At AR Franchising Inc., prioritizing our standing as an employer of choice has always remained central to our leadership values. This is why CATALYST, a next generation leadership development program, was created by our very own Interim CEO, Don Whetro, two years ago.
As we continue our pursuit of excellence, we understand that investing in our employees’ growth is essential to building a sustainable and thriving company culture. Our exclusive CATALYST program is designed to identify and cultivate the most promising talent within our organization, setting them on a path to success and growth in their careers.
The program is 10-months long and focuses on developing leadership skills and challenging participants to grow both professionally and personally. CATALYST instills in our participants the leadership essentials crucial in advancing their careers.
Over the course of the program, the cohort met once a month to focus on the following key elements:
- Leadership Essentials
- This year’s CATALYST members studied the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. This 35+ year old book holds strong leadership lessons that are still constant, no matter how much the world changes. Covey reminds leaders to be proactive, focus on your Circle of Influence, effectively listen to others, understand the power of teams, and continue to learn and grow.
- During the program, CATALYST members meet with executive leadership teams to cultivate strong working relationships and learn about their leadership experience and lessons.
- Philanthropic Project
- Members of the CATALYST program split into two groups, selecting charitable causes, and organizing fundraising campaigns. The “GOALden Achievers” raised $1,275 for Feeding America, while “Goal Miners” raised $2,510 for Autism Speaks. This project highlights the business acumen and commitment of our program members.
- Members of the cohort were tasked with solving a real-life business problem known as a “Hack-a-thon”. After three months of intensive work, they had the opportunity to present their innovative solutions. The panel of judges, consisting of our executive leadership team, evaluated these presentations.
AR Franchising, Inc. takes immense pride in cultivating the future leaders of our organization. We believe that nurturing a workplace culture enables growth and development and will bring long-term success while staying true to our legacy and guiding principles.
Kelli Chickos, Vice President of People Operations at AR Franchising, Inc. said that “Each CATALYST member showed tremendous growth, embodied resilience, showed incredible innovation, and a commitment to excellence throughout this 10-month program. I am confident that each graduate will continue to be catalysts of positive change, inspiring others with their passion, courage, and dedication to making a lasting impact on our business and beyond.”
Meet the graduates of our 2023 CATALYST program:
Amy has been with AR Franchising, Inc. for 2 years. Amy has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Florida and has worked in accounting for over 9 years. She is a native Floridian and has lived in the Tampa Bay area her entire life. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Colin.
Carla has been with AR Franchising, Inc. for 20 years. She performs takeoffs to acquire material and labor quantities to accurately put together a budget for construction purposes. She builds estimating software to account for the company’s construction practices, and she is an intricate part of the model home process by providing our building companies material and labor quantities to build their models.
Cassandra has had the pleasure of being part of AR Franchising, Inc. for five wonderful years. She began her journey here on the residential design team before making a leap to the dynamic world of learning and development. Before being a dedicated trainer, she taught the intricacies of professional ballroom dancing. Off the clock, Cassandra is a proud mother to an energetic 3-year-old boy, and she has been happily married to her husband Matthew for 8 years. During life’s adventures, Cassandra finds solace in various hobbies. You might find her scaling rock walls, sprinting through scenic paths, conquering virtual worlds, stitching together new creations, nurturing vibrant gardens, or immersed in the joys of arts and crafts.
Director of Design Studios
Jennifer has been in the Interior Design business for 24 years and is currently the Design Studio Director of the AR Homes® St. Petersburg Design Studio. She first started with the company as a color session designer and has since filled many different positions. She is passionate about creating spaces that are functional, friendly, and beautiful—and it is important to her that each project reflects the interests, needs, and lifestyle of her clients. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in interior design from Georgia Southern University. She stays busy with her two children and their activities: They love to explore all the beaches, parks, and foodie spots that this area has to offer!
Design Development Manager
Joe has been with AR Franchising, Inc. for nine years. Joe has 15 years of experience in the residential design industry and five years in commercial design. He is originally from Washington State but has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for 20 years. Joe is married to his beautiful wife Michele and has two boys, Brodie (8) and Logan (6). In his free time, he plays Gaelic Football for Charlotte and spends time with his family at Disney World.
Senior Residential Designer
Scott was born and raised in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, graduated with a drafting and design degree from Florida Technical College. With 17 years of experience working with a residential architect in Charlotte, NC, Scott joined AR Franchising, Inc. in October 2019 as a Senior Residential Designer. He excels in creating custom floor plans and elevations for our future AR Homes® homeowners.
Sales Training Manager
Tricia is a highly experienced Sales Training Manager, boasting over 15 years of dedicated service in the real estate industry. Throughout her career, Tricia has consistently focused on training and developing real estate professionals, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to excel. What sets Tricia apart is her commitment to not just her professional growth but also to nurturing kind and compassionate individuals. In addition to her career, Tricia is a wife and mother of two wonderful children. She believes instilling values of kindness, empathy, and integrity in her family is as important as achieving professional success.
Senior CADD/BIM Designer
Ashley is a Senior CADD/BIM Designer for AR Franchising, Inc. Ashley grew up in Long Island, New York and went on to study Architectural Design at James Madison University in Virginia. She has a background in both commercial and residential design. Since joining the team in 2021, she has moved to the Dallas suburbs with her husband Kevin and two dogs, Jax and Frank. When Ashley is not working, her favorite way to unwind is by binging her favorite reality TV shows, traveling, or spending time outside enjoying the beautiful Texas weather.
Angela has worked at AR Franchising, Inc. for 7 years, initially as an Interior Detailer and now as a Visual Designer. She first became interested in design when she lived in Sweden during her high school years. Seeing the variety of architecture styles in Europe was inspiring and led her to pursue a career in the architectural field. She got her BFA in Interior Architecture at UNC Greensboro and not long after began working at AR Franchising, Inc. During her time at the company, she gained experience in the design process and worked with exceptionally talented people.