Aug. 28, 2007
Five graduates of HACC recently were honored with this year's Circle of Distinction given by the college's Alumni Association.

Joan L. Erney of Harrisburg, Carolyn Lee Spalding DeLoe of Gettysburg, James D. Curran of Wormleysburg, Frank A. Conte of Mechanicsburg and Rep. Ronald I. Buxton of Harrisburg received the award at a dinner held at the C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center on the Harrisburg Campus.

"For more than four decades, the contributions of HACC alumni have significantly impacted the quality of life for central Pennsylvania residents," said Dr. Edna Baehre, HACC president. "It is with pleasure that we recognize these individuals for their successes, and humbly acknowledge the role their experiences at HACC played in their lives."

Lynne E. Dillard, director of Alumni Affairs and HACC Foundation Special Projects, added highlighting the accomplishments of alumni "gives current students inspiration and hope."

Welcoming remarks were made by Nancy Rocky, vice president, HACC College and Community Development, who noted the recipients are the second group of alumni to be honored since the award was established in 2005. "The Circle of Distinction recognizes alumni whose professional pursuits have demonstrated the quality, values and skills that were cultivated from their education at HACC," Rockey said.

Kimberly Grundon, president of the HACC Alumni Association, recognized the honorees, noting the event "provides an opportunity for alumni to become informed on changes at the college and opportunities that are available to become involved as alumni of HACC."

After the dinner that followed, Baehre and Grundon presented commemorative crystal plate awards to the recipients.

The honorees:

Joan L. Erney (Human Services Career, 1983)

As deputy secretary of the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Erney handles varied services and responsibilities including outpatient, partial, residential, short-term inpatient hospital care, emergency crisis intervention, counseling, information, and referral and case management.

Her first college experience at HACC led her to a life based on community service as her number one commitment.

"I always credit Ms. Nancy Summers at HACC as the individual who set me on my current professional course," Erney said. "(Summers) suggested I consider working at an internship at Dauphin County Crisis Intervention (and) that became the most significant work experience I had ever participated in and became my foundation for my current position."

After attending HACC, Erney earned a BSS from Penn State Harrisburg in 1985. She returned to college in 1994 to attain a J.D. from Widener School of Law. In 1999, Erney became director of the Bureau of Operations and Quality Management, where her responsibilities included managing the state's community behavioral health programs.

Prior to her state government employment, Erney was CEO of the Community Behavioral HealthCare Network of PA.

She is active in Grace United Methodist activities, including Homeless Shelter, the NYC Mission trips and church fundraising and has received numerous awards, including the COMHAR Dorothy Anderson Award in 2006, the United Rehab Services-Distinguished Award in 2005 and the PA Community Providers Association President's Award in 2000.

Carolyn Lee Spalding DeLoe, (Nursing, 1978)

DeLoe, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) at WellSpan Health at York Hospital's Community Health Center, also earned a BSN from Penn State in 1994 and a MSN from Widener University in 2000. In addition to her HACC education, DeLoe was an adjunct clinical faculty member for HACC's nursing program.

"The nursing program at HACC prepared me for lifelong learning through a well-rounded curriculum and inspirational professors," DeLoe said. "HACC offered an excellent foundation for me to build upon in my nursing career. I am grateful to have had such a rich, rewarding experience. It will, indeed, last a lifetime."

Her previous nursing jobs include staff nurse in ICUs and post-anesthesia units, nurse supervisor, community health nurse, health center nurse in a college setting and nurse practitioner for the underserved and needy via mobile unit clinics.

DeLoe remains active in medical missions abroad, including Ecuador and Nicaragua. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society.

James "Jim" D. Curran (Business Management, 1973)

Curran, a semi-retired entrepreneur and self-employed real estate investor, earned a BA in Business Administration from Penn State Harrisburg in 1975.

"Without HACC, my life experiences may have been much different," said Curran, who displayed entrepreneurial talent as owner/franchisee of "The Barbers" and "Cost Cutters' hair salons in the midstate, which he later sold to The Regis Corp.

"It's my opinion that HACC is a great value to local students. (The college) enables them to earn an associate degree without a financial burden, (and) gives them the opportunity to transition easily to a four-year program."

Curran has continually encouraged, aided and mentored many in the industry, as well as performed in several roles as barber, stylist, teacher, school director and salon manager. He also received Manager of the Year and Franchisee of the Year awards.

Curran's community service includes volunteering at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, officer of the Cedar Cliff Baseball Boosters Club and volunteer for the endowment fund at Bishop McDevitt High School. He also is devoted helping in the annual food drives for Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church and is actively involved with his church, St. Theresa Catholic Church as Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and member of the Adoration Team.

Frank A. Conte (Police Administration, 1971)

"HACC gave me a strong educational base and professors gave me the confidence to strive in the business world," said Conte, founder and managing partner of The Conte-Browne Group, LLC, a Wealth Preservation, and Financial Strategies Group, and founder of Conte-Browne Realty. "I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the college," added Conte who has just been approved to the HACC Board of Trustees for a five-year term.

Upon graduating from HACC, Conte earned accreditation as Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) at American College, and is certified in Long Term Care (CLTC). A member of the Million Dollar Round Table since 1976, he was employed at Prudential Financial for more than 30 years where he was in a select group of agents known as "Top Gun Speaker/Representatives" and maintained "Top 10 in Sales" for five years in a row.

Conte holds several memberships, including the Estate Planning Council; Society of Financial Service Professionals, where he was also a past president, and Hospice of Central Pennsylvania board. He also has been an active member and past lieutenant with the Hampden Township Fire Co. His numerous awards for service include the 2000 Heroism Award from Hampden Township. Conte also was recognized in Harrisburg Magazine's 2005 Simply the Best "Runner-Up" award in Estate Planning.

Ronald I. Buxton (Social Science, 1970)

"Little did I realize upon graduating from high school, that politics and government would become my life's work," said Buxton, a Democrat, who has represented the 103rd District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 1993. His district includes Harrisburg, the boroughs of Steelton and Highspire and parts of Swatara Township.

"HACC helped prepare me for a life of public service," Buxton continued. "My political studies, together with the expansion of personal acquaintances, influenced my career path."

Buxton is chairman of the Ethics Committee, telecommunications subcommittee chairman on the Consumer Affairs Committee, travel promotion subcommittee chairman on the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, and sits on the Legislative, Insurance, Labor Relations and Intergovernmental Affairs committees.

He received the Legislative Service Award from the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities in 1998 and the Friends of Education Award from the southern region of the Pennsylvania State Education Association in 2001. In addition, Buxton was honored for his commitment and support of the fair housing for the citizens of Central Pennsylvania by the Fair Housing Council of the Capital Region. Most recently, Buxton earned the Dauphin County Library System 2006 Impact Award.

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