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MARIA ANDERSON, with singer Nancy Wilson and E. Bruce Talbert, President and CEO of Talbert Funeral Parlor in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Maria Anderson is off and running in her new position as director of national community programs for Highmark Health. The New Pittsburgh Courier was able to catch up with Anderson, an Allderdice High School and Duquesne University graduate, in between her hectic schedule, for a “Courier Q & A…”

NPC: Please discuss some of the skills or people you met at Allderdice that helped propel you to your future success?

ANDERSON: First, let me say that I grew up in a four-generation household, so my family provided me with role models which influenced my success. Growing up in a diverse neighborhood like Point Breeze influenced my interest in community, advocacy, philanthropy and volunteerism. Family and neighbors instilled in me a sense of purpose and planted the seed to do better than the previous generation.

During my time at Allderdice, Principal William A.G. Fisher comes immediately to mind as he was a mentor and cheerleader throughout my academic career. He demonstrated true diplomacy during a time when desegregation in schools was at its peak. He also was my counselor as I navigated through the college application and scholarship process.

There were others at Allderdice who guided me within their areas of expertise: Mrs. Emilene Hayes, an accounting instructor (and mother of Lynne Hayes Freeland of KDKA-TV) who had a wry sense of humor; Mrs. Janet Slifkin, an English teacher who was a stickler for the use of the English language. She is probably the reason why I did so well on the English portion of my SATs…And Mr. Robert Kengor, my homeroom and Algebra teacher who eased my fear of numbers.

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