At a time when a great shadow has been cast over everyone’s lives, a group of young professionals living and working in the Monadnock Region continues to shine a light.
They were all recognized for their service to their community Thursday night during the annual Trendsetter Awards ceremony, hosted online by The Keene Sentinel and its publication, The Business Journal of Greater Keene, Brattleboro and Peterborough.
This year’s awards carried extra meaning, said emcee Mike Giacomo, a Keene city councilor and past winner.
“They show the world that our region is not just surviving 2020 but forging forward with uncommon leadership from a demographic too often dismissed,” he said. “Amidst the gloom this year has brought, we need our leaders placed in the light. We need a case for optimism. We need hope to see our uncertain future is in good hands.”
Recognized this year were Rachel Eschle of BCE Consulting; Derek Scalia, director of retention and diversity at Franklin Pierce University and St. James Episcopal Church deacon; Derek Paul, co-owner and marketing manager, SERVPRO of Cheshire, Windham and Windsor counties; Elizabeth Wood, Keene downtown coordinator and co-owner of 21 Bar and Grill; Dr. Jonathan Norris of Montshire Pediatric Dentistry; Lindsey Masterson of Cheetah Design Studios; Michael Remy, senior director at C&S Wholesale Grocers and a city councilor; Chelsea Szalanski, director of youth services for the town of Hillsborough and diversion coordinator for Jaffrey district court; Ashley Guion, senior accountant at Nathan Wechsler & Co.; Sarah Costa of Manning Hill Farm; Jordan Sharra, owner of the Arlington Inn & Tavern; and Mari Brunner, Keene city planner.
The online event, produced by AMT Productions, recognized the achievements of this year’s 12 recipients and was livestreamed for the first time on The Sentinel’s Facebook page and website.
Giacomo — part of the Keene Young Professionals Network, which partners with The Sentinel for the event and benefits from some of the proceeds — led the main part of the program, a series of video presentations featuring interviews with the winners that showcased their work, each within their own professional setting.
Since 2014, the Trendsetter Awards have recognized people in the region under 40 who represent a variety of backgrounds and community involvement, including public service, entrepreneurship and volunteerism. To date, more than 100 “Trendsetters” have been honored.
Each year, winners are chosen from a field of between 30 and 50 nominations. This year’s nominations closed Jan. 7.
During his opening remarks, Terrence Williams, The Sentinel’s president and COO, noted that the event was scheduled to be held at the Keene Country Club in March but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the weeks that had passed, it has never been appropriate nor safe to hold a live event,” he said.
Williams said he hopes the winners don’t feel shortchanged because they couldn’t have a networking event and celebrate with their friends and family.
“This crew is notable for a variety of reasons, not just for their many accomplishments, but for being honored in one of our most challenging times — times that require their examples of leadership to guide us forward,” he said.
Williams went on to describe how the winners share an “incredible work ethic, a caring for others, entrepreneurial spirit and humility.”
Kicking off the program was a video tour of the renovations completed to the Colony Mill Historic Mill Apartments, located at the historic mill complex that formerly housed the Colony Mill Marketplace, the event’s host as well as a sponsor. Lead sponsors were Markem-Imaje, Clark Mortenson Insurance and Financial Services and Savings Bank of Walpole.
Keene Mayor George Hansel, who served on the judging panel this year along with Jeff Murphy, Emily Lavigne-Bernier, Susan Newcomer and Danielle Ruffo, talked about being struck by the diversity of the 2020 candidates.
“This is an area of the state where we punch above our weight. We do relevant things here,” he said. “In the Monadnock Region, we’re a small community, but we tackle big ideas, and I think that this year’s winners and a lot of the nominees really reflect that.”
All the Trendsetters were profiled in the spring issue of the Business Journal, copies of which went to all Sentinel subscribers and were available at various local newsstands. Anyone needing a copy can contact Williams at email@example.com. The virtual event, along with stories and videos of each of the winners, can be found online at www.sentinelsource.com/business — journal/trendsetters — 2020/