Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio LEADERSHIP
Lori McCleese – President
Lori McCleese joined the newly merged Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio as the President in July 2019. With a degree in Personnel and Industrial Relations from the University of Cincinnati, she brings with her many years of experience in banking as well as the nonprofit sector. Prior to her role at JA, Lori served for two years as President of the Hudson Community Foundation and prior to that six years at the Alzheimer's Association as the Director of Development. Lori has honed her development, fundraising and managerial skills, culminating in her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification in 2018 and is currently pursuing her Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy.
Currently living in Cuyahoga Falls with her two dogs, Miley and Caesar, Lori has two children, one pursuing a degree from the University of Cincinnati and one wrapping up his senior year football season at Hudson High School.
A fun fact about Lori is that learning Spanish is one of her bucket list to-do's!
Denice Schafer – Vice President of Programs
Josh Lehman – Vice President of Development
Born and raised in the Akron/Canton area, Josh Lehman joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team in November of 2019. Previously, he spent over four years on the development team for JA of Greater Cleveland and brings with him valuable JA experience as well as a passion for our mission. The basis for Josh's connection to the impact that JA provides comes from a prior career where he spent over four years in the field of personal finance working with clients to build a sense of financial security and save for their future goals. A graduate of the University of Akron College of Business Josh earned his BBA in Marketing Management.
Josh's dedication to community impact developed early as a Northeast Ohio native. Exploring regional activities like trips to the Akron Zoo and countless Cleveland Indians games as a child fostered interests during college when he founded a paintball club and discovered his passion for fundraising. Since 2011, he has developed a background in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and fundraising centered around providing an uplifting and outstanding experience to everyone that he interacts with. "I believe in the power of kindness and being a part of JA of North Central Ohio allows me to interact with the amazing resource that is people of Northeast Ohio. Our corporate and community partners, board members, volunteers, passionate staff and everyone that I have the privilege to interact with give me the opportunity to immeasurably impact the lives of young people in our communities," says Josh.
Interesting fact about Josh? He is all about being outside and all things sports (Go, Tribe!). Still actively involved in paintball, he is a volunteer coach for the University of Akron team and as a national semi-professional player.
Holly Dawson – Executive Director, Western Territory
Brittney Wells – Program Manager
Brittney Wells joined Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio as a Program Manager in September of 2019. She's originally from Phoenix, graduating with her Bachelor's in Communication from Arizona State University and her Master's in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.
Her family decided to pick up and move to Ohio after they had identical twin boys so they could be closer to her husband's family. Other than being a mom, Brittney was a 4th grade teacher for three years in Chandler, Arizona.
Her hobbies include being outdoors, cooking, and going new places.
Nikki La Rose – Special Events & Fundraising Manager
Nikki LaRose joined the Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio team as the Special Events and Fundraising Manager in April 2020. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, she graduated with a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies: History and Business Communications from the University of Akron.
Her hobbies include scouring the history section at her local bookstore, whipping up new recipes in the kitchen, traveling, Cleveland sports and making memories with her friends and family.
Ginnie Adams – Marketing & Operations Support Manager
Diane Pilati – Foundation Relations Manager
Diane Pilati joined Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio in August 2019 as the Foundation Relations Manager and works to secure grant funding throughout the 15 counties served. She has a BSBA in Marketing from the University of Akron, and an MBA from Malone University. Diane resides in Canton with her husband, two children, two dogs and a Guinea pig.
In their spare time, Diane and her family enjoy attending live theater and traveling (especially to Walt Disney World).
Tracy Weatherbee – Finance Manager
Tracy Weatherbee joined the Junior Achievement team in July 2003. Graduating from Kent State with a BA in Accounting, she grew up in the Cleveland area and moved to Jackson Township, Stark County, in 1994 after marrying her husband, Doug. They have two boys, a graduate from The Ohio State University and a sophomore at OSU.
Outside of work, Tracy enjoys reading, traveling, concerts and keeping physically active through running, lifting and teaching Poundfit classes.
Ann Byintgon – Operations Coordinator
Ann Byington joined Junior Achievement in December 2019, as a part time operations staff member. Prior to becoming a team member, she volunteered with JA for 6 years on various projects including updating systems, compiling evaluations and other tasks as needed. Ann has a background in banking, having spent 37 years in the industry beginning with Central Trust/PNC in Canton and Cincinnati. She retired from Fifth Third Bank in Cleveland in 2012, after 17 years with the organization.
Residing in North Canton, she has two grown sons and one grandson, who is a student in the Plain Local School District.
Clint Durst – Maintenance
Clint is an integral part of the Junior Achievement team. Since 1994, he has been keeping our office looking sharp! He enjoys music and movies and is always excited to share his latest find. An avid Cleveland sports (and OSU football) fan, be sure to ask him the latest Tribe, Browns, Cavaliers or Buckeyes news when visiting the Canton office.
"Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."
"Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."
"I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."
"I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."