Ethan Ash Named the June Community Hero of the Month

Tompkins Chamber, in partnership with Tompkins Community Bank, has named Ethan Ash as the June Community Hero of the Month. This award recognizes individuals from Tompkins County who have significantly impacted our community.

Ash has served on a range of nonprofit boards and mission-driven organizations including the MindWell Center, State Theater, SimpliFed, Planned Parenthood, and the Tompkins County Tourism Board. He also helped raise funds for the Dryden Public Library and is a partner at AGAVA Restaurant, Empowered Equity (EMPEQ), and Firelight Camps in Ithaca.

Additionally, Ash co-founded the Youth Entrepreneurship Market & Mentorship Program (YEM), along with Michael Mazza, to inspire Tompkins County youth in grades 4-12 to think with an entrepreneurial mindset through experiential learning and making connections with community members.

“Any recognition for the Youth Entrepreneurial Market has to be shared with co-founder Michael Mazza, without whom I would not be running it,” Ash said. “This has been a passion project of ours and an incredible partnership, so if we’re going to talk about YEM, we have to talk about my fellow community hero, Michael.”

Honored to be thought of as a community hero, Ash said he is grateful to live in a community that has so many of them. “I appreciate the spirit behind the award,” Ash added. “I would love to continue recognizing other people who inspire me and inspired me to get involved with public service to help shape Ithaca into the kind of community it can be.”

Ash has supported various types of organizations through his volunteerism but has focused greatly on positively impacting youth. “I have been very focused on things that can support young people in our community,” Ash said, “to give them perspective on their choices and career paths that I did not have when I was growing up in Ithaca.

“Outside of youth and entrepreneurial training, a lot of what ties into what else I’ve been involved with is the betterment of cultural opportunities, making the most of the land, the food, and the social fabric that exists in this area,” Ash added. “Getting involved with any public service, it forces you to come up close to your neighbors and break down the barrier that is social media. One of the most valuable things about public service is having a personal connection to the community, and that is something I want my kids to see.”

Ash stressed this recognition would not be possible without his wife, Rachel Ash. “I want to thank my wife. There is no way to get involved with your community and take on public service without having someone that supports and helps you, while taking care of three young kids,” Ash said. “I want to thank her for all of her support and love.”

IAED Announces Availability of Fall 2022 Tourism Capital Grants

Applications for Fall 2022 Tourism Capital Grants are now being accepted by the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability. Tourism Capital Grants support major investments in visitor-generating projects such as theaters, parks, museums, and other cultural and recreational attractions. Funds can be used for design, renovation, and new building projects; investments in unique permanent installations such as exhibits; and feasibility studies of potential projects. The typical award range is between $5,000–$100,000. The application deadline is set for September 12th.

Tompkins County Principal Planner/Tourism Program Director Nick Helmholdt stated, “Attracting tourism to Tompkins County is critical to the overall health and stability of our local economy and we are pleased to support organizations that play such a key part in this endeavor through the dissemination of our Fall 2022 Tourism Grants.”

Heather McDaniel, IAED President, shared, “We are pleased to assist our partners with the Tourism Capital Grants program, and to help support some of the many organizations that play such a key role in supporting the economic vitality of our community through tourism.”

Tourism Capital Grants are funded by the county’s hotel room occupancy tax. A total of $242,000 has been budgeted for the current round of projects. The program is administered on behalf of Tompkins County by Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED). Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to schedule a pre-application meeting with IAED by emailing For more information and grant guidelines, please visit:

Community Bank Acquires Elmira Savings Bank

Community Bank of North America recently finalized their acquisition of Elmira Savings Bank . The merger added eight branch locations across a five-county area in the Central New York and Southern Tier markets. Three of those branch locations are located in Ithaca at 2300 Triphammer Road in the village of Lansing, 702 South Meadow Street and 602 West State Street in the city of Ithaca.

The bank was also just awarded one of America’s most trustworthy companies by Newsweek. Community Bank was named sixth among banks across the country, as well as the highest ranked bank on the list in every state they do business in and the highest in the Northeast.

Tompkins Promotes Mastin to VP, HR Mgr of Corporate Culture

Tompkins Community Bank announced Stacie Mastin has assumed the role of VP, HR Manager of Corporate Culture. Mastin began her career with Tompkins in 2008 as the Learning & Development Officer, later becoming the Employee Relations Manager and Human Resources Manager. Most recently, Mastin worked as a Wealth Advisor with Tompkins Financial Advisors. In her new role, she will establish and reinforce an employee-centric and equitable culture.

Bonita Lindberg, SVP, Director of Human Resources, shared, “We are thrilled for Stacie to assume this new position which will focus on achieving our strategic and cultural objectives including advancing our diversity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives. We also look forward to her building an unparalleled team member experience by working with leaders to drive team member engagement throughout the organization.” Lindberg added, “We look forward to the valuable contributions she will make in this new role.”

Mastin has 25 years of experience in the financial industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services with a concentration in Human Resource Management. She is a Certified Senior Human Resources Professional.

Mastin resides in Lansing with her husband and son. She serves as a Board Member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Board Secretary of the YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County, Board Chair of the Lansing Youth Services Commission, and a Committee Member of the Women's Fund Advisory Committee. Additionally, Mastin is a Grant Committee Member of the United Way Community Fund.

Mission Driven Solutions: New Business, Expanding Missions

Challenge Workforce Solutions is launching a new business venture: Mission Driven Solutions (MDS). MDS aims to help organizations succeed through collaboration by providing services and resources, while respecting their missions, visions, and values. MDS assists businesses in achieving further financial sustainability by analyzing their unique needs and putting together a customized plan to address them, resulting in lower operating costs and an increased ability to focus on business strategy and constituents. Some of these services include: contract management, monitoring fiscal strength and viability, managing the digital workplace and employee life cycle, promoting the visibility of your product(s), service(s), program(s), and more.

By partnering with MDS, businesses can not only maintain and enhance their own mission but also support the mission of Challenge. The eventual aim is to create a strong network of organizations united by their affiliation with MDS. 

“We really wanted to continue our passion which is helping others within our communities succeed,” says President and CEO of Challenge, Allen Connely. “Through Mission Driven Solutions we can do just that, help other organizations become stronger, more financially independent, and expand their missions.”

To explore your organization’s needs and identify customized solutions to meet them, go to To learn more about Mission Driven Solutions, its benefits, and the services offered go to

Love Living at Home Promotes Cassie Besemer to Assistant Director

Love Living at Home (LLH), a not-for-profit that provides a variety of services for older adults throughout Tompkins County, has promoted Cassie Besemer to Assistant Director. Besemer, who joined LLH in 2019, will be responsible for the coordination of all volunteer services including the recruitment, training, and supervision of volunteers as well as connecting volunteers and members.

Besemer stated, “During my time with Love Living at Home, I have seen what a difference having a village has made in people’s lives. Even during a pandemic, I watched our membership continue to grow in numbers and friendships built. It has been a privilege to be a part of such a wonderful organization and I look forward to continuing to support its mission in my new role as the Assistant Director.”

LLH’s Executive Director Cheryl Jewell shared, “Cassie is a critical member of the Love Living at Home team and I am so grateful for her dedication to our members and volunteers.” Jewell added, “I am confident she will continue to do great things in her new role.”

Besemer resides in Trumansburg with her husband and their two sons. She earned an associate's degree in Human Services from Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) in May 2019 and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Keuka College in May 2022. She previously worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant with Cayuga Medical Center and Cayuga Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

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