The Foundation Welcomes Three New Board Trustees

February 03, 2022

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The Erie Community Foundation is proud to announce the addition of three new trustees to the board, Annē L. Lewis, Director of Marketing at Red Letter Hospitality, Robin Scheppner, President and Managing Owner of American Tinning & Galvanizing (ATG), and Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., Dean of College of Engineering and Business and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Gannon University.

Annē L. Lewis, a North East native, currently serves as Director of Marketing for Red Letter Hospitality.

She graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in Entrepreneurship. As Director of Marketing, she is responsible for advertising and communications for The Cork 1794, Molly Brannigan’s and The Skunk & Goat Tavern. She coordinates all social media platforms, website and menu development, advertising campaigns, public relations initiatives nurturing relationships with local businesses, and community engagement.

Ms. Lewis is a member of the Athena Circle of Trust, Young Erie Professionals, Young Erie Philanthropists, Hamot Health Foundation Corporator, Perry Square Alliance Board Member, a 2019 graduate of Jefferson Civic Leadership Academy, 40 under 40 recipient, and a constant cheerleader to the Erie Community. She has worked extremely hard on rooting herself in the Erie community to do her part in energizing and growing the city.

Robin Scheppner, an Erie native, is the President and Managing Owner of American Tinning & Galvanizing (ATG). Since Robin took the helm at ATG, the company has nearly doubled its workforce, invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and equipment, earned prestigious aerospace certification and consistently enjoyed double digit growth.

Ms. Scheppner holds many degrees and credentials including a BFA from Denison University, teaching credentials from Cleveland State University and University of Utah, an associate degree in Building Construction from Salt Lake Community College. Prior to her position at ATG she taught art at an inner-city junior high school in the Cleveland Public School System then eventually taught in Naples, Florida. Ms. Scheppner became licensed in insurance and mutual fund sales and opened the first office of Ameriprise Financial Services in Naples. She also has high-rise construction management experience working as designer and project manager for a high-end cabinet company.

In service to her community, Ms. Scheppner has been involved in various service and benevolent organizations throughout her varied work experiences. Since returning to Erie, she reaffirmed her membership at Wayside Presbyterian Church where she serves as a Deacon. She joined the Erie Women’s Fund of The Erie Community Foundation and recently served as their Chair for three years. She became a panel advisor to five Athena Powerlink recipients over six years. She is an original member and is still serving on the Mayor's Business Council for Joe Schember. She is a member of Rotary and an active United Way Board member. Currently, she chairs the United Way’s Resource Development Committee and serves on the Executive Board of Women United for Community Schools.

Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., a native to Panama City, Panama, is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Business and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Gannon University. She has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications centering on high-strain deformation of materials and engineering education. Recently, she has focused on systemic strategies for the retention and advancement of STEM faculty and students, and academic interventions to improve student success. She is currently the Program Director of a $1.5 million dollars Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Power Investment and has secured over $2.5 million dollars in grants during her tenure at Gannon University. During the past three years, Dr. Vernaza has led the academic development, space design, and R&D and operations contracts in the Institute of Health and Cyber Knowledge (I-Hack).

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 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical from the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Vernaza is active in the community, is an Erie Ambassador, serves on the Board of Directors for the Erie Technology Incubator, the ExpERIEnce Children Museum and PSNERGY, LLC. She regularly volunteers on the Society of Women Engineers, serves as a mentor for young women in partnership with the Northwest Pennsylvania Girls Scout Council, and serves as reviewer for the American Society of Engineering Education Conference. She also serves in the ASCEND Advisory Board, and NSF funded program.

“We are excited about the three new additions to our Board of Trustees. Our diverse 13-member board represents all aspects of our community and offers various points of view, which makes for a strong and healthy board,” said Foundation President and CEO Karen L. Bilowith. “Throughout the year, our very engaged board makes collective and thoughtful decisions on how to transform our community and move Erie forward.”

The three new trustees join Marcus Atkinson, Karen Bilowith, Rev. Dr. Donald L. Baxter Jr. M.D., William M. Hilbert Jr., Charles G. Knight, III CPA, Sarah Hagen McWilliams, Deborah W. Murphy, CFP®, David M. Tullio, Thomas A. Tupitza, Esq. and James R. Walczak, Esq. as members of the board.