Congratulations to Ashley Cowles, our 2019 Young Professional of the Year!
Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX) has announced the nominees for this year’s young professional of the year! Nominees will be recognized and the winner will be awarded at the Annual FLEX Presents event, taking place on Friday, April 5, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Barrow-Civic Theatre. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served and cocktail attire is suggested.Learn more about FLEX Presents
Nominations were put forward by community members based on the young professionals’ contributions to the community through civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The 2019 nominees are:
Rachel Brosnahan is a freelance graphic designer from Emlenton who owns a business called Singing Sparrow Designs. She is a founding member of the Chicken Coop Studio 306, located in the Crawford Center, which offers workshops, events, and open studio time for the community. Rachel continues to serve on the board of directors at the Chicken Coop, is the creator and chairperson of the Christmas Market, worked with a team to offer children’s summer camps, and launched the “Creative Peeps Art Club” for kids.
Rachel serves on the Summer Festival Committee for the Emlenton Civic Club, where she helps plan, volunteers, and uses her graphic design skills to assist with the event social media, website, and additional materials.
Also using her design experience, Rachel worked alongside a team of translators from around the world through a ministry called Love God Greatly to make bible study materials available to women in other languages for free. There are currently materials translated into more than 20 languages and two new languages have already been added this year.
Additionally, Rachel is raising two children under the age of five and founded a group in 2017 for moms in Northwest Pennsylvania to support each other and get together for outdoor activities with their children, along with some “mom’s night out” events.
Fun Fact: Rachel has summited two “14ers” (mountains with 14,000+ elevation).
Ashley Cowles is the Program Manager at the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce, where she heads the Be Here initiative, focused on creating a positive narrative for the Venango Area. Through her position, Ashley also assists the FLEX young professionals with marketing, membership, and events.
Upon moving home from college in 2016, Ashley has worked as a freelance communications specialist in addition to her work at the Chamber, assisting small businesses and organizations with their marketing.
In September 2018, Ashley opened Core Goods, a market in Oil City with a focus on local food and sustainability. At the store, Ashley works with other local businesses, donates to various fundraisers and nonprofits, and participates in community events.
In the community, Ashley volunteers with the Oil City Main Street Program as the incoming treasurer for the Steering Committee, chair of the Economic Vitality Committee, and event volunteer.
She is a committee member for the Venango Area Community Gardens and assists the group with marketing and communications. Additionally, Ashley is a member of Oil City Vineyard Church where she volunteers with Sunday morning hospitality and children’s church.
Fun Fact: Ashley became passionate about food and wellness in college and started a blog called The Small Town Foodie (thesmalltownfoodie.com).
Jill Harry is employed in the Press Office for PennDOT’s District 1, which covers Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Warren and Venango counties. For two years, she was the safety press officer, with the prime duty of handling traffic safety education and outreaches throughout the six-county area.
In March 2018, she took over the duties of the District Press Officer in addition to her safety commitments. In this position, she coordinates the office’s communication strategy for routine and non-routine events in the northwest region of the state, including hundreds of press releases, community and press events, and media interviews.
Other notable professional accomplishments by Jill at PennDOT from the past three years include the revamp of the 40-page District 1 “Report Card” magazine, the development of the “Doing Business with PennDOT” publication, completion of the L.E.A.D. yearlong training program for women leaders, and chairing the statewide PennDOT Paint the Plow committee.
As a member of the Franklin-Oil City community, Jill stays active by volunteering with Cub Scout Pack 37 as a den leader and was named the Colonel Drake District Cubber of the Year in 2017. She has also helped with the Cub Scouts on a district level over the past three years.
Jill has been on the planning committee for the Oil Region Indie Music Festival for six years, and now continues to serve in a supporting role. Additionally, she is a volunteer usher and parent volunteer for the youth theatre program at the Barrow-Civic Theatre, and a longtime participant in the Venango County Relay for Life.
Fun Fact: Jill participates in the Oil Creek 100 trail runs and completed the 100K race in 2018.
Nicholas Hess is the owner and operator of The Printer’s Cabinet & Curiosities, a small business in Oil City offering a diverse range of antiques and curiosities to both locals and visitors.
For his store, Nicholas sources merchandise from surrounding states and Europe, sells and promotes the business at markets from Pittsburgh to New York City, and operates a collaboration of the business with a floral company in Brooklyn, New York. He is also an estate appraiser, offering knowledge to people locally concerning commercial and residential estate appraisals and organization and conducting sales on and off the premises.
In the community, Nicholas has been a board member for the Barrow-Civic Theatre for four years and is also the costumer warehouse chair for the theatre. He maintains and organizes the costume, set, and prop warehouse, and fundraises, produces, and participates in numerous activities at the theatre, in which he’s been involved in more than 30 productions.
Nicholas is a volunteer with the Venango County Historical Society, where he currates rooms for museum display and assists with preservation and fundraising, and for the Heritage Society of Oil City, in which he organizes the Grove Hill Cemetery walk and fundraiser.
Also within the community, Nicholas is a member of the Oil City Main Street Program Steering Committee, actor with Community Playhouse Inc., costumer for the Rocky Grove/Franklin High School annual musical, and performer and volunteer for the annual B&B Benefit Concert fundraiser at the Belle Lettres Club and Franklin’s Annual Light Up Night.
Fun Fact: Nick has written and performed original music in the Erie, Butler, Slippery Rock and Venango County communities and is also a freelance writer for ArtTour magazine, based in New York City.
Angela Kuhaneck is an inside sales technician at Electralloy/G.O. Carlson. Previously, she was the manager at Kay Jewelers in Cranberry for 15 years, where she was a Diamond Council of America Certified Diamontologist and Gemoloist. The store relocated in 2018 and she passed the baton to a new manager, and is now excited about finding a new set of professional challenges.
Angela is the co-base pastor of missions at the First Church of God in Oil City, where she organizes internations, domestic, and local outreach programs, including a mission trip to the House of Blessings Orphanage in Haiti in October 2018, the Oil Heritage Parade Water Bottle Outreach, and the Diaper Ditch.
Also at the church, Angela was the apprentice elder in 2018 and is a choir member, vacation bible school teacher, and open closet volunteer.
Much of Angela’s time is spent with her family, husband Aric and two daughters, Alexandra and Alaina, and as a volunteer at Sandycreek Elementary School, where she assists with activities and is a Junior Achievement leader.
Fun Fact: Angela is passionate about traveling. She’s been to 24 states and 6 countries.
Jim Marshall is co-owner of King’s Landscaping, a family-owned landscaping company based out of Oil City.
He is a member of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, where he chairs both the Advocacy and Membership Committees. He joined forces with other Advocacy Committee members, business owners, and elected officials in 2017 to stop the proposed reduction of lanes on Route 8, which would have direct impact on the region’s economy.
Jim takes pride in the community and assists with various improvement projects to beautify downtown, including maintaining the Oil City Town Square and King Memorial Park, as a gift to the city.
Jim is Past President of the President Township Volunteer Fire Department and also participates in the Bowl For Kids Sake event each year, and has been the top individual fundraiser for two years in a row.
Fun Fact: Jim is an avid fisherman who wants to catch a fish in all 50 states. So far he has completed 12 states, the Seneca Nation of Indians, and one Canadian Province, and hopes to cross New Mexico off his list this coming fall.
Ashley McCauley is a licensed Insurance Producer for Pennsylvania Property and Casualty, Life, Accident, and Health, specializing in personal auto, home, and life, and is employed at Rossbacher Insurance Group in Seneca. She recently joined the Allegheny Valley Realtors Association as an affinity member.
Prior to her current career, Ashley was an experienced banking professional. She has completed coursework for the Pennsylvania Bankers Association Advanced School of Banking and has grown several profitable retail branches. As a loan officer at a former bank, she was one of the top producers in mortgage and home equity referrals in our region.
Ashley volunteers with several organizations. She is a board member for the Northwest Hospital Foundation and volunteer with Clarion University – Venango. She has also contributed to the community through the Cranberry Festival Committee, Oil City Main Street Program, Clarion University Alumni Association Board of Directors, Venango Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and several other boards of directors.
Fun Fact: Ashley is an original member of FLEX when it was known as Young Professional Network of Venango County.
Laura Ordaz is an associate engineer at Komatsu Mining Corp. in Franklin. In early 2018, she got involved with FLEX and became the membership committee chair in October of 2018. She also became a part of of the Emerging Professionals Network (EPN), the Komatsu specific young professionals group. Laura came on as the Franklin site leader and helped to launch the organization and recruit members.
Through EPN, Laura has volunteered with many organizations including Habitat for Humanity, BEST Robotics, and Adopt a Family. The group has put together benefit events held at the Franklin Komatsu that have raised nearly $1000 for the local women’s shelter, United Way, and BEST Robotics.
While in grad school at West Virginia University, Laura volunteered with TASOW, a nonprofit focused on a sustainable future for all living things, where she helped at a reptile expo to educate the general public on conversation and animal care. She also volunteered with the WVU school of medicine fundraising events.
In her free time, Laura has also volunteered at the Barrow-Civic Little Theatre to help with renovations and has signed up and looks forward to volunteering two other organizations–the Venango County Humane Society and Oil City Arts Council.
Fun Fact: In 2013, Laura participated in “Hike for Hope” with a group from Slippery Rock University. They hiked 55 miles from Slippery Rock to Pittsburgh and raised awareness for the Indivisible Children Foundation.
Dr. Stephen Reinsel has been an optometrist at Wagner Family Eyecare in Seneca since 2012. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) and attends quarterly meetings to represent the interests in Doctors of Optometry in Pennsylvania and to advance eye and vision care for the citizens of the Commonwealth. He is also a member of the Northwest Optometric Association, serving as society president in 2013.
Over the past several years, Stephen has volunteered his time giving glaucoma screenings at the UPMC Women’s Health Fair and vision screenings at kindergarten registration in the Oil City School District.
He has been active in Oil City Rotary since 2012, and has served on the board of directors for almost three years. During his time in Rotary, Stephen has been the chair head for the Terri Lyn Nut sale, the organization’s largest fundraiser, and is an annual volunteer at community events including the Oil Heritage Festival Fun Fair, Applefest, Rotary Chili Cook-Off, and Cranberry Festival Spaghetti Dinner.
Stephen is a volunteer for the FLEX Oil Heritage Festival Bike ‘n Brew, where he heads the brewery sub-committee and volunteers at the day-long event. He is a team organizer for the Bowl for Kids Sake event, ranking as the highest team fundraiser four years in a row, and is also a 3rd degree member at the Knights of Columbus.
Fun Fact: Stephen enjoys bowling in the Mechant’s League at the Knights of Columbus, brewing craft beer, and traveling with his wife, Jenny, whom he married in Las Vegas in 2017.
Dr. Sallie D. Richards is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Rural Mental Health Associates, an outpatient mental health practice in Oil City. She received her master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and is a member of both the American and Pennsylvania Psychological Associations.
In the community, she has been involved with First United Methodist Church in Franklin since 2013, where she is in the choir and provides special music as needed, is a lay delegate to the annual conference, and serves on the worship committee, staff/parish relations committee, and church council. She also was the delegate appointed by the bishop to attend the “Do No Harm” Conference and is currently working with regional church officials to address needs regarding sexual misconduct in the church.
The past couple of years, Sallie has volunteered with A Fairy Enchanted Evening Princess Ball, a fundraising event to benefit The Magic Yarn Project, a non-profit that makes Disney-princess style wigs for children with cancer, with a goal to celebrate girls’ creativity and promote positive, health self-image and social interaction, encourage generosity, and promote community.
Sallie also facilitates a free monthly Caregivers Support Group through the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter and has volunteered to represent Rural Mental Health Associates at the Oil City High School Career Fair to provide information to high school students with a vocational interest in the mental health field. Any additional free time she has is spent at the Barrow-Civic Theatre, where she has been involved on and off stage in nine productions, and with her husband, Jonathan, who she married in September of 2011.
Fun Fact: Sallie was an unpaid, uncredited extra in the movie We Are Marshall, which was filmed on campus at Marshall University during the spring semester of her first year of grad school.
Ashley Smith has been the Venango County Regional Planning Commission Land Use Planner since August 2017. At the Planning Commission, she administered the County-wide Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and Stormwater Management Ordinance which resulted in the approval of over 250 applications.
A significant amount of Ashley’s time has been spent at her alma mater, Franklin High School. She has been the band front advisor for the Black Knight Marching Band, which has performed at Erie Otters Hockey Games and in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. She has been a Franklin Middle School Wrestling and Basketball Cheerleading Volunteer for many years and was recently the high school’s Varsity Basketball Cheerleading Coach.
Ashley is a member of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s new leadership program Leadership Venango, an ambassador for the Be Here initiative, and a FLEX member, where she serves on the Marketing Committee. She is also a member of the Franklin Fine Arts Council and has volunteered with the Franklin On Ice Chili Cook-Off.
Also in the community, Ashley is a member of the County Wellness Committee, Oil Region Rising and volunteers at the Venango County Quarterly Recycling Event and as a County Poll Worker.
Fun Fact: Ashley was a feature majorette twirler for Franklin both her junior and senior year of high school. Her junior year, she twirled fire batons at home football games.
Rachel Stiller is the Cost Accountant at Borchers Americas Inc. She works for the company out of Franklin, but travels often to their plant in Kentucky.
As a Venango County native and Clarion University graduate, Rachel has been involved with FLEX since she was a college intern. This is her second year serving as the FLEX president, in which she oversees the committees, runs monthly meetings, and creates and implements the organization’s budget. Rachel has also been the FLEX Membership Committee Chair and helped create the FLEX Your Goals program in 2017.
Besides her involvement with the young professionals, Rachel has been a volunteer for several years at Saint Patrick Church as a Religious Education Teacher for seventh grade students.
Rache has also been a volunteer soccer coach for the Franklin YMCA since 2017, where she works with children ages three through 12 during the spring and fall seasons.
Fun Fact: Rachel is an avid downhill skier. She is also a classically trained pianist and teaches piano.