2021 - 2023 STRATEGIC PLAN

The Thrive Mahoning Valley Strategic Plan summarizes past accomplishments and outlines the principles by which ThriveMV will approach its coming work. The strategic plan represents the culmination of work from the all-volunteer board of directors, partner organizations, and a strategic planning advisor. A new mission, vision, and set of goals was developed through this process.


ThriveMV hosted the first annual Mahoning Valley Welcoming Week in 2019.

During this annual series of events across the country, communities bring together immigrants, refugees, returning citizens, international students, and long-time residents in a spirit of unity to build strong connections across the community and affirm the benefits of welcoming everyone.

Welcoming Week 2019 took place Sept. 13-22.  Check out the Mahoning Valley events on social media with hashtag #MVwelcoming2019. 

In 2020, Welcoming Week took place under the theme of “Creating Home Together”. This is what it meant:

  • Home is not just a house.
  • Home is any place where you feel safe and accepted: in your neighborhood, in your community, at work.
  • Ultimately, home is where you feel you most belong.

In this pandemic, we may be redefining where home is, what makes us feel at home, or how to make home a more inclusive and equal place for all.

From Sept. 12-20, Thrive assisted local organizations through service, including partnering for two voter registration events, assisting with food distributions, and promoting nonviolence with a youth organization.


Thrive Mahoning Valley started with a collaborative project to support families relocating to the Mahoning Valley from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Our team wanted a way for these families to have easy access to reliable resources and not have to worry about information being lost in translation. The project was initiated through the efforts of Justin Mondok and Christopher Tennant, both alumni of the Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program. The project received initial support from The Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Community Investment Grant Progam and through collaboration with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Thrive Mahoning Valley comenzó con un proyecto colaborativo para apoyar a las familias que se trasladan al valle de Mahoning desde Puerto Rico después de los huracanes María e Irma. Nuestro equipo quería una manera para que estas familias tuvieran acceso fácil a recursos confiables y no tuvieran que preocuparse de que la información se perdiera en la traducción. El proyecto se inició a través de los esfuerzos de Justin Mondok y Christopher Tennant, ambos egresados de Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program.  El proyecto recibió  apoyo inicial de una beca de inversión comunitaria de la Fundación Raymond John Wean y a través de la colaboración con la Corporación de desarrollo vecinal de Youngstown.



Justin Mondok  | Co-Director

Accessibility is a central focus of Justin’s professional work as an Urban Planner and much of the community work he engages. He believes in the idea of easily accessible information and physical places to better connect people to the things they need.

Follow Justin on Twitter @justin_mondok to learn more about the work he does.


Christopher Tennant  | Co-Director

For over 16 years, Chris  worked as a social worker and business development professional in the healthcare industry. Upon completion of his master’s degree (MPH) in 2017, Chris found himself seeking new opportunities that support his goal of a healthier, more equitable, and more welcoming Mahoning Valley. He currently works as a school-based therapist with The Red Zone and consults with local organizations on event planning and diversity & inclusion. Chris is a proud Puerto Rican who has personally assisted families relocating to the area. 


Pettitt color headshot

Nicole Pettitt  |  Board President

Nicole Pettitt, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Youngstown State University, where she researches and writes about immigrant and refugee education, teaches courses in Linguistics, and coordinates the university’s K-12 TESOL licensure endorsement (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Nicole is a former teacher of TESOL and Spanish, and comes to us by way of Minneapolis and Atlanta.

More information about Nicole’s scholarship and teaching is available on her YSU faculty site:  https://ysu.edu/directory/people/nicole-pettitt



Ariana Wyndham  |  Board Recorder

Ariana is a DACA recipient working hard to achieve inclusivity and diversity in communities through the arts and social activism. She currently resides in Trumbull County with her beautiful family.



Ra'Cole Taltoan  |  Board Treasurer

Ra'Cole is the owner/partner of Rockbrook Business Services, LLC. They offer accounting, business, and administrative services with a 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed.


Arlene Floyd  |  Board Member

Arlene brings a wealth of experience to this board. She spent almost 20 years at Youngstown State before retiring in 2019 and beginning work as a consultant She has over 35 years experience working in education and recruitment. She specialized in technology programs and STEM. Other specialties include: enrollment management, curriculum development, program development, fiscal management, program administration, data analysis, academic coaching, college transition specialist, fundraising, entrepreneurship training, multicultural training, grant reading and grant writing.


Terry Vicars  |  Board Member

Terry is currently a case manager with Catholic Charities' Regional Agency in Youngstown. His passion is eliminating all disparities in the Mahoning Valley.

Ira Cross  |  Board Member

Ira's goal is to give back to the community by helping others live healthy lives. He is currently employed with the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission, assisting in various roles including:  Office Assistant, Veterans' Benefits Counselor, Driver, and Outreach Assistant. Ira is a 'Yay Bikes' trained cyclist and coach, helping promote cycling and other healthy activities. Ira lifts his community up by providing useful information about healthy lifestyles, and participating in groups and organizations who want to advance Youngstown.



Cassandra Clevenger

Cassandra served as the first president of our Board of Directors. Cassandra was vital in helping Thrive establish in the Valley with her knowledge of the nonprofit space and community needs. We are forever grateful for her contributions.


Lorene Swartz

Lorene was instrumental in helping Thrive MV establish by providing Spanish translation services to help us launch the website and resource guide


The Raymond John Wean Foundation


The project received initial support from The Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Community Investment Grant Progam as well as technical assistance to get the project off the ground. The Thrive Mahoning Valley founders are all alumni of the Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program. Visit the Foundation’s website at rjweanfdn.org.