Here are The Advocate’s 20 Under 40 selections for 2021, listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Jordan Atherton, 29, of McKean Township, financial data governance advisor at Nationwide Insurance. Responsible for delivering and consulting on changes in financial systems and providing analysis on the changes. Began her insurance career at the State Farm Newark Operations Center in 2012. Came to Nationwide in 2016 and had numerous positions there since.
Community activity includes volunteer for Alvis House of Columbus and Mid-Ohio Food Bank, and Salvation Army Adopt-a-Family. Logistics lead for Nationwide’s All Women’s Associate Resource Group, member of Young Leaders of Licking County, Red Cross blood donor. Current Lean Six Sigma Green Belt candidate. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Graduate of Utica High school, 2010.
Jayme Blackstone, 34, of Newark, student services director for North Fork School District. Responsible to ensure students receive all their entitled services and continuation of their education, including oversight of district’s special education programs and students, McKinney-Vento homeless student act, foster care liaison, and assists with social emotional learning and community partnerships. In 13th year with North Fork Local Schools, serving as intervention specialist at Utica Middle School from 2009-2016, prior to current position.
Board member of Young Leaders of Licking County since 2016, including chairwoman of Workforce and Education Committee; board member of Pathways of Central Ohio since 2017, and current vice president; member of Our Futures Education committee since 2019; Karis’ Cause volunteer. Completed Leadership Cohort hosted by Licking County Children and Family First Council, class of 2020. Bachelor’s and master’s from Muskingum University. Graduate of Heath High School, 2005.
Danielle Cooperider, 33, of Newark, loan officer at First Federal Savings and Loan Association. Works as mortgage lender out of Granville office. Partners with investors to help them finance real estate portfolios. Specializes in helping with renovation projects and spec homes. Worked at First Federal for 10 years.
Board member of Licking County Chamber of Commerce, Buckeye Lake Historical Society and Explore Buckeye Lake. Previously served on multiple other nonprofit organizations, including Granville Chamber Alliance, the 20th Century Club and the United Way. Also, part of the Moundbuilders BNI group. Bachelor’s degree from Franklin University. Graduate of Lakewood High School, 2006.
Josh Dandurand, 38, of Granville, business owner, Walden Financial. Launched Walden Financial in 2020. Financial advisor for eight years, seeking to enrich clients’ lives through holistic financial planning and investment advisory services. Previously worked as national account manager for Liebert Services from 2005 to 2013, and partner and financial advisor with Vorisek Financial Corporation from 2013 to 2020.
Founder and sponsor of Yoga on the Green, a free community yoga series that raises money for local causes. Volunteer coach for multiple Granville Recreation District programs. Coach of Granville Intermediate School Run Club. Member of Granville Rotary Club and Granville Chamber of Commerce. Bachelor’s degree from Otterbein University. Graduate of Bishop Hartley High School, 2001.
Adrienne Eskins, 36, of Newark, community development specialist and fair housing coordinator for Licking County Planning and Development. Administers grant programs such as Community Development Block Grant and Community Housing Improvement Program. Began career at State Farm Insurance as claims adjuster, then obtained real estate license and became Realtor with Coldwell Banker King Thompson. Worked at LEADS Community Action Agency, overseeing several food pantries throughout Licking County.
Behavioral Health Partners board member and on Etna Corporate Park Joint Economic Development Zone 1 board. Volunteers for a variety of events at St. Francis de Sales. Participated in Elves in Action fundraiser through the Food Pantry Network of Licking County. Recently became a Notary. Bachelor’s from Ohio State University. Graduate of Newark High School, 2004.
Mark Fraizer, 33, of Newark, state representative, Ohio House of Representatives, and project manager for Huntington National Bank. Became member of Ohio House in November 2019. Chairman of the Technology and Innovation Committee. Co-chairman of Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council. Member of Ways and Means, Commerce and Labor, and Insurance committees. Five bills passed and four others in progress.
Previously, Newark City councilman 2016-19 and Park National Bank project manager 2013-14. Board member with Invest Hope and Historic Hudson Community Association. Advocate of the Year Award from Ohio Dermatology Association. Legislator of the Year from Ohio Real Estate Investor Association. Bachelor’s from Otterbein College. Graduate of Newark High School, 2006.
Kyle Fulton, 34, of Newark, manufacturing and public safety adult workforce education coordinator at Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. Coordinator for adult education manufacturing, automation programs, industrial workforce training and public safety programs. Previously worked six years at AE Cole Group, which performs plastic injection molding development and manufacturing.
Member of Licking County Manufacturing Council steering committee, Young Leaders of Licking County mentorship, workforce, and education committees, Licking County Human Resource Management Agency, Ohio Association of Career Technical Educators, and Haas Technical Educators Council educators network. Officer at Aerospace Lodge 800 F&AM. President of CMBC Outdoors Club. Former mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Previous volunteer for Food Pantry Network of Central Ohio. Recipient of 2021 Ohio ACTE Pacesetter Award. Fanuc CERT educator. Manufacturing Skills Standard Council educator. Attending Mountwest Community College, Huntington, West Virginia. Graduate of C-TEC, 2006.
Karess Gilcrease, 27, of Franklin County, academic success coach/coordinator for Office of Retention and Student Success Initiatives at Ohio State University Newark. Oversees many learning communities on campus, including Scarlet and Gray Excellence Learning Community for underrepresented students and Global Citizen’s Learning Community for students interested in global awareness. Works to provide diverse programming on Student Engagement Team.
Co-chaired Justice for Racial Equality Series for OSU-N in summer 2020. Previously, program coordinator in the office of Multicultural Student Affairs at Denison University. Executive secretary for Licking County NAACP, assisting in initiatives to create political, social, educational and economic equity. Integral part of reactivation of the NAACP chapter. Awarded OSU Newark President’s and Dean/Director’s Diversity Award in 2021. Nominated for the OSU-N Star Award in 2020 and 2021. Awarded the I Know I Can Americorps of the Year in 2018. Bachelor’s from Kent State University. Graduate of Columbus Alternative High School, 2012.
Stephen Gombos II, 35, of Hanover, laboratory manager at Licking Memorial Health Systems. Oversees day-to-day operations of the laboratory and the staff members, including staffing, supplies and emerging technologies. Employed with Licking Memorial Health Systems since 2013. Previously employed at Saint Vincent Medical Center, Toledo, following an internship. Also, worked at his father’s siding and spouting business.
Serves on Ohio Department of Education’s Industry Advisory Committee for review of health science technologies career field technical content standards curriculum in Ohio technical schools. Committee designed to solicit feedback from industry professionals to ensure students learn industry-relevant knowledge and skills. Participates in Licking County Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership Program. Received an LMHS MVP award in 2016. Bachelor’s from Kent State University. Graduate of Dover High School, 2004.
Tiffany Gordon, 37, of Newark, manager of administration and wellness, RevLocal. Previously worked at State Farm Insurance. Chairwoman of RevLocal RevCares Committee, serving nonprofits throughout Licking County, including Camp O’Bannon, Salvation Army, Newark Boys & Girls Club, House of New Hope, Food Pantry Network and American Red Cross. RevLocal chairwoman for Operation Feed 2021 committee, raising $44,160.
Community activity also includes Bridge City Church Kids Ministry, Bridge City Church Connect team serving Salvation Army and Look Up Center of Licking County, and Wellness Partnership with OSU Newark extension. Member of Licking County Wellness Coalition and Licking County Young Leaders. Pelotonia rider 2019 and 2021, and virtual donor in 2020, raising $2,750 to date. Organizer of Bottoms Up Diaper Drive in December 2020, serving 189 families with diapers and wipes. Bachelor’s from Mount Vernon Nazarene. Associate’s from COTC. Graduate of Newark High School, 2002.
Nate Harris, 34, of Newark, construction project manager, City Barbeque. Hired as construction project manager and recently promoted to director of construction. Responsible for construction of new locations, from a real estate site to a fully functioning restaurant, across eight states, including plan development with architects and engineers, hiring of general contractors, and partnering with operations team. Responsible for remodel of 52 existing restaurants.
Previously, employed as regional project manager with King Soopers/City Market (divisions of Kroger based in Colorado), construction manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill based out of Chicago. An appointed member of the Madison Township Zoning Commission. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults director at Blessed Sacrament Church, Newark. Bachelor’s from Ohio Northern University. Graduate of Newark Catholic High School, 2005.
Nikki Higgins, 38, of Alexandria, eighth year as school nurse at Northridge Elementary School. Treats students with chronic conditions like diabetes, seizure disorders and asthma, or become ill or injured at school, does health screenings and reviews immunization records. Also, keeps staff and students safe and educated during COVID. Began career as volunteer at Mount Carmel East Hospital at age 16, then volunteered at Pataskala Oaks Care Center. After graduation, worked as nurse on mother-infant unit and sometimes NICU at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s, where she spent almost 10 years.
Started non-profit Hands and Feet Movement with her family in January 2021. The non-profit organization serves the Johnstown-Northridge area, with the mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To date, raised more than $18,000, provided blessing boxes of food and hygiene items to more than 25 recipients and donated more than $4,000 to families in need. Bachelor’s from Otterbein College. Graduate of Licking Heights High School, 2001.
Jamie Holderman, 36, of Newark, director of client services at Dewdrop Media, which designs, builds and maintains websites, improves existing sites and builds custom business apps. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chairwoman and board member of Licking County Human Resource Management Association. Previously, marketing and outreach director for United Way of Licking County and owner-web designer of J Vision Design. Co-founder and former executive director of Community Alliance for Racial Justice, 2020-21.
Member of Licking County NAACP and Young Leaders of Licking County. Former member of Emergency Food and Shelter Program local board. Former marketing director and board member, Newark Ohio Pride Coalition, 2018-2019. Named Woman of the Month in July 2020 by Licking County Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Network. Utica High School Athletic Hall of Fame 2015 inductee for cross country and track. Attended University of Toledo. Graduate of Utica High School, 2003.
Paige Kelley, 30, of Newark, marketing coordinator at Hull & Associates, the former Jobes Henderson & Associates firm where she’s been eight years. Responsibilities include preparation of proposals and statements of qualifications and creation of graphics, presentations, exhibits and other print and digital media for marketing. Previously worked on television and music video productions in Los Angeles, and locally at Noah’s Ark Creative Care and Brown Concessions.
At Heath Church of Christ, hosts small group Bible study for college students and young adults, chaperones retreats/camps, teaches middle school and high school-age ministry, assists in multi-church initiative to extend Christ-centered communities throughout Licking County’s 25 townships, and produces live feed for streaming services online. At Heath City Schools, serves as chaperone for 8th grade Washington D.C. trip and other events, and former assistant coach for high school track team. Bachelor’s from Ohio University, magna cum laude, 2012. Graduate of Heath High School, 2009.
Aaron May, 39, of Centerburg, insurance agent at State Farm, Granville. Owned and operated the Granville State Farm agency since 2007, managing a team of licensed insurance agents offering a full range of home, auto, business, life, disability and financial services products to the community. Began career in the management training program with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Then worked with State Farm agents to learn the business of insurance and financial services.
Volunteers at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church and helped to raise funds for Catholic Outreach Ministries. Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Earned various insurance industry awards, including Ambassador Club, VIP Health Qualifier and Honor Club. Earned Ohio Property/Casualty and Life/Health insurance licenses from Hondros College. Bachelor’s from Indiana Wesleyan University. Graduate of Metro Christian Academy (Tulsa, Oklahoma) High School, 2000.
Ryan McGuire, 37, of Granville, co-owner of Bella’s Beans Coffee Roastery, and owner-creative director of Bell’s Design. Roasts coffee and designs business’ branding at Bella’s Beans. Works with organizations to develop brands and create graphic and web designs at Bell’s Design. Bella’s Beans Caring Coffee Initiative and Wear it Forward programs have donated thousands of dollars to non-profits and teachers throughout Ohio.
An artist, he’s created public art installations in cities across the country. Installed public art sculpture at Wildwood Park. Designed “inclusion bench” for Granville Pride. Helped revamp Granville Artwalk into monthly interactive community event called “Art on Broadway.” Built mobile book bike for Granville Public Library. Designed and fabricated more than 200 sneeze guards for Granville teachers during COVID. Repaired and replaced nearly every sign at Granville Parks and Rec Department. Donating logo design and website development for Michael Dean Gibbs Foundation. As a photographer, his work has been used worldwide on book covers, marketing campaigns and major publications. Graduate of Vestal (New York) High School, 2000.
Violet Queen, 29, of Utica, executive director, Hope Valley retreat center, a non-profit, mental health and wellness center created earlier this year. Along with the administrative duties of executive director, interacts with the community, families and individuals through program development, fundraising, mentoring and life coaching. Previously worked as branch manager at Heartland Bank in Newark. After 10 years in banking, left for the nonprofit.
Community involvement includes Licking County Young Leaders, mentor for post foster care, advisor for troubled youth, volunteer for Hope Landing, Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County mentor, and life coach. Licking County Young Leader of the month in February. Graduate of Heath High School, 2011.
Emily Schmitt, 37, of Granville, kindergarten teacher, Licking Valley Local Schools. Fourteen years as a kindergarten teacher at Licking Valley, teaching full-day kindergarten. Prior to teaching at Licking Valley, a substitute teacher in Franklin County for two years.
Church camp counselor for the Christian Church in Ohio, Cub Scout den leader, volunteer coach for multiple youth sports through the Granville Recreation Department, dancer/choreographer for Vaud-Villities Productions in Columbus, primary handler and host family for Licking Valley Primary School’s therapy dog, Jarah. Coughlin “You Make a Difference” Award in 2013. Bachelor’s from Xavier University. Masters from Ohio Dominican University. Graduate of Fairfield High School, 2002.
Cory Stutes, 33, of St. Louisville, program and operations director, United Way of Licking County. Oversees the community impact grant process, administrates the federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program, works closely with many United Way board committees and manages several administrative and operational duties. Most recently, worked as museum curator at The Works. Previously, worked at Licking County Library as the local history specialist and at YES Clubhouse as middle school education coordinator.
Involved in several local committees and task forces, including Children and Families First Council, Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, Drug Overdose Prevention Coalition, Community Intercultural Relations Conference Committee and Licking County Housing Initiative. Previously, trustee of the Licking County Historical Society. Member of Young Leaders of Licking County. Graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s from Muskingum University. Master’s from Ohio University. Graduate of Philo High School, 2006.
Amanda Vozzella, 38, of Newark, market director, Boys & Girls Club of Newark. Oversees day-to-day operations and manages facility needs of the club. Duties include hiring, training and leading club staff, volunteers and interns. Previously worked at Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Licking & Perry Counties, Mental Health America, YES Clubhouse and Toy Chest Day Care.
Community activity includes Salvation Army Food Pantry and collecting winter clothing and distributed to those in need. Vice president of South Newark Civic Association from 2011-2017. Volunteer for getting Newark residents registered to vote. Newark city youth consultant with Mayor Jeff Hall and City Councilman Jeremy Blake, 2014-2015. Oversaw and worked with youth on creating mural on Hudson Avenue. C-TEC Outstanding Alumni Award in 2013. Bachelor’s from Capital University. Associate degree from Central Ohio Technical College. Graduate of Newark High School and Licking County Joint Vocational School, 2001.