Congratulations to Erin Hanna, our 2021 Young Professional of the Year!
Young Professional of the Year nominees were recognized at an event on May 21, 2021.
Nominations were put forward by community members based on the young professionals’ contributions to the community through civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The 2021 nominees are:
Amanda Barker is the Branch Manager at the Cooperstown Public Library, part of the Oil Region Library Association (ORLA). She started at the Oil City Library part-time in 2018, then accepted a job one year later at the Coopertown Library where she began training to become branch manager.
At the Oil City Library, Amanda began as a typist then took over weeding, which is the process of reviewing out-of-date or damaged books.
In her current position, Amanda is the only employee at the library and in charge of the day-to-day tasks as well as the programming initiatives. She has created a community presence for the library, through social media and by attending local township meetings, and has started children’s programming, and also implemented many shifts during the pandemic, such as virtual programming and curbside service.
In 2020, Amanda formed a partnership with the other libraries to offer an online summer reading program. She has also created the library’s emergency plan and how-to manual, and helped secure the Bridge Builders Community Foundations Meise Grant.
Before working for ORLA, Amanda was a Saturday library at the Clarion Free Library. She has also worked at Michelle’s Cafe and Artfunkle’s Store in Clarion, and on a tree farm in Emlenton.
In addition, Amanda has been part of the Western PA Mushroom Club since 2019 and has helped document some of the species that grow in our local parks.
Fun Fact: Amanda has edited a friend’s 700-page book–“Yin Yang Doo-Doo & the Gas Attack Ensemble,” by John Miller of Clarion, PA.
Andrew Dobson is a lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley and serves Venango County with his fire & water cleanup & restoration business, SERVPRO.
Growing up working in the cleaning and restoration industry, Andrew feels honored to continue building the legacy started by his father, Jimmy Dobson.
Andrew holds more than 15 certifications with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). He is also a certified IICRC Water Restoration Technician instructor. He has achieved advanced designations in the cleaning industry’s highest technical designation, IICRC Master. Andrew currently holds all advanced designations including: Master Water Restorer (MWR), Master Fire & Smoke Restorer (MSR) and Master Textile Cleaner (MTC).
As the owner of 11 locations across Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, Andrew serves the residents and business owners across nine counties. His franchise footprint employs over 160 people locally. Andrew’s training has developed hundreds of aspiring restoration professionals, as well as those from other industries.
Fun Fact: Andrew has been married to his wife Katie since 2015. They have a two-year-old daughter, Quinn, and a son, Noah, due at the end of April.
Erin Hanna is the Director of Bayada Pediatrics, a nonprofit home health care provider, where she started in April 2021. Before her current job, she was the Branch Manager and Vice President at First National Bank of Franklin for five years.
At First National Bank, Erin served on the Diversity Council and Northwest Women’s Council, and also led the Northwest Market training, coaching, and mentoring for 15 Assistant Managers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Erin funded over $10 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans to over 140+ Venango County businesses, which helped job retention for over 1,500 Venango County residents.
In the community, Erin is a Board Member for the United Way of Venango County, and has been the board’s Vice President and President. In addition, Erin has served on the By-Law, Finance, and Community Impact Committees, and was Campaign Co-Chair for one year. In addition, Erin was the United Way’s Treasurer and Campaign Chair for two years. She helped the organization achieve record-breaking campaigns all three years as Co-Chair and Chair.
Erin is also a substitute driver for Meals on Wheels in Grove City and has volunteered for Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania by teaching a six-week class to 9-12 graders at Oil City High School.
Fun Fact: Erin is an avid gardener and started a family garden co-op.
Nicholas Hess is the Owner of The Printer’s Cabinet & Curiosities, an antique shop that he moved to Franklin from Oil City in 2020. At Gems Donation Station in Franklin, he is also the Estate Buyer and Lead Merchandiser.
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 is a board member and costume warehouse chair for the Barrow-Civic Theatre, where he maintains and organizes the costume, set, and prop warehouse.
He is a board member and Safe Clean & Green committee member for the Oil City Main Street Program, board member for the Heritage Society of Oil City, member and secretary for the Oil City Library Advisory Council, volunteer for the Oil City Garden Club, and volunteer curator for the Venango County Historical Society.
In addition, Nicholas has been the volunteer appraiser for the Venango County Community Antique Luncheon and has volunteered with Titusville Summer Theatre. Nicholas also organizes the annual Oil City Cemetery Tours and is a director, costumer, and actor with both the Community Playhouse Inc. and The Barrow-Civic Theatre.
Fun Fact: At his store, Nicholas has sold a human skull.
Juliet Hilburn began a new job as a Real Estate Specialist for Allegheny Realty Settlement, LLC (a subsidiary of Shafer Law Firm) in May 2021.
She most recently worked for for the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College as a Student Success Specialist, where she assisted area students with access to affordable post-secondary education and provided support for first-generation and non-traditional college students
Previously, Juliet also worked for the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism, upon graduating from Mercyhurst University in 2018. She was the Analyst-Educator and managed programs at the Tarbell House historic property in Titusville and coordinated the Get on the Trail Entrepreneurial Business Plan Contest.
In 2019, Juliet was awarded the Historic Preservation Award from the ORA for work on researching and preserving gravestones at Ridgway Cemetery in Hydetown.
Juliet is a member of the FLEX young professionals group and an ambassador for Be Here, a program focused on spreading positive messaging about Venango County. She serves on the Titusville Area Council on the Arts Board of Directors, where she often volunteers and also built their new website, and is a member of the Junior Achievement Board for Crawford County.
She is a member of the current class of Leadership Meadville and will graduate in June. In addition, she is a flute player for the Mostly Brass ensemble and an announcer for their concerts. She also presents free cemetery workshops on proper gravestone cleaning and preservation.
Fun fact: Juliet has co-authored an upcoming article “A Million Ways to Die in the Oil Region” for Drake Well’s Oilfield Journal.
Bobbie Jones is the Human Resource Manager at Webco Industries and Owner of Trailasana Yoga Studio, and recently began pursuing her MBA from the University of Maryland Global Campus.
She has her Professional Human Resources Certification designation (PHR) as well as her DISC Facilitator and Coach certification, and is an advocate for Dave Ramsey’s Smart Dollar focused on promoting financial wellness.
At Webco, Bobbie promotes and oversees the business’ Wellness Committee and has implemented Zero Card in Pennsylvania, providing employees with medical services at no cost. She also organized Webco’s employee appreciation golf scramble.
She serves on boards and committees including the NWPA Job Connect Board and Executive Committee, Workforce Solutions Committee, Clarion University – Venango Advisory Council, and Occupational Advisory Committee for the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.
Bobbie has also worked with the Venango Technology Center to put together the Advanced Manufacturing program and participates in mock interviews and career development at local schools.
In the community, Bobbie serves on the Oil City Main Street Program Steering Committee and has volunteered at Downtown Oil City events, like Clean-Up Day and Bridge Fest. She is the Board Vice President and Personnel Committee Member for the United Way of Venango County, and a member of the Venango County Human Resources Group, FLEX Young Professionals, Zonta, and the OC150 Committee.
Bobbie opened her yoga studio in January 2020 and is not only a certified yoga teacher, but also certified in Intensive Buti Yoga and Barre. During the beginning of the pandemic, she offered virtual yoga for donation only, and created a 30-day Wellness Challenge consisting of yoga, outdoor recreation, journaling, and positivity.
Bobbie offers free weekly guided group hikes on local trails, and is a recent recipient of the Get on the Trail Business Contest grant, which she plans to use for standup paddleboard yoga. Trailasana also holds “Good Karma Yoga” to raise money for local nonprofits and causes, collected toys for Toys for Tots, and partners with other businesses when possible.
In addition, Bobbie is a member of Saint Patrick’s Church and strives to be a mentor and role model for others.
Fun Fact: Bobbie has completed several ultra-marathons, from 25 to 62 miles.
Ivy Kuberry is the Environmental Education Specialist at Oil Creek State Park and moved back to Venango County in 2019 for this position.
At Oil Creek, Ivy worked to grow programming through COVID restrictions and offered free educational opportunities to surrounding schools and communities. This year, she created a video series on Facebook called “Trail Talk” to showcase plants, animals, historical sites, and more at Oil Creek.
She is working on rewriting and updating historical waysides at the park to improve the visitor experience, replanting pollinator gardens to provide for wildlife and to create a unique education opportunity, and making more educational and volunteer opportunities for the 2021 season. Ivy is also working with the Master Gardeners of Venango County on the park’s garden projects.
She is part of Shenango CREST, a climate and rural environmental study team, which works on a variety of climate-based projects. She is on the Climate Garden Team and they’ve been working to develop and deliver a webinar series on how gardening can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Ivy has worked with the Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation of birds and their habitat, to provide programming, and recently has been working with park volunteers to expand the cavity nester trail to provide nest boxes for bluebirds and tree swallows on the park. They monitor the boxes and collect data, which is added to a statewide cavity nester database.
In addition, Ivy is a member of the FLEX young professionals group and an ambassador for Be Here, a program focused on spreading positive messaging about Venango County. On her own time, she has also volunteered for Camp Judson in North Springfield, a camp she grew up attending, to create a nature video series about seeing God in nature for virtual camp experiences.
Fun Fact: Ivy’s favorite hobbies are landscaping and playing Dungeons & Dragons. She and her husband play virtually twice a week with some of their friends.
Valerie Perry works for Holland America Line and is also the Owner of A Bite of History Food Tours. She is originally from Venango County and is currently living here until she heads back out to sea. At Holland America, Valerie is a Cruise and Travel Director.
She launched her food tour business in March 2021 after winning the Get On The Trail Business Contest by the Oil Region Alliance. These walking food and history tours take people throughout downtown Franklin, PA, to learn about the history of the Oil Region and enjoy food from local businesses.
Valerie previously worked for National Geographic, where she was Head of Production for National Geographic Live, the live entertainment division. She would host and emcee events including the monthly, sold out series “Nat Geo Nights” in Washington, DC, and was also project manager for National Geographic’s “Symphony for Our World.”
In addition, she was involved with professional development at Nat Geo, in which she completed “Heroic Public Speaking Live,” a two-day public speaking workshop, as well as “Managing Yourself,” an online leadership program from Harvard ManageMentor, part of Harvard Business Publishing.
Valerie has volunteered for the Venango Chamber Golf Outing, Oil Heritage Festival Art Show, and FLEX service projects. During the 2020 Oil Heritage Festival, she also volunteered to take live videos at various events.
Also in the community, Valerie hosted and produced “Exploring Pennsylvania” with the Oil Region Alliance–a live social media showcase of what there is to see and do in the area–and gave a presentation on public speaking for Leadership Venango.
Valerie has also done freelance work since being back in the region. She produced a series of 22 videos for the Cranberry Festival, as well as a Virtual Concert for the Venango Museum showcasing the Wurlitzer Theater Organ. She was also part of the Venango Chamber’s Storytelling Initiative to help businesses learn to tell their stories.
In addition, Valerie has published an article on St. John’s Episcopal Church’s Tiffany Windows with Confetti Travel Cafe, and received an Honorable Mention for her photography at Oil Heritage Festival.
Fun Fact: Valerie has been to all 50 states.
Corey Ritchey has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Allegheny Inspections, LLC for over a decade. His business is a national insurance inspection firm headquartered in Franklin, which contracts and employs hundreds of people across the United States.
He has a passion for community service and volunteering, specifically in organizations focused on improving the quality of life and access to opportunities in Venango County. He currently serves as an executive board member for four non-profit organizations and is a member of numerous other community organizations.
Corey is active in the Franklin Civic Operetta Association (Barrow-Civic Theatre), where he serves as treasurer of the board and finance committee chair.
He has been a board member at the United Way of Venango County for five years, where he currently serves as board vice president and personnel committee chair.
Another organization Corey is highly involved in is the Franklin Rotary Club. He served as club president in 2017-2018 and continues to serve as board treasurer, scholarship committee chair, and communications chair.
Also in the community, Corey is active in the Venango County Republican Committee and has served as the group’s Cranberry 2 representative for six 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.
Fun fact: In his limited free time, Corey enjoys spending time with his family and playing the guitar.
Amariliz Sanchez is the Program Secretary for Medical Imaging Sciences, Allied Health and Respiratory Care at Clarion University – Venango, and a non-traditional student at Clarion University, where she has a major in Integrative Studies with a double minor is Speech Communication and Sociology.
She is the recipient of the 2019/2020 Clarion University Venango Campus Outstanding Staff Member of the Year Award, and has received the W.E.B. Dubois Scholarship Award and the AFSCME Non-Instructional Staff Scholarship Award.
At the campus, Amariliz has served on committees including the Search Committee for the Dean of Career and Workforce Education, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Power Grant Committee, the Venango Campus Commencement Committee, the Academic Excellence/Honors Night Committee, and the Black Caucus Committee.
She has also volunteered to take minutes at the Venango Campus Advisory Board and the Applied Technology Advisory Board meetings
Amariliz participates in weekly campus activities as often as possible to encourage campus life and has hosted events, like Pictionary Night and “Wingo.” She uses her cooking skills to make food for the students, faculty, and staff in support of cultural week on three separate occasions, and also has cooked a traditional Puerto Rican beef stew in support of the Psychology Soup Drive at the Clarion Main Campus.
At Peddlers and Paddlers Inn in Franklin, Amariliz volunteered to help renovate the bed and breakfast, and has participated in “Stone Soup Sundays” to cook traditional Hispanic food for the community.
She has also designed about 100 totes for the Phi Theta Kappa Totes for Tots Community Service event for the Child Development Centers, and volunteered Oil City Community Clean-Up Day.
Fun Fact: Amariliz was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx. She moved to Seneca, PA, in 2014 and currently lives in Oil City.
Tessa Simmons is the Assistant Principal at Valley Grove Elementary School. At the school, she has aided in the development and promotion of VGTV (Valley Grove TV), the district YouTube channel that became a tool of communication between the district, teachers, students, and families during COVID-19. Tessa has also increased the social media presence for the elementary school and the entire Valley Grove School District.
Tessa has worked to implement school-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. She has also facilitated elementary programs and events to increase student, teacher, and parent engagement.
She is a member of the VGSD Safety Committee, STEM Committee, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Team, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Team, Wellness Committee, Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum Committee.
Tessa is a member of the United Way of Venango County Education Impact Committee and has worked with the United Way of Venango County to implement the Success By Six Program, a six-week learning opportunity for preselected children entering into Kindergarten. In this program, children increase their proficiency in reading, math, language, social, and fine motor skills, and the program allows students to become familiar with the school learning environment and classroom structure to better prepare them for their upcoming kindergarten year.
In addition, Tessa has presented at the Penn State Behrend Best Practices in Teaching and Learning Mathematics Conference in Erie, PA.
Fun Fact: Tessa and her husband love to travel and take their children on road trips. They have been to 27 different states, plus Washington D.C. and Canada, and are looking forward to more adventures in the future.
Stephanie Staub is the STEM K-4 Teacher for the Oil City School District, where she previously taught second grade and spanish. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in educational leadership and is looking into doctorate programs.
She serves on a collaborative team with IU6 on technology initiatives available to district and community students and was on the team for the after-school program called the STEM Stars Challenge. For Oil City’s southside schools, she is also the tech integrator and will be taking on the role of coordinator for video morning announcements–a collaboration with the OCHS broadcasting class.
Stephanie worked for the Summer Playground Program through the YWCA, has coached girls basketball for elementary through varsity for three years, is a tutor for local students, and is a teacher for Kids in College at Clarion University – Venango, a week-long summer program providing activities for students on subjects related to science, technology, engineering and math.
She has spoken on a panel of established alumni teachers at Edinboro University and also at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C).
On the side, Stephanie has a small t-shirt and vinyl business and has done window displays and shirts for organizations such as the Barrow-Civic Theatre, Smedley School, Rocky Grove Basketball, Titusville Area Hospital, and Trailasana Yoga Studio.
Stephanie is a yoga teacher and teaches multiple classes at Trailasana. She has also fundraised for two local organizations through a 200-Mile Challenge, with last year’s total surpassing $1,000.
In addition, Stephanie has helped with the Oil Region Alliance for the Get on the Trails Initiative and Oil City’s Bridge Fest, volunteered at a blood drive for Webco Industries, and helped organize the Trailasana Wellness Challenge.
Fun Fact: Stephanie created a website for light displays in the region this winter, and plans to continue on this project next year.
Kat Thompson works for PA CareerLink®, Northwest Region as the Performance Analyst, a position she was promoted to in early April. In her job, she compiles and analyzes performance information to ensure contract compliance, reviews operational procedures and processes for continuous quality improvement, and more.
Previously, she was a Talent Engagement Facilitator at CareerLink® and assisted job seekers with building career readiness skills, such as resume writing, interviewing, effective job searching, and professional development.
This is the second year Kat has served as president of Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX), the Venango Chamber’s young professionals group. In this role, Kat oversees leadership of the organization and helps plan and execute events, attract and retain members, and promote the group. Before serving as president, Kat was VP for one year, and was involved in committee work before joining the leadership team.
Kat is an Ambassador for Be Here, a program focused on spreading positive messaging about Venango County. She is also a member of the Oil City Vineyard (OCV) Church, where she volunteers for the youth group and assists in running the livestream service each week.
In addition, Kat has been a volunteer and has donated items for Hope21, a free clothing ministry through the Crossing Free Methodist Church.
Fun Fact: Kat was a tour leader for a company called TrekAmerica and drove the van/trailer across the US on trips such as LA to NYC and NYC to Miami.
Kyle Vickers is the Learning Skills Specialist and Academic Resource Center Coordinator for Clarion University and serves the students at Venango campus, Somerset campus, online, and at the West Penn Hospital School of Nursing.
In his position, Kyle hires, trains, and supervises peer tutors; develops and presents workshops on skills like time management and critical thinking; and serves as the Test Center Administrator. He also meets with students placed on Academic Probation, and those who comply with his program show an average increase of .87 to their GPA.
Kyle created “Exam Autopsies” for students to review exams (specifically nursing) to see why they may be missing questions outside content knowledge and preparation issues and he also created and serves as moderator for Clarion University’s Discord Server, a program allowing students to communicate with each other and tutors via text, voice, or video.
In addition, Kyle does a few things beyond his normal work duties, including planning, coordinating, and overseeing the Summer Kids in College Program at Clarion University – Venango; serving as advisor for Clarion University’s Campus Activities Board; and running the “Vickers Talks Venango Campus” Podcast to discuss all aspects of college life, from the admissions process to finding a job, and everything in between.
Outside of Clarion University, Kyle is the owner and instructor for the Vickers Academic Success Academy, where he provides low cost private tutoring to students in Clarion and Venango County in grades K-12, along with SAT prep, GED prep, and college readiness workshops. He has also partnered with PA 211 to provide tutoring to area students.
Kyle has been a volunteer for Oktoberfest and Labor Day Picnic events at St. Michael’s Church in Fryburg and is a member of the 2021 class of Leadership Venango, the Venango Chamber’s leadership program.
Fun Fact: Kyle was featured on TLC’s Return to Amish in which he was Rebecca Schmucker’s GED tutor.