DIFFERENCE MAKERS gala 2023

Congratulations to our 2023 difference makers honorees

Leadership Lorain County will be celebrating the outstanding community activism of our 2023 Difference Maker Award honorees at the Difference Makers Gala and Excellence in Leadership Awards ceremony.

We are excited to return to an in-person event as this Gala will honor individuals and an organization for their remarkable leadership and significant impact on the Lorain County community and beyond.

In total, Leadership Lorain County received over 32 nominations for this year’s ceremony. Our DMG honoree selection committee, made up of two Lorain County community members, three LLC Board members, and our President & CEO went through an extensive review process of each of the nominations.

Winner of Pulse Magazine’s Best Charitable Event 2018

Leadership Lorain County works alongside brilliant leaders every day. These leaders make a meaningful impact in this community. Year after year, Leadership Lorain County honors individuals and an organization who have touched lives, spurred economic growth and/or made a meaningful impact in Lorain County. Our celebration culminates in our annual Difference Makers Gala!

Recognized as the top award given by Leadership Lorain County, The Eric Nord Award for Excellence in Community Leadership recognizes a distinguished citizen and community leader who has given extraordinary amounts of time and talent to the community and exemplifies service and civic support.

Nominees for this award are individuals who have acted with integrity, faith and confidence on behalf of the community, as well as being a Catalyst for creation of positive County leadership.  The nominees for this award are those who have exemplified outstanding service and civic leadership, and have been significantly generous in giving of time and support.

Former Recipients:
1996 Eric T. Nord
1998 Dr. Roy Church
2000 Beth K. Stocker
2002 Scrib Fauver
2004 Billy Rowland
2005 John S. Corogin
2006 Stanley G. Pijor
2007 Jane Nord
2008 James Kidd
2009 Lee C. Howley
2010 Dr. Denis Radefeld
2011 Betty Blair
2012 J. Daniel Martin
2013 Gail Stumphauzer
2014 Brian Frederick
2015 Cecilia H. Render
2016 William Harper
2017 Edwin Oley
2018 Matthew W. Nakon, Esq.
2019 Thomas D. stuber
2021 BARB PISCOPO
2022 Jon Veard
Timothy Harris

Tim is President and Chief Executive Officer of United Church Insurance Association and subsidiary, United Church Insurance Company, dba Insurance Board. Insurance Board is a Cleveland based, $70M niche property-liability insurance program covering more than 4,200 churches across 50 states. Prior to taking the reins at Insurance Board in late 2013, Tim held senior leadership positions at several major companies over his 32-year insurance career. Tim was honorably discharged from the United States Army Reserve in 1990, after fulfilling a 6-year commitment, and is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics Degree with a concentration in Risk Management and Insurance. He is also a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).

Tim embarked upon his volunteer charitable board journey in his 30’s where he served as chair of the board of The Clinic, an organization that provides healthcare to the uninsured and underinsured in Phoenixville, PA. After relocating to Ohio in 2007, he immediately became active in the local community including roles as past chair of the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Lorain County; past chair of the board of Save Our Children in Elyria, OH; board member of a University Hospitals supporting organization known as 5805 Euclid, Inc. which oversaw the construction of the UH Rainbow Ahuja Center for Women and Children; board member of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center where he sits on the UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Committee; board member of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission where he is the incoming chair of the Commission’s DE&I Committee; and past Moderator of Avon Lake UCC. Tim and wife, Anita, reside in Avon, Ohio, and have three adult children.

Linda Ong Styer

From the “Best Class of 2002”, Linda Ong Styer served as the senior program officer at the Community Foundation of Lorain County from 1996 to 2021, working to understand a spectrum of community needs represented by hundreds of nonprofits. Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Linda served as a social worker and director for various nonprofit organizations. In 1988, Linda received the Ohio Department of Human Services Award for Outstanding Case Management, and in 1995, Ohio University’s Ping Award for Recent Graduate.

Linda’s initiatives through the Community Foundation include Project Match sending life-saving equipment to twenty-one fire departments, Patchwork Trails of eighteen barn quilt squares created by 4-H Clubs highlighting our farms and the beauty of rural Lorain County, and One Lorain County connecting diverse grassroots urban voices and strengthening community ties. Linda’s goal with each initiative is to invest and empower individuals to follow their passions to be difference makers in their own ways!

Community involvement through volunteerism and philanthropy is very important to Linda. Linda has volunteered as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County, on the American Red Cross’ Disaster Services Team, with Mercy Health Hospice, and with many hot meal programs. Linda currently serves on the boards of Elyria Arts Council, Oberlin Community Land Trust, and Oberlin Shansi. She continues to support three endowments she created with her husband at the Community Foundation: the Animal Benefit Fund, the Sobriety Fund, and an unrestricted Fund to support hard-to-fund current and future community needs beyond their lifetimes.

Dr. Norva J. Ross

Dr. Norva J. Ross is a long-time resident of Lorain County. She said her greatest accomplishment and pride are in accepting her call to ministry. In her words: “I heard the call to ministry in the 1970’s while in Tampa, Florida at Busch Gardens through a vision while on a ride at the amusement park. It seemed as if the sky lit up and I saw a rainbow with the words, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” Mark 16:15, Isaiah 61, and Luke 4:18.

Her career began by receiving her Associates Degree with Honors in Nursing from Lorain County Community College. She then went on to become a registered nurse. She continued her education and received her license as a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC-S) and her license as a Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC). She worked at Lakeland Institute and Recovery Resources as an RN and LICDC-S. Dr. Ross was also serving at Full Gospel Ministries in Lorain during this time, and after the passing of their Senior Pastor Samuel A. Cash, Dr. Ross became the Senior Pastor. She then continued with her education, earning a Master’s in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland OH and graduating with High Honors. Dr. Ross then received her Doctorate in Christian Counseling Psychology from Northeast Ohio School of Ministry.

Through the duration of receiving her education and becoming the Senior Pastor, Dr. Ross founded Pathways Enrichment Center (PEC) in 1995 with the vision to inspire, teach and train individuals to enhance their potential in all aspects of personal development. Their mission is to bring resources to enhance the body (physical), the mind (cognitive), and relationships with others (social). They believe that this enrichment will have positive outcomes in aiding a person to enhance their behavioral and spiritual journeys.

PEC initiated highly effective mentoring and outreach tutorial programs in November 2000. Pathways has since expanded its programming over the years to include the Food Panty Share Program. This program has made a significant impact through their weekly food distributions in the Lorain County community. In 2021 and in the midst of COVID, they remained open and ultimately distributed 743,180 pounds of food to 58,659 people which equates to 619,317 meals. She is passionately committed to reducing food insecurity in Lorain County and continues to coordinate food distributions, hot meals, and a Senior Food Box program. Other programs that PEC coordinates are the Back-to-School Program, the Christmas Toy Program, Mental Health & Wellness Program, Mercy Blessing Baskets, an Annual Health Fair, and the Pathways Plate Program, a free 10-month interactive and educational nutrition program providing food skills education to families and caregivers. The newest program, Dream Big, was launched in October 2022 which inspires participants to create a vision board and follow their dream to fulfill their life purpose.

Throughout her career, she also served 15 years as a registered nurse at Mercy Health as a Parish nurse working in the faith-based community with pastors coordinating health and wellness programs within their congregations. During her tenure with Mercy Parish Nursing, Dr. Ross established the Lorain County Pastors Health Coalition comprised of Lorain County Pastors. There were also only three churches in the urban community and at her retirement from Mercy Parish Nursing in 2018, there were 52 churches. She was instrumental in creating Project Temple, a diabetes prevention program which promoted health and wellness, securing funding in excess of $300,000 from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health for the program which served over 300 participants.

As God continued to work in her life, she became acquainted with deep suffering in many areas. As a domestic violence survivor, she advocates against the horror of domestic violence and speaks out about the abuse she suffered urging men, women, and the African American community to educate themselves on this topic. She authored her dissertation for her degree of Doctor of Christian Counseling Psychology entitled Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence:  Biblical Perspectives and Practical Applications.

Beyond her commitment to preventing domestic violence, Dr. Ross speaks about her own personal struggle with cancer and the miracle of an organ transplant and her journey back to health. She believes she is called and chosen to serve. She said she was born for this purpose.

She currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Ministries, the Executive Director of Pathways Enrichment Center, and a current board member of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. She served as Vice President, Lorain Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (UMAPAOP), Past Board Member of Handmaidens (Donacellas), Inc., Past Member of the Lorain County Health Department’s Planning Committee, Past Member of Lorain County Domestic Violence Task Force and Past Member of Genesis House Faith Sub Committee.

Honors received by Dr. Norva Ross: Miss Hope of Lorain County, American Cancer Society (1976), Norva Ross Day, Proclamation by Mayor Zahoric (1980), Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges (1985), Proclamation of Honor by Mayor Foltin (2001), Community Service Award, The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women (2003), SHERO Award, State of Ohio Minority Health Commission (2004), The Meritorious Service Award, The Lorain Club of Negro Business and Professional Women (2004), The Shayla Price Award, Lorain County Community College Women’s History Celebration (2005), The National Sojourner Truth Award, National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Club (2004), Woman of the Year Award, First Community Interfaith Institute (2005), Community Outreach Award, Elyria Ministerial Association (2009) Community Service Award, The Elyria Branch of the National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Club (2010), Robert Henderson Service Award, Akron Urban Minority Alcoholism Drug Abuse Outreach (2016) The Bev Lizanich Innovation Award, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio (2021), and the Good Health Award presented by the Ohio Commission on Minority Health (2022).

Dr. Ross’ programs have been featured numerous times in the Morning Journal, the Chronicle Telegram and has been a guest on Power 89.1 WNZN radio.

She is the proud mother of five daughters, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all of whom are her pride and joy.

Carmen M. Verhosek

Carmen M. Verhosek is a Partner at Dooley Gembala McLaughlin & Pecora. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated cum laude from Cleveland Marshall College of Law receiving a juris doctor degree. Her practice focuses on Estate Planning, Asset Preservation and Wealth Transfer, Elder Law, and Medicaid and Veterans’ (Long-Term Care) Benefits Planning. Carmen has over 20 years of experience as a powerful force in the workplace and zealous advocate providing guidance and support to her clients by helping them prepare a plan for a better quality of life, preserve their wealth, and protect their future. She is passionate about missions that educate, empower, and help build sustainable communities.

Carmen is an active member of the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, the Next Generation of Estate Planners, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Lorain County Bar Association, and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association. She mentors newer attorneys and is a frequent speaker at professional events for these organizations. In addition, her civic service includes Chair for the Board of Trustees for the Hispanic Business Center, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Pro Bono Committee, and the Board of Kendal at Oberlin and Kendal Northeast Ohio. Carmen has been instrumental in achieving the mission and vision of the various organizations she serves on.

Her meteoric rise has been recognized throughout multiple communities. She matriculated from Leadership Lorain County in 2019. In 2020, she was acknowledged as a “100 + Latinos CLE Must Know” by Ammore Consulting. Most recently, she was honored as one of the 2022 Crain’s Smart Women Award Winners as a Progress Woman Honoree.

Lorain County Chamber of Commerce

The beginnings of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce go back to January 1987 when the Greater Lorain Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce and Industry Association of Greater Elyria took a major step forward in the highly competitive economic marketplace by joining together to form the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce.

The major goals of this new organization were to provide the financial base for a long-range economic development program; to create a strong county-side business retention program; and to add 10,000 new jobs to the local economy in the following 5-year period.  They went to successful local business leaders to help put this campaign together with over 200 volunteers and leaders throughout Lorain County who raised $2.2 million dollars to effectively implement the five-year plan of economic development.

Over the next 35 years, the County Chamber has been an integral partner to economic development initiatives such as Lorain County 20/20, Lorain County Community Alliance, GLIDE, Lorain County Growth Partnership, Lorain County Safety Council, Manufacturing Month, Business EXPO, and the Economic Summit to name a few. The County Chamber is currently working to reestablish a 501c3 public, private partnership to build upon the established foundation of growth and collaboration between our local communities and key stakeholders. This integrated economic development strategy will provide Lorain County with a unified voice into the regional and state economic ecosystem.

The County Chamber is currently helmed by President/CEO Anthony (Tony) Gallo, who has been at the Chamber for the past 19 years. Tammy Cascio who recently celebrated her 25th anniversary at the Chamber as Business Relations Director and Kristine Kuhn, Office and Financial Manager is approaching 15 years of service. Philip Amos is finishing his first full year of a 2-year term as the Lorain County Chamber’s 22nd Board Chairman.

2004
Kass Crooker
Jack Lavriha
Betsy Manderen
Sister Annamae Murphy
Denis A. Radefeld, M.D.
2005
Judge Joseph Girigiano
Maureen Ross Cromling
Ted Jacobs
Alice Weston
Community Foundtion Of
Lorain County
2006
Paul Balcolm
Michael & Lisa Bramhall
Evelyn France
Dr. Alex & Maria Zolli
Lorain County Metro Parks
2007
John D. Beckett
Benjamin G. & Jane Norton
Dr. Florencio & Lily Yuzon
Lorain County
Community College
2008
Leonard Deluca
William T. Locke
Joan Lowry
Elyria Rotary Club
2009
Joel P. Arredondo
David L. Herzer
Bishop A. James Quinn
Easter Seals Northern Ohio
2010
Kathryn C. Boylan
Terry D. Goode
Gerald E. Skully
Douglas B. Wilber
Big Brothers Big Sisters Of
Lorain County
2011
Larry A. Bettcher
Frank P. Detillio
El Centro
De Servicios Sociales
2012
Donald Knechtges
Marvin Krislov
Neighborhood Alliance
2013
Donald Sheldon, M.D.
Michael & Dina Ferrer
The Lcada Way
2014
Claudia Jones
100 Women Who Care About Lorain County Founding
Members: Susan Bowers,
Marcia Miller, Nancy Sullivan
& Libby Thuning
Polyone Corporation
2015
Rex Engle
Charles & Alyce Horton
Lorain County JVS
2016
Rick Grahovac
Kevin J. Flanigan
Marilyn Zeidner
Chicks Against Hunger
2017
Patricia O’brien
Sheriff Phil Stammitti
Stephanie Wiersma
Blessing House
2018
Anthony Gallo
Jeanine Donaldson
The Ross Group of companies
2019
Barbara Thomas
Victor Leandry
Nordson Corporation Foundation
2020
clare cygan young
david & noelia nodal
the nord center
2021
rEY CARRION
JOHN W. SCHAEFFER, M.D.
SECOND HAVEST FOOD BANK OF NORTH CENTRAL OHIO
2022
Wendy Caldwell
Ann schloss
lorain county urban league

In honor of Leadership Lorain County’s 30th Anniversary, a new award for a young professional was established for the 2015 Difference Makers.  Geared towards individuals aged forty-five and younger, this recipient must have demonstrated integrity, honor, service, and transformative leadership in Lorain County.

Former Recipients:
2015 Juliana Chase-Morefield
2016 Farnaz Ansari Berna
2017 Gregory Willey
2018 Catherine Woskobnick
2019 Danielle M. Locke
2020 Stacie starr
2021 MARSALIS l. HAMMONS
2022 Parris Smith