Congratulations to Laura Ordaz, our 2020 Young Professional of the Year!
Young Professional of the Year nominees were recognized at a virtual event on September 25.
Nominations were put forward by community members based on the young professionals’ contributions to the community through civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The 2020 nominees were:
Rebecca Beach has been the Loan Program Manager at the Northwest Commission since May of 2018. In her position, she manages and markets the organization’s loan programs, interviews potential borrowers, analyzing applications, and communicates with funding sources. Previously, she worked as a Real Estate Lending Director at Clarion County Community Bank.
Rebecca has been involved with Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX) for almost 10 years, where she has served as treasurer and secretary and is currently a member of the Events & Fundraising Committee.
She has been involved with the United Way of Venango County since 2014, serving on the Community Impact Stability Committee and the Big Basket Bingo Committee, and also volunteering with the Annual Campaign.
Rebecca currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce, where she has been on both the Executive Committee and Finance Committee. She is also on the Friends of Oil Creek State Park Board of Directors and has served on the organization’s Chicks-In-The-Sticks Committee.
Luke Braughler works for Child Development Centers (CDC) where he is the Venango/Crawford County Administrator. During his career at CDC, he has served on the Executive Leadership Team and assisted with opening the Willow Child Development Center in Meadville.
In his current position, Luke oversees nine early childhood education centers and both the Early Head Start and Head Start grant programs. He has written CDC’s current Pre-K Counts Induction Program for teachers (approved by the Dept. of Education.) In the past year he has launched an online training platform for CDC employees and provided oversight for the Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate Program that gives non-degreed staff a professional certificate worth 9 college credits. Luke has also established systems for 1st Aid/CPR training within the organization.
In the community, Luke is on the Laurel Technical Institute Early Childhood Program Committee, Crawford Career and Technical Center Program Committee, and Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) Steering Committee for the ELRC Leadership Council. He has also attended the Governor’s Institute for Early Childhood Education and helped design a grant to assist with promoting other agencies and advertising their services.
In addition, Luke has been involved with local churches, throughout the past few years he has led a monthly Men’s Breakfast and has assisted with church ministry as needed.
Natalie Cubbon is the Projects Coordinator at the Oil Region Library Association (ORLA). She started as a Library Assistant in 2017 and in the past three years has implemented new initiatives and taken on additional responsibilities.
In 2018, she started providing consistent programming for teens (ages 13-19) at the Oil City Library as Teen Services Coordinator, as well as managing the Young Adult materials collection and doing community and school outreach.
Natalie also quickly learned how to catalog library materials and acquired the position of County Cataloger, cataloging and managing most collection materials for Oil Region Libraries (Oil City, Franklin, and Cooperstown).
In addition to her many duties at the library, she took on the tasks of social media management, marketing, event/workshop coordination and promotions for Oil City Library in 2018.
In 2019, Natalie became a Be Here Ambassador and got involved in more Chamber events, such as Tech Talks, which led to her expanding her role with social media, marketing, and promotions to an organization-wide level, creating and managing most of ORLA’s digital content.
Natalie created the ORLA Newsletter in 2020, which is distributed to over 5,000 patrons and community members every month, and also received a grant for the Oil City Library to create a teen-lead podcast, which plans to launch soon.
Dan Flaherty is Executive Director of the Oil Region Library Association (ORLA). Within the past three years, he has led efforts to create the ORLA, a non-profit that took over governance of the Oil City Library and acquired the other two Venango County libraries–Cooperstown and Franklin.
The partnership introduced new efficiencies, saved costs for funders, lessened the burden on meeting state standards, and increased fundraising efforts. Most importantly are the benefits to the public–they have significantly minimized barriers, increased access to resources, and enhanced communications for residents and visitors, while implementing new programs/services and features, such as digital resources/collections and STEM items.
Dan has done training for the “Turning Outward Initiative,” a program by the Harwood Institute’s Public Innovators Lab. This taught him skills to better connect with the community in order to identify aspirations, concerns, and ideas, allowing for better and more involved decision-making. He has implemented training both at the library and with local groups, nonprofits, and school districts through hosting “Community Conversations.”
As a member of the Pennsylvania Library Association, Dan has served on many committees for the organization, such as the Nominating and Annual Conference Planning Committees. He is the Chair/Organizer for the River Valley Disc Society, through which he has orchestrated Disc Golf events at Hasson Park Disc Golf Course and park cleanup days, and raised funds to make minor repairs at the course. He also spent two years on the Scholarship Committee for Bridge Builders Community Foundations.
Dan has assisted FLEX in bringing brewers to the annual Bike ‘n Brew beerfest, and is also a 2019 graduate of Leadership Venango, the Venango Chamber’s leadership program.
Angela Griffin is the co-founder of Hope 21, a non-profit that is a free, weekly clothing boutique in Oil City. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and was most recently a sales associate at Nicole’s Bridal in Seneca.
Angela sings and plays piano for the worship team at the Crossing Free Methodist of Oil City. She also organizes the Operation Christmas Child collection at the church, holding monthly collections of items throughout the year, followed by a large packing party before the boxes get sent out to children in need.
She has been a Girl Scout Troop Leader for the past six years. For the troop, she coordinates volunteer activities in the community, discusses important topics, like bullying, and holds fun activities, like making crafts and cooking.
Angela also uses her musical talent to play piano for music time at Good Hope Lutheran Preschool, and heads up child care during a monthly women’s bible study.
Jessica Hoffman is a licensed massage therapist with 11 years of experience and owns her own private practice–Massage Therapy by Jess. She has also completed Yoga Teacher Training and teaches yoga classes at the YWCA of Oil City and Trailasana Yoga Studio.
Jessica is a board member of the YWCA and volunteers with many of the organization’s events, such as the Sweet Treats, Antique Show, Starlight Ball, and Princess Tea Party. She also teaches yoga to the YWCA’s After School Girls Club.
In 2019, Jessica created an annual fundraiser for the YWCA called the Detox & De-Stress Workshop. It is geared towards total self-care for women and features many local, women-owned businesses. Jessica is passionate about helping people find ways to take care of themselves in natural and holistic ways.
Jessica has also been a Youth Connections (previously Big Brothers, Big Sisters) mentor and volunteer since 2017, acting as a positive role model to help youth reach their fullest potential.
Bobbie Jones is the owner of Trailasana Yoga Studio, LLC in Oil City and the Human Resources Manager for Webco Industries, Inc.
For her yoga business, Bobbie has obtained many certifications and has completed the 200-hour yoga teacher training, Barre, Buti Yoga, and Hot Buti Yoga certifications. She has created events to raise money for local non-profits through “Good Karma Yoga,” and works to create partnerships to help strengthen the community with other like-minded business owners.
At Webco, which employs about 220 people, Bobbie applies her Professional Human Resources certification and has helped bring Zero Card to Pennsylvania–a medical program saving employees money for services such as surgeries, imaging, and lab work.
She worked closely with Venango Technology Center (VTC) to create an Advanced Manufacturing Program and also worked with local school districts on career readiness initiatives for students.
In addition, Bobbie created an Employer Advisory Council with a purpose of allowing manufacturers to work together to determine workforce needs.
Bobbie serves on many local committees related to her work, including the Clarion University Venango Advisory Counsel, Clarion University Venango Workforce Subgroup, Schools and Industries Partnership Group, Bob Casey Workforce Group (through the Oil Region Alliance), Venango County Human Resources Group, and Society for Human Resource Management.
In the community, she is a member of FLEX, board member and Vice President for the United Way of Venango County, and Steering Committee member for the Oil City Main Street Program.
She is currently pursuing her MBA at the University of Maryland Global Campus and teaches a Professional Human Resources Certification Prep class for Clarion University.
Greg Lander is Vice President of Klapec Trucking Company (KTC) in Reno, employing about 100 people. He began at KTC mowing grass and washing trucks at 8 years old, then got his CDL when he turned 18 and drove daily. Now he is the third generation leading the company.
Greg and his team have successfully moved loads 15’10” high, 23 feet wide, and 114′ long, as well as the many normal daily and legal loads, and he always enjoys the good challenge these loads bring.
KTC has received many awards, like the President’s Award, which goes to the safest trucking company in Pennsylvania each year from the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. Klapec Trucking Company also has many awards from Great West Casualty Insurance company for being one of their top safety conscious companies.
Greg enjoys driving the KTC trucks in local parades and transporting the City of Franklin Christmas tree. He serves as an active member of St. Stephen Church, where he is a greeter and helps with the annual St. Stephen Heritage Festival. He has also volunteered at St. Stephen School by helping with the student swim classes and the Reverse Raffle.
Greg sits on the YMCA Scenic Rivers Board and is active in the YMCA, where he is a certified swim official and volunteers at swim meets.
Joanna McElhattan is a Speech Language Pathologist at Oil City Area School District, where she has worked for seven years.
She has also been a Dance Instructor at The Performing Arts Academy with Darin in Oil City for the past two years.
In the community, Joanna was a youth group leader for seven years, and she is involved with a local group focused on therapy dogs. Her and her husband have a basset hound named Gus that is certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and they are part of a Venango County group called Paws 4 A Cause.
With Gus, they visit locations in Venango County such as nursing homes and dementia units, schools, domestic violence shelters, health fairs, cub scout meetings, and UPMC Northwest (Mental Health Unit, Transitional Care Unit, and Cancer Center). They also visit kids coming to court at the Venango County Courthouse and in reading programs at the Franklin and Oil City Libraries.
In addition, Joanna assists on her parents’ farm, where they raise cows, pigs, and horses.
Laura Ordaz is an Engineer at Komatsu Mining Corp. in Franklin, where she also serves as the Komatsu Emerging Professionals Network Site Leader.
She has been involved with FLEX for many years and has held the position of Membership Committee Chair for the past two years.
Laura is often found volunteering throughout the community. She joined the Oil City Arts Council in 2019 where she serves on the marketing committee and volunteers for the Graffiti Gallery in the Transit Building. She has worked lights for a production at the Barrow-Civic Theatre, helped with Thanksgiving meal distribution for both the Community Services of Venango County and Franklin Salvation Army, volunteered with the Venango County Humane Society, and assisted at the Oil City Wine Walk.
In 2019, Laura became involved in the planning and execution of the Fairy Enchanted Evening, an event that raises money for the Magic Yarn Project, which creates princess inspired wigs out of yarn for children who have lost their hair due to illness.
This year, Laura joined the board of directors for both the Barrow-Civic Theatre and United Way of Venango County, and also became a member of the Oil City Rotary Club.
Stephen Reinsel is an Optometrist at Wagner Family Eyecare in Seneca. He is president of the Northwest Optometric Society, which he has been involved with for seven years, and is also a member of the Pennsylvania & American Optometric Association.
Stephen is a member, board member, and secretary of the Oil City Rotary Club. He often volunteers for Rotary fundraisers and initiatives, such as the community garden, Oil Heritage Festival Fun Fair, Cranberry Festival Spaghetti Dinner, and holiday bell ringing for the Salvation Army.
Over the past several years, Stephen has volunteered his time giving glaucoma screenings at the UPMC Women’s Health Fair and vision screenings at the Oil City School District.
He is a member of FLEX and an active committee member for the FLEX Oil Heritage Festival Bike ‘N Brew Committee, where he helps get most of the breweries for the annual beerfest.
Stephen is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Oil City Boat Club.
Corey Ritchey has worked as President and Chief Operating Officer at Allegheny Inspections, LLC, for 10 years, and his business was recognized as the Best National Insurance Inspection Firm in 2018.
He is active in the Franklin Civic Operetta Association (Barrow-Civic Theatre), where he serves as treasurer of the board, Finance Committee chair, Board Governance Committee member, Programming Committee member, and Fundraising Committee member.
Corey has been a board member at the United Way of Venango County for four years, where he has also served as Personnel Committee chair and Finance Committee member.
Another organization Corey is highly involved in is the Franklin Rotary Club. He served as president from 2017 to 2018, continues to serve on the board, and is chair of both the Membership and Scholarship Committees.
Also in the community, Corey is active in the Venango County Republican Committee and has served as the group’s Cranberry 2 Committee Chair for five years.
Additionally, Corey serves as Treasurer, Technology Committee chair, and Compliance & Emerging Issues chair for Associated Reporting Companies (ARCO), the association for his business’ industry.
Elizabeth Yale is the Priest in Charge at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin. At St. John’s, she worked to install a lift to make the facilities more handicap accessible, updated and brought the church into the community through new websites and social media platforms, added monthly community service projects, and started plans for their bicentennial celebration.
Also at the church, Elizabeth solidified the St. John’s Episcopal Church and Grace Lutheran Church partnership with a signed agreement between the governing bodies of both churches, and helped them celebrate 10 years together with a service.
She has worked to grow Shepherd’s Green Community Food Pantry. She obtained a grant for summer and winter projects, providing items like blankets, hats, gloves, umbrellas, and sunscreen for clients, and the grant also allowed the pantry to purchase a new fridge and freezer to accommodate healthy items.
Elizabeth installed and blessed the St. John’s Blessing Box, which sits near the sidewalk for people to share food and personal care items with each other in the community. She started the BackPack Program at Central Elementary School in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank in Erie to feed 50 students on the weekends who come from households under the poverty level.
Elizabeth serves as president of the Franklin Ministerium and helps coordinate Christian events in Franklin, such as the Cross Walk and Fourth of July Service. She was part of the 2018 Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania Delegation to General Convention and served on the Congregational and Diocesan Vitality committee as an assistant secretary.
Additionally, she has hosted two Candlelight Prayer Vigils Against Gun Violence in front of the Venango County Courthouse, to call the community to pray and lament for all those affected by gun violence in communities across Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth is a member of FLEX, as well as the Franklin Rotary Club. She has served on the Franklin Housing Authority Board for three years, and is currently the president of the board. She also contributes articles to The Derrick & News-Herald, which can be found on the paper’s religion page.
Elizabeth has participated in multiple BikeMS ride events, raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and is creating a bike team for Venango County to participate and raise funds to help those with MS in our area. She has also completed two Mighty Moraine Man Sprint Triathlons.