Young Professionals of the Alleghenies

How It All Started...

YPA was started by four local professionals who were tired of hearing people say there was nothing to do in this town with no way to network and meet new people.  In 2007, Megan Seese Livingston, Jill Skowron Gontkovic, Helene Gleason and Adia Dobbins decided to form a young professionals organization and within a few months the Young Professionals of the Alleghenies was formed and functional.

Over the years, YPA has worked hard to not only provide social and networking opportunities but to also give young professionals a voice in the future of our region.  YPA was a driving force in the 2020 Regional Vision, a research-based study that reached out to thousands or local residents and former local residents.  Among other things, the report concluded that jobs alone are not enough to keep YPs in the area -- quality of life amenities are critical, too -- but attracting former residents back to the community will produce significant economic gains for the region.  While pointing out the significant challenges that the region faces in terms of jobs and educational opportunities, the report also found  that the city is as good as or better than comparable communities in Vitality, Around Town and Cost of Living -- strengths on which we can build.

YPA has also been a key influence in mobilizing community volunteers.  The organization has supported more than 30 different local and national charitable causes through events and donations.  The continued demand for YPA volunteers lead to the collaboration with Lift Johnstown to create a volunteer registry site for all community volunteers, which has now transitioned to Get Connected (a site managed by Lift Johnstown and The United Way of the Laurel Highlands).

YPA always has been, and continues to be, a true catalyst for change in our community. 

FAQs About YPA

What is a Helping Hour?
At the beginning of 2018, the new YPA board wanted to bring back YPA's traditional First Friday Happy Hours, but with a twist! Focusing on helping our community, we re-branded our FFHHs to be First Friday HELPING Hours. We choose a different cause/organization to support each month, and then collect relevant donations at our Helping Hour. For our venue, we pick a different location every month to spread around our support of local business. This provides attendees an opportunity to try something new or visit an old favorite. Come as you are, whether that's in jeans, a suit, or anything in between. It's an informal time of socializing with new acquaintances and old friends. There is no cover charge and no membership requirement. All are welcome, regardless of age, occupation, or education. And mark your calendar, because it's always the first Friday of every month!

How long is a paid membership?
Memberships are good for a year from the purchase date. So if you join on July 15, 2018, your membership is good through July 15, 2019.
Effective June 1, 2015, all new and renewing memberships paid through our website will auto renew for the 2nd year (recurring payments). You will receive emails prior to and after that auto-renewal with the option to opt out if you wish.

I am interested in a Board of Directors position within the organization. What should I do?
The members of our Board of Directors are elected for two year terms which begin in January each year. Please speak to a current board member to express interest. An announcement will be made when we accept applications.

I'd like to update my YPA Profile. How do I notify YPA with this information?
You can update any of your personal information and/or preferences by signing into the website at any time. The log-in button is located in the upper right of the website. A user name and password will be given to you (via email) upon your registration with YPA. If you do not know your password, click here to retrieve it. If you no longer have access to the email account you had on file with YPA, please send as an email at

*Automated Renewal Disclaimer
For Members in our Automated Renewal Program: If your membership was automatically renewed and you would not like to renew your membership, please reach out to within 30 days of your renewal date.

First Friday Helping Hours (FFHH)

The First Friday of every month we get together for a casual happy hour and a great cause. Each time we choose a different charity or activity to support with donations. Be sure to check our calendar and join us!

2018 FFHHs

Each month we choose a different organization and lend a helping hand by collecting donations to further their causes.  We announce the current month's charity along with our First Friday Helping hour and attendees bring their donations along.  So far in 2018, we've collected

  • Jackets and blankets for Beginnings, Inc. and GJHS Interact Club's "I Am Not Lost" program
  • Socks and toiletries for the Fresh Start Soap Pantry, Women's Help Center, and Victim Services
  • Business clothes for the Career Closets at Penn Highlands and Pitt Johnstown
  • Single serve food items for the Cambria County Backpack Project
  • Art supplies for Bottle Works
  • Sold tickets for the NAACP's Juneteenth concert
  • Pet supplies for the Cambria County Humane Society
  • School supplies for Stuff a Bus
  • Gently loved accessories for Learning Lamp

Jackets for January 2018

Offer An Idea

We're always looking for causes to support in the future. If you would like to submit an idea for us to consider, please contact us.

Meet Our Board

YPA is governed by a board of volunteer members. The board strategically drives the mission of the organization. This leadership position requires community involvement, attendance at monthly board meetings and YPA events, and the desire to grow professionally. Serving on a non-profit board such as YPA is an integral step for many previous and current board members to establishing themselves as a community leader.

President - Sherri Rae

Sherri moved to Johnstown in 2001 to work at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and has happily made it her permanent home! Currently the Director of Student Housing for the University, she is a double graduate of Slippery Rock University, with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in College Student Personnel. Professionally, she serves as the Housing and Facilities Operations Co-Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers. 

In addition to her involvement in YPA, Sherri serves as the Secretary for the Board of Directors for Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies, Vice President of the Board of the Cambria-Somerset Outstanding Young Woman Scholarship Program, Parade Chair for Richland Community Days,  and a long time volunteer of the Cinderella Project. Sherri also volunteers with the Community Connection Team, working to end violence toward women, the Dancing Like a Star fundraiser for Beginnings, Inc., and is a Trinity Farm girl. She is also a regional volunteer for Alpha Sigma Alpha National Sorority chapters in the state of Pennsylvania.

In her spare time (lol) Sherri is involved in upcycled crafting (rehabbing old furniture and clothing) , and local theatre (both on stage and off), but often just enjoys relaxing at home with a glass of wine and her cat Charlie.

Sherri credits her initial membership in YPA in 2009 as the catalyst that connected her to the community, and all of the great people she has met in the Alleghenies region.


V.P./President-Elect - José Otero

Born in Mexico City and raised in sunny San Diego, California, José had a wonderful childhood. Growing up in a diverse community that offered many opportunities at a young age allowed for him to experience the American dream from early on in life. José lived in a variety of areas throughout the country, but is glad to now call Johnstown, Pa home.

At a young age, José's first first job was delivering newspapers. In high school,  he had a supervisory role working for a major retail company. Throughout his college years, he gained experience in a number of jobs from washing dishes, cooking, working construction, and education. Working in various industries allowed for him to find his skills set which is; working with people. Since completing his B.A. in Business Management/ Economics, he's worked in the public relations, financial analysis, risk management, and health care sectors, and served as the District Director for a United States Member of Congress.

Midway through his career, he decided to return to school and pursue an MBA in Strategic Leadership. After completing his degree and graduating with honors, he spends his time sharing his knowledge by volunteering in community service initiatives, working with Department of Defense contractors, financial institutions, school districts, law enforcement, non-profits, small and Fortune 500 companies all while mentoring our youth toward a sustainable and virtuous path. José  is a firm believer that investing in his community and children is a great Return on Investment (ROI).  José often says that "The ROI for developing and changing the lives of others in an impactful way is a future generation that is self- sufficient, makes smart decisions, and builds collaborative relationships, creates a path toward a diverse, healthy and booming economy."

Treasurer - Al Clocker

Originally from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Al moved to Johnstown in 2016.  He attended Wilkes University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.  He is currently employed as a Senior Accountant at Wessel & Company.  Al passed the CPA exam in 2017, and is currently pursuing a Master of Professional Accounting degree from The Pennsylvania State University.   He is currently serving as the treasurer for the YPA.  Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family and dogs, playing sports, and spending time outside.

Secretary - Stephanie Lambert

Stephanie spends her work days writing SQL and C# code for government clients.  A native of Somerset County, she has loved working in downtown Johnstown since graduating from UPJ in 2009.  Stephanie completed her master's in Applied Computer Science at Frostburg State in 2013.  She is active as a 4-H leader for the 5-8 year-olds and loves mentoring church kids of a similar age. She bakes a ridiculous amount of pies for church bake sales, and has mastered the art of gourmet cupcakes. Her bookshelves overflow with local history and genealogy books. Stephanie’s been a YPA-er since 2012 and appreciates the opportunity to mingle with the region's best. 

Olivia Bragdon

Since 2006, Olivia Bragdon has been working in the destination marketing industry as Communications & Group Tour Coordinator for the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Olivia works to attain media coverage, group tour travel and a social media presence for area tourism efforts. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Olivia has been a part of YPA since their inception and currently serves on the Social Committee. She also serves on the boards of Cambria & Somerset County’s Outstanding Young Woman Scholarship Program and the Sandyvale Wine Experience. In addition, Olivia works as an advocate for infertility and miscarriage awareness.

Angela R Godin

Angela was born in Pasadena, California. Eventually, she moved back to the area as a resident of Somerset County. Ms. Godin develops and navigates the Community Arts Center of Cambria County through new programming, special events, fundraising campaigns and grant funding. She is a Cum Laude graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts. Godin worked as an independent contractor in art related fields for over eleven years. This experience included directing over twenty plays and musicals, performing in close to forty productions, as well as vast experience in choreography, teaching dance, stage-managing, lighting design, sound design and production administration. Her repertoire comprises of directing theatre festivals, studio theatre projects, acting camps, training seminars and teaching theatre courses to all ages. In her spare time your can find Ms. Godin directing plays and musicals, choreographing or stage-managing productions. She feels blessed to have the opportunity to grow the Arts Center and keep the Arts Alive in Cambria County.

Jill Skowron Gontkovic

Jill Skowron-Gontkovic is one of YPA’s founding members.  She saw a need in the area for like-minded individuals to have a place to come together, do good things, and have some fun!  Jill is a graphic designer with an Associates Degree in Multimedia from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelors Degree in Visual Communications from AIU.  She worked as a Digital Artist/Animator at Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) for 13 years. She is currently a freelance Graphic Designer, Marketing Director at DB Homes, and operates Coal Tubin’ in the summer with her husband.  In her spare time she loves to do crafts, laugh at memes, enjoys CrossFit, Yoga, and spending time with her 4 beautiful children.

Mike Hruska

Problem Solutions

Michael Hruska is a technologist with experiences spanning across standards, emerging technologies, learning, and science. He is a former researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Mike provides technology, business model and innovation solutions to Fortune 500, government and startups. His team has been stewarding the efforts for the last 8+ years at the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative on the Experience API (xAPI). He researches, strategizes, designs, and makes advanced technology solutions and products. His team has built award winning products and delivered solutions that support millions of users. Michael’s experience spans the continuum between advanced research on adaptive learning ecosystems and solution/product design.

Michael serves as a mentor and guide for a number of startups. He hosts a monthly entrepreneur meetup and other events to support local and regional entrepreneurship. He also serves as an advisor to the Robert Waters Trust Fund at the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to support entrepreneurship and early stage companies.

Michael currently serves as Chair of the Goodwill Industries of Conemaugh Valley. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Pittsburgh (Johnstown). He has previously held board positions at the Cambria County Chamber of Commerce, the Somerset County Economic Development Council, Venue of Merging Arts (VOMA), United Way of the Laurel Highlands, and the Johnstown Business District Development Corporation (JBDDC).

Natalie Kauffman

Natalie Kauffman was born and raised in Johnstown. After living in the Baltimore and Annapolis Area for 5 years she recently relocated home to shift her career into the nonprofit sector. She had previously had a successful 16 year career in cosmetics retail management and is now the current Coordinator for the Cambria County Backpack Project which supplies weekend meals to children facing food insecurity. Natalie joined the YPA 7 years ago and loves to connect with other YPA members through volunteering. Her biggest hobbies include golfing, riding motorcycles and refinishing antique furniture. 

Travis S. Lodolinski

Owner/Marketing Specialist
Traventures Media Group

Born in Johnstown, PA, Travis earned a degree in Digital Media/Graphic Design & Marketing from Waynesburg University. He started Traventures Media Group in 2018 and is an active member of Johnstown Toastmasters as their current president. In his spare time, when he's not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, golfing, and coaching his son's football team. As the current YPA Marketing Chairperson, Travis looks forward to working closely with all of the members to create a buzz around the area, developing opportunities for those in need.

Chelsea Nelson

Chelsea Ann Nelson is 25 years old and is an Executive Administrative Assistant for Carpenter Financial Services in Johnstown. She graduated from Central Cambria High School in 2011 and attended Pennsylvania Highlands Community College where she received her Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. Chelsea is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree as we speak. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, working out, singing, reading, and essentially tries to be as active as possible. Chelsea enjoys working with people as well as helping out in any way that she can. For this reason, she has joined YPA to fulfill her desires of helping others and promote her community to be the best that it can be. Chelsea currently serves as the Social Event Coordinator for YPA and is very excited to fulfill this position within.

Ethan Stewart

Founder/financial planner
814 Worx/ Centennial Financial Group LLC

Originally from the Northern Virginia area, Ethan moved to Johnstown PA 3 years ago. Coming into town to work at Centennial Financial Group LLC he had every intention of coming in, getting his licensing, then going somewhere else. However he stayed because he saw the Immense potential this area has, specifically for creating and entrepreneurship. Following his passion he works with business owners through financial planning, investment and also by founding the first co-working space in town, 814 Worx, to help prove that business can be started here in town.

Using this platform he is heavily involved in helping the entrepreneurship scene evolve and grow. Either through financial planning, workshops, or just sitting down to talk about business, he is passionate in helping someone with an idea and a drive to build their business. Giving back is important to him, so he is involved in the community through Richland Rotary club, the JAHA board, and the YPA for 2 years now. He is a shark at UPJ helping young entrepreneurs to develop their business and supports Vision 2025 and various initiatives in the area.

When not working on business, he tries to find time to enjoy the outdoors through hiking and camping. He also enjoys working with his hands, woodworking, getting good food, cooking, and enjoying a good book. Although he will always go talk business ideas over a drink anytime he can.

PO Box 5206 | Johnstown PA 15904

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software