Leadership McKean celebrates Class of 2019 graduation

The 2019 graduating class of Leadership McKean includes, from left, Jill Keller (Bradford Ecumenical Home Inc.), Amy O’Neil (American Refining Group), Evan Pecora (Northwest Bank), Teresa Wilcox (McKean County Juvenile Probation), Alcherrie Williams (McKean County Redevelopment and Housing Authority), Michele Panek (The Fluffy Baby Boutique), Kurt Lindower (Zippo Manufacturing Co.), Jenn Stillman (State Representative Martin Causer’s office), Brandi Buck (Evergreen Elm), Jess McKeirnan (Northwest Bank), Nick LaBella (Bradford Area School District), Michele McCann (W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.), Emilee Yormick (University of Pittsburgh at Bradford), Tonia Hartzell (McKean County Children’s Advocacy Center), Donnie Hayden (Bradford Sanitary Authority), Tanya Gayley (Keystone Rural Health Consortium), Lori Johnson (Bradford Sanitary Authority), Jean Barnard (University of Pittsburgh at Bradford), Nicole Butler (American Refining Group). Not pictured are David Breitigam (American Refining Group), Daniel Busekist (Arbor Realty Trust), Regina Russell (Northern Pennsylvania Regional College).

Leadership McKean recently concluded its 2018-19 program with group project presentations, followed by a graduation luncheon and ceremony.

The day’s events took place at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. This year’s graduating class was made up of 22 participants from throughout McKean County.

Projects for this year’s class included: “Mattresses Across McKean County” (Human Services), “Promotional Video: Buy in Bradford” (Regional Economic Development), “Adulting: We All Have to at Some Point” (Education), “Youth on Board” (Community and Civic Engagement) and “McKean County Brew Trail” (Tourism/Recreation).

Several groups committed to carrying their projects forward, and others connected with community resources that will be able to partner with them to make these ideas realities.

Leadership McKean’s mission is to develop informed and involved leaders through a comprehensive county-wide development program. Sessions are held once per month from October through June at various locations in McKean County.

Participants are placed into small groups that complete a team project within one of the program’s topic areas; the groups present their projects at the June session to an audience made up of their classmates, Leadership McKean alumni, Leadership McKean board members, and other community leaders. The graduates’ sponsors (usually their employers), supervisors, and any guests they wish to include are invited as well.

As Vanessa Castano, executive director of the YWCA Bradford and Leadership McKean board member shared, “The one consistent message we hear repeatedly from Leadership McKean graduates is the breadth of options McKean County offers, from entrepreneurship and business to tourism to services to education to health, etc. Ensuring that our current and future leaders are well-versed in all this county has to offer is crucial to our collective success. The 2019 graduating class represents the potential of McKean County — it’s limitless!”

Following the group presentations, the class, board, and guests gathered in the lobby of the Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall for a graduation luncheon, then finished the day and year with a graduation ceremony in which graduates were presented plaques recognizing their accomplishments.

Leadership McKean President Seth McClymonds opened the ceremony, followed by graduate reflections by class members Evan Pecora of Northwest Bank and Teresa Wilcox of the McKean County Juvenile Probation Department. Vice President Carolyn Boser Newhouse introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Althea Luehrsen, CEO of Leadership Buffalo.

Leadership McKean is currently accepting applications for its 2019-20 program. Participants must live and/or work in McKean County. Those interested in participating can request an application from the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce, which provides the administrative support for Leadership McKean. The Chamber can be reached at 368-7115 or kara.kennedy@bradfordchamber.com.