Candice Harrison, President
Candice L. Harrison is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for SSOE Group. She previously held the position of External Communications Manager for the Toledo Public Schools. A native Toledoan and proud graduate of Central Catholic High School, Harrison received a bachelor’s degree from The University of Toledo in 2001 and earned her master’s degree in communications in 2014 from Spring Arbor University.
She most recently served as Director of Communications at Toledo Museum of Art and Senior Communications manager for the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. Prior to that she was director of the School Hubs Initiative at Scott High School, where she was involved in fundraising, community engagement projects and special-event planning. She also has held marketing and communications positions at the University of Toledo Medical Center and Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe, Michigan.
Candice was presented a Toledo 20 Under 40 Leadership Award in 2014 and a Top Community Voices Award from the United Way of Greater Toledo in 2013 in recognition of her assistance as a volunteer during the annual campaign. Her many activities include membership on the board of trustees for both the University of Toledo Alumni Association and Leadership Toledo, and serving on the African-American Leadership Council of United Way of Greater Toledo (AALC). Through her work with AALC as co-chair, communications chair and a member of the scholarship committee, she has helped to improve the areas of education, income and health of African-American families in the Toledo region.
Candice is a member of the Rotary Club of Toledo and is a board member for both the Press Club and Public Relations Society of America. She is a member of the Toledo Chapter of Links Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Toledo Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. Last, but certainly not least, she is a Girl Scout troop leader at Grove Patterson Academy.
Matt Schroder, Immediate Past President
Matt Schroder is currently a Communications Leader on the Corporate Affairs team for Owens Corning. In this role, Matt has responsibility for connecting and engaging Owens Corning Roofing employees by elevating the employee and other stakeholder experience with impactful communications.
Overall, he has more than 27 years of experience in corporate communications, public relations, marketing and journalism. Since joining Owens Corning in 2011, Matt has had key communication roles in the quarterly earnings reporting; transitioning a new Roofing president; safety initiatives such as the company’s landmark mobile phone policy and the Green Cross Medal for Safety award; the company’s 75th anniversary; rebuilding the intranet; the acquisition of our coated wovens business (InterWrap); the Green Cross Medal for Safety award; and several United Way kick-off events.
Prior to rejoining Owens Corning, Matt spent 15 years developing strategies and executing clients’ marketing, public relations, media relations and crisis communication campaigns for several regional agencies in Toledo, Ohio. He began his career as a newspaper editor and reporter in several cities across Ohio.
Meghan Cunningham is the Executive Director of University Marketing and Communications for The University of Toledo. She is responsible for leading the communications team that promotes news and initiatives to internal and external stakeholders. Meghan serves as spokesman for the University and promotes UToledo through earned media efforts in local, regional and national news outlets to advance the brand and attract quality students and faculty to the institution. In her role, she advises senior leaders on communications strategy and is responsible for creating and executing crisis communications messaging.
Prior to joining UToledo in 2010, Meghan was a reporter at the Toledo Blade newspaper, covering the crime and education beats and sharing a wide variety of stories with the community. She also has reported for The Flint Journal and The County Press newspapers in Michigan. Meghan is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and UToledo, where she earned an MBA in marketing. She lives in Sylvania with her husband, Bob, and daughter, Eleanor, and son, Owen.
Stephanie M. Elton is an award-winning marketing communications leader with a special focus on multimedia content strategy in the digital space. Over her 20-year career, she has worked with record labels, art museums, performing arts organizations and libraries throughout the United States, with a particular focus on content development and data marketing communications.
In her current role as director of client services for Blue Water Communications, a boutique public relations firm that works with museums, performing arts organizations, architecture firms and destinations, she works side-by-side with clients to find strategic ways to amplify their stories and to connect with audiences in impactful and meaningful ways. In addition to serving as a board member for the Press Club of Toledo, Stephanie serves on the board for Courageous Community Services and volunteers with Girls on the Run Northwest Ohio.
Marcus Harrison is the Creative Producer and Supervisor for Buckeye Community Arts Network (BCAN). He is responsible for the development of BCAN as a premiere arts and humanities media authority in Toledo and the surrounding region. BCAN is the sister network to BCSN and represents the artistic expression of northwest Ohio through education, performance, and exhibition. Marcus has 20 years of experience in media development and production through his time at WGTE Public Media, WBGU-TV, and BCAN. Marcus holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and marketing and a master’s degree in technology education, both from Bowling Green State University.
Marcus serves his local community through volunteerism on boards and consistent advocacy for the arts and youth education. As an adjunct professor at BGSU and The University of Toledo, Marcus has devoted his life to being a lifelong learner and uplifting his community through servant leadership. In his spare time, Marcus is a real estate investor, as well as football and baseball coach. He currently resides is Point Place with his wife, Adriana, and their four children, Adelei, Phillip, Marcus, and Andrew.
Barbara Hendel is the Society Editor at The Blade. She holds two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree, all in communications from Ringling College, Lourdes University, and Bowling Green State University. She covers social events, numerous philanthropic endeavors, and the diverse crowd of movers and shakers in the greater Toledo area. From Presidential and Governors balls to the Kentucky Derby, vacation spots Up North and in Florida, to country clubs, yacht clubs, and private home soirees, she’s been there.
Before coming to The Blade 20 years ago, she was in corporate communications holding various management positions in marketing, advertising, public relations, fine arts, and conflict management.
Over the years Barbara has been active in the community, volunteering on non profit boards and as a volunteer, lending her communication and organizational skills for the benefit of the community. She is an avid cheerleader for Toledo.
Erin Holden has been assignment editor for Toledo Area Parent since the summer of 2021. An award-winning freelance writer, she has been published in 008 Magazine, FACE Magazine, Lifestyle Indy, Toledo City Paper, Ann Arbor Family, eCurrent, Findlay Area Family, MLiving News, Deep South Magazine, Rougarou, The Louisiana Review, Roux, MAPP Magazine, among other publications, in addition to copywriting for various businesses nationwide.
Erin holds a B.A. in mass communications with a focus in print journalism from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and an M.A. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she studied creative writing while working at the Moody College of Business Information Systems & Multimedia Laboratory.
After defending her creative thesis, Erin completed her M.A. in 2013 and began freelance writing on the side as she focused on her teaching career. She began teaching English composition and early American literature, followed by an adult education teaching position at South Louisiana Community College. After realizing a passion for working with students whose second language is English, she taught at UL Lafayette’s Intensive English Program, where she also served as interim coordinator and ESL specialist. During her time as a teacher, Erin presented both scholarly and creative work at conferences and enjoyed doing fieldwork for the Louisiana Folklore Society.
In 2018, Erin moved to Toledo and soon began working for Adams Street Publishing Company, first as a freelancer, then as a full-time staff writer. As mom of a one-year-old boy, Townes, she now loves keeping local parents informed about the latest news and facilitating helpful conversations on the joys and tribulations of parenting. In addition to her editing position at Toledo Area Parent and freelance projects, Erin is currently working on both a novel, Whirly Girls, and a children’s book, Mommy, What’s in the Basement?
Jessica Hover is the Director of Public Relations for Communica, where she focuses on strategic communications, public relations, and social media. She has a particular niche in effectively communicating complex issues to diverse audiences.
Her varied background, predominantly in the non-profit sector, includes development, administration, and education, which has allowed her to hone expertise in project management and strategic planning. Jess is devoted to utilizing a variety of tools to best drive a client’s revenue and reputational goals.
Jess joined Communica in fall 2021 after serving as the Senior Public Relations Specialist for ProMedica. Prior to her work at ProMedica, she spent several years as the Development Director at the American Heart Association of Northwest Ohio. Her career started as an elementary teacher for five years and then moved to school administration, where she was the Associate Director of the Montessori School of Bowling Green for nearly eight years.
She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from The Ohio State University and a master of education from Bowling Green State University.She is a lifelong resident of Bowling Green, where she lives with her husband and three children, two cats and two dogs.
Erin has spent most of the last decade in the content world: She was the Assignment Editor for Toledo Area Parent, created content for small businesses and nonprofits, and worked as a freelance journalist. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Business Insider, Shondaland, Parents Magazine, Refinery29 and others. She is now an editor with Gyrate Media, based in NYC, and specializes in producing video and written content.
Before focusing on writing and editing, Erin spent ten years in education. As part of AmeriCorps, she taught English in Washington Heights; she also taught in rural and suburban parts of the country. She still loves teaching and is currently an adjunct professor at The University of Toledo, teaching intercultural communications, which draws on her time abroad as the Director of Student Activities for Miami University’s European campus.
Linda Parra is founder-president of Nuestra Gente Community Projects Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Toledo’s under-served communities. Founded in Toledo in November 2008 to serve the Hispanic/Latino community, Nuestra Gente has since expanded its mission and objectives for the inclusion of all community members in need. Nuestra Gente, which translates to “Our People,” is a champion for education, health, and the overall enrichment of life in Lucas County.
Linda also is founder-president and host/producer on FM-96.5, Nuestra Gente’s spanish-speaking radio station. Linda is a past board member of the Toledo Lucas County Health Center and the City of Toledo Youth Commission. She is a 2016 graduate of the University of Toledo.
For 20 years, Chrys Peterson was the face of WTOL news, anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. She’s a six-time Emmy Award winner whose tenure and influence were recognized by the Ohio Associated Press in 2014 when she was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame. She’s also earned four coveted Edward R. Murrow awards for her storytelling.
In 2014, Chrys retired from television news to begin her own consulting business, Chrys Peterson Consulting. She works primarily with ProMedica Health System developing and teaching leadership programs within the organization, and producing videos for the ProMedica Health Connect Website and ProMedica TV.
Chrys has also served on the boards of NW Ohio Komen for the Cure, The American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish and The Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. She works with numerous other organizations including The Victory Center, Kidney Foundation of NW Ohio, Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo, Sylvania Academic Excellence Foundation, and the Gretchen Gotthart Skeldon Foundation. She is a frequent emcee and speaker at community events.
Kim Sidwell serves as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Imagination Station, Toledo’s Science Center. She is responsible for the development of financial resources that fuel the work of the science center. Imagination Station combines science education and fun to spark a passion for the sciences with children, families and adults through interactive exhibits and educational programming.
Prior to the science center, Kim devoted 24 years to United Way of Greater Toledo where she oversaw both Resource Development and Marketing. Prior to United Way, Kim and her husband of 38 years lived in the Detroit area where she served as the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Detroit Metropolitan District Director. She successfully managed the fourth largest national market of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon with a multi-million dollar fundraising portfolio.
Kim has been honored as an award recipient of the YWCA Milestones and the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s Women of Distinction during her years in Toledo. She has served as a past-president of both the NW Ohio Public Relations Society of America Board and the Press Club of Toledo Board.
Kim resides in Sylvania Twp with two fur babies and has two grown stepchildren and a son-in-law whom she adores along with four awesome grandchildren who are growing up way too fast!
Charles Welch is a proud native Toledoan. Charles loves what the area has to offer. After living in Atlanta for a few years he moved back home to join his father in starting the new family business – The Juice 107.3. Besides being Program Director at The Juice, he has also hosted the morning drive and afternoon drive. He currently limits his on-air duties to Saturday mornings.
After losing his daughter, Sydney, to leukemia at the age of 11 months he began volunteering at The Toledo Children’s Hospital where Sydney’s Playroom is now located in her honor. Besides focusing on his career as a Real Estate Agent, Charles is also a Minister, a husband and a father.
Lauren Weppler is the News Director at WTOL-TV and WUPW in Toledo Ohio. Prior to being named news director, she was Assistant News Director for four years. A broadcast journalism graduate from West Liberty University in Wheeling, W.V., Weppler came to WTOL after a stint at WMBF-TV, Channel 32, the NBC affiliate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as a reporter and executive producer of the station’s morning newscasts, and before that as the evening anchor of a station in Beckly, W.V.