Covelli to Address YSU Fall Commencement

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Sam Covelli, owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises in Warren, will speak at Youngstown State University’s fall commencement at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Covelli also will be awarded an honoraree degree at the ceremony.

Olivia Johnson, who receives a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, will be the student speaker.

During her studies at YSU, Johnson has traveled to several countries, including South Africa, the Bahamas, Guatemala and Belize. She was the recipient of the John and Anna Stephens Scholarship, the Kristen A. Beckman Memorial Scholarship, and the Dr. John R. White Scholarship. She was the president of the Anthropology Colloquium for the 2015-2016 academic year. She plans to advance to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in archaeology.

Covelli is owner/operator of Covelli Enterprises, headquartered in Covelli’s hometown of Warren. The company operates more than 260 Panera bread bakery-cafés in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and Ontario, Canada, and more than 300 restaurants overall. He recently added several Panera cafes in South Carolina and Georgia.

He also operates five O’Charley’s Restaurants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida and nine Dairy Queen stores in Northeast Ohio.

Awards Covelli has received include Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Northeast Ohio, YSU Alumni Association Distinguished Citizen of the Year and Youngstown Area Restaurateur of the Year. Most recently, he was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society and received the Medallion Award for Entrepreneurship at YSU.

He serves on the board of trustees for the Cleveland Clinic; The Ohio State Athletics Campaign Committee; Velosano Steering Committee; Mercy Health Foundation of the Mahoning Valley Board; W.D. Packard Music Hall Board of Trustees; Better Business Bureau Board of Directors; Warren Economic Development Foundation Board; Diocese of Youngstown Blue Ribbon Executive Committee; Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority; Ohio Association of Commodores; and the Urology Care Foundation of the American Urological Association.

The company’s history of philanthropy includes more than 30 years as the largest local contributor to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. This past August, the company hosted the 7th annual Panerathon, which has raised over $1.6 million for the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center at St. Elizabeth Health Center over the past seven years.

Covelli Enterprises also supports the Salvation Army, the Disabled American Veterans, the Animal Welfare League, the American Heart Association, Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley and Second Harvest Food Bank. In 2016, the company donated more than $27 million in unsold bread product to local food banks and hunger relief agencies.

In addition, in 2012, Covelli donated $10 million to the Ohio State Athletics Department – the largest in the department’s history – to assist in funding the construction of a multi-sport arena.

Sam and his wife, Caryn, live in Warren and have three children: Candace, Albert and Danielle.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.