Celebrating the 2024 PROpel AVL Award Winners

May 8, 2024

At our inaugural PROpel AVL Awards on May 7th, community members gathered at Highland Brewing to celebrate the exceptional young professionals making significant strides in Asheville and beyond. We showcased five outstanding individuals whose efforts have enriched the community in various ways. 

Innovation Award: Josue Molina, Givens Communities

Presented by UNC Asheville, the Innovation Award was given to Josue Molina, an advocate for aging well in Asheville and a leading figure in the senior living industry. As the Independent Living Sales and Marketing Director at Givens Communities, Josue has redefined marketing strategies within the sector by leveraging technology and creative, cost-effective methods. His comprehensive approach to elder care includes promoting cybersecurity awareness, volunteerism, and inclusivity, making him a beacon of innovation and leadership in enhancing the quality of life for seniors.

Community/Public Service Award: Kaila Tolsma Ramser, First Citizens Bank

Kaila Tolsma Ramser was honored with the Community/Public Service Award, sponsored by First Bank. Her extensive involvement in the Asheville community spans several significant roles, including Co-Chair of PROpel AVL and President of Teaching in Motion. Kaila’s commitment to financial literacy and empowerment is evident through her volunteer work with organizations such as OnTrack Financial and Open Doors of Asheville, where she aids families in navigating financial challenges.

Mentor Award: Jonathan Blakely, Potential Sports and Fitness

The Mentor Award, presented on behalf of A-B Tech, recognized Jonathan Blakely, the founder of Potential Sports and Fitness. Jonathan has transformed his organization from a modest outdoor initiative into a premier training facility for athletes at all levels. His dedication to mentorship and community support shines through his work with local youth, particularly in fostering talents and promoting diversity within sports.

Trailblazer Award: Tessa Scarborough, MAHEC

Tessa Scarborough of MAHEC received the Trailblazer Award for her influential role in Asheville’s healthcare sector. Starting as an intern and rising to become the Administrative Director in the Department of Psychiatry, Tessa has exemplified leadership and commitment to community service. Her involvement in initiatives such as the NC Harm Reduction Coalition and All Souls Counseling Center highlights her dedication to addressing critical health issues and enhancing mental health access.

PROpel Award: Catherine Turner, YMCA of Western North Carolina

The prestigious PROpel Award goes to Catherine Turner for embodying the spirit of leadership, mentorship, and service that PROpel AVL champions. As the Senior Program Director of Teen School’s Out programs at the YMCA of Western North Carolina, Catherine has developed innovative and inclusive programs that support teen development. Her efforts during the pandemic ensured continuous support and safety for displaced teens, further proving her dedication to youth empowerment.

Each of our award recipients demonstrates a profound commitment to their respective fields and the broader Asheville community. Their achievements underscore this region’s potential and inspire others to engage, innovate, and lead. Congratulations to all the winners for their well-deserved recognition. We’ll see you at next year’s awards!