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9:30 A.M. Ceremony Speaker
Even by the standards of the familiar American success story, Sandra Pianalto has traveled a remarkable journey.
Born in the small northern Italian village of Valli del Pasubio, she was 5 when with her parents and three siblings she arrived in Akron, Ohio, seeking the better future at the heart of the American dream.
Her parents “had no idea what would await them in the United States,” Pianalto said. “That taught me a great deal at an early age.”
As a third-grader, Pianalto helped her parents study for their citizenship examinations — igniting a lifelong fascination with the workings of American government.
Today Pianalto serves as president and chief executive officer of the Fourth District Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland, one of 12 such institutions instituted by Congress. Besides the supervisory demands of the downtown Cleveland bank and the several hundred financial institutions in her district, she serves on the Federal Open Market Committee and assists in setting the national monetary policies.
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics — the latter from The George Washington University — and working at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, she joined the Bank in Cleveland in 1983, coming up the ranks on the research side. By 1993 she was first vice president and chief operating officer: the Bank’s No. 2 position. When she became the Bank’s 10th president in 2003, she was only the second to be named from within the organization.
She credits generous mentors, as well as a deep belief in lifelong learning and the transformative power of education, especially in first-generation college students. In a commencement speech at John Carroll University, she said, “You can’t always see the inner energy and talents of the person who scrubs floors or takes your change at a store. And the children of those individuals may well be powers to be reckoned with tomorrow.”
A lifelong learner herself, she’s a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. She also holds honorary doctor of humane letters degrees from the University of Akron, Baldwin-Wallace College, Kent State University, and Ursuline College, and received an honorary doctor of business administration degree from Cleveland State University.
She augments her calendar of international travel with regular visits to struggling Cleveland neighborhoods and unscheduled conversations with employees, friends and relatives to obtain the most accurate economic picture. As well, she utilizes input from her civic service on various community boards of directors, including The Cleveland Foundation, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, the Ohio Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
“Some of my close friends lost their companies through this recession,” she recently said in an interview. “It’s very easy to stay grounded at the micro level as well as looking at the macro level.”
Whether running a boardroom or flipping pancakes at a United Way fundraiser, Pianalto maintains a polite approach, an analytical mind and strong convictions, colleagues say. As Ronn Richard, president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation, said of her, “There’s never any selfish agenda. That’s why people listen to her.”
Sunday, May 5, 2013
2:00 P.M. Ceremony Speaker
Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth
As President and CEO of Battelle, the world’s largest nonprofit independent research and development organization, Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth holds a perspective of STEM competency different from that of many educators, but his passion on the subject makes common cause with his academic brethren.
Speaking in 2010 before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology on the subject of reforming K-12 STEM, Wadsworth noted, “STEM does not take place just in laboratories — it can be found everywhere. STEM education is enhanced when industry and private partners engage their core skills with educators.“
The active pursuit of such intellectual syntheses may have begun as early as Wadsworth’s youth. Born in Germany of English parents, by his 16th birthday he had lived in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. “It had a huge effect on me in terms of becoming familiar with different cultures and seeing things from a different perspective,” he once said in an interview.
Educated at Sheffield University in England, he studied metallurgy, earning a 1975 PhD in the discipline. In 1991, the university conferred on him a Doctor of Metallurgy degree for his published work, following it up in 2004 with its highest recognition, an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree.
Wadsworth came to the United States in 1976, working for Stanford University, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It was as director at Livermore that he helped create the Joint Genome Institute, which today puts its more than $70 million annual budget toward advancing genomics in support of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) missions related to clean energy generation, and environmental characterization and cleanup.
He became an American citizen in 1984.
In 2002, Wadsworth joined global research and development giant Battelle, serving as a member of the White House Transition Office for the U.S Department of Homeland Security. From 2003 to 2007, he was director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest multipurpose science facility of the DOE.
Despite a career path that diverged from academia, he’s never lost his zest for and deep belief in education. Today as a board member of Achieve Inc. — a national education network — and of the senior executive fusion Business Higher Education Forum, Wadsworth helps lead national efforts to enhance STEM education. In his home base of central Ohio, he’s strengthening both education and the economy by engaging with local civic and community organizations. In 2010, then-Governor Ted Strickland appointed him to the Ohio State University board of trustees. He was also the inaugural chair of the OSU Medical Center board, and remains a board member of the Carpenter Technology Corp.
His honors, awards and publications are numerous, wide-ranging and international in scope. However, the main focus of this learning-conscious citizen of the world is on identifying and nurturing talent through education, whether classroom-formal or office-informal. As he said of his long executive experience, “The best thing I think [administrators] can do is to hire and encourage people who are better and smarter than I am and to position them for the future. I always look for that in our leaders.”