Sunday, December 28, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2802, December 28th, 2014


As the year winds down, we continue with our year end features. “Women We Love” is something we ripped off from Esquire Magazine a few years back. Each year we get nominees for outstanding women locally, statewide nationally and internationally. The criteria is simple, quality of work, recognition of community activities, challenging positions that give them a profile both good or bad. Also, if there is a “buzz” about the type of year they are having and how that impacts on themselves as well as the community. Nominations come in via the LuLac E Mail box and a certain number is needed to make the cut. After that cut is dwindled, we choose the winners. Here are the LuLac 2014 “Women We Love”.

I might be accused of a little bias here because Jasmine conducts a lot of the interviews I do on WBRE TV’s Pa Live program. But the fact of the matter is that Jasmine was a near unanimous pick. Most of all people commented on her work ethic and grueling schedule. LuLac land viewers see her on the 5am news block of Eyewitness News in the Morning. She is always out in the community doing human interest stories that involve more than standing in front of a camera with a microphone. You might see her on a Ferris Wheel in Jessup at 5:20am and then during the 11AM Mid Day Newscast you’ll see her doing a report on Early Childhood Intervention or Senior Prescription Drug costs. Then at 4PM she co hosts Pa. Live with Dave Kuharchik sparring with him at the opening and keeping everyone on their toes. Plus, if you see her on the Anchor Desk her performance is nearly flawless every time. There is a rumor that once in a while she does sleep but that has yet to be confirmed by three sources. Brooks who is a true natural when it comes to caressing the camera (her reactions to comments are spot on) came to WBRE TV in 2012.
One of the reasons why I took instantly to her on the set of WBRE TV was because I found out she started in radio doing news on WPPA AM and WAVT FM as well as working with T102FM. After that she matriculated to the public access TV operation in Hazleton working as a multi media reporter and filling in on the anchor seat. The first time I saw Jasmine on TV here was when she was filling in as an anchor over a weekend. Still another skill set she brings to her resume. Brooks has a degree in Mass Communications from Bloomsburg University and is a big animal enthusiast.
Jasmine Brooks peripatetic schedule, her unbridled enthusiasm and optimism as well as her delivery of the broadcast goods throughout a wide spectrum is one of the reasons why LuLac readers picked her as one of the Women We Love in 2014.

If you look up the word multi tasking in the dictionary (am I the only guy who uses those anymore??) you might see a picture of Exeter Mayor Cassandra Coleman Corcoran. Plus if you also look up “political acumen” in the same place, again you would find Coleman’s photo. Last fall Coleman signed on to work for a little known York, Pa. businessman to help him in his campaign for Governor. That candidate, Tom Wolf was only known to political junkies and even then he wasn’t on the radar screen. Wolf was primarily known as the former Budget Director who eschewed a run for Governor in 2010. Coleman (among a few others locally) took Wolf to both pizza joints and the corridors of power in this area. While Wolf impressed, to seasoned veterans he didn’t have a prayer. Good thing for Tom Wolf Coleman was not regarded as “seasoned” for her age. Using every angle and relationship she had built up in her short career, Coleman introduced Wolf to the people he needed to see. But Coleman knew that wouldn’t be enough. So too did the Wolf campaign.
Bolstered by his winter ad campaign Coleman as Deputy Campaign Director started working tirelessly to get events planned. Working with early supporters like Attorney Bill Vinsko, Former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty and his wife Recorder of Deeds Evie Refalko McNulty, former Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo, State Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski and Phyllis Mundy and others (like some blogger we don’t need to mention) Coleman coordinated efforts that gave people here the opportunity to see Tom Wolf. And of course we all know how that worked out.
If Evie Refalko McNulty became politically active when as a baby JFK gave her a kiss, Coleman was not far behind. She was drawn to politics because of her grandfather the late longtime Exeter Mayor Joe Coyne. Coleman would be front and center at rallies for candidates at every level tagging along with her grandfather. When he fell ill with brain cancer, she was constantly at his side. 

After he passed away Coleman, then barely in her early twenties was designated as the new Mayor of Exeter by the town Council. Ms. Coleman was appointed Exeter's mayor in October 2008, to fill the remainder of her grandfather's term. She served the remaining 15 months in his third term in office. She was re-elected in 2009 and 2013.
Coleman was also featured in O Magazine, the Oprah Magazine in May of 2011. After an hour and a half interview with the monthly, Coleman had no idea what slant they were going to take. But in the end the story showcased the positive aspects of community service, politics and gave Exeter a national and international spotlight. Coleman has been mentioned frequently as a future candidate for public office but after her work in the Wolf effort you can also be sure there will be other potential candidates beating a path to her door.
Cassandra married James Corcoran and in the midst of the hectic Wolf campaign she gave birth to James Daniel Corcoran IV. 
As a wife and mother, her husband and first born son are the apple and sweet pea of her eye respectively but politics has proven a worthy vocation for her. Many LuLac readers have opined that her grandfather would be extremely pleased with her progress thus far. Cassandra Coleman Corcoran’s attention to detail, her organizational skills as well as her ability to pick a winner makes her one of the LuLac Women We Love in 2014.

Her voice is recognizable on talk radio programs. Her passion for her conservative beliefs are unmistakable. When she makes a public appearance there is no missing that mane of blond hair when she enters a room. Laureen Cummings, by her own admission came to politics late in life. After raising her children Cummings started a private health care business and saw firsthand the struggles an independent owner faced. Cummings became one of the charter members, if not the first member of the Lackawanna County Tea Party organization. Cummings made a run for U.S. Senate in 2012 but then decided to run for Congress in the new 17th Congressional District. Her appearances on PCN debates in the Senate contest gave her more than enough confidence to stand with any other candidate. As a nurse and small businesswoman, she actively fights against Obama Care. Most strongly, she believes in fiscal conservatism saying that this country needs to pay as we go instead of putting the nation in debt. Cummings still favors replacing — completely — the income tax with the Fair Tax, a tax on the consumption of goods and services. That’s something that even I can agree with.
Cummings has used Face book as a platform for espousing her conservative views. She was elected to the GOP State Committee in the last election. Currently she is being touted as a possible candidate for Lackawanna County Commissioner. Cummings is steadfast in her beliefs but unlike more strident members of the Tea Party, she comes across as passionate but not unreasonable in her expectations of government. In an area dominated by Democratic leanings and policies, Laureen Cummings brings a different and debatable perspective to the public discourse. It is for that reason that she was picked as one of the LuLac Women We Love in 2014.

A name that was bandied about last year by LuLac readers once more surfaced in 2014. My friends Dr. Joe Leonardi and Bill Goldsworthy have been two of the biggest supporters of this young lady and her efforts. If you don’t know, Stephanie Jallen was born with the rare birth defect called C.H.I.L.D.S. syndrome. Known as Congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform erythroderma and limb defects, the affliction caused the left side of her body to under develop. She was introduced to skiing at a camp for kids with disabilities at age 9. When one wonders if these outreach ventures are important and worthy of support, all you have to do is look to Jallen and the excitement and possibility this option provided for her. Jallen was relentless in her pursuit of a skiing championship. . In 2011. she was the US slalom champion after coming first in the event. 2012 brought setbacks but an example of the grit and determination she has for this sport. At British Columbia she needed 12 sutures after face lacerations in a fall that also injured her tibia and knee.
During the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Russia, Jalen competed for Team USA in three events, the Super-G, the slalom, and the super combined (Jallen is competing in standing in all events) She was the second-youngest member of the national team. She came third in the Super-G, finishing 5.94 seconds behind Marie Bochet; also finishing behind Solène Jambaqué, both of France. Jallen came third in the super combined with a time of 1:25.15 seconds, 4.74 seconds behind Bochet, who won.
A Bronze Medal winner, Jallen became the breakout star of the Games as she won two Paralympic medals, was named the Best Female Paralympian and her bronze-medal finish in the super-G was named the Moment of the Paralympic Winter Games at the United States Olympic Committee’s inaugural Best of U.S. awards.
Jallen has been nominated for the 2014-2015 U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team. The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup series will begin in January of 2015, with the season concluding at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, British Columbia, March 1-11. Jallen is an inspiration to many people who sometimes need to look beyond themselves to see something positive. She has been an inspiration to returning Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans returning with lost limbs. Jallen is someone who has taken the deck of cards handed to her and decided to make most of them into aces. It is for that reason that we choose our youngest ever LuLac Woman We Love, Stephanie Jallen for 2014.

On the national stage some of my left leaning readers picked Ruth Bader Ginsburg as their pick. Ginsburg, who has been battling health problems has steadfastly refused to resign her post. She essentially told the President that no one can protect the progressive agenda better than she and most likely knows the President will “compromise” and pick a middle of the road judicial nominee that will sell whatever is left of the middle class down the river.
Despite some recent health scares, she is staying put. In an interview with Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic she spoke about those retirement rumors. “I should say, I am fantastically lucky that I am in a system without a compulsory retirement age. Most countries of the world have age sixty-five, seventy, seventy-five, and many of our states do as well. As long as I can do the job full steam, I will stay here. I think I will know when I’m no longer able to think as lucidly, to remember as well, to write as fast. I was number one last term in the speed with which opinions came down. My average from the day of argument to the day the decision was released was sixty days, ahead of the chief by some six days. So I don’t think I have reached the point where I can’t do the job as well. Who do you think the president could nominate and get through the current Senate that you would rather see on the Court than me? No one has given me an answer to that question.”
Ginsburg came on the Court in 1993 having been appointed by Bill Clinton. With twenty plus years on the Court she has seen the ebb and flow of policies and decisions. One gets the feeling that she’d like to stay on the Court until as her appointing President used to say, “Until the last dog dies!” Much is made about the fact that no one ever remembers the second person ever achieving an unreachable goal, usually giving the big honor to the first person to be the ceiling breaker. The first woman Supreme Court Justice appointed was Sandra Day O’Connor. Bader Ginsburg was the second. Being second will not diminish her historical importance to the nation and the court. Her consistency as well as her advocacy for social issues regarding equal pay for woman and a better way for justice in America as well as her work ethic is one of the reasons why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the Women We Love in 2014.

Most of us are defined career wise by our job. In the case of Karla Porter, perhaps we have to add jobs to fully clarify that if we defined Karla Porter by just that aspect of her life. Karla currently works as the Director of Program Development & Marketing for The Arc of Luzerne County. But many people know her from her previous position at the Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce where she was the Director of Workforce Development and Human Resources. In that position she worked with various federal and state job training programs and also provided demographic data to prospective business clients looking for employees in this region. But what she has been known for primarily in the blogosphere is the innovative approach she has taken to the thing we refer to as the new media. From 2008 until the present time she has been Principal of Karla Porter Human Capital & New Media.
Her Linkedin profile describes this effort as consulting in strategic human capital management, candidate attraction, recruitment strategy, diversity, employee retention, employer branding, employee relations, strategic internal communication, relationship building, attaining employer of choice status, workforce development, and world class customer service.
But what really brought Karla to our reader’s attention is her work as a co-organizer of NEPA BlogCon, the region's only blogger and social media conference. The group recently held their second event this past October at College Misrecordia. NEPA BlogCon is Northeastern Pennsylvania's annual blogging, social media and tech conference. It's a day-long event where personal bloggers, tech professionals, marketing professionals, corporate communications professionals, PR/Marketing professionals, business bloggers, and members of the community unite to learn about storytelling and brand messaging through new media while sharing their ideas.
NEPA BlogCon is a not-for-profit event, organized by four women with a passion for sharing new ideas with the Northeastern Pennsylvania community. All proceeds benefit regional charity organizations.
Karla has been tireless in her efforts to make this event more than a social scene. Perhaps one of last year’s LuLac Women We Love, Michelle Hryvnak Davies said it best about Karla’s contributions to Blogcon. "Karla was the glue that held together our NEPA BlogCon project. If it wasn't for her we wouldn't have had a location to hold the event (LCCC) or two local charities to work with (The Arc of Luzerne County and the Northeast PA Veterans Multicare Alliance). She coordinated with the LCCC computer club to use a building on campus for the event. She worked with selecting the charities to provide our funds to as well as organize the accounting for both organizations. Without her tireless efforts we would not have been able to host this community event.” That quote came from 2013 when Blogcon was first launched. Now with a second successful year under its belt the event is growing in interest and recognition. Along with Mandy Boyle from Net Driven as well as the aforementioned Hryvnak Davies, blogcon is here to stay. One of the biggest reasons is the hard work, energy and dedication that Karla Porter puts into it. That is just one of the reasons why (we’d list all the jobs and associations if we could but I’m afraid we’d run out of bandwidth) Karla Porter is one of the LuLac Women We Love in 2014.

If you are a fan of the cable news shows featuring politics, (don’t be shy, raise your hands!!!) or the Sunday Morning Talk shows then for sure you’ve seen Nia-Malika Henderson. Henderson for a time was the lone African American Reporter for Politico but later moved on to The Washington Post. Before joining The Post, Nia wrote about education, race and the White House for Politico. In 2008, she covered the presidential election and local government on Long Island for Newsday. She also worked at The Baltimore Sun where she covered city government in Annapolis. A regular guest on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN, Nia has an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology from Duke University, and graduate degrees from Yale University in American studies and Columbia University in journalism.
Henderson has wrote some pretty intriguing pieces the last few years that has put her in the forefront of a new breed of national political reporters. One of her most important pieces dealt with how black and white citizens hear President Obama differently. She has also done profiles on potential Presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
As more young people become engaged in politics, news outlets like NBC are courting writers and reporters like Henderson who bring a perspective that is both refreshing and intelligent. As an observer and viewer of the political junkie shows, I agree with many LuLac readers that Henderson is not your grandfather’s talk show panelist. Henderson has proven that the future of political opining is secure for her generation and beyond. That is one of the reasons why LuLac readers love Nia-Malike Henderson as one of the Women We Love in 2014.

You might not know the name because she is not political. But many of my readers recognize her as the leader of the Myasthenia Gravis Support Group I joined in early 2013. Vera and her husband Harry formed the local chapter in the Scranton Area after Harry got the disease.
Vera’s real job is at Marywood University where she works in the Development Department. But her other volunteer effort is coordinating bi monthly meetings for members of the Myasthenia Support group in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. A graduate of West Scranton High and Dickinson College, Vera brings a great sense of organization and sensibility to newcomers afflicted by this disease. Her support as well as her good humor has facilitated many a meeting. While Mrs. LuLac is my IT guy, Vera’s husband Harry is her IT aid. What we wouldn’t do without our spouses huh? When Harry appeared on a TV and Radio programs this past year for MG Awareness Month in June many people became aware of this fine couple and of course the ramifications of the disease. Without them members who wanted to attend a meeting would have to travel to Danville. For starting the group, keeping it active and running those meetings like clockwork, we count Vera Krewsun as one of the Women We Love in 2014.

I am constantly being asked by several people if perhaps Elizabeth Warren might be 2016’s Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton. It is an intriguing possibility. Warren certainly has her supporters and has staked out a claim to the more progressive side of the Democratic party. Warren has made her bones by constantly taking on the Wall Street business interests who have been allowed to skate after playing a role in the 2008 near fatal financial debacle. A few weeks back on the Senate floor Warren gave this statement regarding provisions in the new spending bill that she says would do nothing for the middle class. "Mr. President, Democrats don't like Wall Street bailouts," Warren said. "Republicans don't like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts. And yet here we are five years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again." Remember Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). She is also responsible for getting credit card reform in the first year of the Obama Administration having served as the main architects of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Warren’s positions are interesting because the Clinton family have always been friendly to Wall Street interests. As a matter of fact in Hillary Clinton’s two Senate campaigns Wall Street heavily backed her. The juxtaposition of a Warren/Clinton race would be fascinating for the Democratic Party. It would pit the traditional heir apparent against another Democrat perceived as the “real deal”. So far Warren has been mum on her intentions to run, even saying she would not at one point. But 2016 is a lifetime away and the trajectory of the American economy under the latter years of the Obama administration and a Republican Congress, the way front runner Hillary Clinton runs her pre campaign as well as Warren’s reactions to all of that are reasons why Elizabeth Warren is one of the Lulac woman to watch for the future. It is also the main reason why Elizabeth Warren is one of the Women We Love in 2014.

If you think Tom Wolf is going to be an unconventional Governor then certainly his wife’s role as Pennsylvania’s new First Lady will bring a more artistic bent to the Capitol. Mrs. Wolf was born in New York City and raised abroad in Iran, Germany, France, Pakistan and England. She received a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and a subsequent BA from Franklin and Marshall College and an MA from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Frances’s paintings of still lifes, human figures and scenes of the natural world have been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including the Lancaster Museum of Art, York College of Pennsylvania and the Artists’ House Gallery in Philadelphia. Her work is also part of numerous corporate and private collections.
Frances met her husband while both were in school. They married in 1975 and have two daughters, Sarah and Katie. Mrs. Wolf was on the campaign trail for her husband and had intense conversations with many people regarding education. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Wolf and she seems to have the same down to earth personality as her husband. Readers have commented on her easy ability to walk through a room and connect with people of all stripes. This different educational background as well as her interactions with some of the people I saw her with is one of the reasons why Frances Wolf was chosen by like minded readers as one of the LuLac Women We Love in 2014.

During the last eight a half years you have been reading this site. For the last six years we have been recognizing Women We Love in our year end editions. I think that the time has come for me to recognize someone who actually made this blog and a type of second career possible for me. That’s of course my wife, Mrs. LuLac.
Mrs. LuLac is actually Mary Ann Waskie Yonki. LuLac was her idea. (The name, LuLac, I commandeered). When I wrote my first book, “A Radio Story/We Wish You Well In your Future Endeavors” I was looking for ways to promote it. My wife suggested I do a blog to gain publicity. I made a tepid effort and found that blogs (at least the rudimentary one I started) didn’t  necessarily have the ability and the firepower to sell many books. Looking at the blogs on line, I knew you needed more than one story. And writing a book, then trying to sell it wasn’t high drama and certainly something a reader would want to visit every day.
I first thought that perhaps a baseball blog would be good. I love the game but with work and my life at that time, I could barely keep up with the key players in the sport. My thoughts went to a Fashion blog for big men. But then one evening while I was at work, during lunch I looked at some of the local blogs and only two impressed me. Mark Cour’s Wilkes Barre On Line and Gort 42. My friend Jim Petrie always says “Write what you know” and I knew the history of politics in both Luzerne and Lackawanna County. So the seed of an idea blossomed into what LuLac is today. Through the early years and even now Mrs. LuLac is my IT person. Anyone who has ever worked with me knows I am very dramatic when it comes to any aspect of computers. I use them, use them very well but get concerned when they don’t respond instantly. Many a time I’ve gasped and screamed as well as went through wild gyrations of pandemonium (picture Cameron from ABC’s Modern Family) and Mrs. LuLac came to the rescue. There have been times when she made me find the answer. But as always she has been the technical support of this site.
Mary Ann has been the Wilkes Barre Library District Consultant for over 40 years. Through those four decades she has helped local libraries see many projects to completion helping with funding advice, personnel matters, programming as well as giving much needed moral support to their efforts. She has traveled the state and the country gathering information for the betterment of library services as well as offering her input from the years of experience in her position. In 2000 she and a select group of other librarians were flown to Seattle, Washington by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to be trained in the couple’s funding vehicle. The goal was how to make computers more accessible to the general public through local libraries. If you notice more local libraries are now equipped with banks of computers for public use. Most of these are used for posting resumes, job training as well as allowing access to the internet for those who previously were shut out due to economic circumstances. That has happened in large part to the Gates Foundation but the implementation came at the local level and Mary Ann played a major role in that.
She is a graduate of Marymount High School, Wilkes College as well as Rutgers University. Her biggest challenge though has been being married to me. There was no education to prepare her for that.
But like her consistent work in the Library system (which I feel has been barely recognized-after such longevity, but that’s me) she has been extremely supportive of this new phase of my career. Whether it be driving me to an event or improving this site’s delivery system, she has been nothing short of my champion.
We are getting to the point in our relationship where we are finishing each others thoughts in our personal life. That exception is of course with some of the stuff I put up on LuLac that she may not agree with. But her perspective sometimes gives me an idea. That has happened more than I can count.
Since 2008 LuLac has recognized more than 80 women we love. I felt it finally fitting to recognize the woman I love as one of the 2014 LuLac Women We Love.


At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Bill G. said...

Great job as always Yonk-- especially picking Mrs.LuLac--about time!!

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice tribute to Mrs. LuLac

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late in coming but Mrs LuLac most certainly deserves your recognition. Congrats on a great choice.

One of the up and coming female political powers is Attorney Laura Dennis. She is not as public as some but she is whirlwind behind the scene. She had a good foundation watching father Jimmy over the years but make no mistake, if she decides to run for public office other candidate had better duck!

Anyway Yonk, as the end of the year grows close, I want you to know how much I appreciate al you do to bring things to our attention and sharing your obvious vast knowledge of politics. I don't think anyone in the county picked both Urbans to win the county council election but you hit it right on the head. Sure would like to crawl into your head to learn how you come up with those types of gems.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger James O'Meara said...

Great job, David! And your nod to Mrs. Lulac is also a nod to a successful marriage of not just two wonderful people, but ideas as well.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

One of the up and coming female political powers is Attorney Laura Dennis. She is not as public as some but she is whirlwind behind the scene. She had a good foundation watching father Jimmy over the years but make no mistake, if she decides to run for public office other candidate had better duck.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are Jasmine's legs as great in person as they appear on television?

At 3:24 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Are Jasmine's legs as great in person as they appear on television?


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