Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 9:00pm
Torchbearers would like to congratulate the graduates of the 2014 Torchbearers class! These individuals took part in a year-long curriculum devoted to leadership development, community service, and talent attraction and retention in Greater Akron.
Stefanie Albrecht, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Blake Babcock, Fast Switch
Rachel Barnette, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Brian Berg, United Way of Summit County
Taylor Bond, EdgePoint Capital Advisors
Catherine Breck, US House of Representatives
Russell Burgett, Cohen & Company, Ltd
Alison Caplan, Akron Art Museum
Katie Carver Reed, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
Chip Clupper, County of Summit
Melissa Cort, Cardinal Health
Michael Davis, Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology
Jacyln Donadio, Bausch + Lomb
Annie Hanson, The University of Akron
Jennifer Hertzig, BCG & Company
Jessica Knopp, Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, LLP
Willy Kollman, The University of Akron
Vincent LaGuardia, FirstEnergy Corp.
Morgan Lasher, Graphic Publications/Mimi Vanderhaven
Drew Maconachy, Maconachy Stradley Insurance
Erin Maconachy, Outcast Media
Michael McKeon, GOJO Industries
David Oeschger, Roetzel & Andress LPA
Marissa Pappas, City of Akron Law Department
Kat Pestian, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
Stacey Pinter, March of Dimes
Amanda Pry, Experient, Inc., a Maritz Travel Company
Nicole Rataski, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations
Brooks Rutledge, Mortgage Information Services, Inc.
Jane Spelich, Old Carolina Barbecue Company
Brian Steere, Steere Enterprises, Inc.
Jessica Tepus, Bober Markey Fedorovich
Kristen Uitenham, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Cathy Vue, Asian Services In Action, Inc.
Alison White, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 8:54pm
Recently, Akron YPs traveled to Detroit in a trip that was well documented through an article published by the Akron Beacon Journal and various forms of social media. We wanted to catch up with fellow Torchbearer Allyson Boyd to get her perspective.
What were your expectations going in?
Everything we’ve heard about Detroit in recent years has been so dire that I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. One of the best things Josh McManus, of the John S. Knight Foundation, implemented was the “DIY Adventure” on Monday afternoon. We were all responsible for creating our own portion of the agenda so we could focus on areas of passion or interest for us. That research was awesome. I kept discovering more and more things I wanted to see or do.
What did you want to get out of the trip?
I wanted to return with some best practices in the area of talent attraction and retention as well as a better understanding of their tourism industry and how it has improved.
Was there an ah-ha moment?
There were many ah-ha moments! I think though we aren’t as big as Detroit, we have the power and passion to attract and retain talent in Akron.The assets we possess and offer need to be showcased more frequently, even to our own residents. One of the incredible moments for me was the Detroit Experience Factory, a non-profit, that takes people on meaningful, engaging tours of the city and neighborhoods. Jannette Pierce started doing tours on the side years ago for Detroit residents. She loved her city and wanted her colleagues, peers, and neighbors to feel the same. It was so effective that companies use her to showcase the city for potential new hires, new employees, and even people who have lived in Detroit for years.
What is the most important thing you brought back?
I came back with both short and long-term goals. For example, I want to develop a contest which would challenge residents to get-out into the community and interact with businesses. We could create lists of things for people to check-out that they might otherwise miss and use social media like Instagram to “check-in”. A long-term goal is to use empty or abandoned space to allow for creative pop-up retail space or events in Akron’s neighborhoods.
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 8:46pm
At the close of the year, we will say good bye to an individual who led Torchbearers with distinction, out-going Torchbearers President Kyle Kutuchief. As we take time to look back at all Kyle has accomplished in his term as President of Torchbearers it will be no secret why he was chosen to lead us.
Kyle’s future success as Torchbearers President was no surprise to his predecessor Amanda Leffler. “Kyle has always had a clear vision of what Torchbearers could be, and the role that Torchbearers should play in the community. As soon as he joined the Board, Kyle encouraged all of us to think big and not be limited by the status quo. Kyle was instrumental in solidifying our partnership with Leadership Akron and in forming our relationship with Knight Foundation, paving the way for the collaborative successes that we have all seen over the past year.” His vision of Torchbearers’ potential always drove Kyle to create more opportunities for the organization even long before he became president. “I joined in 2007 for the chance to meet people I didn’t work with or previously know,” Kyle said. “But I got so much more.”
When you look at all that has evolved over the last year from Kyle’s Presidency such as the growth and success of the Akrun & Crawl, the affiliation with Leadership Akron, TB College, over 1,500 service hours and new programs like Intern Edge and Ambassador you can’t help but tip your cap to Kyle. Like any great leader Kyle wouldn’t take any credit personally for all of these successes. “I didn’t say no very often. There is an incredible amount of talented people in Torchbearers. I just made sure I got out of the way and empowered them.”
Upon reflection of the past successes, Kyle is grateful of all that Torchbearers has given to him. “It’s made all the difference – because it gave me a chance to work with a team to make decisions and create change at a time in my career where I wasn’t otherwise allowed. I always had to ask for permission. Torchbearers is empowering because we move fast and get stuff done.”
Certainly, Kyle will continue to support Torchbearers in its future endeavors and offered a few parting thoughts for us, “Continue to be outward facing - engage our peers that are not currently in Torchbearers. Don't be afraid to try new things and continue to push the organization in new directions. The future is unwritten.”
Thank you, Kyle. You’ve made this organization a better place during the eight years you have been apart of this organization and we are forever grateful for your term as President.
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 8:37pm
The week before Thanksgiving brought the first snowfall to the area. It also kicked off the holiday season for Torchbearers with the 2014 annual holiday party held at BLU Jazz+ in downtown Akron.
On November 18th, Torchbearers held its final general membership meeting of the year at the posh new jazz club and a fun evening of food, drinks, and entertainment. Toys and other donations were collected at the door to help individuals and families supported by the Blick Clinic, a non-profit agency that helps people living with disabilities.
The evening was a chance to celebrate the incredible accomplishments in 2014 for Torchbearers and recognize outgoing President Kyle Kutuchief and the committee chairpersons for all of their hard work and dedication.
Before the party could really get started, the first order of business was to approve the new 2015 Board of Directors. Following a brief quorum, Kutuchief announced the results approving the new Board slate, which will feature Craig Horbus as President and Nicole Mullet as Vice President.
The new board represents a changing of the guard, following a remarkable year where Kutuchief led Torchbearers to new heights, highlighted by the launch of the Intern Edge program.
"I remember a few of us pitching the Knight Foundation on the idea in the summer of 2013," Kutuchief said. "To watch it go from a brainstormed idea in a meeting to a bona fide program in one year was remarkable. Nicole (Mullet), Hillary (Stewart), Brian (Hollingsworth) and the rest of the TARC team did an amazing job."
A few Torchbearers, who will be switching to Alumni status next year, had a chance to address the crowd and reflect on their experiences since joining the organization. Chris Richardson, Jonathan Morschl, and Emily Schepens all gave poignant remarks and conveyed their excitement over the growth and future direction of Torchbearers.
Another highlight of the evening was the entertainment portion, where all attendees completed a ten-question quiz featuring random questions covering obscure tidbits about their fellow Torchbearers. Emily Clevenger was the big winner as she was able to answer six out of the ten questions correctly.
"Apparently, a combination of being intuitive, loving to learn about people, and spending way too much time on Facebook, actually can pay off! I was surprised at how many random questions I was able to answer about our board members," Clevenger said.
But the lasting memory from the evening was listening to Kutuchief address the crowd and reflect on how much Torchbearers has meant to him. He gave thanks to numerous Torchbearers as well as this year's committee chairpersons.
"Torchbearers has been a labor of love that has given me so much," Kutuchief said. "Standing at that microphone, I looked around the room and saw people that if it weren't for Torchbearers would probably be strangers, but because of Torchbearers are really good friends that I truly respect. Serving as a team captain for such a remarkable group has been a humbling distinction."
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 8:34pm
We began the year with a goal set to reach 1,500 service hours by the end of the year. As of October 17, we completed that goal, and now we are set to surpass it, significantly, by the close of 2014.
The service events kicked off in January with the well-attended St. Bernard - St. Mary Hot Meal Program where our TB volunteers cooked dinner, served guests, and cleaned. The hot meal program continued to be a staple through the 2014 calendar.
On August 2, a huge group of Torchbearers teamed up with the LeBron James Family Foundation for a service project that paired our group with a local student La’Zurae, and her family to help landscape their Akron home.
Torchbearers got into the fall holidays by volunteering at the October Monster Dash 5K and the Love Akron Network Findley CLC Thanksgiving Dinner, where they greeted, served, and cleaned up Thanksgiving dinner for over 500 Findley CLC students and families.
With such a diverse and exciting calendar of events, there is little room to wonder why the Torchbearers’ goal for service hours was met—and significantly exceeded.
But several members went truly above-and-beyond. A special thank you and congratulations to the following Torchbearers who have completed over 20 service hours in 2014:
Adrienne Bradley (50.5 hours!)
Christopher Faircloth (50.5 hours!)
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 @ 8:26pm
On October 16th, 209 Akron-area college students, recent graduates and professionals attended the inaugural connect2akron event. Attendees surpassed the planning committee’s expectations, both in number and enthusiasm. The lobby of the Akron Art Museum hummed with excitement as individual participants mingled and connected with twenty local non-profit organizations. The buzz was also evident on social media as pictures and tweets tagged #c2a popped up on Instagram and Twitter.
The goal for the event was simple: to deepen individuals’ connection with Greater Akron by introducing them to meaningful ways to give back to the community. To facilitate this process, attendees were provided a guide which highlighted the mission of each non-profit in attendance and those organizations’ specific volunteer opportunities and particular areas of professional skill being sought. The was that the event would foster community pride, provide a helpful boost to local non-profits, and support retention of talent in Greater Akron.
By all initial indications c2a was a resounding success in the event’s first year. An initial post-event survey found 100% of non-profit respondents are interested in participating in future c2a events. The event was cited as, “a great opportunity to meet energetic and engaged young professionals”. One non-profit partner noted that c2a was “the best networking type event that [the non-profit representative] have been to in quite a while”.
Individuals shared the enthusiasm. One recent college graduate shared, “I found local nonprofits and NGOs that fit my personal interests and I gained more insight into the local young professionals scene.” A young professional agreed, saying “I had a great time, and I made some very valuable connections. It was also nice to browse the [Akron Art Museum’s] galleries!” Based on this positive feedback the c2a planning committee is currently discussing plans for future events.
connect2akron was a collaboration between several Akron-area young professional organizations: ArtCetera, Downtown Akron Partnership- Emerging Leaders, Torchbearers, Young Professionals of Akron and Young Professionals Network.
We’re almost there! The Big Brothers Big Sisters Project is at 182 referrals! That is 85% of our goal! You can help us get to our goal AND throw a pie in the face of a TB Board Member of your choice. Get together with your friends, send us 10 referrals, and you can be a pie thrower.
Check out Torchbearers' Facebook Page for the videos of our first two pie victims – Nicole Mullet and Getta Cornici. Thanks Nicole and Getta for being such good sports and helping us reach our goal!
Posted by Torchbearers, Monday, December 1st, 2014 @ 12:08am
Forty-two young leaders selected to Torchbearers’ twelfth class
Torchbearers is proud to announce the selection of 42 future leaders for its Class of 2015. These individuals present an exceptionally strong and professionally diverse class of future leaders in Greater Akron.
Members of this new class will take part in a year-long curriculum devoted to leadership development, community service and talent attraction and retention in Greater Akron. Members will have the opportunity to participate in the Torchbearers College Curriculum, serve the community through unique volunteer opportunities and network with community leaders.
TORCHBEARERS CLASS OF 2015
Crista Bartolomucci Apple Growth Partners
Lauren Burns University Hospitals, Copley Medical Group
Jessica Cherok Leadership Akron
Willie Cook VIP Restoration
Lisa Denholm BCG & Company
Jeremy Detsch Akron Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs
Michael Evans Akron General Health System
Kaley Foster Shields Blice & Co., CPA's
Monica Foster Bober Markey Fedorovich & Co.
Jocelyn Grant Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop
Paul Haberny ComDoc
Abbey Hackenberg JM Smucker Company
Danielle Hupp Kent State University
Ryan Kenyon The University of Akron
Katie Kline Akron Marathon
Hung Le JLG Industries Inc
Yaminah Martin Bridges Summit County /United Way of Summit County
Jeanette Menapace WebMD Health Services
Erica Millen FirstEnergy
Jonny Miller BCG&Co.
Kathleen Mockensturm Akron-Summit County Public Library
Ellen Nischt City of Akron Law Department
Rachael Nolan Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging
Cathryn O'Malley Akron Children's Hospital
Amanda Overton Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, Inc.
Brandon Pauley Roderick Linton Belfance
Hannah Paulin Invent Now, Inc.
Adrian Ribovich Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC
Rick Rockich Paradigm
Jason Ruegg Walsh Jesuit High School
Walter Salamant Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology
Amanda Saunders Sully's Tool & Party Rental
Tiffany Sovik Roetzel & Andress
Cory St. Esprit United Way of Summit County
Elisha Swanson The University of Akron
Christopher Teodosio Brouse McDowell
Jessica Thacker FirstEnergy Corp.
Lia Thompson The University of Akron School of Law
Marissa Umbel FirstEnergy
Katie Wheeler Movable
Dana Wobser Myers Industries, Inc.
Stephanie Zelasko Ronald McDonald House of Akron
Future leaders ages 25-38 who are interested in leadership development and community service are encouraged to apply for the Class of 2016. The application process will begin in May and runs through June. Please visit TorchbearersAkron.com for more information on how to apply.
Team Bravo Relay: Pictured left to right, Tim Pestian (Kat Pestian’s husband), Samantha Coldwell, Jonny Miller, Nicole Mullet & Patrick Bravo
For the past 12 years, the Akron Marathon continues to attract thousands of runners and spectators into the city. The event is now a hallmark of the community as it brings out the best in what Akron has to offer. As runners run the blue line, they see the beauty of the community with its rich industrial legacy and picturesque landscapes; and friendly faces of neighborhood spectators and community volunteers. The race has become incredibly popular and each year more people are drawn to participate. Several Torchbearers participated in this year’s running of the Akron Marathon, including some seasoned veterans hoping to snag another personal record.
One member recalls his participation as a pivotal moment that shifted the course of his life. Nathan Eppink met his wife, Kelly, in 2006 while the two participated on a relay team.
“We started talking moments before the start and continued to do so for the next several miles,” Nathan said. “We were married in 2008 and have two little girls, ages 4 and 2. This will be my 10th year participating in the Akron Marathon. Kelly and I are running the half.”
“It’s a great event and I’m proud that thousands of runners will experience the Towpath Trail and Sand Run Metro Park. That really separates the Akron Marathon from other races.”
Catey Breck also ran the half marathon this year. “I really challenged myself to set a personal record with under two hours, even if it was 1:59:59,” she laughed. “I remember talking to Kyle about what pace to set and thinking, ‘Dang, I got to run that fast?’ With the help of the app RunKeeper, I was able to train and achieve my goal. The volunteers and organizers really make the event a great one to participate in and I look forward to it every year.”
Several members concluded their favorite part of the event is the time spent training together. Nicole Mullet, Getta Cornici, and Samantha Coldwell would spend time preparing for their events running at the Sand Run jogging trail early in the morning.
“I was a soccer player in high school so running has always been a part of my life,” recalled Samantha. “I started running races in 2010 when I did my first Akron Relay with Getta and some high school friends.”
Samantha, Nicole, Patrick Bravo and Kat Pestain’s husband, Tim, ran as Team Bravo, a relay team to support Patrick’s reelection to the Akron Public School Board. All looked forward to celebrating after the race together.
“The marathon is one of my favorite events in Akron largely because of the community involvement,” Nicole shared. “You get to see absolutely everyone either on the Blue Line or after the race.”
Kyle Kutuchief ran the full marathon after running the relay the past 8 consecutive years. “This year, I’ve been running in knee high CEP compression socks because I have a nagging Achilles injury,” he revealed. “They are working really well, but I’ve seen a couple of photos from races I’ve run and they looked absolutely ridiculous.”
Many runners were impressed by the great giveaways after the race. Participants in the full and half marathon received a pair of finisher socks provided by Swiftwick, maker of compression running socks. Certainly, one would be remiss to not acknowledge the generous support of Michelob Ultra, which were available to those of legal age at the end of the race.
“Michelob Ultra has stuck with their marketing plan that somehow beer and exercise go together,” Kyle said. “The beer itself is pretty bad, but the exercise icons on the can always make me laugh.”
Next year, there will be three times the excitement with the launch of the Rubber City Race Series. Organized by the Akron Marathon, the series will include an 8k and 1 mile run in June, a half marathon and 10k in August, and the full marathon, relay and half marathon scheduled for September.
One of Lebron James’ first public acts as newly returned king wasn’t the PR-fueled autograph session at the Quicken Loans arena or the 30,000-person event at InfoCision Stadium. It was the launch of The LeBron James Family Foundation’s “Promise Project,” right here in Akron, Ohio —and with the help of our very own Torchbearers.
On Saturday, August 2, Team Torchbearers joined eight other local groups to give a big gift to ten students from LeBron’s Wheels for Education (WFE) class of 2021. That gift was a complete yard and home exterior makeover, plus a huge home interior renovation for one of the students.
Team Torchbearers worked—through rain and some shine—at the home of WFE student La’Zurae and her family. Tasks included cleaning gutters, planting beds of flowers, trimming tree limbs, and even scaling the roof to remove debris.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported about Torchbearers’ participation citing that the Torchbearer volunteers didn’t want the family to worry about helping with the work and wanted them “just to enjoy the gift.” According to several Torchbearer volunteers, though, La’Zurae stayed pretty close to the action all day.
The HGTV personality Nicole Curtis appeared at several of the Promise Project sites and will feature the project on her popular HGTV show “Rehab Addict” this October.
Running and pub crawling were on the menu and Torchbearers delivered for the Eighth Annual AkRun and Crawl in downtown Akron on August 23rd. Over 150 young professionals and others from the region took part in this year’s event which included a 5K race followed by a pub crawl through some of Akron’s most notable watering holes.
The AkRun kicked off at 5pm on the Towpath Trail behind the AES building downtown and was highlighted by pleasant weather and sunshine throughout the one-hour event. Participants ran alongside the city’s historic Ohio & Erie Canal in the shadows of the venerable Canal Place complex to the approving gazes of spectators and ever present geese.
Next, the action moved to ZAR Nightclub to kick off the pub crawl portion of the evening. Race results were announced from the second level of the nightclub to over 200 runners, crawlers, and other members of the Greater Akron community.
Several drink specials were offered by the club to event participants and many of the runners took the opportunity to recoup their burned off calories via a slate of delicious beverages.
Later, the action moved across the street to Paolo’s where another bevy of drink specials greeted the AkRun revelers. The venue was packed as the crowd imbibed delicious drinks and food platters.
The evening wrapped up at The Game restaurant and bar on the lower level of Canal Park Stadium. As with the other stops, The Game offered our Crawlers several phenomenal drink specials and also catered the food bar for event participants. The location provided a delicious and scenic endcap to another exciting AkRun & Crawl.
The Eighth Annual Akrun & Crawl, which raised more than $4,000, was gracefully sponsored by Second Sole, Roetzel & Andress, BCG & Company, ZAR Nightclub and Martini Bar, Run To You Racing, and Bober Markey Fedorovich.
For several years, Torchbearers has maintained a taskforce charged with measuring the impact of Torchbearers’ actions internally within the membership and externally within the community. Recently, the taskforce chose to survey Torchbearers’ nearly two-hundred alumni, of which thirty-nine responded.
100% of respondents said they would recommend TB to a young professional today.
Questions centered on both personal experience and perception of the organization as it stands today. Additionally, the survey solicited support for current TB programming and gauged interest in enhanced programming for TB alumni. Generally, the feedback was very positive. 84% of TB Alumni, who responded to a 2014 survey, agreed that Torchbearers had a positive impact on his or her personal engagement with the Akron community, professional life, AND personal development. The opportunity to connect with, and be inspired by, other motivated young professionals was identified as the driving force behind positive growth. One alumni shared “Seeing my peers working hard and getting things done, professionally and personally, inspired me to do the same.” Another result from the survey, which Torchbearers is particularly proud of, is that 100% of respondents said they would recommend TB to a young professional today. This positive word-of-mouth is highly appreciated and surely a key factor behind the success of recent recruitment efforts and strength of TB’s current membership.
Torchbearers is also using survey results to consider improvements for the organization, including re-evaluating its method of maintaining its alumni database and developing a TB alumni event. Finally, TB looks forward to leveraging its resource of accomplished alumni as speakers, panelist, and consultants for programs such as TB College and InternEdge.
Connect2Akron (c2a) seeks to connect college students, recent graduates, and young professionals with non-profit organizations in the Greater Akron region. Connect2Akron is a FREE event and will take place on Thursday, October 16th at 5:30pm at the Akron Art Museum.
The initiative is the result of a collaboration of the ArtCetera, Downtown Akron Partnership Emerging Leaders, Torchbearers, Young Professionals of Akron, and Greater Akron Young Professionals Network organizations in an effort to increase the connectivity of our area’s young professional population and make a meaningful and lasting impact on our community.
"We are bringing together non-profit organizations who have articulated a specific need or needs our target population can meet. Guests will have meaningful interaction and connection with the non-profits starting with information, but expanding to include the opportunity to sign-up for future volunteer or fundraising efforts," said Nicole Mullet, Torchbearers Board Member and c2a committee member.
"Connect2Akron is a great way for members of the community to engage with non-profits, while discovering a wide array of opportunities from volunteering to sitting on a board. c2a is unique in that we will have members from area young professional groups on hand to help people match interests with non-profit organizations. It’s a win-win for everyone from the individual & organization to the community as a whole," said Amber Genet, President of Downtown Akron Partnership Emerging Leaders and c2a committee member.
The event is being sponsored by Akron Rotary, Proximity Marketing, Tim Fitzwater of Zipper City Photography, and the Akron Art Museum.
Leadership development has been an integral part of the Torchbearers’ mission since its inception in 2003. The TB College curriculum has played a key role in developing the professional skills of Torchbearers through an effective program of education and training.
In 2014, with help from Leadership Akron, Torchbearers selected Linda Diefendorff as its facilitator, a move that has enhanced the TB College curriculum and benefitted the organization. Diefendorff is the founder and president of Brio Performance Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in organizational development and communications.
Adrienne Bradley, who serves as chairperson of TB College, knows how instrumental Diefendorff has been in helping the committee shape the curriculum.
"This year we actually have a standard curriculum to move forward with and a full-time facilitator to incorporate each training into the next," Bradley said. "The curriculum is now more fluid and can be better integrated into the work we do as young professionals. Linda has been a blessing to our committee and we are really lucky to have her and her expertise."
TB College was established in 2009 through the collaboration of Torchbearers and Leadership Akron with the aim of creating a leadership curriculum for young professionals. Prior to creating Diefendorff’s role, Torchbearers worked closely with Mark Scheffler, the President of Leadership Akron, to find community leaders who could participate in the TB College curriculum and share their stories. The 2014 curriculum planning process began last summer with an emphasis on establishing a dynamic structure that will educate new Torchbearers.
"The main goal when creating this year’s TB College curriculum was to develop a comprehensive leadership program which would develop our members into better leaders professionally and personally, while gaining insight from current leaders in the Greater Akron community as to what makes a strong and impactful leader," Bradley said.
The first two TB College sessions, in February and May, incorporated personal assessment tools to help lead the discussions. Attendees completed the Strength Finders and DISC assessments to provide an overview of their personality and behavior traits. Subsequent classes have focused on board training and development, the benefits of successful collaboration, and the importance of teamwork and communication.
Jenny Hertzig, who is a member of the Torchbearers Class of 2014 as well as the TB College committee, has found the entire curriculum very stimulating.
"The opportunity to take the different assessments has been really eye-opening for me,” Hertzig said. “It has helped me understand more about myself and also how to work with people who are different from me. I also have really enjoyed getting to meet different leaders in our community."
Getta Cornici, Ann Manby, Brian Fortney, Donald Scherer and Megan MacDonald at Torchbearers 10th Anniversary Event
Meghan MacDonald is this months Torchbearers’ Alumni Spotlight feature. For the past 14 years, Meghan has owned her own State Farm Insurance agency. She is involved in mentoring new agents, speaking at meetings and training events, and is currently ranked as one of the top producing agencies in her zone. Meghan was also in Leadership Akron Class 29 so we wanted to sit down and catch up with this TB Alumni Rock Star!
How did you hear about TB?
Scott Read (one of our founders) was speaking at the downtown Akron Kiwanis one day for lunch. A local Kiwanis member, Ellen Otto, who is a longtime family friend, suggested I go and hear him speak. It was extremely inspiring to hear what he was doing for the young professionals in Akron. I joined within a few weeks after meeting him!
What was your biggest takeaway from TB?
Take the time to find what you are passionate about and spend time serving the community in those areas. Torchbearers will allow you to give back to the community which has given so much to you. You will also find yourself wanting to spend more time and energy on causes that are important to you.
How many new relationships did you generate from TB professionally and personally? I cannot say enough wonderful things about the friendships that were generated through Torchbearers. I have a group of five amazing ladies who I met in TB, and they have become some of my dearest friends. We make it a point to get together every month as a group and often times see each other more than that. Ten years of lunches, dinners, weddings, births, and tons of phone calls have been some of my fondest memories.
What would you say to those considering TB? Don’t hesitate for a second…join right away. But, if you are going to join make sure you can give TB 150% of your time, energy, and talent. This is an organization where you grow professionally and personally, but not without also giving back to the organization.
Have you won any awards or recognition since being in TB? I was in the first “class” of the Greater Akron Chamber’s 30 For the Future and received the Northern Ohio Live 30 Under 30.
Torchbearers and Leadership Akron have been two of the best things I have ever done! They have gotten me even more involved in the community, generated fantastic friendships, and taught me invaluable leadership skills. I am so impressed to see all the wonderful things TB is doing each year. Every year just builds upon the last and it gets better and better. I am proud of all that TB has accomplished through the years and all they continue to do in our community. Kudos to all members and alumni on a job well done!
If you already know first-year Torchbearers member, Blake Babcock, it won’t surprise you to learn that he is quite the diverse guy. If you were to see the music on his iPod; Jay-Z, Drake, The Beatles, Elton John, 311, Incubus, O.A.R., and Red Wanting Blue (just to name a few), and read his Twitter description; Speaker, Triathlete, Leader, Philanthropist, and Blogger; you may not realize you’re reading about the same guy.
When Blake isn’t taking selfies while holding his almost one year-old triplets he serves as the Director of Northeast Ohio Operations for Fast Switch, an IT Staffing Firm. You’ll often find him working from his Jackson Township home where he creates and implements new sales and marketing initiatives and develops new clients, pretty close to fulfilling his dream of playing in the NBA or being a TV sports talk show host when he grew up, right?!
Blake’s an old-fashioned guy who prefers a paper book over a Kindle, and has the library to prove it. It’s no wonder then that the best gift he’s ever received was an Amazon Gift Card. The worst was, a "nut/shell type looking thing the size of a golf ball. When you opened it there was a little bug (fake) and its legs moved."
If you’re trying to find Blake around Akron, you can often catch him at Akron Family Restaurant for breakfast, or with his wife Kristina at Bricco enjoying dinner and drinks.
Posted by Torchbearers, Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 @ 10:03pm
With a wife, two kids, a dog, and dreams of being a baker, fireman, and a speedracer, it’s a good thing Aaron Kurchev doesn’t waste money; he just, “buys really cool things that he doesn’t need.” He also probably shouldn’t count on lottery winnings, because so far he’s only won, “ball games with dramatic bottom of the 7th line drives,” and, “a sexy leg contest in high school.”
Aaron starts the day off by reading the start button on his coffee maker and heading to Gojo Industries where he is the product manager for all manual dispenser systems. He spends most of his days in meetings and keeping projects on schedule, before heading home to Rootstown.
Aaron said the one word that best describes him is, “kerfuffule.” This explains a lot considering what could have been the best gift he ever received turned out to be the worst. As a 15 year old (with very sexy legs), Aaron desperately wanted an old Volkswagen Beetle. What his dad actually got him was a model of a Beetle. Aaron’s excitement lasted about 15 seconds. Too bad, because he would have looked so cool driving around in his Beetle, listening to some of his favorite artists, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr,, and Waylon Jennings.