Barbara Grandinetti spear-heads The Challenge Program, Inc.’s outreach, fundraising and talent recruitment. Grandinetti opens doors to opportunities and develops lasting relationships with businesses, educators, foundations and individual donors with a passionate mindset to spread the word about the program. She taps into her employees’ special talents to grow and expand the program.
Grandinetti was integral in creating The Challenge Program, Inc.’s now-signature fundraising event – The Crystal Owl Gala held each spring. She helps businesses supporting high schools apply for Educational Improvement Tax Credits in Pennsylvania. Through her efforts, The Challenge Program, Inc. obtained their Non-Profit Organization 50l(c)(3) status of the Internal Revenue Code with contributions to the program being deductible under Section 170 of the Code.
Grandinetti was Vice President of Real Estate with Crown American Real Estate Trust. In 1999, she was recognized by Shopping Center Business Magazine as one of the top women executives in the shopping mall industry.
In 2003, Crown American was purchased by PREIT, a real estate investment trust in Philadelphia, PA. PREIT, acquired 26 retail assets from the Johnstown based company. Grandinetti was asked by PREIT to head up the transition team. She accepted and was named Vice President of Special Projects. As the transition began to wind down in the spring of 2004, Grandinetti made her next great career move, joining Dan Perkins in creating The Challenge Program, Inc.
Grandinetti’s business acumen from her time as Vice President at Crown American and PREIT is why she has been able to lead The Challenge Program, Inc. from a small, local program to one that consistently serves over 100 high schools in three states. Grandinetti is passionate about giving back to communities, through The Challenge Program, Inc. She is often heard saying to students, “You can’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.” Equal to her sense of community and business acumen, is her determination to see students firmly rooted in good habits required for success.
A Johnstown, PA native, Grandinetti attended Mount Aloysius College and Cambria Rowe Business School.
Director of Finance
Karen Robatin has earned the respect of every employee of The Challenge Program, Inc. for her ability to look ahead financially while learning the lessons of the past. This talent has kept The Challenge Program, Inc. financially sound regardless of the economic climate. Her talents have helped the Program move forward breaking ground in new territories as well as with new ideas.
As Director of Finance, Robatin’s role expands beyond accounting. She is a member of SHRM and manages benefits administration, background checks and human resources policies for The Challenge Program, Inc.
Robatin oversees all TCP event planning and registrations and has a leadership role in the spring signature fundraising event, Crystal Owl Gala, assuring the success of the event’s auction and outcome.
Prior to The Challenge Program, Inc., Robatin gained experience with Beckwith Machinery Company and became the Controller after 12 years of service.
Karen Robatin is a Johnstown, PA native where she currently resides. She has a master’s degree from Robert Morris University in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in accounting.
Director of Program Development
Sara Jones is responsible for the successful building and expansion of The Challenge Program, Inc. in targeted territories. Jones has successfully added new schools, businesses, and counties since she joined The Challenge Program, Inc. in 2015. She is responsible for adding two Major Corporate Partners and assisting in the addition of two more.
In her role as Director of Program Development, Jones directs and mentors the program development team, as well as oversee the communications, marketing and operations in the company’s growth and expansion efforts. Jones assures the professional development of her team and coordinates the hiring and training of new employees.
Prior to The Challenge Program, Inc., Jones worked in marketing, sales and event planning in Somerset County and with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
Sara Jones is a Windber, PA native, where she lives with her family. Jones graduated the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a degree in communications with a minor in creative writing.
Workforce Development Manager, Career and Technology Education
Myra Bernhart coordinates workforce development initiatives between business and education for The Challenge Program, Inc. The responsibilities of workforce management include implementing a client-centered service approach to workforce development among high school students. Bernhart is responsible for ensuring meaningful connections between the schools and businesses as well as new business support for the organization.
Bernhart will focus in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Washington counties with career and technology education and grow from this starting point.
Bernhart has a long career history with job training and development having designed and implemented a variety of workforce related projects and programs including youth summer placement.
Bernhart attended California University of PA and earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education.
Program Development Manager, Southwestern PA
As a Program Development Manager for southwestern, PA, Misty Lowry is responsible for Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland, and Washington counties in Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and northern West Virginia.
“In this role, I am most excited to help build excitement in our student population to strive for excellence and to introduce them to rewarding industries, and careers available in their own backyards,” says Lowry. “I want to empower our youth to ask themselves ‘why not me?'”
Lowry is a Fayette County native where she lives with her family.
Program Development Manager, Central Pennsylvania
Nora Wells is charged with building and maintaining The Challenge Program, Inc.’s early established regions. Wells brings strong experience in digital and print advertising sales and marketing with the region’s local businesses.
Wells services Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Huntington, Indiana, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Somerset, and Susquehanna, PA counties.
Nora Wells is a Johnstown, PA native where she currently lives with her family. She graduated Indiana University of Pennsylvania with her degree in marketing.
Program Operations Manager
As Program Operations Manager, Anna Gibbs is responsible for ensuring the efficient operation of various processes that contribute to The Challenge Program, Inc.’s mission. Among her responsibilities are CRM data management, project management, foundation and grant management, surveys and their analysis, and communications including press releases.
During the school year, Gibbs schedules more than 100 schools twice a year for assemblies and award ceremonies. She contributes to new school development, policies and procedures, and staff training.
Prior to The Challenge Program, Inc., Gibbs worked in sales, marketing, event planning, and staffing in Johnstown and Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York. She was a contributing freelance writer for Johnstown Magazine.
Anna Gibbs is a New York City native and currently lives in Johnstown with her family. She graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a degree in literature and creative writing.
Digital Marketing Manager
As Digital Marketing Manager, Melanie Muha is the point person for the organization’s marketing needs, managing and delegating project workflow, and marketing design and content.
Muha joined The Challenge Program, Inc. in 2017 as an Intern. Her talents for writing, video design, and social media led to a permanent position as Marketing Assistant.
Muha’s social media development successes include increased Facebook followers, as well as establishing direct engagement with students through successful SnapChat and Instagram marketing campaigns. Muha’s talent with video development has broadened our digital footprint, further capturing the attention of our social media audience. She coordinates TCP professional video creation with an independent videographer.
Muha created the TCP blog, “An Inside Look” with her unique writing style and encourages business representatives, educators, and students to contribute content.
Melanie Muha is a Johnstown native where she lives with her family. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a degree in communications with a minor in writing.