7th Annual Distinguished Young Professional Awards

Please join our Young Professionals Committee at the Distinguished Young Professional Awards!

Tuesday, June 11th


Four Oaks Country Club – Dracut


2024 Distinguished Young Professionals:

  • Aleksandra Tugbiyele, Boston Arts Academy Foundation
  • Allison Chambers, Middlesex Community College
  • Brad Buitenhuys, Dutch Property Management and Lowell Litter Krewe
  • Catherine Casey, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
  • Corey Williams, City of Lowell
  • Dai Kim, Mill City Grows
  • Isaiah Stephens, Lowell Transitional Living Center
  • Ivana Dauwer, Coalition for a Better Acre
  • Jeanmerli Gonzalez, Lowell Community Health Center
  • Makayla Clougherty, Merrimack Valley Food Bank
  • Marguerite Hoover, Town of Dracut
  • Maria Crooker-Capone, Alternative House
  • Masada Jones, The Center for Hope and Healing
  • Sean Moriarty, Enterprise Bank
  • Sochenda Uch, Lowell Community Health Center
  • Timna Nwokeji, Life as a Maven

Ticket and Sponsorship Information: 
Individual Tickets – $60
Table of 10 – $500

GOLD Sponsorship – $1,000 – Everything listed below, plus:

  • Company logo on event poster
  • Company logo in program
  • Company logo with link to your website on the event listing and event page
  • Company logo/name included in all advanced media promotion including Chamber Chat, social media, email blasts and more
  • 5 complimentary tickets to the event

SILVER Sponsorship – $500 – Everything listed below, plus:

  • Acknowledgment during speaking program at event
  • Company name on event poster
  • Company name included in most advanced promotion including Chamber Char, social media, email blasts and more
  • 3 complimentary tickets to the event

BRONZE Sponsorship – $250:

  • Company name included in program
  • Company name with a link to your website on the event listing and event page
  • Company name included in some advanced media promotion including Chamber Chat, social media, email blasts and more
  • 1 complimentary ticket to the event

Contact Danielle McFadden at dmcfadden@greaterlowellchamber.org.

Meet this year’s Recipients

Aleksandra Tugbiyele, Boston Arts Academy Foundation (BAAF) 

Aleksandra Tugbiyele (née Ward) is a seasoned Development and Administrative Professional with over 17 years’ experience in the social impact sector. A convener with exceptional interpersonal and communications skills, Aleksandra has a proven track record of securing major gifts and establishing and cultivating relationships to generate impactful change.

Aleksandra is a proud member of the Boston Arts Academy Foundation (BAAF) team, supporting the historic “Building Our Future” Comprehensive Campaign, under the leadership of Denella J. Clark. In her role as Executive Assistant to the President and CEO and Board Clerk, Aleksandra provides focused support across the organization in key areas of administration and operations, Board governance and fundraising.

Though currently employed in Boston, Aleksandra has deep experience working in Lowell (Middlesex Community College, Acre Family Child Care, and a boomerang staff member at UTEC,) and raising millions of dollars to support the advancement and sustaining of meaningful community programs. She has a long history of volunteerism and community engagement as co-founder of the Foundation Mixer Series, a member of the Non-Profit Alliance of Greater Lowell, Lowell Women’s Week, (Committee and Executive Committee), Lowell Cultural Council and the Living the Dream Partners. She has even served as a judge for the Souper-Bowl Competition during Lowell’s Winterfest! Aleksandra’s years of working, volunteering, and making her voice heard in Lowell led to her receiving CTI’s Champion in Action award in 2022.

Aleksandra maintains her connections to the community through her service on the Board of Directors for Community Teamwork, Inc. where she is currently the Vice President. She is also the Co-Facilitator of the DEI Consortium – Lowell and an active mentor for several young women in Lowell.

Originally from Worcester, Aleksandra resides in Lowell with her husband Bobby their sons. She enjoys Polar Seltzer, hot sauce of all kinds, and together with her boys reading, and practicing Kung-Fu.

Allison Chambers, Middlesex Community College

Allison Chambers is the Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Middlesex Community College. In this role she oversees several key areas of the college, which include Business Operations, Student Accounts, Grants, and Procurement. She advises the President and the college community regarding the financial position of the institution, compliance matters, and aligns Middlesex Community College’s finances to its mission and strategic plan. Joining the team at Middlesex has brought Allison much fulfillment, she describes her work “as finance with purpose” and she loves the challenge of the everchanging landscape of higher education.

Prior to working for Middlesex Community College, Allison was employed as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the City of Lowell where her work was primarily focused around the city’s budget. Before her work with Lowell, she held a variety of roles in corporate America in both public and private accounting. She credits her time in public accounting, followed by a tenure at Keurig, as the roles that laid the foundation for her future opportunities.

Allison is a lifelong resident of Lowell and prides herself on having received all of her education in Lowell. She received both her post-secondary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting in 2007 and a Master’s degree in Business Administration in 2012. She also became a Certified Public Accountant in 2012.

Allison resides in Lowell with her husband Steve and their three sons Will (10), Drew (7), and Jack (4). Outside of work, Allison is a passionate advocate for her sons with Autism, a proud hockey/lacrosse mom, and loves spending time with her family.

Catherine Casey, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union

Catherine Casey is the Assistant Vice President, Financial Wellness at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. She has been with Jeanne D’Arc since 2010 when she began her career as a teller in the Lowell branch. She has since navigated through various positions within the Credit Union, including Lead Teller, Assistant Branch Manager, Branch Manager, and now AVP, Financial Wellness. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Curry College, majoring in communication with a concentration in journalism and minoring in business management, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Catherine brings her passion for helping members and cultivating relationships to the Financial Wellness team with the goal of providing educational resources to members from preschool through adulthood. She has created numerous new partnerships to work with across Merrimack Valley, including House of Hope, Brigid’s Crossing, Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Marguerites Place, Megan’s House, Project Kompass, The Good Project, Lowell Adult Learning Center, Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School, Lowell Parks & Recreation, and Girls Inc. In addition to those new enhanced partnerships, she added six new schools within Lowell to Jeanne D’Arc’s Save at School program.

Catherine volunteers for a wide range of local organizations. Just some of these include the Bike Connector, Merrimack Valley Food Bank, The Wish Project, Catholic Charities, The Kristy Williams Memorial Foundation, and Toys for Local Children. She also works with several homeless shelters and rehab facilities, with the understanding that providing financial guidance is a significant part of their journey to stability and long-term recovery.

A Lowell native, Catherine currently resides in Dracut with her husband John and their three children, Keagan (10), Peyton (4), and Rowan (2). Outside of work, Catherine enjoys bowling, spending time with family and friends, and watching her oldest play sports.

Corey Williams, City of Lowell

Corey Williams is the City Solicitor for the City of Lowell. Corey is a graduate of Saint Anselm College (BA), UMass Lowell (MA), and Suffolk University Law School (JD). At the age of 37, Corey became the youngest City Solicitor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As general counsel for the entire City, Corey oversees a Legal Department comprised of 31 employees, seven of which are attorneys.

Corey and his team are responsible for providing legal representation and advice to the City in numerous areas of the law, including but not limited to: Administrative Proceedings, Civil Rights Lawsuits, Conflict of Interest Law, Opening Meeting Law, Contract Administration, Defense of Various Tort Claims, Drafting Local Legislation, Drafting Legal Opinions, Employment Defense and Administration, Real Estate Conveyancing, Land Use, School Law, Tax Title Takings, Labor Relations, Workers’ Compensation, Zoning.

In addition, Corey also oversees the Election Office, the License Commission Office, the Municipal Hearing Officer Program, the Tax Title division, the Workers’ Compensation office, in-house nurse case manager and City physician services. Corey also represents both the Lowell City Council and Lowell School Committee.

Before joining the City, Corey worked as a sole practitioner specializing in the areas of labor and employment law, business litigation, and general civil litigation matters. Prior to that, Corey worked as in-house counsel for a large public-sector labor union, where he negotiated collective bargaining agreements and represented individuals at the Department of Labor Relations, National Labor Relations Board, Civil Service Commission, and at Arbitration.

Born and raised in Billerica, Corey currently resides in Westford with his wife Jessica and their three children, Brady (10), Shea (8), and Kennedy (4). Corey is very involved in Westford youth athletics, serving as Director for the Westford Junior Ghost Baseball Program, as well as a coach for Westford Youth Travel Basketball and Westford Youth Flag Football.

Brad Buitenhuys, Lowell Litter Krewe and Dutch Property Management

Brad Buitenhuys is the founder and executive director of Lowell Litter Krewe, owner and operator of Dutch Property Management, and the Construction Manager at the Studio 26 Design Collaborative.
Lowell Litter Krewe creates and supports volunteering opportunities in the City of Lowell with a focus on redevelopment of under-utilized open spaces. Under his direction since its formation in 2021, Litter Krewe has hosted over 10,000 hours of volunteer contribution to the beautification of the city with 1200 unique volunteers and 300,000 pounds of trash removed from the streets, parks, and waterways.
Dutch Property Management (DPM) extends Brad‘s personal mission of community connection and care into the residential sector, with 25 units under contract in its first year. Studio 26 Design Collaborative, a local architectural design firm, has expanded to design-build with Brad/DPM leading the construction division. In 2023-24 DPM oversaw the construction of The Center for Hope and Healing and the Cambodian Mutual Aid Association, as well as a patio shared by Nibbana Cafe and Tasty Dumplings.
Brad is a graduate of UMass Lowell’s Civil and Environmental Engineering program (’13) and holds a masters from Wentworth in Construction Management. He currently serves as the Chair of the Lowell Conservation Commission, is a member of the Lowell Community Preservation Committee, and is on the board of the Lowell Folk Festival Foundation and the Lowell Canalwaters Cleaners. Brad LOVES Lowell and is a proud Lowell resident of fifteen years.

Dia Kim, Mill City Grows 

With a loyalty to Lowell,MA  and a deep connection to the community for over 25 years, Dai has been pivotal at Mill City Grows since 2016. He orchestrated the expansive mobile market growth, integrating the successful Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program. Currently overseeing the urban farm and mobile market programs, Dai leverages his background in business management and marketing, along with corporate philanthropy, to efficiently coordinate the annual deployment of hundreds of volunteers, fueling MCGs’ ongoing mission for food sovereignty.

Isaiah Stephens, Lowell Transitional Living Center (LTLC)

I was born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, and still reside in downtown Lowell today. My passion for art and storytelling led me to pursue a BA in Media Arts, and Animation from the New England Institute of Art. Art has been a lifelong passion of mine, but I’ve also found a deep calling in serving my community. I’ve had the privilege of working at the Lowell Transitional Living Center for the past six years, starting as a direct care staff member and working my way up to my current role as Managing Director where I oversee 30 staff, 90 subsidized housing units, and multiple homeless services for our community.

While my work can be challenging, it is incredibly rewarding to help guide individuals from homelessness to stability. I take great pride in being a voice for this sometimes misunderstood community. Witnessing people regain their footing and achieve stability fills me with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. My journey in supporting the homeless has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

Ivana Dauwer, Coalition for a Better Acre

As Health Access Program Manager for Coalition for a Better Acre, Ivana Dauwer is a staunch advocate for the community of Lowell. She firmly believes in health equity and the imperative of assuring equitable access to resources.

Ivana began her career in 2019 at Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, where she created, implemented, and ran programming to empower and inspire girls to overcome challenges and embrace healthy futures.

In 2022, Ivana took on the newly created role of Health Access Program Coordinator at
CBA, directing the organization’s response to the COVID pandemic. Now, her threemember team serves more than 1,200 households a month at the CBA food pantry, oversees eight programs that address social determinants of health (how where you live, work, and socialize affect your health) while reducing barriers to equitable health care and link residents to community resources, and manages a thriving community garden. She has championed programs to distribute and educate community members about administering NARCAN to reverse opioid overdoses.

Ivana prides herself in being a team player, willing to pitch in where needed. Most recently, she jumped in to oversee CBA’s Latin Empowerment and Advocacy program while its coordinator was on leave. She has also learned Spanish expressly to better communicate
with the many Spanish-speaking CBA members. Ivana is a commissioner for the City of Lowell’s hunger and homelessness commission and is a very passionate advocate for those struggling with homelessness as well as substance use disorders. Additionally, she serves on numerous committees, boards and working groups focused on health equity and access.

Ivana is working toward a degree in public health. In her free time, she volunteers in Boston training public workers as well as civilians on how to use Naloxone. She also loves her cat, tending to her plants, and going to concerts.

Jeanmerli Gonzalez,  Lowell Community Health Center

Jeanmerli Gonzalez is a Program Director at Lowell Community Health Center. Her career in health care began in 2018, where she worked as an EMT for Trinity EMS for 3 years. She has also served as a Healthy Hawk Peer Mentor and Senior Resident Advisor promoting healthy living on the UMASS Lowell Campus. Her journey at Lowell Community Health Center began in 2019, where she served as their Community Outreach Coordinator. This experience blossomed her interest in public health. In 2021, she transitioned into REACH LoWELL, a federally funded comprehensive community program focused on education, outreach and systemic organizing, as the Program Manager and later served as the Program Director in 2022. Through this experience, Jeanmerli was able to support many city-wide initiatives like the Community Foods’ Assesment, the Cambodia Town Neighborhood Plan. Now, Jeanmerli serves as the Program Director for Lowell Community Health Center’s Carino Programs that offer comprehensive HIV services including counseling, testing, treatment, social support, and advocacy for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and overdose prevention education.

Jeanmerli holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from UMASS Lowell and a Master’s in Public Health from Simmons University.

During Jeanmerli’s time at Lowell Community Health Center, she has worked with many local Community based organizations to address community needs and used her voice to advocate for communities that have often been underrepresented. Jeanmerli has also been able to support the states’ contact tracing initiative as a Contact Tracer. Trained as a Spanish Medical Interpreter, Jeanmerli has completed various healthcare and non-profit training programs, including the Comprehensive Outreach Certificate at CHEC and is now a Certified Community Health Worker. She continues to share her expertise as a trainer for CHEC training opportunities. Additionally, Jeanmerli is set to graduate from the Institute for Non-Profit Practice Core Certificate program in May 2024.

Jeanmerli passion for her community stems from her up-bringing learning from her mom, Jeanette Rivera, and participating in many community events as a child in the Merrimack Valley. Jeanmerli is born and raised in Lawrence, MA and currently resides in Gardner, MA with Husband Shiloh Massiah.

Makayla Clougherty, Merrimack Valley Food Bank

Makayla Clougherty is the Public Health and Marketing Coordinator at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) in Lowell, MA. She started at the MVFB as the Administrative Assistant in 2022 for her college capstone and got promoted to her current position in 2023. In her position at the MVFB, Makayla runs the Community Market program that brings fresh produce and other staples every month to 8 different low-income and senior housing complexes in Lowell, Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury, and Billerica. Makayla also helps to run the food bank’s social media accounts, assists with event planning, and represents the food bank on various boards and coalitions fighting hunger in Massachusetts.

Makayla was a first-generation college student and graduated from UMass Lowell in 2022, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health and Health Promotion.

Makayla is also involved with various organizations and community initiatives in the Greater Lowell area. Makayla worked with the Lowell Community Health Center the past two years on their REACH LoWELL Campaign, focusing on the SWAP Pantry Model that helps food pantries and the clients they serve pick balanced and nutritious options. Makayla is also the food bank’s CHOP Dinner representative and helps plan and execute free monthly dinners at the Lowell Senior Center that help to educate community members on different cultures, health initiatives and the resources in our area available to them.

Makayla was born in Lowell, MA before moving to Dracut and eventually Chelmsford, where she graduated high school. She currently lives in Merrimack, NH with her boyfriend and their rescue dog, Koda.

Marguerite Hoover, Town of Dracut

Marguerite Hoover is the Water & Sewer Superintendent for the Town of Dracut and has worked for the Town since 2021 – starting there as the Assistant Town Engineer. In her current role, she is responsible for the oversight of both departments, while maintaining a focus on the residents serviced by the Town. Water and sewer are often viewed as “silent utilities,” that no one seems to talk about until there are problems. Marguerite is working to keep residents better informed about the why’s and how’s of what needs to be done to keep the systems running as best as possible.

Marguerite is also the proud owner of a homestead bakery, Middle Sister Bakes. She is self-taught and enjoys being a sweet part of all sorts of celebrations – birthdays, weddings, graduations, and important life events. Utilizing her skills, Marguerite is a Sugar Angel with Icing Smiles, a nationwide nonprofit organization that delivers cakes at no charge to kids and families impacted by critical illnesses.

A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Marguerite earned her Bachelor Degree (BS) in Environmental Engineering, with a Professional Writing Minor in 2016. She earned her Engineer in Training (EIT) Certification in 2020, and is currently studying to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to become a Professional Engineer (PE).

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Marguerite is now a resident of Atkinson, NH where she and her fiancé Brendan own their first home together. Outside of work and cake deliveries, Marguerite enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, quality time with friends and family, and *still* rooting for the Buffalo Bills.

Maria Crooker-Capone, Alternative House 

Maria Crooker-Capone is an advocate with a passion for giving a voice to the voiceless. Serving as the Executive Director of Alternative House since 2021, Maria’s commitment to supporting those without a voice shine through in her work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business from UMass Lowell and her MBA from Lasell College, specializing in Non-Profit Management.

With over 15 years of experience in the domestic violence field, Maria’s career has been marked by her dedication to survivor-centered programming. She firmly believes in amplifying survivors’ voices, viewing them as a driving force shaping Alternative House’s future. Her expertise spans various areas, including program development, enhancing law enforcement responses to domestic violence, evaluating high-risk cases to prevent domestic violence-related homicides, cultivating robust community partnerships, and developing innovative strategies to reach underserved populations.

Maria’s daily motivation stems from her commitment to upholding Alternative House’s grassroots values, striving for a world free from oppression and violence.

Maria aspires to inspire young people, believing in their potential to achieve their dreams, overcome challenges, and make a positive impact. Maria envisions a future where empowerment and resilience thrive among survivors and the community, fostering a generation of changemakers who break barriers and ignite transformative change.

When she is not at work, you can find Maria traveling to new places with her husband, listening to her vast record collection, snuggling on the couch with her three fur children, or cooking for a group of friends.

Masada Jones, Center for Hope and Healing (CHH)

Masada Jones (she/her) is an artist, community creator, and youth worker. She currently serves as the Executive Director at The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc. She is Founder and Executive Director of The Kindred Project, an organization creating visible community with Black people in Lowell. Knowing the importance of telling one’s own story and being heard, she also co-founded FreeVerse!, a group focused on enriching the lives of young people by fostering their love of poetry and performance.

Masada is a Lowell native dedicated to investing in her people and community. She is a graduate of Lesley University and a published author.  “Becoming Broken”, her first full-length collection of poetry was released March 2016.

Sean Moriarty, Enterprise Bank

Sean Moriarty is a Commercial Loan Officer, Sr. Vice President at Enterprise Bank. Sean is a graduate of UMass Amherst, and in 2019, he completed his MBA locally at UMass Lowell. He started his banking career at Enterprise Bank in 2012, first going through a year long training program before moving into lending. In June 2014, he moved to the bank’s Chelmsford, MA branch and has worked out of there since. Over the last ten years, Sean has provided over 600 loans for more than $250 million to local business owners and real estate investors within the community. In addition to his lending efforts, Sean helps act as a mentor to junior lenders and assists in leading training programs for other team members.

While at Enterprise Bank, Sean has become involved in a number of non profit endeavors. He serves as a Corporator for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, and in 2023 he co-chaired their Holiday Auction, helping to raise over $400,000 for the club. He is looking forward to co-chairing the event again in 2024. Sean’s also involved in the Lowell General Hospital Golf Tournament and the Mt. Pleasant Golf Club Scholarship Fund.

Born and raised in Chelmsford, MA, Sean, his wife Kaitlyn, and dog Norman reside in Lowell, MA.

Sochenda Uch, Lowell Community Health Center 

Sochenda Uch is a seasoned Brand and Creative Design Manager at Lowell Community Health Center with more than 16 years of experience. A first-generation college graduate from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Sochenda specializes in Product Design and leads visual marketing and communications efforts. His work has earned recognition, notably with two 2024 NESHCo Lamplighter Awards. 

 At the health center, Sochenda has championed youth advocacy, participating in various roles within the Teen BLOCK youth department and has been involved in numerous fundraising initiatives. Additionally, Sochenda co-founded the Lowell Youth Leadership Program (LYLP), a free four-week summer camp that promotes leadership among young people in Lowell, where he continues to serve on the board. 

His personal story is deeply intertwined with the community he serves. Born to Cambodian refugees in Lowell, MA, he is featured in the documentary “Monkey Dance” by Julie Mallozzi, which addresses challenges among Cambodian youth in Lowell. 

 Outside of his professional life, Sochenda consults for emerging clothing brands and local entities. Sochenda, his wife Sodany, and their son Jayavarman, continue to reside in Lowell, embodying the spirit of the city they love. 

Timna Nwokeji, Life as a Maven, LLC.

Timna Nwokeji is the Founder & CEO of Life as a Maven, LLC., a Latina owned, digital content creation business focused on small businesses.

Life as a Maven, LLC started as a way to share local food and travel experiences with locals and it grew into so much more! Between her travels to different parts of the world and her growing following in the Greater Merrimack Valley & Boston, Timna continues to share curated experiences with her followers.

Two years ago Timna officially made Life as a Maven into an LLC and in less than two years grew her business into a five figure business.

Her focus has stayed consistent, to help small businesses with their own content creation while creating beautiful and engaging content for her own followers to see.
She also hopes to inspire others to experience different food, learn about different cultures and travel in a different way.

Timna holds a Master degree from Northeastern University (first in her family), an HR professional in her corporate life, wife and mom to a beautiful baby boy.

Thank you to our 2024 Platinum Partners: Enterprise BankTMI PropertiesMassHire Greater Lowell Workforce BoardJeanne D’Arc Credit UnionEforAll/EparaTodos Merrimack Valley and A&M Auto Body.


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