EPIC Toledo

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EPIC Advisory Council and Staff



John Pezzino
EPIC Toledo Chairman

I am very fortunate to have had so many positive employment, education, volunteer and personal experiences fill my life- all of which have shown me that whether personally or professionally, the times I value the most are the times that I am helping people around me solve problems and achieve goals.

Northwest Ohio is where I have spent most of my time working, learning and enjoying life. I am a Toledo native, but grew up in Anthony Wayne Schools. After attending Bowling Green State University for two years, I transferred to Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Florida where I earned my undergraduate degree in Business Administration, specializing in the Hospitality/Tourism Industry.

After gaining some experience in the workforce with great organizations ranging from The Toledo Zoo to SYSCO Corporation, I returned to Bowling Green State University where I earned my MBA in Strategy and General Business Administration. My current role at Welltower Inc. allows me to do what I enjoy most- solving problems and helping my team succeed.

As a way to support my community, I volunteer my time with several exceptional organizations including Junior Achievement, EPIC Toledo, YMCA/JCC, BGSU and The Old Newsboys. Beyond that, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two kids and testing myself in challenge races.


 Shope_Rebecca_300dpi Rebecca Shope

Rebecca is a partner at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, and practices in the employment law practice group. She represents corporations and individual clients in a wide range of employment matters. Her services range from defense of harassment and discrimination claims to review of employee handbooks. Rebecca is also a part of the family law practice group and regularly represents clients in divorce and child custody matters, and is trained in collaborative divorce law.

Rebecca resides in Perrysburg, Ohio with her husband, Greg, and two children, Liam and Eva. Although a Toledo “transplant,” Rebecca is passionate about EPIC and retaining talent in Toledo. Having previously lived in downtown Toledo, Rebecca is a huge fan of what our downtown has to offer young professionals. In addition to her involvement with EPIC, Rebecca serves as Secretary on the board of the Toledo Club and is an advisory board member of Harbor House and PRIZM. She is also a member of the Junior League of Toledo, a member of ABLE/LAWO Emerging Leaders Council, and on the Advisory Group for United States Northern District Court of Ohio. Rebecca received Toledo’s 20 under 40 Leadership Award in 2015 and was selected as a 2016 Ohio Rising Star by Ohio Super Lawyers.

Matt Yarder

Matt Yarder is a fourth-generation business owner born and raised in Toledo. His company, The Yarder Manufacturing Company, has proudly grown over the past 100 years within the Toledo Community. Now serving as the company’s Vice President, Matt looks forward to spurring our local economy and further strengthening Toledo's key manufacturing advantages. As the EPIC Chair, he is enthused about Toledo's active young professional community and is excited to help accelerate these individual’s growth into leadership roles. He has been involved with EPIC Toledo since its creation in early 2007 and has served in different leadership roles such as Marketing Chair, Vice Chair, and Chair Elect. Matt has also served on the Workforce Advisory Committee for the Toledo Chamber of Commerce as well as the Marketing and Enrollment Board for St Francis School. He is past 20 Under 40 Award recipient and EBE Award winner with his company.  Matt is a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Business. As a father of 2 wonderful children (Amelia 5, Pierson 3) with his wife Katie, Matt is proud to call Northwest Ohio and Toledo his home for his family and his business.

Mike Abernathy
Vice Chair


   Katie Moline
Vice Chair

Katie Moline works for CliftonLarsonAllen as an Associate in Assurance and Auditing. Katie attended Toledo Central Catholic High School, before graduating with honors from Miami University. She earned her Master’s in Russian Studies at the European University at St. Petersburg. While living in Russia, she taught English as a second language and studied ballroom dancing. After returning home to Toledo, Katie served as a Congressional Aid for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and the citizens of Ohio’s 9th District for five years.

Katie, a West Toledo native, resides in the Close Park Neighborhood with her husband, Phil, and their cat, Staś and dog, Roscoe. She is currently preparing to sit for CPA Exam, but still makes a commitment to be involved in her beloved Toledo community. She volunteers and contributes to charitable organizations like Family House and the Most Blessed Sacrament Church. Additionally, she has been appointed to the City of Toledo’s Charter Revision Commission as a young leader and the Toledo Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fund. Katie is excited to be part of the growing EPIC Toledo Advisory and Officer Teams and looks forward to serving with others to develop and grow the City of Toledo business community.
Andy Andy Hudak
Vice Chair

Andy Hudak is a native of Toledo, OH.  He attended Start High School and Bowling Green State University.  Andy is a proud alumnus of the Bowling Green State University baseball program, where he served as co-captain of the baseball team. 

Andy is an Investment Advisor Representative with TransAmerica Financial Advisors/TransAmerica Financial Group.  Andy and his wife, Stacey, are part of a team of representatives who assist clients of all demographics interested in growing and protecting wealth.

Andy is proud to serve Toledo on the EPIC Advisory Council.   He and his wife Stacey welcomed their daughter Sloane earlier this year.  It is their hope to assist Toledo’s growth into one of the world’s premier places to live and work.


Alana Hatcher
Advisory Council Member

Alana Hatcher is the Corporate Marketing Manager for Cutting Edge Countertops where she manages the development of all marketing campaigns, including content, social media, advertising, and digital marketing. A Native of the Toledo area, Alana left the area during her time at the University of Akron. Following her graduation in 2013 with a degree in Interpersonal and Public Communications, Alana was dedicated to move back to Toledo to pursue a career in communications and marketing.

Outside of work, Alana loves being active, reading, exploring new places, and considers herself a self-proclaimed foodie. Alana is dedicated to community involvement and connecting with other professionals in the area. She has served as a guest lecturer at her alma mater, familiarizing students on social media marketing and influencer outreach. Alana is a proud member of the Promedica Flower Hospital Metro Board, National Social Council for No Kid Hungry, Leadership Toledo, and EPIC Toledo.


Stephanie Brinkman
Advisory Council Member

Stephanie Brinkman is the Assistant Director of Advertising & Marketing at Imagination Station where she oversees the development of social media, advertising and marketing campaigns, internal and external events and promotions. She attended the University of Toledo and received her degree in Communication and a minor in Political Science. While attending school, she met her husband Adam and they currently resides in Perrysburg.

Stephanie spent the early part of her career working as a video producer and then a marketing specialist in Tallahassee Florida. In 2012 Stephanie and her husband decided to move back to Toledo to be closer to family. She has been a member of EPIC Toledo since 2013 and found being a member has offered her professional growth as well as connected her to many great professionals and friends. - “Moving back to Toledo after establishing a network in another city was difficult. When I learned about EPIC Toledo I knew I found the perfect group to join. I am thoroughly impressed with the talent of the young professionals in this region and proud to be involved with a group that has such a strong positive impact in Toledo.”

 bruce douglas
Bruce Douglas
Advisory Council Member

Toledo native Bruce Douglas graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School and attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After a few years in Cleveland, it was groups like EPIC Toledo that helped bring him back to his beloved northwest Ohio. He and his wife, Lauren, now live in Old Orchard with their dog Max, and love leading an active life in the community. Bruce works at The Douglas Company, where he is the third generation of the family-owned business with 40 years of history in Toledo. As a Project Manager, he provides preconstruction services and construction management for commercial projects, specializing in Senior Living and Multifamily Housing. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and green building design and construction professional (LEED AP BD+C).

Outside of work, Bruce is involved with the Board of Trustees for Leadership Toledo, YPO Next Generation, the UT Center for Family and Privately Held Business, and the St. Francis de Sales Alumni Association. He is also nationally-qualifying competitor with Team Toledo Triathlon Club. His passion is deeply rooted in attracting, retaining, and developing the absolute best young professionals this city can ask for, and is looking forward to living that out through the EPIC Advisory Council as a new board member in 2016. 
Nicole Candle
Advisory Council Member

Originally from Southern California, Nicole Candle, graduated from California Lutheran University with a Bachelors in Communications and Masters in College Student Personnel. She is an experienced public relations professional, having held positions at CLU and the University of Notre Dame before becoming a 9-1-1 Communications Dispatcher. Moving to Toledo in 2013, she worked as the Manager for Women’s Initiative of United Way. This year she returned to her roots in Higher Education as a Major Gift Officer for The University of Toledo Foundation, where she assists alumni and friends with investments in programs and scholarships that benefit the entire campus community. Nicole is also a certified Executive Coach, avid marathoner and proud football wife. Go Rockets! 

The first local event that Nicole attended was the EPIC Toledo Summit and she was instantly intrigued by the organization and devotion of the young professionals in attendance. Having been a Toledoan for only three years, Nicole is enthusiastic about retaining young talent within the Toledo community and advocates for young professionals to establish their career right here at home. 


James K. McGhee

Advisory Council Member

James is currently Director of Operations for Anesthesia at ProMedica Physicians Group. He is responsible for Anesthesia Operations for Toledo Metro Area, including Toledo Hospital, Flower Hospital, Wildwood, and Parkway.

James is a native of Chicago, Illinois. In 2004, he received his A.B. from the University of Chicago while concentrating in Biological Sciences. Then, in 2010 he received his MBA from Loyola University Chicago concentrating in Economics and Healthcare management.

James is honored to serve on the EPIC Advisory Council. He and his wife, Carla, have been a part of the Toledo community since July of 2013 and they have enjoyed watching Toledo continue to evolve into a thriving destination city!

  Brittanie Kuhr
Advisory Council Member

Brittanie Kuhr is a proud Toledo native. After graduating from Notre Dame Academy, Brittanie went on to study Education Adrian College. She then completed her master’s degree at The University of Toledo in Higher Education Administration, with a focus in Development, Advancement, and Philanthropy. Brittanie currently serves as the Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Lourdes University. In her spare time, she enjoys performing in musical theater productions at the Croswell Opera House, as well as supporting other local fine arts groups, including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Opera, and local high school theatre productions. Additionally, Brittanie is a past co-chair of the Croswell Opera House’s annual fundraiser, a member of the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and an active board member for other local non-profits, including Good Grief. Brittanie enjoys being a part of EPIC's energetic Advisory Council and hopes we can continue to make a positive difference in the “419" for many years to come!


tom daniels Tom Daniels, MOD, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Advisory Council Member

Tom Daniels is the Assistant Director for Graduate & Executive Program in Business at Bowling Green State University.  His primary focus is admissions and academic advising for the full-time MBA and Executive Master of Executive Development programs. Prior to BGSU, Daniels was the Director of the Executive Interviewing Center at MROps and the Vice President of Learning & Development at TNS North America.  Tom is a graduate of Owens Community College and the University of Toledo and earned his Master’s degree in Organizational Development from Bowling Green State University. 

Tom is involved in multiple organizations in the Toledo area: Owens Community College Alumni Association, EPIC Toledo, Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the Association for Talent Development, the Northern Ohio Human Resources Association and other organizations.  In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports with his boys and reading.  Tom lives in Perrysburg with his wife and two sons


Tony Metzger
Advisory Council Member

Tony Metzger is a Production Manager at Metzgers Printing + Mailing, where he is part of the third generation of the family business. Born and raised in South Toledo, Tony graduated from St. John’s Jesuit before moving on to the University of Dayton. Upon graduating in 2010 with a degree in Operations Management, he returned home to start back full-time at the family business. Currently residing in downtown Toledo, Tony has been a member of EPIC since 2013. He looks forward to serving the EPIC organization as it continues to work towards a better Toledo for young professionals to call home.

  Sydney Smith
Advisory Council Member

Sydney Smith is the Human Resource Generalist at Therma-Tru Corp. located in Maumee, Ohio.   She is responsible for the design & execution of performance management, succession and development for the US & Canadian workforce.  Sydney is a native of Monroe, Michigan and relocated to the Toledo area in 2009.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2013 and her Master’s Degree in 2014, both from The College of Business and Innovation at The University of Toledo. Her educational focus was Human Resource Management and Organizational Leadership.

She’s excited to see the progress the Toledo area is making and looks forward to the growth and potential to come.   As an HR Professional, it’s important to her that the Toledo area is able to attract and engage talent.  EPIC will allow her to build relationships of diverse emerging leaders in the Toledo region.

  Shaun Scott
Advisory Council Member

Shaun was born and raised in Toledo, OH. He attended The University of Cincinnati and The University of Toledo where he received his Bachelor of Business Administration with a Major in Information Systems and Minor in Marketing from The University of Toledo. Shaun is currently employed at The Ridge Project as a Workforce Development Specialist, where he develops and facilitates a workforce strengthening curriculum that improves employee morale, performance and productivity.He is also an Assistant Basketball Coach for Woodward High School as well as an Advocate for the Youth Advocate Program Inc., where he participates in the development of individualized service plans for youth and models pro-social behaviors. Shaun is the owner of startup social media platform reFLEXtionsTV. Their mission is to "provide different avenues of self-expression while achieving a sense of self-worth, dignity and confidence towards oneself and community." Other activities include volunteering for other local organizations such as Toledo Young Black Professionals, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. as well as Assistant Advisor for Youth & Young Adults at his church, Indiana Baptist Church.
  Sarah Tadesse
Advisory Council Member

Sarah Tadesse is an administrative fellow with Mercy Health. Her focus areas include: strategy, business development, operations and analytics. She earned a dual undergraduate degree in Health Policy and Administration and a Master of Health Administration (MHA) in 2015 from the Pennsylvania State University. Originally born in Ethiopia, her family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania when she was an infant. She’s been in the Toledo area for about 1.5 years.

Sarah has a passion for community outreach and service, co-chairing Mom’s House 25th anniversary campaign, serving on the United Way – Emerging Leaders executive committee, and the Mercy College’s MHA advisory council. In 2017, she will be joining the Engaging People, Inspiring Change (EPIC) advisory council and the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio (DCNWO) as a board member. She looks forward to carrying out EPIC’s mission to retain and develop diverse candidates to the city of Toledo.
  Liz Dufrane Michalak
Advisory Council Member

Liz Dufrane Michalak is the Governance Office Liaison for ProMedica Health System. Born in Toledo and raised in Perrysburg, Liz graduated from Perrysburg High School before continuing on to The Ohio State University for undergrad and the University of Minnesota for her Masters. Upon completion of the Masters in Healthcare Administration, Liz moved back to Toledo and took a position as an administrative fellow with ProMedica. In her current role, Liz oversees the over 40 boards and 500 board members ProMedica currently has.

Liz is a graduate of Leadership Toledo, The EPIC Board Accelerator Series and The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy and is extremely excited to be serving on the EPIC Toledo Advisory Committee.
  Danny Woodcock
Advisory Council Member

Danny Woodcock is a University of Toledo graduate. Upon graduation, Danny started a web development agency with a college friend that was later acquired by an early-stage startup. Danny has spent time with several marketing agencies in Toledo and now is a professional social media consultant. Danny is a co-founder of Toledo Matters Media and a co-host of the Toledo Matters podcast. Danny volunteers as a regional President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Danny has served on the EPIC Toledo Birthday Bash and Leadership Summit planning committees. Additionally, Danny serves as a happy volunteer with Downtown 419 and public speaker, being featured at Tech Law 2.0 and the PRSA’s Professional Development Seminar.

  James Bailey
Advisory Council Member

James graduated from Bowling Green State University in December, 2014. He has an MBA with a Finance concentration. His undergraduate work was completed at Nottingham Business School in England, his home country. James has completed a two-year training with Brown & Brown and is now charged with building new relationships and helping employers run and manage their employee benefit plans. He works alongside a strong local team in Perrysburg, Ohio and has support from the 8500 teammates across the country.

James has served in a variety of past roles that have equipped him for a future in employee benefits. He served as a Human Resources Administrator intern at the Schaeffler Group in Sheffield, UK, as Senior Marketing Account Executive at Countrywide Publications, UK, and as the Administration Co-Coordinator at Community Training Initiatives in Melbourne, Australia. Most recently, he was a Graduate Research Assistant at BGSU, then an intern here at Brown & Brown of Ohio before joining the team full-time. James holds his Ohio Life and Health licenses and has earned his Certificate of Global Benefits Management from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

James is heavily involved in the Toledo community, as a member of the Toledo Club he enjoys squash and won the 2016 “Rookie of the Year”. James’ other community involvements consist of serving on the board of the Epilepsy Center of Northwest Ohio and is now serving on the EPIC Toledo Advisory Committee.
  Melody Anderson
Advisory Council Member

Melody Elaine Anderson (29 year old) is a native of Toledo, Ohio. As a daughter of her fair city, Ms. Anderson is an active member in several organization and is committed to using her extensive experience in community organizing to propel Toledo forward. She sits on the board and volunteers her time with numerous organizations throughout the city of Toledo.

A graduate of Robert S. Rogers High School, Melody ended her career at Rogers at the top of her class. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree and is double majoring in Psychology and American History and has attended both the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. As she excels and advances in her educational pursuits, she's also building ties amongst the young professionals of color in Toledo.

She's a founding member and sits on the board of Toledo Young Black Professionals (TYBP). TYBP is one of the newest and most popular social networking groups for young black professionals in the Toledo area. Along with her fellow board members, Melody organizes and hosts several events throughout the year ranging from community service, professional development, and social events. Under her support, guidance, and direction TYBP has become known throughout the community for its speed networking event which brings young professionals, business owners, and recruiting talent to mix, mingle, and network in a fun, and innovative way! Ms. Anderson is very proud of the work she, and her board members are doing to serve as a bridge between young black professionals, and the many businesses, and community service organizations in Toledo. When asked about TYBP, Melody warmly shared with us the mission of TYBP: To create an inclusive environment where young professionals in the City of Toledo can network, socialize, develop professionally and improve the community around us.

When she's not focused on the young black professionals in Toledo, Ms. Anderson spends her time volunteering with Project Toledo, a Toledo based non profit organization that works to serve the underprivileged youth of Toledo, Ohio, among other organizations such as The Girl Scouts of America, Big Brothers - Big Sisters, and Head Start. While Melody's myriad number of accomplishments are too numerous to list here, there are some achievements Ms. Anderson has allowed us to share with you: she is a published Poet, Quality Inspection Specialist for Chrysler LLC she also aids the elderly and infirm as a home health care aide for a private health-care organization. While giving back to her community is her passion, she has also taken to photography and works as a freelance photographer.

Ms. Anderson is looking forward to bringing her wealth of knowledge, keen sense of awareness, and local community connections to her role as one of the newest board members of EPIC Toledo.
  Todd Hendricks
Advisory Council Member

Todd grew up in Pioneer and went to The Ohio State University where he received a degree in Finance and Economics. After graduation, he returned home to work at Pioneer Industrial Systems, an industrial automation company started by his father. Starting with accounting, Todd has continued to expand his role and is now the Chief Operating Officer responsible for day-to-day operations as well as long-term strategic planning.

Not long after moving back home, Todd and his wife Allison decided to move to Toledo so they could stay close to family and still have the opportunities and conveniences of a city. They now live in Monclova and have a 3-year old son, Teddy.

Outside of work, Todd is heavily involved with the University of Toledo’s Center for Family and Privately-Held Businesses as the chair of the Education Committee, a member of the Advisory Board, and a member of the Executive Board. Todd is also involved with the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium as a member of the Steering Committee.

Todd is honored to join the EPIC Advisory Council and looks forward to helping with the goal of expanding EPIC’s reach to the western counties of Northwest Ohio (Williams, Defiance, Fulton, Henry).
  Jon Sheehan
Advisory Council Member
  Tim Saddoris
Advisory Council Member
  Sara Swisher
EPIC Toledo Director

Sara Swisher joined the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce as Director of EPIC Toledo in March 2013.

A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Sara brings to the Chamber a diverse background and enthusiasm for the young professionals of the Toledo Region. Prior to joining the chamber staff, Sara served as a restaurant manager at Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano in Perrysburg and worked as a communication intern with Toledo Opera.

 In her role as EPIC Toledo Director, Sara is responsible for attracting and retaining talent of young professionals to the Toledo Region, building and maintaining relationships with Individual and Corporate Members, and helping them to receive the greatest value from their memberships. Sara additionally provides the strategic leadership for EPIC Toledo and manages the EPIC Toledo events.

To learn more about how Sara can help you or your business make the most of EPIC Toledo membership, contact Sara at

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