YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The woman who became known as the face of direction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to the Valley on Sunday.

Youngstown native and former director of the Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton returned to the Valley and made a stop at the Jewish Community Center.

She presented a speech about the lessons she learned during her time as director of the state health department, as a cabinet member and as an advisor of Gov. Mike DeWine during the pandemic, as well as her experience as a Jewish woman.

Acton said she’s created many memories at the community center and that many of her core values come from her time there.

“What an honor and a privilege it is to be back home,” said Acton. “This is actually the Jewish Community Center, my earliest memories are being 4 years old and swimming in the pool here.”

The event was sold out, with around 150 attendees there to hear her insights.

“What began as a pandemic is really something that isn’t quite over yet,” said Acton in her speech. “I want to talk a little bit about some of the lessons I learned about leadership and about really what Ohioans did for one another.”

Acton has been recognized for her strong leadership during the pandemic, especially for Ohioans. Many attribute her fierce yet comforting personality to paving the way for the country during unprecedented times, believing that Acton’s humbling nature is what makes her so relatable.

“There was no order or thing I could do that would help save lives, it was Ohioans who came together,” said Acton.

Acton’s presentation talked about the three leadership qualities she believes makes a difference: Being honest, being vulnerable and empowering others.

The Jewish Community Center in Youngstown said it’s a proud moment to have one of its very own come back and speak.

“We all watched her on TV, and we were so proud of her because not only from Youngstown (but also) from Liberty and she is a Jewish woman,” said organizer Marcia Levy.

Acton is currently running a nonprofit organization in Columbus, where she calls home. She is working on creating the largest integrated park systems in the country.