Year after year, it has been Pennsylvania Business Central’s honor to celebrate the top 100 people in business and economic development who have learned through failures and successes how to develop both their organizations and communities.

To gain insight into how these industry leaders have learned through experience, we asked each one to name a mistake they have made in the past and how they have learned from it. How each selectee reacted to the mistakes in the past reveals how important real-life experience is to developing both the acumen and wherewithal to make it in business. It is our hope that after reading the profiles, you will realize that people are not defined by their mistakes nearly as much as by their ability to recover and learn from them.

To see how they would like to apply their expertise to their community, we asked each selectee what they believe the hidden potential of their community is and how they will help to realize it. Pennsylvania is made up of hard-working communities and we believe that the Commonwealth will continue to grow with the leadership exemplified in this edition.

Our editorial team once again had hundreds of nominations to select from to form this year’s list. Narrowing the total number of nominees down to 100 proved to be as difficult as ever.

Wehopethatthefinallistrepresents corporations and organizations large and small while also covering every region of our readership. Readers will see that whether you are a small tech company in Centre County or a paper manufacturer in Lewistown, there are always ways to excel in your field and help your community grow.

Now that this latest edition of Top 100 People is finalized, Pennsylvania Business Central is moving on to finalizing the list of Top 100 Organizations, which will be published in February.

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2017-01-27 / Top 100 People

Bellamarie Bregar

Executive Director

Acres Project

Bella Bregar grew up in a large Italian Family in Skaneateles, New York. From the time she was eight years old, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. It broke her heart to see kids left out because they were different.

“I wanted to make sure kids felt loved, safe, and received the support they needed,” she said.

Bregar graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in special education. Her 38 years of teaching ranged from kindergarten through high school in a variety of classroom environments. While at Park Forest Junior High School, her student Matt introduced her to the Special Olympics. Bregar started out as a ski coach and later became manager for Centre County.

Currently, Bregar is the executive director of the Acres Project, a residential and day community designed to foster independence, self-advocacy and entrepreneurship for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

She was hesitant at first to believe she could be the one to found the project.

“The need to start a support center, an oasis for families and individuals, kept me up at night for many years... It took many years of dreaming, planning and visualizing a solution in my head before I realized, “If not me, then who?” Someone must take that first step. Don’t be afraid to be that one person,” she said

Bregar believes her family is her biggest blessing. She loves spending time with her husband Mark, two children, Bellamarie and Justin, son-in-law Dan and three grandchildren, Isabella, and twins Owen and Lucas.

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