The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 18, 2013

LEADERship Ashtabula Class of 2013 establishes scholarship

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Timing is everything.

This year is the 25th anniversary of LEADERship Ashtabula County, and the timing for this year’s LEADERship class could not be better.

The class, which graduated from the program on June 7, has learned a lot about Ashtabula County, but also a tremendous amount about themselves. The class has decided to utilize the tools and knowledge from the past year’s experience, and take the position to lead the resurgence of Ashtabula County.

Education is a key to improving Ashtabula County and its workforce, and reducing the “brain drain” that so many organizations in the county identify as a major problem. Responding to that concern, the 2013 LEADERship Ashtabula County class has partnered with Kent State University at Ashtabula to establish an endowed scholarship with an annual award of $1,000, easing the financial pressure that many third- and fourth-year students are feeling as they approach their goal of degree completion. These particular students tend to establish roots in Ashtabula County and become civic-minded, active participants in our local communities.

“We saw the need for it and we came up with the idea,” said Ryan Richards, a 2013 LEADERship graduate, who also is a financial consultant at Wells Fargo Advisors in Ashtabula. “It’s basically for third and fourth year students trying to get over the hump and finish that degree.”

LEADERship graduates past and present will be a part of the scholarship application review and selection process, and work closely with Kent State University at Ashtabula to determine the best qualified student to receive the annual award.

Richards said they will be looking for students with potential who want to stay in Ashtabula County.

The Leadership Legacy scholarship will be funded through the generous gifts of past, present, and future LEADERship classes, as well as private and corporate donations. The LEADERship Ashtabula County class of 2013 has raised over $12,000 to date in support of this initiative for which they feel so strongly.

Kent State University requires $25,000 to establish an endowed scholarship; however, a goal of $50,000 has been determined. This will permit a specified amount to be placed in a spendable fund that will allow the scholarship to be awarded annually while the endowment corpus grows, with the purpose of funding the scholarship in perpetuity. Supplementary funds will be designated for the Kent State University at Ashtabula Transformation initiative. The Transformation initiative includes a series of renovations and revitalizations that will result in a comprehensive 21st century campus, making Kent State University at Ashtabula a “destination of choice” by providing the best possible place to grow and learn.

Growing our community is the catalyst for establishing this scholarship. The committee feels that helping to provide an education for someone who cares about Ashtabula County is positive for everyone involved, and collaborating with civic-minded individuals would strengthen our efforts to grow a strong, vibrant and healthy Ashtabula County. Each of the past 24 LEADERship classes will be contacted to help financially with this effort. The committee members are confident that when called upon, the LEADERship Ashtabula community will respond with a resounding “yes”, and the hope is that many more will consider becoming part of the LEADERship legacy that will have a significant impact on the Ashtabula community of which we are so proud.

All donations made between now and September 30 will be matched up to $10,000 through a private donation through a civic minded local leader. To donate to this effort, please visit our online site:, email, or mail contributions to LEADERship Legacy Scholarship P.O. Box 643, Ashtabula, OH 44005, with checks made out to the Kent State Foundation- LEADERship Legacy Scholarship.

Class of 2013 members leading this effort are: Tim Kennedy, George Toth, Cynthia Harden, Michael Keenan, Vernon Palo, Donna Wilhelm, Jessica Forsythe, Kristen Kitchen, Mark Lower,  Michelle Massucci, Nicholas Perkoski, Kelli Jones, Terri Jo Mickel, Ryan Richards, Hillary Strauss, Edward Worso, Cythia Callahan, Richard Dana, Mark Kajifez, Bonnie Blood, Sean Ratican, Mark Sjostrom, Lisa Hawkins, Daniel Tilton and Lisa Demshar.