Four receive SU's Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Four Shippensburg University alumni received the annual Outstanding Young Alumnus Award May 11 during the Spring undergraduate commencement ceremony.

The recipients are James A. DeGaetano, Class of 1999; Gerald E. Johnson, Class of 1995; Jason S. Kirsch, Class of 1995; and Stacia Thieman Ritter, Class of 1997.

DeGaetano, of Mechanicsburg, has spent his professional career in a variety of financial-related positions across many industries, taking him from China to Europe and North America for many business projects. A former audit manager and broker, as well as experienced running a $50 million company, he started JD Financial Services, dba First Command Financial Planning, almost six years ago and serves more than 400 clients with more than $115 million in assets. He has won numerous awards for his work, including being nominated for the Top Forty Under 40 award by the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal. He is a CPA, Certified Financial Planner and earned his master’s in business administration in 2002. He is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Financial Planning Association and Financial Services Institute as well as being active in his community serving with the Rotary Club of Carlisle. His wife, Jen, is a 2000 Shippensburg graduate.

Johnson, of Pittsburgh, is an assistant district attorney in the District Attorney’s Office of Allegheny County, Pa. Johnson used his Shippensburg education as a stepping-stone to a very successful career in law. He earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1998. He later served as a law clerk for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Del Sole, as a contract attorney for the firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, as a law clerk for Court of Common Pleas Judge Lieberman, as a law clerk for Court of Common Please Judge Pozonsky, and as a contract attorney for Eckert Seamans Cherin & Merlott LLC. He joined the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office in early 2003 where he is assigned to the Felony Narcotics Unit. He is a member of various professional organizations and volunteers at a soup kitchen for Men with AIDS

Kirsch, of Harrisburg, is director of brand and consumer engagement for Capital BlueCross. He began his career in marketing and public relations as a marketing specialist with Dauphin Deposit Bank. He has since served in numerous similar positions including as director of marketing communications for HealthCentral Inc., deputy press secretary in the Governor’s Office of Communications, assistant vice president for public relations services with Sacunas & Saline, and vice president/director of marketing and public relations at Metro Bank before accepting his current position. He is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America and has presented workshops at national programs. He also received the Top Forty Under 40 award by the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal and is a former president of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society.

Ritter, of Shermans Dale, is director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Her interest in governmental affairs began as an undergraduate when she was accepted into The Harrisburg Internship Semester program. She began her governmental career in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after graduation as a budget analyst for the Democratic Appropriations Committee. After earning her juris doctor degree from Widener School of Law in 2001, she served as legal counsel for the Democratic Committee on Committees. She also served as executive director of the Democratic Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, executive director of the Democratic Commerce Committee, executive director of the Majority Transportation Committee and assistant executive director of the Democratic Appropriations Committee before taking her current position with the Turnpike Commission in September 2011. She has also served as solicitor of several Pennsylvania municipalities.