Advisory Board

Advisory Board

The Penn State Behrend Political Science Advisory Board formed in 2009 and consists of prominent community leaders and alumni. The Board meets twice a year with faculty and current students to discuss community support and publicity for political science program teaching and research initiatives and events, career and internship opportunities for political science majors, and public engagement for faculty members and students with the community.

The Political Science Advisory Board consists of the following members:

Timothy Bevevino is an attorney and partner with the law firm of Swanson, Bevevino and Gilford, P.C. in Warren, Pennsylvania, concentrating his practice in the areas of municipal and business law. Mr. Bevevino received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from The Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College and his J.D. from The University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Bevevino has also served as an instructor for the Jamestown Community College in NY, teaching courses in business law and the judicial system.

Christopher P. Mong is the Director of Economic and Community Development for the city of Erie and a life-long resident of Erie who has always been active in civic and political affairs within the community. He holds a B.A. Degree in Political Science from Penn State Behrend with post-graduate work in Communications at Edinboro University. He and his wife, Christine, have four children. Mr. Mong brings a host of political experience to the advisory board. Under long-time Erie Mayor Louis J. Tullio and his successor Mayor Joyce Savocchio, Mr. Mong served 12 years in various local government positions. He also served for 6 years as the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Director for Community & Economic Development for Governor Edward G. Rendell.

State Senator Guy Reschenthaler was first elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate in November 2015. Reschenthaler formerly presided over District Court 5-2-16 in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Reschenthaler attended The Behrend College where he received the Most Outstanding First Year Student Award in 2002 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science in 2004. In 2007, Reschenthaler graduated from Duquesne University School of Law and immediately entered service in the US Navy JAG Corps. As a naval officer, Reschenthaler deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where he prosecuted nearly 100 terrorists and insurgents, receiving 92 convictions. In 2010, Reschenthaler defended a Navy SEAL falsely accused of abusing an Iraqi terrorist. His efforts throughout the jury trial led to a full acquittal for his client and are memorialized in Honor & Betrayal, a book by best-selling author Patrick Robinson. In his last naval assignment, Reschenthaler served as Officer-in-Charge of the Texas-Oklahoma Area of Operations. After overseeing scores of military defense cases and litigating numerous trials to verdict, the South Texas Federal Bar Association awarded him the Michael Taylor Shelby Award for Ethics, Dedication and Professionalism in the practice of law. In the spring of 2012, Reschenthaler returned to his hometown to enter private practice. Reschenthaler exclusively practices real estate law, where he represents land developers and home investors.

Melissa Shirey received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College, her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Gannon University and her J.D. from The Ohio State University. Since completing law school, she has practiced law in Erie County, where she is a partner at The Family Law Group and specializes in divorce, child support, and child custody cases. Shirey was the 2016 president of the Erie County Bar Association.

Sheila Fitzgerald Sterrett holds a BS degree in Communication from Clarion University as well as a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from Gannon University. She has two children and resides in Harborcreek. Sheila began her career as a Legislative Assistant for the late State Representative Karl Boyes, and she is currently Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Manager for US Senator Pat Toomey, after serving many years as Director of Government Affairs for the Manufacturer & Business Association. In addition, she also represents Erie County on the Republican State Committee for Pennsylvania and has worked on countless campaigns at the local, state and national level. Sheila is also a graduate of the Anne Anstine Excellence in Public Service series as well as Leadership Erie.

Judge John Trucilla serves on the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, to which he was first elected in 2001. He received his undergraduate degree in political science and his law degree from the University of Dayton. He is also a former Assistant United States Attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania.

Barbara Welton is an attorney who received her B.A. degree in Political Science from Penn State Behrend and her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a member of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows and serves on the Board of Directors for the Penn State Behrend Alumni Association.

Matt Wiertel received his B.S. degree in Management with minors in Political Science and Economics at Penn State Behrend. He also completed a M.B.A. degree at Penn State Behrend and currently is the Director of Business Development at Velocity Network. In his role at Velocity Network, Matt works on business planning, acquisitions, and technology projects to grow the company’s information technology and Internet service offerings in Northwest Pennsylvania. Matt has also served as president of Young Erie Professionals and as a member of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s Board of Directors.

We also thank Sister Joan Chittister, Beth Frederick, Troy Frederick and Joseph Conti for their previous service to the Advisory Board.

John Falcone, an Erie attorney, former county judge, and longtime member of the Penn State Behrend Political Science Advisory Board, passed away in February 2017. Falcone was a Behrend student during the campus's first year of existence and attended most Political Science Advisory Board meetings each semester since the Board's creation in 2009. At those meetings, he would offer advice and mentorship to political science students, as well as entertaining stories about Behrend's early years. We thank him for his service and miss his presence.