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W.Va. Native To Perform With Yale Group

March 25, 2012
Linda Comins , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A young man with Wheeling area ties is performing with Yale University's famed singing group, the Whiffenpoofs, in concert at the Clay Center in Charleston at 2 p.m. today, March 25. The performance is open to the public, free of charge.

West Virginia's own "Whiffenpoof" is Mitchel Kawash, a Yale senior and the elder son of Stephen and Perriann Nelson Kawash of Charleston. The Kawashes also have 18-year-old twins. "Perri" Kawash grew up in Bethlehem and was a member of the second graduating class of Wheeling Park High School.

Perri's late father was a controller of Mail Pouch Tobacco in Wheeling. Her mother, Lenore Campbell, lives in Wheeling.

The Whiffenpoofs, considered the nation's premier collegiate a capella singing society, is an all-male group of Yale seniors. The group has performed on all seven continents.

Mitchel Kawash, 21, was in a co-ed a cappella group at Yale before being selected for the Whiffenpoofs, his mother explained. "They get in in the spring, and start performing in the fall," she said. "They normally take the year off. This year, they all took the year off because they travel so much.

"Normally. in the school year they travel within the United States," Perri Kawash said. "But this group has already gone to Antarctica and South America."

The group has sung this year in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and in Mexico City. Their West Coast tour included stops in Las Vegas and at the Grand Canyon. "It's a great year," she said.

Mitchel Kawash sang at Lincoln Center in New York twice, performed for President and Mrs. Barack Obama and sang in Los Angeles a couple of times, his mother related. With his previous co-ed group, he visited Japan, Greece and France.

Perri Kawash said she is excited about today's performance. "The Clay Center is a very nice hall. Mitchel has actually performed there," she said.

Mitchel Kawash, who considers himself "an actor who sings," started performing in children's theater in third grade. He appeared in many musical and theatrical productions and starred as Danny in "Grease" at the Clay Center.

Because of his involvement with the Whiffenpoofs, Mitchel Kawash will be extending his studies at Yale by a year, his mother pointed out.

Mitchel Kawash is well known in Charleston, where he was student body president at his high school and field commander of the school's marching band. He also served as the first student representative on the state board of education.

Former Steubenville resident Andrea Koenig-Feldman, director of development at WomenRising Inc. in Jersey City, N.J., will be recognized as a "Woman of Action" as part of Jersey City's celebration of Women's History Month on Thursday, March 29.

She was born and reared in Steubenville and attended Steubenville Catholic Central High School and Edison South High School. She is the daughter of the late Fred Koenig and longtime Steubenville resident Ingrid Koenig.

After attending Ohio University, she embarked on a career in the nonprofit sector, working in public radio positions and in public radio fundraising.

In 2003, she began serving WomenRising as director of development. She has developed new sources of funding, organized several events, created promotional materials, partnered with other organizations and participated in managing the organization.

WomenRising, formerly the YWCA of Hudson County, N.J., is a community-based organization that serves women and their families in the county. According to its website, WomenRising provides services in economic development, social services and advocacy.

Koenig-Feldman said she has been involved in advocacy for women for many years and has participated in numerous projects. She is involved in promoting an end to animal abuse and puppy mills, and is a former board member of the Plainfield Area Humane Society.

She said she also regularly contributes her time and hand-crafted items to benefit the Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City and Purrfect Pals in East Hanover, N.J. In her free time, she owns and operates a handmade jewelry business, Blackitteh Designs. Koenig-Feldman said she "also bakes, makes candy, sews and plays several musical instruments."

She and her husband, Danny Feldman, reside in Roselle, N.J.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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