Our Members Are Our Assets

CLN Board and Officers


Cynde Johnson

Class of 2019
Cynde currently is a Board Member and a member of the Branding and Marketing Committee. She brings a lot of spirit to CLN along with over 20 years of professional leadership experience.

Cynde is Owner/Professional Photographer of Cynde B Photography, has a really unique mix of industry experience working as professional titles of Director of Marketing and Business Development, Office Manager and Finance/Credit Specialist.

She is always up for an adventure, loves being outdoors, live music, and traveling. Cynde lives with her family here in beautiful Chautauqua County.

Other community involvement includes: Volunteer Child Advocate for CASA of Chautauqua County

Vice President

Brian LeBarron

Class of 2019
Brian LeBarron is a CLN Class of 2019 alumni and became Chair, Branding and Marketing Committee in 2021. He’s also served on CLN task teams for Board of Directors recruitment and Class recruitment. Professionally, Brian is a Business Development Manager for SUNY Jamestown Community College – Workforce Development. He is a SUNY Fredonia graduate who brings 25 years experience in Marketing and Business Development associated with high profile brands such as Harley-Davidson, Fluidampr, and SEMA. Together, with wife Laura and three boys, they are near life-long residents of northern Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties who enjoy 4-H and camping.


Donna Flinchbaugh

Class of 2004
Donna is Branch Manager Northwest Savings Bank Mayville NY and Lakewood NY. She is a resident of Gerry, NY. Former employers: M&T Bank 25 years; BVQI (NA) 4 years; YWCA of Jamestown 2 years. Graduate of Houghton College BS in Business Management and JCC, AAS Business Administration. Spouse: Todd Flinchbaugh, two adult children Tara (Lexington, KY) and Troy (Fredonia, NY)

Community activities: Chautauqua Leadership Network – Chair, Program Development Committee; past President, treasurer; Workforce Investment Board, board of directors, treasurer; Chautauqua Opportunities for Development, Inc. vice Chair; member Jamestown Noon Rotary club


Jen Peters

Information coming soon!


Sarah Khan

Information coming soon!


Katie Young

Class of 2016
Katie was born and raised in the beautiful mountains of Heber City, UT. She has her BS in Behavioral Science. She worked for Utah Valley University for 15 years before she and her family decided to adventure out and move to Lakewood, NY.

Katie and her husband Kirk have 3 beautiful children who keep them running. She enjoys being on the soccer field watching her boys and the dance studio with her daughter. She serves in her church and loves spending time with friends and family.

CLN Board Directors

Director, 2023-2025. Past President, 2022.

Craig Garaas-Johnson

Craig Garaas-Johnson, CLN ’20, is a versatile professional with a professional career spanning nearly 20 years. He holds an MFA in poetry and pursued doctoral work in educational research focused on advanced statistical analysis of at-risk student populations. His love of language and analysis has led him to wear many hats including as an English professor, biofuels journalist, a business development professional for a utility, and a marketer and communicator at both the University of North Dakota and University at Buffalo. Throughout his career, he has always sought new opportunities to collaborate within and outside his field. Success is defined as getting resources to the people around him who will make a positive impact on the world. Craig earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and a BA in Composition from SUNY Potsdam.

Director 2021-2023

Tim Piazza

Class of 2003,
Timothy W. Piazza Ph.D. is the Talent Pipeline Manager and Apprenticeship Program Coordinator. Previously Tim was the Manager of Product Development for SKF Aeroengine North America.  He has spent all his professional career in research and development, post-secondary education and manufacturing.

Timothy, a lifelong resident of Jamestown, is married to an incredibly beautiful and talented wife who is a pre-K teacher at SWCS.  He has a ten-year-old son who luckily takes after his mother.

Director, 2022-2024

Trenton Lutes

Class of 2015,
Trenton is an Accredited Payables Specialist working for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities.  He is also the BPU Health & Wellness Team Leader and the founder/director of Work Well Chautauqua (WWCHQ), a network of employers working together to improve their employees’ overall health.

Trenton’s art studio, Toasted Waffle Studios, allows him to express himself creatively through photography, abstract painting and the art of bonsai.  His work has been on display around Chautauqua and Erie counties as well as into Pennsylvania and Ohio.  He has also been known to offer the occasional Beginners Bonsai class to help support his bonsai addiction.

Trenton was born in Westfield, spent some time residing in a lot of different places, and then returned to his hometown where he lives with his wife, Fergie, their two dogs and cat.  They spend their spare time gardening and canning, among other things.  In the summer you will likely find them at the Westfield Farmer’s Market or Timmerman’s Farm Stand supporting local farmers and artisans.

Director 2022-2024

Valerie Weber

Class of 2024 best class ever,
Valerie is the Marketing Manager at Monofrax LLC, where she has worked for over 30 years. A lifelong resident of Jamestown, Valerie is a proud graduate of JCC and SUNY Fredonia. Valerie loves her gardens, cats, and sourdough starter. She is privileged to be a volunteer dog walker at the Chautauqua County Human Society.

Director 2022-2024

Chris Taverna

Class of 2019,
Christopher C. Taverna is an Information Technology and Talent Development professional who helps people build skills for navigating the 21st century workplace. With over 25 years industry experience, Chris knows that each person uses technology in their own way on their path to success. It’s not about doing things the “right way” but rather doing things the “right way for you.”

Chris currently works in the Academic and Collaborative Technology department of The State University of New York at Fredonia as a Training and Knowledge Management Specialist. In addition to numerous technical certifications, Chris is a Certified Faculty Developer and a Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner. Chris holds a B.S. in Mathematics from The State University of New York at Fredonia.

Chris lives in Fredonia with his wife Karen, three children, three cats, and one dog.

Director, 2023-2025

Victoria Eckert

Class of 2022
Victoria Eckert, LMSW (she/her) is the Associate Director for Youth MOVE National, the Mental Health Training Consultant for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, an Adjunct Professor at Fredonia, and a Licensed Social Worker in New York State. Victoria has 13 years of combined experience in System of Care implementation, including youth engagement work, suicide prevention, mental health training and consulting, serving as a national technical assistance specialist/subject matter expert, and volunteering in Chautauqua County in various capacities. Victoria is passionate about mental health systems change efforts and macro social work practice.

Victoria lives in Frewsburg with her husband, four stepchildren, chameleon, and 150+ houseplants

Community Director, 2023-2025

Katie Castro

Katie is a speaker, strategist, and social entrepreneur who is committed to the catalyzation of movements through innovation, collaboration, and social impact. 

For 14+ years she has driven change in-the-trenches. Those trenches have varied in context: from community development + poverty alleviation, to maternal-infant healthcare + political lobbying, church missional strategy, and NGO incubation… the cord that binds them all together is Katie’s willingness to get into the gritty work of change through open communication, stakeholder buy-in, and risk-tolerance. 

After living and working internationally for the last decade, Katie is now planting roots in her hometown of Jamestown, NY with her husband and 3 children, and leading the charge at Ally Co, a first-of-its-kind venture studio in Western New York.

For more information on Katie, visit

Community Director, 2023-2025

Mindie McCarthy

Mindie McCarthy, Human Resource Manager at Rand Precision Machining, LLC. I also oversee the Human Resource department at our sister company JBK Manufacturing in Dayton, OH. Prior to Rand Machine, I was a Branch Manager at Career Concepts Staffing Service.

In 2021, Rand formed a Community Foundation that raises funds and donates to our local law enforcement, local Fire Departments and Veterans associations. I joined the foundation day 1 as the Vice President of our Steering Committee. We have raised over $40, 000 in our 1st year and we were able to help some great organizations.

A lifelong Chautauqua County resident, I am married and have 4 wonderful children, who I love spending time with.


While the Board of Directors make major decisions about the overall direction and function of the Chautauqua Leadership Network, it is at the committee level that the specific implementation of those decisions take place. The committees are comprised of members who have interest and experience in the subject of the committee they serve on. There is also at least one board director on each committee.

Program Development

Jacqueline Chiarot Phelps

Chair, class of 2017

Provide a world class community leadership development and asset discovery program.

• Develop the committee’s annual operational plan, that includes objectives and action steps with a budget for BOD approval.
• Establish leadership learning outcomes for the CLN training program.
• Design and implement the leadership training.
• Annually assess the leadership training against the leadership outcomes.
• Conduct a signature CLN event.

Branding and Marketing

Brian LeBarron

Chair, class of 2019

Promote and market a CLN brand that is recognizable throughout WNY.

• Develop the committee’s annual operational plan, that includes objectives and action steps with a budget for BOD approval.
• Build and sustain the CLN brand and communicate a consistent message through all channels and platforms
• Maintain the CLN website, social media presence, and marketing materials.
• Engage in outreach efforts to individuals, organizations, corporations, and communities.
• Update and execute the strategic marketing plan.