Introducing The Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship




Rosamaria Cristello the 2016 Barbara McNees Scholarship Recipient

Rosamaria Cristello

Inaugural Recipient of the Barbara McNees Scholarship

Rosamaria Cristello was introduced at the Sept. 26, 2016 ATHENA Awards luncheon as the inaugural recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship. The scholarship pays Cristello’s tuition for the six-month, 100-hour Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, part of the executive education certificate program at CMU’s Tepper School of Business.

Cristello is the director of Latino Family Center in Hazelwood. The center is one of 10 Allegheny Intermediate Unit facilities that provide families with children age five and younger with parent education, child development, school readiness and other positive outreach. A resident of Point Breeze, Cristello holds bachelor’s degrees in GIS mapping and environmental planning and development from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she directed a Latino student recruitment and retention effort. She is co-chair of Allegheny County’s Immigrants and Internationals Advisory Council.


Barbara McNee

Barbara McNees retired from the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce in 2013 after a career spent building consensus among business, community and civic leaders in the service of increasing economic opportunity across southwestern Pennsylvania. Among her lasting achievements has been the institution of the ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh, recognizing women who, through mentorship, help other women to succeed

Founded in 1990, the ATHENA program evolved further in 2011 to recognize emerging female leaders age 35 or younger through ATHENA Young Professional Award. Extending McNees’ work to engage and empower young leaders is the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship.

Each year the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship will provide one woman age 35 or younger the the opportunity to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. (Part of the executive education program at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, the academy was founded by the late M.J. Tocci, the 2011 ATHENA Award winner.) The deadline to apply is July 29, 2016 for the academy session that begins Sept. 23, 2016. Learn more about the academy’s 100-hour certificate program here.


Scholarship Criteria
  • Pittsburgh region resident
  • 35 or younger
  • Track record of:
    • Professional achievement
    • Community commitment and voluntarism in Pittsburgh region
    • Support of women and/or girls through mentoring or involvement in organizations that positively impact women or girls
  • Financial hardship (employed by company or organization unable or unwilling to pay)
Scholarship Requirements
  • Commitment to attend the annual ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh Luncheon ("ATHENA luncheon") and be introduced as the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship recipient
  • Commitment to serve as speaker or resource at an ATHENA event to share "lessons learned" from the Academy with other young professionals
  • Commitment to participate in a mutually agreed upon program with the scholarship's lead sponsor
  • Scholarship covers tuition to the Negotiation Academy for the program year it's awarded

Founding Sponsors

In order to be able to grant a Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship annually in perpetuity, the founding scholarship committee established a $300,000 fundraising goal. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development is the fiscal agent for the scholarship funds. The following individuals and organizations – all drivers in the region for advancing, attracting and recognizing female talent and leadership – were early adopters who committed support to the fund.


Inaugural Sponsor

Elsie H. Hillman Foundation

Prior to Elsie Hillman's passing in August 2015, she guaranteed the funding of the first Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship as the first individual to pledge financial support.

Founding Sponsors
  • UPMC and UMPC Health Plan
  • Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Highmark Health
  • Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
  • Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Inc.
  • Jones Day
  • Wendy & David Barensfeld Family Charitable Fund

Become a Sponsor or Donate Now

Sponsorships are still available for you or your organization to contribute to the prosperous future of women's leadership in our Region in perpetuity. To explore a sponsorship or to donate, please email ATHENA@alleghenyconference.org. Contributions of $100 or more to the Barbare McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship are welcomed.

“Contributions to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development may be deductible (to the extent allowed by law) because it is a contribution to a 501(c)(3) organization. The Allegheny Conference will provide contribution deductibility information in an appropriate receipt following payment of the contribution.

The official registration and disclosure information of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement