Lori McCleese – President – Leadership
I joined the newly merged Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio as the President in July 2019. Although I have been living in Northeast Ohio for over 15 years, I am a Cincinnati native and hold a B.A. in Personnel & Industrial Relations from the University of Cincinnati #GoBearcats. It was while I was a student at U.C. that I first became involved with Junior Achievement, serving as volunteer teaching fourth grade. Prior to my role at JA, I served two years as the President of the Hudson Community Foundation and six years in Development at the Alzheimer’s Association. My pre-nonprofit career was as a regional director in banking, where I witnessed firsthand the need for better financial literacy education in our communities. In 2018, I obtained my CFRE certification, the only globally recognized, accredited fundraising certification, the CFRE indicates professionalism, confidence, and ethics. I will complete my Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in summer 2021. I currently serve on the Education Committee for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Government Affairs Committee for the Greater Akron Chamber and the College and Career Readiness Committee for the Orrville Area Chamber of Commerce.
A Cuyahoga Falls resident, I have two children, Morgan is a Senior majoring in International Business and Marketing at the University of Cincinnati, Mason is a sophomore at The University of Dayton studying Aerospace Engineering and playing Center on the UD football team.
• Part of my job: Working with a group of fun & dedicated people
• Quote: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
• Meal: Anything breakfast!
• Ohio tradition or locale: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
• Piece of advice: Surround yourself with people who care about and support you.
Joshua Lehman – Chief Operating Officer – Leadership
Born and raised in the Akron/Canton area, I joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team in November of 2019. Previously, I spent over four years on the development team for JA of Greater Cleveland, so I am passionate for the JA mission. Working in the personal finance field prior to JA, I saw the importance of building a sense of financial security and saving for the future goals. A graduate of the University of Akron College of Business, I earned his BBA in Marketing Management.
My dedication to community impact developed early as a Northeast Ohio native, leading me to found a paintball club at college - and to discover my fundraising passion! Since 2011, my growing experience in personal finance, entrepreneurship and fundraising has centered around providing an uplifting and outstanding experience to everyone that I interact with. Our corporate and community partners, board members, volunteers, passionate staff and everyone that I have the privilege to interact with give me the opportunity to immeasurably impact the lives of young people in our communities.
• Part of my job: Meeting JA alumni and learning about the impact that JA had on their lives journey is the favorite part of my job.
• Quote: “Never try to be better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best person you can be.” – John Wooden
• Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs is my go-to favorite meal, but I will never say no to tacos.
• Ohio tradition or locale: I am a Tribe fan through and through and spending the day at Progressive field with my family and friends is one of my favorite things to do.
• Piece of advice: Follow your heart in everything that you do and you can never go wrong.
Denice Schafer – Vice President of Programs – Leadership
I joined the Junior Achievement office in 1986 where I had served as a Program Manager, Program Director and Marketing Director. In 1995, I became the President of the Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley office in Youngstown. I returned to the North Central office as Senior District Director in 2005.
I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a BS/BA degree in Human Resource Management and Industrial Labor Relations and currently lives in Boardman with my husband, Rick. I am actively involved in my community, teaching a CCD class and volunteering with many other school and community organizations.
One thing people don't know about me is that my husband and I coordinate a baseball tournament every year in Boardman. Tournament proceeds fund scholarships and provide capital improvements to the Field of Dreams.
• Part of my job: Working with a great team of co-workers, educators and volunteers to positively impact young people’s lives.
• Quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
• Meal: My mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes
• Ohio tradition or locale: I grew up in Sandusky so Cedar Point is a favorite destination!
• Piece of advice: Always be open to learning from others.
Holly Dawson – Western Territory Director – Leadership
I joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio Education Team as a District Manager in August 2015. I now serve as Senior District Program Manager for Ashland, Coshocton, Crawford, Knox, Marion, Morrow and Richland counties.
Born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, I studied Financial Management at North Central State College and previously worked as a Licensed Relationship Manager for Key Bank. I obtained both my FINRA Series 6 & 63 Investment License as well as my Ohio Life Insurance License. I currently live in the Mansfield area with my husband and four children.
• Part of my job: Building relationships that turn into friendships with local educators and volunteers.
• Quote: “In 20 years you will be more disappointed by what you didn’t do than by what you did.” – Mark Twain
• Meal: Olive Garden salad
• Ohio tradition or locale: Visiting Progressive Field and Cedar Point every summer and the local tree farm and pumpkin patches in the fall and winter.
• Piece of advice: Believe in YOU!
Ginnie Adams – Marketing & Operations Support Manager – Development
Joining the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team in January 2019, I began as a Program Manager, transitioning into my current marketing and operations support role. With a background in art and photography, I can typically be found creating graphics and behind the camera at JA events.
• Part of my job: Witnessing how the simple act of share financial knowledge can visibly empower students and volunteers alike!
• Quote: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – from Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll)
• Meal: PBJ’s
• Ohio tradition or locale: Summer and early Fall medieval festivals
• Piece of advice: Embrace the awkward.
Ann Byington – Operations Manager – Operations
I joined Junior Achievement in December 2019, as a part time operations staff member. Prior to becoming a team member, I had volunteered with JA for 6 years on various projects such as updating systems, compiling evaluations and other tasks as needed. During that time, I learned a lot about JA and the mission of the organization.
My background is in banking, having spent 37 years in the industry beginning with Central Trust/PNC in Canton and Cincinnati. I retired from Fifth Third Bank in Cleveland in 2012, after 17 years with the organization.
Residing in North Canton, I have two grown sons and one grandson, who is a student in the Plain Local School District.
• Part of my job: Working with a great team of people who are all dedicated to educating our youth
• Quote: “Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
• Meal: Pasta with homemade ragu sauce
• Ohio tradition or locale: My family’s annual reunion at Wingfoot Lake Park
• Piece of advice: Keep a positive attitude even when life is stressful.
Clint Durst – Maintenance – Operations
Clint is an integral part of the Junior Achievement team. Since 1994, he has been keeping our office looking sharp! He enjoys music and movies and is always excited to share his latest find. An avid Cleveland sports (and OSU football) fan, be sure to ask him the latest Tribe, Browns, Cavaliers or Buckeyes news when visiting the Canton office.
Nikki LaRose – Special Events & Fundraising Manager – Development
I joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team as the Special Events and Fundraising Manager in April 2020. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, I graduated with a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies: History and Business Communications from the University of Akron.
My hobbies include scouring the history section at local bookstores, whipping up new recipes in the kitchen, traveling, Cleveland sports and making memories with my friends and family.
• Part of my job: Working with my phenomenal coworkers and knowing that we are working to positively impact and enrich the lives of students in our community
• Quote: “This life is what you make it. No matter what, you're going to mess up sometimes, it's a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you're going to mess it up. People will be your friends - they'll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything - they're your true best friends. Don't let go of them. Also remember, siblings make the best friends in the world. As for significant others, well, they'll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them - actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can't give up because if you give up, you'll never find your soulmate. You'll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn't mean you're gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don't, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.” – Marilyn Monroe
• Meal: Anything Italian, especially a homemade pasta dish
• Ohio tradition or locale: There is nothing better than being at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in the summer
• Piece of advice: Be weird. Be unique. Be funny. Be smart. Think outside of the box. Never stop learning or asking questions. Never be afraid to fail or be yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if life doesn’t turn out the way you originally planned because something SO much better is waiting for you! Believe in yourself – you are so much more resilient than you can imagine. Be authentically and unapologetically YOU because everyone else is taken.
Jan Maggard – Program Manager – Education
I joined Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio as a Program Manager in July of 2021. I grew up in Indonesia and Colorado, where I graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder. My background is primarily in volunteer management with youth-serving organizations in addition to events and marketing in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Bridging non-profit and for-profit communities together through volunteerism brings me a lot of joy!
Most recently, I managed a volunteer mentor program for students in Denver Public Schools. I reside in Akron and as a new Buckeye I am enjoying exploring the area, especially the Summit Metro Parks. In my free time you’ll find me hosting friends for a meal, antiquing, or walking my puppy.
• Part of my job: Learning from others and building relationships within the community
• Quote: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
• Meal: Eggs benedict served with any kind of fried potatoes
• Ohio tradition or locale: Szalay’s Sweet Corn Farm & Market
• Piece of advice: Sometimes all you need is a good cup of tea.
Doreen Thorne – Development & Grants Manager – Development
I joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team in March of 2021 as Development and Grants Manager, having previously worked at International Soap Box Derby for six years, establishing my passion for development work at nonprofits. I have previous experience at corporations such as Diebold, Babcock & Wilcox, and DRB Systems, Inc. in marketing roles.
I graduated from the University of Akron College of Business with a Marketing degree and am on the board for the Association of Fundraising Professionals as co-chair, professional development. I am also currently working on my CFRE.
• Part of my job: Making an impact and helping others to have wonderful experiences.
• Quote: “Sometimes you will never know the VALUE of a moment, until it becomes a MEMORY.” - Dr. Seuss
• Meal: Olive Garden’s fettuccine alfredo with chicken
• Ohio tradition or locale: Love golfing with my husband and children and hiking in the Summit Metro Parks
• Piece of advice: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Tracy Weatherbee – Finance Manager – Operations
I joined the Junior Achievement team in July 2003. Graduating from Kent State with a BA in Accounting, I grew up in the Cleveland area and moved to Jackson Township, Stark County, in 1994 after marrying her husband, Doug. We have two boys, a graduate from The Ohio State University and a sophomore at OSU.
Outside of work, I enjoy reading, traveling, concerts and keeping physically active through running, lifting and teaching Poundfit classes.
• Part of my job: Flexibility and impacting kids in our area
• Quote: Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they grow old, they will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
• Meal: Sausage biscuits and gravy
• Ohio tradition or locale: OSU tailgating
• Piece of advice: It’s not about you.
Brittney Wells – Program Manager – Education
I joined Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio as a Program Manager in September 2019. Originally from Phoenix, I graduated with my Bachelor's in Communication from Arizona State University and her Master's in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.
My family decided to pick up and move to Ohio after we had identical twin boys to be closer to my husband's family in Ohio. Before becoming a mom, I was a 4th grade teacher for three years in Chandler, Arizona. I enjoy being outdoors, cooking and going new places.
• Part of my job: Getting out into the community to meet new people.
• Quote: “Life’s a garden, dig it.” – Joe Dirt
• Meal: Fried Chicken or bacon-wrapped filet mignon
• Ohio tradition or locale: This is all new to me, but I definitely enjoy all the fall activities Ohio has to offer.
• Piece of advice: “Life can be hard and unfair, but with God you have hope and purpose.” – my dad