ITHACA, N.Y. –– Tompkins Connect, the local young professional organization within the Chamber of Commerce, has named several outstanding young professionals as winners of its 6th annual “Fab5” awards. These awards highlight and celebrate the achievements of young professionals who are “excelling in their fields and making an impact in Tompkins County.”

This year, the Fab5 Committee sought young professionals who have been able to shine and excel despite the unprecedented challenges that the community endured last year. Perhaps not coincidentally, Tompkins Connect said they received a historic number of nominations for individuals who did remarkable things this past year.

Two additional awards were also added this year: an Essential Worker “Hero” award was created to recognize a young professional who was considered “essential” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and an Above and Beyond award was added to recognize an outstanding individual who has made significant contributions to our community. 

The winners are as follows:

  • Not-for-Profit Leader of the Year – Johanna Anderson, Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, for her remarkable leadership during this challenging time. 
  • Business Leader of the Year – Patrick Blackman, Coltivare, for his inspiring leadership to the Coltivare staff, TC3 students, and Ithaca community. 
  • Rookie of the Year – Ben Sandberg, The History Center in Tompkins County, for his creativity and commitment as a new leader of The History Center during this challenging year. 
  • Entrepreneur of the Year – Olivia Ashline-Royale, Easy Living Hats, for her exceptional entrepreneurship and dedication to supporting the Ithaca community. 
  • Volunteer of the Year – Juliana Garcia, Mutual Aid Tompkins, for her contributions towards developing the Tompkins County Mutual Aid response, with the help of her team.
  • Essential Worker “Hero” Award  – Emily Mallar, Cayuga Health Partners, for her exceptional efforts of providing rapid medical communications throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the medical community to reduce the number of hospitalizations and Emergency Room visits. 
  • Above and Beyond Award – Melissa Madden, PressBay Food Hub, for her work in bringing fresh, local food to our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fab5 is a unique event that showcases the great work young professionals are doing in our community,” said David Walton, Event and Program Manager at Tompkins Chamber and member of the Fab5 planning committee. “This past year has been challenging in so many ways, but it has been inspiring to see so many people step up and help each other out.”

All members of the community are invited to honor and celebrate these young professionals at the free virtual 2021 Fab5 Young Professional Awards Celebration on Thursday, March 4, 2021, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Tompkins Connect added that the event will be live-streamed with a watch party option for those who would like to virtually see and chat with other guests in attendance. Additionally, there will be a special signature Fab5 cocktail that can be purchased from Monks on the Commons and enjoyed at home while watching the event.

“While this year is a little different, we are confident that the Fab5 Awards will continue to be a great event and can’t wait to honor these outstanding members of our community,” shared Jessie White, Co-Chair of Tompkins Connect and 2019 Volunteer of the Year winner. “We also hope virtual attendees leave with a renewed sense of love for Tompkins County as a place to live, work, and most importantly stay.”

Tompkins Trust Company President and CEO Greg Hartz said that while the awards can’t celebrate all of the young people having a positive impact on the community, it serves as a good way to shine a light on the young adult who will leave their mark on Ithaca and Tompkins County for decades to come.

“There are countless young professionals living and working in our community who are shaping both the short-term and long-term success of our organizations. Our young professionals are so important to the healthy future of our community and we are pleased to honor these young professionals for their achievements,” said Tompkins Trust Company President and CEO Greg Hartz. “It is especially important to recognize the accomplishments of our young professionals who have stepped up to help our community this past year, as COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our community.”

Fab5 Awards are co-sponsored by Communiqué Design & Marketing, Tompkins Chamber, and Cayuga Health. The committee would also like to recognize the event’s media sponsor, the Ithaca Voice, and its production sponsor, Well Said Media, as well as the promotional support of the Ithaca Times.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at