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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Ally Supple

I have never really been an artistic person in terms of drawing, painting, etc., but I have always had a deep appreciation for art in all forms. My mom and sister were the one’s painting, drawing, building, and crafting while I was singing, playing instruments, and writing. I never saw myself as having the ability to be artistic in different ways. During the pandemic, as everyone did, my fiancé and I started exploring new hobbies. Read more>>

Dewey Rice Jr.

Growing up, I was always one to grab/catch the attention of others, whether it was from the way I dressed, the way I carried myself, my obnoxious laugh, or just the company I kept. So, when I sit back and think, entertaining others has been something I’ve done for so long. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and after graduating undergrad, I was lost in the direction I wanted to go.  Read more>>

Will Sears

A Harlan, KY, native, Will Sears is a fearless leader whose ambition and talent drive those around him. After a robust early career spanning a variety of marketing roles, Will founded W.Bradford Marketing Agency in 2017, relocating the business to Cincinnati in 2019. The agency is Cincinnati’s first and only NGLCC-certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) marketing agency. Will’s spicy yet smooth approach to creative marketing has resulted in endless examples of jaw-dropping work, but it’s his dedication to consistency and perfection that helped him successfully launch his own brand. Read more>>

Liz Kitchell

Liz was solution-focused for years, showing advisors a successful, but linear and emotionless approach to selling. This worked well for people who were “ready to buy” and needed guidance on strategy or product selection. She also knew that people that were not trained or late to the financial game often had emotional issues around money—mostly embarrassment that they hadn’t figured out how to manage family experiences with a long-term savings approach.  Read more>>

Amy Monak

My mom and I started our business in 2012 making hypertufa stone pots and planting fairy gardens in them. We were called the Garden Gals. We took our pots and fairy gardens to shows/markets and also gave make your own fairy garden classes. We did that for a few years and I also started to teach myself how to make hand-painted signs. I got laid off from my job so I opened an Etsy store for my signs and called it The Old Rusty Coop.  Read more>>

K-Dub $olid

It all started in my best friend Jake’s basement in 2012-2013. I believe I was around 14 or 15 years old when I decided this was something I was noticing I had a Talent in also I was being more Interested in the Music Industry so started researching about it.  I was a singer before I ever thought about becoming a “Rapper”, until one day Jake was like “Bro you Should try Rapping and Ditch Singing!”. I considered the idea, then after some thought, I became the Soon To Be Legendary ‘K-Dub $olid’. Read more>>

Nathan Aston

At the age of 15, I started working at Barbera & Sons Landscaping as a lawn maintenance crew member. Off and on I worked throughout the summers and learned the techniques and practices of properly maintaining a lawn along with working on small landscape projects. I worked hard and proved my worth to the company. Years later, I graduated high school in 2018 with no definite path ahead. The owner of the company decided he was looking to sell the business and focus on other things. Read more>>

Marci Johannes

I started in the restaurant industry at a very young age…around 17. My first job was at Bob Evans as a hostess and I went on to become a server… After attending Archbishop Alter High School, I joined the United States Army where I briefly served for two years. When I returned to home base here in Ohio, I attended Wright State University for about a year but quickly realized college wasn’t the path I wanted to take. Read more>>

Samantha Evans

As a child, I grew up with divorced parents. My father had sole custody of me which I believe was directly due to his own personal recovery. My mother on the other hand, was and still is, an alcoholic. My father’s house was stable, loving, and safe but mom’s house was the total opposite. It was a home filled with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse. Although I only went to my mom’s on the weekend, the impact of the dysfunction in that home had a lasting effect on me. Read more>>

Kiana Del

I’m a vocalist, educator, songwriter, and curator hailing from the valleys of a small, rural Northern Kentucky town called Carrollton. Music fascinated me from a young age – I acted and sang in musicals from pre-school through high school. At the early age of 4, I was begging to hop on the mic to sing solo hymns in church. When my parents saw the drive behind that spark, they signed me up for piano lessons at age 7. Read more>>

Paula Medina

As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist that practices anesthesia in the operating room and specializes in non-surgical facial rejuvenation, I found it important to share my journey with my clients. My passion became aesthetics, I realized that after providing anesthesia all day and the thought of having to see a client right after, this made me happy. It is my passion to succeed in providing confidence to other women just like me.  Read more>>

Amber McDonough

I’ve had a passion for paper and art since I was little. I always thought I would be an artist, but over the years, I fell in love with graphic design. Initially, Blú Rose Designs started as a passion project. My husband convinced me to open an Etsy shop to sell invitations and art prints. I would get a few orders here and there, but I never put much effort into it while working my corporate banking job. It wasn’t until I got laid off (a blessing in disguise) that I really started to design consistently and teach myself the ins and outs of graphic design. Read more>>

Kelly Wiley

My real estate journey began 16 years ago as a local real estate agent in Jackson when my kids started growing up. I earned my top spot at the agency and decided to open my own business – Kelly Wiley Realty – and became the managing broker. I continued working hard and had various agents come and go throughout the process. During 2020, right before COVID shut down schools and businesses, I merged with Keller Williams and my business became the Kelly Wiley Group of Keller Williams Excel Realty. Read more>>

Nolan Meyer

I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and moved to Cleveland to attend the Cleveland Institute of art. At CIA I locked into painting as my favorite medium but also got to learn video editing and was more familiarized with photoshop and other adobe programs. I learned a lot more about art and met some great people through the school and in 2020, I graduated. I had to move back home briefly to save money and I worked a job in construction for about a year. Now, I have been back in Cleveland for a little over a year and I’ve been making as much work as possible. Read more>>

Erin Dunne

At a young age, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune condition of the digestive tract. Throughout my childhood, I was in and out of remission, on multiple medications, but never truly had regained my quality of life to what it was before. I had always felt different because of the identity of chronic illness and felt weighed down by being tied to that label forever. I fell into the victim “why me” mentality and just accepted there wasn’t much I could do.  Read more>>

Kyle Delgado

My story begins during 2020 as my job was taken and I wanted to spend my time productively trying to create something for myself. I discovered my passion for woodworking and making ear plugs for stretched ears. I personally react to most of the materials used in stretching jewelry. I wanted to create something for people like me and other natural-based stretching jewelry. Read more>>

Mary Clark

I’ve always been interested in art, intending to become an illustrator of some sort from a young age. I started at the Myers School of Art at The University of Akron in the fall of 2011, taking my first 3D class in my second semester. It was there that I first made something out of clay and realized that was the thing I was going to do forever. After graduating in 2016 with my BFA in Ceramics, I started doing craft shows at the suggestion of my older sibling. Read more>>

Nathan Leber

I grew up in a rural town on a farm in Northern Ohio, I was taught how to use my hands and work hard from minute one. Traits that I now appreciated have taken me a long way. I graduated from college with BFAs in Fine Arts and Printmaking, that was in April of 2009 smack in the middle of the recession. So, between the devaluation of college degrees and having massive debt I had to find something.  Read more>>

Stephen Shumard

I began by exploring downtown Cincinnati about 8 years ago and started to capture the architecture and cityscapes with my camera. I wanted to share my photos with people and started the Instagram account @513_cincinnati “I ❤️ Cincy”. The more I photographed, the more I taught myself different camera techniques and learned editing software. I then began to branch out of just downtown, exploring more of Cincinnati’s 52 wonderful neighborhoods, and started posting facts and the history about the stunning architecture, businesses, and people throughout the Queen City! Read more>>

Michelle Williams

I’ve had many obstacles I’ve overcame since a very young age. I grew up in Lincoln Heights, a small town where it is 99% black and the poverty is almost just as high. I had a hard-working single mother who had her own set of struggles that affected our household. My mother suffered from depression and while no one really talked about it back then, it put our family in tough situations. Read more>>

Emma Early

I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember, all the way back to around 6-7 years old with an old flip phone at the zoo. I didn’t get my first decent camera until around 2018, it was a Canon Rebel T3i. I used it on automatic mode to take photos of my rabbits and dog. It wasn’t until late 2019 when I started an Instagram for my dog, that I started seeing other dog owners taking and editing all these cool photos. I knew I wanted to do that too, so I spent all my time taking photos, watching YouTube videos, and learning to edit. Read more>>

Nick Smith

I got started with just taking pictures of family, friends, vacations, etc. like many other people just to capture the memories. In 2010, I picked up my first DSLR to try and get some better photos other than the point-and-shoot cameras. This continued and grew into finding other things like sunsets and sunrise landscapes and capturing family farming memories out in the field. I am a moody photographer where I try to capture that feeling of the subject or the feeling I felt when I snapped the shutter. Read more>>

Qwavais’e Sneed

At the age of 14, I had a dream to be on tv. I wanted it so bad I could actually see it in my dreams. I just didn’t know what my calling was. I thought everything would be just how they make it seem to be on the big screen, but I couldn’t even imagine how the big screen would be where I am today. Before Graduating from Middletown High School, I had a few brief segments on Nick Lachey’s Reality Show “Taking The Stage” On MTV for dance. From there I went to college at The University Of Akron For Culinary Arts and minor background for The Arts Read more>>

Jayden Fomby

I grew up around the arts my whole life. My mom is a model, poet, actress, and hostess. So, it molded me. I had no choice but to fall in love with the arts and have a deeply rooted respect for them. When I was a senior, I directed my first ever fashion as a senior fundraiser and realized I loved directing and producing fashion shows. When I was in my freshman year of college, I created the business model for my company 7 Kingdoms LLC. I work as a production manager for A’CREW and also social media marketer for B-Elite pageants. Now I am working on my first fashion show under my business titled The Coronation August 20th. Read more>>

Don Kleppin

I was introduced to podcasts around 2010 when I was at Columbia College Chicago, my friend and I did our own very amateur take on them called Avoiding People with Don and MJ. I think we did five episodes maybe and we really had no idea what we were doing. Then some friends and I did A.I.R. (Alternative Improvised Radio) on YouTube for a bit, also very amateur but getting better.  Read more>>

Austin Qualls

I was born in Akron, OH, and had the honor of being in the BETA class of the 330 Ambassador program under the LJFF organization. Eventually, I worked for LRMR as an associate until graduation when I left for the US Navy. After a few years in service, 2 children, living in California, finding a boxing gym that changed my life, my fiancé separated a couple of years after I did, and my family and I moved to Harrisburg, PA where I pursued my entrepreneurial vision and open up Rogue Sol Training where we focus on developing leaders through a holistic training approach. Spiritual, Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Financial Fitness. Read more>>

Meghan Bowen

At the age of 7, my mom enrolled me in ballet at a new local dance studio. I was devastated! I loved playing outside and wanted nothing to do with being a “girlie girl”. My first class, I walked in crying. I was a mess, told my mom immediately I wanted to leave. The teacher convinced me to stay and just try it out. The only spot left at the ballet barre was the one closest to where the teacher stood. Great. Just where I wanted to be! Yea, right! The good news is, I survived.  Read more>>

Chris Nevoso

I went to the circus with my uncle, aunt, and cousin when I was pretty young. I had always enjoyed the circus, but on this occasion, I happened to be part of the pre-show festivities, and actually got to do a water-spitting act with the clowns. I quickly learned that making a group of people laugh is one of the best feelings in the world, and immediately wanted to be able to do it again.  Read more>>

Charles Campbell

Charles “Darius, Cam” Campbell, a rising entrepreneur, and creator was born to a mother of 7 in the urban communities of Cleveland, Ohio. At a young age, him and his family moved throughout Cleveland until his mother and stepfather purchased a home in the Hough area of Cleveland. By this time young Charles was at the impressionable age of 13-14; the streets became enticing and slowly being to gain his attention. During these times Charles transitioned from his mother’s household to his father located on the west side of Cleveland. Read more>>

Taylor Thompson

Welcome to Paws & Play. Our adventure started when I started looking for a purpose outside of my career as a registered critical care nurse during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have always had a love for animals, spending time outdoors, and being active. I began with a dream to use my creative skills and passion for animals to start a business that was unlike any other. I then began taking dogs on walks in the community just as a hobby.  Read more>>

Wes Adams

Growing up both of my parents were entrepreneurs and I knew I wanted to take that path as well. After years of working for various corporations, we took the leap to start our own business in 2018. At the beginning, it started as an apparel brand with the goal of becoming a broader outdoor retailer. That changed in early 2020. The first two weeks of February 2020 was the best start to a month our company ever had followed by disaster. At one point we even considered folding the company altogether. Read more>>

Joziah Pollard

Hello, my name’s Joziah Pollard. I’ve been a comic book nerd and movie fan since before I can remember, and that’s always been an aspect that’s impacted my work. I was always the kid who was drawing characters like Astro Boy and Sonic the Hedgehog in Sunday School. As a native Brooklynite, my grade school days were usually filled with some sort of excitement. I was always an avid artist– from grade school to middle school I was grabbing any type of paper a pencil of some sort and drew for as long and often as I could. Read more>>

Christena Berry

Before my photography career, I actually went to college to become a Dental Assistant with the thought in mind that if I liked the field after working a few years in it, that I would go back to school to become a Dental Hygienist. I graduated with an excellent record and got hired immediately. I was told that I was a great assistant and I did love helping patients.  A few months before I started going to dental school, I had given birth to my second daughter (my 1st daughter being 12yrs old at the time). Read more>>

Gregory Rice

Well, I worked in the restaurant industry and logistics industry. I got tired of seeing a lot of profit been taking from local restaurants by large companies. Such as Uber eats and door dash. I have giving the business a different approach, our local restaurants keep all their profits. I also decide that my drivers would be hired through TTE so that we can proved the highest level of customers’ service. Our fees are lower than the competitions.  Read more>>

Paris Stewart

From the time I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to make t-shirts. I love art, designing, and creating things. Finally, at the age of 11, I decided I wanted to start a t-shirt business. I asked my mom, and she was a little hesitant at first in agreeing to purchase the equipment, but she did, and I’m glad she did! Initially, I started by drawing one character, and put the character on several shirts, and gave the shirts to my little cousins.  Read more>>

Karen Marie Jenkins

I am retired university professor of Developmental English and a College Administrator of Northern Kentucky University of 18 years. I have also taught on the college level at Miami University-Oxford and Middletown branches, Xavier University and Union Institute. I have an Associate degree in Fashion Merchandising, a Bachelor’s degree of Arts in Afro-American Studies and History, and a Master’s of Arts in Humanities. Read more>>

Tiffany Jamison

I started my business after working in the marketing industry for 15 years. Challenge, flexibility, and a new adventure were all factors, but I really wanted to work with my own book of clients and provide them marketing services on my own terms. I was tired of creating plans that leveraged every tactic, trend, and anything in between just to end up with a large retainer and 20-person team that many times would be expanding resources on something that could be simplified. It’s not a one size fits all. Read more>>

Robert Griffiths

My parents started my love affair with aviation back when I was around 18 months old in Wales, United Kingdom. Since then, aviation has had a huge impact on my life, especially during my early years. This manifested itself in anything creative that I did in school, whether it was art, history or my hand-drawn doodles during classes. In my senior years of high school in Wales, I went from art to photography in my education, and naturally, aviation called out to me to be documented and creative look. Read more>>

Albert Thurman Jr.

My love of photography started about 12 years ago. I had a $500 point-and-shoot camera I used for family events and people started asking how much I charged at the parties. So, before I started sending out invoices, I decided I better figure out how to really use the camera. From there I never really looked back. My love for photography simultaneously grew with the birth and popularity of Instagram.  Read more>>

Urbn Timber

Urbn Timber was established in early 2016 in a 1,200-square-foot unit on the South side of Columbus, OH. Treg Sherman, Tyler Hillyard, and Tyler Sirak – the three partners – recognized an ongoing issue with the disposal of the city’s trees and a useful material going to waste. The solution; collaborate with Columbus arborists to salvage trees that have been removed due to storm damage, potential hazard, new construction, disease, or death. Hardwood that has historically been left for waste or firewood, Urbn Timber would up-cycle into live edge wood slabs and contemporary furniture.  Read more>>

Alex Varney

As a young adult, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I moved to Australia right after High School and spent a little over a year there without ambition or direction. When I made it back to Ohio, I was even more lost.  I slowly went through college and graduated with a bachelor’s in Psychology while working in the restaurant industry but knew that I didn’t want to continue into a Master’s program in the same field. Read more>>

Jen Borman

I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to Chatham College. At the time it was a private, all-women’s liberal arts college but it has recently become co-ed. I stayed in Pittsburgh and started my career in retail working for American Eagle Outfitters (visual position – corporate headquarters). After a few years, I moved to Columbus to work for Express (visual position – corporate headquarters). Read more>>

Zara Rojas

It all started when I pretty much became a mother! As an adult, I would always sit back and remember the times my father would always carry around a camcorder or those disposable cameras lol, and always either taking pics or videos of my sisters and I. So, becoming a parent myself, I always wanted to make sure I took as many photos as possible and store them for memories. Read more>>

Annie Chubbuck

I learned to grow food while living in NYC, of all places. During my time there I moved into the East Village and while exploring I noticed these small community gardens all over the neighborhood. I thought these tiny green spaces tucked in-between buildings were so amazing. I quickly joined one and fell in love. I learned so much from my fellow community gardeners and it was an incredible experience to learn and connect with other gardeners in that way. Read more>>

Natalie Lanese

I first became interested in art when my mother enrolled me in classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art as a young child. By the time I applied to high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in art and attended a four-year studio art program at Beaumont School. I studied Art and Education Xavier University and through post-graduate coursework at Case Western Reserve University. Read more>>

Travis Howe

To keep a long story short, Fat T’s Cookies got started by complete accident because I got desperate for money. I had just finished up working one year in college athletics after graduating untraditionally (graduated while studying abroad in Russia) and decided to move back to Ohio to be closer to family and pursue my dream job. A few months into the search I was having no luck and it started to affect me mentally so I needed to find a way to pay for a gym membership to blow off some stream. Read more>>

Kristin Goodell

If I am being honest my whole life journey prepared me to be where I am today. My first job was as a busser at the local diner. I was 15. I stuck with the restaurant industry all the way into adulthood after that, essentially working every position except line cook and owner. Running a bar in sunny Miami, FL paid my way through art school. Painting and sculpting were my other passions. Read more>>

Ashley Glass

I started my journey as a young woman determined to get a Nursing Degree from the University of Cincinnati. My plans changed a little and I ended up in Public Health where I have been working now for 11 years. Along the way, I have dealt with a lot of adversity such as managing my anxiety and depression, an abusive relationship, and single motherhood. I embrace all of my experiences good and bad because that is what has made me into the person I am currently. Read more>>

Regina Ippolitova

I found my passion for Social Media Marketing shortly after moving to the United States from Russia in 2015. Knowing how fast this industry is developing and changing, I studied fundamental marketing and have begun learning from the best marketing specialists in both American and Russian markets through multiple online courses to keep my knowledge up to date. Read more>>

Eliza Ollinger

I am from Cynthiana, Ky originally, and moved to Detroit right after college. I fell in love with the city and began shooting while living in Detroit to show the beauty I saw in the city to others. My camera taught me to see things in a whole new way. What started as shooting Detroit evolved to shooting the people and streets of the world. I moved to Cincinnati in 2020 and had the opportunity to see explore the city through my lens and through the unique time of 2020. Read more>>

Kenny Gilder

I had operated a full time entertainment business since 1976 with multiple divisions: The longest established of which is “the dj company” (I would think the name makes this one obvious). #2 – The MOST rewarding division is Music Bingo OhiO where we entertain the elder community at Senior Centers, Independent, Assisted and Skilled Nursing living communities, #3 – Twisted Up Trivia, #4 – Tavern Feud, #5 – Giant Games of Cleveland. Read more>>

Priya Rama

My art is born from my chronic migraines. When one begins, along with the pain and pressure, colors and shapes flood my mind in fluid poetry. These visions are not through my eyes, but more inside my head. Depending on the level of pain and functionality, and with my studio being at home,I am sometimes able to paint through a migraine. However, when I just can’t, I am able to recall the imagery at a later time, and commit the images to canvas. Read more>>

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