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Soap Box Derby Updates Strategic Plan; Announces Staffing transition


International Soap Box Derby, Inc. (ISBD) has updated the organization’s strategic plan in continuing support of its youth racing and education programs. The new three-year plan replaces one originally adopted in 2014, according to Gregg Mervis, chairman of the ISBD board of directors, and Mark Gerberich, president and chief executive officer.  

“It is critical that we continuously ensure that the organization’s actions are in line with our overall mission of instilling knowledge, character and leadership skills in young people through racing competition, education programs and community activities,” Mervis said. “Our updated strategic plan enhances our efforts as the needs of our constituents and partners evolve.” 

Mervis said the primary focus of the updated plan is to continue to strengthen local organizations that stage racing programs in communities throughout the United States and other countries; to build the Soap Box Derby brand, which will help increase racing participation by boys and girls, as well as to improve interest by sponsors, community leaders and spectators; to expand education opportunities through its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in-school curriculum, and to ensure the financial stability of the organization.

Gerberich said there have been staffing changes at ISBD headquarters in Akron to align operations with the new strategic plan and the organization’s mission. 

These appointments are:

Heather Morrow has been named director of operations. She joined ISBD in 2014, as programs coordinator and most recently served as programs director. Morrow is responsible for racing programs, events, grounds and facilities, volunteers and community outreach. She also will support the development and implementation of organizational strategies for certain programs at the track, in the community and for more than 100 licensed Soap Box Derby race organizations.  Morrow holds a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing management from the University of Akron.

Doreen Thorne has been promoted to marketing director. She joined the Soap Box Derby in 2015, and has served as marketing manager. She is now responsible for strategic marketing direction, as well as for planning, developing and implementing comprehensive grant, sponsorship and fund-raising programs to support the Derby’s mission, Thorne earned a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing from the University of Akron. 

Cindi Zagar has been promoted to finance director. She is responsible for finance and administration including payroll, accounts payable and receivables, pricing, cash management, general ledger, inventory, purchasing, banking and reconciliations, sales tax, annual audit and federal tax preparation. She also oversees human resources and supports business planning and budgeting, operations and IT. She has been with the Derby for four years, having served most recently as finance manager. Zagar earned her bachelor of science degree in accounting from the University of Akron. 

Cory Katzenmeyer has been promoted to marketing manager, responsible for implementing marketing programs to raise Soap Box Derby awareness, to manage the organization’s social media efforts and to work with local and national media outlets to help promote the Derby’s mission. He first joined ISBD in 2016, as a marketing intern. After earning his bachelor of science degree in sports management from the University of Akron, he returned to the organization as operations coordinator.

Evan Gannon has been named events manager, responsible for overseeing racing events at Derby Downs, as well as providing client services support in the planning, organization and management of private, corporate and community events at the track. He also will coordinate on-site staff and volunteer support for the wide variety of events held each year. Gannon joined ISBD in 2017, as race coordinator. He holds a bachelor of science degree in sports management from the University of Akron.

Kayla Albertoni has been joined ISBD as race programs manager, working with the local and rally Soap Box Derby racing programs. She will provide race city support, manage the rally point system and also the licensing of more the 100 local race organizations. Albertoni is a past racer who raced for 12 years in the Akron Area Soap Box Derby and was the Akron rally champion in 2005. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Walsh University. 

Liz DeCarlo has joined the headquarters staff as an administrative assistant to provide staff support to ensure efficient office operations. DeCarlo also will be responsible for maintaining the data base for donors and for managing procurement of office supplies. She holds a bachelor of science degree in fashion merchandising from Kent State University. 

“The future for the Soap Box Derby will be to continue supporting our program mission and to expand our reach for our racing and education programs,” Gerberich said. “We are excited to expand on our current staff’s talents and bringing on the new roles of our new staff to the Derby team as we continue to provide meaningful experiences in the community.”

Strategic Plan 2018 - 2021