seeking nominations for our 2024 difference makers gala

About Our Difference Makers Gala

Leadership Lorain County is seeking nominations of distinguished leaders for the 2024 Difference Makers Gala – There’s no place like Lorain County, the first event of our 40th Anniversary year, on Friday, February 16, 2024. The annual Gala honors individuals and an organization that have demonstrated remarkable leadership, while making a significant impact on the community. The Difference Makers Gala itself is celebrating 20 years in existence with this 2024 event.

It is NOT necessary for a nominee to be a Leadership Lorain County Alumni. They only need to be dedicated, invested, and committed to supporting the growth, vitality, and diversity of Lorain County. Additional, previous recipients of the Excellence in Leadership Award are eligible for consideration as an Eric Nord Award nominee, however a fully completed nomination form is required.

All nominations must be received by Friday, September 8th, 2023, to be considered for this year’s event in one of the following ways:

  • Email – director@leadershiploraincounty.com. Please place  Difference Makers Nomination in the subject line.
  • Mail – Leadership Lorain County, Difference Makers Nomination, PO Box 882, Elyria, OH 44036
  • In-person – 1206 East Broad Street, Elyria, OH 44035 Monday – Thursday from 10 AM – 4:30 PM, Friday from 10 AM to 2:30 PM

Please ensure that submissions include Nomination Form and any additional pertinent information believed to strengthen the nomination, for example: resume, biography, letter(s) of support, or other similar information that can support the nomination and showcase the impact of individual or organization being submitted.


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
2022 Jon Veard
2023 timothy harris
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.

“Tim’s involvement is totally about service. When he engages, he is totally committed to that organization. He leads by example, and his example is exemplary, not unlike the leadership of Eric Nord and others that followed.” Brian Frederick Retired President & CEO Community Foundation of Lorain County

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.

“We believe she is making an impact not only by this valued board service, but her involvement in the larger community bringing back to Kendal her voice and experience as an “old soul” representing the continued areas of opportunity that we can address together.” Barbara Thomas CEO Kendal at Oberlin

Dr. Norva J. Ross

Dr. Norva J. Ross, a long-time resident of Lorain County, states that her greatest accomplishment & pride is the acceptance of her call to ministry. She began her career at LCCC by receiving her Associates Degree in Nursing with honors before becoming an RN. She became a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC-S) & Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC). While working at Lakeland Institute & Recovery Resources as an RN & LICDC-S. Dr. Ross served at Full Gospel Ministries in Lorain, where she became the Senior Pastor after the passing of Senior Pastor Samuel A. Cash. She earned a Master’s in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary, graduating with High Honors. Her Doctorate in Christian Counseling Psychology from Northeast Ohio School of Ministry soon followed.

During the pursuit of her education Dr. Ross founded Pathways Enrichment Center (PEC) in 1995 with the vision to inspire, teach & train individuals to enhance their potential in all aspects of personal development. The mission of PEC is to bring resources to enhance the body (physical), the mind (cognitive), & relationships with others (social). They believe that this enrichment will have positive outcomes in aiding a person to enhance their behavioral & spiritual journeys.  PEC initiated highly effective mentorship & outreach tutorial programs in November of 2000. Pathways has since expanded its programming over the years to include the Food Panty Share Program, making a significant impact through their weekly food distributions in the Lorain County community. In 2021 they remained open during COVID, ultimately distributing 743,180 lbs. of food to 58,659 people, equating to 619,317 meals. She is passionately committed to reducing food insecurity in Lorain County & continues to coordinate food distributions, hot meals, & a Senior Food Box program. PEC coordinates additional programs as follows: Back-to-School Program, the Christmas Toy Program, Mental Health & Wellness Program, Mercy Blessing Baskets, an Annual Health Fair, the Pathways Plate Program, & the newest program, Dream Big, which launched in October 2022.

Dr. Ross served 15 yrs as an RN at Mercy Health as a Parish nurse. Working in the faith-based community with pastors coordinating health & wellness programs within their congregations, she established the Lorain County Pastors Health Coalition comprised of Lorain County Pastors. They began with only three churches in the urban community, by her retirement from MPN in 2018, 52 churches were involved. She was instrumental in creating Project Temple, a diabetes prevention program which promoted health & wellness, securing funding in excess of $300,000 from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health for the program which served over 300 participants.

As a domestic violence survivor, she advocates against the horror of domestic violence & speaks about the abuse she suffered urging men, women, & the African American community to educate themselves on this topic. She authored her dissertation for her PhD, entitled Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence:  Biblical Perspectives & Practical Applications. Beyond her commitment to preventing domestic violence, Dr. Ross speaks about her own personal struggle with cancer, the miracle of an organ transplant, & her journey back to health. She believes she is called & chosen to serve, saying she was born for this purpose.

She currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Ministries, the ED of PEC & is a current board member of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. Dr. Ross has received many honors during her tenure of service in our community & is honored to be among the 2023 Difference Makers. She is the proud mother of five daughters, nine grandchildren & four great-grandchildren, all of whom are her pride & joy.

“Pastor Norva has a true calling to minister to the underserved in our community, whether it’s filling an empty cupboard or nurturing a person’s soul. She has the innate ability to show empathy, kindness, and sensitivity to all who call on her.” Claudia Jones Office of Development Oberlin College (retired)

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 is a former Board member for the Oberlin Community Land Trust, and 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 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.

“Linda became a catalyst in identifying and meeting the changing needs of the Lorain County community for 25 years. Her goal has been, and always will be, to improve the quality of life and instill a greater sense of unity in the Lorain County community” Brittany Lovett Marketing & Communications Officer Community Foundation of Lorain County

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.

“The Lorain County Chamber has strived since 1988 to be the voice of the business community and to help promote and support the local businesses. But since COVID-19, they have hit their stride in being an organization that has dedicated itself to not just making sure the businesses stay open but making sure that they thrive.” Kevin Knight Vice President, Heidelberg Distributing (retired) & Former Board Chair of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce

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