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Area’s Future Recognized at Young Professionals Awards


Forty Fort, Luzene County, PA -- More than 350 attendees filled the Room at 900 Tuesday for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Young Professionals Awards.


Anthony Melf, PA CareerLink, stands stunned at the podium as he accepted the 2019 Young Professional Inspiration Award presented by Lindsey Griffin, Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce CEO and Vice President, and Mike Murray, Times Leader Media Group’s publisher. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader


Created to shine a spotlight on the area’s best and brightest, winners were announced live from 10 categories like Hero, Influencer, Small Business, Educator of the Year and more.


Chamber COO Lindsay Griffin said the Young Professionals were made to help enhance and grow the city while cementing a strong foundation for its future.


Nominations were placed through the Times Leader earlier this year and then whittled down to the top three in each category. Winners in each category were chosen by a special committee.


Chamber Managers Ahmad Ali and Meghan Flanagan organized the event. Looking at the crowd, they recalled why the awards were created in the first place.


“Our Young Professionals (network) really wanted a way to honor the younger leaders in our area, because they didn’t really see the awards in the area for that age demographic,” Flanagan said of its inception. “They really wanted a way to spotlight those individuals.”


While the duo said that all the awards were special in their own right, they admitted that the evening’s premiere honor was to be chosen as NEPA Influencer of the Year.


The coveted award is reserved for the person seen giving their all to the community, pushing it forward through their actions, social media, involvement in various groups and campaigns.


This year, nominees for Influencer of the ear included Coal Creative’s Holly Pilcavage, Jennifer Hetro of The Wright Center For Community Health and Times Leader’s Mike McGinley.


Enjoying the event with her team, Pilcavage said being nominated was emotional. From participating in several organizations to watching an uptick in the city’s growth, the director of operations said the nomination helps solidify that she’s doing the right thing.


“A spotlight on young professionals, entrepreneurs, people trying to make things happen right here where we grew up … to be a part of that is just really exciting to me,” she said.


While guest bartenders were slinging drinks across the room to help raise money for the winner’s charity of choice, McGinley spoke of the Young Professionals importance not only to him, but the community overall.


“We need to show people in the area that there are so many positive attributes and so many positive people to connect with,” he said. “This is just another way to highlight all the great people in the area and hopefully to inspire others.”


Halfway through the evening, announcers awarded Pilcavage the NEPA Influencer Award, followed by a round of applause from guests.


Looking around the room full of young professionals, Ali hoped that having such a group would inspire local business owners to help pave the way for a future generation of leaders.


“Hopefully an event like this would encourage businesses to focus on their young professionals, and help in their growth and their development,” he said.


Sundance Vacations was a presenting sponsor of the event, with Times Leader Media Group acting as its media sponsor.

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