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. In 2018, there were over 2,000 events in 400 communities during the week, with more than 80,000 people participating and over 14 million social media impressions.

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


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 15 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 and consults with local organizations on diversity and inclusion. Chris is a proud Puerto Rican who has personally assisted families relocating to the area. Chris can be found on social media with screen name ctennantygt.



Cassandra Clevenger  |  Board President


Arlene Floyd  |  Board Treasurer

Pettitt color headshot

Nicole Pettitt  |  Board Member

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


Ra'Cole Taltoan  |  Board Member


Terry Vicars  |  Board Member


Ariana Wyndham  |  Board Member



Genna Petrolla

Genna was a supporter of ThriveMV from the start and an early member of our Board of Directors that helped guide our organizational development


Lorene Swartz

Lorene was instrumental in helping Thrive MV launch 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. 

Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation


YNDC works to transform neighborhoods into meaningful places where people invest time, money and energy into their homes and neighborhoods; where neighbors have the capacity to manage day-to-day issues; and where neighbors feel confident about the future of their neighborhood. YNDC provided collaborative support to assist in project getting started. Learn more about their work at yndc.org