TCinC Mentor Virginia MertzFrank Cooper has volunteered as a TCinC Mentor since 2004/2005. He retired from over 33 years in the Information Technology department of Alcoa in November 2002. His last 10 years were spent as a team member and as a project manager implementing Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which contain modules to run the entire corporation including sales, manufacturing, accounting, purchasing and personnel. During this time he worked with many consultants as they assisted with the technical aspects of the ERP. He earned his Bachelor degree in Liberal Arts and then spent 2 years in the army before he started working for Alcoa. He attended night school at Duquesne University to obtain his Masters of Business Administration.

View Frank Cooper's LinkedIn profileView Frank Cooper's profile

TCinC Mentor Virginia MertzVirginia Mertz has volunteered as a TCinC Mentor since Spring 2003. She is a Product Planning Manager at Fiserv Inc. and has 30 years of experience in data processing, managing both people and projects, including technical and product related work. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has been a board member of non-profit organizations such as the Hunger Action Coalition and Just Harvest and has been locally affiliated with Bread for the World. She enjoys her experience with TCinC because of the opportunity to be involved with three areas that she finds challenging and rewarding – mentoring, non-profit organizations, and technology.

TCinC Mentor Richard PensonRichard Penson has volunteered as a TCinC Mentor since Spring 2002. He left the corporate world in 1999 after a career with the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in which he lived and worked in many countries around the world.  His work experience included Internal Audit and other management positions where he conducted international consulting and project management assignments.  His last assignment with Alcoa was in Milan, Italy as Manager-Business Processes after Alcoa acquired the nationalized Italian aluminum business. His experience in Italy included reengineering of multiple business processes as well as replacement of legacy systems with Oracle based applications operating across multiple locations. While Richard was with Alcoa's Internal Audit Department he recruited several high caliber staff from the CMU GSIA program and he is pleased to be visiting campus again to mentor students enrolled in the TCinC course. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. Since 1999, he has been involved with several diverse volunteer activities.  As well as mentoring for the TCinC course, he has worked with the Pittsburgh Mediation Center, CONTACT Pittsburgh, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. He has also been a Volunteer Mentor, Advisor, and Program Representative for the Technology Consulting in the Global Community (TCinGC) program.

View Richard Penson's LinkedIn profileView Richard Penson's profile

TCinC Mentor Tom LietmanTom Lietman has volunteered as a TCinC Mentor since Fall 2006. He began his career at the Union Switch and Signal Company in Swissvale, PA as a Project Manager by designing, building, and installing both tracking and remote control systems for the local railroads. He then moved to Alcoa, where he worked for 35 years in engineering, managerial, and strategic job positions. His final position before retiring in 2005 was as a Project Management Consultant for the corporate information technology group called Global Business Services in Pittsburgh. He is currently the Owner of a company called LEET Enterprises and is working for a local law firm as an Independent Contractor. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Electrical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently Vice President of the Pittsburgh Alcoa Retirees Club and the Alcoa Pittsburgh area United Way Campaign Coordinator.

TCinC Mentor Tom LietmanJoe McLaughlin is a life-long resident of Pittsburgh, PA and a graduate of the University of Dayton. He taught high school physics for 30 years after working for various local human services agencies. After retiring from the classroom in 2004, he began providing nonprofit and community organizations with technical support. Since then Joe has helped OASIS, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanities, the Deer Creek Watershed Association, Bridge to Hope, the Heinz History Center, and the Millvale Library, among many others. While Joe enjoys tutoring and helping agency staff manage their websites and technologies as well as serving as "Mr. Fixit", he finds the emphasis on developing sustainable solutions in TCinC projects to be one of his most rewarding efforts. See “Projects” on his web site NonProfit Tech for more information.

View Joe McLaughlin's LinkedIn profileView Joe McLaughlin's profile

TCinC Mentor Tom LietmanLarry Philips joined the TCinC Mentor program in Winter 2010. He retired from the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in 2007 with over 33 years in the Information Technology department. He worked most recently for an Alcoa joint venture company Sapa Extrusions, Inc. completing this assignment at the end of 2008. During the last 7 years of his career he was a member the Alcoa Engineered Products Business team implementing the Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Larry was a business unit expert for the Oracle quality and manufacturing modules. He trained Quality department personnel and implemented over 16 Alcoa plant locations in Oracle. His last Alcoa assignment was a 2 year implementation project in the Netherlands and Germany. Larry earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He spent the first 3 years of his career with the General Motors Corporation before joining Alcoa in 1974.

View Larry Philips' LinkedIn profileView Larry Philips' profile

TCinC Mentor Tom LietmanOlga Lagunova is a Vice President, software development at CA, Inc. where she leads a team in developing products contributing to CA's Cloud solutions. Olga has more than 20 years of experience in engineering large-scale enterprise management software, including systems, network, application and service management products. She is also a member of CA's Council for Technical Excellence - CA's architectural think tank comprised of technical thought leaders at CA. Olga holds a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from University of Moldova and Master of Business Administration from the Katz School of Business at University of Pittsburgh.

View Olga Laganova's LinkedIn profileView Olga Laganova's profile

Mentors for whom we don't currently have bios:

Current Mentor Schedule

Click here for Current Mentors Schedule

Role and Tasks of Mentors

Our course's professional mentors have extensive experience with how technology is used, managed, and integrated into the life and business of an organization. They also have experience consulting and working with non-profit organizations.

Our mentors are retired professionals with extensive careers in various fields that provide them with a comprehensive understanding of the impact that technology can have organizations. They are very effective in helping students connect their skills to the mission of the organization and advising how technology can enable the organization to carryout its mission.

Professional mentors serve as "consulting coaches." Throughout the semester, they review student consulting reports, offering feedback to the student consultant directly. This feedback often takes the form of probing questions, suggestions for alternative paths, identification of useful resources and suggestions for where communication might be improved. To be effective, consultants draw upon their experience. Generally speaking the students have limited experience and are often not sure how to think about a situation or what alternative strategies might prove useful. The professional mentor is able to support the student in exploring alternative strategies and paths.

Through the review process, the student and professional mentor develop a relationship such that students often ask for help from the mentors in thinking through problems and strategies. Often students use the professional mentor as a sounding board for ideas or as a way to think through a problem or solution. The student consultant and mentor exchange email and from time-to-time may meet in person. Toward the end of the semester, professional mentors attend class and facilitate their consulting peer groups analysis of individual case studies.


In Memory....

TCinC Mentor Bob MaherBob Maher was a committed mentor and friend of the Technology Consulting in the Community program from Fall 2000 until his death in 2008.  His quiet style, earnest interest, and long experience made him highly appreciated by the students he mentored, and we are leaving his entry up as a tribute to him.   

Bob was a retired businessman who served in management positions with ALCOA. Later, he became a CEO of a software development firm. He also served as a Marketing Consultant for the Carnegie Mellon University Technology Transfer Office. He was also a consultant to local high technology firms in the areas of Business Planning and Human Resources for 10 years until his death. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Union College and an Masters of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Business. His other volunteer nonprofit activities included serving as Peer Reviewer with the Standards for Excellence program conducted by the Pennsylvania Associations of Nonprofit Organization (PANO), serving as a Management Consultant with the Executive Service Corps, and coaching start-up local technology firms in the EnterPrize Business Plan Competition.

TCinC Mentor Charles PfeiferCharles Pfeifer was also a long-term mentor and friend of the program. He joined Bob Maher and Joe Kupfner as the original three mentors in Fall 2000 and continued both Fall and Spring semesters until illness forced him to stop in Fall 2007. In that time he mentored over 75 student consultants. He also provided invaluable advice to the program instructors and will be dearly missed.

Chuck retired from Westinghouse in 1994 after 35 years as a mathematician, manager of scientific program development, and computer network development at the Westinghouse Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin. His academic degrees included a Bachelor and Masters of Science in Applied Mathematics. Upon retirement, he volunteered for the Executive Service Corps helping non-profit organizations upgrade their computer equipment and implement small networks. He also spent many years serving the Municipality of Bethel Park on their Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board, and in retirement ran five marathons!  Back during the Korean War period, he was a Navy fighter pilot for eight years.