Torchbearers is proud to announce that 40 of greater Akron’s emerging leaders have been selected from an exceptionally competitive field to join Torchbearers in 2021.

Leading up to the application and selection of the new class, Torchbearers hosted its first-ever virtual recruitment mixer to allow prospective members to learn more about the organization, ask questions of the leadership team, and meet current members. This mixer was made up of some pre-recorded videos showcasing the organization as well as a live Q&A session hosted by outgoing Torchbearers President, Vish Bhatt.

“The recruitment mixer is typically our first exposure to some of the future members of our organization,” said Bhatt. “Torchbearers was thrilled to have a great turnout of prospective members who asked some great questions about how the organization has adapted and will continue to evolve into next year. I’m excited to see some familiar faces from that session welcomed into the Class of 2021 and know they will be great additions to the organization.”

Prospective Torchbearers members completed a detailed process to be considered for membership, including completion of a written application and a virtual interview with current Torchbearers members. The entire process spanned about three months and culminated with a group of diverse candidates from various backgrounds and experiences.

“This talented group of individuals who make up the Class of 2021 will bring a diverse set of skills, experiences, and passions that will shape the future of our organization,” said Dustin Miller, co-chair of Torchbearers’ membership committee. “I’m very proud of each new member selected and am excited to watch them grow and become the next generation of changemakers.”

At the start of the new year, the Class of 2021 will join approximately 80 other active members in the journey to better themselves personally and professionally as they strive to make meaningful contributions to the greater Akron community.  These forty up-and-coming leaders will complete a leadership development curriculum which helps them learn about their leadership styles individually and as a collective group as well as prepare them to lead cooperatively with other community members and organizations.

“Torchbearers is honored to welcome the Class of 2021 into our tradition of service, professional development, and relationship building,” said incoming Torchbearers president, Willie Cook, “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, I am confident this new group of leaders will adapt and am excited to see how they shape the future of our organization and our region with their passion, creativity, and diverse insights.”

Torchbearers is delighted to announce the following outstanding leaders who are selected for the Class of 2021:

Geoffrey Auerbach, Homeless Outreach, Community Support Services

Katherine Bercik, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Summit County Prosecutor’s Office

Sean Blasko, Application and Systems Developer, BWXT

Jeff Bologna, Broker, Bologna Insurance Agency

Robbie Coon-Anda, Program Coordinator, Bounce Innovation Hub

Daisha Dancy, Community Relations Specialist, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro’s Department of Job and Family Services

Sarah Dave, Managing Director, Grants Plus

Kate DeAngelis, Director of Marketing, Barberton Community Foundation

Ken Evans, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps/The Well CDC

Aditya Ghatpande, Attorney at Law, Cafaro Company

John Herbert-Doing, Northeast Ohio Promotions and Events Manager, The Akron Beacon Journal with Local IQ

Thomas Hite, Agent, SeibertKeck

Kaneesha Johnson, Program Supervisor, County of Summit Job & Family Services

Joanna Kamvouris, Manager, Research Services, State & Federal Communications, Inc.

Bethany Kohler, Greeter, Trease Road Child Care Center

Danae Labocki, Owner, IMMIX Marketing

Krystal Levstek, Network Research Connector, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank

Lauren (Sprowls) Mathis, Education Director, Weathervane Playhouse

Elizabeth Mayreis, Human Resources Business Partner, Amazon Logistics

Arielle McKinney, Associate 3 Accounting, Allstate Insurance

Michelle Mercer, Medical Student, OUHCOM

Maria Moore, Business Systems Analyst, Progressive Insurance

Rosalie Murphy, Editor-in-Chief, The Devil Strip

Dhara Patel, Analyst, FirstEnergy

Kayla Peteya, RN- Labor and delivery, Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Ciera Preer MHA, RRT-NPS, Executive Clinical Manager, Vapotherm

Drew Reilly, Staff Attorney, Summit County Land Reutilization Corporation

Johnmeka Roper, Talent Acquisition Coordinator, Fedex Ground

Patrice Russell, Talent Acquisition Programs Manager, Akron Children’s Hospital

Morgan Schumacher, College & Career Academy Coach, Akron Public Schools

Brandi Shephard, Dental Hygienist, Dr. Kleckner

Kenan Sprague, Financial Analyst, Corporate FP&A, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Cody Stanley, Programs Coordinator, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank

Anna Straus, Analytics Specialist, Akron Children’s Hospital

Denise Thomas, Director, Community Health, United Way of Summit & Medina

Anthony Valentino, Senior Compliance Specialist, The Huntington National Bank

Danijela Vranesevic, Counselor, IBH Addiction Recovery Center

Ajino Wah, Shift Supervisor, Spunfab Adhesive Fabrics

Jason Winchell, Senior Manager, Sikich

John Zarski, Client Educator / Resident Supervisor, IBH Addiction Recovery Center