Foundation Names Officers, Award Winners

Jan 09, 2019

The Foundation for California University has elected officers and presented its annual awards to two individuals and one organization.

foundation awards

Geraldine M. Jones, Cal U President; Renette Oklewicz ´69, Job Johnson Award recipient; Dr. Richard Nemec ’65, Dixonians Award recipient; Frank Paterra, commander of the Charleroi American Legion Post 22, Society of 1852 Award recipient; and Dr. Harry E. Serene ’65, Foundation for California University president.


Elected to one-year terms were Dr. Harry E. Serene ’65, president; Frederick A. Retsch ’62, vice president; Dr. Donald J. Thompson, secretary; and Paul L. Kania ‘87, treasurer. 

The board added five new members: Courtney Cochran ´12, ´13, Nathaniel Dixon ´12, Ryan Fisher ´15, Chelsea Gump ´17, ´18, and Bethany Hoag Salmen ´05. Newly elected Alumni Association President Ashley Baird Roth ´10, ´12 is now an ex-officio member. 

The 2018 recipient of the Job Johnson Award for leadership and community service is Renette Oklewicz ´69.    

Recipient of the Dixonians Award for service to the University is Dr. Richard Nemec ’65. 

The Society of 1852 Award for philanthropy was presented to the Charleroi American Legion Post 22. 

Awards and winners

Job Johnson was among the founders of what eventually became California University of Pennsylvania. The award named in his honor recognizes alumni who have received recognition outside the University for excellence, innovation, community service or other achievements. 

Dedicated to improving conditions for children and families in need, Oklewicz is the founder of the Freddie Mac Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.  She is retired as the organization’s first program manager. 

Oklewicz was responsible for the foundation’s foster care and adoption portfolio, including the Wednesday’s Child national adoption program. She co-founded National Adoption Day, which has achieved more than 45,000 finalized adoptions over the past 14 years. 

Oklewicz also managed the production of the documentary The Beat Down Club, a portrait of life after foster care that aired on PBS. 

She has established the Ronald and Renette Oklewicz Endowed Scholarship at Cal U. 

The Dixonians Award is named in honor of John N. Dixon, who served on the Board of Trustees for 46 years. 

An emeritus professor, Nemec taught for 32 years in the Department of Communication Disorders, working with graduate and undergraduate students and supervising the department’s outpatient clinic.

A past department chair, he supervised student teachers and students involved with programs at the Pennsylvania Health Center in Monessen.

Nemec is treasurer for both the California University Emeriti Faculty Association and American Legion Post 22. He was instrumental in Post 22 establishing an endowed scholarship at Cal U.

To support students in the Department of Communication Disorders, he and other faculty members established the Dr. John Bitonti Memorial Scholarship.

The Society of 1852 Award recognizes distinguished contributions to the enhancement and excellence of California University. 

Along with establishing an endowed scholarship, members of the Charleroi American Legion Post 22 have been advocates of the University’s students who serve or have served in the military. Accepting on the Legion’s behalf was Frank Paterra, post commander.