25 Young Columbus Leaders Share their Hopes for 2021

Cbus Leaders Hope 2021
Cbus Leaders Hope in 2021

Row 1: Andrew Kozak, Anthony Granitsas, Bailey Hanley, Brian Gibson, Casey Sudzina. Row 2: Chanie Scott, Chris Jones, Courtney Stellar-Patterson, Giosué Bochicchio, Kayleigh Bowe. Row 3: Keiana Mitchell, Dr. Kelly Renner, Lexi Petrella, Matt Lofy, Melanie March. Row 4: Merry Austin, Nate Uber, Priyam Chokshi, Roman Woods, Samantha Thompson. Row 5: Travis Copeland, Trey Kauffman, Ty Shepfer, Yasmin Jimenez, Yiema John.

When everyone flipped their calendars to 2020 last year, no one could have predicted that a global pandemic would hurl many of us into a work-from-home environment for months. Add national civil unrest to the mix after the murder of George Floyd last May, protests in nearly every major city across America, social distancing and social media distancing, political bickering, a mountain of uncertainty, murder hornets and more. Needless to say, there was plenty to mull over as we hit the reset button for 2021 and asked 25 young Columbus leaders to answer the question: “What are you hopeful for in 2021?” Here is what they had to say.


“After the challenges and tests of 2020, I hope for positive change, unity and strength in the year ahead!”

Andrew Kozak, TV Meteorologist at Spectrum News 1 Ohio


“I’m hopeful for a shift in priority from profit to equity and community.”

Anthony Granitsas, Founder & CEO at Source Restaurant


“I am hopeful that we can experience connection as a community on a deeper level. I look forward to serving the community and continuing to giving back as COVID has expressed unique needs with lasting effects. I ultimately look forward to the energy that being engaged with the community gives me personally. The feeling of being a part of something truly gives me purpose.”

Bailey Hanley, Business Development Coordinator at Wright Patt Credit Union


“I’m hopeful for a greater, stronger community that embraces change and understands the need for flexibility. After a year of challenges, we (virtually) came together to get through the present and prepare for a better, safer, and healthier tomorrow. I’m hopeful for tomorrow.”

Brian Gibson, Marketing at Continental Office


“I am hopeful that there will continue to be motivation to help one another and feel a deep level of empathy for understanding that everyone is experiencing the pandemic, social climate, and political climate differently. My hope is that this will serve as a foundation for how we treat one another for years to come. I’m optimistic that we will come out of 2020/2021 more resilient, more mindful, and with a sense of togetherness.”

Casey Sudzina, Communications Specialist at Geben Communication


“In 2021 I am hopeful for movement. I want to do less talking, I want to hear less talking and actually move the needle in enhancing the community that I serve so passionately with my actions.”

Chanie Scott, AVP, Outreach, & Recruitment at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio


“I’m hopeful for intentional and meaningful connection to occur once more sometime this year, invigorated with a spirit of inclusion, diversity and acceptance. Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on Earth, and I look forward to being a part of the change, spirit, and tribe who actively seek to create that connection.”

Chris Jones, Co-owner & COO at Warhol & WALL ST.


“2020 was a difficult year on many levels, but through those hardships we have seen many individuals and organizations stepping up in the community. I am hopeful that 2021 will be a year of change, fresh starts, new growth and innovation throughout Central Ohio.”

Courtney Stellar-Patterson, Visual Communications Manager at Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio


“Despite the many obstacles that we face as a community, and as a nation, I truly look forward to facilitating the growth and development of new relationships between businesses and community leaders in order to better Columbus as a whole.”

Giosué C. Bochicchio, Assistant Vice President, Business Development Officer at PNC


“I am hopeful that we will be able to return to live events. Not only for my job, but because I miss the camaraderie of fans at a sporting event and strangers bonding over their favorite band, performer or festival. The events that we have really missed out on over the past year have not only put a damper on our social plans, but also just the friendly and memorable environment all events strive to provide. Coming together for new experiences in 2021 is going to be something amazing and remembered for a lifetime after missing it for so long. I am also hopeful that by coming together we will be able to slowly repair some of the emotional and psychological damages that 2020 has caused.”

Kayleigh Bowe, Community Development and Event Specialist at Gahanna CVB


“I am hopeful for a more unified community that embraces our differences and beliefs in coming together for the greater good of all.”

Keiana Mitchell, Partnerships Manager at Experience Columbus


“I am hopeful that by fall of 2021, all students will be able to safely return to the classroom in order to receive the instruction and support they need to continue their educational journey and thrive.”

Dr. Kelly Renner, Assistant Dean, Curriculum at Franklin University


“2020 brought to light inequities that exist and gave leaders the push they needed to address them. I am hopeful that the conversations we are already having will lead to impactful actions that support our quality of life — how people live, work, and travel.”

Lexi Petrella, Mobility Coordinator at MORPC


“I am hopeful we can all begin personalizing life again. Our texts, social media rants and emails go to someone on the other end. Let’s make 2021 a year of kindness.”

Matt Lofy, Director of Marketing & Community Outreach at the Westerville Area Chamber


“I am hopeful that 2021 brings more connection and growth among friends, family, and strangers, as we continue to listen and learn from each other.”

Melanie March, Decision Engine Specialist at Huntington Bank


“Last year enabled me to take time for rest and reflection. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be a year of positive action towards everything I dreamt about during 2020.”

Merry Ellen Austin, Revenue Marketing Specialist at Naylor Association Solutions


“After an ‘eventful’ start to the decade, it’s been amazing to witness how many members of the community have stepped up to lead. I’m hopeful that we’ll become stronger, and more capable of overcoming some of our deeply-rooted societal issues. I’m hopeful in Columbus. I’m hopeful in us.”

Nate Uber, VP of Miscellaneous at QuickStitch Plus


“I am hopeful that 2021 will begin to restore our democracy, start massive policy change with a racial equity lens, and unify people across our community and country of all races, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. I remain hopeful that people will continue to help one another in a time of need, spread kindness with tangible action to serve the underserved, and bring resilience and relief with the COVID-19 vaccine. 2021 I believe is a growth year for our society to raise the bar on what it means to be an informed, empathetic, and accountable human being.”

Priyam Chokshi, Director of Community and Legislative Strategies at CelebrateOne, Mayor’s Office, City of Columbus


“As I reflect on my goals for 2021, I’m hoping to continue on some of the progress that was made in 2020. Without a doubt 2020 was a difficult year and changed how we function both personally and professionally. There were also some opportunities that were presented that will make our city better. We had good conversations around social injustice and movements to unite and understand diverse perspectives. The pandemic has forced us to become more creative and leverage remote options to network and learn.”

Roman Woods, Department Manager at Discover Financial Services


“2020 brought us change and 2021 will bring us refinement, growth, movement and opportunity.”

Samantha Thompson, Project Manager at CAS


“In 2021 I am most hopeful for reconnecting with my friends and colleagues face to face. I hope we are able to resume friendly happy hours to rekindle our friendships, but also to network and bounce ideas off of each other.”

Travis Copeland, Manager of Hospitality and Concierge at Grant Medical Center


“My hope for 2021 is that we all continue awakening to how precious our lives are & how valuable our time is. The delaying of gratitude, of joy and of well-being is not a luxury any of us should gamble with, but rather I hope we find ourselves celebrating the fact we’re still here.”

Trey Kauffman, Host of The Mosaic Life Podcast


“I’m hoping for concerted effort from all individuals to drive towards unity in our country and a return to life without social distancing and masks!”

Ty Shepfer, Senior Lecturer & Academic Director at The Ohio State University


“I am hopeful for a year of unity, togetherness, and a sense of a (new) normalcy.”

Yasmin Jimenez, Human Resources Generalist at Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.


“2020 was full of pauses and lessons, but it made me brave. This year, I plan to not only recover, but propel forward with new ventures.”

Yiema M. John, Founder at She Radiates 614 / PR Specialist / Blogger



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