CANFIELD — For nearly 30 years, Dawn Ochman led a business in an industry largely dominated by men, but when it came to receiving a long-standing prestigious award for her efforts, she was a woman of few words .
“I’m overwhelmed” said Ochman, holding back his tears. “I’m not a person who seeks the spotlight very much. I’m very grateful.”
For her leadership and entrepreneurship in the business world, as well as her community service in the Mahoning Valley, Ochman became this year’s recipient of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s ATHENA Award at the ATHENA Awards Dinner. Thursday at Waypoint 4180 Banquet Center.
The main sponsors of the three-hour event were the Regional Chamber and The Vindicator.
Ochman was one of 30 women who had been nominated for the award, which is given annually to professional women who make outstanding achievements and contributions in the Mahoning Valley business sector, community agencies, institutions health care, schools and other areas. They were also nominated for their community service and their contributions to improving the valley.
Ochman is President and CEO of Warren-based Dawn Incorporated, which specializes in federal, industrial and commercial contractor services for the construction industry in Ohio, New York, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania. . The company’s team, made up of project and quality control managers, security directors and others, ensures that “Each step of the construction process is not only cost effective, but also fast”, indicates its website.
Ashley Swipas, the company’s chief administrative officer, nominated Ochman for the award.
Ochman started her trucking and construction business 29 years ago with just one truck and a dump hauler, but by 2003 she had amassed more than 30 trucks. Five years later, it made inroads in the construction industry and today it has around 36 employees, Ochman said.
For years, Ochman has aimed to promote the value and gifts of women business owners – especially those whose businesses have faced a variety of disadvantages and difficulties. In this sense, she also serves as a mentor to women-owned businesses under the Small Disadvantaged Business program, which falls under the aegis of the US Small Business Administration.
The program provides businesses run by those facing social and economic challenges with training and technical assistance to be more competitive in the U.S. economy.
Last year, Dawn Incorporated added six additional customers, including the City of Warren and US Army Reserves. Ochman’s company also won a five-year, $250 million construction services contract for the US Department of the Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ochman’s contributions to the valley were also considerable. She supports the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County and the Warren Family Mission; she has also served on the Ohio Means Jobs Committee as well as the YWCA Mahoning Valley Board of Directors and its Finance Committee, among other endeavors.
The keynote speaker for the event was Curren Katz, Senior Director of Data Science and Digital Health for Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson.
Katz, a Hubbard native who lives in Titusville, NJ, and earned a Ph.D. from Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, discussed the power of data science as a tool to solve many problems in the field of health care.
She cited a case in which it was used to ease the experiences of some people undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Katz and his team developed a model using data science that allowed these patients to come in for their treatments whenever they wanted, without having to wait and “return to their life and their family”, she told the audience of several hundred.
Her early interest in the estate stemmed from her childhood when she accompanied her father, who was a surgeon at the former Northside Hospital in Youngstown, on tours of the facility, Katz recalls.
Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick, who was also a 2021 ATHENA Award recipient, gave the reflection.
The greatness of the Valley is defined in large part by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, which celebrates the achievements of women, as well as those women themselves, she explained.
“There is no more glass ceiling” Dellick said to applause.
Another feature of the region is the courageous attitude of many who persevere and refuse to give up regardless of challenges and adversity, she said.
“We are survivors, and we will make tomorrow better than today,” Dellick added.
The 30 women who were nominated for the award represented the highest number of nominees since 2007, said Kim Calvert, senior vice president of marketing and member services for the Regional Chamber. Furthermore, she commended the women for their excellence in their profession, their role as role models in their communities and their impact on the problems they sought to solve.
Also during the event, three ATHENA scholarships were awarded.
The 2022 ATHENA Prize nominees
This year’s nominees for the 29th annual ATHENA Awards program, which celebrates the achievements of outstanding professional women in the Mahoning Valley:
• Marcy Angelo, COO, White Glove Payroll
• Rachelle Babcock, Executive Director, Trumbull Community Action Program
• Joy Polkabla Byers, Associate Vice President of Student Experience, Youngstown State University
• Stacie Call, Market Head Nurse, Mercy Health-Youngstown/Mercy Health-Lorain
• Allison Carrocce, Operations Manager, Wee Care Day Care and Learning Center & Lads-N-Lasses Academy
• Rose Carter, Executive Director, ACTION
• Aundrea Cika Heschmeyer, President/Owner, Marquee Creatives
• Christine Cope, Director of Marketing and Development, United Way of Trumbull County
• Jennifer Dailey, Vice President of Operations, The J. Arnold Wealth Management Company
• Jessica Moore Dragoiu, Purchasing and Product Development Manager, Phantom Fireworks Companies
• Aimee Fifarek, Executive Director/CEO, Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library
• Darla Gallagher, Vice President of Business Operations, Meridian HealthCare
• Stephanie Gilchrist, Regional Director, Youngstown Business Incubator
• Dr. Anita Hackstedde, President and CEO, Salem Regional Medical Center
• Traci Hostetler, Superintendent, Eastern Ohio Educational Services Center
• Carolyn Korenic, Director of Alumni and Advancement, Ursuline High School
• Dr. Maria Kowal, Chief Medical Officer, Ohio Northeast Health Systems, Inc.
• Lauren Lindvig, Owner, Bliss360 Marketing
• Melissa Maki, Vice President, Director of Marketing Communications, Middlefield Bank
• Lisa Metzinger, Partner, Insurance, Cohen & Co.
• Mary Mihalopoulos, Supervisor, Adult Career Center, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center
• Teresa Miller, Executive Director, Valley Economic Development Partners, Inc.
• Dawn Ochman, President and CEO, Dawn Incorporated
• Melissa Poland, Owner/Operator, Sweet Melissa’s Good Eats
• Amy Reynallt, Principal, HBK CPAs & Consultants
• Amy Shope, Managing Partner/Owner, Lehner Shope Wealth Group
• Julie Sole, CapEx North America project manager, Vallourec
• Dawn Turnage, Director of Parks and Recreation, Youngstown
• Angela Vincent, Controller/General Manager, Professional Engine & Generator Systems Inc.
• Cynthia Wollet, CPA, Principal and Director of Accounting and Auditing, Packer Thomas