Introducing the Leadership Venango Class of 2020

Leadership Venango is a nine-month program designed to identify, educate, involve and motivate individuals who desire to become more effective leaders. This is the second year of the program and there are 12 people in the class of 2020.

Learn more about the program at

Class of 2020

Kaylee Azzopardi is a Human Resources Generalist at UPMC Northwest in Seneca. Kaylee earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Policy and Administration from Penn State University. She lives in Clarion with her dog and enjoys volunteering with her local Humane Society as part of the Human Resources Day of Service. She has also helped organize career fairs and donation drives at the hospital and assisted with the United Way Annual Campaign.

Thomas Chase is a Dempseytown native and 2019 graduate of Oil City High School. Thomas is a video producer with his company, CluenMedia, and does freelance video production and editing work. Thomas also works in maintenance at Lowrey’s Auto Body and for InstaCart. He is a volunteer for the Oakland United Methodist Church, Relay for Life, Community Services, and the Salvation Army.

Damien Cherico is a Clarion native and works as a Plant Metallurgist at the Oil City Webco facility. Damien graduated from Clarion High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Penn State University. At Penn State, Damien was a member of the Glee Club and still enjoys singing. Damien moved to Franklin in 2018 and is an active member of FLEX and enjoys exploring the Venango County area and spending time outdoors. Damien plans to go back to school for a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering.

Saxon Daugherty is the Communications and Public Relations Specialist at Child Development Centers where he handles the media relations for their nearly 400 employees and 2,000 children in Venango, Crawford, and Erie counties. Saxon is a Cranberry High School graduate and still lives in the area with his wife and daughter. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Media Studies from Edinboro University in 2015 where he was named the Most Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Communications department. Saxon will serve as the Vice President and Secretary of FLEX in 2020 and assist with youth ministry at Venango Youth for Christ.

Matthew Deal is the Funeral Director and Owner of Morrison Funeral Home in Oil City. Matt has a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice from Penn State and an associate degree in Mortuary Science from Hudson Valley Community College. Prior to becoming a funeral director, Matt worked in asset protection management in retail sales with his biggest responsibility being a retailer that grossed over $60M annually. Matt relocated to Oil City in 2012, and he and his wife purchased the funeral home in 2017. Matt is currently serving on the board of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce and on the NWPA Funeral Directors Association board beginning in 2020.

Ethan Gravatt is a Franklin native and 2008 graduate of Rocky Grove High School. Ethan works for Klapec Trucking Company as a Logistics Coordinator. In 2010, he joined the United States Army and attended basic combat training at Fort Leonard, Missouri. He deployed as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom to Afghanistan in 2013. During his time in the service, he traveled to Germany, Poland and South Korea, earning various awards and accommodations along the way. He recently moved back to Venango County and now lives in Franklin with his wife and two children. He attends Galloway Methodist Church where he volunteers as a greeter and enjoys Steelers football and outdoor recreational activities.

Carrie Karns is a Venango County native and graduate of Rocky Grove High School with a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Slippery Rock University. Carrie was a recreation therapist at UPMC Northwest Behavioral Health before taking on her current role as Lifestyle Engagement Director at Oakwood Heights, where she loves working with the residents and their families. Carrie served as assistant coach for the Franklin YMCA competitive gymnastics team from 2005 to 2018. She lives outside of Oil City with her daughter and their dog and enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting antique shops, and attending local events.

Amy Keth is the Assistant Director of the Clarion University Small Business Development Center, where she has been a business consultant since 2004. Amy works with small business owners in Forest, Jefferson, and Venango counties, providing free and confidential consulting services as well as instructing programs and seminars. She attended Clarion University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, and she also earned her MBA in 2016. Amy lives in Clarion and is involved with Charitable Deeds and her children’s high school booster clubs.

Tracy Lander works for Klapec Trucking Company in Reno where she manages IT, Payroll, and Accounting. Tracy graduated from Penn State Behrend with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and spent a semester abroad in Australia. Tracy moved to Ohio after graduating from college and returned to the area when she got married. Tracy and her husband live in Oil City with their two children and love the Venango County area. Tracy is an active volunteer and serves as a Be Here ambassador, a greeter and lector at her church, St. Stephen’s parish, and as treasurer for St. Stephen’s Home and School.

Annie Welsh is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Oil Region Library Association in Venango County and the surrounding district, encompassing 14 total libraries. Annie earned a master’s degree in Library Science in 2008 and oversees all aspects of the Children’s Department at the Oil City Library, as well as cataloging children’s materials for all three Venango County Libraries. She also assists with developing and presenting youth focused workshops and training new employees. Annie lives in Clarion with her husband and two children and volunteers at her children’s school as well as for the Clarion Free Library’s Friends of the Library group.

Jessica Schultz is the Marketing Coordinator at Child Development Centers where she is responsible for the marketing, advertising, graphic design and website for Venango, Crawford and Erie Counties. Jessica graduated from Pittsburgh Technical Institute with an associate degree in Graphic Design and was awarded the Richard S. Caliguiri top of the class recognition. Since graduation, Jessica has worked in marketing departments on the global and national level. Jessica serves on the board of Jamie’s Kids, a local nonprofit, as a youth leader for her church, and has volunteered with Cranberry High School’s musical productions.

Kathryn Thompson moved to Venango County in high school and graduated from Christian Life Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Spring Arbor University in Michigan and spent 3 years living in XinZheng, China, while teaching at Sias International University. Kathryn is employed as the Talent Engagement Facilitator for Northwest PA CareerLink where she enjoys traveling throughout the region meeting with individuals and community organizations. Kathryn lives in Oil City and is involved with the Oil City Vineyard Church, serves as a Be Here ambassador, and will serve as the President of FLEX in 2020.

These bios were also published in the Venango Chamber’s December 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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