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 my 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 Guardians 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, Interim Program Manager - Coshocton & Portage Counties – 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.
Susan Koosh – Director of Development & Marketing – Development
My career path led me to Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio in January 2024. Born and raised in the Trumbull County area, I relocated to Canton Ohio to pursue my undergraduate degree in Communications from Malone University. While at the University, I had many great experiences that helped me develop both personally and professionally and prepared me for future career opportunities. As a lifelong learner, I obtained my M.A. in Communications from the University of Akron and continue to seek personal development through continuous learning.
Prior to joining JANCO, my most recent work experiences were as the Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations for Affinity Medical Center and the Vice President of Business Development at The Village Network. My passion for community and impactful work continues to fuel me to be a resource for others and to bring benefit in our local communities.
A Stark County resident, my husband Shawn and I have two daughters who keep us busy traveling with collegiate, summer and high school softball. We are blessed with a strong family unit and enjoy volunteering for various community organizations.
• Part of my job: Making connections in the community and hearing how JA has had a positive influence in the lives of our youth.
• Quote: “Be beat. Be BETTER!” – Self
• Meal: My daughter is an exceptional chef! Chicken enchiladas and her mango chutney over a fresh piece of fish are at the top of my list.
• Ohio tradition or locale: Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities, high school sporting events and our beautiful parks.
• Piece of advice: Matthew 7:12 says that we should treat each other the way we want to be treated.
Brittney Wells – Director of Programs – Leadership
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