Horticulture graduate shares Chamber spotlight as alumni honoree
Jonah G. Howe, public relations manager for Chief Oil & Gas LLC and a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology, received an Alumnus of the Year Award at Thursday’s 21st annual Education Celebration hosted by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.
The award – part of a Williamsport Country Club event that recognizes the interconnectedness of school districts, colleges, and business and industry – is given to graduates who have significantly contributed to the quality of life in Lycoming County, have excelled in their professions, and are active in their communities.
Michael J. Reed, vice president for academic affairs/provost, presented the award to Howe, who earned an associate degree in landscape/nursery technology in 2007.
"As I'm reminded each spring – not only with this event, but with our recent Career Fair and the upcoming May commencement – the best part of working at Penn College is watching our students transform into tomorrow makers and then celebrating their accomplishment as graduates," Reed said. "Among those success stories is Jonah Howe."
Howe has been employed by Chief Oil & Gas for more than 11 years, in roles that include construction, environmental health and safety, and public affairs. In his current position, he brings extensive knowledge of operations, practices and values gained as part of the Chief team.
He meets with key stakeholders and community leaders to advance development, while representing Chief in various capacities with government, landowners, businesses and the general public – all built on the solid foundation of stakeholder relations born of his experience.
Among his recent initiatives are environmental conservation, Reed noted, as well as projects involving charitable organizations, scholarship and regional energy education.
As recounted by Reed, Howe maintains an active connection to his alma mater: volunteering with the Tomorrow Maker Program, serving on the board of the Penn College Foundation, as a member of the Alumni Task Force and the Dinner and Auction Committee, and as a scholarship supporter to give current students the same shot at achievement that he enjoys.
"In 2004, when I met with a curriculum adviser at the college, they promised that, whatever degree you pursue at Penn College, it would open doors throughout the rest of your life," Howe said. "I can promise you all that it has done just that. I can also tell you that my professors didn't only teach me about horticulture and landscape technology, they also promoted the mentality of values and hard work."
(He joked with Carl J. Bower Jr., an assistant professor of horticulture in attendance at the awards banquet, that he still is discontented when he cannot remember the names of plants!)
Humbled when looking back at how Penn College has evolved and excited for what lies ahead, the alumnus said "always adapting, always improving" could well be the institution's motto.
"The culture of authenticity, leadership and successful outcomes at the college is second-to-none," he added.
The event also included an Alumni of the Year Award presented by Lycoming College to Suzanne T. Stopper, Penn College's senior vice president for finance/chief financial officer, who was a 1983 magna cum laude accounting graduate.
In presenting that award, Lycoming President Kent C. Trachte said he was told by a Penn College colleague that, under Stopper's stewardship, "The college has maintained an exceptional Standard & Poor's rating and that, over the years, her strategic approach to bond refinancing has saved millions of dollars and enabled the college to invest in its laboratory facilities and equipment."
Trachte also shared comments about Stopper that were provided by his crosstown counterpart.
"Suzanne has created a streamlined, transparent budgeting system that continues to position the college for the future," President Davie Jane Gilmour told him. "(She) is a compassionate leader who inspires her peers and staff."
The Chamber also presented a Business Partner in Education Award to PPL Electric Utilities – whose support includes Educational Improvement Tax Credit donations to Penn College's dual enrollment program and to Community Arts Center programming – and singled out exemplary teachers and students from nine Lycoming County schools.
Among the latter awardees with college connections were Kendall Kelley, a Williamsport Area High School senior and daughter of Sue A. Kelley, dean of the School of Business, Arts & Sciences; Zachary McGuire, a senior at South Williamsport Area Junior/Senior High School who is considering the college's architecture program among his postsecondary options; and Brett K. Hofstrom, a math teacher at Montgomery Area High School and spouse of Hillary E. Hofstrom, vice president for human resources.