Regional Chamber hands out awards


BOARDMAN — Now that he’s retired after 34 years on Wall Street, dealing for financial giants like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, J. Derek Penn is an adviser in the financial services industry.

He’s also a published author, having written “Diary of a Black Man on Wall Street: From Youngstown, Ohio to The Big Apple.”

“I purposely included Youngstown in the title, in the subtitle anyway because I wanted people to know where Youngstown was and where I came from,” said Penn.

The city of his youth — his younger years were spent on the East Side before his parents moved the family to the North Side — is part of his DNA, his foundation as a person; it’s where he developed his sense of determination, perseverance and grit.

Youngstown, and the greater Mahoning Valley for that matter, has been on the mat so many times, from the closing of the steel mills to General Motors closing its assembly plant in Lordstown after a 53-year relationship, but the people here — people like Penn — don’t stay on the mat.

“The city gave me my determination, my fortitude to push forward and never give up,” he said.

Other reasons Penn wanted Youngstown in the title — it’s where he learned teamwork as a boy in local youth leagues and perhaps most important, “I got an appreciation for all walks of life in Youngstown,” said Penn, a graduate of The Rayen School.

“I still think Youngstown is a melting pot. I grew up with Irish people, Polish people, Puerto Rican people, German people, black people, and I got an appreciation for all of those folks,” Penn said.

Penn spoke Thursday at the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber’s annual meeting, during which he was presented the chamber’s Valley Champion Award, given to local natives to recognize their achievements.

The award, given for the second time, was also created “to send a message down to the younger generation that you can grow up in the Mahoning Valley and go on and change the world,” said Guy Coviello, chamber president / CEO.

The event at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman also had the Spirit of the Valley Award given to the National Center for Urban Solutions (NCUS), a Columbus-based organization that has a large presence in the Mahoning Valley. The group helps those in urban poverty become socioeconomically self-sufficient and operates the Academy for Urban Scholars in Youngstown, a technology-based dropout recovery high school.

Perry Gregory, NCUS senior vice president and son of founder and president, Youngstown native John Gregory, accepted the award.

“We’ve been doing this thing for 30 years, working in a lot of different urban African-American cities across the country implementing change through workforce, education and health and wellness,” Gregory said.

The keynote speaker was Boardman native George Limbert, president of Red Roof chain of more than 660 hotels across the U.S. Limbert, a 1999 graduate of Boardman High School, started with Red Roof in 2013 as corporate counsel and was named president last August.

2022 honorees

The Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber presented its annual awards at a breakfast Thursday at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman. Awards and recipients are:

•Spirit of the Valley Award — National Center for Urban Solutions (NCUS), a Columbus-based organization that has a large presence in the Mahoning Valley.

• Spirit of the Chamber — Jon Arnold, CEO and co-founder, of Youngstown-based J. Arnold Wealth Management Co.

• Valley Champion Award — Youngstown native J. Derek Penn, author of “Diary of a Black Man on Wall Street: From Youngstown, Ohio to The Big Apple.”

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox





Read More: Regional Chamber hands out awards

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments