Alex Catchings is a dedicated caregiver to his grandfather who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Since Alzheimer’s patients will sometimes wander away from home, he spends hours training his German shepherd, Duke, as a search and rescue dog.
As a result of this endeavor, Alex became actively involved with the Northwest Ohio Alzheimer’s Association both as the Secretary of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Governance Committee.
Alex currently serves as Vice President of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia service board, an organization that focuses on respite care for individuals that are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Alex Goetz has an overwhelming passion for conservation, animals, and film which is what keeps him going on his alternative career path of being a Wildlife Filmmaker. Not only is Alex very passionate about this industry, he also doesn’t like someone telling him he can’t do something. He came up with the idea of becoming a Wildlife Filmmaker when he has young boy watching Planet Earth, and he was told he would never actually do it. From that moment, he set out on a quest to prove the naysayers wrong, and he indeed has done that.
Amanda Bryant-Friedrich has always been ready for the twists and turns of life, and the woman that she has developed into has prepared her on how to respond to those changes. Her quest for knowledge has been in the forefront of her journey and will eventually lead her to become the President of a University. This is a long term goal on her list, because she wants to be able to give back to the academic communities that produced her.
As a young child growing up in Endfield, NC, Amanda’s mother was gravely ill and bedridden, which led her to want to develop new medicines that would make her mother’s condition better, since the medicines she was taking were not making a difference. She later went on to receive an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from North Carolina Central University and a graduate degree in Organic Chemistry from Duke University. Much of the history of chemistry began in Germany, so Amanda continued her postgraduate studies overseas. Now Amanda is the Dean of the Arts and Sciences College at the University of Toledo and a professor of Pharmaceutical Science where she gets to lead young people passionate in the study of science and research. Just think, this journey began with a desire to develop something new and fix a problem.
When you’ve been to 31 countries and 6 continents, met many people, and considered organizational development in every place your feet landed, you learn a lot about a lot. One of the most impactful lessons Bill Kieffer has learned after 20 years of Human Resources and Talent Management and 12 years as an Army Officer is to listen more than speak and to ask the right questions.
Derick Gant, financial consultant for over 25 years, fitness instructor, and dad, always gives it to you straight. Jokingly he says, “Most people can’t tolerate me more than a few sessions, because I take an aggressive approach to reaching goals. Oftentimes people say one thing, but don’t have a clue on how to get there.” Whether he’s dropping knowledge on his two sons, coaching a fitness client, or advising a financial client, Derick encourages them to do their homework and figure out exactly what they are trying to accomplish. You must have a clear vision of what the end goal is, so that you understand the specific actions required to get there. “For instance, you can’t say you want to save $1,000, and not be willing to make some adjustments in your lifestyle,” says Derick.
Although he is a Pennsylvania native, after bouncing around for a little while, Eric decided to make Toledo, OH, his home. Opportunities seemingly fall into his lap here and the people are always so warm and open towards him.
He most recently hosted a morning talk radio show called, The Morning Rush on Kiss FM, a top 40 station with no music during his segment; a real gutsy thing, but it worked. Many people listened in and called each morning, and the show became a therapy of sorts for the fans. Eric hopes to take the same light hearted listening ear he gained as a radio host and transfer that into using animal therapy to help people living with mental illness. He is already in process of talking with a local healthcare provider to create such a program.
Jason Kucsma serves as the Deputy Director of the Toledo Lucas County Library, which in simpler terms, means that he is the Head Librarian in Charge and he takes his position very seriously. Many people think a library is just books, however, the Toledo Lucas County Library system welcomed three million visitors and developed and hosted 6,000 programs last year from robotics demonstrations, kids’ story time, writing workshops, business development, and more. A library can be a lot of different things to a lot of people, which is why Jason views his work as a librarian as more of a social change agent because he is ensuring equal access to information for everyone. “The library is one of the only democratic institutions providing equal access to information and entertainment regardless of race, age, religion, or socioeconomic status,” adds Jason.
A good teacher has the power to shape the thinkers, leaders, and doers of entire generations and bring about change even if only in their corner of the world. Katie Peters has been bringing about these generational changes for the last 16 years as a high school English teacher. What sets Katie apart is her genuine nature to meet her students where they are, establish rapport, and understand a shared common ground which opens the door for real learning to take place. She has taken a few hard knocks to get to where she is as a woman and a professional, but she takes it as a lessons learned and it’s all up from here.
Her first year of teaching, Katie was actually told she spent too much time building rapport and not enough time getting into the subject matter. This feedback was a low blow because in her mind, she was doing a great job. However, by the end of the year, something ironic happened: 100% of her at-risk students passed their reading and math standardized tests. At that moment, she had a paradigm shift; she realized that building relationships is the key to everything. As the old saying goes, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Although many of her students came from drastically different backgrounds, she saw the importance of validating their feelings to make way for a breakthrough to common ground. Katie also began to see that many of the world’s problems stemmed from damaged relationships and miscommunication. She felt charged to continue to pour into her students, because they are the next generation who will go forward and attempt to make the world a better place.
As a Global Talent Acquisition Analyst, for First Solar, Lindsey works to relay her company’s internal strategy, initiatives, and promote diversity and inclusion. She is also a Juris Doctor student at Toledo Law. Becoming a labor and relations attorney while working on diversity and inclusion issues is a long term goal for Lindsey, and assisting underserved and forgotten groups is where Lindsey spends much of her time. Lindsey has partnered with ABLE, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, which is an organization that provides legal assistance and raises funds for people who cannot afford representation. In a criminal case, you are assigned a Public Defender if you cannot afford a private attorney, however, in civil matters, you are left to figure it out for yourself. A.B.L.E assists many people, often from low income neighborhoods, in medical and housing disputes who otherwise would have to move on from unjust circumstances.
Nick Morgan essentially has spent the last 15 years as a Laughter Coach; he helps groups to use improv, comedy, and laughter to overcome barriers, improve their communication skills, learn how to land a sale, and face their fears. “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people, it instantly connects people, and is the most important thing in our world today,” says Nick, “I would love to get people from opposing sides in a room and take them through some improv exercises because laughter and perspective is just that powerful.”
As the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, and her mother was a refugee, Rita Mansour always knew she was different, although she didn’t look very different growing up as a child. Her parents taught her to be proud of her religion, ethnicity, and native language, as well as, being a proud Toledoan. “I am American by choice, you are American by chance,” a frequent reminder from her father who wanted to make sure she understood the opportunities in front of her. As a Toledo-lifer, never leaving and staying to attend the University of Toledo, Rita is proud to be a part of and work in this community. Upon finishing her Bachelors of Business Administration, with a concentration in finance and marketing, she knew she wanted to work in a flexible environment that allowed her to be entrepreneurial and use her wealth to help others.
Sarah works as a support specialist for people with developmental disabilities.