Honoring Outstanding Business Leaders
We are excited to award four incredible local leaders who have inspired the community and impacted business for good.
Read each of the winners’ bios below, then tune in TODAY, October 1, at 6pm, to watch their inspiring stories and watch live as they receive their awards at Clipper Magazine Stadium!
Entrepreneur of the Year
The Entrepreneur of the Year award honors a founder and owner of a business who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit. The recipient is an independent thinker, demonstrates business growth, creates a positive internal culture, and is dedicated to the community.
Derek Dienner is the Creative Director and Founder of MAKE/FILMS. He specializes in leading creative teams to tell stories through visual imagery. His life mission is to bring people together through creative ideas and film. He has captured the lives and landscapes of his subjects from Cape Town, South Africa to San Francisco.
Small Businessperson of the Year
The Small Businessperson of the Year recognizes a small business (100 or fewer employees) owner who has demonstrated business growth, invested time & energy in to developing their teams, and has contributed to our community.
For nearly thirty years, Walt Grudi has owned and managed a highly successful Telecom and IT services business, helping thousands of business customers in Central PA and beyond effectively connect and communicate to achieve greater success. Grudi Associates, Inc., was founded in 1992 by Walt Grudi and his father, Walter A. Grudi, to help businesses save money on long-distance service and payphones.
Few industries have changed as much as or as fast as Telecom & IT in the past three decades, which created both tough challenges and incredible opportunities for Walt and his company. Grudi Associates has remained on the leading edge of the industry and technology by continuously reinventing itself and its services. Walt leads an incredible team of professionals who have made Grudi Associates one of the premier Telecom & IT services providers in its markets.
Walt graduated from The College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and English. Walt has been married to his wife, Kelly, for thirty years. They have two daughters, Karlee and Kayla. Walt and his family enjoy many outdoor activities from skiing and golf to hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Personally, Walt has participated in the American Lung Association Lung Force walk since 2003, has been a Lector at St. Peter Catholic Church since 1996 reading during Mass, has coached youth sports, has provided financial support to many non-profit and community organizations, and more.
Senior Vice President, WellSpan Health
The ATHENA award celebrates an individual who strives toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment, have devoted time and energy to their community, and who inspires women to reach their full potential.
Carrie Willetts is Senior Vice President of WellSpan Health, serving as the senior executive leader for WellSpan’s system of care in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. She also leads business development functions for the regional health system which serves Central Pennsylvania including York, Adams, Franklin, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.
Prior to joining WellSpan, Carrie held leadership positions at health systems in Virginia, including roles with Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk and the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. Her more than two decades of healthcare leadership experience includes oversight of hospital operations, service lines, academic medicine, business development, strategic planning, marketing and community outreach, medical group operations, revenue cycle and compliance.
Carrie serves on the boards of the Lancaster Chamber, Hospice & Community Care, and Ephrata Area Education Foundation. Carrie enjoys mentoring others and has a passion for supporting leaders to reach their full potential. She received a master’s degree in Health Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she was an A.D. Williams Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University.
Former President, CEO, and Chairman, Ephrata National Bank
The Exemplar award honors a local leader who has made significant contributions to community organizations and has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the Lancaster Community.
Aaron Groff is a graduate of Cocalico High School, American Institute of Banking, New Jersey Banker’s Association Data Processing School, and the IBM Data Processing School.
Aaron started his career at Ephrata National Bank 53 years ago as the Night Depository, Bank-by-Mail & Drive-in Teller. He rose the ranks to lead the organization as President & Chief Executive Officer from 1999 until his recent retirement in December of 2019. His other roles at the bank included Data Processing, Director of Marketing and Vice President of Operations and Cashier. Aaron still serves on the bank’s Board of Directors.
Aaron’s commitment to Ephrata National Bank is only enhanced by his commitment to the greater community and industry. Aaron previously served as an instructor for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Banking and served two consecutive terms as a Board Member for Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank. Aaron has also served as a member of the Wellspan Philhaven, the Wellspan Health System’s Audit Committee, and the Ephrata Township Sewer Authority. Aaron is also involved in his church, Blainsport Mennonite Church, on the Church Investment Loan Fund. Among his peers and those he has impacted, Aaron is a shining beacon of hope in Ephrata and across Lancaster County.