All posts tagged flex young professionals

October 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Elise Switzer & Megan Decker


Originally a Venango County native, Elise Switzer moved away after college, but recently moved back and told us: “I am thrilled to be home.”

Elise is a Realtor at Shawgo Real Estate, and attended Mercyhurst University where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Art Therapy with a minor in Psychology.

In her career, Elise has earned many achievements. She was named employee of the month just two months after starting at her current job, has received five letters of professional recognition for completed projects, and received promotions within the first year at three different companies she has worked for.

Through her job as a Realtor, Elise has become connected with all that the county has to offer and has reacquainted herself with this region. She is fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many people and help them call this area home as well.

Elise enjoys the outdoors and art of any kind. She likes to kayak, hike, bike, and garden, and she pursues art with a focus on photography, painting, and ceramics. Elise appreciates the outdoor recreation opportunities, family friend festivals and community activities, arts, theatre, and good food available in Venango County, and the great friends she gets to share it all with. She is especially excited to enjoy her hometown with her husband, two sons, and their family and friends who live here.

A goal of Elise’s is to “make roots” here. “I am looking forward to becoming an integral part of the community by establishing myself as a Realtor here and finding avenues to get involved such as becoming a part of FLEX and other community organizations,” she told us.

Welcome back, Elise! We’re excited to have you in our community.


Megan Decker is originally from the North Hills of Pittsburgh and most recently in the Lancaster, PA, area, but has now chosen to call Venango County her home.

Megan works at Gardinier Funeral Home, where she is a Funeral Director. She received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Psychology from Edinboro University, as well as her associates degree in Mortuary Science from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS).

Professionally, she is excited to continue to grow in her career as a funeral director, and personally, she hopes to become more involved in our community and meet new people.

The outdoors are a passion of Megan’s, so Venango County is a great place for her to explore! She enjoys hiking, biking, and adventuring with her corgi, Otis.

Megan has also already started giving her time in our community, in which she volunteers for the Venango Area Riding for the Handicapped Association (VARHA).

“This is a beautiful area and full of life,” she said. “There are great places to eat in town and the bike trails are wonderful!” Megan also mentioned she appreciates the people and the atmosphere we have here.

We’re so glad you’re already starting to feel at home here, Megan!


These articles were published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) October 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

The Importance of a Professional Headshot


Free Headshots Available at FLEX Annual Meeting—October 25

Your headshot is sometimes the only visual someone has of you. Do you have a professional headshot, or is your LinkedIn photo a blurry, off-centered selfie with objects in the background?

The FLEX Annual Meeting on Friday, October 25, will be your chance to get a headshot taken for free. Why do you need a professional headshot?

  • As mentioned above, sometimes your headshot is the only thing someone sees before choosing to meet with you. First impressions are important, and a bad headshot can keep you from even getting an interview from an employer. Not looking for a job? Headshots can make an impression on potential clients or colleagues, too.
  • Having a professional photo shows you care about your image and take it seriously, and can also help your personality shine.
  • A headshot puts a face to a name. This is important if you own your own business, or if you are simply looking to grab coffee with another professional.
  • There are times when your photo is needed by others—when you join a board of directors, write a guest post on a blog, or are asked to be featured in a publication.

FLEX Member Sydney Herdle, owner of Sydney Herdle Photography & Multimedia, will be taking headshots at the Annual Meeting. Don’t worry about getting too fancy—we just suggest keeping it simple and wearing a solid color.

The Annual Meeting on Friday, October 25, is at Karma Coffee Company (237 Seneca Street, Oil City). It starts at 5:30 p.m., and includes networking, drinks, food, trivia, a brief program, and an election of new officers for next year.

Find more information about the FLEX Annual Meeting and RSVP here.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) October 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

Every Student Needs a Champion


As the school year begins, we recommend a TED Talk by Rita Pierson, who suggests the importance in building relations with students. She shares candidly that some students and classes are very difficult, but that with encouragement and support, even the most academically challenged can improve and know success.

Following the example of her mother, she shares that, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” and so she has spent her career finding ways to connect to students. She also passes on advise from Stephen Covey, to throw in a few simple things, like seeking first to understand, as opposed to being understood. Simple things, like apologizing. Rita asks “How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion?” Find the full talk here: bit.ly/TED-Rita

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

How Has FLEX Shaped You? Members Share Testimonials


FLEX is devoted to providing a setting where young people can build relationships and develop themselves professionally. Here are some testimonials from FLEX members who truly believe in the FLEX mission and have seen the effects in their own lives.

One of my top goals in joining FLEX was to get more involved in my community. Through volunteer, social, and professional development events, I have achieved that goal. Being a part of leadership has also helped me expand my skill set in planning and organizing events and networking. Plus, I’ve made a lot of new friends and it’s really fun!

Kat Thompson

FLEX has broadened my knowledge of Venango County and the opportunities in the area. We’ve hiked Two Mile, attended shows at the Barrow, and participated in a guided informational tour of Franklin. Through personal connections made at socials, I have been able to get involved with organizations and give back to my community through volunteering.

Laura Ordaz

Joining FLEX has introduced me to new people, different activities and events, and places I may not have explored. The members are extremely inviting and helpful. A recent FLEX event gave me the opportunity to speak with other professionals and led me to my first job interview since moving here! It’s a great way to get your name out there and open new doors.

Deborah Thompson

FLEX gave me the opportunity to create a social circle and flourish in Venango County, and when I decided I wanted to thrive elsewhere, it helped me, too. My employers at the job I landed were impressed with the marketing and leadership skills I learned through FLEX and asked that I utilize those talents at work.

Marissa Dechant

Since my participation in FLEX as a college intern at the Chamber, I have seen the group grow tremendously as I have also grown in my career. The personal connections and leadership experience I’ve gained have shaped me into the professional I am today.

Ashley Cowles

These are just some of the ways FLEX has had an impact in the lives of young professionals in our region. We encourage you to attend an upcoming event or reach out to a FLEX member to learn more about opportunities the group brings.

Learn more about FLEX at venangoflex.org

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

September 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Deborah Thompson & Randy Arnold


Deborah Thompson recently moved to the area with her family and is excited to find a career and get more involved here. She is from New Hampshire and loves where she grew up, but has always been drawn to Pennsylvania, as her parents grew up in Hydetown and Oil City.

Deb attended Edinboro University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Recreation Administration and graduated summa cum laude. She has also completed courses through the Life Office Management Association (LOMA).

For her career, Deb most recently worked as a Claims Associate for Loyal Christian Benefit Association (LCBA), a life insurance company. She is currently looking for a job in our area and would like something with structure and a predictable work schedule. She is open to many different career paths but hopes to use her strengths in communication, interpersonal skills, and leadership, and she has also been described as friendly, dedicated, and a versatile worker.

With her husband Eric (who was featured in our June FYI), Deb is raising two children—Carter (7) and Peyton (4). She also spends time exercising, participating in sports and lawn games, playing board games, and listening to music. In our area, some of her favorite amenities include the trails along the Allegheny River, Wanango, Clarks Donuts, and Hasson Pool.

“In the next 5 to 10 years, I hope to be in a place that my family and I can vacation yearly, the kids are in sports and whatever activity they desire and I have a stable career which I enjoy,” Deb told us.

We look forward to getting to know Deb more and to help her become connected in our region!

Although he lives just outside Venango County in Grove City, Randy Arnold works here and has become involved in our community.

At Pioneer Energy Products (PEPRO), located on Colbert Avenue in Oil City, Randy is employed as Senior Mechanical Engineer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Grove City College and is a Licensed Professional Engineer.

Randy grew up in Bradford County, but stayed in Western Pennsylvania after accepting a job at Joy Mining right out of college. He has had the opportunity to travel the world, in which he spent a semester in France and traveled nationally and internationally since college, including Australia, India, China, England, Zambia, Canada, and all around the continental U.S.

Randy is a graduate of the 2019 graduating class of Leadership Venango, where he spent nine months learning about our region and gaining leadership skills. Looking towards the future, he told us he would like to “see the products built in Western PA thrive by creating value in places all over the United States.” He appreciates the business opportunities in Venango County, which have provided his source of income for over 10 years and he believes our area is “primed very well for business.”

In any free time he has, Randy focuses on family—his wife, Joy, and two children, Hailey and Blake. He enjoys camping and going to local fairs with them, and occasional dates with Joy.

“I have always found great people to work with in Venango County,” he told us. “You can count on people to be down to earth, wholesome, and hard working.”

Thanks for your commitment to our region, Randy!

These articles were published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.