All posts tagged young professionals

FLEX to Recognize Local Young Professionals—Friday, April 5

Have you ever heard the comment: “All young people have to leave our area to be successful”? We know this is absolutely untrue, and on Friday, April 5, we will recognize 12 professionals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in Venango County.

These nominees’ professions range from business owners and accountants, to psychologists and engineers, and all contribute to our community in significant ways.

All professionals are invited to attend the event, not just young professionals, and it will take place at the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Community members can register by visiting and FLEX is also welcoming sponsorships.

The evening of FLEX Presents is full of networking, delicious food and drink, and a presentation about these young professionals and FLEX.

Find more information about FLEX Presents and past nominees here and RSVP here.

Busy Is Not a Badge of Honor

Busy Not A Badge of Honor | FLEX FYI Newsletter

Being busy has become a status symbol in society. How often do you reply with “busy,” when someone asks how you are, or hear people practically bragging about how booked their calendars are?

But are the activities filling our schedules actually leading to something meaningful?

In his article titled “Busy Is Not a Badge of Honor,” Brian de Haaff says: “There is a difference between busy work and meaningful work. As Thomas Edison once wisely put it, ‘Seeming to do is not doing.’”

As young professionals, we spend time building our careers, socializing, getting involved in the community, learning the ins and outs of “adulthood,” and, for some, starting families. It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Check in with yourself to see if you are giving your time to busy or meaningful work. “Busy is not a badge of honor. It only leads to greatness if you are working for a purpose and making progress towards goals that serve it,” as stated in the article.

There is only so much time in the day, so we encourage you to use yours efficiently, and give to what matters most to you.

Read the full article, with tips for working meaningfully, at

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) March 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter. Find more young professional profiles here.

February 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Kat Thompson & Leah Walentosky

Kat ThompsonWe’re excited to introduce Kat Thompson, this year’s FLEX Vice President/Secretary and the Talent Engagement Facilitator at CareerLink.

Kat grew up in Hydetown, just outside of Titusville, and moved to Oil City while in high school. From kindergarten through 12th grade, she attended Christian Life Academy (CLA), then went on to Spring Arbor University in Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in global economic development. She also received her Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification through Oxford Seminars.

For three years, Kat lived in China teaching Oral English and Reading Comprehension at Sias International University. While in China, one of her fond memories is performing, usually choregraphed dances. They would sometimes give performances in front of thousands of students and once on TV for a basketball tournament.

Kat has traveled and lived all over the world (she’s been to 30 countries and over 40 states) and loves meeting new people and learning about different cultures, but she is happy to call our area home. “It’s where my family is and I’m proud of way the community is growing here,” she said.

As the new VP/Secretary of FLEX, Kat is looking forward to helping others get more involved in the organization and the community.

In her free time, she enjoys relaxing on her patio with her cat, Ellie, while bird watching. She also participates in outdoor recreation, like hiking, biking, and kayaking throughout the region. She loves watching wildlife, including deer, foxes, a bear, racoons, a porcupine, and a lot of birds just around her house. One of her favorite stops in our area is Core Goods, a new store in Oil City.

“I truly appreciate the sense of community in Venango County,” she told us. “There is a strong network between businesses, economic development, and community organizations. There are so many people working towards improving the quality of life in this area and I’m happy to be a part of that.” We’re happy to have her a part of it, too, especially as a new officer of FLEX!



Leah WalentoskyLeah Walentosky is one of our newest FLEX members. Born and raised in Oil City, Leah has fond memories of going to the YMCA, getting ice cream at Butler’s Candies, and biking to the Marina with her brother.

Leah graduated from Oil City High School in 2009 and attended Clarion University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in library science and education. She currently works for both the Allegheny National Forest, and as a substitute teacher.

Leah enjoys reading and photography, she said she never leaves the house without a book or a camera. She also enjoys staying active by doing yoga once a week and hiking every day in the summer. In the colder months, she spends time at the YMCA and takes Taekwondo classes.

Among her favorite things to do in Venango County, Leah loves to visit galleries and enjoy the work of local artists. She tries to shop local as often as possible, and often grabs a bite to eat at the Taco Shack.

She is proud of her work with the forest service and was recognized by winning a Safety Award and Peer Recognition Award. Leah also completed the PA Hike 50 Challenge in 2018, which involved hiking at least 12.5 different miles in each of the four PA chapters of the North Country Trail Association.

As far as the future, Leah stated, “I am prepared for whatever life has.” She hopes to land a full-time job with the government and earn her master’s degree in archival science. Personally, she’d like to spend more time gardening and traveling, and eventually buy a house of her own.

Leah loves the arts community and rural landscapes of Venango County, and is proud to call it home. We are so excited to have Leah join FLEX and bring her fun-loving spirit and positive attitude to our organization.


These articles were published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) February 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter. Find more young professional profiles here.

January 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Damien Cherico & Jon Byham

Damien ChericoDamien Cherico is new to Venango County, but comes from the neighboring town of Clarion. He moved to Franklin and started at Webco Industries in Oil City as a Plant Metallurgist in July 2018.

After graduating from Clarion High School, Damien studied at Penn State University’s Main Campus in State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering.

Damien has enjoyed living in our area and appreciates the beauty here, and how nice the people are, especially his co-workers at Webco. He has been busy at work, but plans to get more involved in the community in the near future.

At Penn State, Damien was a member of the Glee Club and still enjoys singing. When growing up, his family would spend weekends at his grandparents’ house on the Clarion River and at his family’s summer house in Maryland, so he has always loved water activities, like sailing.

He enjoys a variety of other outdoor activities, too, and plans to explore more in the area. Besides being outside, another hobby of Damien’s is working on computers and playing video games.

In the future, Damien has goals to go back to school for an MBA or other master’s degree, continue working hard at Webco, meet more people, and eventually settle down and start a family here.

We look forward to getting to know Damien even more!

Jon ByhamJon Byham is a Venango County native and works for the City of Oil City as a police officer. He grew up in Cooperstown and Dempseytown and loves the small town feeling of living in an area where everyone knows everyone.

Upon graduating from Oil City High School in 2008, Jon began college at the University of Pittsburgh in Titusville. After two years there he chose to transfer to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). At IUP, Jon earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology.

Jon then decided to attend the IUP Municipal Police Academy, where he earned his Act 120 Certification in 2014. He has been working for the Oil City Police Department since April of 2015. Jon says he appreciates the opportunity he has to serve the community and enjoys working with people from many different backgrounds.

Jon’s future goals include advancing in his career (he hopes to become a lieutenant) and eventually opening a small business here in Venango County. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family (including 9-month-old daughter Charlotte), exercising, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Among his favorite things to do in Venango County are kayaking, going out to eat, and seeing movies at the local movie theater. Jon is looking forward to becoming more involved in FLEX and meeting new people through the organization.

Jon hopes to see more businesses come to our area and keep the community on a path of growth.

These articles were published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter. Find more young professional profiles here.

The Happy Secret to Better Work

TED Talk Secret to Happy WorkWith the holiday and new year celebrations behind us, many of us are looking forward to a fresh start—ready to make resolutions and become better versions of our past selves. According to the Business Insider, 80% of our resolutions will fail by February. FLEX wants to help you stick to your goals and one thing that is sure to motivate you are TED Talks.

TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on important topics. We are going to be featuring one TED Talk a month for the first part of the year in hopes they will keep you on track and motivated to achieve whatever your goals for 2019 are.

First up is a talk by Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. The talk, titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” is a 12 minute discourse arguing that happiness inspires us to be more productive. He conveys that happiness isn’t the destination, but is actually a driving force behind success. It’s fast-paced and funny and will leave you feeling energized.

Find it here:

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