Seven alumni honored with College of the Liberal Arts awards

Alumni were honored with College of the Liberal Arts awards. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The Penn State College of the Liberal Arts honored seven alumni with careers ranging from business to government and public advocacy for their recent accomplishments in their professions and their communities.

"Our alumni are an important component of our Liberal Arts community. Their achievements in their professional and personal lives are a testament to the importance of a liberal arts education. This year’s award winners have made a transformational difference in business, government, education, nonprofit organizations and in their communities," said Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. 

Three Outstanding Alumni awards and the Chaiken Leadership Award were given by the college, and three awards honoring service were presented by the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board of Directors. The following alumni honorees are:

Kristie Pappal

Kristie Pappal, Class of 2000, Labor and Industrial Relations, received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. She is vice president of human resources for the Philadelphia Eagles. She is responsible for ensuring a positive and productive work environment for all employees and providing strategic direction, recruiting, employee relations, benefits and organizational development. 

Previously, Kristie served as director of human resources for Town Sports International (TSI), parent company of the New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington Sports Clubs. During her tenure, she oversaw HR functions for 51 fitness clubs. Kristie has earned Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification.

Kristie is on the board of the Labor and Employment Relations Alumni Program Group, and she served as a Liberal Arts mentor.

Scott Paul

Scott Paul, Class of 1989, Foreign Service and International Politics, received the Service to Penn State Award. He is president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a nonprofit, nonpartisan partnership established in 2007 to strengthen American manufacturing and jobs through effective public policies. An internship on Capitol Hill helped launch Scott’s career in policy and politics. He served on the staff of members of Congress from Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan until 2001.

Scott earned a master’s degree with honors in Security Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2004. He is a co-author of the book "ReMaking America" and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Skills Coalition.

Scott serves on the Board of Visitors for the Department of Political Science and has been an active mentor to the students. He and his wife, Ilisa Halpern Paul, support public policy internships. AAM also has provided internships for Liberal Arts students.

Michael Dinda

Michael Dinda, Class of 1982, General Arts and Sciences, received the Service to Society Award. He is chief lending officer/executive vice president for Firstrust Bank in suburban Philadelphia. A master of business administration (MBA) graduate of Temple University, he is a 28-year veteran of commercial banking.

Michael is a dedicated leader in autism awareness, fundraising and advocacy. He co-founded The Magnolia Speech School for children with autism and currently serves on the board of the Timothy School for Autistic Children, and the EASI Foundation, which supports parents of profoundly autistic children with challenging behaviors. He helped create the Philadelphia Chapter of Cure Autism Now, co-founded the Golf for Hope and spearheaded related fundraising events for various charities. 

Michael’s work has evolved from autism awareness and research, to education and more recently towards innovative community housing models for autistic adults. Michael has also been a staunch advocate and caretaker for his oldest son, John, who is autistic.

David and Carolyn Grow

David and Carolyn Grow, Class of 1962, Arts and Letters, received the Chaiken Leadership Award. They are dedicated volunteers and generous donors to the College of the Liberal Arts. Carolyn is a member of the Liberal Arts Development Council and its McCourtney Institute for Democracy Task Force.

David and Carolyn had successful careers with Eastman Kodak and Xerox Corp., respectively. David is an MBA graduate of University of Pennsylvania. Carolyn is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and earned an MBA from the University of Rochester.

The Grows provide generous research and need-based support for students and have established through their estate the David and Carolyn Grow Directorship of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics.

Tom Capello

Tom Capello, Class of 1965, Economics, received the Outstanding Alumni in Business Award. He was the Founder and President of First Capital Bank. He currently owns 1st Capital Group Inc. and is also president and principal of Bank Realty LP, based in York. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Hersha Hospitality Trust for more than 15 years, along with serving on 13 other nonprofit boards, including WITF, public broadcasting for central Pennsylvania.  

In addition, Tom is director and treasurer for the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, a nonprofit organization promoting entrepreneurship in Pennsylvania. His accomplished career in business financing also includes leadership positions at major regional banks. Tom is a graduate of Rutgers University’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking.

Tom serves as a Liberal Arts mentor and works with the small business incubation program at Innovation Park.

Joseph DeThomas

Joseph DeThomas, Class of 1973, bachelor's, and Class of 1976, graduate, History, received the Outstanding Liberal Arts Alumni Award. He accomplished a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of State, specializing in global security issues. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Estonia and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Nonproliferation, among other leading positions in several countries. 

Joe received several Department of State Superior Honor Awards and a Meritorious Honor Award for earthquake rescue work in Mexico. A distinguished graduate of the National War College, Joe also holds an MPA degree from Harvard University.

He is a Liberal Arts mentor. This fall, he will be a professor of practice in Penn State’s School of International Affairs.

Ray Lombra

Ray Lombra, Class of 1968, master's, and Class of 1971, doctorate, Economics, received the Welch Alumni Relations Award. He is senior adviser to the dean and professor of economics in the College of the Liberal Arts. He worked at the Federal Reserve but returned to campus in 1977 to join the economics faculty. He has led the college’s successful initiatives in the engagement of alumni and friends, and philanthropy.   

Ray has worked tirelessly with staff and faculty to communicate to alumni the important benefits of philanthropy on students and faculty. In 2011, Ray was the commencement speaker for the Liberal Arts ceremony. Ray and his wife, Bobbi, have made gifts to support undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences and humanities.

For more information on past and present Liberal Arts award winners, visit

Last Updated April 28, 2015