ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS GALA
Leadership Lorain County, one of the county’s top leadership development organizations, will be celebrating the outstanding community activism of these 2023 Difference Maker Award honorees at the Difference Makers Gala and Excellence in Leadership Awards ceremony. The 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 40 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. Leadership Lorain County is excited to return to an in-person event as we celebrate inspirational people and organizations sharing their impactful stories supporting Lorain County.
More About the Difference Makers Gala
- The first Difference Makers Gala was held in 2004
- The first Eric Nord Award for Excellence in Leadership was given in 1996 to Eric Nord (a full list of honorees can be seen on our Difference Makers webpage, link below)
- In 2015 the Emerald Award for Inspirational Leadership was introduced in honor of LLC’s 30th anniversary – geared towards individuals aged 45 and younger, this recipient must have demonstrated integrity, honor, service, and transformative leadership in Lorain County.
About Leadership Lorain County
The mission of Leadership Lorain County is to develop and advance leaders who support the growth and diversity of our county by directing initiatives to connect the people, government, academia and businesses of Lorain County. Through this mission Leadership strives to be the primary resource to connect the hearts of business, education and philanthropy throughout our region. We are dedicated to developing life-long leaders, passionate about improving the vitality of the county, able to lead initiatives within the dynamics of our community, all while helping their own organizations become a valued partner in the resurgence of Lorain County.
2023 DIFFERENCE MAKERS HONOREES
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 4,000 churches across 50 states.
Tim is a graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics. After several company moves to Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, he returned to Ohio in 2007. Tim’s mother-in-law, Loretta Carek Lehocz, one of the early Executive Directors of Leadership Lorain County, made an introduction for Tim to Brian Frederick, then President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County and, as they say, the rest is history.
Prior to relocating to Ohio in 2007. Tim served as one of the first chairs of the Board of The Clinic, a medical center for the uninsured in eastern Pennsylvania. The Clinic is now in its 21st year and has exceeded 150,000 patient visits since its opening in 2002. After returning to Ohio, Tim joined the Board of the Community Foundation of Lorain County (CFLC). He served on the CFLC’s Board of directors from 2008 through 2016. Tim was immediately impressed by the quality of the non-profit leadership in Lorain County and CFLC’s commitment to capacity building while providing impactful grants into the Lorain County community. During his tenure, CFLC was a funding member of the Fund for our Economic Future, a philanthropic collaborative designed to leverage funding to promote economic growth in Northeast Ohio. He served as chair during his final two years on the CFLC Board, supporting the growth of CFLC’s endowment under the leadership of then President & CEO, Brian Frederick.
Tim’s visibility in the non-profit arena set the stage for his Board roles supporting University Hospitals – Cleveland Medical Center, 5805 Euclid, Inc, and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. His role on 5805 Euclid, Inc, a UH supporting organization, provided oversight to the construction of the UH Rainbow Women’s and Children’s Center (now UH Rainbow Ahuja Center for Women and Children). The Center provides much needed healthcare access in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Northeast Ohio. The Center, completed in 2018, is a LEED Platinum facility located on the RTA Healthline providing easy access and ample parking, and has already begun to transform the neighborhood with new infrastructure, such as a Dave’s Market. Most notably, the Center is materially improving the quality of healthcare for residents, particularly around pre-natal care and reducing infant mortality.
Tim serves on the Board of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission (GCSC) and is currently the chair of its Equity and Inclusion Committee. GCSC provides economic impact to Northeast Ohio by attracting sporting events. During Tim’s time on the board, GCSC has attracted the MLB All-Star Game (2019); NFL Draft (2021); NBA All-Star Game (2022); Pan-American Masters Games (2024); WTA Tennis in the Land (2021 & 2022) and the Women’s NCAA Final Four (2024), among others. Since 2000, GCSC has attracted more than 210 sporting events generating more than $860M of economic impact to Northeast Ohio.
Tim also serves on the board of Save Our Children – Elyria. This literacy-first, after-school program was an outgrowth of the youth ministry program of Asbury Methodist Church more than 40 years ago. In 2017, the Executive Director at the time, Lisa Gonzalez, asked Tim if he would consider joining the board after learning that his term was up at CFLC. After visiting the program and meeting the children, Tim enthusiastically agreed to join the board and shortly after was voted in as its chair. Recognizing the need to increase SOC’s board capacity, Tim worked with the board and the Executive Director to increase the number of board seats from 9 to 15, recruit members to fill those seats, and expand the standing committees to promote greater board efficiency. These efforts have resulted in a more than 40% increase in the organization’s budget, positioning SOC to increase the number of students impacted.
Tim is a big believer in the value of community and strives to leave his community better than he found it.
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.
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.
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.
Pictured from left to right:
Tammy Cascio – Director of Business Relations; Tony Gallo – President; Kristy Kuhn – Office and Financial Manager
If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact Leadership Lorain County at 440-281-8535 or email us at email@example.com.
Julie Cruz Blair – President & CEO
Jennifer Gercak – Marketing & Communications Manager
Tatianna Velez – Program & Administrative Assistant