Political Science Advisory Board
The Penn State Behrend Political Science Advisory Board mentors current political science students as they explore career and internship options and offers guidance to faculty and students in planning campus events and curricular changes. The Board was formed in 2009 and consists of prominent community leaders and alumni. Board members meet twice a year with faculty and current students.
Advisory Board Members
Kathy Dahlkemper served as Erie County Executive between 2014 and 2022. She previously represented Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 2009 to 2011. As County Executive, Dahlkemper served on the National Association of Counties-National League of Cities taskforce on the opioid epidemic. She was appointed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to serve on the Great Lakes Commission, as well as on the state’s Redistricting Reform Commission. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics advisory board. Since early 2020, she partnered with the Erie County Department of Health to guide the community through the multiple and monumental challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As Erie County Executive, she continued to work with public and private partners to build a more vibrant community, to create opportunities for all residents, and to move Erie County forward.
Melissa Shirey received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Penn State Behrend, 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.
Ashley Solo earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Penn State Behrend and her J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law. Since completing law school, she has worked as a Litigation Associate at MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton, LLP. She focuses her practice primarily on insurance defense and general litigation matters. During law school, she received a fellowship through the American Bar Association's Janet D. Steiger Fellowship program, where she clerked in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General in the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Sheila Fitzgerald Sterrett holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Clarion University and a master's 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. She is currently northwest Pennsylvania regional manager for U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, after serving many years as director of government affairs for the Manufacturer and Business Association. In addition, she represents Erie County on the Republican State Committee for Pennsylvania and has worked on countless campaigns at the local, state, and national levels. Sheila is also a graduate of the Anne Anstine Excellence in Public Service series as well as Leadership Erie.
Judge John Trucilla is a judge 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.
Matthew Wiertel completed an M.B.A. degree at Penn State Behrend, where he also received his bachelor's degree in Management with minors in Political Science and Economics. He is currently the director of business development at Velocity Network. In his role, Wiertel works on business planning, acquisitions, and technology projects to grow the company’s information technology and internet service offerings in northwest Pennsylvania. Matt also has served as president of Young Erie Professionals and as a member of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s Board of Directors.
Perry N. Wood, Ed.D., is the executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA). Wood received his doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education policy from the University of Pittsburgh, and both his master's degree in organizational leadership and bachelor's degree in political science from Mercyhurst University. He has served in an advisory capacity to the Brookings Metropolitan Planning Council and the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows. Wood is the co-author of a Jefferson Educational Society essay titled Erie’s Advanced Industries (2015) and is active in the research and policy development of regional economic and community development organizations. His accomplishments have been recognized in the books Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America (2018) and The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism (2017). He has been recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 leader shaping Erie County’s future and is a graduate of both the Erie County Civic Leadership Academy and Leadership Erie. His research interests include youth employability interventions, industry-university partnerships, main street redevelopment, economic development ecosystems, and change leadership.
Marcus Yuille is an emerging leader who holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Penn State University. He has also obtained a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Human Resources from the University of Phoenix. He is currently a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the Erie County Office of Human Resources. He was previously the Director of Outreach Services for the Erie County Public Library. In that role, Marcus developed partnerships with local schools and community organizations to increase literacy through services offered by the local library. Through his work, Marcus seeks to provide equal access to resources for individuals facing challenges. In all that Marcus seeks to do, his ultimate goal is to spread inspiration, believing that no one’s life is beyond repair.
We thank Christopher Mong, Barbara Welton, Guy Reschenthaler, Timothy Bevevino, 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 student at Penn State Behrend 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.