Throughout the week, Tonya is employed full-time as Main Street Manager of Bedford, Pennsylvania, where she has been instrumental in revitalizing the community for five years. When the weekend arrives, Tonya doesn't kick back; instead, she heads home to focus on the corporation she's built, Dynamic Performance Institute, Inc. Educating and motivating others is no unfamiliar skill to Tonya, which is among the many reasons why she was drawn to the Juniata campus years ago, as a prospective student interested in education.
"Juniata was one of the very few colleges that immersed you in a classroom experience from your very first year," Tonya recalls. "And I also found that they allowed you to be more creative and step out to take risks. They encouraged us to stretch ourselves beyond what might be considered the norm."
Throughout her four years on campus, Tonya took advantage of everything she could, including earning a dual teaching certificate. Her mentor, Fay Glosenger, professor emerita of early childhood education, advised that this achievement would make her more competitive. As a result, Tonya received a job offer straight out of college–out of 200 applicants–and was even recognized as one of Sallie Mae's Top 100 Teachers in the country during her first year of teaching.
"Juniata taught me to have discipline and commitment in whatever I'm doing," Tonya says. "Everyone has talent, but the key is taking opportunities and advice to heart and applying them." After starting a family years later, Tonya's journey took a turn, and though she transitioned out of the education field, she never truly stopped teaching, whether that meant teaching others or herself. Tonya's new venture began when she heard a radio broadcast from a company that teaches its customers how to best preserve photographs for future generations. Soon, she was hosting groups of 50 women in her home to teach them how to do this very process.
When Tonya started this venture, the company did not provide her with any sales training or resources. So, she did what she does best—she saw a teaching opportunity. Tonya taught herself the ins and outs of sales, leadership development, and marketing. She created her own system from scratch, and companies started to recognize her success. So, they asked if she would teach them her methodology.
"I shared for free for a while, but when I realized that this was my system and I developed it all on my own, I knew I had my hands on another business," says Tonya. "So, on the side, I wrote books, made DVDs, facilitated phone trainings, created e-courses, and copyrighted all my materials, so that if anyone was interested in learning, my resources were available. That is essentially how my business morphed into what it is now."
As Tonya continued to build her business, the position of Main Street Manager of Bedford was advertised in newspapers. While reading the job description, she realized she did not know everything there was to know about being a main street manager, but she knew her teaching and leadership skills from Juniata and the career it helped her build would enable her to flourish.
While wearing her Main Street Manager hat, Tonya makes a positive impact on the realms of economic development and historic preservation in the town of Bedford. To help improve the quality of life for the people living in and around the town, Tonya hosts and markets concerts, cooking competitions, and family events. During her five short years of serving in this role, Bedford was recognized by the National Main Street Center as one of the top 10 main streets in the nation, beating out big cities like Atlanta, Georgia.
Other Main Street Manager duties include managing a board of 20 people, developing and maintaining a solid volunteer base, facilitating community events, and playing different roles on committees, but she doesn't feel overwhelmed.
"It's not difficult for me to balance my work because I love it," Tonya says. "When I jump out of bed every morning I think, 'How can I add value to someone's day? How can I add value to my town and my community?' That started when Juniata taught me to stretch. Now I know that whenever you're willing to step out and make yourself vulnerable to teach people, you get to see what and how people learned from that—that's what motivates me, and everything else falls into place."