Logistics, Inc. was acquired by GATX Corporation September 1999. Previous to GATX Chemical Logistics, he served as President and CEO of Leaman Logistics, Inc a wholly owned subsidiary of Chemical Leaman Corporation specializing in third party logistics services for the chemical industry. Mr. Hamilton joined Chemical Leaman in the summer of 1990 as Vice President, National Accounts, and was named Vice President, Sales & Marketing in 1993. Prior to his arrival at Chemical Leaman, he was with PQ Corporation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania for 16 years, most recently as the National Sales Manager. At PQ Corporation, a medium-sized chemical company, he held positions as Industrial Relations Manager, Plant Manager, Product Manager and Business Group Manager before being named the National Sales Manager. Previous to PQ Corporation, he served as the Labor Relations Manager for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mr. Hamilton attended St. Joseph's University M.B.A. Program. He also served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and is a decorated Vietnam Veteran. Penn State University presented Steve with the Pashek Award for Distinguished Service to the Logistics Profession on April 17, 1998.

Jim Peck

2002 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Jim Peck '71

I was born in 1949 in Danville, PA. Was brought up mostly in York, PA. Graduated from York Suburban High School in 1967. Received an Associate Degree from York College Of Pennsylvania. Transferred to Penn State and received a BA in 1971. Got married that summer, and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in September 1971. Completed my course work for a MS in August 1972. My degree was actually conferred in May of 73. I began working as a Field Examiner at the Philadelphia Office of the NLRB in November 1972. I became a supervisor in 1979, the position I remain in as of this day. My wife Patty and I live in Media, PA with our 2 sons. Jamie is a senior at Penn State majoring in Secondary Education. He is currently student teaching in Bucks county. David is a junior at Strath Haven High School in Media.

Doreen Davis

2001 Outstanding Alumni Lecture

Doreen Davis '74

Former Chancellor of Philadelphia Bar to Address the future of Employment Law.

Doreen S. Davis '74, Former Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and partner of Morgan Lewis, one of the 10 largest US law firms, delivered the Labor Studies and Industrial Relations Distinguished Alumni lecture at 8pm, Thursday, Oct. 18th, in Alumni Hall at the HUB-Robeson Cultural Center.

The topic of her presentation was "Is There a Future in Traditional Labor Law?" Davis received her bachelor's degree from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in labor studies and received her law degree from Temple University in 1978, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is listed in Best Lawyers of America and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

 

2000 Thomas Stripay, '69, Sr. VP HR, Sumitomo Corporation of America


1999 Catherine Rein, '65, President and CEO, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co


1998 Michael McCloskey, '83, Managing Partner & President, Chartwell Investment Partners


1997 William J. Kirby, '59, Former VP, FMC Corporation