To mark the occasion of Leadership’s 30th year, we salute thirty graduates of our Leadership programs for their contributions to Stark County. The Thirty Faces of Leadership Stark County represent the face of Leadership Stark County, people who are seen in the community as difference makers. They represent ALL of our alumni, Leadership Stark County graduates who are living the mission of commitment to our community!
M.J. Albacete, Canton Museum of Art, Director Emeritus, Signature Program Class 1
MJ is an instrumental leader who has been at the forefront of the growth of the arts in Stark County since 1975. As director of the Canton Museum of Art, the value of its art has escalated to more than $25 million. He has created local collaborations with the other organizations housed at the Cultural Center including the Canton Symphony, VOCI, and Players Guild. He has been an adjunct lecturer at Kent State University Stark and Walsh College.
To many he is best known for his work with The Timken Foundation bringing “Kimono as Art” to Canton in 2008-2009. For others, his legacy includes ‘Geo-Art’ programs for hundreds of elementary students, developing a Wagner Society musical program, co-leading a Walsh University tour to Rome & Israel, and collaboration with Malone University overseeing the installation of ” Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible. MJ has taken the Canton Museum of Art out of the building in which it is housed to influence many citizens of many backgrounds and enrich the citizens of Stark County and beyond.
Beyond the Arts, his activities and honors include;
- Canton Rotary, Paul Harris Fellowship Award
- Guest lecturer for the Canton Symphony Orchestra
- Guest writer for the Canton Repository
- Has presented dramatic performances, lectures, tours, and presentations for Leadership Stark County’s entire 30 years!
William P. Bryan, Executive Vice President – Supply Chain and Information Technology, TimkenSteel Corporation, Signature Program Class 5
Bill Bryan exemplifies leadership and commitment to community trusteeship.
As a current board member/vice chair and two-term past president for Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, with more than 25 years of board and advisory service, Bill has helped transform the organization into the success it is today. Within his tenure and leadership, Goodwill has grown substantially and can now sustain funding without United Way assistance. He was also instrumental in one of Goodwill’s largest collaborations, The Community Campus at Goodwill, which houses more than 20 non-profits. Bill truly embodies the spirit of a community leader who is dedicated to making Stark County a great place to live and work
He also is active as:
- A Stark Parks commissioner
- A United Way Leader in Giving
- Arts in Stark Leadership Supporter
- Past treasurer and board member of Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio
- Organizer of Quail Hollow Park clean-up
- United Way Day of Caring volunteer
- TimkenSteel Habitat for Humanity build volunteer
Barbara Ewing Cockroft, Consultant, State Support Team Region 9 & Stark County Educational Service Center, Signature Program Class 6
When she was only 8 years old, Barb’s Great Grandpa Ewing told her that “to those to whom much is given, much is required.” He told her to “be grateful for her blessings, make a difference, and to give back to our community.” She has taken those words to heart as she epitomizes the face of voluntarism.
Her accomplishment include:
- Member of Aultman Women’s Board
- Served on Arthritis Foundation Board and helped raise over $30,000 for the Foundation as chair of the Sports and More Auction
- 1993-94 President of Junior League, which received Award of Achievement that year from Canton Chamber for community impact; raised an unprecedented $100,000 at Holiday Gala.
- 1998- Received Leadership Award from National Multiple Sclerosis Society, served on board many years.
- 2006- Plain Local Schools Hall of Distinction
- 2006-present- Stark County District Library Foundation Board
- 2010-received Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary Club of Canton
- 2014-2019 co-wrote and co-manages largest ever education grant ever awarded to Stark County, $13.6M
- 2015- Member Education Committee (Chamber of Commerce)
- 2016 Leadership Stark County Board of Trustees
- 2014-2017 Junior Achievement Board of Directors
Cynthia Kerchner, President and Owner of Kerchner’s Kards Kandy and Kollectibles, Signature Program Class 9
As an alumnus of Leadership Stark County, Cynthia recalls her involvement with being on the committee that built an amphitheater at Metzger Park. She continues her interactions within the community due to her joy of being with others and helping where she can. Truly, there is an enthusiasm for this community and it might have started as a five-year-old as she was mentored by her dad growing up, working in his dairy store in downtown Louisville. There is a work ethic that is part of her character. It seems that community and helping others is foremost and her passion.
Cynthia has received many awards through her involvement, hard work and persistence. She takes group work, friendships and family very seriously and continues to meet and organize fellowship; including:
- Mercy Alumni Association
- Louisville High School Alumni Association
- Louisville Nimishillen Historical Society
- Louisville Chamber of Commerce
Her awards include:
- Louisville Rotarian of the Year
- Rotary Paul Harris Award
- Stark County Scope Award
- Louisville High School Hall of Achievement
- Louisville Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year
- Louisville Citizen of the Year 2015.
Lori Stokes, METRO RTA – Human Resources Supervisor, Signature Program Class 20
Lori has always believed that you can make a big difference right in your own community that will have a bigger impact on a larger scale for years to come. Everything she does, is to benefit our community, especially in the area of arts – she feels it’s one of Stark County’s hidden secrets. She volunteers her time teaching newly formed dance ministries the art of praise dancing, hosting two community dance concerts each year showcasing our areas’ most dynamic dance artists from ballet and hip hop to lyrical and jazz and everything in between.
Serving her community through voluntarism is an important part of Lori’s life; she describes it as her way of giving back to the community and setting an example for her children so that they can make a difference in others’ lives.
The community has responded by awarding her with:
- Ystark! 20 under 40 Community Leaders Award
- Stark State College Alumni of the Year Award
- Time Warner Cable Community Pillar Award
- Canton Exchange Club Golden Deed Award
- Malone University MCMP Ambassador Award.
Nancy Varian, Director, Center for Professional Development
Malone University, Signature Program Class 2
Since her experience in the Leadership Signature Program, Nancy has made a lifelong commitment to the community. She was a teacher, principal, and curriculum director in Stark County school districts before going to Malone University to work with educator professional development. Her work gives her the ability to use the resources of the community to help teachers help their students learn and become valuable citizens. Having always instilled in her family the importance for giving back to the community, she gifted both her sons with the opportunity to participate in Spotlight Stark County for Young Professionals.
Her involvement includes:
- Over ten years on the Stark Community Foundation Board
- Community Harvest Board member
- Leadership Stark County Board and Education Day steering committee
- Canton Palace Theatre Board Executive committee member
- Has been involved “Bridges Out of Poverty”, One Book, One Community Committee, and Arts in Stark Programs