People to Watch 2015
There are things more difficult to do than selecting the members of the “People to Watch” class, but Frederick County’s rich supply of interesting, fascinating and giving people makes it a challenge, albeit a nice one to have. Frankly, we could put together five or six “People to Watch” lists every year and still wouldn’t come remotely close to recognizing the many worthy people who contribute to our community in everything from the arts and education to business and technology. On the following pages you will read about people from different backgrounds whose talents are equally diverse. But they all share one thing in common: a desire to make their community—our community—a better place in which to live and thrive.
As an agent for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Justin Saltzman, 30, is familiar with meeting people’s needs, a trait that he carries over to his time away from work when he’s involved in wide-ranging endeavors including coaching soccer and being active in the Rotary Club of Frederick. Saltzman is also a Chamber of Commerce ambassador, danced up a storm last year with friend Julie Gaver to win the local Alzheimer Association’s version of Dancing with the Stars (they raised $22,000), not to mention his willingness to walk a mile in high heels to raise funds for Heartly House, a shelter for abused women and children.
FM: What is the motivation behind all your work in the community?
Justin: I love Frederick and I knew from high school that I wanted to give something back. We moved here when I was in third grade. I come from a big family, I have five younger brothers; we’re all very close. Our parents are great and big supporters. I love meeting people. I love talking to people. [Laughs] I’m that guy you usually don’t want to sit next to on a plane. I ask a lot of questions, but just about anybody likes to talk about themselves.
FM: Lately clubs and service organizations are experiencing low memberships, what are you doing with Rotary to keep numbers up?
Justin: There’s a push to get more youth into Rotary. I was one of 30 from across the country attending a summit in Chicago to get more youth involved. I’m planning a District young professional summit and I’m co-chair of Interact Club at Frederick High (that seeks to involve youth at an early age).
FM: So, you’re a big fan of soccer?
Justin: I’m passionate about it. I’m the J.V. soccer coach at (Gov.) Thomas Johnson, where I just finished my third year. Dealing with the kids is just awesome. The ones I started out with are going to be seniors; it’s so much fun watching where they’ll go. I have some say, ‘Hey, Coach, will you be a job reference?’ or ‘Hey, Coach, I need help with this.’ It’s a really cool feeling. I played soccer at Frederick High and also at Frederick Community College.
FM: Your participation in local fundraisers is pretty extensive, especially the Alzheimer’s dance competition. What are some others?
Justin: I have to give Julie Gaver a lot of the credit for us winning best dance. This year, I’m one of the judges. I was a server at the Celebrate Women event that Karlys Kline sponsors and I walked a mile in high heels for Heartly House.
FM: What are some words you would use to describe yourself?
Justin: Energetic, athletic, enthusiastic and a great sense of humor.
Katie Nash, 33, is relatively new to Frederick, coming here in 2000 to attend Hood College from Fallston in Harford County. During her campaign in 2013 for Frederick City alderman (she lost by 63 votes), a large part of her platform focused on helping the homeless, something she remains passionate about. Last year, she was hired as CEO and executive director of Community Alternative Mediation (CALM) a nonprofit that offers free mediation to residents. Nash is also a legislative assistant to Republican state Del. William Folden.
FM: How did the homeless become an important cause for you?
Katie: When I was running for alderman, at the first forum I drew a question about having a year ‘round shelter … I felt unprepared. I went back and researched the budget and saw we didn’t really spend much at all (on the homeless). As a candidate, I learned what could be done. It took me losing to have that discussion. I wanted to stay involved in some way.
FM: How is addressing the issue of affordable housing progressing?
Katie: The question of affordable housing is going to come down to ‘where.’ Buy-in (from neighbors) is important. We do have a need for affordable housing and as a community we have to support it. There’s a need for greater collaboration between government, nonprofits and citizen advocates.
FM: How did your job at CALM come about?
Katie: Last September, I was approached. I had a government contracting job. I had been there three years. I wasn’t a mediator, so it was a leap of faith to do it. The first thing I did was go through the training. I was converted. The power of being heard and understood (through mediation) is very powerful and humbling. Our mission is to be present whether for neighbors fighting over a tree, a child custody case, or brothers and sisters arguing over caring for their older mom.
FM: Not only do you have the CALM position, but you’re also down in Annapolis working in Del. Folden’s office.
Katie: I have some flexibility at CALM and I’m down there three days a week during the legislative session. It’s fun to be working for a freshman delegate … the convergence of ideas here is a good thing (and the back-andforth between parties shows) it’s OK to agree to disagree, (although) Annapolis is very one-sided.
FM: Do you plan to run again for elected office?
Katie: Running for alderman would be all I would want to do. Why I like the local level is that you know your elected leaders, you’re able to talk to someone directly about a road, or, in my case, homeless issues. But once you raise your hand (to run), people think that whatever you’re doing is for political gain. … I’m a pretty faithful person and believe you’re put in the place (you need to be in). I enjoy time with my kids who are five and four, (which is a consideration). I just need to be open and see how things flesh out.
Ben and Heather Sayler
When Ben, 30, and Heather Sayler, 33, were living in Downtown Frederick, they immediately turned their backyard into a massive garden, so it’s little surprise that today they live in Mount Pleasant growing the things they love on 3½ acres of leased farmland and selling it to the public through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares and farmer’s markets. They are advocates for the area’s agricultural legacy since both grew up in Frederick County—he went to Middletown High and has an MBA from Mount St. Mary’s University and she attended Gov. Thomas Johnson and has a master’s in math from Hood College.
FM: You didn’t grow up on farms, so how did you come to establish Pleasant Hill Produce?
Heather: My grandfather always had a garden and grew lots of tomatoes and green beans that he canned, so I grew up around that.
Ben: We both love being outside in nature and also we like to cook, using good, fresh ingredients. Even before the farm we were eating more local. You also have to think about farming’s business side because it is a business. And you’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature. You can plan all you want, but when it comes down to it you need to adapt.
FM: What do you grow?
Ben: Last year, which was our learning year—we’re starting our second year—we had 88 different crops. Corn is one of the very few crops that we don’t grow because of a concern for GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) contamination (from other farms). We’re GMO-free.
FM: What do you enjoy about the farmer’s markets?
Ben: There’s a nice energy. You meet people and they come back every week. It’s fun to encourage them to try something new. It’s about creating these loyal relationships.
Heather: And knowing that you’re providing for your customer’s well being.
Ben: Yes, food is one of the most intimate things you can supply. People need to respect more of where their food comes from.
Heather: And also that eating seasonally (is a good way to go). Another cool thing about
the markets is seeing families out together. I remember one little boy wanted a pepper plant and he was so serious about how to grow it, asking questions.
FM: What are your future plans?
Ben: We want to keep growing the farm and eventually we would like our own farm and maybe also start a farm brewery.
Dr. Deborah Morrone
Chiropractor Dr. Deborah Morrone, 40, takes a broader view of promoting health than simply adjusting your spine (although she is happy to do that), which might explain why her practice is called Frederick Chiropractic Wellness Center. The northeast Ohio native took a circuitous route to Frederick, including a two-year stop in North Carolina, but has since been an active participant in community service that spans from the Fredericktowne Rotary Club, where she is a past president, to international mission trips that provide chiropractic care and other relief to impoverished Third World countries.
FM: How did you decide to make Frederick your home?
Deborah: I had been here to visit some family on a few occasions; my cousins had been living here. So when I was living in North Carolina I’d drive back and forth and visit them a few times and just loved the town. So, when the time came for me to start my own practice, Frederick just seemed to be at the top of my list. … I just love the size of the city, the vibe of the city. Everybody is very active and involved.
FM: How would you characterize your practice?
Deborah: I consider myself a general family practice—wellness-oriented, definitely. I prefer to get people well and keep them well, versus continually fixing problems that pop up, although I love doing that, as well. I take care of everyone from infants to elderly, so anyone who has a spine and nervous system who wants to be active and healthy, I’m happy to take care of them.
FM: So it’s more than chiropractic care?
Deborah: Chiropractic is absolutely the center of what I do. Without a properly functioning spine and nervous system, you really can’t do much else. But certainly addressing lifestyle issues—stress management, nutrition, exercise, fitness (and) trying to help people put those all together … is definitely something I enjoy doing.
FM: How did you get involved in the mission work?
Deborah: I started with ChiroMission in 2009. I was actually looking for a “volunteer vacation”-type project. I just needed to get out and do something. I did some Google searches and saw “Chiropractic mission trips,” and I thought, well, that seems like the best of all possible worlds. This particular one was going to be in the Dominican Republic, so I was like, cool, I can go down, be a chiropractor and do what I love on a nice warm beach somewhere. That has grown over the past five years. I have been on nine trips now to the Dominican Republic and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I’ve been on the (ChiroMission) board of directors for the past few years, so I have gotten very involved in organizing the trips and promoting ChiroMission to our profession and outside our profession, so that we can do fundraising and humanitarian work in our (mission) locations.
FM: You visited Haiti last year. What was that like?
Deborah: I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s just … you see it on TV and you hear stories and read about it in the paper, but being someplace that desperate, it’s really inexplicable. Even when you are standing in it, you are like, how does this still exist?
FM: But how rewarding is it to be able to help?
Deborah: It’s awesome. I love doing it.
Community involvement would be a fulltime job for Jason Lee, 39, if he didn’t already have one. The founder of Top Quality Janitorial Services and now CEO of Lee Building Maintenance also manages a list of volunteer commitments that includes organizations such as the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (where he will soon become president), the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Interfaith Housing and Workforce Services. One of his favorite projects is the Rotarian Initiative for Successful Employment (RISE) that works to provide greater employment opportunities in Frederick’s public housing communities.
FM: How did you get into the janitorial business at the age of 22?
Jason: I was working for Burger King and I was watching the gentleman who was cleaning our windows. One day I said, “Hey, I think I can do that,” and asked him some questions. I thought, I could go out and make this happen (as a business). I went out and started knocking on doors. I asked my State Farm agent if I could clean her windows and I went to Downtown businesses.
FM: What inspired this entrepreneurial spirit at a relatively young age?
Jason: I got myself in trouble in the streets when I was younger and what I got out of that mainly was I needed to do something that was correct and right and legal … that takes the same hustle and puts it into something productive.
FM: One of your many efforts included counseling incarcerated men and their families. How rewarding was that?
Jason: That was cool. From what I went through, to see some other guys transition to do better … that kind of put me on the pulse. … There are guys to this day that I still see and they are doing very well with their families. That is cool.
FM: Do you view your community service as a way of giving back?
Jason: It was more like I owed it to the community. When you know what you have gone through and there is someone else on the cusp of a breakthrough, and maybe they need to just relate to somebody (who went through similar circumstances), you hope what you say to them gets them over that hurdle.
FM: You are very involved in the community. Is it hard to say no?
Jason: Yes, it is. It’s tough. In most things it’s about helping, but also understanding where you can be effective. I might not be able to commit to a board, but I might know how to connect someone to someone. … I try my best to connect the dots the best I can.
FM: How rewarding has the RISE program been?
Jason: If you are a sports athlete or a celebrity, you might say, “I’m going to go back to my old
neighborhood and build a basketball court or have an event.” This was an opportunity for me to go back to my old neighborhood and, not just do a sporting event or anything like that, but to offer some folks some hope with work opportunities, career opportunities, and just connect them with people that can open their door of networks, like with what happened to me. That’s special for me.
A product of the Hillcrest neighborhood, as well as Hillcrest Elementary School, Ballenger Creek Middle School, St John’s Catholic Prep, Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University, 29-year-old Andrea McCarrick proudly says, “I am a Frederick girl, through and through.” She’s now a mathematics teacher at Frederick High School, part of a team that has found great success in improving student performance on high school assessment tests. But teaching wasn’t McCarrick’s first calling and she has taken a nontraditional path to the classroom.
FM: You have a bachelor’s degree in economics, with a minor in mathematics, from Hood College, but your original intent was not teaching, right?
Andrea: Once I graduated, I decided I wanted to try the business world, so I went and worked for Constellation Energy in downtown Baltimore City for roughly three years. (But) I wasn’t fulfilled in much of a way; I felt like I was just contributing to the bottom line of a company. I just knew that I could do more with my life. I wanted to find something that could contribute to the community in some way. I always had this thought in the back of my mind that I’d like to teach. So I decided to go to grad school and get my master’s in teaching from Mount St. Mary’s University.
FM: You received your master’s degree in May 2013 and were hired almost immediately at Frederick High School. You are now part of a team of teachers, including former National Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer, that is tackling very specific challenge at the school. Tell us more about that.
Andrea: We were tasked by Frederick High School and the superintendent to find a way to “meet the middle.” It seemed like a lot of attention was going to the (academic) top of the class and a lot of the attention was going to the bottom of the class, but the majority of our students are in the middle and, unfortunately, Frederick High School had 78 percent failure rate on the high school assessments, specifically in algebra, last year.
FM: What is your team’s solution? Andrea: We selected 80 students to be in our program. It’s a one-on-one approach to teaching, and we’re not just teaching the Common Core curriculum of algebra. We’re teaching test-taking skills, study skills and then really interpersonal skills, as well. We have students interview each other and write journals. It’s a way to help them become successful when they are done with our class.
FM: Have you seen results in just one year of the program?
Andrea: We’ve had great success with the program, so far. We administered the (assessments) in October and again in January and so far we’ve had 68 percent of our students pass. … That’s up from zero percent.
FM: How rewarding has the program been for you and the other teachers on the team?Andrea: Very rewarding, even in the small things, like, “I passed English this term” or “I was able to get an A on an English paper,” because we have them write in our class, as well. For them, the small success is, to us, huge. So to see what we do in our class translate to other classes is one of the biggest successes we can have.