NEPA Forecast clear sky 48°F



The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber Event Spotlight: 2021 Young Professionals Awards

We’re teaming up with community partners all over Northeastern Pennsylvania to bring you a closer look at what makes our amazing counties, cities, towns and villages so unique. Keep your eye on this space for regular contributions from local organizations, visitors’ bureaus, tourism boards, chambers and so much more.

The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber Celebrated NEPA’s Rising Leaders at Their 2021 Young Professionals Awards

On Tuesday, September 14th, the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce, with media partner Times Leader Media Group, hosted the 6th Annual Young Professional Awards, presented by Coal Creative. Over 300 attendees gathered at the socially-distant Garden Drive-In for the awards program. The Chamber presented sixteen awards to young professionals and organizations in our region in a wide variety of categories. The popular, annual event recognizes amazing rising stars helping to move our region forward.

Let’s Meet Our 2021 Category Award Recipients!

Young Professional Intern of the Year – Medina Saeed, Marketing Intern for the Diamond City Partnership

Medina is a recent Temple University graduate and received her degree in marketing. She has worked in several different markets including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York. While working at the Diamond City Partnership, she has really developed her passion for marketing. The momentum being built through this organization, and through Downtown Wilkes-Barre excites her and she is grateful to be a part of it. After interning for several months at the Diamond City Partnership, she has now accepted a full-time job as a Marketing Specialist!

Young Professional Educator of the Year – Genelle Sedon, Owner & Director of C & G Tutoring and Wilkes-Barre Area ESL Program Specialist

Genelle Sedon is the Owner and Director of C&G Tutoring, and an English as a Second Language Program Specialist for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. She is also a bilingual educator. Genelle and her husband, Chris, have two children, Colette, 6, and Garrison, 4. They also have two rescue dogs.

Young Professional Trailblazer of the Year – Lauren Gorney, Owner of Grassroots Development and Co-Owner of NEPA’rogi

Lauren Gorney loves her family and her heritage, and she tries to honor both of those every day in her work. At Grassroots, they are a small business supporting small businesses. At NEPA’rogi, they are more than food— they share their traditional creations for customers to recall their favorite memories while simultaneously creating new ones. They are living in what will one day be “the good old days.”

Young Professional Small Business Owner of the Year – Matt Borwick, Owner & Operator of Ollie’s Restaurant, The Atrium, and Market Street Burgers

Matt is a humble, hard-working, and dedicated person who gives everything he has to all three of his businesses, as well as a growing family. Being creative with food and also in life is what inspires him at work. He loves spending the little bit of free time he has with his wife Taylor and Children Zane, Zoey, and Zyan!

Young Professional STEAM Professional of the Year – Thomas Meluskey, Property Management Accounting at Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services

Thomas Meluskey, Jr. is a Wilkes-Barre native and proud King’s College Alumni from the Class of 2012. Tom doubled majored in Accounting and Business Administration from The William G. McGowan School of Business. Following his graduation with high honors, Tom was offered an Audit position at Campbell Soup Company in Camden, NJ. With this auditing role, Tom traveled the world to different Campbell’s Soup locations in Australia, California, South Carolina, among others, where he audited multiple forms of operations. Tom then went on to work for Liberty Property Trust in Malvern, PA where he was a senior property & construction accountant for commercial real estate buildings. His portfolio included the Comcast Tower in Philadelphia, the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, and multiple other portfolios nationwide. In 2017, Tom accepted a position with Mericle Commercial Real Estate in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where today he continues to work in his area of expertise – commercial real estate accounting. Tom is an avid community supporter, serving on the King’s College Alumni Board, Lackenmier Planning Committee, and as a mentor for the McGowan School of Business Annual Forum. He also volunteers his time with multiple, local non-profit organizations. Tom currently resides in Kingston, PA with his wife Christine.

Young Professional Development Award – Children’s Service Center of Wyoming Valley, Inc. and Lewith & Freeman Real Estate, Inc.

The Children’s Service Center (CSC) is a 159-year-old behavioral health organization that, annually, provides services to 10,000 children, adolescents, and adults (through CSC affiliate, Robinson Counseling Center (RCC)) residing in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Through twenty-five distinct programs, CSC and RCC provides services designed to meet clients’ individualized needs. The CSC’s Assessment, Crisis, and Referral Services are staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week, by psychiatric professionals for initial assessment and referral. The CSC offers a variety of services across a continuum of care from least restrictive to residential treatment.

In business since 1921, the sales team at Lewith & Freeman Real Estate is proud of the company’s commitment to provide unmatched service to the community. In 1986 the mutual goal of Rhea Simms and Virginia Rose was to grow the one office, 8 agent company into a market leader. Today L&F is the most successful independent real estate company in our region, featuring a 120-person sales force working from offices in Clarks Summit, Kingston, Mountain Top, Drums, Wilkes-Barre and the Back Mountain. The newly redesigned Lewith & Freeman website brings buyers and sellers together quickly and easily.

Young Professional Cultural Ambassador of the Year – Joell Yarmel, Director of Development at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts

Joell Yarmel is the Director of Development at the F.M. Kirby Center. She is a champion for the cultural arts and successfully solicited support during the Kirby Center’s most challenging time when their stage was dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Joell also supports our community outside of the theater by serving on the Board of Directors at the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is a graduate of Leadership Wilkes-Barre.

Young Professional Voluntary Leader of the Year – Rachael Stark, Northeast Program Coordinator at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Rachel credits her mom for teaching her about the importance of volunteering from an early age and offering leadership to several youth organizations she was involved in. Rachel says that it means so much to be able to give back to the community that raised her and she cherishes the relationships she has made through her involvement.

Young Professional Hero of the Year – Travis Temarantz, Captain at the City of Wilkes-Barre Bureau of Fire and Linsay Zarick, Police Officer at the Wilkes-Barre Police Department

Travis is a born and raised resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania. As a result of a strong family background, he became involved in the emergency service field at a very young age. He graduated from the Luzerne County Community College Paramedic Program and also holds an Associate Degree in Business Management, as well as several national certifications.

Linsay earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Keystone College and a Graduate degree in Public Administration from Marywood University and graduated as the Captain of her police academy class from Lackawanna College. She has a passion for continuous education and training, which ensures her confidence as a law enforcement officer with the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department to be able to best serve, protect, and provide resources for all citizens and the greater community.

Young Professional Women’s Leadership Award by Athena International – Rachel Wiernusz, Mortgage Consultant at Community Bank, N.A.

Rachel Wiernusz is a Penn State Alumna that married her college sweetheart and proudly serves her alma mater on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Advisory Board. She is so a graduate and board member of Leadership Wilkes-Barre and she credits Leadership Wilkes-Barre for spring-boarding her love for being involved in our community. She has been in banking for almost 20 years and loves helping people through the process of buying, building, or refinancing their dream home.  Her greatest achievement is the honor of being a mom to her eight-year-old son, Luke.

Young Professional NEPA Influencer of the Year – Justin M. Correll, Mayor of Laurel Run Borough, Principal of Solomon-Plains Elementary in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, and Co-Founder of the NEPA Pride Project

Justin M. Correll brings fresh and bright energy, passion, and professionalism to his work. He is currently serving his second term as Mayor of Laurel Run, is the proud Principal of Solomon Elementary School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Co-Founder of the NEPA Pride Project. He also co-created the NEPA Pride Scholarship Program with the mission to support local high school seniors who are majoring in a college arts program. Finally, he currently serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the NEPA Rainbow Alliance, member of the Brewsterhout Committee, Pauly Friedman 5K Run/Walk, GWVC Diversity Council, Co-founder of the NEPA GAYLA and more. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting and attending the gems of NEPA including restaurants, cultural performances and social fundraising events. Justin believes that the world is full of opportunities to embrace, experience and enhance our communities.

Surprise! Three Recipients Received Special Recognition Awards

The Young Professional Leadership Award – Holly K. Pilcavage

In addition to our category awards, the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Council also presented two additional awards to three incredible deserving individuals. The 2021 Young Professional Leadership Award was Holly K. Pilcavage, CEO of Coal Creative, for her exceptional work and service as the Chair of the Young Professionals Council in 2020 & 2021 and has grown this group to the over 350 young people that we now have engaged. The Council is grateful for all she has done and will continue to do for our community.

The Inspiration Award – Ahmad Ali and Christine Meluskey

The 2021 Inspiration Award was also presented to Ahmad Ali, Director of Membership and Community Engagement at the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce and Christine Meluskey, CFRE Director of Development and Marketing at the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association for their combined efforts to launch the first #570Day in our region, and for the great work that they have done together to be visionary leaders for our region.

The Chamber’s Young Professionals Council is always looking for new volunteers and leaders to help plan amazing events and programs like the Young Professionals Awards for our community. If you are interested in finding out more, click here!

And, don’t forget to check back here at DiscoverNEPA every month for The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber’s Member Meet & Greet blog series. We’ll be sharing unique stories and introducing NEPA to the Chamber’s many amazing small business and nonprofit members.

Related Articles & Stories

View All Community


Find Your Next NEPA Adventure

View All Things to Do