Rising Leaders Break Out Session 2

Messages To My Younger Self

Panelist Details:

Margaret (Maggie) U. Horne, MBA, CVA is the Director of Gannon University Small Business Development Center.  Maggie earned an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with concentration in marketing and management from Penn State University, and her MBA from Point Park University.  She is also an Certified Valuation Analyst. Her background includes experience in law, accounting, education and business valuation. Maggie co-launched the first independent valuation firm in Western Pennsylvania where she consulted with numerous clients, including Microsoft, UPS, Ford, Proctor & Gamble, and Caterpillar.  She was involved in over 50 mergers and acquisitions. Maggie developed and conducted numerous presentations related to business valuation and competitive intelligence.


Dr. Karinna Vernaza is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Business and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Gannon University.  Dr. Vernaza was born in Panama City, Panama.  She attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and earned a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering Systems.  After graduating, she was employed as a Ship Manager in Braswell Shipyards in Panama.  Dr Vernaza was awarded a Project Latin America 2000 Graduate Fellowship by the Kellogg Institute, the Coca-Cola Company and the University of Notre Dame to perform graduate studies.  She earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2003 from the University of Notre Dame.  The title of her dissertation was “Thermal Measurements during High Speed Machining.”


In 2003, Dr. Vernaza joined Gannon University as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering; in 2009, she was awarded tenure and advancement in rank to Associate Professor; and in 2014, she earned advancement in rank to Professor.  Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas.  She conducts research in the area of alternative fuels (biodiesel), high strain deformation of materials and engineering education.  Dr. Vernaza is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed publications.  She is currently the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation S-STEM award for $1 million.  She has served as the PI for two previous NSF S-STEM awards ($600,000 each) and one NSF ADVANCE-PAID Award ($385,919).  Additionally, her projects have been funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Erie-Patterson Corporation, and the Gannon Center of Excellence in BioEnergy.  Dr. Vernaza worked as a consultant for GE Transportation on different Off-Highway Vehicles projects as part of the GE/Gannon Master Program from 2006-2013.


Dr. Vernaza is active in the community, is an Erie Ambassador, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Non Profit Partnership.  She volunteers on the Society of Women Engineers, serves as a mentor for young women in partnership with the North West Pennsylvania Girls Scout Council, and serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the American Society of Engineering Education Conference.  Additionally, she organizes several yearly outreach activities at Gannon University where students from local schools participate in various engineering hands-on activities.  She also serves in the Executive Board of the American Society for Engineering Education, North Central Section.


Dr. Vernaza's loves to travel; she has visited over 20 countries. She loves the outdoors and, since moving to Erie, she has become a cycling enthusiast.  She is a Notre Dame, tennis and soccer fan.


Kathryn Lima – Legacy Award Recipient 2020

Although trained as a teacher, Kathy left the classroom after six years and since has worked in all aspects of marketing, sales, media and fund raising for both not-for-profit and for-profit  organizations in five different communities in four states.  After years as a provider of business development and fundraising services, consulting, training, and workshops in marketing and fundraising, today she travels the world.

For nearly 14 years, Kathy owned Faro Enterprises providing marketing, public/media relations, fundraising consulting, training, and services, meeting facilitation and communications services.  Throughout her successful entrepreneurial career, she was and continues to be a fierce advocate for the causes of women’s equality.  She was recognized as one of PA's Best 50 Women in Business in 2006 and received the Lawrence Mercer County ATHENA International ATHENA Leadership Award in 2014. Kathy has served as a board member for ATHENA International and has participated in numerous women leadership initiatives and programs.

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik is a Builder of Strength and Leadership . She is an author, motivational speaker, leadership mentor, artist, founder of ParentingGirls.com and the creator of the DRJR Leadership Retreat. Her research in the ecology of female leadership fueled her passion to work initially with young women, parents, schools, and universities to foster the development of strong girls and strong women who learn to appreciate their authentic value. Her recent endeavors include working with organizations seeking to develop or enhance the leadership skills of their administrative staff, both women and men.


Her books The Seven Secrets of Parenting Girls and Raising Successful Daughters from Childhood to Womanhood serve as valuable parent resources for nurturing female leadership. She is a co-author of the widely-acclaimed book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life which is a great motivational read and a must for every strong woman. 


Dr. Janet also addresses many diverse audiences on individually tailored topics including: Leadership Lessons Learned From the Animal Kingdom,  The Power of Gratitude, Learning to Lead With Integrity, Fostering Leadership Fitness and Raising Strong Girls and Compassionate Boys. Her upbeat, humorous and stimulating presentations have stirred women and men across the country. 


 Dr. Janet Rose earned her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Duquesne University. Her research in the area of women and leadership won her Clark Scholar Designation in the 2006 David L. Clark National Graduate Research Seminar in San Francisco, California. She is also the proud recipient of the 2018 WILD Conference Legacy Award presented by Gannon University’s Small Business Development Center. She has presented professional seminars, trainings, retreats, parenting workshops, and keynote presentations to a variety of audiences in a variety of venues. 

Dr. Janet Rose’s career included school administration, mental health program director, special educator, and adjunct professor at four local universities. Her artistic endeavors are also a great passion and include driftwood painting, steam punk lamp making, beach glass designs and grapevine creations. These can be found at many local galleries and boutiques.

Information on her books, presentations and strategies for nurturing leadership can be found at www.drjanetrose.com. Contact Dr. Janet at 814-881-1727 or janet.rose.w@gmail.com.

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