Manheim Township Names 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The Manheim Township Alumni Association is proud to announce the names of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award winners.  Since 1997, Manheim Township has bestowed the Distinguished Alumni Award on graduates who have achieved noteworthy and outstanding accomplishments in their chosen fields, have served their communities, and act as role models for students in the Manheim Township School District.  

The following alumni were selected for the 2017 award:  Edward M. Davidson, class of 1967, Ernie Dianastasis, class of 1974, and Eric J. Horst, class of 1982.  The award winners were presented with their awards on June 6, 2017.  Members of the Manheim Township Educational Foundation Board of Directors presented the awards. Prior to the presentation, they each had the opportunity to share some stories and advice with the MTHS Class of 2017 graduating seniors during commencement rehearsal.  If you would like to make a donation in honor of one of the candidates, please forward it to MTAA, 450A Candlewyck Road, Lancaster, PA 17601.

Pictured in Photo: Eric J. Horst, '82 and Ernie Dianastasis, '74.  
Missing: Edward M. Davidson '67.

Manheim Township Distinguished Alumni Award Plaque



Edward M. Davidson, MTHS class of 1967, is presently the Managing Partner of Davidson Arbitration, LLC, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in arbitration and mediation services to businesses, government and individuals and is also the Managing Director of Aerospace Partners Group, Ltd., a London-based Private Equity company with investments in airlines, pilot training centers and airports. Ed also serves as an arbitrator on the labor panels for the US National Mediation Board, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

After graduation from Manheim Township, Ed attended and then graduated from Pennsylvania Military College (now Weidner University) in 1971. He then entered Navy pilot training and was awarded Navy Wings in December of 1972. After pilot training, Ed served on active duty as a US Navy pilot with two combat tours in Vietnam until he entered the airline industry as a pilot in 1977. He continued his Naval service as a pilot Reservist and Naval Academy Recruiter retiring from the Navy Reserves in 1995 as a Commander.

Ed’s airline career included time as a line pilot based in Minneapolis and later as Base Chief Pilot for Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis and Detroit. Taking early retirement in 2003, Ed became the Director of Global Safety for the International Air Transport Association in Montreal, Canada. He then returned to Northwest as the Vice President of Flight Operations for their regional airline subsidiary, Mesaba Airlines. He was then recruited to become the Senior Vice President of Flight Operations at Emirates Airline in 2006 and lived in Dubai, UAE from 2006 through 2010. After returning to the US, he became the Senior Vice President of the Aerospace Consulting Practice for Tetra Tech, Inc. a government consulting firm based in Washington, DC. In 2013 he was selected to be the Vice President of Operations for Porter Airlines in Toronto, Canada. Ed was then recruited to be the Chief Operating Officer for Hawaii Island Air an airline based in Honolulu. In 2015 he became the President and Chief Operating Officer of National Airlines in Orlando, Florida.

In 2016 Ed opened his own arbitration practice and also began service as the Managing Director of Aerospace Partners Group in London. Ed was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in 2007 and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, also based in London, in 2010. He splits his time living between Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

Ed attended Manheim Township schools from kindergarten through senior high school and was an active participant in several extra-curricular activities and sports while at MTHS.


Ernest (Ernie) Dianastasis is Founder and CEO of The Precisionists, Inc., a global administrative services and information technology company focused on employing 10,000 people with disabilities by the year 2025. Creating meaningful careers for people with disabilities while at the same time delivering world class service to customers is a passion for Ernie. 

After graduation from Manheim Township in 1974, he earned a B.S. degree in Finance and an M.B.A. in Management from Lehigh University where he remains active in supporting numerous university initiatives. After several years with the IBM Corporation, Ernie joined the IT company, CAI. Ernie was a senior executive at CAI, and he grew the Delaware Valley operation from 1 to 1,400+ associates, making CAI one of the three largest IT firms in the Delaware Valley (The Philadelphia Business Journal, 2013, 2014 & 2015). Ernie also initiated CAI’s operations in Shanghai, China, which opened in 2005. 

In addition to being a successful business leader and entrepreneur, Ernie has a passion for the community and is extremely active within the region. Ernie is Chairman of First State Innovation; a private sector led non-profit initiative to foster a more entrepreneurial environment in Delaware. As Chairman, he is the driving force behind the effort to accelerate the growth of Delaware’s entrepreneurial economy. First State Innovation is closely aligned with the Council on Competitiveness in Washington, D.C., to which Ernie also belongs. Ernie also serves on the Board of Directors of the University City Science Center, which is the first and largest urban research park in the country, located in Philadelphia, PA.

He has been a member of the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Delaware State Chamber Board of Directors and serves as the Chairman of the State of Delaware’s Vision Coalition effort. He also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Economic Advisory Council and on the boards of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Select Greater Philadelphia’s Strategic Operating Committee. In 2011 Ernie was recognized by the Delmarva Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America as Citizen of the Year. In April 2016, Ernie joined the Board of Directors of Pepco Holdings, Inc., a major public energy company which includes Potomac Electric Power, Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric under its umbrella of companies.

Ernie and The Precisionists are involved in a number of local charitable causes. He is a board member of the Easter Seals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He is also former Chairman of the Board for Saint Edmond’s Academy, an independent, Catholic school for boys in Wilmington, DE. Ernie also served for two years as a Board member of Specialisterne USA, a global non-profit firm focused on employing over 1 million people on the Autism spectrum into technology jobs.

Ernie and his wife Jennifer reside in Wilmington, Delaware, with their two children.


Eric J. Horst is a Meteorologist and serves as the Director of the Millersville University Weather Center.  He is also an internationally renowned rock climber, climbing coach, and best-selling author. 

After graduating from Manheim Township in 1982, Eric attended Penn State University where he received his Bachelors of Science in Meteorology in 1986. A native of Lancaster Pennsylvania, Eric has a special interest in forecasting and "media meteorology." He has been an adjunct faculty and staff member at Millersville University since 1988. In the early 1990s, Eric also worked as a part-time, on-air meteorologist at WGAL, the NBC affiliate in the Harrisburg/Lancaster market. At Millersville, Eric is founder of the Campus Weather Service and the MU Weather Information Center, of which he is the Director. He regularly appears in local newspapers, radio, and TV as an expert storm analyst and forecaster.

Eric is also an accomplished rock climber with hundreds of first ascents to his credit. He has written eight books on the subject, several with foreign translations, and he is recognized internationally as an authority on the subject of climbing performance. Eric has coached hundreds of climbers, and his training books and concepts have spread to climbers in more than 50 countries. He is widely recognized for his innovative training techniques and equipment, and he has been a training products design consultant and Training Center editor for Nicros, Inc. since 1994. His best-selling book Training For Climbing, now in its third edition, has sold more than 150,000 copies, and it is used by climbers around the world to help guide their training.

Eric has written hundreds of magazine articles, appeared on numerous TV broadcasts, and his techniques and photos have appeared in many publications. A self-professed “climber for life”, Eric remains active at the cliffs, traveling widely with his wife, Lisa, and two sons. Still pushing his personal climbing limits at age 53, Eric’s focus is now on R & D of new training techniques, traveling and sharing his knowledge with new climbers, and coaching the next generation of elite climbers.

Eric and his wife Lisa, an LPGA golf professional reside in Manheim Township.  Their two sons are both world-class rock climbers as well as Manheim Township high school football players.