FLEX Presents 2013 Nominees Named

Young Professional of the Year Award nominees announced

By JEREMY JOHNSON
Staff Writer

A young professionals group out of Venango County has released a list of the nominees for this year’s Young Professional of the Year Award.

The award will be presented at the Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange’s third annual “FLEX Presents” event, which starts at 8 p.m. Friday at the Commons at Franklin. Tickets for the dinner are $15 each and $25 for couples.

The event has drawn more than 100 guests in each of its first two years, as scores of the area’s young professionals — along with business owners who employ and work with those professionals and other high-profile community leaders and entrepreneurs — come out to see who is chosen as this year’s top “young professional.” There were eight nominees for this year’s event.

Susan Williams, executive director of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce, said the presence of a significant and influential group of young professionals is more than enough reason to celebrate.

“It calls for celebration,” Williams said. “It’s great to see all the young professionals in the community stepping up and participating in leadership roles. We see them as an asset to the community.”

The Chamber co-hosts the event, provides oversight for FLEX and is the meeting place for the region’s young professionals.

Recently appointed president of FLEX, Matt Caldwell, said the group has adopted a three-pronged strategy of networking, leadership development and professional development that he said will help continue to market the area’s young professionals to those industry and business sectors seeking a fresh, new workforce.

“I think people will respond better to the young professionals in the area if we can successfully market FLEX and get people to understand it’s not just a title, it’s something we work hard for,” Caldwell said. “We stand for professionalism. Our main objective is to focus on promoting young professionals and making sure people realize that while we’re young, that doesn’t mean we’re not qualified.”

Past winners include Amanda Hippenstiel, of Oil City, and Renee Spence, of Franklin.

Hippenstiel, co-owner of State Street Furniture, co-founder of the South Side Business Association in Oil City and advocate for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) was the 2012 winner.

Spence, a former director for the Grove City and Franklin YMCAs and currently a communication specialist for Central Electric Cooperative, Inc., was the 2011 winner.

Nominees for the 2013 Young Professional of the Year Award are:

-Albert “Chip” Abramovic — Abramovic returned to Venango County in 2011 to pursue a career with Penn North Financial, and currently serves as vice president of the company. On the side, Abramovic is also very active in his “family business” at the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course. Abramovic heads a monthly business networking group called “Taking Care of Business,” which also collects donations for needy organizations throughout the community. He is also a member of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Franklin Applefest Core Committee, Y.E.S. Franklin (the city’s young professional group), the local Masonic Lodge, and he serves on the board of directors for the Franklin Elks.

-Matt Beith — Beith is a licensed real estate agent with Beith and Associates, and also serves on the Franklin Planning and Zoning Commission and the Franklin Fine Arts Council board of directors. Beith is the co-founder of the Franklin Attack Tennis program, an organization aimed to renew youth’s enthusiasm for the game of tennis, and is a member of Y.E.S. Franklin and The Bridge Literary Arts Center. Beith is also a member of the Franklin Rotary Club and the Franklin Elks Lodge.

-Kurtis Bell — Bell is a manager at ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc., of Strattanville. Bell writes a monthly column in the Venango Chamber “Business Connector” and is an active member Send Out Cards Gratitude Referral Networking group. Bell also oversees miniature golf sessions for students with disabilities through the Riverview Intermediate Unit, and is an Elder who serves at the New Rehobeth Greenville Presbyterian Church, as well as a volunteer for the Camping Association of the Presbyteries of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Bell also coaches weightlifting at the Clarion YMCA and presents a lecture on the importance of good indoor air quality at the Clarion Hospital’s “Let’s Do Lunch” series.

-Josh Botts — Botts is the program director for the Venango Fatherhood Initiative and Family Services & Children’s Aid Society of Venango County, where he is dedicated to “improving the lives of children in the county by increasing the number of children growing up with involved, responsible and dedicated fathers.” Botts also serves on the Children’s Roundtable of Venango County, the Focus on Our Future board and is president of the board for the Open Door Cafe, a donation-only gathering place in Oil City’s east end. He is also a member of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention task force, the Child Near Death Review team and participates in Venango County’s Quality Service Review.

-Amanda Callinan — Callinan is a family-based mental health therapist with Family Services of Western PA, and works with families throughout Venango and Mercer counties. Callinan is a member of the Children’s Roundtable of Venango County and volunteers for and is a board member of the PPC Violence Free Network. She also organizes the PPC’s annual golf scramble. In her free time, Callinan spends much of her time planning events for domestic violence awareness and has launched an in-home therapy program for sexual abuse victims.

-Bobbi Haag — Haag works at the Oil Region CareerLink as an adult/dislocated worker coordinator, where she has been since January 2012. Haag is also a member of the United Way board of directors, and volunteers for the United Way campaign, “Totes for Tots.” A FLEX member, Haag was also involved in a number of student activities as a student at Venango College-Clarion University. While there, she was vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, president of the student senate, president of the Campus Activities board, president of the Paralegal Club, “discovery leader” for new students and sat on the board of directors for the Venango Campus Advisory Board and the Student Association.

-Jill Harry — Harry is a reporter for The Derrick and The News-Herald and also serves on the planning committee for the annual Oil Region Indie Fest, “a festival that provides original, young performers an outlet and gathering place in the community.” Harry is an active board member of the Oil City Arts Council. She has also been a long-time supporter of the Relay for Life team for the American Cancer Society, and serves the group’s publicity and online chairwoman.

-Trenton Moulin Moulin is the Executive Director at the Bridge Builders Community Foundations. Trenton has made a practice of reaching out to the next generation fostering their understanding and engagement in the community. Trenton is active in numerous community foundations and movements including the Oil City Civic Center, Restorative Community Group Conferencing, FLEX, Oil City Main Street Program and was a driving force in the installation and supporter of the Disc Golf course in Hasson Heights Park. Trenton is a member of the Member of Petrolia Lodge No. 363 Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, a Junior Achievement volunteer instructor and  serves on the Venango County Fatherhood Initiative Soupbox Derby Planning Board.

-Darin Paden — Paden is owner and director of the Performing Arts Academy with Darin, a dance and performing arts studio located in the National Transit Building in Oil City. Paden’s dance studio occupies a space not filled in more than 30 years, and he serves more than 200 students, and also heads a nonprofit dance team. Under Paden’s direction, the dance team provides area youth with the opportunity to demonstrate their talents through community engagement, while also giving youth leadership and teamwork skills learned through volunteerism and community partnerships. Paden’s dance team performs for local events, including Children’s Day at the Cranberry Mall, Oil City’s First Night and four holiday dance performances at local nursing homes.