Nicole VanGorder Receives 2nd Annual IGNITE Future Leader's Award

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Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce presented Nicole VanGorder with its 2nd Annual IGNITE Future Leader's Award on September 30, 2020 during a virtual event. The IGNITE Award recognizes a young professional, 21 to 40 years old, for leadership, community service, and personal and professional achievements. The goal is to recognize and celebrate Rochester’s future leaders who serve as a positive influence in bettering our community.

VanGorder is Chief Operating Officer at Upstate Special Needs Planning, which she founded with her husband. USNP is a comprehensive financial planning group who specializes in working with families who are caring for an individual with developmental disabilities, mental health issues or (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury.

VanGorder has over 10 years of experience in financial services, and has mentored many young people in the industry. Her community involvement includes serving as former vice chair for the Mental Health Association of Rochester, former secretary of the board of directors for the Villa of Hope, former co-chair of the membership committee for the Genesee Valley Club, former President of the Alumni association for St. John Fisher College, member of the board of trustees for WXXI Public Media & the Little Theatre, and member of the Development committee for the Rochester Museum & Science Center.


The full list of 2020 IGNITE Award finalists includes:

• Christina Barnwell, Director of Social Services for Greater Rochester, The Salvation Army

• Jason Barrett, Founder & President, Black Button Distilling

• Darrell Bell, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary

• Andrew Brady, Chief Evolutionary Officer, The XLR8 Team, Inc.

• Collin Doane, Associate Attorney, Lacy Katzen LLP

• Paul Gebel, Director of Product Innovation, ITX Corp.

• Nicholas Grunert, Enrollment Outreach Manager, Roberts Wesleyan College

• Nia Jones, Director of Residential Services, East House

• Randi Proukou, Founding Partner, Zea Proukou PLLC

• Kristin Purdy, Senior Associate/Project Architect/Sustainable Design Manager, SWBR

• Joseph Sayre, Associate Director of Recruitment, Simon Business School

• Jason Streb, Architect/Associate, CPL Architecture – Engineering – Planning

• Nicole VanGorder, Chief Operating Officer, Upstate Special Needs Planning

• Audrey Wackerman, Vice President, Employee Benefits, USI Insurance Services, Inc.

• Jessica Wade, Associate/Project Architect, SWBR

• Kiara Warren, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services


A selection committee consisting of a diverse group of professional leaders from the Rochester and Finger Lakes business community determined the finalists and recipient based upon submitted nominations.