Celebrating the Spirit of America on Labor Day

September 5th, 2016

Labor Day 2016
Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by, Kathleen Loftus-Mussari
The Face of America Project 

There is no substitute for hard work. Thomas Edison

On this the first Monday in September, we take time to celebrate 8b04027r_A_S American workers. We have been doing it in America since 1882. In 1884, it became a federal holiday.

On this special day, Kitch and I thought it might be a good idea to share some positive thoughts about the day and the men and women it is designed to honor. To do this we will include some priceless pictures we found in the collection of the Library of Congress.

The poetry of Edgar Guest reflects the American spirit and work ethic that made America great! His optimism is something we all need to hear during these difficult times.

Edgar Guest

Somebody said it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;8d08520r_A_S
At least no one has ever done it";
But he took off his coat and he took of his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a girn,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you’ll do it.

Theodore Roosevelt captured the spirit of Edward Guest’s advice with these words:

It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage that we move on to better things.

Edgar Guest

Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;8d08516r_A_S
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day:
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can’t is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing;17611r_A_S
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I can."

Christian D. Larson, author of The Optimist Creed, summarized Edward Guest’s “Can’t” when he wrote these words:

What you will imagine, you will think, and what you think you will become.

When I was a teenager, I met a man who defined the dignity of work with8a29455r_A_S these aphorisms:

Whether the job be big or small, do it well or not at all.

Once a job is first begun, never leave it until it’s done.

Thank you, Johnny Ferko for this wise advice.

Happy Labor Day!

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Learning about Leadership and Community

August 16th, 2016

Learning about Leadership and Community at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter

Destination: Dickson City

On a beautiful August morning, our Face of America journey took us to the McCann School of Business in Dickson City, PA. We went there to participate in a webinar featuring JackMcCannSBDC Smalley, the director of HR Learning and Development for Express Employment Professionals.

The event was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

When we arrived, Brittany Pagnotti, Rameika Jones and Nikki Schake were attending to all the little details that would make the event a success.

In our opinion, the venue was perfect. The atmosphere was welcoming. The food was delicious, and the sense of community was genuine.

At the appointed hour, Evan Miller, the Campus Director of the McCann School of Business, welcomed everyone with these gracious words; “We are happy you are here.”

A Very Special Moment

It has always been our pleasure to celebrate the accomplishments of Amy Clegg and her Alexis Shotwellteam, but this time she turned the tables on us with an announcement that took us by surprise.

By nature, Amy is a giving person. She likes to help others get ahead. On this special occasion, she introduced Alexis Shotwell to the audience. Alexis is a student at the McCann School of Business. She wants to specialize in early childhood education.

When Alexis came to the front of the room, Amy told the audience that Alexis would receive the first annual Dr. Tony and Mrs. Kitch Mussari Leadership Scholarship. The moment belonged to Alexis. The surprise belonged to Kitch and me. No words can accurately describe the expression of delight on Alexis’s face, and the feeling of gratitude in our hearts for this honor.

Priceless Thoughts from Patricia L. Camayd

Being a good listener is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

Patricia L. Camayd is the Business Manager for Oliver Price & Rhodes Attorneys at Law. When she was a child she overcame shyness, and she became a good listener. Today shePatricia fully appreciates the importance of being a good listener. It is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

What is not said is often more important that what is said.

At the same time, she understands the importance of effective communications with employees. It is more than texts or e-mails. Effective communications is deeply rooted in the art of listening which requires these important elements: the elimination of distractions; the ability to read between the lines; eye contact; the ability to ask the right questions; showing respect; avoiding commentary or interjection; and matching the employee with the proper training and educational programs.

It is important to recognize and express gratitude to employees.

To move forward with employee engagement and aligned goals, it is important to think win win. Celebrate your joint and continued success. Say thank you as many ways as you can imagine is always a good idea.

Employees cherish personal letters that recognize their accomplishments.

Patricia Communication

These are a few of the things Patricia does to build effective employee relationships.

Establish mentorship programs.

Hold regular individual meetings for professional development.

Establish recognition programs, wellness programs, health and relaxation techniques.

Conduct team building exercises.

Encourage employees to write attributes about others which contribute to the organization to be read publically.

She ended her presentation with an excerpt from the poem Desiderata:

With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. Max Ehrmann

Jack Smalley’s Sage Advice

We are defined by who we are after we make a mistake.

Jack Smalley is the Director of HR Learning and Development for ExpressJack Poster Employment Professionals. For more than a generation Jack has been doing all he can to improve the workplace environment. He is best described by this observation from Brian Tracy:

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
On this day, Jack addressed The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes.

Mistake 1

Do not assume that your best employees do not need recognition. According to Jack, your best employees need and deserve recognition. Employees and supervisors should be given credit where credit is due.

Mistake 2

Don’t accept mediocre performance from C employees. Lowering the bar for the C employees who make up about 50% of the workforce will not move the organization forward. Overloading the A performers who make up 20% of the workforce is not the answer. There is no such thing as a good employee with a bad attitude.

Mistake 3

Dictator Decision Makers will not improve the work environment.

Referencing a famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon, Knowledge is power, Jack made the case for embracing people who think differently. He believes that great leaders know the value of maverick thinkers. Great leaders enable people to be different.

Mistake 4

Great leaders know how to communicate effectively.

Jack Smalley

Employees need to know what is going on. An employee deserves honesty. When it comes to leadership, everything is on the table.

The messenger is as important as the message especially when the message is bad news.

The top communication mistake is not telling the truth.

Mistake 5

The failure to mentor employees is a critical mistake.

In a compelling way, Jack used his own experience to demonstrate the importance of mentoring. His grandfather advised him to find something in life you enjoy. His father was his best friend. As a fire chief, he lived by these words: Don’t ask people to do things you are not willing to do yourself.

When Jack was 12 years old, he admired the quarterback of the high school football team. Every Saturday, he would meet with Sammy Dugger who mentored Jack. This was a priceless experience. It enabled Jack to become a successful football player in his own right, and it documented virtually all of the characteristics of successful mentoring.

Relationships matter. There is not a leader on earth who can succeed without employees_1 sharing information. You must surround yourself with good people, and you must be credible. Avoid anonymity. At all cost, take a personal interest in people.

Jack’s greatest mentor is his wife. She taught him the greatest lesson. Live family first.

When Jack mentioned David Cottrell’s book I thought about a famous quote from Monday Morning Leadership. It is a perfect description of Jack Smalley’s leadership philosophy:

Leadership can’t be claimed like luggage at the airport. Leadership can’t be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position. And leadership can’t be given as a gift – even if you’ve been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else. Leadership must be earned by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals. David Cottrell

The Express Employment Professionals Webinar event was an excellent example of what Jean Vainer wrote about community:

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg;
Amy Staff

Nikki Schake:

Brittany Pagnotti;

Rameika Jones;

Evan Miller;

Patricia L. Camayd:

Jack Smalley.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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Sound Advice from Four Men on the Mountain

July 4th, 2016

Happy Birthday America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

America is a passionate idea or it is nothing. America is a human brotherhood or it is chaos. Max Lerner

Mount Rushmore

Six years ago this month, Kitch and I visited Mount Rushmore.Rushmore Affectionately known as the shrine of our democracy, it is an inspirational statement about America at its best.

Conceptualized and designed by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and finished under the supervision of his son, Lincoln Borglum, the project was 14 years in the making, 1927- 1941. It is a testimony to creativity, courage, dreams, enterprise, industry, hard work and perseverance.

The actual construction began in 1935. Those in the know tell us that 400 men worked on the project. Some unskilled workers earned 50 cents an hour while other workers earned 65 cents an hour. Skilled drillers earned $1.25 an hour. The total cost of the project was 1 million dollars.

Workers Rushmore

Without the support of President Calvin Coolidge, the project would have never been completed. After his vacation visit to Mt. Rushmore, President Coolidge used his influence to get public funding through congress to finance the project.

In 1936 when the project was half finished, President Franklin Roosevelt visited Mount Rushmore. Looking at the images of Washington and Jefferson, he said the work was an example of cooperating with nature not fighting with nature.

When the project was completed, 450,000 tons of granite rock had been dynamited and replaced with the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Of the 400 men who worked on the project, only two men sustained minor injuries.

According to records of the National Park Service, 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year.

In October of this year, the monument will be 75 years old.

On this the 240th birthday of America, we thought it might be a good idea to share a few of the most encouraging thoughts authored by the four men who are enshrined on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington

The father of our country shared these insightful comments about how to live a productive life:Bust of George Washington in the U.S. Capitol.

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

It is better to be alone than in bad company.

Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

Thomas Jefferson

The author of our Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States offered these priceless words of advice:

Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.

Never spend your money before you have it.

Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.

Teddy Roosevelt

The first President to win a Nobel Peace Prize offered these pearls of wisdom:
TR 2

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Abraham Lincoln

Many historians believe that Abraham Lincoln was our greatest President. During his lifetime, he was one of the most vilified men to ever hold the highest office in the land. Nevertheless, he soldiered on because he was determined to save our union and emancipate the slaves. These are a few of his most insightful thoughts about criticism:A Lincoln_2

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion.

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

Happy Birthday America

(Archival pictures are part of the Library of Congress collection.)

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Fathers Day 2016

June 19th, 2016

Thoughts About Our Fathers
Written By Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

On this special day, Kitch and I would like pay tribute to our fathers by sharing some of the important things they taught us.


One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. George Herbert

They taught us to work hard for the things we wanted.

The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family. Reed Markham

They encouraged us to dream big dreams.

The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. Abbe Prevost

They valued human connections.

We never get over our fathers, and we’re not required to. (Irish Proverb)

They made indelible marks on our souls.

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. Jim Valvano

They were always there for us in all the ways that mattered.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. Charles Wadsworth

We both remember their words of wisdom…someday you will understand.

My father didn’t teach me how to live; he lived and he let me watch
him do it.
Clarence B. Kelland

We learned important lessons by watching how they dealt with problems.

A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son. William Graham Sumner

They taught us that sweat equity was the secret to success.

A father is the one friend upon whom we can always rely. In the hour of need, when all else fails, we remember him upon whose knees we sat when children, and who soothed our sorrows; and even though he may be unable to assist us, his mere presence serves to comfort and strengthen us. Emile Gaboriau

We will never forget their words, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you."

A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them. In so doing, he really stands in their place. He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self. Every attempt to live as if he were alone is a denial of the fact that he is actually responsible. He cannot escape the responsibility, which is his because he is a father. This reality refutes the fictitious notion that the isolated individual is the agent of all ethical behavior. It is not the isolated individual but the responsible person who is the proper agent to be considered in ethical reflection. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

They taught us how to be responsible.
One of the greatest gifts we received from our fathers can best be expressed by paraphrasing the words of Charles Dickens:

Thank you for teaching us how to focus upon our present blessings, of which we have plenty; not on our past misfortunes of which the both of us have some.

Our fathers were men of discipline, example, industry, hope, responsibility, sacrifice and love.

We thank them for these priceless gifts.

Happy Father’s Day.

We love you dad.

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Thinking About America on Memorial Day

May 30th, 2016

Thinking About America on Memorial Day

Anthony J. Mussari, Sr.
Kitch Loftus-Mussari
The Face of America Project
Copyright 2016

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. The Wonder Years

Memorial Day is much more than a 3-day weekend or the unofficial start of summer. It is a very important memory day.DSC02635 It is a day when we step back and remember that the price of freedom is not free. It is a day when we demonstrate our gratitude for the men and women who gave their lives to guarantee that all Americans can hold on to the things they love, the things they are and the things we never want to lose.

During our Face of America journey, we had many magic moments that caused us to think about the essence of America and the contributions of genuine heroes.
This is our attempt to summarize in words and images what Memorial Day means to us.

A Place of National Gratitude


When President Harry Truman spoke these words, he was describing the significance of Arlington National Cemetery:

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. President Harry S. Truman

There are 230,000 grave markers at Arlington. More than 400,000 people from the United States and 11 other countries are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. More than 4,000,000 people visit the cemetery every year, and 30 people are buried in the cemetery every day.

A Wall of Heroes

The old Irish saying Death leaves a heartache noMarseilles, Illinois one can heal, love creates a memory no one can steal is a perfect description of the picture we received from Anthony Cutrano, the cofounder of the Middle East Conflict Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Illinois. It is a powerful image that needs no explanation.

Built with voluntary contributions of money and labor, this memorial is unique in that it was built to honor the fallen before the conflict ended.

The Crosses of Lafayette


Maya Angelou’s thoughtful comment How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! prompted us to include the name of one of our heroes, 2d Lt. Emily Perez, at the “Crosses of Lafayette” memorial in California.

Emily Perez was the first member of West Point’s “Class of 9-11” to die in combat. She was 23-years-old when she lost her life while leading a convoy in Iraq.

Jeff Heaton the founder of the “Crosses of Lafayette” describes this sacred place as “a tidal wave of grief.” Kitch and I found it to be that and so much more. It is a genuine, from the heart celebration of the courage and service of our heroes and she-roes

What is a Hero?

Joseph Campbell gave us a beautiful definition of a heroPeoples Memorial 2005 when he penned these 16 words. A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

Campbell didn’t know it at the time, but he was articulating what thousands of people experienced when they visited the People’s Memorial to the heroes of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA.

For 10 years, Shanksville was like a second home to us. The temporary memorial as it was known then was an inspirational place, a peaceful place and a memorable place.
A young student described it perfectly with these unforgettable words. It is a place where Hope is stronger than death.  

40 Angels and 5 Veterans


A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. Woodrow Wilson

To help visitors better understand what September 11th and Flight 93 was all about Eric Pierson designed the Angels of Freedom. On this Memorial Day, we would like to remember and thank five of those angels who were veterans: William Joseph Cashman, Patrick Joseph Driscoll, Andrew Sonny Garcia, First Officer LeRoy Homer and John Talignani.

America at Its Best

Sometime the perspective of others best defines who we are.Liberty We think that was the case when Nicolas Sarkozy, the 23rd President of the French Republic, shared his definition of America:

What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind. America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who — with their hands, their intelligence and their heart — built the greatest nation in the world: ‘Come, and everything will be given to you.’ She said: Come, and the only limits to what you’ll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent.

What is America?

Many years ago, Harold Ickes, a Pennsylvania native and Secretary of the Interior, asked himself a simple but profound question. What constitutes an American?
His answer reminds us of the essence of America:


Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

On this very special day, Kitch and I will be thinking about the men and women who were willing to give life to these words with their service and their sacrifice for America. We will never forget you.

On this Memorial Day, the poetic words of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper summarize the things we love, the things we are, the things we never want to lose:

God bless our native land,
Land of the newly free,
Oh may she ever stand
For truth and liberty.

God bless our native land,
Where sleep our kindred dead,
Let peace at thy command
Above their graves be shed.

God help our native land,
Bring surcease to her strife,
And shower from thy hand
A more abundant life.

God bless our native land,
Her homes and children bless,
Oh may she ever stand,
For truth and righteousness.

(The picture of Arlington National Cemetery is part of the Library of Congress Collection.)

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America At Its Best: Dr. Stephen Post

May 21st, 2016

15 Things We Learned About the Power of Good from Dr. Stephen Post

Anthony J. Mussari, Sr.
Kitch Loftus Mussari
The Face of America Project 

It is good to be good and science says so.  Dr. Stephen Post 

On June 9, 2016, Dr. Stephen Post will receive the Nonprofit Leadership Award from the Project Pay It Forward organization in New York City.

Stephen Post Tribute Journa_FCl_sm_FC
To celebrate Dr. Post’s accomplishment, Kitch and I submitted this tribute for all that he has done to make our world a better place. 

Dr. Stephen Post has spent a lifetime researching, studying, teaching and writing about the power of good. Dr. Post is a good and decent human being. When we hear his name, five words come to mind: Altruism, Compassion, Happiness, Hope and Love.

Dr. Post is the director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics. He is the president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.  More than anyone in our country, Dr. Post knows what the pursuit of happiness is all about.

Our Face of America Journey took us to the Stony Brook University Medical Center for an interview with Dr. Stephen Post, the author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People and The Hidden Gifts of Helping.  

These are 15 things we learned about the power of good and the pursuit of happiness From Dr. Stephen Post.

1. Thinking about others, not just living for self, does make us happy.
Why Good things Happen to good people_SM

2. People who give generously, generally speaking, live happier, healthier and longer lives.

3. We Americans should always think of ourselves as teachers of caring for others.

4. When people do “unto others” in kindness, it lights up the primitive part of the brain that also lets us experience joy.

5. In the giving of self lies the discovery of a deeper self.

6. People have more today, but we are not happier.

7. To be happy, Americans must learn when enough is enough.

8. The key to happiness is contributing to the lives of others, a simplistic thoughtfulness and moral integrity.

9. We need to learn more about how we can nurture the best in America: courage, faith, gratitude, hope, joy, love, nobility of purpose and wonder.

10. No matter how difficult life can be, never give up on the power of love. It is the one thing that can carry us through the difficult times.

11. Love people where you are, and do dig deep and meaningful roots.

12. Make it a practice to help one person every day.

13. The power of giving, compassion and hope can get us through hard times.

14. Helping someone who is hurting not only benefits those we assist, but it is good for us as well.

15. Love is not just a feeling to be hidden away in the heart and enjoyed privately. Love is something we show in everything we say and do; a witness to our families, our friends and the world. We must be on guard to prevent the love of power from overwhelming the power of love.

America is one of the few countries on the planet that guarantees its citizens the right to pursue happiness.  Logo Image SM According to Dr. Post, give and you will be happy, give and you will be healthy, give and you will live longer, give and you will fulfill the promise of America. He believes that America is the land of the free and the home of the good.

To paraphrase the words of Cleveland Amory, now more than ever we need a new kind of army – the army of Dr. Stephen Post. He is a classic example of the Face of America at its very best.

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Graduation 2016: Abu Zahid’s Big Day

May 15th, 2016

Dreams Do Come True When You Are Resilient and You Work Hard

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Pictures by Kitch Loftus-Mussari &Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2016
All Rights Reserved

Real courage is holding on to a still voice in your head that says, ‘I must keep going.’Senator Corey Booker

Our Face of America journey took us to the Arena inIMG_0582_2_1_SF Wilkes-Barre Township to honor an invitation we received from a senior at Marywood University. A handwritten note on the inside of a formal invitation to Marywood University’s Ninety-Eighth Annual Conferring of Degrees touched our hearts in a very special way.

The note was written by Abu Zahid, and it was addressed “To My Friends Tony & Kitch.” It read, in part, “I would love to see you on my graduation day.” The rest of the note was personal and private, and it will remain that way.

Needless to say, we accepted the invitation, and we designed a very special gift for the graduate.

Graduation Day

On Saturday, May 14, we drove to the Arena, and after we IMG_0621_2_1_SSsecured a parking place outside and a seat that would be easily accessible for Kitch inside, I returned to the area where the students were entering the building. I wanted to make sure I saw Zahid before the graduation ceremony.

This part of our plan worked out well. We met shortly after he arrived in the parking lot. We talked, and he introduced me to his friends he refers to as his American godmother and aunt, both of whom traveled long distances to be with him on his special day.

Before and during the graduation ceremony, my mind was focused on two things: Kitch’s safety in this large crowd, and the compelling attributes of our friend Zahid.

Shortly after we met in 2015, Kitch and I posted an article about Zahid in our blog. It was titled An Unforgettable Example of Resilience at Marywood:

When the graduation speakers offered encouragement andIMG_0596_ JS_SF advice to the graduates, memories of experiences Kitch and I had with Zahid flashed through my mind. For example, his notes always included a sentence like this: “I promise you I will not let you down,” or this: “I promise you I will achieve my dream and I wish you achieve yours.”

One of his biggest dreams would be realized on this day. He wanted to come to America, and get a degree from an American university.

Another goal was to learn to speak and write English fluently. He was so committed to this goal that he moved out of a comfortable home where he lived with three other Saudi students. He moved in with only English speaking students so he could learn the language. That speaks volumes about his character and his commitment to learning.

When speakers made reference to Marywood’s core values, Zahid’s interaction with people gave witness to three of those values: Respect, Service and Excellence. He honors the uniqueness and dignity of every person he meets. He is committed to promoting social responsibility and he reaches up to attain the highest level of achievement.

In another respect, he believes in empowerment. He wanted to get a good education so he could achieve his full potential.

Kipling’s Canvas

When Rudyard Kipling wrote one of his most famous poems, “If,” as a piece of advice for his son, in many ways, he was describing Abu Zahid:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Zahid’s young life is deeply rooted in courage, honesty, gentleness, gratitude, responsibility, resolution, respect and love.

Kitch and I were honored to be invited to his graduation. We are blessed by the memories of the moments 1 SAbo_MUSNwe shared with him and his friends. We are inspired by his persistence, and we are humbled by his courage and determination to "keep on keeping on" regardless of the challenges and difficulties he encounters.

In 2013, Cory Booker offered these words of encouragement during his commencement address at Yale University:

It’s that voice that says nothing is a failure if it is not final. That voice that says to you, ‘Get out of bed. Keep going. I will not quit.’

Every day of his life Abu Zahid is a living reminder of the power and wisdom of these words.

Congratulations Zahid on your big day. Always know that you have a special place in our hearts.

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America at its Best: Bob & Judy Gardner

May 5th, 2016

Celebrating the Accomplishments of Two Wonderful Teachers

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

On an unseasonably cold and wet May afternoon, our Face of AmericaHenry Student Center_0016 journey took us to Wilkes University to celebrate the accomplishments of two of the finest teachers we have ever known, Drs. Robert and Judith Gardner.

What follows here is the speech I wrote to honor the retirement of Judy and Bob. It includes one comment that was not included in the speech, because it arrived while the speech was being delivered.

A Portrait of a Teacher

This is such a wonderful moment for Judy and Bob, a bittersweet moment for Wilkes University and a memorable community moment for those of us who have the good fortune to be here.

I would like to begin with a thought for this very special day.

If you combine the love and the caring hearts of mom and dad,IMG_0068_sm
the wisdom of grandmother and grandfather,
the instincts of a physician and a psychologist,
the benevolence of a guardian angel,
the high expectations of a successful coach,
the patience of Job,
the flexibility of a great athlete and the creativity
of a successful actor or musician, you have a portrait of a great teacher.

In my opinion, Bob and Judy Gardner are great teachers. If anyone would question that statement, please listen to the comments of some of their students:

Great Teachers

Judy was so helpful this semester. She is one of the sweetest professors I’ve had, and she is so knowledgeable as a teacher. She always makes sure to get the point across while making others feel good about themselves when responding. Bridget Galle

Bridget’s comment gives truth to what Albert Einstein said about good teachers:

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

Bob and Judy have that supreme art.

The Gardners truly care about students and education. EverythingTruly Care they do is in service to education, whether it is teaching new educators or hosting forums for educators of all ages; they want teachers to be the best they can be. In their classes, they speak only encouragement and constructive criticism. Jason Walker

Jason’s words reflect the wisdom of Dan Rather’s famous comment about teachers:

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.

Bob & Judy believe in their students.

Look For The GoodJudy and Bob are such motivating and inspiring educators. They taught me to look for the good in every situation. They taught me that every moment spent both inside and outside of a classroom can be the experience of a lifetime. They taught me most importantly that although we may come from different parents, homes, lifestyles, and cultures…in a classroom we all crave but one thing, and that is knowledge. Josefa Romero

Josefa’s thought is similar to something Parker J. Palmer said about good teachers:

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.

The Gardners are great weavers.

They Inspire me

What the Gardners taught me in class goes far beyond what was listed in the syllabus. They taught me what it means to be a positive, responsible leader, an effective, caring teacher, and a genuine, honest human being. Their positive attitudes and unwavering commitment to education inspire me each and every day. They are the epitome of the kind of teacher I can only hope to be one day.  Jennifer Baron

Jennifer’s thought reinforces the brilliant observation of Henry Adams:

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

Bob & Judy have affected eternity!

Great People

Dr. Judy and Dr. Bob Gardner are great people, along with being effective, caring, and understanding educators. I did not have many classes with them; I was in Dr. Judy Gardner’s class last semester and I am currently in Dr. Bob Gardner’s class now. The first day of class, I was happy to know I had such compassionate and inspiring individuals with such a love for teaching. They truly care for their students, helping them to achieve their journey to success. It has been a pleasure having them as my instructors. Summer Kubicki

Summer’s insight causes one to think about the profound words of John Lubbock:

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.

Giving students the wish to learn was the first priority in every class the Gardners taught.

I had the pleasure of having them both for my professors forWork Together different classes at Wilkes and also was able to see them teaching together. My first encounter with them was a class they taught as a team… educational psychology. They worked together so well, and you could tell that they both had such a strong passion for education. I was ecstatic to find out I was in Dr. Judith Gardner’s class the next semester because she made class so enjoyable. Andrea Circelli

I think John Steinbeck would have enjoyed and affirmed Andrea’s Comment, for it was he who said this about great teachers:

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist… It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

Kitch and I were blessed to observe the artistry of Bob and Judy Gardner.

When I asked the most important person in my life to describe Bob & Judy Gardner, my wife responded with these words:

They are decent human beings.

Decent human Beings

They love what they do.

They are open-minded.

They want to learn and grow.

They are considerate, thoughtful and kind.

They are gratitude people.

They know the power of two of the most important words in the English language, “Thank You.”

They are polite people whose actions speak louder than words.

For the past five years, Kitch and I have been privileged to work with Judy and Bob in their classroom and in their educational forum. Because of their kindness, we have experienced many extraordinary and memorable teaching and learning moments here at Wilkes University.

Excellence in Education

Judy and Bob Gardner reflect the light of excellence in education. They are warm, accessible, caring and competent.

They set high standards for themselves and their students.

Because of his musical background, Bob understands the observation of Dr. Richard Leblanc. In the classroom he is the conductor and the students are the orchestra. It is his job to bring out the best in every student.

Bob and Judy give truth to Charles Kuralt’s dictum:

Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.

How did they do it?

The answer is simple.

They followed the advice of one of my heroes, Fr. Joseph Girizone:

Your work on Earth… is to fill up in the lives of others those things they lack. In that you will find happiness.

I think their legacy is beautifully recorded in this note from Jason LaNunziata:

I came into Dr. Judith Gardner’s class as a 28-year-old collegeThank You For Reminding me why dropout… trying to make up for lost time… I leave it with a deeper understanding of, and caring for, education. It has been a very rare thing in my life to find someone whose mere passion for a subject inspires me to be passionate about it as well…. being in her presence you can feel the joy she gets from teaching her students. She is truly an inspiration to me and an individual I hope to someday be like.

While I understand logically why she is retiring, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it breaks my heart. She is a personal hero of mine, and if someday I can become a tenth of the teacher she is, I will be a great one. She may never know the depths of which she has inspired me, and other students as well, and it falls too short to simply thank her. However, in my making it one of my life goals to be like her, perhaps I can continue her legacy. I feel truly honored to have had Dr. Judith Gardner as one of my teachers, and I wish her, and her husband, all the health and happiness that they so justly deserve in their future endeavors. Thank you Dr. Gardner. Thank you for reminding me why I wanted to become a teacher. And thank you for raising my own personal standards of what to achieve and how to teach.

Jason’s note says it all. I think every teacher in this room would agree. It doesn’t get much better than that.

At just about the time I was speaking to Judy and Bob and their guests, another student was sending her thoughts to me via e-mail.

Knowledgeably and Kind

I believe when teachers care about their students and love what they are doing, that’s when the most learning is accomplished. The enthusiasm Drs. Judith and Robert Gardner project in the classroom show they care wholeheartedly about their students and their love for teaching. They are incredibly knowledgeable and kind, and as a future educator, I have been really blessed to be able to learn from them. It is difficult for me to put into words how much I appreciate them, so I hope that when I become a teacher myself, I can take what I have learned from them and use it to become just as wonderful and inspiring as they are. Melyssa Laureano

The famous words about teaching that are often attributed to William Butler Yeats capture the spirit of Melyssa’s words and Judy and Bob’s teaching philosophy:

Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Thank you Judy and Bob for your wonderful example.

Judy & Bob_0116

Thank you for opening your classroom to many different voices.

Thank you for giving an old teacher a new classroom.

Thank you for your priceless friendship.

Judy & Bob you are quiet heroes who radiate the light of America at its very best. Those of us who are fortunate to know you are genuinely blessed in all the ways that matter. In your classroom and in your life you have given special meaning to the immortal words of Coach Herb Brooks:

Impossible is just a degree of difficulty.

May Providence bless your retirement with good health and good fortune, and may you always know of our admiration, respect, friendship and love.

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Exploring the Journey to Success at Wilkes University

April 10th, 2016

Exploring the Journey to Success at Wilkes University

The Journey to Success

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. Abraham Lincoln.

Success Takes Teamwork

Thursday, April 7, was an unseasonably cold and rainy day. As we were leaving for our Face of America journey to the MartsMarts_9240_250 Center on the Wilkes University campus, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was a good omen of things to come.

When we arrived at the Marts Center, the first three doors we checked were locked. We could not get into the building.

Just as we were about to check the fourth door, three men, Ryan, John and Gene, approached the entrance. With a pleasant greeting, they showed us how to get into the building. Once inside, Ryan and John accompanied us to Room 214 where they rearranged the tables and chairs transforming the room into a comfortable classroom environment.

These three men from the moving department represented Wilkes University with dignity and class. Kitch and I were very impressed by their attitude and their behavior. They reminded us of something Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, wrote in Inc. Magazine: The difference between success and failure is a great team.

Honoring Jennifer’s Request

Jennifer Baron is a very impressive student. She is working on Jenphone_sma double major in English and Secondary Education, and a double minor in Women’s and Gender Studies and Special Education.

She is a Resident Assistant, an E-Mentor, an Admissions Office Lead Ambassador, Vice President of UNICEF and Secretary of BACCHUS.

In her spare time, Jennifer writes for The Beacon, the University’s student newspaper

Kitch and I met Jennifer last year in Dr. Judith Gardner’s Cultural Studies class.

On this special afternoon, Jennifer arrived early to do an interview for The Beacon. When I asked her to help us set up the computer and the projector for our PowerPoint presentation, she pleasantly and willingly agreed to help. When all of the elements were working and the lights in the front of the room were dimmed, we went to the back of the room for the interview.

Jennifer asked good questions. She modeled the technique employed by many successful journalists. She humanized the interview with her first question. “Tell me about your background.” Her style was soft and relaxed. There were no “Gotcha” questions. She empowered me to be reflective, and she listened attentively to my answers.

It was a pleasure to work with Jennifer. Kitch and I are looking forward to reading her article.

To rephrase a famous quotation, Jennifer conducted a successful interview because she was prepared, polite and patient.

Two Successful Teachers

Just as Jennifer was finishing her interview, Drs. Judith and Robert Gardner walked into Room 214. As always they were welcoming and very personable.

Judy and Bob are two very successful teachers. They love what Judy Bob Ded_sm2they do, and they do it well. They are innovators. They started the Gardner Educational Forum Series at Wilkes, because they believe education should not be limited to the classroom. They want their students to hear other voices, because they believe those voices will enhance and expand the perspective of their students.

In the classroom, they create a positive learning environment. They encourage discussion, and they provide incentives that encourage students to do more than take notes and memorize data. They are available, courteous, kind and respectful to everyone they meet. They don’t talk about teamwork, they exemplify it in everything they do.

Because this would be the last time Judy and Bob would enter room 214 for a Gardner lecture as active members of the Wilkes University faculty, Kitch and I wanted to express our gratitude in a special way. We dedicated the lecture to Judy & Bob, and we had the dedication slide printed and framed. It was the least we could do to express our thanks for their kindness to us.

When William Arthur word wrote these words, he was describing Judy and Bob Gardner:

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

The Journey to Success

The short title for this presentation is The Journey to Success. The academic version of the title is Rules of the Road to Success: Life LessonsIMGTitle_sm from Experience.

I received the invitation to make the presentation in January, and despite cataract surgery and some health issues, I spent most of my time revising and refining the initial version of this presentation that was given at a Speed Networking Event at Marywood University in February of 2015. I will always be indebted to Matthew Parkyn for that teaching opportunity.

The final edit to the Wilkes version was made on the morning of April 7. Yes, you are not seeing a typo. On the morning of the presentation, I was tweaking my presentation.

Why, you ask?

The answer is very simple. I did not want to disappoint Judy IMG_8193_MEB_LFand Bob, their students and our friends who would be attending the presentation. Moreover, I feel deeply about this subject. It is something that is rarely discussed in a formal way in classrooms, and it is something that can be both emancipating and helpful to students.

By the time my research was finished, I had assembled a Success folder on my desktop. It contained 601 files and 29 folders. It was one of three folders containing materials about success. The final version of the PowerPoint presentation had 128 slides with 144 pictures and graphics.

In addition to the dedication slide we presented to Judy and Bob, we presented a framed copy of Jennifer’s slide to her.

Magic Moments

There were several magic moments during and after this presentation:

Looking out into the audience and seeing the faces of two of my former students, several of our friends and one of my former colleagues was a scene I will never forget;

Watching and listening to the students who were in the room, they were fully engaged;

Experiencing the joy of learning that was taking place, and knowing that the messages were resonating with the students and the adults.

Before the event, I asked the students to record their definition of success on a 3X5 note card.

After the event, I sent this note to Jason Walker and a similar note to the students who provided their e-mail addresses:

My wife and I are working on an article about the event, and…I IMG_8185_smread your answer to the question, What Is Success?

You wrote, Success is a feeling of self accomplishment, happiness and contentment.”

Based on the material you heard and saw in the presentation, would you modify your answer, and what would the modifications be?
What are your thoughts about the presentation?

This is the response I received from Jason Walker.

Hello Dr. Mussari, I would change my answer to (Success is) living with integrity, being surrounded by the ones you love, and a sense of self accomplishment. I found the presentation to be very helpful and insightful. It has definitely helped me to evaluate my choices, decisions, and values. Thank you for giving the presentation.

Those four sentences contained the best definition of a successful classroom experience a teacher could ever expect.

Jason came into the room with one idea. He participated inIMG_8220_DJ_sm every aspect of the presentation, and he left the room with a different and more refined understanding of the subject matter. What a moment. It doesn’t get much better than that.

An adaptation of the words of Peter F. Drucker says it all: No one learns as much about a subject as the person who is asked to teach it.

The celebrated American humorist, Will Rogers, gave us a thoughtful definition of success when he spoke these words:

If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing.

Kitch and I know that we love to help Judy & Bob Gardner and their students because we believe in what they are doing as teachers and friends.

Thank you, Ryan, Gene and John.
Thank you, Jennifer Baron.
Thank you, Judy & Bob Gardner.
Thank you, John Augustine and Mark Simko.
Thank you, Pam Bird.
Thank you, Bev, Darlene and Ellen.
Thank you, Sean McGrath.
Thank you, Gary Williams.
Thank you, Wilkes students,
Thank you, Wilkes University.

It was one of the most enjoyable and successful learning experiences Kitch and I have ever had, and we will treasure the moments we spent with you.

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Marywood University: Ethics Conference 2016

March 29th, 2016

Marywood University: Business Ethics: Multiple Perspectives

Starred Thoughts from the 14th Annual Conference on Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016 All rights reserved
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The respect that leadership must have requires that one’s ethics be without question. A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the gray areas. John C. Maxwell

On March 21st our Face of America journey took us to Marywood University for the 14th Annual Conference on Ethics, Leadership and ethics2016bCorporate Social Responsibility. The theme of the conference was Multiple Perspectives. In keeping with the tradition of the Ethics Conference, it was an experience in community and critical thinking. It was a wonderful, information-packed learning experience for everyone who attended.

The featured speakers included James Sheridan, Pennsylvania American Water, Dr. Ahmed Gomaa, School of Business and Global Innovation, Marywood University, Dr. Christiana Hasemann, NY-Penn Nutritional Services, Inc., Dr. Murray Pyle and Dr. Rex Dumdum, School of Business and Global Innovation, Marywood University, Michael Williamson and Marygrace Wilce, Prudential Insurance and Annette Fisher and Leslie Christianson, Marywood University.

There were two student presentations: Student Perspectives on Ethics as recorded in posters students designed and a Business Case Study presented by the award winning Marywood University Student Ethics Competition Team.

The conference was organized by Dr. Murray Pyle, his wife Ellen Sherwood and Dr. Monica Law. They had help from members of the Marywood community.

Ethics in an IT Environment: More than Ones and Zeros

Starred Thought

“Privacy doesn’t exist anymore”

When we arrived at the conference, Dr. Ahmed Gomaa was discussing IMG_7670_smEthics in an IT Environment. The slide on the screen outlined a history of ethical problems from the 1940s/50s to the problems we face today, security and secrecy, propaganda, and identity theft.

At one point in his presentation, Dr. Gomaa got everyone’s attention when he spoke these five words, “Privacy doesn’t exist anymore.” Rapidly declining data storage costs lower the cost of creating huge national databases comprised of private information.

There are some real-world IT ethical dilemmas like the use of systems to monitor employee e-mail to protect valuable assets, but decreasing employee privacy and monitoring employee use of the Internet at work decreasing employee privacy. He addressed the moral implications of this problem and the need to develop guidelines to protect a person’s right to privacy.

During the question and answer session, Dr. Gomaa made it very clear that there is no absolute right to privacy. Using the current conflict between the U.S. Government and Apple regarding the encryption issue, Dr. Gomaa told the audience, no one is above the law. If a judge offers a ruling that the encryption must be broken, this decision must be respected.

During the intermission, I had the pleasure of meeting a very personable student, Tom Skrutski. I asked him if he agreed with Dr. Gomaa’s position about the encryption issue. Without hesitation, he said he did. When our security is at stake, he told me, no one is above the law.

Current Issues in Health Care Ethics

Starred Thought

“In ethics not all questions have answers especially in health care.”

It was a special moment when Dr. Alice E. McDonnell, author of IMG_7716_A_smManaging Geriatric Health Care Issues, introduced Dr. Christiana Hasemann, a registered dietitian and President/CEO of NY-Penn Nutrition Services, Inc. Christiana was a student of Dr. McDonnell, and she is justifiably proud of Christiana’s many accomplishments in the health care field.

These are a few of the key points in Christiana’s presentation:

1. Nearly every decision in the health care has ethical implications;

2. Ethics committees are necessary in health care venues;

3. The five top ethical issues are: improving access to care; building and sustaining the healthcare workforce for the future; addressing end of life issues and allocating limited medications and donor organs;

4. Everyone should be treated equally and fairly;

5. What should drive healthcare decisions: Quality or Efficiency?

6. Some of the most challenging ethical issues involve the cost of care for the elderly, care for the mentally ill or cognitively impaired.

Christiana provided the students with an 8-step framework for ethical decision-making:

1. Identify Ethical Issues;

2. Clarify Values;

3. Clarify Influencing Factors and Barriers;

4. Define Guiding Principles;

5. Analyze Alternatives;

6. Find Common Ground;

7. Decide and Act;

8. Assess Outcomes.

Christina concluded her presentation with this starred thought:

Not all questions will have answers in ethical dilemmas. The hope is that through careful thought, discussion and deliberation, questions and answers will intersect for an outcome that is ethically sound!

Culture, Values and Leadership

Starred Thought

“The basis of culture is shared values.”

Shortly after 3 p.m. Dr. Murray Pyle asked this question:


What is organizational culture, where does it come from and how does it relate to ethics, corporate social responsibility and leadership?

He explained that many things contribute to culture: family, religion, language, social networks.

The basis of culture is shared values.

Drawing from the work of Edgar Schein, Dr. Pyle explained organizational culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solves its problems.

There are three levels in Organizational Culture:

1. Artifacts – Easily observed like the design of buildings and behaviors. What we see, feel and do;

2. Espoused values-The stated values/rules, goals, philosophy as articulated by management. The values we pretend to venerate;

3. Assumptions-The root of culture…the hidden or unspoken behaviors of people in the organization.

Dr. Pyle made an important point when he emphasized that the espoused values and the lived values are often not the same. Effective leaders make sure this does not happen.

Dr. Pyle’s colleague, Dr. Rex Dumdum, drew insights about leadership and cultural organization from a very famousIMG_Rex_sm Harvard Case Study about Johnson & Johnson. Quoting Edward Schein, Dr. Dumdum made the point that leaders create, build, maintain and change the culture.

There was a time when Johnson & Johnson had a sterling reputation. In 2010, a congressional investigation of the company raised questions about its integrity. It painted a picture of a company that is deceptive, dishonest and risks the health of many people.

In 1982, Johnson & Johnson’s CEO emphasized quality not quantity.

Almost a generation later in 2009, the CEO expected employees at Johnson & Johnson to do their job fast. They were encouraged to make it look good, and get it done as fast as possible. Management pressured workers to take shortcuts. The dominant force in the company was profit not quality. Marketing had a higher priority than science.

The result of this culture is recorded in this statistic. Between 2008 and 2011, there were more than 50 voluntary recalls.

Starred Thought:

“There is a direct relationship between organizational culture, corporate leadership, ethics and corporate social responsibility.”

Ethics: A Powerful Force in the Financial Services Industry

After he told the audience that insurance companies are in the IMG_Prudential 1business of making and keeping promises, Robert Tyndall, a senior Vice President for Strategy, Planning and Risk Management at Prudential Financial Services, set the tone for this session with his definition of ethics:

Ethics is what you do when no one is looking.

Then he introduced Michael Williamson and Marygrace Wilce to explain why Prudential takes ethics very seriously.

These are few of the starred thoughts from their presentation:

Really good companies practice what they preach. That is what we do at Prudential.

We tell our employees that we one company with one brand and one reputation.
IMG_prudential 2

We respect the Buffett rule: It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

The Prudential code of conduct is 109 pages long. It is deeply rooted in honesty, forthrightness, and using good judgment.

Ethics is a framework.

Culture matters.

Culture trumps compliance every time.

IMG_prudential 3

It’s not about getting results. It’s about how you get results.

Strong Ethics equals good business results.

A good ethical culture results in less employee misconduct and higher productivity.

Prudential encourages and trains its employees to win with integrity.

Culture begins with leadership.

Successful leaders are good role models.

All of us are leaders in one way or another. The tone at the top is important. It trickles down

Integrity drives brand. Brand drives profit.

Create a “safe to say” environment where associates feel safe to raise their hand when there is a problem.

Rationalization is a deadly sin.

Academic Integrity: What Does It Really Means and Why Do you Need to Know?

The final session of the conference was conducted by two librarians from Marywood, Annette M. Fisher and Leslie Worrel Christianson.IMG_7887_aj Annette is the Information Literacy librarian. Leslie is User Services librarian.

Using various items including Goodnight Moon, a Barbie doll and a Coke bottle, Annette defined copyright, plagiarism IMG_AF_smgand patent.

The first copyright law was passed by congress in 1710. The length of the copyright has been changed several times. The essence of a copyright is a contract between an author and society. There are two requirements for a copyright:

1. The item must be an original work;

2. It must be an expression of an idea fixed in a tangible medium.

In 1998, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act lengthened copyrights to the life of the owner plus 70 years. The heirs of the person who copyrighted the material own the copyright for 70 years after the author’s death. If the copyright is not renewed, it goes into Public Domain.

Trademarks must be registered every 10 years, and patents every 20 years.

Coca-Cola is an example of all three: Copyright, Patent and Trademark.

Annette made it very clear that academic dishonesty is claiming someone else’s work as your own.

Using information from the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy, she summarized her starred thought with these words:

You have a greater role and responsibility in creating new knowledge, in understanding the contours and the challenging dynamic of the world of information, and in using information, data, and scholarship ethically.

Leslie dedicated her time to what she called the moral code of academia…Academic Integrity.

Everything in her presentation was designed to emphasize how a student or teacher could use information ethically, because in our information society, information has become the central and most IMG_7954_LS_SMsignificant commodity.

In our information-knowledge based culture, it is more important than ever to use information ethically.

Using a small package, she challenged the students with three questions:

What is your knowledge product?

What is its value to society (Economic, Social, Political Influence)?

How can it negatively impact society?

A Special Moment

Before we left the Nazareth Student Center, we stopped to talk with the students who helped to make the conference a success. They greeted everyone who attended the event. They worked at the registration deskIMG_Students_A answering questions and providing directions. They were welcoming, pleasant and very helpful. It was a long day for them, but they were as enthusiastic at this late hour as they were when we arrived.

When I asked for their cooperation so that I could get a group picture, they did not hesitate to respond positively to my request.

They did not realize it at the time, but they and their behavior reflected the light of one of the things the ethics conference is all about. They demonstrated respect for themselves and respect for others. Watching these students throughout the day gave truth to the axiom Actions speak louder than words.

Final Thoughts

On March 22, Kitch and I wrote a note to Murray Pyle. It summarizes our feelings about the wonderful learning opportunity:

Good Morning, Murray:

I am sure your inbox is filled with congratulatory notes so I will make this one short and to the point.

You and your colleagues have every right to be walking on Cloud 9 this morning.

The Ethics Conference was a wonderful, information packed learning experience for everyone who attended.

Kitch and I enjoyed the sessions we attended.

Thank you for all that you did to make the conference a success, and thank you for your kind invitation.

Kitch and I hope to write something about our experience. I will let you know when our article is finished.

Have a peaceful and enjoyable day on Cloud 9!

(Digital photographs by Tony Mussari)

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Atty. Joe Savitz: America at its Very Best

March 26th, 2016

Atty. Joe Savitz: A Classic Face of America on its Best Day

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Graphics by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2016
All Rights Reserved

The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.Robert Baden-Powell

Our Face of America journey took us to Temple Israel in Wilkes-Barre forMemberBrochure the memorial service honoring our friend Atty. Joe Savitz. Conducted by Rabbi Larry Kaplan, he described this memorable and dignified service as an opportunity to give comfort to Joe’s children. It enabled family members, colleagues and friends to paint a picture of a man whose life and work reflected the light of America at its very best.

This is a summary of the characteristics the speakers attributed to Joe Savitz, the cousin, father, colleague, attorney, community leader and friend.

An Insight from a Cousin

Joe’s cousin described him as a remarkable man. It was always fun to be with him, he said. He was a man of humility who took joy in the accomplishments of his family and his friends.

When I heard these words, two thoughts came to mind:

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done. President Dwight David Eisenhower

A great man is always willing to be little. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Personal Account from a Son

The most poignant moment of the service occurred when Joe’s son Marc talked about his father in heartfelt and compelling ways.

In 1962 when he was 8-years old, he witnessed the beginning of a true love story between two love birds, his mother, Janice, and her second husband, Joe Savitz.

Never Complain

These are some of the values Marc learned from Joe: never complain, be dependable, provide your children with a good home and great memories. As he grew older, he learned that Joe’s love of God shaped his character. His life was all about us and God. He wanted people to live the most rewarding life possible. He taught us by example to apologize for hurtful words, and to always be welcoming to people you meet.

In a touching way, Marc mentioned the personal way Joe included him and his sister, Lynne, in the activities of the larger Savitz family and how Joe always stayed on top of developments with the family giving encouragement and praise to the members of his family.

When Marc mentioned the word character, I thought to myself how blessed he and his sister, Lynne, were to have a man of character like Joe in their life. This quotation best describes Joe Savitz’s character:

Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence. Marcus Aurelius

When he described the love story and the love birds, these priceless words of Thomas Merton flashed through my mind:

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.

When Marc talked about Joe’s love of God, this Jewish proverb came to mind:

He who prays for his neighbor will be heard for himself.

The Perspective of a Friend

Gene Roth talked about Joe Savitz the preceptor, mentor, advisor and friend. He emphasized his definition of a good lawyer and his penchant for writing letters of encouragement. For Joe Savitz, it was not about the law, from LC Disagreebut how one practiced the law.

It was all about being respectful, disagreeing without becoming Win with Personal Honordisagreeable, and his cardinal rule: winning is not more important than winning with personal honor.

Atty. Joe Savitz was an outstanding lawyer who was well respected in the courthouse and in the community. He was a man of honor. He was understanding and welcoming.

His positive attitude was inspiring.

For Atty. Roth his friend was the sweetest and kindest gentleman he had ever known.

Atty. Roth’s comments about his friend triggered this thought authored by Gordon B Hinckley:

What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.

A Good Man, A Good Lawyer, A Good Friend

Atty. Craig Blakeley drove from Virginia to attend the memorial service.

When he addressed the congregation, he drew upon more than 30 years of friendship with Joe Savitz. That friendship began when Atty. Blakeley was a law clerk to Judge Max Rosenn. His admiration and respect for the Judge motivated him to work with Joe Savitz, as well as his co-clerks Richard Gelfond and Jeff Goldsmith, and Judge Rosenn’s brother Harold, to establish the Max Rosenn Lecture Series at Wilkes University.

Following the example of both Judge Rosenn and his first law clerk Joe Savitz, Craig Blakeley allocated much of his time to reading testimonials he received from former Rosenn law clerks.

Atty. Norman Monhait wrote that Joe Savitz was “A person who lived with integrity and added to the life of all who knew him.”
from LC

Dr. Mollie Marti wrote about Joe Savitz’s love of humanity and his generous warmth and about one of Joe’s first cases, in which he represented his mentor, Judge Max Rosenn, then a senior partner with Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald.

The president of the IMAX Corporation Richard Gelfond described Joe Savitz’s death as “the passing of a great man.”

Atty. James Sandman thanked Joe for being his mentor and role model. He taught this very successful Washington, D.C. attorney three rules for success: Excellence, Integrity and Service. To this day, he remembers Joe Savitz’s admonition, “Always give back.”

Before Atty. Craig Blakeley ended his remarks, he spoke with humility and emotion about Joe Savitz’s intelligence, wisdom, generosity and compassion. As tears filled his eyes, he shared this final thought. Joe Savitz was a good man, a good friend and I will miss him very much.

Five Meetings and a Lasting Impression

Dr. Patrick Leahy is the sixth president of Wilkes University. Appointed in 2012, he has had only 5 or 6 meetings with Joe Savitz. In 2014, he had the honor of presenting Joe Savitz with the first President’s Medal forPresident's Award_sm his 36 years of service on the Board of Directors and a lifetime of support and good counsel to his alma mater.

While Dr. Leahy was speaking about Joe’s accomplishments, I was thinking about the words of John Wesley. They are a perfect description of Joe’s service to Wilkes and his community.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can

Final Thoughts

One of Joe’s cousins who had the privilege of knowing him for 72 years described him in words: patient, deliberate, loving, supportive, encouraging, mindful, generous, thoughtful and service.

Essence of D &G

Rabbi Kaplan ended the service with these three thoughts about Joe Savitz:

Joe had a beautiful tenor voice and he attended service every week;

He was the essence of dignity and grace;

He kept us on our toes.

According to Rabbi Kaplan, Joe has been there for us and he will continueBe there for us to be there for us.

Kitch and I entered the sanctuary at Temple Israel with heavy hearts. We left the sanctuary with a firm belief that our friend had returned to his God, and he was at peace. We will miss this great man and all that he did to help so many people. To paraphrase the words of Fred Rogers, Joe Savitz gave everyone he met a great and priceless gift, the gift of his honest, kind, generous, encouraging, compassionate, and thoughtful self.

He is a radiant example of the face of America at its very best. His life gives truth to the words of Albert Schweitzer

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

God bless you, Joe, and may He send his healing grace to your family and all the people who were touched by your kindness.

(The picture of Temple Israel appeared in a Temple Israel brochure)
(The picture of Joe Savitz appeared in the Citizens’ Voice)

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Ellen Mondlak: Celebrated for Community Service

March 26th, 2016

Ellen Mondlak: A Woman Who Personifies America At Its Best

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2016
All Rights Reserved

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.Jane Austen

Ellen Mondlak is a friend, an inspiration and a woman who works tirelessly to serve her community.

Ellen and I met 61 years ago at St. Mary’s High School in Wilkes-Barre. That friendship was rooted in theSMS_sm culture of the 1950’s. We had great fun at the weekly dances at St. John’s School in North End and the dances at the Catholic Youth Center in Wilkes-Barre. Ellen was a cheerleader, and a respected and popular member of our class.

After high school she attended College Misericordia. She became a teacher. She left the classroom to become a part of the management team of her father-in-law’s printing business with her husband Jerry. Ellen was the bookkeeper, and the customer service representative. She also did layout and typesetting.

While she was raising her family, she devoted a good deal of time to community service projects that provided opportunities for young people. They included:

1. Being a den mother for scouts;
2. Serving on the Pittston Area School District’s Parents Advisory Committee;
3. Helping to organize the boy’s basketball parents organization;
4. Sponsoring a little league team and a college league team.

She also volunteered her services at St. Mark’s Church Altar and Rosary Society and the Jenkins Township American Legion.

When Wayne Dyer wrote these words he was describing Ellen Mondlak:

When you are able to shift your inner awareness to how you can serve others, and when you make this the central focus of your life, you will then be in a position to know true miracles in your progress toward prosperity.

A Well Deserved Award


Earlier this month, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network presented Ellen and one of her friends, Edythe Kepics, with its Distinguished Woman Award.

The headlines in the local newspaper read:

“Chamber celebrates honorees at dinner,” “As Distinguished as they come”

Michelle Mikitish, executive vice president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, explained the award with these words:

It’s less about their accomplishments, but it’s the day-to-day of making a difference within the community. Raising their kids, working in the business; pulling it all together that’s what we want to see in the women we honor, and that’s what we see in the two women we’re honoring today.

This is a short list of Ellen’s community service:

1. Chairman of the Jenkins Township Zoning Board;
2. Board member of the Pittston Township Ambulance Association;
3. Member and former president of the Luzerne County Crime Clinic;
4. Member of the Jenkins Township Crime Watch;
5. Former president and member of the Pittston Library.

In her acceptance speech, Ellen told the audience, “Of all the organizations I have been involved with, the Pittston Library is my priority.”

“My greatest personal achievement was surviving cancer.”

“Women have come a long way over the years…We women have tried very hard to better our next generation. We want the best for our children and our grandchildren by instilling in them they can do anything they desire if they strive for it.”

The Essence of the Woman

Someone once said, if what want to know who a person is, pay close attention to what is in their home.

During a recent visit with Ellen and Jerry, I did just that.


This is what I discovered. Ellen’s life is centered in her family. Wherever you look you see pictures of children, grandchildren and special pictures of family moments.

Two on my favorites are the pictures of Ellen with her three brothers and her mother. It captures both the ecstasy of a teenager with dreams, and sadness of her father’s premature death.

The other picture that defines Ellen is the image she put on the wake-up screen of her computer. It records a very special moment with her husband and her seven grandchildren.

The words of Dr. Joyce Brothers best describe this family moment:

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.

Ellen’s Angels

Ellen loves angels. In just about every room on the first floor of her home one will find an image of an angel.


She has adorned two of these angels with signs that speak to her value system.

One is a beautiful glass figurine on which Ellen carefully placed a silver sign engraved with these words:

True friendship is a blessing.

The other angel is quite unique. It was created with wire andIMG_7612_sm decorated with gold rhinestones. To emphasize the significance of this image, Ellen placed this sign in front of it:

A grandparent is someone with silver in their hair and gold in their heart.

In Ellen’s world, the poetic words of Mary Baker Eddy have special meaning:

When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts.

Ellen is surrounded by angels, and her heart is filled with love. Her service to others grows out of that love, and it has kept her moving forward since the day we met in 1955. She has known moments of great joy, and she has experienced the devastating loss of her son. She is most deserving of the Distinguished Woman Award.

The Ellen Mondlak Kitch and I know is best described by the inscription painted on theIMG_7638_sm ceramic dish in her living room:

A true friend is the best possession.

Congratulations, dear friend. Thank you for all that you do to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family. Thank you for being a caring friend and an example of what we all should be.

You are a radiant Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

(Some information in this story appeared in The Greater Pittston Progress. Sarah Scinto wrote the story. Ralph Francillo took the pictures for this story.)

(Some information in this story appeared in The Pittston Sunday Dispatch. Jimmy Fisher wrote the story. Tony Callaio took the pictures for this story.)

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Express Clydesdales Bring People Together

March 13th, 2016

Express Clydesdales Bring People Together in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2016
All Rights Reserved

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom. Sharon Ralls Lemon

On a pleasant March afternoon, Kitch and I traveled to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs where we had the good fortune to participate in aHorses_7484 wonderful event featuring the World Champion Express Clydesdales.

In one respect we experienced a celebration of the grace and beauty of these magnificent horses. In another respect, we were drawn into a world of Irish culture that was joyful and heartwarming.

Hosted by Amy Clegg and Jeff Doran the event was designed to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network operated by the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Amy owns and operates the Express Employment Professionals franchise in Scranton. Jeff is her counterpart. His Express office is located in Wilkes-Barre.

Amy and Jeff are excellent representatives of their company, and they reflect the light of compassion, kindness and professionalism in everything they do.

Those values and so many more were at the core of events that brought happiness and joy to everyone who attended the second visit of the Express Clydesdales to our little corner of the world. If you doubt the accuracy of that statement please look closely at the faces of the children and the adults in the pictures in our article.

This is our attempt to recreate the most memorable moments of this very special afternoon.

The Children’s Choir

At about 3:30 p.m., a group of children from the Small Wonders Children Singing_7122Learning Center in North Scranton faced an adoring crowd of parents, grandparents, friends, relatives and Tux, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins mascot, as they sang several songs with energy and enthusiasm.

Included in their repertoire were these favorites: Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Lucky Leprechaun and Grand Old Flag.

As I watched these youngsters perform, the words of the internationally recognized master music educator Cheryl Lavender came to mind:

The fact that children can make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music can make beautiful children.

The Magic of Bagpipes

According to those who study Irish history, bagpipers were a significant part of ancient Irish society dating back to 35 B.C.Jim Amy Jeff_7205

To this day, the distinctive music of the bagpiper is central to Ireland and Irish culture. According to some historians, it is more popular around the world than ever.

In putting together the program for the Clydesdales visit, Jeff Doran made sure a bagpiper would be there to entertain the guests, and that’s exactly what his friend Jim Sweeney did.

Standing at the top of the stairs overlooking the racetrack and the Clydesdales adoring fans, he captivated everyone with the glorious sounds of his music.

While listening to Jim Sweeney, one thing became obvious. If you want to hear the spirit of the Celtic soul, listen to the bagpipes.

The National Anthem

When Jim Sweeney finished his performance, Nikki Schake, Director of Nikki_7227Community Engagement for Express Employment Professionals in Scranton, introduced Mary Scheller.

Mary is well known to people who have heard her perform. She has a unique talent that enables her to personalize the words of our National Anthem in a way that reinforces the larger meaning of who we are as a people and what makes our country unique.

I am not embarrassed to say that when she sings these words, chills run up and down my spine :

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

A Poignant Moment

Joanna Bowser is the Coordinator of the Children’s Miracle Network.


She told her audience that all of the money raised by her organization stays in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

She thanked the members of the Express family for their support, and then she introduced children and their parents who received life saving care in Geisinger programs.

A 15-year old girl name Kaitlin described her battle with cystic fibrosis and juvenile diabetes.

Peyton was 8-years old when she was in an automobile accident. She sustained life threatening injuries. The help and care she received saved her life.

Ashland was 8-years old when she sustained head injuries that necessitated brain and eye surgery.

Kaitlin’s mother Tanya touched everyone’s heart when she spoke these words:

“I am grateful for all that they do to save lives.”

Someone once said: The best things in life are not things, they are moments. Listening to the poignant stories told by these genuine heroes was one of those moments.

And the Winners Are:

A good part of the final hour of the event was dedicated to picking Coloring Contest_7364and announcing the winners of the various items that were part of the raffle.

Before that happened, Amy Clegg took great delight in presenting the winners of the coloring contest.

With exuberance and pride, the four youngsters who won this contest held their images high above their heads so everyone in the room could see their creations.

It was a joyful moment.

Jeff Doran joined Amy in the front of the room when the 20 raffle winners were picked. One by one they came to the front of the room to claim their prize. The most coveted prizes were the bicycles donated by the Walmart Supercenter in Dickson City.

Stepping Up

The Irish have a saying: Dance with your heart and yourStep Dancers_7434 feet will follow.

That’s exactly what the students from the Crossmolina School of Dance did at the Clydesdales event. All decked out in their colorful costumes, they performed to the lilting sounds of Celtic music. They were delightful to watch, and very entertaining.

Under the watchful eye of their instructor Maureen Murphy King, the dancers exuded high spirit and confidence.

There is another Irish saying: Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.

The performance of the Irish step dancers touched the hearts of everyone who saw them perform.

The Queen is Crowned

One of the most anticipated events of the afternoon happened shortly Crowning Q_7404before 6 p.m.

The Miss Express Clydesdales Queen is all about promoting entrepreneurship. leadership and mentoring opportunities for young women.

Three young women were selected as finalists in the first competition of its kind in the history of the company: Kady Hodge, a senior at Tunkhannock High School, Grace Penney, a senior at Crestwood High School and Rachel Jones, a junior at Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre.

During the Clydesdales event they were judged as they mingled in the crowd greeting people and handing out lollypops and stickers. They also helped with other chores.

When the votes were tallied, Rachel Jones was 2nd runner up, Grace Penney was 1st runner up, and Kady Hodge was the first young woman to earn the title of Miss Express Clydesdales. She won a thousand dollar scholarship to the college of her choice.

Grace Penney won a five hundred dollar scholarship, and Rachel Jones received a basket of goodies and gift cards.

Throughout the entire afternoon, all three of these contestants presented themselves with great dignity, discipline and class.

With broad smiles on their faces, they walked to the track where the Clydesdales were waiting to take them on a 20 minute ride around the track.

A Memorable Day with a Joyful Ending

Early in the afternoon,while people were standing in line waiting to picture with horsehave their picture taken with a Clydesdale, I had a very interesting conversation the Mike Hoehner, Special Events Marketing Manager for the Express Clydesdales.

During our conversation, I asked Mike to define success.

He responded with these words: “I can tell you bluntly one cannot climb the ladder of success by stepping on the backs of people.”

He also told me he believed that successful people are servant leaders. They use their authority to serve others.

Successful leaders have a good mentor. Mike’s mentor is Jack Smalley, one of the most respected members of the Express leadership team.

As I watched the six Clydesdales pull the Express coach around theClydesdales_7534 track, I thought about Mike Hoehner’s words, and I looked beyond the obvious.

Yes, this was a fundraising event.

Yes, this was a community outreach event.

Yes, it was an entertainment event.

Amy Staff_7300

But in my heart and mind, it was much more.

It was an example of many of the values that make America great: belonging, caring, compassion, creativity, community, discipline, excellence, empathy, gratitude, industry, kindness, responsibility, thoughtfulness, understanding, and opportunity.

Amy Clegg and Jeff Doran personify the principles of servant leadership.

Jeff Staff_7320

They encourage, empower and help the people who work with them.

They heal wounds and restore relationships. They bring people together.

They value the relationships they have with Lee, Jocelyn, Kari, Mary, Nikki, Kathleen, Samantha, Holly and Vivian, and they treat them with respect. They appreciate the volunteers who helped to make this special afternoon so successful.

What Kitch and I saw on Friday afternoon can only be described as Express at its best and a beautiful community moment which exemplified America at its best.

Thank you, Amy Clegg;

Thank You, Jeff Doran;

Thank You, Mike Hoehner;

Thank You, Clydesdale’s Trainers;

Thank you to all of the Express Employment Professional employees in Scranton & Wilkes-Barre, and all of the Express Employment Professional associates and volunteers;

Thank you photographers Danielle Antonello, Julie Overholser and Warren Ruda and artist Diane Grant Czajkowski. It was a joy to work with you.

In 1954, Ronald Duncan captured the beauty of this day when he wrote these words:

The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity. A willing servant, yet never a slave.

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A Wax Museum Event in Cranbury, New Jersey

February 19th, 2016

A Wax Museum Event in Cranbury, New Jersey: Adam’s Moment

Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Photographs by, Tony Mussari Sr.
Edited by, Kitch Loftus Mussari
Copyright, 2016, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

I believe in setting high standards for players, being open and honest with the players and respecting an honest effort. Coach Herb Brooks

Shortly before 7 p.m., we entered the school in Cranbury, New Jersey. Hall_6619The hallways were jammed with parents and friends of the 68 seventh-grade students who would make presentations in the 2016 Wax Museum.

The sense of anticipation was exhilarating. The feeling of accomplishment was apparent to every one of the visitors, as was the commitment of time, energy and effort made by teachers, students and their parents.

The Cranbury School has received national recognition for excellence in the classroom, and this creative approach to living history is an extension of that tradition.

PGM fp

Each of the students was required to pick an historical figure from an approved list of men and women. Some students like Adam MacMillian decided to pick their own individual and convince their teacher of the worthiness of this person’s contribution to history or culture.

Adam chose the legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks.

Wide shotWhen we entered Room 60, we were impressed by the behavior of the students, and the creativity exhibited in their posters and their costumes. One would never expect to find Maya Angelou, John Adams, Larry Page, Eleanor Roosevelt, Glen Miller, Jane Goodall, Gordie Howe, Thomas Edison, Herb Brooks, Mahatma Gandhi and James Beard sitting next to one another in the front of the room.

At the appointed time the presentations began. Each student faced the audience and spoke without notes for about two minutes.

Dressed in a camel hair sports jacket, a blue shirt and tie, AdamSpeaking_6682 MacMillan got everyone’s attention when he stepped forward and blew his whistle. Carrying a clipboard with images of hockey plays, Adam’s opening line was well crafted:

Oh hello there, I’m Herb Brooks, ice hockey player and coach. You may know me as the coach who won gold in the 1980 Olympics. But you should also know me as a coach that changed the game, not just my teams.

He emphasized the importance of Coach Brook’s relationship with his brother Danny and his college hockey coach John Mariucci. Adam told the audience that Herb Brooks worked hard and followed his dream. He maintained high standards for himself and his players, both in the Olympics and in the NHL.


During his disciplined presentation, Adam maintained eye contact with everyone in the room including his parents and his grandfather. They were sitting in the front row.

Adam ended his remarks with this statement:

Well, I have a practice right now, so here is my friend Mahatma Gandhi. He returned to his seat in the front of the room.

During the final two speeches, I took a few pictures, and I thought about the benefits of the Wax Museum experience. It gave the studentsIMG_6696 an opportunity to learn something about critical thinking and the importance of research. It gave them an opportunity to craft a story in words and images. It challenged them to make several presentations in front of different audiences. It compelled them to have the discipline to condense their story into a very tight window. It created an environment which empowered the students to learn how to learn.

Adam’s written presentation was exactly 361 words. He told the story of Herb Brook’s life and his accomplishments in about three minutes. Adam did not use any digital devices during his presentation. It was all about the person, the narrative, the research and the delivery.

In my opinion, the Wax Museum was an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn important skills that will help them during every stage of their development.

In the 1980’s, Carol Malouf, former school administrator, set the bar high for the students in the Cranbury school system when she initiated this unique learning experience that was deeply rooted in historical biography. Almost a generation later, the Wax Museum tradition continues in the Cranbury school system. The students, their parents and their teachers continue to respond in ways that represent American public education at its very best.

As I was leaving the school I noticed artwork on a classroom door that defined American education and our country at its very best.

In our classroom we…The door
respect each other

are ready to learn

are responsible

try our best

use manners

ask questions

work hard

learn from mistakes


support each other

never give up

We are family

Thank You Chivon and Doug, for inviting us to attend this wonderful event.

Thank you to the 68 students for your thoughtful and informative presentations.

Thank you Adam for remembering the legacy of Coach Herb Brooks and presenting it in a very effective way.

Thank you Elizabeth Grimaldi for the time, effort and energy you invested in organizing this extraordinary learning experience.

Thank you to the faculty and staff of the Cranbury School. You give special meaning to the words of Marva Collins:

Once children learn how to learn, nothing is going to narrow their mind. The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.

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Customer Service at Its Best

February 18th, 2016

Customer Service at Its Best: Thank You Lorna Wright

Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Photographs by, Tony Mussari Sr.
Edited by, Kitch Loftus Mussari
Copyright, 2016, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

Unless we can join forces and recognize each other’s humanity, how can we do business together let alone make progress. Daniel Lubetzky

On a bitter cold February afternoon, Kitch and I made our way to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Monroe Township, NewHotel Sign_6959 Jersey. It was the first stop on our journey to the Wax Museum presented by members of the seventh grade class of the School in Cranbury, New Jersey.

Shortly after we arrived at the hotel I realized that I forgot my baby aspirins. I asked the woman at the reception desk, if I could purchase a bottle of baby aspirins in a vending machine. Her answer was negative.

At this point in our conversation Lorna Wright walked into the reception area. She quickly picked up on our conversation. When I explained the importance of baby aspirins to a recovering heart surgery patient, she took the initiative, and volunteered to help. She walked with me to the area where the vending machines are located. After carefully checking the inventory, she made this suggestion. I will see to it that you get a bottle of baby aspirins.

There was one complication. It was 4:30 and our hosts Adam MacMillan and his father, Doug, agreed to meet us in the lobby at 5 p.m. We would drive to a local Italian restaurant where Adam’s mother, Chivon, would meet us.

With a pleasant smile of understanding on her face, Lorna Wright put my mind at ease with these words. “That’s not a problem. I will drive to a local store and get the aspirins myself.”

I expressed my gratitude for her kindness and her willingness to help.


Less than 20 minutes later, Kitch and I were standing in the lobby exchanging hugs with Adam and Doug when the office door opened and Lorna Wright appeared carrying a small white bag.

She joined us in the lobby, and she gave me a container filled with Low Strength Analgesic Aspirin. I offered to reimburse her for the aspirins, but she politely declined. “I thank you for this opportunity to help you.”

At that point in our conversation, I mentioned my life-long interest in learning about and teaching the principles of customer service. I asked her what her definition of customer service is.

She replied with a classic insight. “customer service is giving the customer more than they expect to receive.”

Later in the evening, I asked Doug and Chivon to share their definitions of customer service.

Chivon is a very successful business executive. She offered this interpretation:
“Customer service – treating others the way you would want to be treated.”

Doug’s response provided another perspective:

“Do not reward poor customer service by continuing to give them your business! In today’s day and age, it is easy to find other providers of goods and services, who will provide a great customer experience, reward them with your business. When you find a business that does not provide great customer service. Talk with your feet! In other words leave and find their competitor who will surpass your expectations.”

If you have read our blog, you know that we have visited every one of the continental United States searching forLorna Kitch_6599 examples of the Face of America on its best day.

Without question, Lorna Wright is a classic example of America it its best.

She is caring, helpful, and kind. She looks beyond the obvious to solve problems. She takes the initiative to find answers to problems. She listens intently, and she is not dismissive or contentious. She is empathetic. She has that priceless quality that makes you believe that she cares about you.

Kitch and I will never forget her kind and welcoming way, and we will try in every way we can to reach her standard of excellence.

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