2021 Hall of Fame Inductees
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has been postponed until fall 2022 due to COVID restrictions.
Mehrdad Barikbin ’00: Major Barikbin served 12 years on active duty as a Judge Advocate in the United States Marine Corps after a year of service as a middle school teacher. As a Marine, he has served in a variety of legal and non-legal positions, including as a prosecutor, platoon commander, executive officer and as a detention facility officer-in-charge. He has deployed numerous times throughout the world aboard the USS Essex and to Afghanistan. He is currently a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and serves as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. In this role, he prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of the United States in federal court.
Kristin Beckett ’07: Ms. Beckett is the Head of Wellness for Rivian (electric adventure vehicle manufacturer). Given her personal passion for physical, mental/emotional, and financial wellness, she transitioned into this role in 2020 after almost 10 years of experience in the supply chain and procurement world, including with Tesla and IBM. Ms. Beckett was known for building and leading strategic and tactical indirect procurement teams. Her work focused on the themes of automation, cost reduction and control across procurement technology, policy, process, and governance. In her role as Head of Wellness for Rivian, Ms. Beckett has the opportunity to support the well-being of the entire Rivian team and incorporate wellness into the fabric of the company's culture. She is known for her desire to solve challenges with root-cause analysis and her efforts to promote positivity and collaboration among colleagues.
Bill Deering '86: Mr. Deering is a sought after youth motivational speaker for teens and college students. He turned his disability of stuttering into a message of empowerment and inspiration to help others overcome obstacles in life. Since completing speaker training with Les Brown in 2005, Mr. Deering has delivered his message of courage, power, and passion to over 25,000 people in middle schools, high schools, and colleges across America.
Joseph Donahue ’85: For the past 25-years, Mr. Donahue has been a preeminent voice in the northeast as the host and executive producer of the award-winning daily talk show, “The Roundtable,” on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, a top-ten affiliate of National Public Radio. He also hosts the nationally syndicated half hour chat with renowned authors, “The Book Show”. Some of his guests have included: the past seven presidents, the past five first ladies, The Dalai Lama, Arthur Miller, Stephen King, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, Sophia Loren, Steve Martin, and Jimmy Stewart, to name just a few.
Mr. Donahue has been honored with over 50 national and local awards for his interviewing achievements, including the prestigious Scripps-Howard Excellence in Electronic Journalism Award and several Edward R. Murrow awards. He is also an adjunct professor at his alma mater, The College of St. Rose, teaching interviewing and radio production.
Mr. Donahue’s voice has been used for major exhibits at museums, including at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and in the award-winning documentary, Indian Point.
Dr. Stephen M. Hahn ’77: As the Chief Medical Officer of Flagship Pioneering, a bioplatform innovation company, Stephen Hahn, M.D. helps lead its Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative. Dr. Hahn joined Flagship Pioneering in June 2021 following two decades of distinguished leadership in healthcare strategy and clinical experience.
From 2019–2021, he served as the 24th Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner. During this time, Dr. Hahn led the 17,000+ person agency that regulates approximately 20 percent of consumer spending in the United States. He oversaw both COVID and non-COVID regulatory affairs, including therapeutics and vaccine development, devices, diagnostics, and clinical trials.
A well-respected oncologist, Dr. Hahn served as chief medical executive in 2018 at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston prior to his FDA appointment. He was named deputy president and chief operating officer in 2017. In that role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the cancer center, which includes managing more than 21,000 employees and a $5.2 billion operating budget. He was promoted to that position two years after joining MD Anderson as division head, department chair, and professor of Radiation Oncology. Prior to MD Anderson, Dr. Hahn served as head of the radiation oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.
Shelleah Jackson, M.S.Ed. ’12: Upon graduation from University of Pittsburgh in 2016, Ms. Jackson traveled to Charlotte, NC to join the fight against educational inequity. She was accepted into Teach for America as a 9th grade English teacher before transitioning to impact students in the nonprofit arena full-time. She worked for several years with the Charlotte-based nonprofit organization, Young Black Leadership Alliance, providing programs that help young Black men and women become leaders who are college and career-ready. In July 2019, Ms. Jackson joined Helps Education Fund, a nonprofit that provides programs and services to advance learning outcomes for students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, particularly students who are economically disadvantaged and/or perform below adequate levels in core academic skills. Ms. Jackson also served as the Headquarter Manager of Stiletto Boss University, a youth training program for high-school girls that teaches how to create a business that will promote sustainability and unity within the community.
Ms. Jackson is a published author having written two books while attending Wissahickon Middle School. She holds a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins, and in the fall 2021, she is attending Rutgers Law School, Camden.
Hope Thompson Laird ’78: Since 1984, Mrs. Laird has taught all aspects of special education at the preschool and elementary levels, including classroom programs for the multi-handicapped, severely and profoundly mentally handicapped, autistic support, learning support and alternative education in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where she currently lives. She has been recognized and received awards for her dedication to students including 2010-2011 Conover School Teacher of the Year, 2014-2015 Lyle Creek Elementary School Teacher of the Year, 2017-2018 Newton-Conover School Teacher of the Year and 2017 Newton-Conover City Schools Exceptional Children’s Teacher of the Year.
After the recent death of her daughter from an undiagnosed congenital heart condition, Mrs. Laird and her husband formed an organization called Love for Lauren to raise awareness and raise money for CHD awareness.
Tim Miller ‘88: This former NCAA Division 1 Head Football Coach, educator and current Hypnotist/Speaker, Mr. Miller and his wife/WHS alumna, Michelle Burrell Miller ‘84, travel around the world entertaining and motivating audiences with their Hypnotizing America show - a comedy hypnosis show presented live at venues across the country and as a reality TV show. Hypnotizing America has sold out the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, was voted Showcase Act at 3 of the 2019 National Conventions for Colleges and awarded Best Show by a national booking website. The Millers have performed at high schools, colleges, government agencies, resorts and casinos as well as for top US corporations, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and world leaders, including the first lady of Belize.
During the pandemic, Mr. Miller pivoted their show to virtual programming and found the opportunity to write his first book, Pandemic: Overcoming the Inner Crisis.
For over 20 years, Mr. Miller worked in education, including teaching at Wissahickon High School and serving as the head football coach at both WHS and La Salle University. He also founded the Ambler/Whitpain Youth Football and Cheerleading Program. Before his current career, Mr. Miller developed a successful real estate team with RE/MAX Services in Blue Bell and continues to stay active consulting both Realtors and buyers/sellers.
Keith Oliphant ’14: Mr. Oliphant is the founder of the Movement for the Movement initiative. Inspired by Black Lives Matter and recent protests against systemic racism across the country, Mr. Oliphant was eager to do his own part to combat injustice in the Chicago community. Movement for the Movement was born, combining two of his lifelong passions: mentorship and fitness.
As someone who was once known as a “troubled” kid, Mr. Oliphant personally understands the importance of the programs provided by Youth Guidance. Raised by his mother, he constantly sought out mentors growing up — whether on the football field or in the classroom. With their help, he eventually became the WHS salutatorian and later attended Penn State, where he graduated at the top of his class with a degree in Finance. Now, Mr. Oliphant has assumed the role of a mentor himself in his work as a management consultant at KPMG, where he helps clients transform their finance organizations to overcome business disruptors and helps to recruit minority applicants and volunteers with the Working in the Schools program.
Melissa Pardi (Schiller) ’09: Mrs. Pardi, Director of Community Relations for the National Football League (NFL), was recently named to the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. In her role with the NFL, Mrs. Pardi oversees the League’s core corporate social responsibility strategy and national partnerships, including the NFL’s cancer platform, military appreciation initiative and youth health and wellness program. This past year, she managed the launch and execution of the League’s 100th season philanthropic initiative – NFL Huddle for 100 and co-founded the NFL's employee service group, which has completed more than 100 service projects. Outside of her position with the NFL, Mrs. Pardi spends time working with an organization in Haiti and serves on non-profit boards and committees in New York City, where she resides.
Kirsten Jahn Richardson ’03: Mrs. Jahn Richardson is a successful user experience designer, currently employed as a UX/UI Design Director for DiD in Ambler. She also serves as head coach of the Wissahickon High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition Team 341, "Miss Daisy" – ranked one of the top robotics teams in the world. After graduating from the team in 2003, she returned as a mentor for the team and took over the role of head coach in 2013. In her tenure as head coach, she has led the team to win countless awards at competitions and serves as event coordinator for the team's annual off-season competition and fundraiser, Ramp Riot, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.
Ross Shanken ‘88: Mr. Shanken is a data & analytics business builder, thought leader, and patent holder who founded Jornaya (originally LeadiD) in 2011 after previously spending 13 years helping grow TARGUSinfo, which was acquired by Neustar in 2011. In 2020, Jornaya was acquired by Verisk (Nasdaq:VRSK), a leading data analytics provider in the insurance and financial services sectors. Mr. Shanken enjoys adding value to others, spending time consulting with entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses, serving on the School Board of Abington Friends School (AFS) and collaborating with his wife, Lori, in philanthropic efforts.
Gregg Walker ‘90: Mr. Walker joined Muller & Monroe in July 2021 as a Partner and Managing Director where he leads the firm’s co-investment efforts and heads the New York City office. Additionally, Mr. Walker has been the Managing Member of G.A. Walker, LLC since its inception in 2016 and also served as the President and COO of Remarkable, LLC, a live entertainment company based in New York City, from 2017 until January 2021. When Remarkable, LLC invested in the Big Apple Circus in 2017, Mr. Walker added the role of CEO of the Big Apple Circus to his list of responsibilities and served as the CEO of the Big Apple Circus until January 2021, achieving record levels of revenues.
At Sony, Mr. Walker worked across all business units including PlayStation, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and Sony Electronics. Prior to joining Sony, he was the Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions at Viacom for three years. Before Viacom, Mr. Walker was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the investment banking division where he served nearly a decade.
Mr. Walker earned an undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a law degree from Yale Law School. At Wissahickon High School, he was the President of his class for his Junior and Senior years as well as captain of the tennis team.