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Graduating students at HACC's spring 2023 Commencement ceremony
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18 February 2014

HACC Announces Honorary Co-Chairs for 50th Anniversary Celebration

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Fifty years ago, on Feb. 14, 1964, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, was established as the first community college chartered in Pennsylvania. As HACC kicks off its year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the College is pleased to announce four renowned individuals will serve as the honorary co-chairs.

Dorothy Byrne, an internationally acclaimed opera singer; Pedro Cortés, a former secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Velma Redmond, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Pennsylvania American Water; and Peter C. Wambach, retired Pennsylvania state representative, will support the College in its efforts to recognize the significant milestone through public events, fundraising and more.

“HACC is honored to have Ms. Byrne, Mr. Cortés, Ms. Redmond and Mr. Wambach serve as honorary co-chairs,” said HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D. “They represent the best of HACC, as alumni and board members, and through their professional leadership and service to the community.”

Over the course of the year, the honorary co-chairs will participate in upcoming events such as ReDISCOVER HACC, a week-long opportunity (April 21-25) for the public to visit the five campuses for presentations, tours and lectures; seek sponsorship opportunities to raise money for student scholarships; and generate awareness of the College.

  • Dorothy Byrne, a 1973 graduate of HACC, is well-known all over the world for her opera singing. The artist earned a Grammy nomination for her work in Glimmerglass Opera’s recording of “The Mines of Sulphur” and is a sought-after international trainer and speaker. A mezzo-soprano, she has performed with many companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera. Byrne has been profiled in Opera News and served as a master class technician for McGill University, Boston Lyric Opera and San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program. 

  • Pedro Cortés, who served as secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for seven years, was the first confirmed Latino cabinet member and the longest serving secretary of the commonwealth in Pennsylvania history. During his tenure as the state’s chief election official, the department successfully administered 15 primary and general elections and implemented the Help America Vote Act.

    A lawyer by training, Cortés was previously the senior advisor for Latino Affairs to three Pennsylvania governors. He also served HACC through his role on the Board of Trustees.

    Today, he is a partner with the Pennsylvania law firm of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith (HGSK), overseeing an office that helps families who have recently suffered a tragedy by putting them in contact with social service organizations, government agencies and other entities that can provide support. 

  • Velma Redmond serves as divisional general counsel for American Water and leads the company’s legal department in four states. She is vice president, general counsel and secretary of Pennsylvania American Water. Prior to joining American Water, Redmond served Pennsylvania in various roles, including as chief counsel of the Department of State, chief counsel of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and assistant counsel and assistant attorney general.

    The first African-American woman to chair the HACC Board of Trustees, Redmond served on the Board of Trustees for many years. Additionally, she was a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

    Redmond is active in numerous professional organizations. She has been honored many times for her dedication to the community, including the honorary doctor of public service from HACC in 2007. 

  • Peter C. Wambach, a member of the first incoming class at HACC in 1964, credits the College as being the pivotal turning point in his life.

    “HACC created the pathway for me to attend an affordable institution of higher learning, which otherwise would have been unattainable,” said Wambach.

    The retired state representative dedicated more than 35 years to serving Pennsylvania. He represented the 103rd District in the House of Representatives and authored drug and alcohol treatment laws that have served more than 500,000 people since 1986.  He wrote the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law, which protects those who expose wrongdoing in state and local government. For 12 years, he also served as executive director of the Bipartisan Management Committee in the state house.

For more information on the 50th anniversary celebrations, please visit

About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers more than 150 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to more than 20,000 students at five campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through virtual learning. In addition, HACC serves more than 29,000 students in noncredit workforce development, public safety, adult basic education and continuing education programs offered at all campuses and off-site locations in many communities in Central Pennsylvania. For more information about how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit


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   Megan Kurtz
   Integrated Marketing Communications Coordinator
   Telephone: 717-780-2533

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