At the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission’s Annual Meeting, held on June 12, 2017, Eric P. Zahren was elected President and Secretary of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Zahren, who has served as the Commission’s executive director since June 2016, joined the Hero Fund’s board in 2015. Zahren succeeds Walter F. Rutkowski, who retired at the end of June after a long career with the Hero Fund Commission.
A native and resident of the Pittsburgh area, Zahren, 47, concluded a 25-year career with the Secret Service before joining the Carnegie Hero Fund. While in charge of the Pittsburgh field office, he oversaw all investigative, protective, recruitment, and liaison activities in 25 counties in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Previously, he was Special Agent in Charge of the Service’s International Programs Division and its Office of Government and Public Affairs, supervised protective and investigative responsibilities while stationed in Berlin, and he served U.S. presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush and their families while assigned to the Presidential Protective Division.
Rutkowski began his career with the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission as a field investigator on September 1, 1973 He went on to hold the titles of Investigations Manager, Executive Vice President, Executive Director and, ultimately President, having been elected by the board to that position on December 17, 2013. He served as the Commission’s Secretary from 1986 until his retirement on June 30, 2017.
The Hero Fund, established by Carnegie in 1904, has awarded the Carnegie Medal to 9,953 individuals in recognition of their outstanding heroism, defined by the Commission as acts of lifesaving done at extraordinary risk to the rescuer. Grants totaling more than $39 million have been given to the awardees or their survivors and include scholarship aid, continuing assistance, and death benefits. More information on the Carnegie Medal and the history of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission can be found on its website and on Facebook.