Planting Trees…Developing Leaders.

Posted on 21. Mar, 2017 by in Blog

Planting Trees…Developing Leaders.

Farmer Nelson Henderson is famously quoted for saying, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” A recent article from Crain’s Cleveland Business highlights the need for a leadership pipeline that will intentionally make space for new leaders to emerge who can carry the Greater Akron region into a bright future –

At Heart to Heart Communications, we believe that helping to raise up the next generation of leaders is one of the most important tasks of any leader. So, we decided to do our part and create an opportunity for twelve Emerging Leaders in our community to grow in Awareness, Appreciation, Authenticity and Action – the four pillars of the Heart to Heart development process – through our twelve month signature H. Peter Burg Leadership Connections series.

Therefore, we are honored to introduce you to our inaugural Emerging Leaders group [see below]! These are leaders who have already emerged in significant ways in our community, and we believe will be a significant part of Akron’s bright future.

How are you and your organization creating opportunities for leaders to emerge in your culture? How are you being intentional about planting trees under whose shade others might grow and flourish? If you or your organization are looking to develop the next generation of values-based leaders, contact Heart to Heart for more information on how we can help.

Jeremy Lile serves as Executive Director for Heart to Heart Communications and is honored to be one of those Emerging Leaders for whom an opportunity was created to step in to a new place of leadership. He is driven by core values of integrity, faith, and generosity. He sees those values integrated in his work with Heart to Heart and also through a nonprofit he helped found in 2013, City Hope Akron. City Hope helps to bring neighbors together to work together to find solutions to problems in their community.


Russ Balthis – City of Cuyahoga Falls

Russ was born and raised in Akron and graduated from Ellet High School.  He went on to earn a BA in Economics and Political Science from the Ohio State University and a JD/MTax from the University of Akron School of Law and College of Business Administration.  Russ has served as the Executive Director of the Summit County Democratic Party, Chief of Legal Services for Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, an attorney with Benesch, and currently services as the Law Director for the City of Cuyahoga Falls.  Russ also serves as a board member for the Summit County ADM Levy Support Committee, the Community Health Center, Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates, and is the Secretary of the Summit County Democratic Party.


Tamara Bechtel – Summa Health

Tamara joined Summa Health as an Employee Development Coach in June, 2016. In her role, she is responsible for working directly with employees as they seek to improve both their personal and professional skills. Prior to joining Summa, Tamara was a member of the Talent Management and Organizational Capabilities COE at Goodyear where she led several global initiatives.

Tamara and her husband, Chris, are proud parents of 2 daughters.


Lucas Blower – Brouse McDowell

Lucas is a partner practicing in the area of complex litigation. He has experience representing business clients in class-action lawsuits, policyholders in liability insurance recovery actions, and title insurance companies in disputes with financial institutions. Previously, he served as an extern for the Honorable John R. Adams, for the U.S. District Court for the Northern D istrict of Ohio. He was Executive Editor of the Akron Law Review, and an adjunct professor of Legal Analysis Research and Writing at University of Akron School of Law.


Lashawrida L. Fellows – Boys and Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve

Lashawrida is currently employed at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve as the Finance and Human Resources Manager. She was also appointed by Russ Pry, as a Commissioner with the Summit County Human Resource Commission. Lashawrida has a strong passion for serving people and realizes that community service is an important aspect required to assist the needs of individuals within the community. She currently serves on the Executive Board as the Program Director for Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Akron Chapter and is a Board Member for the Akron Automobile Association. She is a member of the Junior League of Akron, Athena Akron, SHRM and committee member for the 2016 & 2017 Women’s Endowment Grants Committee and the 2017 Womens Endowment Women’s Forum Committee. In 2015, Lashawrida was the recipient of the Greater Akron Chamber 30 for the Future and the Andrea Rose Teodosio Rising Star Award. She also is a past Board Member of Torchbearers and Akron Snow Angels.


Charmaine Holland – Signet Jewelers

Charmaine is a collaborative and energetic leader experienced in helping teams optimize performance.  With 17+ years of work experience, Ms. Holland believes that diversity inspires innovation and is the secret to sustainable success for teams and organizations. Charmaine has experience in the areas of call center management and training, change management, facilitation, human resources, instructional design, leadership development, mentoring, organizational development, and team building. In her current role with Signet Jewelers, Charmaine is responsible for consulting with various functional areas across the organization to assess needs and provide solutions that are both strategic and inclusive.

Charmaine earned a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in Communications with a specialization in Public Relations and a master’s degree from Cleveland State University in Psychology with a specialization in Diversity Management and Organizational Leadership. A divorced mom of two active young men, Charmaine lives in Garfield Heights with her 14 year-old and 21-year old (when he is not away at college in Dayton,).


Randa Nemer – Barberton City Schools

Randa is a native of the Akron area and graduated from Walsh Jesuit High School. She received her undergraduate degree from John Carroll University, continued her studies at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon, and earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Akron. In her role at Barberton City Schools, she is devoted to advocating for the academic and social success of English learners as the district’s ESL Teacher. She is also the Upward Bound Teacher Liaison for Barberton High School. Her licensure is in English Language Arts Grades 7-12 and TESOL endorsement in K-12. Randa was awarded “Rookie of the Year” in 2016 by the Summit Educational Service Center and Barberton City Schools. She is a bilingual and diversified emerging leader, serving local and global communities. She is a member of Torchbearers, was part of the Barberton Community Leadership Institute, serves as the President of the Aitaneet Brotherhood Association, and is involved at her church – Our Lady of the Cedars. Randa is passionate about helping those in need and giving back to the communities that raised her educationally, culturally, and spiritually.


Petar Nenadov – Made To Flourish

Petar is Cleveland City Director of Made to Flourish. Petar is a graduate of The University of Akron and Ashland Theological Seminary. Petar now serves as the lead pastor of Lakeside Christian Church in Akron, Ohio and helped launch the Ohio Region of the Made to Flourish Pastors’ Network in November 2013.



Anne O’Malley – Gabrail Cancer Center

Originally from Newton Falls, OH, Anne attended the University of Akron where she grew to love the people and the city. She graduated with a degree in Anthropology, and works in clinical research as a Sr. Clinical Trial Manager at the Gabrail Cancer Center in Canton, OH.  She hopes to encourage more young professionals to grow in Akron and promote leadership throughout their community. She currently resides in Firestone Park with her husband, Youssef, and their young daughter, Mila.



Jason Segedy – City of Akron

Jason currently serves as the Director of Planning and Urban Development for the City of Akron which  is dedicated to the continuous renewal and maintenance of the Akron community. Jason formerly served as the Director of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), where he oversaw the allocation of all federal transportation funds in Greater Akron. Segedy brings 20 years of transportation and urban planning experience to the position.  Additionally, in 2012 he served as Chairman of the Board of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium, a $4.5 million planning effort spanning 12 Northeast Ohio counties. Segedy holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Akron and a master’s degree in Geography and Urban Planning from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


Hillary Stewart – FirstEnergy Corp

Hillary currently works as an enterprise risk management analyst at FirstEnergy Corp, where she is responsible for developing quantitative analysis to support financial decisions at the executive level.Hillary is passionate about serving Greater Akron. She currently serves as the Vice President of Torchbearers and on the Board of Directors for South Street Ministries and Summit Artspace.Hillary earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Akron. Hillary lives in North Hill with her husband Neil. They have two rescue dogs, Cinder and Swarley. In her free time, Hillary can often be found cooking, meeting with friends in her favorite Akron places, and reading nerdy books about economics.


Michele Workman – Better Business Bureau

Michele serves as Director of Operations for BBB of Akron. Her consumer resolution experience began more than 20 years ago, at Sterling Jewelers (now Signet Jewelers) where she coached team members, evaluated productivity, and recommended actions to improve overall performance.  She also managed customer service content and online chat for the Kay and Jared websites.   Michele is responsible for the successful resolution of more than 300 complaints a month at BBB of Akron. She helps support the needs of Accredited Businesses and investigates potential business fraud and misrepresentation in advertising.  Michele and her team received the 2016 Outstanding BBB Award for Conciliation and Arbitration.


Leah Van Liew – FirstEnergy Corp

Leah is a Business Process Analyst for First Energy Corp. In her role, she serves as a liaison between FirstEnergy Utilities and alternate suppliers to educate and provide guidance. She assists Legal, Rates, and Governmental Affairs with high-level customer complaints, proposed state regulations, and legislation. She anticipates issues and problems and proactively defines risk mitigation measures.
Ability to conduct-in-depth strategic research and identify process improvements, identifies and analyze issues or problems to determine root cause and/or solution, and assists with preparation of various commission requirements. Leah is a graduate of Walsh University and serves with Akron Council of Engineering and Scientific Societies (ACESS Inc), FirstEnergy Young Professionals, and FirstEnergy Junior Achievement.



Jeremy Lile – Heart to Heart Communications

Jeremy is the Executive Director of Heart to Heart Communications where he leads organizational growth through inner life development that results in outer work effectiveness and wider community impact. Previously, Jeremy served as Director of Operations for Heart to Heart and helped train new facilitators and oversaw ongoing development and operations for the organization. Jeremy brings 13 years of pastoral ministry experience and organizational development to the team at Heart to Heart. He has spoken at retreats, facilitated numerous small groups, organized community engagement, and lead small teams on missions around the country and world.

Jeremy is enthusiastically married to Christy and they have 4 delightful children.


Larry Vuillemin – Heart to Heart Communications

Larry is a Co-Founder of Heart to Heart and currently serves as the Director of Community Impact helping to expand the work of Heart to Heart into more areas of the Akron community and ensure that we are able to enrich as many individuals and organizations as possible. A native Akronite, Larry Vuillemin graduated from St. Vincent High School in 1966. He attended Notre Dame University on a football scholarship, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He also attended The University of Akron School of Law, graduating in 1973 as Valedictorian.A former Senior Trial Attorney with the Summit County Prosecutor‘s Office and Akron City Councilman, Larry is currently with the law firm of Gorman, Malarcik, & Pierce, located in Akron, Ohio. He also served as an Adjunct professor at The University of Akron School of Law, teaching criminal law and procedure, and is a member of Scanlon Inn of Court, and the Akron and Ohio State Bar Associations. Larry has been certified as a Spiritual Director through the Ignation Spirituality Institute at John Carroll University. He has also completed the Myers Briggs Certification Process and training in the Enneagram Inventory.


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