Central Illinois Business Magazine
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Archive                           October 2010


FORTY UNDER 40

Forty under 40 2010


Jenny Bates, 33
Title insurance professional, Kaiser Abstract Company

Jenny BatesCommunity involvement: Founder and president of the Camden Foundation, which was started in memory of my son's battle with cancer. The foundation raises money for the American Cancer Society, in addition to participating in area Relay For Life walks. The foundation's primary goal is to raise money and support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The foundation also sponsors local children and families affected by childhood cancer before, during and after treatment.

Proudest professional accomplishment: When I started Camden Foundation honoring my son's legacy. I am proud to be able to hold my head high knowing that I take part in efforts to fund childhood cancer research and support children and families in central Illinois. I wouldn't be able to do any of these things without my full-time job at Kaiser Abstract ... [where I] feel that sense of loyalty, understanding and hunger for knowledge that most individuals spend a lifetime trying to find.

I attribute my success to: At the end of the day all of my success wouldn't be possible without the love and determination of my children.

A word from the nominator: "Jenny has turned her tragic loss into help for families that are enduring the pain and suffering that she went through and continues to go through on a daily basis."- Misty Douglas, office manager, The Tuscola Journal

T.J. Blakeman, 29
Implementation planner, City of Champaign Planning Department

T.J. BlakemanCommunity involvement: Downtown, Campustown and North First Street business associations; Champaign County Historical Museum; chaired the city's 150th Anniversary Historical Committee.

Best advice I can give: Give back. Too often in today's society we want to place monetary value on our time. We constantly say our lives are too busy even though today we enjoy the easiest lifestyle in the history of man. You should never be too busy to give back. Whether that is helping a neighbor keep your street beautiful or volunteering with an organization to make your community a better place to live, we should all give our time and be engaged. I believe strongly in sense of community, and I think we all need to constantly remember how hard those before us have worked and how important it is to continue that stewardship.

Unique attribute: I can't swim. I have loved being in and around the ocean, lakes and streams all my life, but it's something I just never mastered. Perhaps there is still hope for me yet.

A word from our nominator: "In his six years with the city, T.J. has made a significant contribution to shaping the future of the city's core area."

- Bruce Knight, planning director, City of Champaign

Brian Brauer, 38
Assistant director, U of I Fire Service Institute

Brian BrauerCommunity involvement: Volunteer firefighter with the Edge-Scott Fire Protection District, Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 12 in Urbana, will become the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 6 at the end of October, volunteer with the Scout Council to coordinate the annual Prairielands Training College for adult leaders, serve as the district commissioner.

Five people I'd want on my team: Ben Franklin on innovation, Steven Covey on leadership, Dave Ramsey on budget, Gus Pagonis on logistics and my grandfather to be sure that the entire thing made sense when you put it all together.

I attribute my success to: My parents, the first people who taught me to have goals and aspirations, and to Scouting, where I learned how to lead, and, more importantly, how to get things done.

To relax, I: Go camping. Anywhere I don't get good cell service is perfect. It's nice to be out of touch sometimes, especially after a big decision or stressful work period, and true solace is harder to find with all of the invasions from today's technology.

A word from our nominator: "Brian has a strong commitment to improving our community by volunteering as a firefighter, Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. He does an amazing job juggling all this with his career and family life." - Laurie Brauer, wife of nominee

Maya Bruck, 28
Graphic designer, Wolfram|Alpha LLC; Executive co-director, Champaign-Urbana Design Organization

Maya BruckCommunity involvement: Co-founder and executive co-director of the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization, which makes design accessible to the community through events like PechaKucha Night, movie screenings, gallery shows and philanthropic design-a-thons, partnering with organizations to promote the arts and creating an active job board that connects designers with people.

My partner would describe me as: Very much like a puppy: boisterous, vibrant and infinitely affectionate. He'd describe me as someone who strives to be true to herself every day.

Best advice I've received: "The truth, peace and fulfillment you are looking for are already inside of you." From Prem Rawat.

I admire: My dear friend Tomiko, because she embraces life so fully. At 76, she's more alive and vibrant than most people I know. She is perpetually enthusiastic, curious and awed by being alive. I just love being around her.

A word from the nominator: "A reliable, inquisitive and self-motivated individual, she has a cooperative working relationship with everyone she works with, using her strengths and passions to create a more engaged and informed community." - Douglas Milburn, associate, IGW Architecture

Mark E. Czys 39
Partner, Martin, Hood, Friese & Associates, LLC

Mark E. CzysCommunity involvement: Member of C-U Kiwanis Club, on the board of directors and treasurer of Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club, treasurer of Scout Pack 121, baseball and basketball coach, finance committee for Lincolnshire Fields CC.

Best advice I can give: Family and friends are the most important things in your life. Be sure you make time for them.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Passing the CPA exam on the first try and being promoted to partner at Martin, Hood, Friese & Associates, LLC.

I admire: My late grandpa and grandma Hish because of the love and the respect they had for each other and for the wisdom, care and love they had for their family.

I attribute my success to: Being raised in a small town where everybody knows everybody, by having parents who work very hard and being taught to do the same.

What I like about C-U: I love the way C-U welcomes and accepts new people to the community. Also, there is always plenty to do, and you can get anywhere in 15 minutes.

A word from the nominator: "Mark is a leader at his firm and in the community." - Jim Eisenmenger, partner, Martin, Hood, Friese & Associates

Anne Dill, 32
News anchor, WCIA 3 News

Anne DillCommunity involvement: Member of the Junior League of Champaign Urbana, emceed the MDA Labor Day Telethon, served on the United Way Ready! Set! Grow! committee, emceed events including the American Heart Association Heart Gala, Festival of Trees Gala for JLCU and events for Carle and Parkland College foundations; member of Faith United Methodist Church and help in the Sunday school.

Five people I'd want on my team: My husband, my grandfather, William Shakespeare, John Adams and Barbara Walters.

Best advice I've received: My grandfather was a stickler for proper public speaking. I think his constant hammering on speaking slowly and articulately helped pave the way for my career.

I admire: My sister and friends who have gone through cancer. They fought their battles with grace and optimism.

I attribute my success to: Learning every aspect of my business so I understand what must happen to succeed.

A word from our nominator: "Anne is a consummate professional who aspires for perfection in every facet of her job without compromising ethics or condemning co-workers. By giving non-profit organizations a voice on The Morning Show, Anne has helped numerous agencies improve the lives of central Illinois residents in need." - Rob Collins, Morning Show anchor, WCIA Channel 3

Jennifer Dixson, 37
Executive director, Danville Symphony Orchestra

judgesCommunity involvement: Member of Danville Noon Rotary, volunteer with the Vermilion County Museum, member of Executive Club of Danville, actor with Red Mask Players and graduate of Leadership Tomorrow class #22.

Best advice I can give: Delegate. Give up on perfection, do your best and let it go. Otherwise you're just making yourself (and everyone around you!) crazy. Practice self-compassion. If all that fails, have a sense of humor and a shot of gin.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The completion of the 2009 fundraising gala and the subsequent strength of the symphony.

I admire: One of my best friends, who is a young, professional, self-taught musician. He has struggled through familial and personal heartbreak yet continues to have faith and excel in his craft. I often wish I had a smidgen of his ability and drive!

To relax, I: Am a voracious reader -- mystery, biography, history ... I'm interested in learning a little bit of everything. I also enjoy pursuing my family history and genealogy.

A word from the nominator: "Jennifer is hard working, enterprising and always willing to go the extra mile to make any project, program or event a success. She works well with people and brings her own special excitement about her job to her work and workplace." - Susan Richter, director, Vermilion County Museum

Natalie Ellis, 30
Founder/creative director, Class Act

Natalie EllisCommunity involvement: Performed with the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre, started a Theatresports improv company that performs regularly, board member of IndiGo Artist Co-op, hosted several benefits at Class Act last year including Hearts for Haiti, Peter and the Wolf benefiting the Prairie Ensemble and ASHLEYFEST; conduct after school drama programs and workshops in the local schools and throughout the community, member of the United Way's Emerging Community Leaders class.

My best friend describes me as: Energetic, supportive and as having great taste in friends.

I admire: My parents. They are truly the hardest working people I know -- and they do it out of the pure joy of doing what they love and their drive to help others.

To relax, I: Love to read, make up songs and paint. Improv rehearsal can be an excellent de-stressor as well.

Myself, in one word: Spontaneous

A word from the nominator: "She is seriously one of the most energetic, organized, hardworking, thoughtful and truly delightful people I know." - James Barham, owner, IndiGo Art Gallery

Stephanie Faraci, 28
System manager of advocacy, Provena Health

Stephanie FaraciCommunity involvement: Board of directors for Crisis Nursery, Champaign County Chamber of Commerce's PAC board and government council, volunteer for the U of I's "Illinois Connection" Advocacy Network and participated in the year-long Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership Program.

Best advice I can give: Louisa May Alcott said "Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead." This helps me, being a type-A perfectionist, to know it's OK if I don't reach every specific goal as long as I am doing what I love with the best effort.

Unique attribute: I'm surprisingly good at Guitar Hero but would be too embarrassed to prove it to anyone other than my husband.

To relax, I: Take out an old-fashioned box of 24 crayons and color with my 4-year-old daughter Ellie. She loves discussing who she played with and what she learned at preschool that day. Slowing down and seeing the world through her perspective helps me clear my head and keep my focus on what is most important in my life.

A word from the nominator: "She is an advocate for programs that allow Provena to prosper as a business and also continue to serve the community through charity care services." - Laura Frerichs, associate director of Research Park and incubation, U of I Research Park

Christina Gilbert-Manuel, 35
Attorney/owner/solo practitioner, Manuel Law Firm, Mahomet

Christina Gilbert-ManuelCommunity involvement: Board of Mahomet Rotary, district chair of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, member of the Mahomet Area Chamber of Commerce, secretary of Kelso M. Garver, member of Post #650 American Legion Auxiliary, organize and run Bingo at the Legion the fourth Tuesday of every month, consult on the annual Mansfield Festival.

Best advice I've received: If it isn't hard, it isn't worth having, from my uncle Fred Osborne.

Unique attribute: People always tell me I'm too nice to be a lawyer, but there's a "bulldog" waiting under the surface in case I ever need to be a "lawyer."

Proudest professional accomplishment: Opening and sustaining my own law firm.

I admire: Both of my sets of grandparents - they all started with close to nothing and pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps; they set an excellent example.

To relax, I: Get down on the floor and play with the twins if they are awake; however, if I really need to relax, there's nothing better than curling up with a good book.

A word from the nominator: "Tina is an energetic and giving person of her time and her talents to contribute to a large community." - Cynthia Halverson, marketing director, Mattex Service Company

Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, 38
Associate professor and program chair, Graphic Design, U of I School of Art and Design

Jennifer Gunji-BallsrudCommunity involvement: Loop member and on the Advancement Council for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, teacher and volunteer at Japan House for 12 years.

Best advice I've received: "Ichigo Ichie" - it is a Zen statement that is translated into, "one life, one opportunity." I learned this statement from my mother through her teachings of the Way of Tea. This statement is applicable to everything that we do -- how we work, how we interact with others and how we live our lives. We can choose to simply live life -- or we can choose to embrace it, appreciate it and fully realize it through every encounter and every opportunity. It is so humbling to think about. My grandmother also taught me that if I was willing to do menial tasks without complaints (i.e. clean the tatami mats, mop the floors, etc.) that I would eventually have cute children!

Proudest professional accomplishment: The many awards that my colleagues and students received for the design of the Ninth Letter Arts & Literary Journal. It was such an incredible collaborative effort for so many years ... it was both an accomplishment in design and teaching!

A word from the nominator: "Her design work has been reproduced in over 40 national and international magazines and books." -Nan Goggin, U of I professor, boss of nominee

Kyle Harrison, 34
Owner, Synergy Manufacturing Services; real estate agent, Team Kay at Keller Williams Realty, Champaign

Kyle HarrisonCommunity involvement: City Council member for Champaign, representing District 3; teaches classes and helps organize other volunteers through Junior Achievement; is a Mason and a Shriner.

Best advice I've received: A previous employer Dave Fowler told me to "Be humble, be coachable and work hard!" I live by that model.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The first time I helped a home owner avoid a foreclosure through a successful short sale.

I admire: My mom -- because she is one of the most genuine, caring, loving people I know. She is very humble, works hard and has a passion for life. She always made my brother and me feel special and has devoted her entire life to her family ... If I can have half of the qualities she has, I will be one lucky person.

A word from the nominator: "Kyle has distinguished himself as an expert in the real estate business. Outside of real estate, he is a devoted father, active volunteer and dedicated public servant. Kyle does an excellent job of working with people to understand their needs and finds solutions using a very pragmatic approach. Despite his tough Stone Cold Steve Austin facade, Kyle is very approachable." -Joel Oschwald, vice president, First State Bank

Kristie Hayes, 28
Assistant banking center manager, Midland States Bank

>Kristie HayesCommunity involvement: Champaign West Rotary, Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, American Diabetes Association, Women's Business Council.

Best advice I can give: Always strive to be better than your best, and never allow obstacles to distract you from achieving your goal.

Best advice I've received: My father told me to always set a goal that is just beyond your reach and then go for it.

I admire: My father. He has been my role model my entire life due to his relentless drive both as a U.S. Marine and a successful businessman.

I attribute my success to: Good education, advice from my father and a lot of hard work.

What I like about C-U: Being just a few hours' drive from major cities and yet able to enjoy the smaller community life of central Illinois.

To relax, I: Travel and spend time at the beach, which I don't get to do as often as I would like.

Myself, in one word: Determined

A word from the nominator: "Whenever there is an opportunity to support our clients or her community, Kristie is the first to volunteer." - Becky Von Holten, financial adviser and trust officer, Midland States Bank

Andy Hudson, 37
Registered pharmacist, Hudson Drug Shop

>Andy HudsonCommunity involvement: Several committees on the United Methodist Church in Paxton, Chamber of Commerce board and the Paxton Exchange Club. Hudson Drug Shop also provides financial support to various organizations throughout the community and donated more than $25,000 to area organizations last year.

Best advice I can give: Do all you can to protect your health. All the money in the world won't make you happy if you don't have your health, both physical and spiritual.

I admire: My mentors: my father and late grandfather. They were both pharmacists and owners of Hudson Drug Shop. I learned a lot from them about how to treat customers, how to run a successful business and how to live life.

What I like about C-U: Manzella's Italian Patio. It is one place the entire family can agree on.

A word from the nominator: "Andy is very accomplished for such a young age. He remains humble about his accomplishments and is always looking for ways to further or improve his business and customers' needs." - Marla Knuth-Williams, pharmacy technician, Hudson Drug Shop

Gordy Hulten, 35
Director of sales and marketing, Devonshire Group; Champaign City Council member

Gordy HultenCommunity involvement: Member of Champaign City Council and Champaign Rotary, volunteer with United Way of Champaign County and the Champaign County Republican Party. Previously volunteered with the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Preserve District of Champaign County.

My best friend would describe me as: "Sapient, perspicacious and efficacious, three words that are in Gordy's vocabulary that others would have to refer to the dictionary to understand, which in itself perfectly describes Gordy." - Allen Adomite

Five people I'd want on my team: My wife Pam; Jeremy Cirks, friend and business partner; Mike Jones and Renate Ping, my teammates at Devonshire Group; and Dave Matthews, so we would have great music.

Unique attribute: I avoid the spotlight.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Earning appointment to the Champaign City Council.

I attribute my success to: Surrounding myself with good people.

To relax, I: Do something fun with our 3-year-old son.

A word from our nominator: "Gordy is a fast-pace decision maker with an eye on the future." - Tim Harrington, director, commercial services, Devonshire Group

Clint Jackson, 34
Owner and doctor of chiropractic medicine, Jackson Chiropractic and Acupuncture

Clint JacksonCommunity involvement: Coordinating and sponsoring the Eastern Illinois Food Bank Prom Benefit, 2011.

Best advice I can give: My best advice can be summed up in a quote by Henry Ford "Whether you think you can or can't, you are right!"

Best advice I've received: "Get after it and stay after it!" from Dr. Steve Hays, who got it from Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.

Unique attribute: Ability to dream big.

I admire: The founding chiropractors who were willing to go to jail for their beliefs and paved the way for chiropractors today.

I attribute my success to: Having a strong support system. My loving family, great friends and the best teachers/mentors give me a balanced foundation for success.

Myself, in one word: Dedicated

A word from the nominator: "Clint works to bridge the gap between traditional and alternative medicine." - Tiffany Jackson, physician recruiter, Christie Clinic, wife of nominee

J.P. Jones, 34
Senior pastor, First Christian Church in Champaign

J.P. JonesCommunity involvement: Board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, coach my children's recreational sports in Mahomet.

Five people I'd want on my team: In my line of work it would be great to have Jesus leading the team. After that I'd like to have Jason Epperson and Jeremy Hopkins, who are on our staff, Mother Theresa and J.C. Watts. I'd like our chances with that team.

Best advice I've received: My dad told me that people may not always believe what you say but will always believe what they see you do.

Unique attribute: I have an irrational fear of the ocean.

I attribute my success to: An incredible team of family, leaders and staff that surround me. I think individuals can only rise as high as the team that surrounds them. Fortunately, we've got a great team.

To relax, I: Like to travel with my wife or be outside playing golf, hunting or fishing.

A word from our nominator: "J.P. is warm, friendly, funny, caring and deeply committed to sharing Christ with everyone in Champaign and making our community a better place." - Joy Habeeb, accounts payable/payroll, Benefit Planning Consultants

Libby Kacich, 29
Marketing & sales director, Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Libby KacichCommunity involvement: Community involvement through my job, volunteer for the Relay for Life.

Best advice I've received: On a trip to Disney World, my parents had a drawing made of Mickey Mouse in his gown and sorcerer's hat from "Fantasia." Across the picture reads, "If you can dream it, you can do it." That bit of advice has stuck with me ever since and has come in handy more than once.

Proudest professional accomplishment: When I was brought on board at WNET/WLIW New York (the largest public television station in the country, located in New York City) as a marketing and special events coordinator, I was given less than two months to produce the opening event for a PBS conference for more than 1,500 people in Orlando, Fla. It was not possible for me to do a site visit, so all the work had to be done long-distance ... The event went off without a hitch.

A word from the nominator: "Libby called me right after she found out and asked if I might have had anything to do with the nomination. I told her it didn't matter if I did or didn't, she was the one who earned and deserved it." - Craig Kirby, manager, Tatman Carcare Collision Centers Inc., stepfather of nominee

Jennifer Knapp, 30
Executive director, Community Choices

Jennifer KnappCommunity involvement: Board member of Best Interest of Children, represent my church, Stratford Park Bible Chapel, at the Christian Mercy and Justice Network and organize service events for the church.

Best advice I can give: Follow your heart ... and your head. I think the people who are the most effective are the ones who live their passion and also have the know-how and common sense to see their passion come to fruition.

Best advice I've received: My dad, Keith, always told his kids that people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. He spent his time building bridges between people and taught us to do the same.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I am most proud that Community Choices, a local cooperative of individuals with disabilities and their families, is moving forward. It was a challenge for members of the cooperative to work together, and it took a lot of facilitating on my part. I'm extremely proud that we can get grants, hire staff and provide services to support people with disabilities so they can live full lives.

To relax, I: Dig in the dirt at my friend's garden or watch the TV show "Psych."

A word from the nominator: "Jennifer is a fierce advocate: She has known her passion for serving others from a very young age." - Laura Huth, president and CEO, do good Consulting

Kelly Jo Lamb 36
Owner, Piato Catering, Urbana

Kelly Jo LambCommunity involvement: Co-founder of Holiday Helpers for the Hungry, which benefits the Eastern Illinois Food Bank; Child Safety Seat sponsor; donates 100 cupcakes for The UP (Uniting Pride) Center in Urbana, half of Labor Day fried chicken buffet sales to MDA, all of pink ribbon sugar cookie sales to Mills Breast Cancer Research and 100 backpacks and school supplies to King School.

I admire: My mom. She has been sick half my life and is on her fourth transplant. She thinks she is not a strong person, but she hasn't stopped fighting for her life. She is a much stronger person than she thinks she is.

I attribute my success to: Hard work and determination!

A word from the nominator: "Kelly Jo has become great friends with many of her regular customers and goes out of her way to help them out. For example, there is an elderly couple who eat at Piato regularly. When the wife was hospitalized, Kelly Jo not only took meals to the house-bound husband for several days, but she also filled their freezer with meals to be microwaved after the wife got home. There are other examples, as she truly cares about people in the community." - Sharon Tipsword, retired U of I employee, aunt of nominee

Casey Loving, 22
Gallery director, IndiGo Artist Co-Op; interim assistant manager, C-U Schools Foundation's I.D.E.A. Store

Casey LovingCommunity involvement: Worked with several community organizations to raise money or put on shows at the gallery including Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club, 40 North, U of I Photography Department, Safe Haven, Sabu's Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Fund, Champaign Rotary club, Ashley Ames Scholarship Fund, Eastern Illinois Foodbank and Combat Paper Project; board member and secretary of Public Art League, committee member for the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run and Kiwanis family member.

I attribute my success to: Working hard, being focused on a purposeful life and connecting with those in the area who can help me to continue contributing. James Barham has been instrumental in realizing what I wish to offer and putting me in a position to be better able to do so.

What I like about C-U: Working with the arts, I have really developed an appreciation of the beauty of C-U. From the large scale music and art festivals to the everyday of local store's displays, we are lucky to have such a large dedication to improving this community and promoting the arts.

A word from our nominator: "She is driven by the idea that you cannot wait around for change or to make things better, you must go for it."

- John Katsinas, manager, Barham Benefit Group

Ben Mast, 33
Senior manager, Clifton Gunderson

>Ben MastCommunity involvement: Mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County. I started out with my mentee, Daytrione, in the school-based mentoring program of Big Brothers Big Sisters when he was in second-grade. We transitioned into the community-based program a couple years ago, and he is now entering sixth-grade. He is a member of the family now! United Way Emerging Community Leaders Program, board of directors member; past president of Champaign-Urbana Sunrise Rotary Club; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois, past chair of advisory board,

Best advice I've received: Came from my dad back in my childhood days and he communicated it to me in the form of a simple little plaque, which I still have, that says "Believe You Can and You're Half Way There." This message has stuck in my head ever since and it is the message that continues to push me to do things that I may not otherwise have had the courage to do.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Passing the CPA exam, being promoted to senior manager with my firm and passing the Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional exam.

A word from the nominator: "Ben carefully balances his time between work, community and family." - Eric Mast, division manager, Illiana Construction Division of Champaign Asphalt, father of nominee

Andy Miller, 36
News director, WCIA-3 News

Andy MillerCommunity involvement: Staff parish team leader for New Horizon United Methodist Church, board of directors for Champaign County CASA, Dangerous Men's Small Group Leader, partner with WCIA staff to leverage our position in the community to improve it.

Best advice I can give: Discipline, not desire, determines a person's destiny.

Best advice I've received: In 1996, WCIA News Director Dave Shaul told me, "You could be an OK reporter, but you could be a great producer and news-manager." It was probably an off-the-cuff remark, but it changed my career path entirely.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I'm proud daily of the team of news leaders we've assembled to deliver our daily product and our ability to use our position in this community to give back. It's also awesome to see people I've hired grow through our program and take their skills to some of our nation's top television markets.

I admire: My son Gage and my daughter Macy. Their questions astound me. Their thirst for living inspires me. Their faith humbles me. And their futures excite me.

A word from our nominator: "Andy is making a difference and setting a great example for his children, and everyone else's, about what it means to be a young leader." - Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs, U of I

Jonathan Myers, 28

Financial adviser, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Danville

Jonathan MyersCommunity involvement: Music director/organist, Holy Family Catholic Church in Danville; board member, Prairielands Council, Boy Scouts of America; director, Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation; treasurer, Bismarck Community Ambulance Service; and Troop Committee Chairman, Troop 365, Danville.

Five people I'd want on my team: The Pope for ethics; Warren Buffett for finance; Ronald Reagan for leadership; Thomas Edison for innovations; and Ron White for comic relief.

Best advice I've received: "You fail 100 percent of the things you don't try." -- I have no idea who told me that.

Unique attribute: I used to teach wilderness survival and knots.

I attribute my success to: My parents. They always encouraged me and allowed me to explore my interests.

To relax, I: Like to walk through the woods. A nice cigar comes in a close second.

A word from the nominator: "I came to know Jonathon through his volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America, and as I got to know him better, I was truly impressed with not just his dedication to one organization at such a young age, but to many organizations in Danville and Vermillion County." - Dan Baker, assistant scout executive, Boy Scouts of America Prairielands Council

Lorrie Pearson, 36
Land development manager, planning department, City of Champaign

Lorrie PearsonCommunity involvement: C-U One-to-One Mentor, Sinfonia da Camera Advisory Board, United Way's Emerging Community Leaders program, Prairie Cycle Club Board, helped plan the annual conference for the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Best advice I've received: My father has often offered the advice, "It'll all work out in the end." So far, he's always been right.

Unique attribute: I know a lot of random phrases in a variety of languages. If you're ever in Israel and need to ask directions to the Knesset, or have to recite the song "Sunrise/Sunset" in American Sign Language, let me know.

My mentor: My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Posey, taught me how to share. It is a skill I am grateful I still have.

What I like about C-U: The cultural and recreational opportunities offered every day and the friendliness of the people.

To relax, I: Run, go for a long bike ride in the country, walk the dog or read.

Myself, in one word: Concise

A word from the nominator: "She strives to help build a stronger community at work with the City of Champagin and with her many volunteering activities." - Jeff Kohmstedt, outreach coordinator, Illinois New Teacher Collaborative, husband of nominee

Amy Randolph 35
Senior vice president, strategy, marketing and communications, First Busey Corporation

judgesCommunity involvement: United Way, Executive Club of Champaign County, 40 North | 88 West

Best advice I can give: You can have all that you desire, just not all at the same time.

Best advice I've received: My grandma always reminds me that "This, too, shall pass."

Unique attribute: I'm much more introverted than most people might think.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Obtaining my master's degree while pregnant and working full-time. My thesis was finished in December and I delivered my son Finn in February.

I admire: My husband. He is very hard-working, yet his family is his main priority. He is very humble and lets others shine. He is a great father, husband and friend to many.

I attribute my success to: A commitment to continuous improvement.

What I like about C-U: The culture, a short commute, a sense of community and Illini basketball.

To relax, I: Get a massage.

Myself, in one word: Evolving

A word from our nominator: "Amy is a coworker and friend you can count on." - Donna Greene, president, Busey Wealth Management

Jason P. Rector, 25
Firefighter, Champaign Fire Department; co-owner, Rector Property Management

Jason P. RectorCommunity involvement: United Way Emerging Community Leaders Class of 2010, First Presbyterian Church, Champaign FF Local 1260, organized CFD/CPD "Guns & Hoses" charity football and softball games, chairman of Young Republicans, fire prevention for Unit 4 kindergarteners and U of I fraternities and sororities; Teach for U of I hazmat program.

Best advice I've received: "You will be the same person a year from now except for the books you read and the people you meet." -Unknown

Proudest professional accomplishment: Since I was little, I wanted to be a Champaign firefighter. My proudest accomplishment so far is achieving my goal by being hired on at CFD. Every day that I go to work, I get to help someone in need. I feel that if you love what you do, it isn't work, it is a lifestyle.

A word from our nominator: "Jason is an emerging young community leader, who currently serves as chairman of the Champaign County Young Republicans. He works tirelessly in this volunteer position and is instrumental in recruiting, leading and educating other young professionals who are interested in the political process." - Marjorie Williams, broker, RE/MAX Choice

Scott Rice, 37
Senior associate University counsel, U of I

Scott RiceCommunity involvement: Volunteer soccer coach, Champaign Park District; member, City of Champaign Public Works advisory board; U of I Alumni Association - U of I Campus Alumni advisory board; member of the U of I College of Liberal Arts & Sciences alumni board and member, executive committee; Westview Elementary PTA; Jefferson Middle School PTSA; member, Illinois State Bar Association; member, National Association of College and University Attorneys; Kids Youth Klub volunteer leader, finance committee member, Leading In Faith Together leadership committee member and chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, First United Methodist Church.

Five people I'd want on my team: Abraham Lincoln for his wit and wisdom, Winston Churchill for his perseverance, Jim Edgar for his logical reasoning, Abigail Adams for her devotion to principle and Mike McCormick for his loyalty and diligence.

I attribute my success to: Hard work, sense of humor, perseverance, loyalty and luck.

A word from the nominator: "Scott is a loyal and effective U of I alumnus and employee who continuously gives significant time and energy to our community. Most importantly, he is a loving and devoted husband and father." -Tiffany Rice, stay-at-home mom, wife of nominee

Huey G. Robinson, 40
President/owner, Huey's Home Medical and The CPAP store

Huey G. RobinsonCommunity involvement: Coaching T-ball, sponsoring local Motorcycle racers, sponsoring athletic programs, participating and donating to local charity auctions.

Best advice I can give: If you have the need to know, find out! What I mean by this is, if inside yourself that tiny voice is saying "I can do that," Do it. Find out. You probably can!

Proudest professional accomplishment: Opening the doors of Huey's Home Medical Inc. on Dec. 1, 2004.

My mentor: My first mentor was Patrick Caudill. He hired me into the world of medical equipment in 1993. He took me under his wing and for two years taught me how to care for people in the home setting. He instilled a set of values in me that I still use today.

I attribute my success to: Being teachable then taking action. Not taking action always seems to prevent people from reaching their full potential or their dreams.

To relax, I: Hit the gym.

A word from our nominator: "Huey focuses on patient care and the well-being of patients' health during a critical time in their lives." - Nicole Leman, customer service representative, Huey's Home Medical

Anthony Santarelli, 22
Director of program development, Illinois Green Business Association

>Anthony SantarelliCommunity involvement: Volunteer at WEFT 90.1 FM community radio station, attend Champaign County Network meetings and occasionally volunteer at the Red Herring vegetarian restaurant on campus.

Best advice I can give: Stretch every day. If possible, take time every day to be with yourself. It could be yoga, meditation, reading, jogging -- whatever helps you calm your mind and return to you.

I admire: David Wilcoxen, the associate director of safety and compliance within Facilities and Services at UIUC and IGBA Board Secretary, has been a mentor since I worked for him about three years ago. David helped me develop professionally and maneuver the "office" world. More importantly, he instilled in me an understanding that to create change and attract people to implement sustainable practices in their lives, you have to first do it yourself and with style -- make people want to do it, rather than telling them they need to.

A word from the nominator: "Anthony has devoted his college years to promoting recycling on campus. While carrying a full course load at the U of I, Anthony co-founded the Illinois Green Business Association. The IGBA was created to help businesses integrate environmental responsibility into daily operations to achieve a healthier, cleaner environment." - Karen Santarelli, owner, C & A Inspirations, mother of nominee

Joe Streit, 34
Program manager, Parkland College Business Training

Joe StreitCommunity involvement: Baseball, softball and basketball coach, Girl Scouting dad, former board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters, donate to multiple local charities, trustee for the Village of Atwood, help represent Piatt County on the board of the East Central Illinois Economic Development District, help represent the local business community on the board of the Central Illinois Human Resources Group.

My partner would describe me as: My wife said that I'm "a wonderful father, husband and citizen, in that order." I think that's the best I could ever hope for!

Best advice I've received: "It's better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly." I received this from a friend and it really sums up my "it never hurts to try" personality. My kids of course hate me when it comes to trying new food at mealtimes, though.

I attribute my success to: Fear of failure. If you work hard, the odds are low that you're not going to be successful.

Myself, in one word: Competitive. It keeps me working hard.

A word from the nominator: "Joe studied business administration at Parkland and SIU-Carbondale, but will tell you that he learned more in over eight years in the military and visiting over 21 different countries."

- Grace Streit, a wife, mother and homemaker, wife of nominee

Christina Tapp, 26
Graphic designer, Surface 51

Christina TappCommunity involvement: Co-founder of the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization, a professional and social group for local designers; helped start and oversee the PechaKucha Night events in C-U; member of the Champaign Downtown Association's Urban Environment Committee; and volunteer for other events in town, like Ebertfest and the Sweet Corn Festival.

I admire: My father for his endless dedication and my mother for her selflessness.

I attribute my success to: Teamwork, and having people around me who help motivate me and can work with me.

What I like about C-U: This community has so many people with so many interests, that if you want to do something interesting and unique, you can always find other people to help you with that goal.

Myself, in one word: Passionate

A word from our nominator: "In her professional job and numerous community endeavors, Christina brings an unparalleled passion and energy to her work, aiming to advance the graphic aesthetics of the world." - Douglas Milburn, associate, IGW Architecture

Masha Trenhaile, 32
Vice president of operations, Fox Development Corporation; Managing broker, FDC, LLC.

Masha TrenhaileCommunity involvement: Sponsor of events and a marquee member of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; board member of the Sinfonia da Camera; member of the Executive Club; work with families who adopt kids from Russia and Ukraine to help with translation and doctor visits.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Reaching 100 percent occupancy at the Corporate Center (even though it was only for 14 days).

I attribute my success to: My mother, who showed me how to be a fighter. I am tenacious because of what she has instilled in me.

To relax, I: Like to ballroom dance, make fresh salsa for the Urbana farmers market, make jewelry and spend time at home.

A word from the nominator: "Laura Frerichs and I nominated Masha because she gets results and still finds time to give back to the community. She has been very successful in developing business

locally for Fox Development Corporation and has helped to bring a number of companies to the community and the Research Park ... Masha works very hard, but she still contributes to the community -- she volunteers at the farmers market during the summers and helps families who are new to the area. " - Sarah Zehr, assistant dean of Communications and director of Engineering Career Services, College of Engineering, U of I

Stacey Tutt, 32
Managing attorney, Prairie State Legal Services Inc., Bloomington

Stacey TuttCommunity involvement: Chicago Bar Foundation Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship, 2008; Multidisciplinary Team and Money Management Advisory Council, PATH; Human Services Council, treasurer, 2006-2007; Illinois Legal Aid Online, board of directors; Livingston County Coalition Against Violence; McLean County Bar Association, public service committee co-chair; McLean County Mental Health and Aging Coalition; McLean County United Way Agency executive council president; McLean County United Way, board of directors; former member of the C-U Junior Women's Club.

Best advice I've received: My father, John Tutt, taught me the importance of accepting the blame when a mistake is made and giving credit to those who help you when you succeed.

I admire: My husband, Paul Pless. He has a quiet influence and can find a practical solution to what appears to be an unmanageable situation. Plus he makes me laugh at myself.

To relax, I: Play with my daughter. Her laugh can erase any bad day.

A word from our nominator: "Stacey epitomizes the ideal of using your law degree for the greater good. She believes in the people of central Illinois and strives every day to help those that most need it to believe the justice system works for everyone." - Tony Waller, assistant dean, U of I College of Law

Staci Wahls, 38
Human resources manager, Wolfram Research Inc.

Staci WahlsCommunity involvement: Women's Business Council president (2002 to 2004 and 2009 to 2010); United Way Emerging Community Leader's Council; Relay for Life event chair (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008); Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors (2000 - 2002); Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club board of directors (2001 - 2002); Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (various committees).

Best advice I've received: I was shy and quiet when I was growing up, and my dad would always tell me to stand up for myself because nobody else will, and don't let people walk over you! I wouldn't be where I'm at today without that advice.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I was an integral part of the FedEx Ground facility opening in 1999. I had three months to recruit, train and retain 650 employees for a 24-hour operation. It was definitely one of the most challenging, fun and rewarding professional accomplishments in my career. We received the FedEx Ground Human Resource Excellence Award in 2000 and 2001 for our exceptional HR practices.

A word from the nominator: "Staci has a unique quality of really recognizing people's strengths and builds upon those through constant encouragement and praise." - Kim Pillischafske, recruiter, Wolfram Research

Bill Walter, 25
Director of operations, A&R Mechanical Contractors Inc.

Bill WalterCommunity involvement: Champaign County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Economic Development Corporation, Champaign West Rotary, United Way, Ready! Set! Grow! Marketing Committee 2010.

Best advice I can give: The greatest return on investment you'll ever achieve is through your investment of time, money and energy serving others!

Best advice I've received: From a very young age I can remember my father quoting Winston Churchill over and over again, "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

I admire: My mom and dad. They are leaders by example, they would never ask me to do anything other than my best - watching them was an inspiration to me. They always pushed me to reach my potential, which they would say was unlimited. I never lacked the love and support that was needed to excel in every aspect of my life - for that I am forever grateful.

A word from our nominator: "Bill is highly involved in the community and in making Champaign-Urbana a better place to both work and live." - Scott Reichard, chairman/CFO, Benefit Planning Consultants Inc., father-in-law of nominee

Kristin Williamson, 29
Public and community relations associate, Wolfram Research Inc.

Kristin WilliamsonCommunity involvement: Vice-chairman, Champaign County Republican Central Committee; fellow, Illinois Lincoln Series for Excellence in Public Service, January 2007 -- present; United Way of Champaign County Emerging Community Leaders, class of 2008; fundraiser, CASA of Champaign County.

Best advice I can give: In work and in life, we all experience challenges of varying degrees. Whether we are successful or defeated in overcoming those challenges, the most important quality we can demonstrate is grace.

Best advice I've received: My college speech professor put a note in the footer of the syllabus that read, "Never settle for mediocrity." I've never forgotten the first time I read that syllabus, or the message.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I've played a role in many successful projects in my career. But what I am most proud of is that every day I wake up knowing that I love the work I'm doing.

What I like about C-U: I moved to Champaign-Urbana for an education. I stayed because of its overwhelmingly welcoming community.

To relax, I: Work out with the volume on my iPod way too loud!

A word from the nominator: "Kristin's hard work and dedication are inspiring. " - Laura Wetherell, assistant vice president, First Midwest Bank

Megan Wolf, 35
Director of resource development, 40 North | 88 West

Megan WolfCommunity involvement: Champaign County Humane Society as a foster parent, Habitat for Humanity Women's Build Committee, Mo Betta Music.

Best advice I've received: My former boss in San Diego, Stephanie Casenza, encouraged me to "Lean into your discomfort." These simple words gave me the courage to conquer my fears. As a result, I am a passionate and enthusiastic public speaker and I can walk into a room of people I don't know and walk out with two new friends.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Dedicating my career to the nonprofit sector.

I admire: My mother, who always thinks of others before herself, is a ball of fire and fights life's most difficult battles with everything she's got.

What I like about C-U: There is something about the Midwest and Midwesterners that is warm, welcoming and down-to-earth. I love living in a small town where store owners and bartenders know my name. It's approximately two hours from three major cities if you need to get away, but has the assets of a major city, while maintaining the small town charm.

A word from our nominator: "Megan's professional achievements speak volumes about her abilities, and I am confident that her greatest accomplishments in support of this community are still to come."

- Douglas Milburn, associate, IGW Architecture

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