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!


  • Community leader as trustee – acting with integrity, faith and confidence on behalf of the community.
  • Catalyst for creation of positive County leadership; demonstrates dedication to strengthening and transforming community leadership.
  • Commitment to and involvement in Lorain County
  • Exemplifies strong service and civic leadership.
  • Generous in giving of time and support
Honoree Announcement Coming Soon!

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

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
2019 Stacie starr
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


Honoring the Legacy of Eric Nord

For the 2020 DMG celebration Leadership will honor the legacy of Eric Nord and the 20 past honorees to receive the award named in his honor. Celebrating the legacy to which recognizes many in Lorain County. Conveying his plan and mission

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

Clare Cygan Young

Clare Cygan Young began her career as a nurse by helping and advocating for people suffering from physical illness in a Cleveland hospital.  During this time, she began to volunteer with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and soon realized that was her calling. Clare left nursing in 1984 after ten years, to begin her second career as the Coordinator of Community Outreach for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Four years later her statewide advocacy and activism were noted by Lorain County who reached out requesting her to establish a rape crisis service within their community.  In 1988, Clare left Cleveland and created a full-service program at The Nord Center. In her role as Director, she wrote grants to hire staff, train over 30 community volunteers who would respond to sexual assault survivors in hospitals and act as advocates while they navigated the legal system. This program also offers crisis intervention and referrals, support groups for both survivors and their loved ones, and educates the community about rape awareness and prevention. As an activist she served as the President of the Ohio Coalition on Sexual Assault and lobbied in Washington to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and was present for the signing of this bill under President, Bill Clinton’s administration.

Clare established two additional programs for Lorain County before leaving the Nord Center in 2006. The initial program being the Sexual Assault Care Unit, which opened in 2000, allowing rape exams to be conducted at The Nord Center.  She secured funding to hire Forensic Nurses who would conduct the exams and collect evidence in a “truly anonymous setting”. Her additional program was focused on a way to provide for children who had disclosed sexual abuse; which was coined Kidz First Child Advocacy Center in 2004.This program allows for the interviews to be conducted only one time as Law Enforcement and Children Services worked alongside trained volunteer advocates to help minimize additional trauma. Special Forensic Nurses were hired to do the physical and sexual assault exams.

Clare continued her role as advocate becoming the Affiliate Coordinator for the Community Foundation of Lorain County. Through this position she worked closely with the minority affiliate funds; Women’s Fund, Hispanic Fund, African American Fund and the Fund for Huron County. In this position Clare assisted each affiliate group in encouraging philanthropic participation from the community and awarding funds to address specific project needs.

In 2009, Clare became the Director of Community Outreach and Internship Program at Leadership Lorain County where she led LLC’s 10-week summer program providing paid internships to Lorain County resident college students. This program pairs students with local non-profits providing resume building work experience while exposing the students to the civic needs of Lorain County. Included in the program are weekly skills meetings that provided Clare the chance to encourage leadership skills development, philanthropic knowledge, pride in one’s community, and exposure to the wealth of opportunities available to these young leaders as they move past their academic careers and into the workforce. During this time Clare also became well known for her unique teaching skills and usage of Laughter Team Building Workshops! in her programming.

In 2015 Clare’s plans for retirement were placed on hold as she accepted her last career move becoming the Executive Director of NAMI Lorain County. NAMI is a national program which advocates for change in the mental health system. The primary mission for NAMI is to provide Community Education on Mental Health Awareness, Acceptance, and Recovery.  This is done through workshops, seminars, and public speaking. Clare was instrumental in the growth of the Lorain County branch and embodied this mission. She wrote grants enabling NAMI to hire staff trained to perform crisis intervention services, lead and establish support groups, and offer peer volunteer services to those living with mental illness as well as their loved ones. During her tenure with NAMI, Clare started the LOSS Program (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors), a program that provides trained community volunteers to be ready to respond on-site when a suicide has been discovered. These brave staff and volunteers are ready to give support to the family, loved ones, and law enforcement personnel in the days, weeks and months following a suicide.

Upon her retirement in 2019, Clare has remained active in Lorain County through her role as President of the Gathering Hope House Board of Directors.

In honor of her dedication to sexual assault advocacy, in 2007 volunteers from the Rape Crisis Center created a Fund in her name – The Clare Cygan Young Fund for Women and Girls, through the Community Foundation. Through this gesture her advocacy continues by awarding funding for special programing through The Women’s Affiliate Fund.

Clare feels extremely blessed to have walked with so many through their recovery journey.  It has been an honor to work with so many caring volunteers, staff, and all the service providers who care so deeply and are committed to social change. Through every transition within her career, Clare’s family has been her main support. She has two daughters, three stepchildren, nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren all of which are all looking forward to her “real” retirement.  Her friends, however, do not “really” believe she knows the meaning of the word.

David & Noelia Nodal

David “Dave” Nodal, a life-long resident of Amherst, is a graduate of Marion L. Steele High School. He attended Lorain County Community College for liberal arts, music theory and real estate appraisal. He is also a graduate of American Training Services in Morristown, NJ. Noelia “Nouie” Nodal was born and raised in Lorain, a graduate of Clearview High School, before moving to Amherst upon her marriage to Dave 43 years ago. Dave and Nouie are the proud parents of two sons, Reuben and David (Danielle).

Nouie has worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors throughout her professional career. Beginning in nonprofit with the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio and Church on the North Coast, before co-found Mortgage One Banc, later sold to Lorain National Bank. In 2007, Nouie co-founded Premier Mortgage Banc Solutions, which was the first minority woman owned mortgage company in northeast Ohio. Presently, she’s a Vice President at American Patriot Title Agency in Sheffield Village as well as owner/operator of Stage Right Design and Décor, an interior design, staging and decorating business.

Dave’s professional career has been a mix of full-time employment and entrepreneurship. Retired from the Lorain Steel Mill after 43 years, working mostly as a Crane Operator, he helped launch many business ventures such as a title company named Great Lakes Title Agency, his wife’s mortgage companies and more. He is also the owner/operator of D&N Cleaning and Services, a commercial cleaning, handyman company, as well as full-time handyman for his wife’s interior design company. However, he states his “best job ever”, is “Baba” to his grandson – Jace.

Dave’s list of civic engagement and private support is even longer than his professional resume. A longtime Board Member for Church on the North Coast, where he served as Board Secretary and Executive Trustee. David was also part of the leadership that executed the multimillion-dollar sale of 65 acres, now known as the Lighthouse Village shopping complex in Lorain. He was a part of the men’s group, worship team band, coordinated the churches annual camp meetings, provided personal pastoral care service to the senior pastors, and went on mission trips to Russia and Mexico providing medical supplies, clothing and more. Dave has accomplished so much, all while supporting the civic work of his wife and sons, including a 5 am set up of a tent and preparing food for the “Margeau’s Free to Be” team runners during the RiteAid Cleveland Marathon.

Nouie’s Board service include: Neighborhood House Association (former Chair of the Walk/Run for the Homeless benefitting The Haven Center), Leadership Lorain County (former chair of the Alumni committee and a 2008 graduate), Margeau’s Free to Be Project, Hispanic Business Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County, Church on the North Coast, Working Women’s Connection (former Philanthropic Chair), Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Lorain County (former co-chair) and more. She currently serves as the P.A.C.E. Foundation Gala co-chair, Board Member of Main Street Amherst, and on various committees of other organizations and is active in groups such as the 100 Women Who Care and the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce. Nouie’s passion has always been focused on giving back to her community and making a difference in the lives of Lorain County residents. Her favorite scripture verse, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, encourages her daily, and she encourages all women to be a “Can Do” woman!

In their free time Dave and Nouie enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and more traveling. When apart Dave finds joy in music and trapshooting, while Nouie delves into her passion for interior design and decorating.

From Dave, “My Parents, Sal & Rose Nodal, founded and established the first Spanish Assembly of God Church in Ohio, Templo Bethel in Lorain. Through my parent’s passion to minister in love and meet the needs of the Hispanic and surrounding communities, this same passion was deeply instilled into the lives of my brothers and I at a very young age. It is with this upbringing that I have lived my life humbly working to meet the needs of others while trying to bring laughter and joy”.

From Nouie, “With my background and upbringing, I strive to help make a difference in the lives of others. One of my daily goals is to encourage and brighten someone’s day, especially a stranger. I always love helping and finding a solution to a problem for those in need. Above all, to make an impact by sharing and demonstrating the love of God is not only an honor but humbling to be his extended hands and feet. It is through volunteering and esteeming that someone’s needs are more important than yours I can try and make a difference.”

Stacie Starr

Stacie Starr is the Program Director for Save Our Children’s Elyria Teen Achieve Success Program (ETAS), and Senior Classroom Supervisor at Murray Ridge School where she oversees the teachers and education/transition of students with developmental disabilities into their next phase of adulthood.  She was an Intervention Specialist for the Elyria City School District for 14 years and dedicated herself as not only a teacher but also a football, basketball, and track coach, student teacher mentor, boys mentoring book club advisor, Assistant Athletic Director, sat on the Local Professional Development Committees for Elyria City Schools and Murray Ridge for the past 12 years. In 2006, she completed her Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Assessment at Bowling Green State University.  Stacie received the Northeast Ohio Education Association’s Positive Image Award in 2008 for the work she did with a boy mentoring book club, as well as The Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator for Ohio that same year.  Stacie was also named the 2014 Top Teacher of The Nation on the Live with Kelly & Michael show.

Stacie is just as committed to improving inequities for youth in our community, as she is passionate about teaching. In 2014, she received the Oberlin NAACP Education Award and the Elyria NAACP Community Service Award.  Stacie was also the Cleveland Cavs Head of The Class Honoree, that same year. In 2015, she was presented with the first ever Elyria Pioneer Club Educator and Coach Award for her outstanding performance, commitment to, and caring for student athletes.  The City of Elyria also bestowed the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Excellence Award in 2017.

Stacie is a lifetime resident of Lorain County, and pours her heart and soul into youth throughout the community long after the school bell rings.   She worked tirelessly to help start the ETAS program at Save Our Children in 2015, and under her supervision, the program was awarded the J. Thomas Mullen Achievement Award from the Ohio Association of Juvenile Court Judges; in 2019 ETAS was a recipient of Sherrod Brown’s Canary Award at the Ohio Women’s Leadership Summit, one of only seven awards ever given.

Stacie graduated from Lorain Southview High School in 1996.  She attended the University of Toledo but returned home after her second year to give birth to her son, Carlos.  That same summer she also learned that her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer. Despite the odds, she was determined not to be another statistic.  With the support of her family, Stacie pushed through college and graduated in 2001 from Ashland University with her Bachelor’s in Education earning a certificate in Education of the Handicapped LD / DH K-12 and General Education 1-8.

Stacie currently has a beautiful blended family with her fiancé, Anthony Brown.  She is mother to three adult children: Carlos -21, Leila -21, and Tone -20, all of whom graduated from Elyria High School.  Her son Carlos is in his senior year at the University of Cincinnati, her daughter Leila will be entering Ashland University to follow in Stacie’s footsteps as an Intervention Specialist, and her son Anthony (Tone) is a Private First Class in the United States Army.  Stacie lost her mother and her inspiration, to pancreatic cancer in 2014.  It is in her mother’s memory that Stacie chooses to positively face each new day with a smile and honor her promise to LIVE fearlessly.

The Nord Center

The Nord Center is a champion for those living with mental illness. A non-profit, community mental health center serving Lorain County, the organization was founded in 1947 and currently serves approximately 7,500 people per year.

In 1970 the agency was named to honor Walter G. Nord (1884-1967), founder of Nordson Corporation and early supporter of mental health initiatives designed to help all the citizens of Lorain County.  The Nord Center’s mission is engaging people in our community to achieve mental and emotional health through prevention, treatment, and advocacy. The Nord Center provides trauma-informed services in four key areas: core mental health; crisis and suicide prevention; supportive housing; and sexual assault.

Recognizing that access to care is a fundamental right of people living with mental illness, The Nord Center completely reworked its intake process to get clients seen more quickly and efficiently. Over the last year, access to our services has increased 40% with a remarkable 90% of new clients are seen within 30 days. And The Nord Center has greatly enhanced access to crisis services including access to psychiatry by expanding the availability of providers.

The Nord Center works with myriad community partners to advocate for our clients and their needs including Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority; Mercy Regional Medical System; Lorain County Health & Dentistry; Lorain County Legal Aid Society; Lorain County General Health District; Lorain Police Department; Lifecare Ambulance; El Centro de Servicios Sociales; the Lorain County Detention Home; and many others, working collaboratively with these and other partners to improve access for clients.

The Nord Center vigorously advocates for increased state funding and on the need for crisis services and the crucial need for supporting the state’s workforce in mental health. In April of 2019, The Nord Center’s Executive Director provided in person testimony for the Ohio House of Representatives Finance Subcommittee on Health & Human Services.

The Nord Center’s annual gala, themed Opening the Door, focuses on destigmatizing mental illness. The agency honored Hollie Strano last year with the Open Door Award for Achievements in Advocacy for her eloquent disclosure of her own struggles with anxiety disorder and the significant benefits that mental health treatment provided for her.

The agency is working purposefully with the African American and Latinx communities to break down stigma in those communities by introducing new and revitalizing previous initiatives to make the agency a welcoming and inviting place for those seeking culturally relevant services. And through specialized programs like First Episode Psychosis and Supported Employment, The Nord Center is helping people with mental health diagnoses chart a course to be the very best selves they can be—in keeping with their personal goals whether those be work or schooling.

The Nord Center works every day to carry out its vision of being recognized as the premier behavioral health and advocacy provider who clearly makes a difference in our community’s health.

Donald W. Braden

Don Barden is a classically trained economist who earned his M.B.A. in Global Technology Management and International Business with an undergraduate B.B.A. in Economics and Finance. He is ABD with a Ph.D. in Finance. He resides in Atlanta Georgia and is fluent in international business affairs and technology.

Don’s work challenges and motivates people to think deeply about their beliefs and reveals a plan to consistently achieve maximum leadership in communication, sales, and management. His “unfair advantage” theories are revolutionary in today’s economy as he leads you on a journey that exposes the myth of modern leadership and communication techniques. He awakens your creative energy and identifies the pathway to uncharted performance through cultural change.

Expertly mixing humor, academic capital, and time-tested systems, Don engages audiences through his highly personal and interactive speaking style.  Don has the unique ability to break down toxic barriers and build an irresistible and motivated force of empowered team talent.

As an author, speaker, advisor and corporate executive, Don Barden’s counsel is highly sought after by some of the world’s most successful businesses. His experience with cultural change and record-setting growth have drawn him to corporate and political leaders who want to tap into his real-world experience in order to move their organization to higher levels of achievement.

Don specializes in corporate leadership, and organizational change management. He is currently the CEO and owner of the Perfect Plan Company, which is diversified into Talent Consulting, Technology Consulting, TV, Sports Construction and Leadership Training. His books are published in over 39 countries.

Don also serves as a Trustee and the past Chairman for the Summit Counseling Center in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is a board member for the Metro Atlanta YMCA and was recently named one of North America’s top 30 most “Transformational leaders” by John Maxwell. In September, he was named 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Additionally, he lectures at Oxford University in the U.K. and is a Special Advisor to the Sua Sponte Foundation. Don is a strong supporter of the US Army 1st Ranger Battalion / 75th Regiment, based in Savannah Georgia.

Bullet Points:

  • Don is a classically training economist but prefers the term “Frustrated anthropologist”
  • He spent 25 years working on Walls Street as a top performing expert in the field of institutional finance.
  • During his Doctoral studies, he realized there was a common thread among the words elite leaders that made them special.
  • Don’s work is published in 39 countries and his interviews are seen around the world.
  • He has lectured at Oxford University in the UK and is a frequent professor at the US Army Ranger Leadership and professional Development Program.
  • Two recent awards worth mentioning:
  • 2017: John Maxwell named Don one of the “Thirty most transformational leaders in North America”
  • 2018: The Atlanta Business Chronicle named Don “Entrepreneur of the Year”
  • He and his wife provide scholarships to over 40 kids per year, guarantee mental health care for over 1,000 teenagers per year, and are active in support of the YMCA.

2020 Difference Makers Keynote Speaker Presented by:

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