All posts tagged FLEX

July 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Brian Payne & Jessica Wilson


Brian Payne is one of our newest FLEX members. He is originally from Hadley, PA, and graduated from Edinboro University with bachelor’s degrees in Forensic Accounting and Financial Planning.

Brian now works as a CPA Tax Supervisor at McGill, Power, Bell & Associates in Franklin. He has acquired his CPA and CFE designations and takes great pride and enjoyment from his work and his career achievements. Future goals of his are to become a partner at McGill, Power, Bell, as well as to learn a foreign language (probably Russian).

One of the things he loves about working in Venango County is the small town environment. The way people treat each other with a welcoming kindness is one of the biggest reasons he enjoys living here. Brian enjoys the fun Chamber events where he can go to learn and network with other professionals.

Brian is also an avid Pirates fan, who will forever hope they win a World Series. His hobbies are yet another reason he enjoys Venango County. When he is not working, he can be found fishing and spending time with his girlfriend, Stephanie.

Some other parts of the Venango culture that Brian appreciates are tasting beers at Trails to Ales, seeing local live bands at Red Bandana Winery, and spending time with family.

Jessica Wilson has lived in Oil City since she was two years old. She was home schooled for most of her elementary and high school years and graduated high school in 2017. During high school, she played varsity volleyball at Oil City High School and worked at the Oil City YMCA as a lifeguard.

Jessica pursues a communication degree with a marketing minor at Geneva College. She is a long distance runner and gets to enjoy this hobby at school by participating in the cross country and track teams.

Some of her achievements include being on the dean’s list every semester at Geneva College and helping to found a communication production club. Through this club, she has also filmed campus wide promotional videos. Last year, she spent time working at The Derrick and The News-Herald as an advertising intern, where she helped to sell and design ads for the paper and various tabloids. She also works during the semester in the Geneva College PR and Marketing Services department.

When she is not running around Oil City or on the bike trail, Jessica enjoys reading, cooking, hiking at Oil Creek State Park, movies, and spending time with family and friends. This summer she can be found working at the Venango Chamber of Commerce.

One of her future goals is to “be just like my mom.” She also hopes to work in PR and Marketing helping companies further their mission statements and do what they do best. Jessica also hopes to travel more within the country and abroad, continue running, and have many adorable cats.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s July 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Everyone is a Leader


When many hear the word “leader,” they imagine a CEO, executive director, or president. At the FLEX Speakers Series in June, panel participants assured attendees that “everyone is a leader.” The panel consisted of six of the 13 graduates of the inaugural class of Leadership Venango, the Venango Chamber’s new leadership program.

Brian McNulty, Randy Arnold, Dan Flaherty, Greg Lander, Ashley Smith, and Tessa Byham shared their experience and advice from the nine-month program. Leadership Venango is designed to identify, educate, involve and motivate individuals who desire to become more effective leaders, and participants got to know the region.

“It wasn’t just about leadership, but about getting to know your community,” said Ashley. “Most of the places we visited are hiring and expanding, and our eyes were opened to all we have here.”

Several sessions helped participants learn more about themselves, too, and involved personality tests, mindfulness, and diversity.

“Many of the activities helped us build self-awareness, which in turn makes us better leaders in our community and work,” said Tessa.

“Learning my strengths and weaknesses enlightened me and has helped me strategize how I can use those to better work with others,” Brian added.

The participants networked with local leaders, as well as the other participants, forming a “family” they described. “We found we’re not all that different and were able to grow and develop together,” said Dan. “We learned the community needs people to step up and this program gave us the empowerment and skills to do that.”

At the Speaker Series, each panelist covered a topic, including honorable leadership, community, economic development, and communications. “Leadership is what you make of it and the value you bring in your position,” said Randy.

The Chamber is currently accepting applications for the next class, which begins in September.

“Leadership is not knowing all the answers, but where to find them,” Greg said. “This program helped us build connections and knowledge to do just that.”

Learn more about Leadership Venango, at leadershipvenango.org or get  in touch with us—we can connect you with graduates who are happy to share more about the program.

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

Everyday Leadership


Our TED Talk recommendation this month is by Drew Dudley, whom encourages a change in our understanding of leadership. He tells the story of the impact he had on girl in college. Simply by making the girl and those around her laugh on her first day of college, he became an important person in the girl’s life story. Drew says: “to think that maybe the biggest impact I’d ever had on anyone’s life . . . was a moment that I didn’t even remember.”

Though the moment did not seem significant to Drew at the time, it guided the girl’s decision to stay in college and introduced her to the man she would later marry.

“As long as we make leadership something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership beyond us and make it about changing the world,” said Drew, “we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day, from ourselves and from each other.”

Find this TED Talk at https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership/transcript

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

The Importance of Relationship Building


By Casey McVay

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of living a good life. Yet, often times, we don’t value the conversations we have or pay close enough attention to those around us. What I have learned in my young life is relationships help us when we reach the proverbial fork in the road.

When we face challenges or opportunities, our relationships, our network and connections, personal and professional, guide us to choose which path to take. We shouldn’t always make decisions independently, so when we need help seeing what is best for us, we can rely on those closest to us.

Many important aspects of networking help build these connections and relationships, such as having a smart conversation starter or your “elevator speech,” which I remind you should not be boring like elevator music or so rehearsed that it feels forced. However, the simplest of tips are the essential ones, too: Be yourself, be open, inquire, and be generous.

  • Be yourself. What’s not to like? You’re awesome. Don’t sweat trying to be anything but who you are and people will appreciate your authenticity.
  • Be open. Not an open book, but open. When we are “all about business,” we tend to come across cold, so shake it off, and don’t fear revealing something somewhat personal – it lets the other person know you’re real.
  • Inquire. Don’t forget “it takes two” in a relationship. Here are some great, easy to remember questions to ask: How do you like working at your company? How’d you get into that? Have any tips for _____?
  • Be generous. Once you have made a first connection, the best way to keep it going is to be a resource for the other person. No need to overdo it here, though, but providing something interesting or helpful to them, a referral or link to information, can make the difference in building a stronger relationship. 

Little, simple things like these can add up to big, amazing long-lasting and reliable relationships, and living a really good life with great people around you.

Photos from the FLEX Annual Meeting in October, taken by Chett DeLong

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

May 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Becca Weidle & Sarah MacBeth


Becca Weidle, an Oil City native, is a young entrepreneur and a   mom. She is a health coach through her new business “Motherhood Made Healthy,” and is expecting her second child in June.

After graduating from Oil City High School in 2010, Becca earned a biochemistry degree from Pitt at Johnstown, and recently got her health coach certification from Health Coach Institute.

Becca looks forward to continuing to grow, personally and professionally, and is excited to gain clients who are eager to learn how to shift towards a healthy lifestyle. “I’m proud of the hard work I put into finding my passion, going for it head on, and completing my coaching certification,” she said. “I’m also proud of the consistency and determination I have put towards healing myself naturally and gaining the healthy lifestyle that I live and love.”

Being a mother has taught Becca a lot and is also something she takes pride in. She tries to soak in and enjoy every minute with her family that she can, and also in her free time she loves gardening, anything outdoors (camping, hiking, riding bikes), doing puzzles, sewing and crafting, and playing with her daughter, Henley.

In Venango County, Becca appreciates the trails, parks, local businesses, libraries, and farmers markets, and is happy to live in a neighborhood that feels safe.

“I want to constantly learn and grow in all aspects of my life,” she told us. “My dream is for my business to ripple out from Venango so that I can help guide as many mamas as possible to live healthy, happy lives and instill that in their kiddos!”

You can learn more about Becca’s new health coaching business by visiting motherhoodmadehealthy.com.


Sarah MacBeth recently became a Venango County community member! She is the branch manager at the Seneca office of Farmers National Bank, and will be transferring to the Emlenton branch soon.

Originally from Bradford, Sarah has lived in various places, including Kane and Tionesta, and eventually settled in Clarion after graduating from Clarion University in May 2014. She majored in business management with a minor in marketing and has also gone through leadership and mindfulness trainings.

When asked about special achievements, Sarah told us: “My goal in life has always been to be happy and although happiness can be viewed as a constantly changing state of mind, I believe I have achieved my goal and I hope to continue that.”

Professionally, Sarah looks forward to continuing to help fulfill the mission and vision at the bank and hopes to be there for many more years. Personally, giving back is a huge passion of hers. “Throughout my life, so many have helped, guided, or supported me,” she said. “I hope to establish some type of organization or event that would allow me to give back.”

Traveling is something Sarah has always been interested in and she hopes to be able to do so with her husband and family in the coming years. She also loves spending time riding in their Jeeps with their dogs in the summer, running and fitness, crafting, hiking, cooking, and listening to music. Most importantly, she enjoys spending time surrounded by her loved ones.

Although Sarah hasn’t been in Venango County for very long, she has visited many enjoyable destinations, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and local shops. She looks forward to experiencing the theatre and trails in our region, too.

Since working in Venango County, Sarah has learned to love the people and their energy. “It is so great to see members of the community working towards making things happen,” she said. Sarah is interested in getting to know more people, contributing to the area, and developing personally and professionally.

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