Marquette, Michigan – Connect Marquette is pleased to announce the two recipients of the 2021 Tom Baldini Scholarship: Megan O’Connor and Ryan Engle. Through years of involvement in the greater Marquette community, these two are making a positive impact on Marquette County and its residents.
The Tom Baldini Scholarship was created in 2018 to recognize members of our community who have shown an interest in community and civic engagement. Tom Baldini, who passed away in 2017, was an active supporter of Connect Marquette (formerly 40 Below), and in the spirit of his unwavering commitment to Marquette County, the organization seeks to foster leadership and civic engagement among its membership by awarding this annual scholarship. The award also aims to develop award recipients’ leadership abilities, encourage engagement with the community and expand their networking opportunities.
The recipients will receive a one-year Connect Marquette membership, attendance to the 2022 Professional Development Conference, a ticket to one Marquette Economic Club dinner and a bit of Connect Marquette merchandise.
About the Recipients:
Ryan Engle, the Executive Director of MÄTI, the Masonic Arts, Theatre & Innovation Company, is from Marquette. Ryan graduated from the Institute of Natural Therapies in the mid-90s, before operating a massage therapy business in Lower Michigan for many years. After managing the Lakeview Community Wellness Center for a few years, Ryan and his family moved back to Marquette in 2009. Graduating from NMU’s Construction Management School in the Winter of 2012, he worked at Michigan Energy Options prior to starting as the Upper Peninsula Masonic Center Building Manager.
Ryan has supported many non-profits over the years, working with the Red Cross and Jaycees, and has received the Montcalm Volunteer of the Year Award and a designation as the Village of Lakeview’s Community Member of the Year.
Ryan says he first put his own clown makeup on in 2010 to support the Ahmed Shriners and the 22 hospitals that they support across the country. He says he isn’t the greatest clown in the world, but he enjoys seeing the children laugh.
“I started MÄTI in January of 2020 with a dream to save the Upper Peninsula Masonic Building for the community by supporting the Arts to create a collaborative hub for all art mediums,” he said. “My background and experience in the nonprofit world and the arts has brought me to create, with the support of my board and a few others, the hope for a lasting hub for the community.”
Megan O’Connor is the Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Superior Community Partnership. O’Connor, originally from Midland MI, attended Northern Michigan University from 2015-2018 and fell in love with the Marquette community. During her time at Northern, she was heavily involved and has held various leadership positions on campus. Some of her greatest accomplishments at NMU include playing a major role in starting the NMU Food Pantry and raising $1,200 for the Jacobetti Home For Veterans, earning her a “Director’s Coin” for excellence from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and a “Presidential Recognition Coin” for outstanding service.
After graduating with a bachelor’s of science in Communication Studies, O’Connor was a weekend anchor/journalist for WLUC TV6/Fox UP. From O’Connor’s position with the media, she was offered an opportunity to work for her current employer, Lake Superior Community Partnership.
In her free time, O’Connor enjoys yoga, being outdoors, and volunteering. She is a singer for St. Peter’s Cathedral, a member of Connect Marquette, a Big Sister with the Big Brother Big Sister Program and a member of the Marquette County Veteran Alliance. Volunteering plays a big role in O’Connor’s life and she loves to volunteer for Marquette County events such as Blues Fest, the Lip Sync Battle and the Iron Range Roll, among others.
“I am honored to receive the Tom Baldini Scholarship,” Megan said. “It is an even greater honor to be compared to past honorees and community leader, Tom Baldini, all of whom have made such important contributions to Marquette County. It is a privilege to give back to a community that has given so much to me.”