2006-2007 Featured Alumni

Joanne Finegan (B.S., 1983) Alumni Recognition Award

Since graduation from Penn State, Joanne had accepted positions with increasingly more responsibilities and profile in the field of Therapeutic Recreation. She has worked her way up from staff therapist to CEO of ReMED, a nationally known program serving the re-integration needs of persons with traumatic brain injuries. ReMED is frequently selected by Therapeutic Recreation students at PSU as an internship site due to their cutting edge provision of services in a least restrictive, community based environment.

She has earned numerous professional awards at the state and national level and is recognized as a leader in the field. In addition to her personal and professional successes, Joanne has been an advocate for Therapeutic Recreation in other arenas. She has served on both the board of the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals. She has given dozens of presentations both within the field of TR and to other health professionals about the role that TR can have in treatment programs. Joanne has served the profession by lending her professional expertise to the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. She is an adjunct professor at Temple in Therapeutic Recreation.

Joanne is also a strong supporter of Penn State. She has facilitated a strong internship program and accepts Penn State students almost yearly. There are several Penn State graduates in TR who are working for ReMED, thereby demonstrating her further support of our program. Joanne has supported those professionals –often recent graduates - visiting the classrooms as guest lecturers. Recently, she approved a staff member who is also an alum coming to University Park in a ReMED sponsored vehicle to bring several patients with brain injuries to lend their first person accounts of their disabilities to the classroom discussion. Joanne was recently asked to sit on the advisory board of the PSU-Delaware Campus. She earned a MS in Administration from West Chester University in 1989.

Laura Payne (Ph.D., 1998) Emerging Professional: Graduate Award

Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Payne is also Director of the Illinois Rural Recreation Development Project through the Illinois Extension Service. Dr. Payne’s teaching, research, and service activities directly impact the quality of life of residents in rural communities throughout Illinois. For example, Dr. Payne has worked with local government park and recreation agencies to develop and assess walking and yoga programs for stroke caregivers. She has also convinced the State of Illinois Attorney General’s Office to provide funding for the development of programs that motivate older adults to engage in community activities, resulting in enhanced quality of life.

While this work is exemplary, her other accomplishments are equally noteworthy. Dr. Payne has worked with the National Recreation Foundation to create a model community-based wellness program for older adults; developed a rural recreation project in Illinois to create services for children, youth and families at risk; served as a vital and active member of Illinois’ Select Commission of Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities and the Illinois Department of Public Health Cardiovascular Health Task Force; co-wrote the seminal guide for recreation and park professionals interested in improving the health of older adults through community-based recreation programs and services; and, testified at a U.S. Congressional briefing sponsored by the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity on the importance of increasing physical activity among older adults. Further, Dr. Payne has maintained a steady stream of research publications and presentations focused on the relationship between personal health and participation in recreation activities/programs. She also continues to conduct research that has direct application to the creation of healthy communities.

Joe Hughes (B.S., 1999) Emerging Professional: Undergraduate Award

Since August of 2002, Joe has been serving Penn State and the local community as General Manager/Head Golf Professional at the PSU Golf Courses. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Joe was employed post graduation at the Shannopin Country Club, Pittsburgh, PA.

Since graduation, Joe has been an active alumnus, serving the university and his profession with success. He was elected Secretary of the Professional Golf Management APG Board in 2007 and was named to the PGA President’s Council on Growing the Game for 2006. In 2005, he was identified as the recipient of 2005 Penn State Professional Golf Management’s “Pride of the Lions” PGA Professional of the Year Award. This award is given to PGM alumni by the students of the PGM Student Society.

Joe has many additional certifications and recognitions, in addition to being recognized by the Professional Golf Association (PGA) of America as a member in 2001. What separates Joe from many of our other very strong and active PGM graduates has been his commitment to community service. Joe serves on several local Golf Tournament Charity Fund-Raisers within our community; Second Mile, Youth Service Bureau, Mount Nittany Medical Centre, and Coaches vs. Cancer. Through Penn State Continuing Education, he provides presentations to fundraising groups on how to run a charity golf tournament.

In 2004, Joe was recognized as a “Star” volunteer for Special Olympics of Centre County for his work in implementing a golf training program for athletes with developmental disabilities. As an alumnus, Joe continues to support the activities of undergraduates and of the RPTM program. He provides leadership opportunities for RPTM 236 (Leadership and Group Dynamics) as well as RPTM356 (Programming and Event Planning). His role in this support is to assist in developing leadership activities and coordinating with the students on how to conduct organized group activities. He also works cooperatively with the Professional Golf Management program on the PGM Player Development Program. This class helps develop PGM students on how to become better players and how to manage their games in tournament atmosphere. He organizes Penn State Golf Courses Membership social activities. He works with our students in recruiting and coordinating volunteers for PGA Junior Tournaments.