Kelly Piero came to Canton in 2004 knowing only two people: her mother and aunt.
But the then-15-year-old Kelly Simonis found meeting people in Canton was easier than in Cleveland.
“I took advantage of it being a smaller community. I was able to navigate it quicker and meet new people quicker,” said the 2006 Perry High School graduate who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public relations from Kent State University. “The advantage in Canton is that the six degrees of separation is just around the corner. The networking here is so much more intertwined, you don’t have to work twice as hard to get to know so many people.”
Now, 15 years after she arrived, the former Cleveland resident is leading the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s effort to attract, retain and engage young professionals in Stark County.
Piero, 31, has been named the new director of yStark!, a Chamber program that offers young professionals opportunities for networking, training and civic engagement.
“Wherever you’re at in that young professionals world of 20 to 40, you should be able to find something here for your goals,” said Piero, who previously worked as the special event coordinator for Kent State University at Stark. “Hopefully, yStark! is the connection for volunteering and giving back.”
Among the changes Piero hopes to make this year are bringing back the opportunity for young professionals to meet and eat with a local business leader and diversifying the group’s networking and social opportunities to include family activities and volunteering opportunities.
Piero and husband, Steve, live in Perry Township and welcomed their first daughter, Veda, in February.
Smiley’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in downtown Massillon. “The owners and staff are great, and there isn’t a bad choice on the menu. I always make sure to order something that comes with the homemade rolls. They are delicious!”
Admired CEO or business owner:
Bob Pireu from Bob & Pete’s Floors. “It can be so challenging to keep a business running—let alone growing—and he does it in a way that still makes both the staff and customers feel like family. He is also committed to giving back to the community—often sponsoring Perry sports teams, supporting the Friends of Stark Pound and countless other nonprofits and events.”
Favorite thing to do:
“I love to kayak. Sippo Lake is such a gem, and it’s great that they have the rentals right there, along with paddleboards, canoes and bicycles. Our cousins live on Meyers Lake, and we love spending time at their house kayaking and paddleboarding.”
Most memorable spot:
Berlin Lake. “We got married at my husband’s family cabin over there in a sweet morning-time wedding. It was always a special place for him and his family, and it remains special for us and our growing family.”
Favorite indoor activity:
Escape Room Downtown. “The challenge is such a thrill! So far, I am one for two. I am looking forward to going back to try their new challenge room.”
Favorite place to shop:
“I love resale shops! Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet, Once Upon a Child and Goodwill are among my favorites. Not only is it Earth-friendly—keeping unwanted clothing out of landfills—but it’s kind of like a treasure hunt because you never know what you’re going to find.”
Favorite lunch spot:
Clean Eatz in Perry Township. “It is a great spot for a healthy lunch. The owners are awesome, and you can even pick up prepackaged meals to bring for lunch the rest of the week.”
Favorite entertainment spot:
Canton Palace Theatre. “I have been to movies, theater performances and concerts there, and it’s always a unique experience.”
Favorite coffee shop:
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop. “I have only worked downtown for a few months, but I have already fallen in love with the Wyatts and their shop! I am looking forward to checking out Walkie Talkie Espresso & Coffee as well. I have heard great things!”
Favorite volunteer opportunity:
“For a few years now, I have selected a handful of families to buy Christmas gifts for through the Domestic Violence Project, Inc.The holidays can be so hard, and it’s rewarding to know that we can help contribute in a small way to creating better holiday memories for the families in need. There are so many local volunteer opportunities throughout the year though, and whether it’s through time or money, there is always a way to give back and make a difference.”
Favorite spot to workout:
Zen Den Yoga Shala in Louisville. “The vibe is awesome, and the instructors, Sam and Tricia, are so down-to-earth. I also love going to the recreation and wellness center at Kent State Stark; it’s free for alums!”
Favorite local theater:
“My mom and I love going to the North Canton Playhouse productions, and we love musical theater in general. I grew up participating in a kids community theater program in Cleveland, so I have a great respect for all the hard work the kids put into their productions.”