Wissahickon High School is pleased to announce the seven inductees selected for the 2020 WHS Alumni Hall of Fame. These alumni are recognized for their exemplary achievements in the areas of post-graduate career accomplishments; leadership within career organizations/industries; community service and voluntary leadership in their community; prior recognition and honors; and/or innovative accomplishments. Additional information about their accomplishments will be shared in the 2020-21 school year. When restrictions are lifted to have larger gatherings, an in-person induction ceremony to celebrate these alumni will be held.
Mehrdad Barikbin ’00: Mr. 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. Mr. Barikbin 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: As a Group Manager, Indirect Purchasing, for Rivian (electric vehicle manufacturer), and formerly Tesla and IBM, Ms. Beckett is known for building and leading strategic and tactical indirect procurement teams that enable the business groups they support. Her work also focuses on the themes of automation, cost reduction and control across procurement technology, policy, process, and governance. At Rivian, she changed the face of business travel with the implementation of TripActions – an industry-leading business travel platform that combines a consumer-like travel booking experience with incentives for travelers to save Rivian money and 24/7 access to live travel agents via chat. She is known for her efforts to promote positivity and collaboration with 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
Dr. Stephen M. Hahn ’77: Dr. Stephen M. Hahn was sworn in as the 24th Commissioner of Food and Drugs in December 2019. Dr. Hahn is a physician, scientist and health care leader with an extensive background in patient care, academic research and executive leadership. Trained in both medical oncology and radiation oncology, he balanced executive management with clinical time to continue to serve oncology patients, his true passion. He specializes in treating both lung cancer and sarcoma. Dr. Hahn has a keen interest in research, authoring more than 220 peer-reviewed original research articles. His research focuses on the molecular causes of the tumor microenvironment, particularly the study of chemical signals that go awry (known as aberrant signal transduction pathways), and the evaluation of proton therapy as a means of improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy. His experience in medical product development and clinical trials spans drugs, biologics, medical devices, and diagnostics.
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.
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.
Melissa Schiller ’09: Ms. Schiller, 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, Melissa 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, Melissa spends time working with an organization in Haiti and serves on non-profit boards and committees in New York City, where she resides.