All posts tagged yps

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.

Choose Your Attitude (It’s the One Thing You Always Have a Choice About)


This months TED talk is from a TEDx event. TEDx is a program that has allowed smaller communities or individuals to host their own self-organized TED events. This allows TED speakers to reach a bigger audience and the event can be tailored to a communities needs.

Debra Searle rowed across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. She started the journey with her then husband but when he had to be rescued due to his severe anxiety, she decided to continue the trek alone. Debra said she had constant thoughts of shark attacks, being run over by large container ships, and never being found by her team back in England. She soon realized the only thing she could actually control was her attitude.

So, each morning she “chose her attitude” for the day and clung to it. It’s a fantastic story about her journey and her decision to take control of her life.

Find it here: bit.ly/TEDxDebra

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

March 2019 Young Professional Profiles: Nicole Novicki & Sam Breene


Born and raised in Oil City, Nicole Novicki now lives in Seneca and works for Venango County Human Services as a System of Care Coordinator.

After graduating from Oil City High School, she attended Clarion University, Venango, where she earned an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, then went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology from main campus.

Nicole worked in Clarion County at Children and Youth Services for more than eight years, but began her new career with Venango County Human Services in January, and is looking forward to making new connections in her home community.

She’s a mom of three and spends time taking her kids to various activities and being their “biggest cheerleader” at sporting events. She grew up along Oil Creek, and still appreciates the outdoors in our region, where she takes small trips looking for hidden gems.

Also in her free time, Nicole enjoys browsing real estate and checking out all the neat properties (both commercial and residential). Although she’s not able to invest now, she would love to see old buildings and homes in our area be brought back to life.
Nicole will always work in a field where she can help others and plans to continue assisting with service and communication gaps between human services departments, service providers, school districts, and community members.

“I love being part of a close-knit community and being able to serve the area I grew up in,” she said. “There are some large areas of need in our community, but there is also a lot of potential, given the right resources.” Nice to meet you, Nicole, and welcome to FLEX!


Sam Breene, one of our newest members of FLEX, is a Venango County native who has recently returned to the area.

Sam was born and raised in Oil City and attended Oil City schools and The Kiski School in Saltsburg, PA. Upon graduation, he went on to Allegheny College in Meadville.

Currently, Sam is a Senior Staff member for U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly and has recently announced he will be running for Venango County Commissioner. Sam stated, “I hope to be elected so that I can use my professional experience and relationships to better serve this region that I care about deeply.”

In reference to his greatest achievements, Sam said that his career in public service and politics has been rewarding in many ways. He is especially proud to say he was the campaign manager for U.S. Representative Mike Kelly’s victorious re-election campaign, which was hotly contested and drew national attention.

Sam loves the outdoors, including spending time on the river, and all the activities available in our region such as kayaking, hiking, golf, shooting, skiing and ATVing. He said his favorite local spots to eat are the Yellow Dog Lantern Restaurant and Villa Italia Ristorante.

Sam is excited to be spending more time in Venango County and for “the opportunity to contribute to a community with such a special history and in which my personal history is deeply rooted.”

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