This is the fourth year that more than two dozen from the Burlington County area have been selected because they are considered a rising star in their industry or seasoned professionals who had to redefine themselves in new careers.
MOUNT LAUREL — Feeding South Jersey residents who lack access to food on a daily basis is always a challenge for the Food Bank of South Jersey.
But for Lavania Awosanya, director of strategic partnerships for the Pennsauken nonprofit, raising money to feed 200,000 living in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties is rewarding.
“When we have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives by providing food to them, it’s something that we’re extremely proud of,” she said. “We’re in a position to change so many lives.”
Awosanya, 41, of Lumberton, was honored Thursday night as an Emerging Leader, Class of 2017, for her efforts with the organization. And to be recognized among dozens of others for her efforts was just as humbling.
Twenty-five professionals from an array of fields were named Emerging Leaders in the Burlington County Region Class of 2017. Each was honored during a banquet at the Aloft hotel and hosted by the Burlington County Times and the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
This is the sixth year that more than two dozen from the Burlington County area have been selected. From financial advisers and attorneys to founders of nonprofits, educators and leaders in government, those honored came from various fields and industries.
“These are the people with vision that have the sweat equity and tenacity to see things through,” said Kristi Howell, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, adding that these Emerging Leaders are the superstars who stand out in the community.
Noele Walters, 30, of Burlington Township, is another Class of 2017 member who was grateful to be among the latest leaders selected.
Walters is co-chairwoman of the board of directors for Feeding 5,000, a nonprofit that aids the homeless and hungry in Philadelphia, Camden and Mount Holly.
“I can be a friend to the homeless and let them know that there’s someone there to support them. That means the world to me,” she said.
Air Force Lt. Col. David LeRoy shared a bit of advice about mentoring the next leaders in the community. He wanted the leaders of today to mentor others who are different from them because diversity “makes us all stronger as people and organizations.”
“You have all been leaders for a while because you have taken action, even when you didn’t have the position,” LeRoy said, thanking the honorees for their accomplishments.