May 14, 2024 – Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, hosted its 26th annual Galaxy of Stars luncheon on Friday, May 3, 2024 at the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Ballroom.

The event brought together more than 400 corporate leaders, community supporters, and friends to honor the impact of Tommy Nobis Center’s programs, celebrate its participants, and raise much needed funds to support growth of programs.

This year’s Galaxy of Stars theme was Building Brighter Futures. Masters of Ceremonies, WSB-TV Anchors Justin Farmer and Linda Stouffer kicked off the event. Participants in The Academy at Tommy Nobis Center took the stage to thank the event sponsors and attendees for their support followed by a welcome and comments from President & CEO Dave Ward.

“This year’s event was truly amazing,” said CEO Dave Ward. “It was inspiring to hear the stories of success and honor the champions in our community.”

Tommy Nobis Center presented four awards to recognize the hard work and dedication of outstanding individuals who have contributed greatly to building inclusive communities where employment success is possible.

The award winners included:
Tommy Nobis Rising Star Award – Presented to Niarchos (Nick) Wright, an assistant supervisor at Tommy Nobis Center’s EPA mailroom in Atlanta. Although Nick was born deaf, he has exhibited outstanding achievement and exceptional character since he was a young child. He did not let living in silence, silence him from achieving his goals. During his 17-year career at Tommy Nobis Center, he has steadily advanced and has excelled in every position he has held, becoming a mentor and role model to his teammates.

Community Champion Award – Presented to Karen Dernavich, a Client Success Director for Jabian Consulting. Karen loves to ponder the possibilities in every situation and inspire others to join her in the endeavor to innovate and achieve results. Her mantra and method is to ‘Love God, Love People, Solve Problems’ and this shapes her approach to leadership. Karen is deeply committed to serving her community with a special devotion to the Disability Community. She founded The Duet Project, a non-profit dedicated to providing music therapy scholarships in Georgia. Karen has become a steadfast advocate and a true champion of Tommy Nobis Center’s mission.

Family Member Advocates Award – Presented to Katherine and Jay Wolf, founders of Hope Heals Camp that provides resources and relationships to families experiencing disabilities. Having miraculously survived a catastrophic stroke at the age of 26, Katherine navigated the long and difficult recovery with the enduring support of her husband, Jay. Together, they have shared their journey of steadfast hope through their books, Hope Heals and Suffer Strong, and at speaking events both live and online before millions. They leverage their redemptive story to encourage those with broken bodies, broken brains, and broken hearts and have inspired countless people disrupting the myth that joy can only be found in a pain-free life.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented to Alan Moak, retired business owner and corporate executive. Alan has a servant’s heart and is always stepping up to help in the community in any way he can. He has a heartfelt passion for the mission of Tommy Nobis Center as his son, Chris, successfully completed training at TNC, which has enabled him to be successfully employed since 2012. Alan served on the TNC Board of Directors for a decade and served as chair for three years. Under his leadership, TNC made great strides in developing innovative programs to help students with disabilities find their pathway to success. He spearheaded the initiative to sell the TNC facility and purchase the new training and education center in the Cumberland area which will make a huge impact in many lives for years to come. He has been actively involved with many organizations including Boy Scouts of America, Young Life, C3G Career Networking Group, and Baptist Health Systems. He has served in his local church throughout his life and currently serves as an Elder at Christ Covenant in Atlanta.

The event that raised $218,000 to directly support programs and services for people with disabilities was sponsored by Cobb EMC Foundation, WSB-TV, and Publix Super Markets Charities. A recording of the event can be viewed at

Pictured is Board Chair Kevin Ostwald, TNC Co-Founder Bobbie Knopf, Rising Star Award Winner Niarchos (Nick) Wright, and TNC President & CEO Dave Ward