American Lung Assoc. volunteer process under review following registered sex offender's removal

PITTSBURGH — The American Lung Association of Pennsylvania is reviewing its volunteer application process after learning a registered sex offender was serving as a committee member, Channel 11 News learned Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the ALA confirmed that Lee Sonis was volunteering with the organization, serving as a committee member working on building corporate teams and sponsorships. Sonis was not working with minors, according to the spokesperson.

Sonis was sentenced in 2012 for possessing child pornography. He served time and is still under supervised release.

Late Wednesday evening, the ALA released the following statement to Channel 11 News:

“As a nonprofit organization, our mission is driven by the hard work of dedicated supporters, event participants and volunteers. 
“In order to increase corporate participation for our Fight For Air Climbs throughout the country, we utilize committees that recruit corporate teams and help fundraise. Recently, it came to light that a new committee member for the Fight For Air Climb in Pittsburgh was a registered sex offender. After this was discovered, we swiftly removed him from his committee role and terminated his volunteer status with the American Lung Association. His primary role had been focused on building corporate teams and sponsorships, and was not working with minors.
“We greatly value the work of volunteers and the involvement of participants. Our events are family and community focused, and the safety of our event participants is our highest priority. We are currently reviewing our membership process for committee and leadership volunteers.
“We will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure that the recruitment and management of our volunteers aligns with our organizational goals and the mission of the American Lung Association - to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.”