25 Under 35 MVPs Honored for Community Service

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Being recognized as one of the Mahoning Valley Young Professionals’ 25 Under 35 requires plenty of work outside the office. Honorees are more often than not involved in multiple philanthropic groups, community organizations or nonprofits on top of their busy careers.

While all 25 of this year’s honorees have extensive volunteer resumes, three stood to be honored with the MVP awards: Monica Craven, Rebecca Curnalia and Mollie Hartup.

Craven, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley, works with Interfaith Home Maintenance, Potential Development High School and her kids’ school activities. Youngstown State University communications professor Rebecca Curnalia works with charities serving underprivileged women and children, along with baking for her daughters’ school fundraisers. And Mollie Hartup, assistant director of events at YSU, has worked with Hands On Volunteering, the Game of Hope and Relay for Life.

“I’m surprised at the amount of community service [that all the nominees] all do and what they do at work and home,” Curnalia said after the banquet Thursday night. “They’re parents and volunteers and professionals. It’s amazing how much they give to this Youngstown region.”

After all of the 2016 class of honorees were introduced, the MVPs were announced with videos from friends and family talking about the award winners’ careers and what they bring to the community. For all three, the videos and their contents came as a surprise, they said.

“I wasn’t expecting it. I started thinking how can a communications professor not have anything prepared to say?” Curnalia said. “But I ran through my mind of all the people to thank because it takes a community to raise people up.”

The night also served as a celebration for YSU as five honorees, including Hartup and Curnalia, are faculty at the university. In addition, 10 members of the 2016 class of young professionals have degrees from the university.

“YSU is truly a backbone of this community and you heard that time and time again tonight,” Hartup said. “There’s a strong force of university staff, employees, professors and alumni contributing to this community and beyond.”

Added Curnalia, “It says a lot about YSU’s role in building this community and our potential in terms of growing and bringing jobs back. It’s extraordinary to see so many of our faculty and so many of our graduates giving back to the community.”

All three MVPs offered encouragement to the next generation of young professionals, from high school students to those who have recently graduated from college.

“Young professionals are a group that I think are underutilized,” Craven said. “We need them at nonprofits and at businesses as the leaders of the next generation. It’s refreshing to see this work come out of young people.”

The 25 Under 35 awards event is co-sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Youngstown Professionals club and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

“What really stood out for them was just how much community involvement they have,” said Rose Shaffer, chairman of this year’s event. “We have 25 honorees who are trying to build up Youngstown, move forward with revitalization and move forward with collaboration. This is a great group that all focus on the development of the Valley, not just the outcome of their jobs.”

Pictured: 25 Under 35 MVPs Mollie Hartup, Monica Craven and Rebecca Curnalia.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.