Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2018

Class notes

Weaving connections Javi Cubillos ’11 had never even located Erie on a map before she titled AkuRuka Mapuche. Seventy percent of the population of her soon-

Holly A. Chiappazzi Villella ‘79 is a contributing artist with Clark Whittington’s Artists-in-

Kelly Matczak ‘98 has created Eagle Point East, a company dedicated to empowerment

embarked on the three-fight, 24-hour trek from her home in Chile to enroll at Mercyhurst in 2007. “It took me forever to get there!” she recalls. “Luckily, when I arrived, I found a beautiful campus and a very welcoming community, including very supportive faculty and staf and many other Latin American and international students who shared a little of my culture so I never felt too far away from home.” By the time she returned home to stay, she had earned two Hurst degrees, a B.A. in Communication in 2011 and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership in 2014, and was ready to put her skills to work. Javi and her husband, Juan Vidal, now work at the international school she attended. But soon they hope to leave the busy city of Santiago behind and relocate to Lonquimay, a remote area in the south of Chile where they hope to live in a calmer, more self- sustainable manner. As partners in a tourism business ( ), they plan to provide personalized travel experiences to Lonquimay, teaching travelers about the indigenous culture that predominates in the area. They’ll ofer everything from cultural activities like Mapuche cooking and learning about their medicinal herbs to exploring the beautiful geography of the area with physical adventures including trekking to a volcano crater and skiing virgin mountain slopes. Inspired by the people who inhabit the region, Javi has also launched a social entrepreneurship project

- to-be home is from the Mapuche Pehuenche culture, some of Chile’s frst peoples. “Throughout Chile they have been unfairly marginalized and driven out of their lands, resulting in an impoverished community,” she explains. “This wonderful culture is dying, its language runs the risk of being extinct not many years from now, and their people strive very hard to fnd ways to endure in the high Andean regions of the country.” Mapuche women traditionally create beautifully intricate weaves incorporating Mapuche cosmology and vision and try to sell them (often unsuccessfully) in the streets or at local fairs. AkuRuka expands the market for these goods using online channels like Etsy and Facebook, allowing the women to become self-sufcient and economically independent – and, most importantly, encouraging them to preserve their culture and pass it on to new generations. Each unique weave comes with a photo of the woman who made it, a tag telling how the product was made, and a QR code that leads to a video detailing the entire process from obtaining the wool to the fnal weaving. The artisans earn a fair price for their extensive work, from the shearing of the sheep through washing the wool, spinning it into yarn, dyeing it with natural herbs, and fnally weaving it on a loom (which is also made by the women). Check out her project at and at

and helping professionals and individuals fnd their true paths and creative solutions to life’s challenges. She is the author of two books available on Amazon: Manifesting, Willing and Creating: Live the Life You Desire and Italy with a Side of Mayo . Louis D’Ambrosio ‘99, principal of Arthur Middleton Elementary School, presented on Capitol Hill on Oct. 24, 2017, with a panel pertaining to state ESSA plans and the efects of Title II funding for recruitment & professional development for principals. Alex Ogeka ‘02 has been promoted to executive director of the Kutztown University Foundation. From 2011 to 2014, he was director of alumni engagement at Kutztown and served as a campaign committee member for KU’s “Setting the Stage” campaign, which generated more than $15 million. He was named the foundation’s senior director of development and alumni relations in 2014. Dr. Brandon Gabler ‘02 has been named regional director and vice president of operations with Commonwealth Heritage Group Inc., a cultural resources consulting company, in its Dexter, Michigan, headquarters.

Cellophane, a venue for original art sales in North America. More than 500 artists contribute their work to be dispensed through upcycled cigarette machines stationed in national art museums and other high-trafc venues; the Erie Art Museum has an Art-O-Mat machine. Holly paints impressionistic watercolors (submitted with an original Haiku) and gouache abstracts. Karen Gens Jakiel ‘84 has been hired at EmergyCare as foundation and government relations coordinator. She will manage grant requests as well as a comprehensive government relations program to advocate for legislative and policy goals favorable to the emergency medical services industry. Monica Klos ‘84 has accepted a position with Allegheny Health Network as practice manager for the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. John Deasy ‘90 will lead a renewed efort by the Irish government to seek relief for the undocumented as the frst envoy to help undocumented Irish people in the United States. Paul Casey ‘94 was named vice president of operations and branch development for the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy, New Jersey. Melanie Songer Lucht ‘95 was appointed assistant vice president for enterprise risk management at Carnegie Mellon University. She will help the university proactively manage and mitigate the many inherent risks associated with operating a global institution of higher education. Cheryl Sibble Moore ‘95 earned a Doctor of Psychology degree with a specialization in organizational leadership from the University of the Rockies, Denver, Colorado. Michael Eldred ‘97 completed an Ironman competition on July 23, 2017, with a time of 16:04.

Bradley Sage ‘03 was named director for the athletic training program

at Indiana University.

Amanda Mountain ‘04 has taken a new job as associate director of development at McCurdy Ministries Community Center in Espanola, New Mexico. She lives in Santa Fe. Amanda Harnocz ‘07 was promoted to director of digital content at Cleveland 19 News.

Javi Cubillos (center) with Mapuche women.


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