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July/August 2010
HM's Fifth Annual People to Watch
Meet Four Washington County Residents Who are Shaping our Community’s Future.

• • •

A trust development manager, tourism and historic preservation professional, technology company executive and fraud prevention specialist — four very different professionals who share one important connection: a passion for making our community a better place to live and work. This group of up-and-coming community leaders demonstrate the energy, vision, compassion and perseverance both in their chosen career field and in the many ways they give of their time and talents, shaping the future of Washington County in the process.

Our 2010 People to Watch — Andrew Sargent, Jill Colbert, Charissa Beeler Stanton and Sam Cool  — are leading by example, making their mark on Washington County with the passion and work ethic often needed to achieve great goals. Thanks, Andrew, Jill, Charissa and Sam — for the significant contributions you make to Washington County and the promise of more great things to come. 

Andrew Sargent
Investing in a Community to be Proud of
Ask Andrew Sargent where he’s originally from and he’ll give two answers: “I lived in D.C., but I grew up in Blue Ridge Summit,” where he spent many summers. Though the Saint James School grad sees himself as something of an outsider in Hagerstown, he’s “always felt very close to this community.” And since returning to Hagerstown in 2005 — following stints working on a dude ranch out West and managing a general store in the seaside hamlet of Little Compton, R.I. — he’s taken an active role in business and bettering the community where he feels at home.

Channeling his energy and enthusiasm into his work has earned Andrew several accolades. Hagerstown’s Randall Hagner office earned the honor of #1 Commerical Brokerage in Western Maryland in 2007 under Andrew’s leadership. And shortly after taking his current position as director of business development for Trust Development and Management, LLC in November of 2009, the 37 year old was nominated for 2010 Businessperson of the Year by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Though he is unable to publicly discuss the private investment company’s current and prospective projects, his new responsibilities involve building the business side of the trust, managing its current assets and seeking new investments. “There are definitely lots of opportunities… We’re going to be working on some development, we’re going to be making some investments, selling some investments. It’s going to be fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s what I enjoy.”

While his career affords him the opportunity to bolster Hagerstown from a business standpoint, Andrew’s community involvements are targeted at creating a positive environment in the county. The Leadership Washington County program “got me better in tune with how this community works,” he says. In addition to serving on the board of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Andrew is an active member of the Hagerstown Rotary and the Greater Hagerstown Committee and holds multiple positions on the board of the United Way of Washington County.

Poised to make a big impact through his work at the United Way as it transitions from an agency-focused model to a need-focused model, Andrew says it’s a challenge he’s willing to meet with action, such as formulating a survey to determine the nonprofit’s brand recognition. “When I go into a meeting, I consciously have one or two ideas that I want to personally forward, and I feel I can forward them because I’m willing to work for them and back them up and follow through.” It’s a viewpoint that also influences his perspective when considering new board members. “We want United Way’s board to be active, mobile and quick on its feet, because there are some big changes coming, and we’re going to need to react fast.”

Through both his career and community involvements, Andrew’s goal is to develop and highlight aspects of Washington County that will make its residents, including his children, proud. “Sometimes I think this community suffers from low self-esteem in general... [But] I’ve got two young kids at home. I want this community to feel better about themselves, to have a deeper sense of self-esteem,” he says. “We’ve got to make this place someplace to be proud of. And I want my children to be extremely proud that they were raised here. There are a lot of fantastic things going on around here.”

Trust Development and Management, LLC
1101 Opal Court, Suite 311, Hagerstown
301-745-6347

----

Charissa Beeler Stanton
Championing the Power of Preservation
Like most children nearing their teens, Charissa Beeler Stanton was less than thrilled to visit “every Civil War site within driving distance.” But at age 12, one fateful trip to Gettysburg National Military Park —where she saw a first-person interpretive presentation by a woman in period garb — “sucked me right in.” The presentation sparked Charissa’s interest in the human experience of the war, and the moment has stayed with her throughout her career. “I think back to that a lot in the work that I do, and I think that there’s always some aspect [of history] that can interest everyone.”

As a seasonal interpretive park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield before and during college, Charissa’s appreciation for Civil War history and preservation was deepened by battlefield visitors. “[Seeing] the people who would come from all over the world to Antietam to see what was there and call it the most well-preserved Civil War battlefield… [I realized] this is just such a special, amazing place. And I’ve never been to any other place quite like that.”

The 32 year old already has amassed a significant number of career milestones. In addition to her role as the public relations specialist for the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in March 2009, Charissa accepted the position of Washington County Heritage Area Assistant for the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (HCWHA). So far, she has successfully written a grant on behalf of the CVB for $24,000 in state funds for exhibit design and fabrication at the new HCWHA Visitor Center, slated to open this September in the Newcomer House. She is spearheading preparations to open the center in time for the Civil War sesquicentennial. As heritage area assistant, Charissa also guides towns within the heritage area, including Williamsport and Sharpsburg, through the process to activate their Target Investment Zone status, making them eligible for capital improvement grants of up to $100,000.

Happiest when she’s busy, Charissa has taken an active role in other areas of the community: serving as PTA vice president at Conococheague Elementary School; volunteering for Vacation Bible School at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boonsboro; pursuing her hobby of photography; editing the first release from newly formed Baltimore Bookworks while developing a non-fiction children’s history book of her own; and even contributing articles for Hagerstown magazine. “I think it’s important to be involved in the community that I’m a part of… If I can pitch in and do my share, then I’m willing to do that.”

Charissa’s unflagging drive, coupled with her passion for Washington County’s history and heritage, puts her in a position to continue championing historical preservation for years to come. She would like to see an increased focus on African-American heritage: “I think visitors who come here need to hear a more complete history.” And even as she works within the framework of the HCWHA’s management plan, her long-range vision is to see the heritage area become national. Should the opportunity arise, Charissa is willing to take the lead. “I would hope that by the time [current HCWHA Director Liz Shatto] is ready to [step down], that I would be ready to take the reigns for the heritage area. And whether it is a National Heritage Area by then or whether I could lead it to that, that would be a goal of mine.”

Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau
16 Public Square, Hagerstown
301-791-3246 • www.marylandmemories.com

Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
www.heartofthecivilwar.org

----

Sam Cool
‘Enhancing Lives with Technology’
The saying goes, “It’s always the quiet ones you need to watch,” and in the case of Sam Cool, it’s correct — but for all the right reasons. “If you go to any meeting, I’m the quiet guy in the corner,” Sam readily admits. This slightly shy, self-acknowledged “farm kid from Smithsburg,” where his family’s roots run seven generations deep on a 300-acre peach farm, is quietly making a big impact: using the power of technology to build a successful international business while applying his technological expertise to enhance lives and bolster nonprofit organizations.

As vice president and a founding member of Planet Technologies in Germantown, Samhas helped build a company that counts diverse organizations including the University of Tennessee, the Seventh Day Adventist Headquarters and, locally, HPB Inc. among its clients. It’s poised for continued growth from current projects and the much-anticipated new versions of Microsoft programs. “The old days of having very disparate systems is all going to change. Everything’s going to be intertwined… and it’s pretty exciting. I’ve been waiting years for this to happen.”

Sam considers himself fortunate to have grown up in the ’80s when computers were taking off, and his excitement for the benefits that technology can have is evident. “Computers really changed not only my life, but a whole generation’s life. So that’s inspiring.” Through Planet Technologies, he has enjoyed the rewards of helping businesses large and small become more efficient through modern networking, and he sees great potential for technology to transform the nonprofit world as well. “The technologies fit into so many areas... It’s getting a lot easier to bring it to a very, very small organization.”

He’s taken a big step already by collaborating with local leaders to create washingtoncountynonprofits.com, a website listing every nonprofit in the county and its goal. The site ensures more than 600 nonprofits an online presence. Its potential for impact is “huge, and I’m proud of that.”

Participating in Leadership Washington County also opened his eyes to the critical needs nonprofits fill. “That leadership class really did make a difference for me.” Though he admits diving into volunteering and board membership later in life, the 44 year old has approached the work with passion and dedication. Sam serves on the boards of Horizon Goodwill, PenMar Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and the advisory board for the new Community Culinary School. “I truly care about what they are all about.”

Continually motivated by his goal of “enhancing lives with technology,” Sam is spurred on not only by the pace of technological change, but by a change in perspective brought on by recent health issues. “It is a driver, for particular projects… It’s a blessing at some level, to really get the most out of every day.” And as technology advances further and further, Sam looks to continue harnessing the wave of change well into the future — always with an eye to applying it to enhance lives in the community. “I feel like this was something I should have been doing for a long time… And it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

Planet Technologies
20400 Observation Drive, Germantown
240-864-3007 • www.go-planet.com • www.washingtoncountynonprofits.org

----

Jill Colbert

Community Cheerleader Doesn’t Stick to the Sidelines
Whether she’s cheering for her son from the sidelines of a Hagerstown Hornets baseball game, rooting for her “host son” at a Hagerstown Suns game or channeling her enthusiasm into advocating for nonprofit organizations, Jill Colbert is a community cheerleader whose energy and passion are undeniable. Constantly active, she admits: “I really don’t sit still.” It is a drive she channels into changing perceptions of Washington County while encouraging others to step up to the plate.

Early in her 20-year career at Citi, where she is currently vice president of fraud policy, Jill focused on her job and travel. The birth of her son was a turning point, prompting her to slow down and focus on community and family. “I want to make sure that the community he’s growing up in is the best it can be.” Part of that is achieved through Citi, where she’s seen her son get excited about events like Global Community Day. “You feel successful as a parent, when you see a 12 year old telling his friends about getting involved.”

Outside the office, Jill, 41, serves as treasurer and is a founding member of the Hagerstown Hornets Athletic Association, a nonprofit that supports the traveling baseball team and aims to include other sports. “We have a dream to offer children more opportunity,” to expand their horizons traveling to other towns to play.  The months-old association already has attracted positive attention by renovating an abandoned field at Fairgrounds Park and hosting other teams. “The whole goal is to bring outsiders in so they can see that Hagerstown is a nice community.”

As a member of the Augustoberfest board of directors and the 2010 chairperson, she champions the benefits of the Sister City program, which supports an exchange student program with Wesel, Germany. Serving on the board of the W House allows her to shine light on the often- misunderstood organization. “It’s not a rehab facility. We’re teaching women to get back on their feet… go back into society and get their lives back on track” — thus breaking the cycle of addiction.

Jill’s husband of 20 years, Kelly, has encouraged and supported her endeavors, and her emotion is evident when speaking of him. “I think he has the passion and the drive, and encourages me to be able to go out there and do what I like.” Backed by her own cheering section, Jill is confidently poised to address the apathy that threatens to hamper Hagerstown’s progress. “[There are] so many opportunities to volunteer and to put your stamp on it.”

Leading by example, Jill is open to “other newer adventures as they come along.” “I think to make a community successful, you need to have people who are passionate about the place they live, and I want this to be a wonderful community. It can only be as good as you put into it.”

Citi
14700 Citicorp Drive, Hagerstown
301-790-4200 • www.citigroup.com


   view more articles from the July/August 2010 issue >>

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