Students from the Visalia/Tulare Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) were introduced to seven local CEOs on Thursday, January 15, all of whom volunteered their time to discuss with the students their roles, companies, background, and to offer them helpful business and networking advice. The CEOs shared how they got their start in business to this next generation of CEOs.
Participating CEOs included: Michael Gracia, Plant Manager, Land O’Lakes; Ciaran McMullan, President/CEO, Suncrest Bank; Samantha Rummage-Mathias, General Manager, Visalia Holiday Inn & Conference Center; Jim Holley, CEO, Bank of the Sierra; Ronald Smith, President, Sterling & Smith Funeral Home; Leslie Gardner, Executive Director, Happy Trails Riding Academy and Deanne Martin-Soares, CEO, Amdal In-Home Care.
As part of the YEA! program, students were introduced to all facets of the business world including–but not limited to–advertising, insurance, graphic design and web development.
Over the course of this year’s program, 13 students will launch 8 businesses, including Quick Feet Athletics, a company which has developed a motorized wrench for attaching cleats, and Momma Hannah’s Bakery, an in-home bakery that will offer vegan baked goods.
As a non-profit organization, YEA! relies on the generosity of the community and of sponsors– people who identify with entrepreneurship and want to help pave the way for the future business leaders of tomorrow.
“YEA! strengthens the community, and the community strengthens YEA!,” said Gayle Jagel, the Founder and CEO of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “Our program managers and instructors seek out people in every facet of the business community in which the program is housed, in order to help facilitate the creation of our students’ dreams into a reality.”