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James Wansacz ’94

James Wansacz 1994

When Jim Wansacz, who grew up in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, heard about IUP from friends who were current students, he decided to visit the university to check it out.

“I fell in love with the campus,” he said, so he applied to IUP and was admitted in 1990.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 1994, Mr. Wansacz returned to Lackawanna County and took over management of Heart Lake Lodge, a restaurant and catering business operated by his parents, John and Maryann Wansacz of Scott Township, Pennsylvania. Mr. Wansacz, who always had an interest in politics, ran for the seat of state representative in the 114th District, where he successfully served from 2000 to 2010.

During his tenure in the Legislature, he amassed an outstanding record of legislative accomplishments and constituent service, including:

  • Expanded prescription drug coverage for seniors
  • Property tax relief for older homeowners
  • A wide range of job-creating initiatives, including programs that benefit small businesses and family farms
  • Funding for improvements in public education, including full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, technology grants to put computers in the schools, and college credits for high school courses
  • Strong environmental protections, including stricter regulations on landfills
  • Funding to establish the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton
  • State support for volunteer fire companies
  • Improved parks and recreational opportunities throughout the 114th District

In the House, his committee assignments included Environment and Energy, Commerce and Economic Development, Professional Licensure, Gaming, and State Government. Mr. Wansacz was chair of the Pennsylvania Small Business Advisory Council and a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. He also served as deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus.

It was while he was a state representative that Mr. Wansacz first became involved in the IUP Alumni Association.

“The Alumni Association would come to the state House to lobby for more state funding,” he said, “and that opened up a dialogue about the issues.”

Mr. Wansacz joined the IUP Alumni Association board of directors in 2004 and served as president from 2010 to 2012, for which he was honored with the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award for Service.

“I feel that there are tremendous graduates at IUP,” he said.

After leaving state government, Mr. Wansacz worked as a business development consultant for Commonwealth Energy Group.

In 2011, he ran with incumbent Commissioner Corey O’Brien on the Democratic ticket for Lackawanna County commissioner and was elected by an overwhelming majority. He currently serves as chairman of the commissioners, as well as chair of the pension and prison board. He was recognized in the Times Leader’s “Top 40 under 40” for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, and serves on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre airport authority.

He and his wife, Dr. Maria Ciufferi Wansacz, and their daughter, Nadia, and son, Jace, live in Old Forge, Pennsylvania.

Profile published on 9/13/12

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