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Dawn’s night of honor

Warren businesswoman feted for achievements and contributions

Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic ATHENA Award recipient Dawn Ochman, owner of Dawn Incorporated, left, celebrates with employee Ashley Swipas, who nominated Ochman for the award, during the ceremony Thursday night at Waypoint 4180 in Canfield. The ATHENA Award program is sponsored by the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber and The Vindicator, a sister publication of the Tribune Chronicle.

CANFIELD — For nearly 30 years, Dawn Ochman has run a business in a largely male-dominated industry, but when it came to receiving a longtime prestigious award for her efforts, she was a woman of few words.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Ochman said, fighting back tears. “I’m not a person who seeks the spotlight a lot. 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 during Thursday’s ATHENA Awards dinner at Waypoint 4180 banquet center.

The three-hour event’s main sponsors 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 in and contributions to the Mahoning Valley’s business sector, community agencies, health care facilities, schools and other areas. They also were nominated for their community service and contributions to the Valley’s betterment.

Ochman is president and chief executive officer 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 business’s team of project and quality-control managers, safety directors and others work to ensure “every step of the construction process is not only cost-effective, but time-effective,” its website states.

Ashley Swipas, the company’s administrative director, nominated Ochman for the award.

Ochman started her trucking and construction business 29 years ago with a single truck and a dump hauler, but by 2003, she had amassed more than 30 trucks. Five years later, she made inroads in the construction industry and today, she has about 36 employees, Ochman said.

For years, Ochman has had her sights on promoting the value and gifts of women business owners — especially those whose companies have faced a variety of disadvantages and hardships. Along those lines, she also serves as a mentor to women-owned businesses in the Small Disadvantaged Business program, which is under the U.S. Small Business Administration umbrella.

The program provides businesses run by those who face social and economic challenges with training and technical help to more effectively compete in the U.S. economy.

Last year, Dawn Incorporated added six additional clients that included the City of Warren and the U.S. Army Reserves. Ochman’s company also was awarded a five-year, $250 million construction-services contract for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ochman’s contributions to the Valley also have been far-reaching. She supports the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County and the Warren Family Mission; she also has served on the Ohio Means Jobs committee as well as the YWCA Mahoning Valley Board of Directors and its finance committee, among other efforts.

The event’s keynote speaker 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, N.J., and earned a doctorate degree from Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, discussed the power of data science as a tool to solve numerous problems in health care.

She cited a case in which it was used to ease the experiences of some people who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Katz and her team developed a model using data science that allowed such patients to come for their treatments when they wished, not have to wait and “get back to their lives and families,” she told the audience of several hundred.

Her early interest in the field sprang from her childhood days when she accompanied her father, who was a surgeon at the former Northside Hospital in Youngstown, on rounds through the facility, Katz remembered.

Giving the reflection was Judge Theresa Dellick of Mahoning County Juvenile Court, who also was the 2021 ATHENA Award recipient.

The Valley’s greatness is defined largely by the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, which celebrates women’s achievements, as well as such women themselves, she explained.

“There’s no more glass ceiling,” Dellick said to applause.

Another hallmark of the region is the gritty attitude of many who persevere and refuse to give up regardless of challenges and adversity, she said.

“We’re survivors, and we’re going to make tomorrow better than today,” Dellick added.

The 30 women who were nominated for the award represented the largest number of nominees since 2007, Kim Calvert, the Regional Chamber’s senior vice president of marketing and member services, said. In addition, she praised the women for excelling in their professions, acting as role models in their communities and having an impact on issues they sought to address.

Also at the event, three ATHENA scholarships were awarded.

2022 ATHENA Award nominees

This year’s nominees for the 29th annual ATHENA Award Program, which celebrates the accomplishments of outstanding professional women in the Mahoning Valley:

• Marcy Angelo, director of operations, White Glove Payroll

• Rachelle Babcock, chief administrative officer, Trumbull Community Action Program

• Joy Polkabla Byers, associate vice president of student experience, Youngstown State University

• Stacie Call, market chief nursing officer, Mercy Health-Youngstown / Mercy Health-Lorain

• Allison Carrocce, director of operations, Wee Care Day Care and Learning Centre & 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, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County

• Darla Gallagher, vice president of business operations, Meridian HealthCare

• Stephanie Gilchrist, regional director, Youngstown Business Incubator

• Dr. Anita Hackstedde, president / CEO, Salem Regional Medical Center

• Traci Hostetler, superintendent, Educational Service Center of Eastern Ohio

• 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, marketing communications director, Middlefield Bank

• Lisa Metzinger, partner, assurance, 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 / CEO, Dawn Incorporated

• Melissa Poland, owner / operator, Sweet Melissa’s Good Eats

• Amy Reynallt, senior manager, HBK CPAs & Consultants

• Amy Shope, managing partner / owner, Lehner Shope Wealth Group

• Julie Sole, North American CapEx projects manager, Vallourec

• Dawn Turnage, director of parks & recreation, Youngstown

• Angela Vincent, controller / general manager, Professional Engine & Generator Systems Inc.

• Cynthia Wollet, CPA, principal & director of accounting and auditing, Packer Thomas

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