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HARRISBURG REGIONAL NEWS 2016 Catalyst Award Edition





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Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC 3211 N. Front Street, Suite 201, Harrisburg, PA 17110-1342 717-232-4099 Fax: 717-232-5184 Christine Brindle, Editor, Harrisburg Regional News

Shell Sharma of the National Recovery Agency, a member of our Catalyst Awards committee, said it a few years ago at a meeting while reviewing some of the great nominations for various awards: “The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC Catalyst Awards are very special, it is THE award from members, an award from peers recognizing people, businesses and others for great work.” It’s just that simple.

717-213-5048 / David E. Black, President & CEO Deb Suder, Chair of the Board, Chamber Jewel Cooper, Chair of the Board, CREDC

The mission of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC is to be a catalyst for policy change, for job creation and for business growth in Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry Counties that enhances the quality of life in our region. For advertising opportunities in Harrisburg Regional News, contact Frankie Clayton, Sales Manager 717-213-5043 Produced & Published by

Atlantic Communications Group, Inc. 800-832-3747 Fax: 800-599-6420 / Proud to be a member of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC

“ it is THE award from members” Not everyone appreciates the day to day work we all do at our jobs, but recognition by our peers means someone has taken notice and they appreciate it. Can you feel the love? Seriously, we work day in and day out to meet payroll, provide product to clients and provide for our families. Being nominated for a Catalyst Award means people get what it takes and understand what special effort is all about. That’s what the Catalyst Awards are all about. Members of the Chamber & CREDC coming together to recognize special individuals, organizations and businesses for extraordinary achievement; for contributions to their communities and to our region for working together to make the Harrisburg Region a better place. The Catalyst Awards event is a night when this tribe of truly visionary members recognize those businesses, organizations and individuals who have produced powerful results. Award recipients are chosen by a committee represent-

ing a cross section of our membership. Personal agendas are left at the door and year after year members of this committee, both past and present, have volunteered long hours reviewing nominations resulting in some extraordinarily talented award recipients. Simply put, that is what the Chamber & CREDC is all about, members working together to build a better region, a better business climate and a better future. A few years ago, we used the phrase everything we do is about tomorrow. It’s still true today. We are an organization of bold leadership, visionary members and powerful results. We do break a few eggs from time to time, but we learn and we become stronger as our region, our members and all of us as individuals become better people. So let me send congratulations to our Catalyst Award recipients from our Chamber & CREDC Boards of Directors, our dynamic staff and all of our visionary members who help the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC thrive in a region that is growing, that is a leader in Pennsylvania and that has a very bright future. You are all part of an organization that is a catalyst, an organization that causes or accelerates change for more opportunities for residents and for a better future for our Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry Counties, our region. Thank you and congratulations.

Hayden M. Wilbur, CEO Gretchen Lindberg, Director, Design & Production Frankie Clayton, Advertising Sales Bill Warner, Contributing Writer ©2016 Atlantic Communications Group, Inc. and Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any format or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo copying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. The information in this publication has been gathered and carefully compiled to ensure maximum accuracy. However, because completeness cannot be guaranteed, Harrisburg Chamber & CREDC and Atlantic Communications Group, Inc. cannot accept responsibility for omissions and errors.



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ISSN 1530-4051 / Catalyst Awards 2016 / Volume 28 / Issue 69 @hrccredc @hrccredc







ATHENA AWARD CHRISTINE SEARS Penn National Insurance page 5




are honored for their outstanding contributions to

Duck Donuts Franchising Company

the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC and the



regional business community. We would like to


congratulate the following distinguished individuals


and businesses who have been selected as the recipients of the 2016 Catalyst Awards. Recipients were

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recognized at the annual awards event on Wednesday,


November 30th at the Whitaker Center for Science


and the Arts. Thank you for helping us continually

Members 1st Federal Credit Union

build a better region to live, work and play. 4

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EACH YEAR member businesses and individuals


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CHRISTINE SEARS PENN NATIONAL INSURANCE Christine Sears has reached a deserving place among her peers. The President and CEO of Penn National Insurance in Harrisburg will receive the 2016 Athena Award during the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC Catalyst Awards on Nov. 30 at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts.

“I did feel very honored. I did feel very humbled by it,” One of the area's most prestigious awards, the Athena Award celebrates women who make a difference in business, the community, and in empowering other women. “I did feel very honored. I did feel very humbled by it,” Sears said upon learning she was the Athena honoree. “I know that many of the women in the Harrisburg area who won the award previously have been role models to me. So it's really humbling to be included with them.” Sears has enjoyed a 36-year career with Penn National Insurance, and her ascension through the ranks speaks volumes about her abilities and work ethic. A magna cum laude graduate of Penn State, Sears came to Penn National in 1980 as a financial analyst. She was promoted to assistant controller in 1987, named property and casualty controller in 1990, and was promoted to Vice President/Controller in 1992. She was elected Senior Vice President and CFO in 1999, and was

elected to the company's board of directors in 2002. More promotions followed. She was elected Executive Vice President and CFO in 2007, Executive Vice President and COO in 2010, and became President and CEO on Jan. 1, 2015. “Throughout my 36 years with Penn National I've really received a lot of opportunities, both internally and externally, to serve,” Sears said. “Penn National is a fantastic company ... (there were) a lot of opportunities to grow and learn, and then I had the opportunities to be promoted.” Penn National Insurance has a history of championing diversity, and rights and opportunities for women. Today, three of the company's four-person senior executive team are women. “I think Penn National Insurance has always been supportive with issues of diversity,” Sears said. Penn National Insurance was built on a culture that takes care of people, both customers and employees. Sears has embraced that. “Working with people gives me the most satisfaction,” she said. “Working with an independent agent, who is the customer, and working with the staff, I'm always learning something new.” Sears' colleagues have learned a great deal from her, too. Sharon Ryan, owner of Dasher Inc. of Harrisburg, was one of four people to write Athena Award nominating letters to the Chamber & CREDC on Sears' behalf. “Christine is passionate about helping women in the business world understand that it is just fine to be nurturing, to be enthusiastic, to be collaborative, and to do that all within the confines of a high-performing corporate culture,” Ryan wrote. “This shows that Christine's leadership and efforts to develop women professionally has an order of magnitude, a ripple effect, for the development of thousands of women leaders in the Harrisburg region.” “Every step along the way, with every promotion and every office move ... Christine Sears has been an inspiring example for other women to follow. More importantly, women want to

follow her example because Christine is authentic, approachable and genuine,” Ryan said in the letter. Along the way, Sears always had time for her family and community service. She and her husband, Ivan Sears, raised four children: Amanda, Emily, Michelle and James. “My husband was always very supportive of me working outside the home and being a working mom,” she said. Sears has always believed strongly in charitable causes and community service. She has served in leadership positions and on the boards of the United Way of the Capital Region, the YWCA, and the Tri-County Society for Children. “I thank my parents for always drilling into us that it's important to give back to your community,” she said. Her parents, Albert and Dertha Sporik, are both 85. Sears insists that the rewards of volunteering – having an impact on people's lives – outweighs everything else. “I have always received a lot more in return than what I have given,” she said. “It's important to take advantage of the opportunities.” Sears said that society is moving in the right direction when it comes to women's issues, such as opportunities, promotions and equal pay. “I think we've come a long way since I entered the workforce,” she said. “I think it has progressed significantly. I think it continues to progress as well.”


HOMELAND CENTER The word “relationships” comes up often when CEO and President Barry Ramper II proudly talks about

the staff at Homeland Center, uptown Harrisburg's nonprofit, continuing-care retirement community. “I believe it begins with our entire organization,” said Ramper, discussing Homeland Center's selection as Business Diversity Champion of the Year. “ “Regardless of the initiative we're in, we're fully committed in terms of diversity, we're fully committed to all relationships. In the development of those relationships, we have a responsibility to the organization, but also a responsibility to each other.”

“We have an environment where all opinions are valued. In a health-care setting, there are many different skill sets, but they're all valued.” Homeland Center offers personal and skilled nursing care at its spacious facility, which encompasses an entire city block at 1901 N. Fifth St., Harrisburg. While the center's elderly residents are well taken care of, so are the employees. The center's employee turnover rate is less than 4 percent, according to Ramper. Minorities account for 70 to 75 percent of the center's staff. About 60 percent of the staff live within 10 blocks of the center. Employees are encouraged to pursue continuing education, which is paid 100 percent by Homeland Center. Employees who take advantage of this make a commitment to work at Homeland Center for a specific time period depending on the scope of their education.

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2016 CATALAYST AWARDS There are advancement opportunities for CNAs, LPNs and RNs, and employees are eligible for bonuses. Ramper and all department heads promote an open-door policy in which any employee can express concerns or make suggestions to improve the operation. “We employ all kinds of people: different races, religious backgrounds, sexual preferences. We don't look at that,” Ramper said. “We're looking for two things: you have a skill set; and you have heartfelt compassion, integrity and truthfulness for the people who have entrusted their lives to you. “We have an environment where all opinions are valued. In a healthcare setting, there are many different skill sets, but they're all valued.” Ramper, 58, was born and raised in the Harrisburg area. He has been the CEO at Homeland Center for 16 years, and he views the staff and residents as family. Ramper uses the standard eighthour work shift to make his point: “We are a family that has chosen to spend one-third of our lives in each other's company, and that speaks to relationships.” In addition to personal care and skilled nursing, Homeland Center offers a 24-bed dementia center and rehab services. Hospice and home-care services are offered to central Pennsylvania, and home health will be offered in the near future. In the most recent rankings for skilled nursing – online viewers can compare the scores of healthcare facilities – Homeland Center was awarded the highest ranking of 5 Stars. Ramper credited the dedication of the staff. “Without having a culture that is embedded in the skill set of the organization, and if this is not heartfelt and sincere within the relationships in the organization, you are not going to maintain (a ranking),” Ramper said. Ramper said it's a privilege to interact with and take care of the elderly. “I've been working around seniors for nearly 40 years and I've learned a great deal from all of them,” he said.



“People who have lived into their 90s, people who have lived to be over 100, and how they approach life. I've been fortunate to be around whom I consider to be the wisest people in our society: our seniors. “These people have a lifetime of experiences. We just have to take the time to listen to them.”


HARRISTOWN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Brad Jones cannot contain his excitement when talking about all of the changes in Harrisburg since January 2015.

That's when he took over as CEO and President of Harristown Development Corporation, the company that has been charged with revitalizing and improving Downtown Harrisburg since the mid-1970s. Jones and his team hit the floor running about 22 months ago, and they have barely stopped to take a breath. “We're finishing up just about $33 million worth of projects since the start of 2015,” Jones said in mid-October. “It is the busiest stretch of business since the 1990s. What is that? A quarter-century? We had a lot of things to do in a short time and we got them done.” The description of the annual Catalyst Award sounds like it could have been written for Harristown, based on the past two years. According to the description, the winner is a “catalyst for improving a community or making a difference in the community.” “We're thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” was Jones' reaction to the award. Jones, 54, a Harrisburg native, credits a team of 150 employees for the frenetic pace of accomplishments during the past two years.

“We have a very strong team of professionals here that have been very focused on making a difference in the downtown,” Jones said. “It is a dynamic group that really enjoys making a difference here.” A focal point of the improvements was Strawberry Square, the popular meeting place at Third and Market Streets that includes apartments, retail shops, office space and a food court. Like any 37-year-old building, Strawberry Square needed some upgrades and improvements. The escalators in the atrium were replaced, and the structure's energy system was overhauled. New LED lights and fixtures were installed, a new automation system was added, and water efficiency was upgraded. All of this will mean considerable energy savings for Strawberry Square. Upgrades were also completed at the neighboring 333 Market Street building, also owned by Harristown. Harristown is developing more than 50 apartment units, 22 of which opened in August in Strawberry Square. The rest of the units are on Third Street, south of Market. Since the beginning of 2015, Har-

“We have a very strong team of professionals here that have been very focused on making a difference in the downtown,” ristown has signed 15 leases with new or expanding businesses in Strawberry Square. A new 60-seat restaurant, Fresa Café, is scheduled to open this fall. Other tenants include: Best Friends Day Care; Wireless Squad, a Verizon Wireless retailer; Little Amps Coffee Roasters; and fashion store Amma Jo, which all opened in 2015. A Hallmark retailer, Strawberry

Gifts, opened in summer 2016. A 14,000-square-foot Rite Aid pharmacy, a flagship “Wellness Store,” is scheduled to open in December. “We've got a lot of excitement here and more to come,” Jones said. Another huge project was the leasing of the former Verizon Tower, now known as the Commonwealth Tower, to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After $4 million in renovations, the Department of General Services and the Department of Human Services moved 900 state workers into the tower in the spring. The influx of 900 people was the largest new group of employees coming to Downtown Harrisburg since the mid-90s. The fact that a group this large will be shopping and dining downtown is an enormous boost to the city's economy. “We spent the better part of 18 months getting the tower ready for employees,” Jones said. “It's added opportunities for new retailers.” Harristown is also helping to spur growth in the downtown education corridor. Harristown supervised a $240,000 first-floor improvement at the Temple Harrisburg Campus, and a 2,500-square-foot expansion project at the Capital Area School for the Arts. Jones also touted the resurgence of the city's train station near Fourth and Market Streets for boosting business. “We're seeing businesses that want to locate near the train station,” Jones said. “We think it has helped open up our market to the southeast (Philadelphia area). The train station is in a fantastic location. You come out of that station, you can walk anywhere.”


RUSS DIGILIO DUCK DONUTS FRANCHISING COMPANY Russ DiGilio is a classic example of a businessman who started with a simple idea and, through ingenuity, hard work and perseverance, grew it into something very special. In DiGilio's case, it was Duck Donuts, a national franchise of 28


donut shops and another 118 locations under contract in 13 states. The journey to this business empire happened within 10 years, and it started simply enough with DiGilio's family searching for donuts at their favorite beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

“It's so important to have that local store, and we were able to do it July 1st.” “Our family wanted a place to buy warm, delicious and made-to-order donuts at the Outer Banks, and when we couldn’t find one, we decided to start our own,” DiGilio said. The DiGilios had a rental house in the charming beach town of Duck, North Carolina, where they opened their first donut store. Hence, the name: Duck Donuts. “The two locations where we first started were in North Carolina, in Duck and Kitty Hawk,” DiGilio said. “It just rhymed, Duck and donuts. Well, it didn't rhyme, but the two words just went together.” Here's something else that goes together: DiGilio and a major award. DiGilio, who has lived in the Mechanicsburg area with his family for 18 years, will receive the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. “I was shocked and pleasantly surprised,” DiGilio said of his initial reaction to the award. “Everything has been a whirlwind lately and this just added to it.” It has been a busy few months for DiGilio. The first Pennsylvania store opened in May in Lancaster, and then


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD After spending sixteen years with the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), Linda Goldstein retired as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in June 2016. During her time with CREDC, Linda spearheaded nearly 400 projects generating an economic impact of over $450 million. These projects created over 8,000 jobs and retained close to 5,300 jobs. For her outstanding leadership and successes, along with her genuine dedication to the organization and passion to make this region a better place to live, work and play, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC is honored to name Linda Goldstein the recipient of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. Linda was born and raised in Martinsville, Virginia. After graduating high school, she attended the University of North Carolina. After

Linda spearheaded nearly 400 projects generating an economic impact of over $450 million. earning her degree in Political Science and a minor in Economics, Linda moved to Manhattan and worked as a coat and junior sportswear buyer for a consortium of some of the leading department stores in the country. This is where she found her niche. “My first job out of college was amazing! I enjoyed working in business and was good at it. I also enjoyed negotiating contracts and executing them.” So – what brought her to Harrisburg? A boy – of course! “After I met Corky (her husband), I moved to the City.” And – they have been living in the City of Harrisburg for over forty years, raising two daughters during that time. “When we had Stacy, Corky and I decided that I would stay at home. While at home, Linda involved herself in a lot of volunteer work. “Not only was I giving back, but it also enabled me to meet people since I was fairly new to the area.” After their second daughter, Lori, went to Kindergarten, Linda re-entered the workforce. “I became a stock broker in the financial services industry,” she said. “Very few women with children, even if they were in school, worked outside of the home at that time. Not many women had nannies or took advantage of daycare. It was a different world when I raised my girls. And many people asked me, “You’re doing what? You aren’t at home with your daughters?” Not only were there very few working mothers, but there were very few women stock brokers. The experience was definitely a challenge, but I learned a lot about selling and managing relationships.” Before joining the Chamber & CREDC, Linda was a business development officer with Commerce Bank (Metro Bank). She also spent six years with Governor Tom Ridge in the Department of Community and Economic Development where she created the Entrepreneurial Assistance Office and later the Pennsylvania Technology Investment Authority. Linda is a co-founder of the Athena PowerLink program in central Pennsylvania, an initiative that provides advisory panels to women-owned businesses. In 2010, she was chosen by the Central PA Business Journal as one of the 25 most influential women in Central PA. In 2015 she was awarded the McCormick Medal by the Harrisburg Academy. She is currently working part time with Mid-Penn Bank as a Community Banking Liaison and serves on the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg. Her previous Board memberships include the Pennsylvania Economic Development Institute, the Innovation Transfer Network, the Harrisburg Academy, Jump Street and the Broad Street Market. Today, Linda and her husband Corky, reside along Italian Lake with their Labradoodle – Marley. Stacy – their oldest daughter is the principal of the School of the Future in Manhattan, New York; Lori – their youngest daughter is a Psychiatrist in Philadelphia. She also has two grandchildren, Elsa and Jonah.

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2016 CATALAYST AWARDS DiGilio fulfilled a dream by bringing “home” the first store for the West Shore this summer. Equally significant was the opening of a corporate headquarters/training center on Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township. “It's so important to have that local store,” said DiGilio, “and we were able to do it July 1st.” All franchisees and potential owners now come to the Hampden Township site. “We do all of our interviewing there for potential franchisees,” DiGilio said. “They're screened and there is time for classroom training. We have two full-time trainers. Once they're hired we go to their site for hands-on training.” DiGilio started with a simple formula in 2006: a tasty vanilla-cake donut that is warm, fresh and madeto-order. From a waiting area, each customer can watch his donut being made and select an icing and toppings. “It was a real opportunity to bring our idea to the Outer Banks (in 2006),” DiGilio said. “We struggled the first couple years, but people started to come back and it really took off.” By the fourth year, DiGilio said, he and his staff knew the business was going to make it. Duck Donuts expanded to four more locations in the Outer Banks. DiGilio didn't consider franchising the business when he started. “We were approached so many times to consider franchising that we finally had to embrace the idea,” he said. The first franchise location was in Williamsburg, Va., in 2013. Since then, the business has experienced tremendous growth. Of the Duck Donuts' experience – the donuts are fresh and made-toorder while the customer watches – DiGilio said, “It was our hunch it would catch on.” It's also a stark contrast from most donut shops and supermarkets where the donuts are made in the morning, then sit on a shelf all day. “We don't do anything behind walls,” DiGilio said. “Everything is out front where the customers can see it.” There's even an elevated observation area for kids, who love to watch the donuts leave the baking machine

and travel down a line where they are dipped, packaged and served warm in a box. “When you come in the store, that's when we make them,” DiGilio said. DiGilio said he is proud of the fact that Duck Donuts has created hundreds of jobs. Each new franchise means 25 to 40 jobs. “The economic driver is that over one thousand jobs were created,” said Anne Deeter Gallaher, owner of Deeter Gallaher Group LLC of Camp Hill, who nominated DiGilio for the Catalyst Award. Another source of pride is that DiGilio has grown the company organically; in other words, no large-scale advertising and no outside company has been hired to market Duck Donuts. Nothing can replace a quality product and word of mouth. “As we set up shop in other states,” DiGilio said, “people who have never heard of us try the donuts and get hooked. And the light bulb goes on for a franchisee.” DiGilio admits he wasn't “a foodie per se” when the venture began 10 years ago. But his friend, Robin Griffith, was, and DiGilio credits him for his help and guidance. Also, DiGilio's brother-in-law, Gary McAneney, was instrumental in the company's early growth. He currently is chief operating officer. DiGilio and his wife, Christy, have five children. In the past three years, daughters Allie Wagner and Marissa DiGilio, son Justin, daughter-in-law Kristen DiGilio and son-in-law Matt Wagner have joined the executive leadership team. “We're excited about how things have gone so far,” DiGilio said, “and we're excited about the future.”


PREMIERE #1 LIMOUSINE SERVICE For Douglas Rydbom and the staff at Premiere #1 Limousine Service, it's been quite a ride (pun intended) in seven short years.

When Rydbom purchased the company in 2009 and assumed the title of senior member, there were only five vehicles in the fleet and 32 reservations in that first month. Today, the company at 2000 Vine St., Middletown, has 32 vehicles in the fleet and averages more than 750 reservations per month. “From 2009, when I bought the

company, to 2016, there has been tremendous growth,” Rydbom said. “The company has consistently grown about 30 percent each year.” “Everybody in the building was quite honored when we heard we won the award,” Rydbom said. “We work very hard to make a difference each day.”

“Everybody in the building was quite honored when we heard we won the award,” It's the second major award of 2016 for Premiere #1 Limousine Service, which won the Best of Pennsylvania Award for transportation provider earlier this year. The Best of PA Awards are hosted by Pennsylvania Meetings + Events Magazine. Premiere #1 Limousine Service has 20 full-time employees and more than 40 part-time chauffeurs. The company offers a wide array of transportation services, including airport transfers, corporate conventions and events, birthday parties, anniversaries, bachelor parties, proms, casino trips, beer and wine tastings, and night-onthe-town trips. Some of these, like beer and wine tastings, and casino and concert trips, are packages arranged with community partners. Variety is also the word for the fleet: there are three-passenger sedans, SUVs, vans, eight-passenger

stretch limos, 14- to 18-passenger stretch limos, a mini bus, and a 56-seat motorcoach. Rydbom said the company listened to its customers when deciding on services, packages and vehicles. “We listened to our customers to mold our fleet to what it is today,” said Rydbom, who noted that every customer receives a survey. While it's human nature that many people don't return surveys, the ones that do are valued, Rydbom said. “We love to get surveys back, whether they're good, bad or ugly,” he said. Fortunately, most of the feedback from surveys is very good. Rydbom said the company prides itself on offering vehicles that are immaculately clean and chauffeurs who are extremely courteous and helpful. “The experience (a ride in a Premiere #1 vehicle) is the icing on the cake for many of our clients, whether they just got married or they're coming home from the vacation of a lifetime,” Rydbom said. “They're going to remember how clean that sedan or limo was. They're going to remember how friendly that driver was. We try to build those memories for everybody.” The company does not contract out for its chauffeurs; all are part-time employees who have the luxury of submitting their availability in a particular time period. This allows management to make a schedule that is flexible and pleasing to everyone. “All of our schedules are very flexible,” Rydbom said. “If we offer a trip to a chauffeur, they have the right to turn it down. We have an open-door policy. It's like a family atmosphere here.” Premiere #1 believes in diversity in its driving staff, hiring men and women, and all ages from college students to retirees. “Everybody from a 20-year-old up to an 80-year-old man can do the same job here,” Rydbom said. continued on page 12




MIKE FOLMER GOVERNMENT LEADER OF THE YEAR CONCERTED CONSTITUTIONALIST, SERVING THE PEOPLE OF THE 48TH DISTRICT In 1986, Mike Folmer won his first local government election. Today he serves as a third-term senator representing the constituents of the 48th district in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. This year the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC celebrates Mike and the 31 years he has dedicated to public service. We are pleased to recognize State Senator Mike Folmer as the 2016 Government Leader of the Year.

In April 2016, he celebrated his greatest legislative accomplishment when the Medical Marijuana Act was enacted into law. “Not only will this new law help sick people and their families,” Senator Folmer explained to the Chamber & CREDC, “but I’m sure it will help to spur a new and vibrant industry for the Commonwealth.” His leadership also transcends in to the committees he serves on. Senator Folmer is the current Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee and Vice Chairman of the Education Committee. His other committee assignments include Intergovernmental Operations; Labor and Industry; Communications and Technology; and Rules and Executive Nominations. Prior to and in between his roles as city councilman and senator, Mike has maintained a solid reputation as a small business owner, financial consultant, and sales manager. He shared that honesty and professionalism have defined his life’s work. His passion for people has earned him the trust and loyalty of his customers, clients, and constituents. During the next legislative session, Senator Folmer hopes to continue his efforts to be a voice for taxpayers. Additionally he values his relationship with the Chamber & CREDC and looks forward to a continued working partnership in the months and years ahead to address the issues affecting the constituents of the 48th district and greater Harrisburg region.

Prior to and in between his roles as city councilman and senator, Mike has maintained a solid reputation as a small business owner, financial consultant, and sales manager. Mike, a lifelong resident of Lebanon County, left home for only a brief time to obtain a degree in History from Grace College in 1978. Eight years later, he decided to run for public office. On the ballot as a conservative Democrat, he pulled an upset victory to win a seat on the Lebanon City Council. He served his community in this capacity for four years, focusing primarily on contract negotiations with labor unions and cost-saving measures to reduce the City’s annual budget. Nearly two decades later, he decided to toss his hat in the ring and run for State Senate as “Citizen Mike Folmer.” Though there were several reasons that pushed Mike to run for public office, he was largely frustrated with the lack of openness, transparency, and accountability in government. He ended up pulling off another upset victory, this time as a Republican, and assumed the role of Senator for Pennsylvania’s 48th district in 2006. He was reelected to his seat in 2010 and again in 2014. Over the course of his legislative career, Senator Folmer has had dozens of bills signed into law; however, none were as great of a challenge as bringing medical cannabis to Pennsylvania. Over time, Senator Folmer became the poster child for the legalization of medical marijuana after fighting and winning his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.




2016 CATALAYST AWARDS Chauffeurs are required to attend one of two annual driver meetings, where professionalism is stressed and new industry regulations are covered. “We do have a training class for personal etiquette,” Rydbom said. “But a lot of these guys don't need the training. These chauffeurs treat people the way they would want to be treated. You can tell when someone is genuine.” The company is proud of a free service it provides with a pink stretch limo, fittingly nicknamed “Pinky.” Cancer patients who complete their final chemotherapy or other cancer treatment are offered a complimentary ride home in “Pinky.”


BRENNA KERNAN MEMBERS 1ST FEDERAL CREDIT UNION Considering she's a single mom and a banker who recently got a promotion that will mean more hours on the road, you could excuse Brenna Kernan if she wanted to cut down on her volunteering. But Kernan, 35, has invested so much in volunteerism and has gotten so much in return that now is not the time to slow down. Her primary focus of volunteering: the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC. “With the Chamber & CREDC I am involved in a lot of volunteering,” said Kernan, who was recently promoted to Assistant Vice President/Regional Branch Manager for the Capital Region of Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

“I'm very proud of the number of new Chamber & CREDC members my committee is able to reach on a monthly basis,” This is her 10th year in the banking industry, all with Members 1st. “When I moved to the Strawberry Square Branch in 2010 is when I started to get involved with the Chamber,” said Kernan. Since then, she has been a member of the Chamber & CREDC Business Expo Steering Committee, the Operations Committee and, for four years, the Chairwoman of the Chamber Ambassadors Committee. She is a 2013 Leadership Harrisburg graduate and stays involved with its Program Planning Committee. Additionally, Kernan gives her time to local charitable causes, such as Dress for Success, the Salvation Army and Keystone Area Goodwill. Kernan said her involvement with the Chamber & CREDC gives her a

great sense of community. “I do obviously get some return business from being in the Chamber & CREDC,” Kernan said, “but I have built so many great relationships in the Chamber & CREDC. I have done a lot of networking and have made a lot of contacts, but I've also made some good personal friends. It's also great because you're part of the community.” Kernan said she is especially proud of her work on the Chamber Ambassadors Committee. “I'm very proud of the number of new Chamber members my committee is able to reach on a monthly basis,” she said. “The amount of outreach we're able to do for members to keep them informed has been great.” Claiming that she was “always very ambitious and eager,” that attitude has served Kernan well since childhood. She was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, but her family moved to the Harrisburg region when she was in seventh grade. “Tough transition, but I made it,” Kernan said with a laugh. She is a graduate of Cumberland Valley High School and HACC. Her professional career started at Ruby Tuesday and she worked her way up from hostess to general manager of a restaurant by age 22. But bigger things were waiting for her. “The restaurant got the best of me,” she said. “The hours are brutal in the restaurant business and I felt like I was missing something with my son.” Cayden was born during her restaurant years and, today, Kernan

calls him “the most amazing 11-yearold in the world.” Kernan decided to make a 180degree turn and go from restaurants to banking. “Members 1st was my bank at the time, so I went in one day and asked a manager what positions they had available,” she said. Kernan was eventually hired. “I was really nervous at first,” she said. “I only had two employers in my life. But I have to say, the training program at Members 1st was absolutely phenomenal.” She began her “second career” at the Colonial Park Branch of Members 1st in 2007. She became the assistant manager there, then in 2010 was promoted to manager of the Strawberry Square Branch, where she grew wallet share and helped develop new business for downtown Harrisburg. “I did a lot of business development in my years as a branch manager,” she said. She returned to Colonial Park in 2013 and, in October 2016, was promoted to Assistant Vice President/ Regional Branch Manager. In her new position, she is responsible for the Members 1st Capital Region – 10 branches in Dauphin County and two branches outside the county.

Check out the Chamber & CREDC’s Facebook page after the event for images from the Catalyst Awards. /harrisburgregionalchamber

Congratulations to the 2016 Catalyst Award Winners! 12



Princess Padme: Barbara Bowker Han Solo: Jim Mooney Chewbacca: Kurt Twiford Princess Leia: Laura Williams Luke Skywalker: Meron Yemane Darth Vader: Himself Yoda: Patricia Bucek




A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT THE CATALYST AWARDS The Catalyst Awards is the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC’s annual event which recognizes achievements by individuals, companies, and organizations that reside or do business in the region we serve. Think of the Catalyst Awards like you would the Academy Awards (or Oscars); underneath that large umbrella brand are several category-specific awards for which nominations are recommended, received, and carefully evaluated by a committee of peers.


• In the field of chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.


• A catalyst can also be an event or person causing a change. Example: Getting kicked out of your parents' house might be a catalyst for becoming more independent.


• The Chamber & CREDC’s inaugural awards ceremony was a breakfast event that took place in 1990.



• The name of the event was formally changed from the Awards Ceremony to the Catalyst Awards in 2013. That same year, the event was moved to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts to take advantage of the stage and lighting and accommodate the event’s growing audience.


• The event has had various video presentation themes throughout the years including: Star Trek, Saturday Night Live (SNL), It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol and this year’s theme – Star Wars.


• The very first Catalyst Award was presented in 1990 to William Alexander in honor of his work to unite the Harrisburg Chamber with the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC).


• The Chamber & CREDC’s first Athena Award was presented in 2000 to Dr. Mary K. Howett. Dr. Howett was a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Penn State College of Medicine and a molecular virologist.

2015 Athena Award Recipient Jewel Cooper, Senior Vice President at BB&T.

The very first legacy to receive the same award happens at tonight’s celebration: Clifford Jones received the Catalyst Award in 1996; Brad Jones (his son) and Harristown Development Corporation. are receiving the same award twenty years later.



The Athena Award is a national recognition and is formally titled The ATHENA Leadership Award®. It is presented annually by chambers of commerce, women’s organizations and universities. It honors individuals who have achieved the highest level of professional excellence; contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and who actively assist others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential.

Senator Patricia Vance is the only State Senator to have received two Catalyst Awards, the 2007 Government Leader of the Year Award & the 2014 President’s Award.


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HRN 2016 Catalyst Awards Edition  

This most recent Edtion of the Harrisburg Regional News is a very special one dedicated to featuring the 2016 Catalyst Awards…honoring the b...