Central Illinois Business Magazine
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Archive                           November 2012


FORTY UNDER 40

Forty under 40 winners 2012


Bryan Banks, 28

Bryan BanksAssistant vice president, special assets, Busey Bank

Community involvement: Audit committee member on the Charleston Transitional Facility board; Champaign West Rotary Club member; Carle Foundation board member.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Passing the Certified Public Accountant exam on the first try. I was told that only 10 percent of the people who sit for the exam can say the same.

I attribute my success to: Hard work, a never-quit attitude and a commitment to cultivating relationships.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I referee college football and recently called the game-winning touchdown pass that broke the record for most passing yards in a single game.

My mentor is: My father, Sam Banks.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Charismatic, driven, focused, caring.

A word from the nominator: "He has shown that he can perform at a high level by achieving the level of 'senior' at one of the world's four largest accounting firms, but shows he lacks complacency by seeing new opportunities that fit with his overall career goals and seizing those opportunities. He also has shown he understands the need to give back to the community by joining service organizations." -- Steven Henderson, special assets coordinator, Busey Bank

Jason Barickman, 37

Jason BarickmanAttorney at Meyer Capel. State representative in the Illinois General Assembly. Candidate for the Illinois State Senate. Adjunct faculty member at Illinois State University. Real estate owner and investor.

Community Involvement: Chairman of the Champaign County Republican Party for six years. Inaugural class of Edgar Fellows, through the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs Office of Public Leadership.

I attribute my success to: My dad taught me to work hard and apply common sense.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I spent three months backpacking through South America when I was 27 years old. I never shaved until I returned home, but won't release the pictures for fear my political opponents will use them!

My mentor is: My political mentors are former Gov. Jim Edgar and former Congressman Tom Ewing. David Sholem has always been a friend, but has become a professional mentor since joining Meyer Capel.

A word from the nominator: "Jason is extremely dedicated and hardworking. When he sets his sights on a goal, he stops at nothing to achieve it. He is creative in his legal business, frequently suggesting 'outside the box' solutions. Through his sometimes overwhelming workload in politics and law, he's still able to find time for his family." -- Chris Hartman, owner, JSM Development

Marcus Beach, 36

Marcus BeachDetective sergeant, Rantoul Police Department

Community Involvement: Mentor for three fourth-grade boys at Northview Elementary School through the TALKS Mentoring Program; active in First United Methodist Church of Rantoul and Administrative Council chair; Crisis Nursery board member; ran the Illinois Marathon for four years with Team Law and Order to benefit the Crisis Nursery; participates in the Special Olympics Illinois Polar Plunge; Champaign County Children's Advocacy Center board member.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I enjoy magic (particularly card tricks) and am always buying new books to learn more.

Three people I'd want on my team are: Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Powell.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career: Accept responsibility for your actions and be honest. While it may not get you out of trouble, it protects your integrity, which is much harder to repair.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Easygoing and sometimes sarcastic. I'm definitely a people person who enjoys being around others.

A word from the nominator: "Marc is able to balance the demands of law enforcement and the challenge it presents while remaining compassionate for those in need." -- Sean Arie, sergeant, Rantoul Police Department

Stacy Bennett, 34

Stacy BennettIndependent consultant

Community Involvement: Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation board of directors; Crisis Nursery board of directors; United Way Emerging Community Leaders (2010)

Proudest professional accomplishment: Creating a successful fundraising initiative to raise awareness for ovarian cancer.

I attribute my success to: My parents. I got my dad's enthusiasm, my mom's determination and both of their unending support.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I crossed the finish line of a half-marathon with Al Roker.

A word from the nominator: "Stacy effectively combines intellect with irrepressible energy and undying optimism. The leadership role that Stacy has played in the vast array of community organizations and institutions has resulted in these organizations being better able to raise money and meet the demands of their client populations." -- Collette Niland, assistant dean and executive director of the Social Entrepreneurship Institute, University of Illinois College of Business

Kristen Bosch, 29

Kristen BoschDevelopment and marketing director at Crisis Nursery

Community Involvement: United Way Emerging Community Leaders Program (2010); East Central Illinois Chapter of Association for Fundraising Professionals; alumni community of Illinois State University; fundraising for Special Olympics Illinois, American Cancer Society and Relay for Life.

Proudest professional accomplishment: My first year at Crisis Nursery was truly incredible and humbling. I started in February 2010 and quickly planned and managed the most successful dinner and auction in Crisis Nursery's history. In July, the nursery won a nationwide office makeover contest valued at $75,000 and then in August we were named the inaugural winner of the LRS Web Solutions BIG Website Makeover. I also spearheaded a rebranding campaign. I couldn't have done any of this alone. The community support of Crisis Nursery is tremendous.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Assertive, self-assured, inquisitive, compassionate, organized.

A word from the nominator: "I admire that she never strays from her values of integrity, honesty and professionalism in all areas of her life. Her creativity in spreading our message through the Web page, videos and our newsletters has had a tremendous impact on sharing our mission with the community." -- Stephanie Record, executive director of Crisis Nursery (one of two nominators)

Anthony Bruno, 27

Anthony BrunoAttorney at Bruno Law Offices

Community Involvement: Champaign Board of Fire and Police Commissioners chair; Champaign County Habitat for Humanity Construction Committee

Proudest professional accomplishment: Arguing before the 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield.

I attribute my success to: Forgiving parents who always gave me enough rope to hang myself.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I'm a foodie.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Be kind.

My mentor is: My old man.

To relax I: Rehab old houses.

A word from the nominator: "He has demonstrated a willingness to give back to the community that has given him such opportunities. His volunteerism and success in the private practice of law demonstrate his hard work and dedication." -- Thomas Bruno, employer and father of the nominee

Elizabeth Buckley, 39

Elizabeth BuckleyDevelopment specialist at Provena Covenant Medical Center Foundation

Community Involvement: Champaign Rotary member; communications chair for the East Central Illinois Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Orpheum Children's Science Museum board member. Music director at St. Matthew Lutheran Church. Raised $25,000 for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois for a Storybook Project for the Danville Correctional Center and for adoption services.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Singing at Carnegie Hall in 2011 and releasing my first solo CD with Grammy Award-winning violinist Masumi Per Rostad of the Pacifica Quartet.

Best advice I can give or have received is: The less you talk about yourself, the more you can listen to others' stories. These stories are the fabric of our collective journey through life and I find so much can be learned from the mistakes and successes of others.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I love hair bands and hard rock. If I were to live in an alternative plane of existence, I would be a rock star.

A word from the nominator: "Her heart is to make this a better community for everyone. She enjoys filling a room with people for great causes and sitting back and watching all the wonderful connections take place." -- James Barham, owner of Barham Benefits

Kathleen Charleston, 40

Kathleen CharlestonHuman resources director, Parkland College

Community Involvement: Supports the Champaign-Urbana Autism Network, helps with its annual Autism Walk and Safety Fair; helps with Urbana police Shop with a Cop Program.

I attribute my success to: The example of hard work and integrity that my parents both modeled for me. While being supportive, they have also taught me to be independent and responsible. Being the middle of five siblings probably helped with my negotiation and conflict-resolution skills.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Listening is the most important part of communication.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Some things are worth the wait. Some of the most important lessons are learned the hard way.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Honest, caring, hardworking and dedicated. True to my beliefs and principles.

A word from the nominator: "Kathleen has taken a function that has challenged Parkland historically and turned it into an area of leadership on campus, increasing the communication with employees and the customer service offered by the department. ...Kathleen makes herself extremely accessible and shows compassion to every level of employee." -- Chris Randles, vice president for administration/CFO, Parkland College

Tiffany DeSpain, 37

Tiffany DeSpainDirector of the Savoy Recreation Center

Community Involvement: Rotary Club of Savoy; current co-chair for Rotary District's Youth Leadership Program; Women's Business Council; Provena Foundation board member and chair of the Celebration of Taste Gala.

Interesting fact you may not know about me: I have nearly 1,000 square feet of garden in my backyard. We grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, squash, green beans and more!

Three people I'd want on my team are: My dad, George Anthony (boss from cruise ships) and Amelia Earhart.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Strive to be your best, work hard, be honest and approachable. Our customers like to come chat with me when they have concerns and I want them to be comfortable to do that.

My mentor is: My father. When there was work to be done, he did a great job, but then when he was off work, he was able to enjoy life as well. I am still working on the balance of enjoying as well as working hard and helping others.

A word from the nominator: "Tiffany can't sit still. Between work, her volunteer commitments and her strong connection to her family, she is constantly giving of her time and her talents to everyone else while she asks for nothing in return. She is extraordinarily selfless and kind." -- Dana Williams, teacher at Mother's Morning Out

Lori Gregg, 26

Lori GreggFifth-grade teacher, Unity West Elementary School

Community Involvement: 4-H leader of the Sadorus 4-H All-Stars; participates in Relay for Life; Museum of the Grand Prairie volunteer as a pioneer schoolmarm.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The biggest public recognition I received was the Golden Apple Award for East Central Illinois in December 2008. The biggest accomplishment to me is receiving emails or cards from former students and parents telling me how much they learned in my class, things they have done since being in my classroom and how they want to thank me for being such a positive influence. They mean the world to me.

Best advice I can give or have received is: If you do your best, you will be exactly where you are supposed to be and leave the rest to God.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I own a horse named Blue who does many tricks!

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: If I am not having fun, the kids are not having fun. I have also learned to always be prepared. You never know what can happen with a room full of children!

A word from the nominator: "Lori is the most enthusiastic person I know! She loves learning new things and sharing her knowledge with students." -- Janet Ellis-Nelson, principal, Unity West Elementary School

Christopher Hamb, 33

Christopher HambOwner and developer/designer for Chrisp Media

Community Involvement: Member of the Champaign County NAACP Executive Board, Canaan Men's SAFE House Steering Committee and the Salem Cyber Church Committee. Member of Canaan Baptist Church and Web Ministry Chair. Mentor with C-U One-to-One Mentoring program. United Way's Emerging Community Leaders (2009) and 2010 eBlackCU Difference Maker.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The day I started my business.

Best advice I can give or have received is: This is not a dress rehearsal and there are no understudies.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: In my previous career I was a librarian and faculty member at the University of Illinois.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Hardworking and hard-headed.

A word from the nominator: "Christopher diligently works to 'make it happen,' whether it is digital or something else. He strives for excellence in anything that he does. He loves to take on new challenges and when faced with problems, he figures them out." -- Summer Curry, human resource associate, University of Illinois

Cory Hatfield, 31

Cory HatfieldSports and sales director for the Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Community Involvement: United Way of Champaign County board member for its Emerging Community Leader Program and 2007 graduate of the program. Member of the village of Rantoul's Police and Fire Commission. Served as a Champaign County Chamber of Commerce ambassador.

Proudest professional accomplishment: In 2011, I was the organizer of the State Farm Shootout at the Hall. The week before the event, the NCAA informed the CVB that due to new regulations, we would not be able to host the event at the Assembly Hall, forcing us to cancel or relocate. We relocated the event to Parkland College in less than a week. The Shootout and its challenges were very rewarding and a valuable learning experience. More importantly, we saw five great basketball games and thousands of smiling faces and energized fans.

I attribute my success to: Always wanting to make my parents and family proud.

My mentor is: Sue Grey, United Way of Champaign County

A word from the nominator: "Cory's community spirit is contagious. You simply cannot be apathetic when you are around him. His enthusiasm extends to everything he is involved in." -- Kathi Keyes, marketing manager at IPAT Inc. and mother-in-law of the nominee (one of two nominators)

Megan Holland, 34

Megan HollandDirector of volunteer services, Carle Hospital

Community Involvement: Advisory Council of the Champaign County RSVP; East Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference Planning Committee with the Commission on Volunteerism at the State of Illinois.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Opening the Carle Auxiliary Resale Shop this spring, after three years of research and planning, countless collaborations, major and minor decisions and lots of work.

I attribute my success to: My education. I learned to love learning from both sets of grandparents, my parents, my teachers, my friends, and now it is a lifelong passion. The more I learn, the more I can contribute.

Three people I'd want on my team are: Queen Elizabeth I of England, Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com and my best friend.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: A Carle Auxiliary volunteer gave me an acronym a few years back which I love -- The WWEE -- Women With Endless Energy! I think that suits me very well.

A word from the nominator: "Megan gives completely of herself, so that not only are the volunteers and staff best-served, but that the patients and their families might have a good experience in a health care setting. Her caring spirit, optimism and cheerfulness bring out the best in people." -- Vanna Cunningham, Carle volunteer and immediate past president of the Carle Auxiliary (one of three nominators)

Clint Howard, 36

Clint HowardOperations lieutenant with the Douglas County sheriff's office

Community Involvement: Member of the Villa Grove Methodist Church, the Tuscola American Legion and Villa Grove/Camargo Masonic Lodge; past president of Villa Grove Summer Recreation; Little League president and athletic director for the Villa Grove Junior Football League. High school football and baseball official. Volunteer football coach. Precinct committee member.

Proudest professional achievement: 2006 Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the Department of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars.

I attribute my success to: My family and friends. Law enforcement is quite stressful and can take toll on a person and their family. I could not succeed in this profession without the strong support and understanding of my wife and others along the way.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Never take things personally. Understand that law enforcement impacts people every day -- and always remember people know who you are and watch you in everything you do.

A word from the nominator: "I admire his dedication and his desire to constantly improve himself as well as improve the organization where he works. His best quality is his ability to make those who work with him want to be better at their jobs." -- Peter Buckley, chief deputy, Douglas County sheriff's office

Tony Howard, 29

Tony HowardAssistant principal, Edison Middle School, Champaign

Community Involvement: Champaign Public Library board member, C-U One-to-One Mentoring Program mentor, and eighth-grade basketball coach.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Watching my first group of students that I ever taught graduate from high school.

Best advice I can give or have received is: "Try not to become a man of success but a man of value." -- Albert Einstein

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: That I am an avid collector of Air Jordan sneakers.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Have a good elevator speech ready at all times, because you never know who you will come in contact with.

To relax I: Listen to music and fish for crappie and blue gills.

A word from the nominator: "He is motivated to succeed in all that he does and when he sees a need in our building that will ultimately improve the climate and/or academics, he immediately starts planning how that need can be met." -- Justin Uppinghouse, principal, Edison Middle School

Alyssa Hudson, 23

Alyssa HudsonCommercial real estate services coordinator, Busey Bank (until recently, tenant relations manager, Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty)

Community Involvement: Head dance coach, Villa Grove High School; regional representative, District 9 of the Illinois Drill Team Association; founder and sponsor of Villa Grove Summer Recreation Youth Dance Program; Champaign March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction committee member; Central Illinois Rental Property Professionals; co-founder of local Black Out Bullying campaign.

I attribute my success to: My determination to do my very best and succeed in every aspect of life, along with an extremely strong support system.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Life is a playground of opportunities.

To relax I: Travel with my husband, whether it's a weeklong getaway to Mexico, a weekend in St. Louis or just an evening adventure to a new restaurant we haven't tried before.

A word from the nominators: "At 23, Alyssa is far beyond her years in personal and business achievements. Alyssa is always looking for new challenges and ways to make a difference. When we think of a leader, we think of Alyssa Hudson." -- Cathy Rector, director of property management for Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty, and Scott Reichard, chairman and CFO of Benefit Planning Consultants

Brice Hutchcraft, 33

Brice HutchcraftVice president, commercial banking, First Midwest Bank

Community Involvement: Board member and vice president/executive board member of 40 North|88 West (Champaign County Arts Council); United Way campaign coordinator for the First Midwest Bank 2013 employee campaign; past board member of the former Urban League of Champaign County

I attribute my success to: Keeping it real -- never swaying from who I am and what I believe in and making sure to have some fun along the way. Life is too short not to enjoy what you do and have fun doing it.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Every morning before you arrive at work, make sure you are wearing a smile. A positive attitude is contagious -- a negative one is an epidemic.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I have an infatuation with Abraham Lincoln. I have a room in my home devoted to the past president. A home I lived in when I was about 6 years old was frequented by Lincoln when he was traveling the state as an attorney. My room happened to be the one he stayed in.

A word from the nominator: "His level of personal and financial commitment to nonprofit organizations in our community reflects his desire to improve his community and to give to others." -- Sandra Jones, former colleague on the board of the Urban League of Champaign County

Greg Johnson, 37

Greg JohnsonPrincipal, Centennial High School

Community Involvement: Collaborative projects with community agencies, Parkland College, Community Elements, and the United Way and Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

Best advice I can give or have received is: I had a professor who said that in order to make it through any strenuous profession you have to find a weekly routine that involves purposefully carving time for yourself. He asked us to write about what our routine was, and it was the best assignment I was ever given.

My mentor is: My parents. Mike Lehr, an amazing teacher at UHS. John Woodward and Laura Taylor, both onetime principals at UHS.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: A tad contradictory: I'm a carefree worrywart who takes himself both way too seriously and not seriously enough. I'm quick to laugh and love being a father to our two boys.

To relax I: Run. It's too hard to have the energy for this job without working out regularly. But I also love sitting on my deck, enjoying the evenings and listening to music.

A word from the nominator: "Greg effectively plans, schedules and directs the work of others, knows and uses resources, and knows how to handle great and competing demands on one's time." -- Judy Wiegand, superintendent of the Champaign school district

Chip Jorstad, 32

Chip JorstadSenior vice president, Commercial Lending, Busey Bank

Community Involvement: Champaign County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) board member; Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity chapter adviser; member of Champaign West Rotary

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being selected to give remarks as the student speaker at my MBA convocation.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Trust your instincts when making a difficult decision.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I was the first person in my immediate family to get a college degree.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Work hard and create your own opportunities.

A word from the nominator: "His positive attitude is contagious and he is always willing to stay late or come in early to make something great happen for a business or the community. Despite a very large workload, he makes time for things that matter." -- Amy Randolph, executive vice president, growth strategies, First Busey Corp.

Brian Jurczyk, 38

Brian JurczykCo-founder, president and CEO of Starfire Industries

Community Involvement: Mentoring entrepreneurs or people interested in starting companies with an idea or business plan. I give lectures to both undergraduates and graduate students in the College of Engineering. I support local arts, theater and music.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Innovating a solution to solve a major problem for our first customer and building on that success to grow Starfire Industries.

I attribute my success to: Having an optimistic outlook in everything I do -- knowing that there is always a solution waiting to be found for every problem. There is no mountain too high or valley too deep. We can simply build a jetpack and fly over it!

Best advice I can give or have received: Follow your passions in life, in work, in fun, in love.

A word from the nominator: "Brian is an example of how hard work and determination pay off. He has the spirit of an inventor and strives to make a difference with his technology. But he also has the ability to run and grow a business in a positive way that makes him respected by his peers." -- Jenette Jurczyk, general manager of ONE Illinois Apartments and spouse of the nominee

Jenette Jurczyk, 38

Jenette JurczykGeneral manager of ONE Illinois Apartments

Community Involvement: Junior League of Champaign-Urbana; Executive Club of Champaign County; member of the Celebration Company at The Station Theatre and performs with the Parkland College Theatre and the Abe Froman Project Improv Troupe; raised money for Habitat for Humanity and Junior League through the Illinois Marathon; 2010 Outstanding Women to Know in Champaign.

I attribute my success to: I take whatever I am working on incredibly personally, sometimes to a fault. I strive to accomplish my projects to the best of my ability. I enjoy the challenge of having my hands on multiple projects in multiple areas.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Stay optimistic no matter what. There is enough success, opportunity and abundance to go around. The success of one does not mean it comes at the cost of the success of another.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: A strong-willed woman with an effervescent personality and nonstop energy.

A word from the nominator: "She is intelligent and beautiful, kind and caring, has an optimistic outlook on life, strives to find the win-win scenario, brings out the best in other people and leads by example. She also has business savvy and an energetic personality." -- Brian Jurczyk, president of Starfire Industries and spouse of the nominee

Jeff Kibler, 30

Jeff KiblerSales engineer and site manager at Infobright Inc.

Community Involvement: Champaign County Board member representing District 3; United Way Emerging Community Leaders (2011); Champaign Organization for Developers and Engineers; economic development adviser for UI Research Park to Mayor Don Gerard; Champaign County Young Republicans

Proudest professional accomplishment: In 2010, I opened Infobright's office in Champaign. Within a year, we increased staffing to three full-time employees and four interns. While the overall size is small, I am truly excited to keep our software engineering talent right here in Champaign.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I fought a bull in a bullring in Mexico. A ripped pair of jeans later, I lived to tell the tale.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Calculated risks are worth taking. To achieve what you want in life, you must be willing to step out on the ledge and make that leap.

A word from the nominator: "He has a unique blend of ambition and approachability that enables him to take on any challenge with enthusiasm, fairness and an open mind, while producing results." -- Stuart King, doctor with Christie Clinic Department of Spine and Pain Management and clinical assistant professor of surgery for University of Illinois College of Medicine

Kerris Lee, 29

Kerris LeePartner at Lost Points LLC

Community Involvement: Co-founder of Illini for Kids; donates a portion of company revenue to the community, including building an interactive technology exhibit for the Orpheum Children's Science Museum; member of Champaign Organization of Developers and Engineers; finance and membership committee of West Urbana Rotary Club.

Proudest professional accomplishment: My proudest professional accomplishment is when I started a business at age 14. We sold our product in London, Japan and the U.S. I remember signing the contract with a corporation and thinking that it was a dream come true!

Best advice I can give is: Preparation plus opportunity equals luck.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Be willing to do the things everyone is not willing to do. It's the difference between working with your clients and having a growing relationship with your clients.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Energetic, thoughtful, funny at times, ambitious, tenacious and sincere.

A word from the nominator: "Kerris' goal is to help empower this community to truly be a beacon for others. Kerris is one of the most humble and hardworking people I've known." -- Dan Ditchfield, owner, The Atlas Agency

Erin Lippitz, 33

Erin LippitzMarketing associate, The News-Gazette

Community Involvement: Board president of 40 North | 88 West and chair of its Public Image Committee; C-U One-to-One Mentoring Program mentor and Scholarship Foundation Board member; 2011 United Way Emerging Community Leaders Program graduate and member of the program's advisory board; Eastern Illinois Foodbank volunteer.

I attribute my success to: A lot of really hard work, dedication and loyalty to the company I work for and organizations I volunteer for. I also don't know how to say no.

Best advice I can give or have received is: It's ok to have limits. Even though we can sometimes do superhuman things, we aren't superhuman. Knowing when to ask for help is not a weakness but a strength and shows true leadership.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I hate running with a passion but have participated in the past three Illinois Half Marathons. I do it because I want to challenge myself.

A word from the nominator: "I greatly admire Erin for her dedication, generosity and outstanding work ethic. She is warm, approachable, sincere and incredibly easy to work with, while at the same time remaining completely professional and organized." -- Kelly White, executive director, 40 North | 88 West

Jeff Livesay, 37

Jeff LivesayDirector of assurance services at McGladrey

Community Involvement: Member of the board of directors, treasurer and finance committee chair of Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County; Champaign Rotary Club member; served as district treasurer for Rotary District 6490; supporter and volunteer of Cub Scouts Pack 40.

I attribute my success to: The example set by my wife Sarah and my parents. My wife's success and drive are contagious and are big factors in influencing my own career. My parents were small business owners for over 26 years, and that experience has helped me establish a strong work ethic and has taught me how to persevere in the business industry.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I volunteered during college as an underwater rescue diver for ESDA.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Everyone fails from time to time, so use the failure as a learning opportunity, use it to the positive.

To relax I: Spend time with my wife and two sons doing anything outdoors. We love to travel and especially love eco adventures.

A word from the nominator: "I admire Jeff's sincere interest in others. He demonstrates this through his development of professional staff at McGladrey and his involvement in community organizations which benefit others." -- Dave Seiler, Central Illinois managing partner, McGladrey

Kristi Martin, 33

Kristi MartinAssistant director of admissions and recruiting, Illinois MBA, University of Illinois College of Business

Community Involvement: Big Brothers Big Sisters; Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, League Locker Committee; Kappa Delta Chapter Advisory Board, philanthropy adviser; president of Champaign-Urbana Kappa Delta Alumnae Association

Best advice I can give or have received is: Always take a step back to listen and try to see situations from different points of view. Never miss an opportunity to do the right thing.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I played tennis very far away at Eastern Illinois University and I still play in USTA leagues in Champaign.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Always follow your passion. Success is being able to do what you love and being able to do it well.

My mentor is: I try to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet.

A word from the nominator: "Kristi has a great attitude, works hard and is one of the biggest Illini and Champaign fans I've ever met. Despite the demands of her job (frequent travel, long hours), Kristi is always giving back to the community." -- Brian Precious, director of admissions and recruiting, Purdue University

Carly McCrory, 24

Carly McCroryCommunications director, Champaign County Economic Development Corp. (until recently, the marketing and communications specialist for Tuscola Economic Development Inc.)

Community Involvement: Co-founder and co-president of Douglas County Rotaract, a young professionals group; member of the Tuscola Kiwanis Club and Tuscola Rotary Club; volunteers to help non-profit organizations with technology; speaks to high school students about the use of social media.

I attribute my success to: My work ethic and dedication to helping others. Plus, I received an excellent education from Eastern Illinois University. Also, lack of sleep.

Proudest professional accomplishment: This award (Forty Under 40). Why? I was nominated by people in the community who believe that I am making a difference.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: To create an environment with open communication. It works the best.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Driven.

A word from the nominator: "She has an unflagging work ethic, tremendous attention to detail and follow-through, and never turns down an opportunity to help others." -- Colleen Lehmann, copy editor/reporter, The Tuscola Journal (one of two nominators)

Michael McKelvey, 31

Michael McKelveyCoordinator of engagement technology and new media, Office for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at the University of Illinois

Community Involvement: Collaborated with the Office for Public Engagement to create the Public Engagement Portal; worked with OPE and the United Way to launch and maintain CUVolunteer; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and Empty Tomb.

Best advice I can give or have received is: "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." -- Mark Twain

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Afford others the respect you wish them to show you. Even if you don't always see eye to eye, there is always a common ground.

My mentor is: My boss and director of MSTE, George Reese. I appreciate and admire his wisdom, his intelligence and his passion for education.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Quiet, patient, gentle and just a little bit nerdy.

A word from the nominator: "Michael is a pleasure to work with and steps up to volunteer his expertise in a number of projects that benefit the community. Each of these programs touch a number of lives in the community and make Champaign-Urbana a better place. And he's always willing to do more." -- Sarah Zehr, assistant dean and director, Engineering Career Services, University of Illinois

Joe Meents, 39

Joe MeentsChief deputy, Champaign County Supervisor of Assessments Office

Community Involvement: Director of Upward youth basketball program for two years; volunteered with C-U Special Recreation, officiating both men's and women's softball and basketball; seventh-grade basketball coach at Fisher Junior High; involved with Savoy United Methodist Church; Relay for Life.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being selected by the Champaign County Board to serve as interim supervisor of assessments and being consulted by other counties to help with their final property valuation processes.

Best advice I can give or have received is: My former boss, Bonnie Vaughn, once told me, "We all make mistakes. It's not the mistake itself that is important. It's how you respond and learn from it." I never forgot that.

My mentor is: Paula Bates (Piatt County supervisor of assessments), who through her patience and guidance taught me everything I know, and Stan Jenkins, for his belief in me and constant encouragement.

A word from the nominator: "He is an example of what a true public servant is. He is thorough in everything he does and passionate about giving back to the community. In every instance, his concern is getting the job done right and setting an example for people who are around him, particularly young people." -- Stan Jenkins, Champaign County supervisor of assessments

Kelli Meents, 35

Kelli MeentsTraining coordinator at Developmental Services Center; part-time faculty member in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Parkland College

Community Involvement: Vice president of the Champaign-Urbana Junior Woman's Club, director of the Tom Thumb Theater (2012); active in the Savoy United Methodist Church; Relay for Life; C-U Special Recreation supporter; Parkland OTA Board member; Developmental Services Center events volunteer.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being asked to be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Parkland OTA graduation ceremony and being honored as DSC's Employee of the Year for 2011.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: To be respectful to all people. You never know if what you do or say today will impact a future opportunity or relationship.

My mentor is: My first OTA fieldwork instructor, former co-worker at DSC and friend, Dianne Tennant-Rucker. She is a terrific example.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Hardworking, kind-hearted and oftentimes too serious for my own good.

A word from the nominator: "Kelli is generous in sharing her knowledge through her teaching and training, but also through brainstorming and thinking outside of the box." -- Vickie Tolf, director of program assurance, Developmental Services Center

Seth Melton, 31

Seth MeltonFarm marketer, Cargill AgHorizons

Community Involvement: Community Involvement Team at Cargill; United Way Emerging Community Leaders Program (2011); Eastern Illinois Foodbank volunteer; past volunteer for the American Cancer Society and Provena Covenant Medical Center Foundation.

I attribute my success to: Constantly learning and striving to grow and improve both personally and professionally.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Be strong of character, be determined and sustain a proper attitude. There is a truth in that how you approach each day, each job and life in general will determine not only your success but who you are as a person.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I am an avid deer hunter -- primarily archery. My family always knows when hunting season is drawing closer because the DVR queue completely fills up with hunting shows.

A word from the nominator: "He is responsible for developing long-term relationships with customers and working face to face with grain producers on the farm. He is highly respected among his customers and even during the current drought has continued to earn his customer's loyalty and trust." -- Julie Melton, director of marketing and development for Eastern Illinois Foodbank and spouse of the nominee

Lester Potts, 37

Lester PottsFirefighter/fire investigator for the Danville Fire Department

Community Involvement: Runs a youth football organization; member of Corinthian Masonic Lodge 31; member of the Killer Bees Motor sport club, which does volunteer service projects.

I attribute my success to: Hard work, love, support and prayer. My parents loved me enough to push me to work hard, corrected me when I was wrong and supported me in the things that I chose to try, pushing me to work hard all the way. I was lucky enough to find a wife that does the same things.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Set long-term goals, so that short-term failures don't stop you, and remember that progress is a process.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: It does the soul good to help someone else.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Generous to a fault.

A word from the nominator: "Lester unselfishly volunteers his life (not just his time) to the children and families of this community and previously to our country with his past military service. He chose to be a firefighter because he is a 'helper.'" -- Stephanie Potts, counselor and transfer articulation coordinator at Danville Area Community College and spouse of the nominee

Jonte Rollins, 33

Jonte RollinsLinkage, engagement and communications coordinator at ACCESS Initiative

Community Involvement: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Champaign-Urbana Foster Care Coalition, Catholic Charities, Illinois Permanency Enhancement Project, Regional Office of Education and the Champaign school district; Bethel A.M.E. Women's Missionary Society; Champaign graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority; Gamma Upsilon Psi Society; co-founder of Cover Girlz Motorcycle Club.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The creation of the BeYOUtiful Girlz (Smart Girls) Conference, an annual event for local middle and high school girls.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Mistakes are the best way to learn. Don't be afraid to make them. Try not to repeat the same ones too often.

My mentor is: My mother, Benita Gay. I have watched her triumph over every hurdle life has thrown her way both personally and professionally.

A word from the nominator: "No matter how demanding the tasks she's undertaken turn out to be, she remains focused on life goals of strengthening youth and families, reducing stigma and eliminating disparities." -- Lynn Canfield, associate director of Champaign County Mental Health Board and Champaign County Developmental Disabilities Board (one of nine nominators)

David Rosch, 37

David RoschAssistant professor, Agricultural Leadership Education Program, University of Illinois

Community Involvement: Facilitating leadership development programs for Illinois undergraduates and area high school students involved in FFA and the Technology Leadership Association.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Hosting a three-day international leadership conference for 3,000 students from hundreds of colleges around the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I've learned how to juggle, play the piano and guitar, read palms, captain an ultimate frisbee team and make pasta sauce from scratch. I wish I knew how to do more of those things well.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: My mother taught me growing up that "you can do anything you want, as long as you are prepared to pay for it." I've learned that the professional world is filled with amazing opportunities and frustrating barriers -- and that the highest levels of professional success are attainable through something as simple as an accurate cost-benefit analysis.

A word from the nominator: "'Big picture, big impact' is a phrase that describes the way Dave approaches life and his passion -- enhancing the effectiveness of student leaders so they can create a better world." -- Sara Thompson, director of the Illinois Leadership Center, University of Illinois

Dana Schaumburg, 35

Dana SchaumburgExecutive director, Downtown Danville Inc.

Community Involvement: Downtown Danville Rotary member and past president; Area 8 assistant district governor for Rotary International District 6490; Executive Club of Danville member/board member; volunteer for many community events.

Proudest professional accomplishment: The inaugural Taste of Downtown Danville event in September 2012.

I attribute my success to: Being honest, working hard and doing my best.

Best advice I can give is: Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: We all struggle with challenges so keep that in mind when working through issues with those you work with for a positive outcome for all involved.

My mentor is: Laura Williams. She has guided me and been a positive inspiration.

A word from the nominator: "Dana embodies what someone under 40 can do for their community. She's active in many ways while still raising a family -- a feat many feel they cannot accomplish. Dana does this with grace and is an example for others to follow." -- Jennifer Dixson, executive director, Danville Symphony Orchestra (one of three nominators)

Yavonnda Smith, 39

Yavonnda SmithPrincipal at Prairie Elementary School, Urbana

Community Involvement: Member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and Gamma Upsilon Society; member of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and church clerk, co-director of Baptist Youth Fellowship Ministry and Hospitality Ministry.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being named a Golden Apple Teacher in 1998, and being named principal at Prairie School.

Best advice I can give or have received is: If a task has begun, never leave it until it's done. Be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: That my sister named me when she was 3 years old.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: TEAMWORK is essential!

To relax I: Shop!

A word from the nominator: "She is dedicated, hardworking and seeks to help others first. She is an unsung hero in our community." -- Gayle Jeffries, assistant superintendent of human resources, Urbana school district

Sara Thompson, 34

Sara ThompsonDirector of the Illinois Leadership Center, University of Illinois

Community Involvement: United Way Emerging Community Leaders Program; Second Wind Running Club; volunteering when time permits.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Those moments I spend with students helping them build their self-confidence and see their leadership potential. Seeing leadership education grow and flourish on campus.

Best advice I can give or have received is: Always make one smart statement in each meeting you attend. Face new challenges and situations with fresh courage. Show up -- a lot can be said for being present and telling people you appreciate them.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I grew up on an egg farm.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: If you have done the work in the right way, others will spread the news. Holding on tightly doesn't produce success. You must share success with others to see it grow.

A word from the nominator: "Her supportive approach goes side-by-side with her high expectations of herself and others. People who work with Sara are immediately energized by her intelligence, integrity and commitment to excellence." -- Carol Bosley, retired University of Illinois administrative assistant

Rickey Williams, Jr. 34

Rickey WilliamsExecutive director, Boys & Girls Club of Danville

Community Involvement: Danville city alderman; Love, INC (In the Name of Christ) board member; Danville High School Restructuring Monitoring Committee; Vermilion Advantage board member; Community Church of God worship leader.

I attribute my success to: My faith in God, being raised well by parents who love me and a good work ethic.

Interesting fact you may not know about me is: I was the first black homecoming king at Millikin University.

Three people I'd want on my team are: If work, my mom, dad and sister. If sports (let's say football), Tony Dungy, Robert Griffin III and Larry Fitzgerald.

Most important lesson I've learned in my professional career is: Do what you said you would, when you said you would do it, and how you said you would do it. Integrity is imperative.

My mentor is: Mrs. Sybil Mervis

A word from the nominator: "He is hardworking and believes in investing in his community. He believes in better things for the youth in our community and the community itself." -- Deb Guidry, office manager, ESS Clean Inc.

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Editor's Note

Made in Central Illinois

It was a couple of decades ago when Champaign-Urbana first was referred to as the “Silicon Prairie.” A tech consulting company — Pixo, previously known as OJC Technologies — formed around that time and is one of the success stories of the Silicon Prairie. Pixo President Lori Patterson said Champaign-Urbana has been a fertile ground for companies such as hers, and the community has now developed a “tech ecosystem” where activities at the University of Illinois and the Research Park provide resources for local tech companies.

You can read in this issue about what makes Pixo unique and how it has grown.

Champaign County is home to many manufacturers as well, and our February/March issue featured several businesses that made products here for customers worldwide.

That story has spawned a new feature for Central Illinois Business — Made in Champaign County. We’ve partnered with the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. to feature an area business in each issue and tell you a little about who they are and what they do. And we’ll venture outside Champaign County so you’ll learn about businesses in neighboring counties too.

Jodi Heckel is editor of Central Illinois Business magazine. She can be reached at 217-351-5695 or jheckel@news-gazette.com.