DMG text only with date with sticker TY


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



Nominations are due on or before August 31st, 2018

Download our DMG Nomination Form


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.

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
2017 Gregory Willey
2016 Farnaz Ansari Berna
2018 Catherine Woskobnick

Former Eric Nord Award for Excellence in Leadership 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.

Former Emerald Award for Inspirational Leadership Recipients:
2015 Juliana Chase-Morefield
2017 Gregory Willey
2016 Farnaz Ansari Berna
2018 Catherine Woskobnick

Former Excellence in Leadership Recipients:
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


Matthew W. Nakon, Esq.  

Matthew W. Nakon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Wickens, Herzer, Panza,
Cook & Batista Co., serves on the Firm's Executive Committee and Board of Directors, and is
the Assistant Chairperson of the Firm's Litigation Department. He has over 30 years of litigation
experience, specializes in business litigation, and has practiced before all levels of the State and
Federal Courts.

Mr. Nakon has been awarded an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell for preeminent legal ability
and having the highest ethical standards, is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©
(Commercial Litigation), has been selected to the 2012 through 2018 Ohio Super Lawyers list
(Business Litigation).

He is active in charitable and community causes, serving on several charitable and civic boards,
including the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of The Legal Aid Society of
Cleveland and on the Lorain County Bar Association Legal Ethics and Grievance Committee.
In 2003, Mr. Nakon also founded the Karen P. Nakon Breast Cancer Foundation as a family
tribute to honor his late wife's courageous five-year battle with breast cancer. This Lorain County based foundation provides assistance to families who are struggling financially due to the staggering costs associated with a breast cancer diagnosis. Over the past fourteen years, the Foundation has granted over $1,000,000 in direct aid to over 800 families in Northeast Ohio. Mr. Nakon also serves on the National Cancer Leadership Council. His contribution to these causes was recognized by the American Cancer Society, which named him the 2010 Living Angel at the 24th Annual Life Saver's Ball.

While he has taken on many civic and career responsibilities, he has always put one role above all: being a single father of three. He strives to set a positive example for his children, Nicholas, Morgan and Madison, and has instilled in them a generosity and need for civic engagement through their ongoing work with the Karen P. Nakon Breast Cancer Foundation.

Catherine Woskobnick    

Catherine Woskobnick has been a life-long resident of Lorain County.  She is a proud graduate of Lorain Admiral King High School and then went on to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Education.  She then completed her Masters Degree in healthcare mission leadership.  As an educator at heart, her life personally and professionally is guiding by a commitment to leading the future leaders of our nation.  He is inspired by the song by Whitney Houston:  Greatest Love of all.


Catherine is charged with one of the most sacred roles at Mercy Health Lorain Region. As vice president of mission and values integration, Woskobnick works throughout the organization to ensure that the Mission is first and foremost in all critical decisions, patient care and outreach in the community. The Mission has guided Mercy Health from the beginning, and it is still the guiding force at the health system.


Woskobnick began her career 19 years ago at Mercy Health as a human resources coordinator and quickly advanced to managerial roles in human resources and organizational learning. She was promoted to her current position in 2013.


Woskobnick is responsible for programs that truly reflect the Mission, including the Resource Mothers Program, Family Outreach Program, Dietary, Housekeeping and Spiritual Care. She is the lead on ethical consults in the Lorain market. Much of her role revolves around Catholic ethical, religious and social values and how they are reflected in the organization through patient care, employee values and community outreach.  As an organization that is dedicated to serving the poor and underserved, Woskobnick tracks community benefit, which is valued at $25 million annually in caring for those who need it most. She maintains relationships with local churches at the Catholic Dioceses in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties. Additionally, Woskobnick works with like-minded community organizations to maximize Mercy’s impact on health in the community. Each year, she executes the community needs assessment for both hospitals.

For the organization, Catherine organizes and leads the United Way Campaign; School Supply Drive; bi-annual Second Harvest Food Bank Collections.  All organizational services that bring a sense of spirituality such as the Christmas Tree Blessing; Angels Day commemoration; Veterans Day Remebrance and any memorial services.  As the leader for the Mission and Values Committee, she leads the focus on the Green Initiative which ensures the sacredness of God’s creation through recycling; Monthly Second Harvest volunteer work; Hospital Week Celebrations and Holiday meals which feed all employees.

But by far her most proudest of her professional accomplishments was the resurrection of the Rising Star Program.  The challenge initially came to her through her President of Mercy Health, Edwin M. Oley. (past winner of the Eric Nord award) who asked her to create a program that would engage diverse students that have a passion for healthcare to shadow and work in the hospital, strengthing their belief that they truly can work in a healthcare career.  Over the thirteen years of the program along with the partnership with the Lorain County Urban League and coordinator Parris Smith, over 60 lives have been impacted.  During these thirteen years, 2 of the students are currently in medical school; 2 masters degrees are completed; 28 bachelors degrees and 28 associate degrees.  All of these accomplishments are completed through follow through and relationship building.  The students not only learn about healthcare, but they learn about themselves as they journey to find their hearts desire.

The Mercy Healthcare Academy was started after many of our physicians and employees saw the outcomes of the Rising Stars and they wanted to get to shadow and learn more about healthcare.  The outcomes of the program include 7 students that are currently in medical school.

Personally, she is active in her church in which she uses the gift of her vocal skills to sing at mass, weddings and funerals.  She is the Spirituality teacher for the Confirmation class at St. Peter’s Catholic Church where to connects the younger generation on the importance of managing their own spirit.  Catherine’s faith is fundamental to who she is as person and a professional.

She does all this while caring for the needs of her son Chaz, the other Rising Star in her life,  who is involved in football and mountain biking.  Catherine was inspired by her father, that has since passed away, that worked in healthcare for all his life he educated her at a very early age that recognizing the contributions of all people in the organization was critical.   Her mother inspired her by a strong work ethic and for being a model of compassion and unconditional love.    It was the combination of all the gifts of her parents that allowed her to be and who she is at today.  Along with her two siblings, her family has been the foundation for who she is today

Anthony Gallo   

Anthony (Tony) Gallo is President of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, home to nearly 600 business members making it one of the largest chambers in Northeast Ohio. Previously, he was the Director of Business Development for 10 years at the County Chamber and prior to his stint at the chamber, he was Sales Manager of Wilmot Printing Company in Elyria. Tony recently ended 4 years as the Board Chairman of NOACC – Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce, representing over 125 Chambers and over 30,000 business members in Northern Ohio. Tony runs the Lorain County Safety Council – one of over 80 Councils co-sponsored with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as part of his duties at the Chamber of Commerce. He was the Inaugural Board Chair for the French Creek YMCA when it was built and opened in Avon in 2010. He was given the YMCA’s Triangle Award in 2012 for his Volunteer Leadership. He is a 20 year member of Elyria Sunrise Rotary where he is a 2 time Paul Harris Fellow and past President. Tony sits on the board of Lorain Growth Corporation, the downtown Lorain “Main Street” organization charged with helping to revitalize the Broadway area in Lorain. He has been an Associate Member of the Northcoast BIA for nearly 25 years, a past Board Chair of Child Care Resource Center and past Chair of the Lorain County Heart Walk. He also represents the Chamber as part of the Lorain County Growth Partnership – which focuses on collaboration with partners to promote the Economic Development for all of Lorain County. Tony currently sits on the advisory board for ReachHigher, a committee of the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, the Campaign Cabinet for United Way of Greater Lorain County, Sponsorship Campaign Committee for the American Cancer Society’s Life Saver’s Ball and is part of the Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association’s Lorain County Heart Walk. Tony is also on the Executive Committee for MOVE, Mobility and Opportunity for a Vibrant Economy, dedicated to increasing transit opportunities in Lorain County. Tony has also supported many other Lorain County based organizations through his gifts of time, talent and treasure.

Tony is a graduate of the former Admiral King High School in Lorain and received his BS in Business Administration with a major in Marketing and a minor in Advertising from BGSU. He is married to Theresa, a Registered Nurse and while they have no children of their own, they are Aunt and Uncle to many nieces and nephews. They enjoy spending time at Kelleys Island with extended family and rooting for the Cleveland Indians.

During his entire business career, Tony has been known for helping to “connect” the right people to come together to do business and helping to further contacts of salesmen and business owners throughout the region - earning him the nickname of “Mr. Lorain County”.

Jeanine Donaldson


Jeanine P. Donaldson has been an advocate for a just society her entire life, beginning with her admission to Oberlin College. Oberlin College was the first college to matriculate African-Americans and women.  It is here that Jeanine began her social activism as a member of the Affirmative Action Taskforce, while pursuing a degree in music at the conservatory.

Her career with the Elyria YWCA began in 1976 and she became the Executive Director in 1979.  She quickly became recognized as a community leader and advocate for women and people of color.

Jeanine led the YWCA through a building renovation drive that raised $750,000 in 1985. In 1994, she was successful in securing a HUD grant for the first transitional housing program in Lorain County. In 2000, the YWCA was awarded a second HUD grant for $1.7 million to provide permanent housing for homeless women in downtown Lorain.

Jeanine has received the Sojourner Truth Award from the Elyria Negro Business and Professional Women Club. And in 1996 she was among the five recipients of the Ohio Department of Health Women Making a Difference Award, acknowledging her as woman who had made an impact in the elimination of health disparities among women and people of color.

In 1995, Jeanine won the first of three four year terms when she successfully ran for the Lorain Board of Education. She served multiple terms as president.

Possibly having the most far-reaching effects toward assuring justice for all people, was her appointment by Governor Bob Taft to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in 2002. In 2007, Governor Strickland appointed her the chair of the Commission, making her the only female chairperson of the Commission since its inception in 1949.

In 2008, the YWCA brought together law enforcement, social service agencies and the clergy, through the newly created Community Anti-Hate Taskforce, to combat hate crimes and prejudice in Lorain County.


In 2013, the YWCA of Elyria celebrated its 100th Anniversary with numerous community focused events such as the Peace and Justice Gala, Juneteenth Bluesfest and the YWCA Women of Achievement Luncheon.

And in 2016, Jeanine was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Oberlin College Alumni Association.

Jeanine is a founding Trustee of Leadership Lorain County, past member of the Mercy Regional Center Board of Trustees and a current member and Past President of the Rotary Club of Elyria. She is a Life Member of the Lorain NAACP

Jeanine and husband Larry reside in Lorain. They have two children Ethan (Luciene) of Bristol Connecticut. and Mallory of Columbus. She also is step-mother to Laura Donaldson (Oberlin) Chis Donaldson (Lakewood) and Jill Sands (Oberlin)

Jeanine and Larry are quintessential OSU Buckeye fans and are active members of Grace Community Church where she sings every Sunday!


The Ross companies and the Ross Foundation, Inc.

The Ross Group of companies, which includes; Ross Environmental Services, Inc., Ross Incineration Services, Inc. and Ross Transportation Services, Inc., work to solve environmental problems for their customers. The companies provide a wide range of reliable environmental management services to the industry. They strive to safely and profitably serve their customers by providing the incineration, transportation, treatment and related services required to meet their environmental management needs and the protection of our environment. The Ross Group of companies and their philanthropic arm, the Ross Foundation, Inc., provide numerous opportunities for grants, sponsorships and giving.

At the Ross Group, associates participate in the What We Do Matters fund. This fund provides financial sponsorship, of up to $200 per event/sponsorship, to nonprofit organizations in which associates and/or members of their immediate family are involved. Some of the most recent funds that associates are involved with went to; the Midview School District Boys’ Basketball program, the Keystone School District Quarterback Club, Angels Haven Horse Rescue and the Midview Kiwanis. Additionally, members of Ross Group Management participate in their own giving program which allows for a match of funds or time and talent to a qualifying non-profit/501c3 of their choosing.

Annually, the associates also participate in several community projects including the Karen P. Nakon 5k Turkey Dash, the American Heart Association Heart Walk, United Way of Greater Lorain County’s United We Sweat and the Lorain County Children Services Caring Tree.

The Ross Foundation, Inc. is the entity by which all of the philanthropic giving for the Ross Group and its family ownership is dispersed. The Ross Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to improving the quality of life in our communities and addressing community needs by supporting programs that benefit education, health & wellness and economic development. The Foundation operates on the belief that business, as a corporate citizen, has a responsibility to play a meaningful role in the communities where it operates and recruits its associates.

A few of the organizations that the Ross Foundation has been involved with over the years are: Eaton Township, Grafton Village, the Midview local schools, the Grafton/Midview Public Library, Lorain County Community College, Lorain County JVS, Elyria Rotary, Friendship Animal Protective League, Leadership Lorain County, Save Our Children and the Blessing House, to name a few. The Ross Foundation also sponsors the Robert C. Ross Endowed Scholarship at Lorain County Community College.

The Ross Group of companies and the Ross Foundation continue to be governed by the mission, vision and values instilled in the companies since it was founded in 1949 by Robert and Ada May Ross. With the third generation of family ownership, we continue to recognize our values as:

  • Nothing is more important than the SAFETY of our people.
  • Dedication to the customer.
  • Respect for the dignity, rights and contributions of each associate.
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships.
  • Active participation in and communication with the community.
  • Commitment to integrity and high ethical standards.

As members of The RossWay Group®, we believe in integrity, innovation and commitment. Since 1949, these values have guided the member companies of The RossWay Group® and have since become the “Ross Way” of doing business. The RossWay Group® is a brand name that reflects how each of the member companies conducts business today and how they will continue to conduct themselves in the future.

Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré

HOLD FOR STORY BY LARRY NEUMEISTER - Lt. General Russel Honore listens to a Hurricane Katrina disaster briefing during a stop over in New Orleans, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Lieutenant General Honoré is a native of Lakeland, Louisiana.  He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Agriculture upon graduation from Southern University and A&M College in 1971.  He holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources from Troy State University as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration from Southern University and A&M College, an Honorary Doctorate in Laws from Stillman College, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Virginia State University, Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Stillman College, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Loyola University, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Virginia State University & an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Meharry Medical College.

Prior to his command of Joint Task Force-Katrina – leading the Department of Defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana – General Honoré served in a variety of command and staff positions which focused on Defense Support to Civil Authorities and Homeland Defense. As Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., and, as the Commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security, United States Northern Command, General Honoré’s focus was Defense Support to Civil Authorities and Homeland Defense. For four of the past six hurricane seasons, he supported the Department of Defense planning and response for Hurricanes Floyd in 1999; Lilli and Isidore in 2002 (both hit the Gulf Coast); Isabel in 2003; and Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004. General Honoré also planned and supported the United States military response to the devastating flooding which swept Venezuela 1999 and Mozambique in 2000. As Vice Director for Operations, he led the Defense Department’s planning and preparation for the anticipated Y2K Millennium anomaly. As Commander of SJFHQ-HLS under NORTHCOM direction, he planned and oversaw the military response to the Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy and the DC Sniper Shootings. Additionally, General Honoré participated in three TOPOFF (Top Officials) exercises as well as the United Endeavor series of Homeland Defense exercises.

Among his assignments are Commanding General, First Army; Commanding General, SJFHQ-HLS, U.S. Northern Command; Commanding General, 2d Infantry Division, Korea; Deputy Commanding General/Assistant Commandant, United States Army Infantry Center and School, Fort Benning, Georgia; and the Assistant Division Commander, Maneuver/Support, 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas.  He has also served as the Brigade Commander, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia; Senior Mechanized Observer/Controller, “Scorpion 07,” National Training Center (25 rotations); and Commander, 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Germany.

General Honoré’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Distinguished Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (four Oak Leaf Clusters), the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal (two Bronze Service Stars), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal (one Bronze Service Star) the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon (4), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award. Qualification badges include the Expert Infantry Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Joint Staff Identification Badge.

General Honoré retired on February 29, 2008, following 37 years of active service with the United States Army.  He continues to speak and consult nationally on Building a Culture of Preparedness. He has authored two books:

-          Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save Your Family from Disaster

-          Leadership in the New Normal

He is also an Executive Vice President for Zoetic Global, a renewable energy company developing projects around the globe.