Helping the economically fragile / Pain and politics in America


What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, August 19, 2019:

A strong economy is characterized by steady growth, low unemployment and little inflation.

Everyone benefits during a strong economy, right?

Not everyone, according to top economic leaders. The trickle down of current economic prosperity has not reached all Americans. There are plenty who fall into the category of “Economically Fragile People” – individuals who, while employed, may not enjoy access to life’s basic necessities.

A local business leader believes that recruiting and retaining these individuals is critical for any organization to succeed.

In fact, she says there is a clear economic benefit for employers who care about the quality of life of the economically fragile and establish policies to reinforce this.

Appearing on Smart Talk is Teresa D. Miller, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and author Sharon Ryan, CEO of Dasher Services, Inc. Ryan co-wrote a book with Cynthia Tolsma called, The Talent Pool: How to Find and Keep Dedicated People While Making a Lasting Impact. David Black of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber also appears on the program to discuss the benefit their approach yields for employers.

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Sharon Ryan and David Black

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Secretary Teresa Miller

Also, the American dream is the ideal that opportunity is available to every American and prosperity and success are achieved through hard work.

Sociologist and author Jennifer Silva believes the dream’s promise is “withering away.” That addiction, joblessness and family dysfunction are the reason.

Jennifer Silva joins Smart Talk to discuss her book We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America, and how race and class are colliding in rural America.

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Jennifer Silva

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/The Violence Project

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Children focus on a learning activity at the WITF “Back to School Bash” event on August 11, 2019, at the Clipper Magazine Stadium, Lancaster, Pa. Photo by Joanne Cassaro. A Ready, Set, Explore educational event is scheduled for Saturday, August 17, 2019, in Harrisburg, Pa. RSVP to “Explore the Magic of Learning with Princess Presto.”

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, August 15, 2019:

The needs of each child are unique and vary based on factors like home life, household income and education level.

Programs across the state are working to identify and address the unique needs of Pennsylvania’s kids.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a statewide, independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization. It works to advocate for the health, education and well-being of children in the commonwealth.

For example, PPC encouraged state legislators to make kids a top priority in their latest budget. Governor Wolf signed the 2019-20 budget into law on June 28 and it includes increases for early learning, K-12 educations and health care programs that benefit children.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss their advocacy and programs serving PA kids is Kari King, president and CEO of PPC.

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Kari King

Also, mass shooters from the past 50 years all have four commonalities. That’s according to The Violence Project — a think tank that has assembled comprehensive research on mass shootings in America. The project is partially funded by the National Institute of Justice and includes a thorough database of more than 150 mass shootings dating back to 1966.

What shooters have in common are they all experienced childhood trauma, had an identifible crisis point before the shooting, studied the actions of other shooters and had a means to carry out their plans.

Researchers examine not only the background of the shooter but every aspect of their personal history, relationships, the community, and the social climate where the events occurred. Their findings are then disseminated and evaluated for policies and prevention strategies.

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to talk about what the data shows about mass shooters is Dr. Jillian Peterson, PhD, co-founder of The Violence Project and a psychologist and professor of criminology at Hamline University in Minnesota.

Americans are going broke getting an education


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, August 9, 2019:

College student debt in the U.S. has been labeled a crisis, as the amount of outstanding loan balances exceed $1.5 trillion.

Solving the crisis, however, is not so simple.

A few of the presidential candidates advocate for the cancellation of all student debt and free college for everyone. Others offer a more measured approach that target specific demographics.

The one thing they all agree on is that something needs to be done to lift the crushing weight of financial burden from the backs of a generation of Americans.

Pennsylvania college graduates have an average of debt when they leave school of more than $36,000 — the highest in the country. More than two-thirds — 67% — of students leaving Pennsylvania schools have student debt. That’s the fifth highest total in the nation.

How can student debt be managed? Why is a college education so expensive and are Americans getting their money’s worth?

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk to put the issues into perspective are Dr. Eric Barron, the President of Penn State University, Dr. John Sygielski, President of Harrisburg Area Community College, Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker, Avantra Family Wealth and Rory McPhillips, 2017 Drexel University graduate.

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Dr. John Sygielski and Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker

Bullying in the Age of Smart Phones and Bras Across the Bridge


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, August 8, 2019:

Bullying, like many things, is increasingly more complicated in the digital era. It used to be that kids could find respite from bullying behavior at home or once school let out.

Now, because of social media and pervasive smart phone use, there is often no rest from the harassment.

Cyber bullying can range from posting mean or hurtful images to online threats. There are even extreme examples of encouraging suicide and violence.

What can be done to safeguard kids from bullying in the era of smart phones?

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly mandated the creation of an anonymous reporting system to give students a way to report signs of classmates who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others. This system is called Safe2Say Something and it has garnered more than 23,000 tips since it began in January.

Appearing on Smart Talk to talk about research findings on this topic is Deputy National Editor Beth Dalbey.

Also, five years ago, the Feel Your Boobies Foundation came up with a unique idea to create maximum visual impact in their mission to promote breast health.

The Bras Across the Bridge event in Harrisburg is a fundraiser to promote both college and minority outreach. The fifth annual event is Saturday, August 10.

Joining Smart Talk is Leigh Hurst, Founder and Executive Director of the Feel Your Boobies Foundation to talk about the event and the organizations efforts to reach young women.

What advancements are being made in HIV treatments?/Proposed law on Amish horses

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 7, 2019:

More than one million Americans are living with the HIV virus. Thirty-six thousand of them are Pennsylvanians. There are about a thousand new HIV diagnoses every year in Pennsylvania.

Not everyone who contracts the HIV virus develops AIDS and AIDS is no longer always fatal as it once was.

That’s due to the treatments developed over the years through research.

That research has progressed to the point where there’s the potential for HIV virus to be eliminated from the body completely. In other words — a cure.

However, one out of seven people living with HIV don’t know they are infected with the HIV virus. That’s why testing is important so those people can be treated.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we discuss advancements in HIV treatment and HIV awareness with our guests Patricia Fonzi, President and CEO at the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania and Dr. Adam Lake, a family physician at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.

Also, a proposed ordinance that would require horses to wear a device to collect manure and rubber horseshoes when pulling the buggies of Old Order Amish has been been put on hold for the time being in Washington Township, Lycoming County. Township supervisers say they had gotten complaints about manure on roads presenting a health hazard and that normal metal horseshoes damaged roads.

The attorney representing the Amish — Clifford Rieders — appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

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Dr. Adam Lake and Patricia Fonzi

Smart Talk Road Trip to the Susquehanna Art Museum


Picasso: A Life in Print at the Susquehanna Art Museum. (Photo courtesy of the Susquehanna Art Museum, Twitter)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, August 1, 2019:

Smart Talk travels to the Susquehanna Art Museum to discuss the museum‘s new exhibit, PICASSO: A Life in Print.

The exhibit of prints spans Pablo Picasso’s prolific career, with work from 1904-1970. Though Picasso never received formal training in printmaking, he practiced working with the medium to develop his distinctive ideas.

A Life in Print includes pieces from the historic Suite des Saltimbanques, Picasso’s first major body of work in printmaking; Suite Vollard, a group of one hundred prints commissioned by famed art dealer Ambroise Vollard; and the Caisse à Remords, prized by collectors because they represent an intimate view of the artist’s personal vision.

The Picasso exhibit includes pieces from the John Szoke Gallery in New York City. Established in 1974, the gallery specializes in works on paper with a focus on prints by Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch.

Joining Smart Talk is John Szoke, art collector and director of the John Szoke Gallery.

PICASSO: A Life in Print is on view at the Susquehanna Art Museum through September 22.

This Smart Talk Road Trip is supported by Roof Advisory Group.

Labor numbers and job training / Author with unique Lincoln book


What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, July 31, 2019:

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was at a record low of 3.8% in June.

That’s according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s June report. State records date back to 1976.

The national unemployment rate went up one-tenth of a percentage point from May to 3.7%.

The employment numbers are so good that many employers are having trouble filling positions. However, there is another issue — some employers can’t find workers with the skills they need to adequately perform the jobs they have open.

South Central PA Works funds employment and training programs across the region and helps businesses build talent pipelines to fill workforce demands.

Joining Wednesday’s Smart Talkto discuss job growth and training initiatives are Eileen Cipriani, deputy secretary for workforce development at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Jessie McCree, CEO of South Central PA Works, and Jeff Newman of the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.


(Left to right) Jeff Newman, Jessie McCree and Eileen Cipriani

Also, Abraham Lincoln left a legacy of persuasion and decorum.

Joseph Roda’s book Abraham Lincoln and Making a Case: The Story of a Master discusses Lincoln’s rise to presidency and his unique ability to captivate audiences with speech. It dissects the effects of Lincoln’s “masterful use of fact, logic and emotion.”

Roda appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to share his insights about a unique aspect of Lincoln.

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Joseph Roda

What it takes to start a business / Black bears wandering into populated areas

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A black bear in a tree in Harrisburg looks at nearby people. (Brett Sholtis/WITF News)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Tuesday, July 30, 2019:

A new generation of businesspeople at Bucknell University is helping Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and small businesses get on their feet.

Students at Bucknell’s Small Business Development Center have provided free, confidential consulting to an array of businesses, from pharmacies to restaurants.

This year Bucknell’s College of Engineering will work with sports company Gilson Snow to develop a water sports line. Gov. Tom Wolf awarded a $70,000 grant through the Manufacturing PA initiative to Gilson Snow for the project.

Bucknell mechanical engineering professors Craig Beal and Nate Siegel and up to five students will be working with Gilson Snow to develop and test wakeboard designs through summer 2020

The Bucknell College of Engineering and SBDC first partnered with Gilson Snow in 2013 to launch a line of skis and snowboards.

Joining us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss entrepreneurism and small business projects in the region are Steven Stumbris, director of the Small Business Development Center at Bucknell University and Nick Gilson, CEO of Gilson Snow.


(L to R) Bucknell mechanical engineering professor Craig Beal; wakeboard project lead Aurelia Glass, a rising mechanical engineering senior at Johns Hopkins University; and Bucknell mechanical engineering junior Matt Rulon examine the initial wakeboard prototype, which was just tested on water last week. Photo by Bucknell University

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Nick Gilson (L) and Steven Stumbris (R)

Also, a 2015 population estimate showed approximately 20,000 black bears living in the commonwealth.

Bears have been spotted in parks, neighborhoods and communities around Pennsylvania and seem to be wandering into populated areas more often. Is the range for bears growing or are there other factors in play?

The best way to discourage bears from visiting your backyard is to avoid leaving food out. Black bears will eat human food, garbage, bird feed, pet foods, fruits from trees or gardens, and livestock feed. They also raid cornfields and beehives. Once a bear finds food, it’s likely to return determined to find more. You can take steps to avoind bears like cleaning your trash bins with hot water and chlorine bleach.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss why we’re seeing more bears outside the wood is Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Mark Ternent, who will also address what to do if you come face to face with a bear.

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Mark Ternent

Marijuana’s place in health care / New dean at Penn State’s Dickinson Law


What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, July 29, 2019:

The possibility of legalizing marijuana has been a hotly debated topic across Pennsylvania.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman traveled the state this year on a listening tour to gather input about recreational legalization. Gov. Tom Wolf said in December state legislators must take a serious look at the possibility of recreational legalization.

But with little research on the drug, people are hesitant to get on board with even the now-legal medical marijuana use. A new partnership aims to change that.

Penn State College of Medicine announced in June a collaboration with PA Options for Wellness for medical marijuana research. The goal of the partnership is to develop a medical model focused on the patient, research, outcomes, compliance and quality of life.

Penn State College of Medicine and PA Options for Wellness will work together to investigate the potential benefits and risks of using marijuana extracts to treat a variety of health issues.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the marijuana research partnership and findings is Dr. Kent Vrana of the Penn State Department of Pharmacology and Tom Trite, president and CEO of PA Options for Wellness.

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Tom Trite (left) and Dr. Kent Vrana (right)

Also, Penn State’s Dickinson Law has a new dean. Danielle Conway stepped into the role of dean on July 1. Conway is Dickinson Law’s first person of color and first woman to serve as dean.

Originally from Philadelphia, Conway spent her career as dean of the University of Maine School of Law and on the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law. She also served in the U.S. Army and retired as a lieutenant colonel after 27 years.

Conway specializes in public procurement law, entrepreneurship and intellectual property law. She is admitted to the bars in the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Conway succeeds Gary Gildin, who served as dean of Dickinson Law since November 2016. Gildin directs the Center for Public Interest Law and Advocacy and will remain on the Dickinson Law faculty.

Conway joins Smart Talk to discuss her first month as dean and plans for Dickinson Law.


When Planning for Retirement,Timing is Everything


What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, August 2, 2019:

Sixty-five years old is the traditional retirement age milestone for most American workers. That’s when we are supposed to retire and ease into our golden years.

But for a surprising number of Americans, age 65 does not mean it’s time to give up their paycheck. A recent survey of workers shows that roughly 25% plan on working past the traditional retirement age.

Some need to keep working for financial reasons. Others may want to keep working because it’s important to their emotional well being.

What’s the right age for retirement? How much money will you need? What can you do to get on the right track, financially and health-wise?

Apearing on Smart Talk to discuss these and other retirement-related issues are Andy Soergel, Journalism Fellow with the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Center at the University of Chicago Center, Dr. Noel Ballentine, internal medicine physician with a specialty in geriatric medicine from Penn State Health and the Milton Hershey Medical Center, and Rick Rodgers, financial retirement specialist and president of Rodgers & Associates.


Noel Ballentine (L) and Rick Rodgers (R)