All posts tagged young professionals

November 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Ivy Kuberry & Emily Lewis


Ivy Kuberry has returned to our area and we’re looking forward to getting to know her and having her involved!

Originally from Pleasantville, Ivy left for college and worked in state parks throughout the state. “My goal was to eventually come back to Venango County and work at Oil Creek State Park,” she told us. So when a position opened up at the park recently, she jumped at the opportunity and got the job!

Ivy is now an Environmental Education Specialist through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and works in Oil Creek, a beautiful state park right in our backyard.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Edinboro University and has a number of other certifications. She is certified as an Interpretive Guide from the National Association for Interpretation Leave, No Trace Trainer, Kayaking Instructor from the American Canoe Association Red Cross, lifeguard, and more. These allow her to offer fun and safe outdoor recreation programming.

Some of Ivy’s achievements she’s most proud of are completing a conservation-focused study abroad trip in South Africa and Botswana, presenting a college research project at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting, and creating new and exciting environmental and recreational programming at Oil Creek State Park. One of her main goals is to get more people out to enjoy all the park has to offer.

It’s to no surprise that some of Ivy’s favorite activities to do in her free time include hiking, camping, swimming, and biking. She also likes reading and spending time with family and friends, and can often be found at local businesses and events, including Trails to Ales, Karma Coffee, Applefest, Movies at Cranberry, and Oil Heritage Festival. Ivy is getting married to her fiancé Eric next fall and looks forward to starting a family soon.

“Venango County is breathtakingly beautiful and has a great amount of history. There is always more to see, do, and learn,” she told us. “The people of Venango County have always had a special place in my heart. People truly care about each other here, and it creates a feeling unlike what I have experienced anywhere else. Getting to work here is truly a blessing.”

We’re so glad you’re here, Ivy!

Emily Lewis is Executive Director of the Venango County Economic Development Authority, the lead economic development organization in the county created in early 2018. The Authority’s goal is to remove barriers to growth for businesses and create an inviting place where people want to live.

Helping our area succeed is a passion of Emily’s, especially since she is a Venango County native who grew up in Jackson Township (just outside Cooperstown) and attended Rocky Grove High School.

After high school, Emily studied at Slippery Rocky University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with minors in Business Administration and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

During college, Emily worked as a GIS intern and then a Planning intern at the County of Venango, which led to a full-time job with the Planning Commission upon graduation. Emily has always worked in Venango County, but lived in Cranberry Township near Pittsburgh for a brief time.

Professionally, one of Emily’s achievements includes heading the Cornplanter Square Building project in Oil City, which she describes as a “great building with good bones that means a lot to the community,” and she’s excited to play a part in bringing it back to life. She is also proud of the launch of eAcademy, a new program providing education and training on entrepreneurship to high school seniors, and being awarded a grant she wrote to create a sidewalk to connect Franklin and Sugarcreek.

A personal achievement of Emily’s includes climbing Mt Washburn during a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Emily and her husband Josh live in Franklin with their dog Bo, and enjoy hiking, especially at Two Mile Run County Park and spending time with family. Emily is also a huge fan of house plants and enjoys decorating, such as repurposing old furniture.

There are many reasons Emily is glad to live and work in Venango County. “The people are probably my favorite part,” she said. “I love the feeling of walking down the street and seeing everyone smiling at each other, and I feel like people are willing to try new things and take risks.”

Emily looks forward to continuing to grow the organization and seeing how she can be useful to the community. Thanks for all your hard work, Emily!


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

Gaining Skills & Experience Through FLEX Involvement


Network with other young professionals, have fun, make friends, volunteer in the community—all benefits of getting involved with FLEX. Did you know you also have the opportunity to gain leadership and professional skills by becoming more engaged with the group?

By participating in a committee, you can help plan our events and speaker series, promote the group, attract and retain members, assist in coordinating volunteer efforts, and much more. Not only do you help FLEX grow and have something new to add to your resume, but you also gain skills and experience that will allow you to grow as a professional.

“Since becoming involved in FLEX, I’ve had opportunities to lead a meeting, plan and organize events, and learn to network effectively,” said Kat Thompson, current FLEX Vice President/Secretary and incoming President. “I can now use these skills at my workplace, benefiting both myself and my employer.”

At our Annual Meeting on October 25, we elected next year’s officers, as well as chairs for our three committees (see below). All attendees at the Annual Meeting got involved in brainstorming future activities for FLEX. Each person wrote ideas for events, volunteer activities, and speaker series topics on a note card, and the note cards were then passed around for other attendees to rate.

We’re looking forward to looking through all the note cards at our upcoming committee meetings and carrying out some of these ideas in 2020. Whether you’re interested in serving on a committee, sharing an idea, or learning more about how you can get involved, we want to connect with you! Email flex@venangochamber.org or contact any of the new officers below to get in touch.

Welcome 2020 FLEX Officers!

President Kat Thompson
VP/Secretary Saxon Daugherty
Events Committee Co-Chair Ashley Smith
Events Committee Co-Chair Rachel Stiller
Membership Committee Chair Laura Ordaz
Marketing Committee Chair Tessa Byham

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

FLEX Member Highlight: Corey McCullough


Local young professional and author Corey McCullough recently announced that all of his books are available through Bookshare, a free-to-join program with over 700,000 ebooks available for people with reading barriers.

Bookshare makes ebooks available in audio, large text, Braille, and more. Readers can read on the device of their choice, and it is free for U.S. schools and qualified students. Members must have a qualifying reading barrier to join Bookshare. Examples include: dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairments, and physical disabilities.”

Corey’s book titles include: The Fallen Odyssey, The Fallen Aeneid, and A Knife in the Dark. “I am so incredibly proud to have my books available through this program,” Corey said.

Corey is a  writer, copy editor, proofreader, and author, and through his freelance business, has tackled nearly 5,000 writing and editorial projects. He is a Cranberry High School graduate and currently lives in Seneca.

Visit bookshare.org for more information, and learn more about Corey’s books at thefallenodyssey.com.

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

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.