For Harrisburg Young Professionals (HYP) and TheBurg’s inaugural year of 20 IN THEIR 20’s, we had over 80 nominations, and it was extremely difficult to whittle that down to only 20. This year’s winners are an amazing bunch. From pop-up markets and entrepreneurs to engineers and neuroscience students, this group will blow your socks off with their talent. Meet these rising stars from business, cultural, and civic life.
Meet the winners
Photos by Source Creative House
There is probably only one person in Harrisburg that would think to add sauerkraut to ice cream, and his name is Adam Brackbill. Adam is a graduate of Messiah College. After that, he started on this road (or should we say rocky road) to entrepreneurship with a website design company, followed by co-founding a coworking space called Startup Harrisburg, and more recently founding an artisan ice cream shop in Midtown. Adam launched Urban Churn after locals wanted more options to find this popular treat – the idea intrigued him since his family had a tradition of making ice cream at family gatherings. All of Adam’s businesses have had a tremendous economic impact on Harrisburg.
Adam Breneman is a busy guy. This PSU and University of Massachusetts graduate balances many different roles and responsibilities, all while finding time to give back. Adam is a Director of Marketing, a Political Consultant, and a College Football Broadcaster. Fun fact, Adam’s retirement letter from football that he authored on Pennlive in 2016 was its most-read sports story of the year. His political career started after he retired from football at Penn State and then worked as the Campaign Manager for Sen. Mike Regan’s 2016 campaign for State Senate. After the win, graduate school, and then another campaign win, Adam choose to remain in Harrisburg at Red Maverick Media as a political consultant.
Adam’s volunteer and philanthropy work began when he was in high school. As a senior at Cedar Cliff High School and a highly-touted football recruit, Adam launched the “Catch the Cure,” a fundraising campaign for ALS research. The campaign raised $250,000 for ALS research. Adam received national recognition for this work, including the NAIFA Humanitarian Award and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Currently, Adam serves on the board of directors of Mechanicsburg-based The Payton Walker Foundation, which works to increase awareness and survival rates for Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and Project ALS.
Allison Hanna, RLA
One of Allison’s favorite things to do is to give back to the community. In particular, to those organizations that have helped her in the past. She is a volunteer with the ACE (Architecture-Construction-Engineering) Mentor Program of Central PA and Cumberland County, Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical Schools Horticulture & Landscaping Occupational Advisory Committee and the Harrisburg running community. By day, Allison is a Landscape Architect at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. At the last civil engineering firm she worked at, the project she loved working on the most was the Penn State Health Hospital on Wertzville Road in Mechanicsburg.
Brandon is a positive influence on the work environment at Rite Aid. His contributions to the Training & Talent Development Team have improved efficiency and the value of the programs produced. He took the initiative to dig deeper for process improvements and through his data analysis, discovered that Rite Aid’s Training & Talent Development Team could adjust their process for administering training courses. This discovery ended up decreasing the team workload saving numerous hours of work, and the cost associated with that. At Rite Aid, Brandon takes community involvement to heart, getting involved in any community activities available. He donated items to Adopt a Family for the Holidays. Brandon regularly gives blood when the Blood Bank of Central PA. He makes monetary donations to the Children’s Miracle Network and KidsCents, both through Rite Aid.
The key to Brandon’s success is his unwavering dedication and commitment to performing at his best and his conviction for supporting his company for success.
Bree is the Founder of Harrisburg-based blog Cherishburg. Her key to success is a drive to change the overall mindset, and outlook residents and non-residents alike have of Harrisburg. She holds onto the importance of investing in and planting roots where you live, which sometimes means learning to love where you live. Through her blog, Bree has managed to shift the way many people opt to look at Harrisburg. Also, by living and working full-time in Harrisburg, she has found ways to give back to the city economically. Bree may be a “Happiness Manager” by day at WebFX, but she’s a “Happiness Manager” for the city of Harrisburg by night.
Bree likes to volunteer at Bethesda Mission on a bi-weekly basis. She is also the co-chair of events for the Friends of Midtown Board.
Though she is proud of her accomplishments in the Military, the most significant and unique to her is everything she has learned, accomplished, and changed for the better at Pennsylvania Regional Ballet. This year, Brittany has done a ton of work to improve the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet. She acquired a donation of paint to paint the entire studio. Then she created two new fundraisers, as well as a new up-to-date enrollment program. Last, she developed an entire new brand and marketing plan. The key to her success is keeping in mind how important the art of dance is to so many of their students’ lives as well as their families and audiences. Her inspiration is seeing a performance that they have trained and rehearsed so hard for come together and the smiles on students’ faces and the audiences’ during the final applause. There is nothing more fulfilling and motivating.
Dana Della Loggia
Dana Della Loggia, Assistant Controller at Harrisburg University, says attaining her CPA Certification was one of the most challenging and significant things she has ever done professionally. The key to her success is her drive to work hard, which is fueled by her faith and desire to serve and make the community she lives and works in better. Dana’s leadership has created opportunities for our younger professionals to get involved in the city and network with other like-minded individuals. Her volunteer efforts with the Hoopla directly impacted the Foundation for Enhancing Communities and other non-profits. She supports organizations like HYP, TFEC, and the United Way that offer widespread support to the entire Capital Region. At BSSF, she was a young leader early in her career. She is reliable and ambitious. While maintaining a large workload, she never turns down an opportunity to give back to her community or inspire our younger professionals. This collegiate golfer from Waynesburg University also serves on the Board of Directors at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg.
Too few spaces are owned and operated by people of color. Elyse Irvis, founder and owner of La Cultura, saw a gap and is unapologetic in her efforts to connect, cultivate, and celebrate Black professionals and entrepreneurs in central PA. Because of Elyse’s contributions, local dollars are flowing in a little bit more of an equitable direction. Her efforts have impacted the economic opportunity of residents, circulating dollars directly back into local communities of color. Elyse was recently recognized as a trailblazer by the Young Professionals of Color, where she also serves as a board member. She also serves on the Board of the Friends of Midtown and African American Chamber of Commerce of Central PA.
Greg strives to alleviate the burden of cognitive impairments. Through his novel research as a student at Penn State, he makes advancements in the field of neurology. His research using neuroimaging to study brain changes related to cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease has a direct impact on the diagnosis, progression, and treatment of cognitive impairment. Greg is the first MD/Ph.D. student at Penn State to undertake a rigorous engineering curriculum to position himself to use the latest technology to solve cognitive impairment. Greg attributes much of his professional drive to his curiosity.
Before moving to Harrisburg, Hannah lived in five states the previous eighteen months. Initially, she just thought Harrisburg was another stop along the way. As of today, she has been here for almost four years and is proud to call Harrisburg “home.” Hannah is a Political Science graduate of the University of Kentucky. Still, according to Hannah, her most significant recent professional achievement is successfully learning how to brew beer and inserting herself into a professional position in a heavily male-dominated industry without any formal brewing education or training. She’s proud to be part of the 7.5% of brewers in the industry who are females nationwide.
Hannah is the only female brewer she and her colleagues know of who have persisted in their brewer positions while starting a family. Hannah has not only managed her rigorous job while pregnant, but she’s also thrived. She views this accomplishment as a positive impact on her field because she can be a testament to women she has seen drop out of brewing once they’ve become pregnant due to old-fashioned ideas of incompatibility of motherhood and brewing.
Hannah’s contribution to Friends of Midtown has been significant – as Communications Chair, her writing, and communications marketing talents ensure that Friends of Midtown can achieve its objective of engaging with the residential and business community of Midtown.
Jane is a Geological Scientist at Groundwater Sciences Corporation. She has her Master of Science in Geology and Earth Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and in 2017 was recognized as a “Foundation’s Finest Honoree” for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Janes volunteer efforts impact the lives of young women in Harrisburg through her work at the Junior League, and her professional efforts affect our soil and water to help keep them clean and help businesses operate in environmentally responsible ways. When Jane is not out taking soil samples, you can find her rollerskating around Harrisburg!
Kara Luzik Canale
Since starting her career in public relations, Kara’s focus has been to lift others. Her first action at La Torre Communications was to establish an internship program. This opportunity gave her a platform to mentor and coach the next generation of public relations professionals. It was vital for her to set an example of ethical practices in a profession that can be viewed with a negative connotation. The internship program was recognized for its positive impact by the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC in 2012 with the Catalyst Award: Stay Invent the Future.
When Kara was hired by the Harrisburg Regional Chamber as its Vice President, she recognized the Chamber could do even more to empower women, and she seized opportunities to expand the impact of Chamber Business Women. The mentorship program is now an official affiliate of the nationally recognized Lean In program, and CBW programming has more than doubled the number of women it serves. Above all, Kara is a cheerleader for Central PA. She never misses an opportunity to tell others how great this area is to live and work. She works hard to connect people to great opportunities here, helping them to succeed.
As a team of one at Duck Donuts, Kristin would probably consider her most significant professional accomplishment to be securing Good Morning America and FOX and Friends to promote Duck Donuts on National Donut Day. Duck Donuts is an emerging brand, so to be able to use her media relations skills and earn this media opportunity was well received by her company. Kristin’s inspiration is derived from her passion for public relations and her drive to continue learning and growing as a professional through networking opportunities, watching webinars, staying on top of industry trends, etc. If you asked her, she would say two specific traits she is most known for having that have aided to her success would be discipline and time management. Skills that she learned by staying active growing up, playing sports, and dancing.
At Duck Donuts, Kristin has encouraged her coworkers also to get involved locally by arranging team building events/volunteer opportunities that benefit Four Diamonds, Chemo Duck, and the Salvation Army. Each year, she also commits herself to raise $1,000 for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
Even though PR can be 24/7, Kristin is also a part-time dance instructor at Dance Revelation in Mechanicsburg, where she has a real passion for teaching dance and serving as a role model for the next generation!
In Harrisburg, Marissa’s impact can be seen in educating children about the STEM field and encouraging them to follow their passions. She is very passionate about sharing her experience and allowing other students to learn about the possibility of a STEM career in a secondary school as she did. She began her career as the only female engineer in her business unit and has since helped to recruit and mentor other female engineers in TE. Marissa considers her most significant professional achievement to be receiving a patent for her engineering development and design of a solution to a customer’s problem. The key to her success is her growth mentality, curiosity, and creative thinking to solve problems.
Marissa was involved in FIRST Lego League as a coach for a team of elementary and middle schoolers for three years. This was extremely rewarding for her because she was able to help the team to reach the regional competition and watch the team’s creativity and confidence grow each year. She volunteers as a career panelist in the Junior Achievement STEM summits to share her experiences as an engineer and answer any questions that the students have. She also serves as the Community Outreach Regional Pillar Lead for North America in TE Connectivity’s Women in Networking (WIN) employee resource group. In this role, she facilitates conversations between each local community leaders to promote community events, helps to schedule events, and provides a forum for improving our outreach and event participation.
Meghan believes deeply in the community of Harrisburg and has worked to create a positive environment for local artists, where they can support their passions for the last four years. You know the name of it – Meghan helped to cofound the HBG Flea. With a strong belief that supporting local art is the key to a thriving community, she has become heavily involved in many community organizations and projects. Not just with the flea, but with the mural festival, Jump Street, Gamut Theatre, and more, all while managing a full teaching schedule.
Some might not know, but Meghan is exceptionally competitive, which makes her a perfect Senators superfan. She regularly can be seen at games during the season.
Sam Evans IV
Sam is the founder of You Call We Haul Junk Removal. The business was started in May 2016 while he was in college to make extra money but now has grown from one truck to 3 by the time of graduation. Sam prides himself on being able to support himself full time by owning and operating his own business since the age of 19. The key to his success is the work ethic that my parents have instilled in him. Something inspires him is the theory of “extreme ownership.” He knows that everything that happens in life and business is his responsibility no matter what. It is incredibly freeing and motivating to know you control your destiny, and extreme ownership teaches that principle.
At You Call We Haul Junk Removal, they are incredibly active in the community. They have worked with the We Love the Hill project and helped to remove nearly 500,000 pounds of trash and debris from Allison Hill. They also donate almost 70% of the items picked up from junk removal jobs to places like Community Aid, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and Salvation Army.
Sarah is a designer at Bravo Group and was part of a team that has won multiple awards for her design work on a healthcare client. Her designs helped build an online community of more than 94,000 members. Sarah has recently started an Instagram page, Doodgirl, where she takes her artistic skills by illustrating hand-drawn posts focusing on mental health and empowerment. This is an effort that is close to Sarah’s heart. Having worked on healthcare clients for most of her career, she understands how important it is to support and bring people up. This is something she does in her free time, always allowing what’s going on in her personal life to be shared with her community. Though she is an artist at heart, she has a competitive side and has also joined a roller derby team!
Friends of Shavonnia would likely call her culturally diverse, aware, and civically active. She has traveled to 20 countries and can speak many languages. She is a great singer and can sing in different languages or play the trumpet if that is more your thing. She also tutors students in tongues, for free, and volunteers at temples and mosques in the area. Most recently, this graduate of Georgetown College and George Washington University was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. She has helped to register numerous people to vote, coordinate the whole 67 county marijuana tour for the Lieutenant Governor, and work diligently for policy reform.
Steven is one of five newly elected school board candidates who, for the first time in a long time, ran for office with the interests of young people at heart. He also is a research analyst for the PA House of Representatives and has been employed with the House since 2013. Steven is the youngest elected official in Harrisburg City. He is smart, driven, open-minded, wise beyond his years, and very kind. If there was one specific trait, though, that defines Steven, it is “motivation.” He is very motivated, and this has pushed him to do so many things because, on top of running for school board, he has written numerous books, lost over 100 pounds from his peak in college, and traveled to so many different countries. The man is a machine.
Tyler Ross, the founder of Ross Productions, the main goal of making Ross Productions stick out, is innovation. He likes to make every event exquisite in their way, so he works with leading production companies to get ideas and to collaborate so that each event is a masterpiece. Every year, Tyler and his company provide a full production setup for both Shriners Pediatric Hospital, as well as Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children’s Cancer Center free of cost. Tyler also helps with different beautification projects around the Central PA Area and volunteers at Lower Swatara Fire Company.
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