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April 14, 2016

Obituary: Eugenia “Jeanne” Chambers Stoner

Stoner_OBITFuneral services were held April 5 for Jeanne Stoner, former assistant vice chancellor for Federal Government Relations. Stoner, of Bethel Park, died April 1, 2016, after a lengthy illness. She was 74.

Stoner was appointed director of federal government relations for the University in 2000, and subsequently named assistant vice chancellor for Federal Government Relations. She retired from the University in 2013.

She previously had been director of federal government relations for the UPMC Health System 1989-98 and UPMC corporate secretary in 1999.

She received a bachelor of arts summa cum laude from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and a master’s degree in English language and literature at the University of Maryland.

Returning to school in her 40s, she earned her juris doctor degree from Pitt’s School of Law in 1986 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar that same year. She also was a member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among other honors and awards, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council on Governmental Affairs (CGA) recognized Stoner with its Carolyn Cross Distinguished Service Award in 2009 “for distinguished service and contributions to university governmental relations,” its Career Excellence Award in 2013 “for outstanding contributions to the CGA, the governmental affairs profession and the higher education community over a lengthy career largely dedicated to university governmental relations” and, most recently, its Outstanding Achievement Award “for outstanding, broad contributions to and achievements in university governmental relations.” Stoner previously served as CGA secretary and co-chair and was a member of the CGA executive committee.

Stoner is remembered for her grace and skill in advancing the University’s interests, particularly with regard to its research efforts.

“She was tireless in her willingness to be an emissary and advocate for the University,” said Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations, noting her skill both in working warnmly with people and in delving into the complexities of Pitt’s research efforts.

“She universally related to people,” he said. “She treated everyone with importance and respect — from a clerk to a superstar researcher. She was the consummate professional and universally loved.

“We’ve heard a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and warm thoughts” from Stoner’s colleagues in Washington, D.C., national associations such as the Association of American Universities and the APLU, as well as from colleagues at Pitt and UPMC, Supowitz said.

“It was a treasure to know her,” said Ann Gleeson. Now managing director of the Center for Military Medicine Research, Gleeson first met Stoner as a new staffer for Rep. William Coyne some three decades ago. “Jeanne was orienting us on the issues,” particularly on health care. Stoner was an invaluable resource to many House and Senate staffers, Gleeson said. “Her ability to help inform their thinking was immeasurable,” Gleeson said.

“It was always about what you needed to understand, what you were working on. It was always about the person sitting opposite her,” Gleeson said. “There’s information and there’s knowledge. She got the context. She put the person she was meeting with first.”

Stoner would wait patiently to get a few minutes of a policymaker’s time in order to inform them on areas of interests of concern to the University.  At times, she arranged for professors and researchers to meet with policymakers. “They might only remember the pain of driving to D.C., and have no idea of the efforts she put in before and after to bring value to that visit,” Gleeson said.

“Besides her beautiful smile and gracious demeanor, I remember her little legs with her high heels flip-flopping down the halls of Congress all those years,” she said.

“Jeanne was so underestimated in her abilities to put together strategy,” Gleeson said, citing her strength in aligning Pitt’s interests with federal priorities.

“You had to be a craftsman, an artisan, to weave those conversations together,” she said. “She was strategic, focused, upfront and exceedingly competent.

“She had a gracious, reputable way in building consensus,” Gleeson said. “In the course of all of my conversations, she never uttered a disparaging comment about anybody or any issue. She always found the positive and was nothing but gracious.

“You met her and it was all about getting to know you and your priorities,” Gleeson said. “She provided connectivity. She was the personification of networking.

“She was truly authentic,” enabling her to develop trust and loyalty among those she worked with, Gleeson said.

“In collaborating, cooperating and partnering, there’s talking and there’s doing. Jeanne was way out in front in doing, not just talking,” Gleeson said, adding that she always followed through on what she said she would do.

“She kept things moving forward, often working behind the scenes. For Jeanne, it didn’t matter who got the credit, it was all just ‘Hail to Pitt,’” Gleeson said.

“She should have had the title, ‘Ambassador, University of Pittsburgh.’”

“She was very, very effective at her job,” agreed friend and colleague George Huber, interim vice provost for Research Conduct and Compliance. Prior to their time at Pitt, Huber had hired Stoner as a UPMC attorney.

“She cared so much about everybody,” he said. “She was appreciated by politicians and their staff in Washington, D.C. She knew their families and was interested in them personally. She didn’t do it to gain access; she truly was interested in all of them.

“She was just a natural at it. She resonated well with people at the highest levels and throughout the whole organization.”

Stoner was well read and well informed. “She was up-to-date on anything that had relevancy to the University of Pittsburgh,” Huber said. She made a point of poring over governmental regulations then would reach out to inform the individuals to whom they might apply. “She had great technical and analytical skills,” Huber said. “She was attentive to detail. She wanted to help in any way she could.”

Huber remembered her as gentle, upbeat, very religious and a protective lioness of her family. “She was an angel, a friend and a colleague,” he said. “A wonderful, wonderful person.”

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Bill Stoner; children Mary Grace Stoner; John Charles Stoner, a faculty member in history, and his wife, Anupama Jain; David William Stoner and his wife, Julie; Anne Elizabeth Harvey and her husband, Paul; eight grandchildren; and siblings Connor Chambers, Marguerite “Meg” Gottschalk and her husband, John; Mary Elizabeth Carroll and her husband, Charles; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations may be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, 14 Pennsylvania Plaza, Suite 1710, New York, NY 10122 or Good Shepherd Manor, PO Box 260, Momence, IL 60954.


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