Central Illinois Business Magazine
GOOD BUSINESS          October 2017

2017 Forty Under 40 winners


See cover story for Woman of the Year, Maghan Moslander and Man of the Year, Josh Whitman.

Congratulations to this year's class, 2017 Central Illinois Business magazine's Forty Under 40. Here are the winners!

Andrew Allen | 35

Director, Illinois Business Consulting

University of Illinois

Community involvement: I provide counseling to individuals and couples who struggling with personal problems such as difficulties in their marriage. I work with youth, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds - do social, athletic or spiri¬tual/faith building activities

I attribute my success to: My faith. My wife and family.

Interesting fact: I lived in Europe for 5 years (Switzerland, Spain) and hiked and skied in the Alps as much as possible.

Important lesson I've learned: Success is more likely to happen, and will happen faster when working together rather than trying to do it all alone.

Pivotal career decision: Rather than going into a corporate role out of my MBA program, I decided to start my own business in the higher education space. That changed the course of my career, eventually led me to the University of Illinois and set me on my current path in the field of experiential learning.

From the nominator: "On a regular basis, Andrew spends 15-20 hours per week dedicated to service to the community." - Eric C. Larson, University of Illinois

Sean Baird | 26


Watson's Shack & Rail

Community involvement: Alumni of United Way's Emerging Community Leaders program & supporter of various charities through Watson's.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being able to successfully launch two food service concepts since graduating from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2012.

Best advice to give or received: Always let your dreams be known to as many people as you can. The magic hap¬pens outside your comfort zone.

Interesting fact: I've been drumming since I was a kid and love live mu¬sic. I play in a band called Sambolo. Check us out at Pygmalion Music Festival this year!

Biggest career challenge: Taking an idea from my thoughts and find¬ing a way to make it real.

Pivotal career decision: Deciding to leave a previous successful busi¬ness. I knew I needed to take a risk on something new.

From the nominator: "He is business-savvy, a natural leader and headed for a bright future." - Rosemary Ferrara, A.G.M

Kurt Bloomstrand | 30

EMS Medical Director/Emergency Medicine Physician

Presence Covenant Medical Center

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being able to return to work as the medical director for the EMS system that intro¬duced me into the field of emergency medicine.

I attribute my success to: Having a strong support system both at home and at work. I wouldn't be anywhere without my wife, family, co-workers, mentors and teachers that guided me to where I am today. I am truly blessed to have such a great support system!

Best advice to give or received: To never give up on your dreams even when obstacles jump in your way. I am a true believer that things always happen for a reason.

Interesting fact: I became CPR-certified when I was 8 years old.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Passionate, caring and driven.

To relax, I: Enjoy walking my goldendoodle named Izzy with my wife.

From the nominator: "I most admire Dr. Bloomstrand's dedication. He is a lifesaver." - Forrest Heyman, Meyer Capel PC

Anna Benjamin | 35

Attorney and shareholder

Meyer Capel, P.C.

Community involvement: I currently serve as the president of the Champaign County Humane Society Board of Directors. In the past I have served on the board of the East Central Illinois Women Attorneys Association, volunteered for the Lawyers in the Classroom program, and worked with the Illinois State Bar Association on the Feeding Illinois campaign. I also take pro bono cases through the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, and serve as a guardian ad litem for chil¬dren in family law cases.

Best advice to give or received: As a law clerk years ago, I told a para¬legal I worked with that I was always thinking of one more thing to look into when working on research assignments. He told me that this was what made my work stand out and, essentially, to keep it up. To others I would say: Do that one extra thing, go the extra mile whenever possible.

From the nominator: "Anna is dedicated to excellence." - Alyx Parker, Meyer Capel PC

Collin Carlier | 34

Chief Operating Officer

Royse & Brinkmeyer Apartments

Community involvement: Fundraising events for breast cancer awareness (through Mills Institute), community leader in Toys for Tots collection as a drop-off site (we incentivize toys for tots by raffling off free rent to our residents in exchange for their generosity).

I attribute my success to: A love of the craft, competitive spirit and a general need to see people happy and fulfilled (employ¬ees, residents, and owners).

Pivotal career decision: I reached a point where I wanted to earn my MBA. I felt I had two choices: go back to school or to try to progress within Royse & Brinkmeyer. I worked with Bob Glasa (CEO) to create a third option that involved getting my MBA from UIUC whilst retain-ing my progress and responsibilities within the company. Carrying both objectives at the same time is the smartest decision I've made.

From the nominator: "He makes the work environment positive for his employees and lets them know they are appreciated with his kind heart and connections with them." - Marcia and Dan Carlier, parents

Matt Cho | 38

Principal of Cake Design Development, owner of [co][lab], co-founder of Adjacency, partner in SIPYARD, and Managing Director of Broadway Food Hall

Community involvement: I currently serve on the board of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., Cham¬paign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Ur¬bana Business Association, city of Urbana Zoning Board and City of Urbana MOR Design Review Board. I also recently became an entrepreneur-in-residence at Parkland College.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Working with the city of Urbana when everyone told me that it was impossible. It might not be perfect, but it's not impossible.

Interesting fact: I am red-green color blind so don't let me drive at night.

Biggest career challenge: Public speaking in front of large groups.

Important lesson I've learned: Don't text or write emails when you are upset.

Pivotal career decision: Coming back home to Champaign-Urbana.

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

From the nominator: "Matt is by far the primary person responsible for the revitalization of downtown Urbana." - Jonah Weisskopf, CEO Co-op Life

Colin DeCair | 33

Customer Experience Manager


Proudest professional accomplishment: I believe being a good corporate neighbor is what all professionals should strive for, supporting those communities that we call home. To this end, I'm fortunate that I have the opportunity to lead some incredible community efforts at Busey and work with a small team of like minded professionals on Busey's United Way committee. While it may seem like fun and games to most, we're able to plan events that engage the associate base with a cause greater than themselves, and our campaign contribution totals continue to grow as a re¬sult. I'm always amazed and never more proud of the company I work for as I am when we're able to share the results of another record-setting campaign.

Best advice to give or received: Pursue your passion and what makes you happy. The greater your own personal buy-in is, the more likely those around you are to feed off your energy and engage with what you're try¬ing to accomplish.

From the nominator: "So many people benefit by what he does in our com¬munity." - Nancy Suchomski, Director of Workplace Campaign Development, United Way of Champaign County

Scott Clanin | 26

Marketing Manager, JSM

Owner, Clanin Marketing

Community involvement: I currently serve on the board of directors for the Champaign Center Partnership, 40 North | 88 West, and as the board chair for the Urbana Business Association

Proudest professional accomplishment: Starting my business three years ago has been my proudest accomplishment. I started drafting business plans in college and finally made time to lay the founda¬tion of what my business has become today.

Best advice to give or received: Surround yourself with good mentors and advisors. There are so many amazing people in our community that can help steer you through challenging times.

Biggest career challenge: Trends in marketing and how consumers shop have changed drastically over the past five years. Ensuring we're proactive and ahead of trends has been the biggest but most rewarding challenge.

Important lesson I've learned: Don't be afraid to ask for help.

From the nominator: "Scott is a great example of the emerging leaders that are abundant in the community." - Jill Guth, owner, Guth & Associates

Lauren Dodge | 34

Director of Development

College of Education/University Laboratory Schools at Illinois State University

I attribute my success to: The example set by my parents - they are both hard-working, kind, positive and generous.

Best advice to give or received: From my husband - that achievement of big goals is possible if you can do one thing each day that moves you forward.

Important lesson I've learned: Making decisions is easy if you know who you are and what you stand for.

From the nominator: "Lauren delivers on a high level in her work. While at the University of Illinois, she raised more than $16 million in support of the university. In our work together, I witnessed firsthand how her drive and leadership inspire her colleagues to push themselves toward excellence. Lauren has a long history of involvement and giving back to the community." - Katie Harrell, University of Illinois Foundation

Carrie Eisenmenger | 36

Financial Adviser

Northwestern Mutual

I attribute my success to: Vision, determi¬nation, and a great group of family, friends, colleagues and mentors.

Best advice to give or received: Live your GOOD LIFE (be in the place you belong, with people you trust, doing the right work, on purpose). Life is too short to not love what you do!

Important lesson I've learned: Vision, plan, discipline: Spend time creating a vision for your life and building the plan that will get you from point A to B. Then have the discipline and courage to take the steps necessary to implement the plan and bring your vision to life.

Pivotal career decision: Northwestern Mutual is my home, but decid¬ing my path within the company was a pivotal decision. In the end, it came down to impact and I believe I will have the strongest impact on our community by helping people achieve financial security. That means different things to different people, but by having a plan on how to achieve it, people are positioned to lead life by design not default.

From the nominator: "Carrie is one of the hardest-working people I know." - Tina Davis, Northwestern Mutual

Katherine Johnston | 29

Human Resources Manager

Village of Rantoul

Community involvement: Girl Scout leader, Rantoul Recreation Theatre Program Director, Rotary Youth Leader¬ship Award Camp Instructor/Counselor, PMBA peer for the Illinois MBA Program, Rantoul Rotary volunteer, First Baptist Church Education Board - Special Events Chair, Rantoul Cancer Walk Volunteer, United Way Emerging Community Lead¬ers Graduate, Shop with a Cop volunteer, past president of Rantoul Theatre Group, and by participating in many other exciting activities that need volunteers.

I attribute my success to: Working hard, surrounding myself with won¬derful people, and being as kind as possible!

Best advice to give or received: Be involved in your community! My life has been enriched in so many ways by being involved with different volunteer organizations and I cannot say enough about how important it is to give back in whatever way you are able.

From the nominator: "Katie brings beautiful energy, talent and knowl¬edge of the community of Rantoul." - Jessica Holmes, Credit Union 1

Ahmed Khurshid | 36

Co-founder and principal engineer


Proudest professional accomplishment: Establishing our startup company Veriflow Systems based on a technology that I developed during my Ph.D.

I attribute my success to: Hard work and paying attention to details.

Best advice to give or received: If you work hard, success will follow. If you are passionate about what you do, you will succeed in the end.

Pivotal career decision: Resigning from the post of Assistant Professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology to work full time at Veriflow Systems. Although it was a hard decision to make as I love teaching, I wanted to see how far we can take Veriflow.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: A workaholic!

To relax, I: Watch TV.

From the nominator: "Ahmed's technical innovations and persistent dili¬gent work over a period of years created novel technology and a company that is now one of the hottest startups in enterprise networking." - Brighten Godfrey, co-founder of Veriflow

Laura Gerhold | 33

Chief Adviser

University of Illinois department of Aerospace Engineering

Proudest professional accomplishment: I have received the Engineering Council Excellence in advising award each year for the past five years. This award means more to me than most because it is voted on by the students. Knowing they find value in what I do makes me appreciate my job even more.

I attribute my success to: My parents. My parents raised me to follow my passion, which has led me to my current career. With each decision I have had to make, they have provided a sounding board for me to toss ideas off and given me the support and confidence to make a final decision that would make me the most fulfilled. They also showed by example how important it is to do what you love.

Best advice to give or received: To keep your options open and make decisions that make you happy. In your life, there will be pressure from lots of different directions, so it is important to make sure you are follow¬ing your gut and doing what makes you feel the best.

From the nominator: "I have not met a more understanding and caring person." - Emily Manganaro

Abby Hendren | 33

Senior vice president of Brand Strategies


Community involvement: Much of my involvement, and what I enjoy volunteer¬ing for the most, is through my work at my church and at my children's school.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Balancing a fulfilling career with being a committed mother to my three amazing children - Grant (6), Reid (4) and Briley (1).

Best advice to give or received: My men¬tor and the leaders I'm blessed to work with every day have been living examples of the fact that hard work can overcome most anything.

Important lesson I've learned: A servant attitude is a solid foundation for success as a leader. This level of commitment to serving and helping others brings out the best in people, instilling confidence and, often¬times, inspiring them to do more than they even thought possible.

From the nominator: "Abby has helped create an attitude of gratitude within our organization and throughout our community." - Christa Dub¬son, assistant vice president-corporate communications director

Bryan Lake | 37

Elementary instructional coach

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and Dr. Williams Elementary in Urbana

Proudest professional accomplishment: In 2012 I received The Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teach¬ing for my work with kindergarten scientists. The award came with the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other distin¬guished educators from across the country, participate in professional development with the National Science Foundation, and meet one of my heroes, President Barack Obama.

Best advice to give or received: Don't ever be afraid to ask questions, challenge the status quo, or stand for what you believe is right. Silence is often easier or feels safer, but not everyone has that privilege.

Biggest career challenge: Being a gay educator, I think the big¬gest challenge has been recognizing the need and urgency for safe and welcoming learning environments for all students and desiring to serve as a positive role model, including sharing my family openly, while still having to be cautious about the perceptions of others.

From the nominator: "He sees a need and he will be the first one to volunteer to help and solve the problem." - Jennifer Ivory-Tatum, Deputy Superintendent, Urbana School District

Michael Le Buhn | 33

Stand-up comic; Ranch hand/cowboy at Just Wright Farms; graduate student at Vanderbilt University

Community involvement: We are active in our church, I speak publicly on the issue of veteran suicide and my book "Heart of a Veteran," and I work as a stand-up comic all throughout the week.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I am most proud of earning the Presiden¬tial Service Badge for working in direct support of President Obama around the globe.

Best advice to give or received: Avoid selfish acts and you avoid shame.

Pivotal career decision: I recently decided to pursue a divinity degree from Vanderbilt University. I decided to pursue divinity because I believe that religion steers culture and our culture steers federal laws and policies. Our religions emphasize justice and if we can make justice the watchword of the faithful, justice in our laws and policies will be inevitable.

From the nominator: "He was diagnosed with PTSD after his tour in Iraq, and on returning to the United States, found resources for young war veterans suffering from this - and many other conditions - were se¬verely lacking." - Emma Dorantes, attorney and partner, Dodd & Maatuka

Emily Manganaro | 31

Officer, Financial Consultant

First Midwest Bank

Community involvement: I am an active member of Junior League of Champaign Urbana, C-U One to One Mentoring Pro¬gram, and have volunteered for Girls Go For It, Habitat for Humanity, American Heart Association and Carle. I am on the board of my condo association and was head of the alumni committee at Country¬side School.

I attribute my success to: My parents and grandparents. They set an amazing example for me with their drive, determination, work ethic and dedication to their professions. My grand¬parents were able to achieve levels of success their parents hadn't had the opportunity to, and thus taught my parents how to do the same, etc. I want to do well by their example and honor their efforts.

Best advice to give or received: Two things: 1) Never let anyone under¬estimate you, especially yourself. 2) Honor is earned, never given.

From the nominator: "Emily is deeply loyal to her clients, friends and family and is always looking for ways to help others." - Jennifer Bartlett, homemaker and 30-year friend

Jackie Martinie | 32

Vice president & Senior Credit Manager

Farm Credit Illinois

Community involvement: Graduate of the United Way's Emerging Community Lead¬er's program (class of 2011); Regular blood donation through the Central Illinois blood bank, miscellaneous things in Mahomet, pick up trash for Champaign County Forest Preserve, volunteer for kid's field trips, school donations; Salt & Light - sort donations.

Proudest professional accomplishment: I'm most proud of the internal credit training program that I created for our company. Various individuals have dedicated their time to make sure I have been appropriately trained for success, and this was my chance to pay it forward through the creation of a structured training program that could touch several trainees at one time.

Important lesson I've learned: My impact is so much greater when I'm able to positively influence the people around me rather than the actual projects I complete. The most rewarding experiences have been watching the people I've invested time and effort in succeed.

From the nominator: "Jackie has created a thriving team environment and has also empowered others to chase their dreams." - Kelly Loeschen,

Abby McDonald | 32

Second Grade Teacher and Head Volleyball Coach

St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph-Ogden High School

Community involvement: I coach vol¬leyball at our local high school and run a youth volleyball program in the winter and a youth volleyball camp in the summer. My family and I have volunteered in the past at a youth camp for limb different children in Duquoin, Illinois. My husband and I often volunteer at various events that our children are a part of.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Working alongside parents, students, co-workers and health professionals to meet the needs of students within my classroom. Having the opportuni¬ty to coach the SJO volleyball team and lead them to a second-place finish in the IHSA state volleyball tournament. We were able to bring home the first state volleyball trophy in school history and set a new school record with 31 wins and 4 losses.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: "A strong, loving, dedicated, and hardworking mother and wife. She strives to raise her family to follow Christ in every way." - Phillip McDonald (my husband).

From the nominator: "Abby is a committed to the growth and develop¬ment of students." - Carol Bosley, UI student affairs retiree

Chelsea Norton | 30

Director of Marketing and Communications

Champaign Park District

I attribute my success to: The support staff in my life and my support staff at the Champaign Park District. My parents gave me my outgoing nature and taught me to be kind to others, and that foundation got me here. My husband encourages me through uncertainty to be myself and do my best. At work, I am encouraged to be creative and try new things without the fear of failing. Many friends along the way have led me to where I am today. It's truly amazing to think about!

Interesting fact: At age 30, I have joined my first band - Whiskey Shad¬ows - with my husband and five other talented musicians. I play bass!

Biggest career challenge: I feel that being young in a position of leader¬ship has been a challenge. And the surprising thing is that the insecurities come more from within than any external comments or attitudes. When feeling challenged in this way, I just focus on staying true to myself and remember the work and support that got me here.

From the nominator: "Her excitement about Champaign's art scene spreads easily and quickly." - Joe DeLuce, Executive Director, Champaign Park District

Martin O'Donnell | 32

Senior vice president & Commercial Real Estate Team Lead, downstate Illinois


Best advice to give or received: It's amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.

Interesting fact: I'm all in on "A Song of Ice and Fire"/"Game of Thrones"

Important lesson I've learned: Treat people the way you want to be treated

To relax, I: Spend time with my wife, Emily, and our two kids.

From the nominators: "When Martin volunteers his time and talents, he doesn't do it for recognition. His sole reward is helping someone less fortunate, making a difference for a neighbor in need." - Erin Myers, Assistant vice president and assistant sales manager, Busey

"Since people are drawn to his positive demeanor, Martin develops lasting relationships. As a relationship builder, Martin is a great listener - offering positive feedback to facilitate the communication process - and is accepting of others, acknowledging uniqueness and building upon strengths." - Christa Dubson, Assistant vice-president, corporate communications director

Kimberly Otchere | 30

Program Director, Social Justice and Leadership Education

University of Illinois - University Housing

Community involvement: C-U One-to- One Mentoring Program; C-U Change Makers; Homestead Corporation of Champaign-Urbana; University YMCA Nominations Committee; C3 (Com¬munity, Campus, Connections) Program; George M. Pullman Educational Founda¬tion; Magnus Charitable Trust.

Proudest professional accomplishment: This past Spring my department was awarded the Outstanding Student Affairs program. I was overjoyed that collective work of our student leaders, paraprofessionals, campus col¬laborators and incredible professional staff team had been recognized for tireless work of living and leading for positive social change.

My partner/best friend/mom would describe me as: Silly, energetic, driven, "woke." Most notably, they know I am a social justice advocate, someone passionate about equity, and one who loves deeply.

From the nominator: "Kim is the sort of professional who inspires others to grow into the best versions of themselves." - Jennifer Bechtel, University of Illinois

Sonya Pasquini | 39

Vice president and downstate Illinois Manager

Chicago Title

Community involvement: Volunteer at/ through Richwoods Church, Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries of Central Il¬linois Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event, Daughters of the American Revolu¬tion events including Memorial Day ceremony and Vietnam War Commemora-tion Event. Presentations on various legal and industry topics to Peoria County Bar Association, Peoria Area Association of Realtors, and DAR Black Partridge Chapter. Troop leader for Girl Scouts of America.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Recently I had the oppor¬tunity to help a legal guardian overcome some underwriting hurdles to purchase a condominium for her disabled son. I also had the opportunity to facilitate an unconventional closing so a couple in their third trimester of pregnancy could get into their new house on an expedited basis and avoid having to make temporary living arrangements.

From the nominator: "Sonya's achievement, experience, innovation, lead¬ership and community involvement make her a very deserving recipient of the prestigious Forty Under 40 award." - Jimmy Ward, Chicago Title

Pookie Phetchareune | 31

Branch Manager/Loan Officer

Longview Bank

Community involvement: I am involved with the Special Olympic Illinois Area 8 Committee for the Polar Plunge and Golf Outing fundraisers. I am currently involved with Villa Grove Rotary Club, which has allowed me to start an Interact Club at Villa Grove High School. We have 15 juniors who are members and we're planning a com¬munity cleanup day to assist those who are unable to do the labor of the outdoor work.

I attribute my success to: I attribute my success to my parents. When we arrived in the United States with only a box of clothes for five people, many would assume that we would probably stay at the poverty level. My parents have worked in factories all over Champaign County. They de¬cided to take their future in their own hands and became entrepreneurs. They are now the owners of P.K. Jewelry, T. Garden Thai Restaurant and now Green G. Farm LLC. They are who I look up to.

Best advice to give or received: Do not live for tomorrow, live for today and do what makes you happy.

From the nominator: "She is constantly giving back to the community." - Maghan Moslander, Midstate Collection Solutions Inc.

Elisabeth Pollock | 36

Assistant Federal Defender and College of Law Adjunct Professor

U.S. Courts - Federal Defenders Office

Community involvement: I served on the Urbana Park District Advisory Commit¬tee from 2013-2016, and I have been a Board Member of the C-U One-to-One Mentoring Program since 2009. I have also been a mentor with the C-U One-to- One Mentoring Program since 2006. I am currently the chair of the Programming Committee for the East Central Illinois Womens Attorneys Association, and have been a member of that organization since 2006. Finally, I am the current vice president and one of the founding board members of the Univer¬sity Laboratory High School Alumni Association (UHAA), which was formed in 2016 to connect alumni across the world and provide continu¬ing support to the Uni High community.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being the first person in ap¬proximately 20 years to obtain a not guilty verdict in the Urbana Federal District Court.

From the nominator: "Liz is often the unsung hero. She provides services to those most in need." - Miranda Soucie, partner, Spiros Law

Ross Richards | 33

Director of Annual Giving and Marketing Operations

University of Illinois Foundation

Community involvement: Champaign West Rotary board member; United Way Emerging Community Leaders committee member; United Way Program Fund¬ing Review panel member; Champaign County Republicans executive committee member; Champaign County Chamber of Commerce public policy committee member; Illinois Marathon hydration station captain; Champaign County Freedom Celebration parade marshal; Rotary Leadership Institute graduate; ACE Leadership Program graduate

Proudest professional accomplishment: Beginning at the University of Illinois Foundation as an extra-help employee, continuing to advance, and putting in the work to have an opportunity to be selected as the director of my department.

From the nominator: "If Ross says he will do something, he shows up and sees it through to the finish." - Mary Noel Stefan, United Way of Champaign County

Prince Robertson | 36

Academic Support Program Specialist

University of Illinois, Office of Minority Student Affairs

Proudest professional accomplish¬ment: The proudest accomplishment(s) of my career was having the opportunity to travel to Ghana, West Africa. The personal growth of the experience abroad has inspired me in ways unheard of and has opened my eyes to a more in-depth concept of privilege. It has since led me to provide more for communities and families domestic and abroad. I have since devel¬oped and currently am funding two academic scholarships. The Barbara J. Craion Servant-Leadership scholarship worth $1,000 awarded through Delta College (Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Michigan) and the Prince F. Robertson Scholarship worth nearly $500 awarded through Calvary Hillcrest Schools in Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa.

Best advice to give or received: Stay humble, stay confident, and always be a blessing to others.

From the nominator: "Prince is passionate about working with youth and young people, especially those at risk." - Mallory Robertson, Choices Coordinated Care Solutions

Ryan Ross | 31

Coordinator, UI History & Traditions Programs

University of Illinois Alumni Association

Proudest professional accomplishment: I am currently overseeing the develop¬ment of the University of Illinois Welcome Center and will manage it after we open in spring 2018. My team and I are creating interactive exhibits that will show how the University has transformed and enriched lives for the past 150 years through tradi¬tions and innovations. We want the exhibits to represent as many colleges, departments and units as possible, so I have spent much of the past 18 months working with faculty, staff and alumni on campus to develop the stories that we will tell in the exhibits. That process has made the university feel much smaller and has caused me to understand how much potential the Welcome Center project has to bring the campus together. I grew up wanting to attend the U of I, earned two degrees here, and have been on campus for all of my (short) career, so I am very proud to lead the Welcome Center project.

From the nominator: "Ryan Ross is a human dynamo...He is incredibly smart, articulate and intellectually curious." - Joseph Rank, University of Illinois Alumni Association, retired

Kristen Sackley | 31

Director of Brand and Communications Strategy

Agrible, Inc

Community involvement: I am very involved with many organizations that pri¬marily benefit women and animals. I served on the management team of Junior League of Champaign-Urbana as the vice president of Finance, Schools Relations Coordinator and board member of Girls Go For It, Fur Ball committee member and board mem¬ber of the Champaign County Humane Society. Additionally, I am a member of the Young Ag Leaders at the Champaign County Farm Bureau, and the American Heart Association Go Red Passion Committee.

Proudest professional accomplishment: My proudest professional accomplishment was completing my Illinois MBA in 2012 and being awarded the Illinois MBA Extraordinary Achievement Award.

Best advice to give or received: "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected." I love this quote and have taken it to heart in my leadership roles.

From the nominator: "I've been so impressed with how much time and energy Kristen puts into her career and her volunteer work." - Cynthia Bruno, CSO, Agrible Inc.

Jacob Shaw | 39

Operations Manager

ESS Clean, Inc.

Community involvement: I am a member of the Savoy Rotary Club, where I have served as club service chair, and participat¬ed in activities including roadside cleanups along Route 45 in Savoy, food packs at Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Breakfast with Santa, among others. I have volunteered with Habit for Humanity, am a member of the Savoy United Methodist Church, where I have served on different commit¬tees, and have had the opportunity to help coach my daughters' basket¬ball and softball teams.

Best advice to give or received: I recently attended a leadership confer¬ence and received some great advice from the presenter, John Spence, who talked about "making the very complex awesomely simple." In his presentation, he gave the following examples of awesomely simple ways to be successful in life: 1) Show up on time 2) Do what you say you will do 3) Finish what you started 4) Say please and thank you 5) Always give a little more than what they expect.

From the nominator: "He is never shaken, always a steady and confident leader." - Ben Mast, Fertilizer Dealer Supply Inc.

Jami Spencer-Tanner | 32

General Education, Special Education and English as a Second Language Teacher - Urbana Early Childhood School

Community involvement: I enjoy giving what I can to the community. In the past, I enjoyed volunteering at church and mis¬sion trips. Currently, I volunteer through School District #116, 1:1 Mentoring, Crisis Nursery, Junior League and other organi¬zations throughout the community.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Receiving this award is an amazing ac¬complishment and I am so honored to be nominated and selected for this award.

Pivotal career decision: Going back to school in 2011 to receive my Special Education Endorsement. After much turmoil and failed attempts to get interviews within a chosen school district, I decided to take a huge leap of faith to go back to school. This opened up so many opportuni¬ties - most importantly being selected to work at my "dream" school. I student taught at this school in 2007 and fell in love with the program, children, parents and staff.

From the nominator: "Jami is a selfless woman who wants the best for everyone." - Katie Madigan, Tolono Schools

Zachary Sickler | 30


IdHair North America

Community involvement: I am the vice president of Red Hot Productions; a pro¬duction company that puts on several char¬ity shows and events throughout the year.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Receiving my first Commendation Medal and earning Senior Airman Below the Zone from the U.S. Air Force.

I attribute my success to: the many people who have mentored me in my pro¬fessional career and never being afraid of a little hard work.

Best advice to give or received: Most of life's greatest catastrophes never actually happen. Funny how most good luck is created by hard work.

Important lesson I've learned: To understand that in business there are peaks and valleys. Never get too excited about the successes or too down at the failures.

Pivotal career decision: To leave active-duty Air Force to come home and start our hair product distribution company.

From the nominator: "Zac has demonstrated that he will do whatever it takes to get the job done." - Brian Furry, IdHair North America

Ryan Thomson | 36

Community Life Coordinator

Community Choices

Proudest professional accomplishment: Building the Community Transitional Support Program at Community Choices. The program is for developmentally dis¬abled adults who need some assistance liv¬ing independently in the community. The program focuses on skills at home and in the community, finding and reaching out to community activities and opportunities for engagement, and generally being a part of the community rather than simply living in it.

Best advice to give or received: Listen more than you speak.

Important lesson I've learned: Simply how small but close-knit the social service community is in our community. I have worked with other professionals at nearly all other local non-for-profit agencies, and have only had the experience of immense cooperation and shared commitment to increasing opportunities and community capacity for all everyone in the community

From the nominator: "He is energetic and positive in all that he does!" - Ken Niebuhr, retired

Phillip Trautman, Jr. | 31


Champaign County Realty, LLC

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being awarded the Affiliate Choice Award for 2016. The Affiliate Choice award is awarded to a realtor member who has been determined to be pro-active, a benefit to work with, and provides outstanding con¬tributions to the real estate industry. The nominating panel is of affiliate members consisting of attorneys, lenders, home inspectors and appraisers. Also, a proud professional accomplishment is being elected to the board of directors for the Champaign County Association of Realtors. I also expended our family business, Appraisals By Trautman LLC, to the Chicagoland area in 2014. I'm very proud to have grown and expanded our business to new territories and increase revenues.

From the nominator: "PJ works diligently to make our community the best it can be." - Marissa Siebel-Sierro, IntelliWheels Inc.

Kellie Wahl | 33

Executive Director

Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce

Proudest professional accomplishment: Being a part of rebuilding an established brand at RACC. It is no easy task to conquer complacency. There is no greater accomplishment than taking something with strong bones and building from that foundation to create an even stronger entity. So many people make the mistake of trying to make something up, when the resources are right there in front of them the entire time.

Best advice to give or received: I am going to give the advice my mother gave to me after 40 years in real estate: "Not everyone is going to like you. It means you're doing something right."

Important lesson I've learned: Don't enter into anything without doing your research. Always be prepared for plan B, then C, then D. It's about the long game.

From the nominator: "Kellie's passion for community improvement is contagious." - Jasmyne Boyce, Self-employed

Bryan Wang | 37

Education Coordinator, Computational Science and Engineering

University of Illinois

Community involvement: Quest Church leadership team member; Champaign County History Museum board member; Montessori School of Champaign-Urbana board member (2013-2016). Volunteer photographer/videographer for various nonprofit organizations and events in Champaign-Urbana.

Proudest professional accomplishment: When people stare at the instructional materials I develop and say, "Wow. I love it! This is so helpful!"

I attribute my success to: I probably won't use the term "success." I have strong faith in God, and He has been guiding me through a journey full of challenges and amazing experiences. And my wife Connie has been prayer¬ful and extremely supportive when walking with me on this journey.

Best advice to give or received: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:9

From the nominator: "He is confident, talented, genuine and respected by all of us who know him." - George Cook, Montessori School of Cham-paign-Urbana

Skot Wiedmann | 37

Founder, Hyve LLC; Instrument & Measurement Technician III, University of Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering; Instructor, University of Illinois Art + Design

Community involvement: I teach soldering workshops where people learn to build their own electronic devices and increase their agency with the technology sur¬rounding them. I exhibit at Heartland Maker Fest and Makerspace Urbana to share my passion for making. I gave a talk at PechaKuchaNight Vol. 22 to connect ideas of humanity, technology and creativ¬ity. I shared my journey from creative inspiration to local entrepreneurship on our local community-operated radio station, WEFT 90.1 (http://tiny.cc/skotweft).

Pivotal career decision: Working with Alexis Wernsing was a pivotal moment for me. What started as an opportunity to work on a wheelchair-mounted voice amplifier that she could use to pursue her passion for teaching became one of the most meaningful relationships I have had in my career. Her approach to her teaching and her life in the face of adver¬sity continues to be felt by everyone who knew her.

From the nominator: "Skot's desire to help people around him under¬stand the ways that our creations and our dreams link us all as human beings is truly remarkable." - Molly McLay, University of Illinois

Luke Zwilling | 32

Senior Engineer and Co-Founder

Agrible Inc.

Proudest professional accomplishment: Making the world more sustainable, by working with farmers that grow our food and the companies that create our diverse array of foods in the grocery store.

I attribute my success to: Curiosity of how things work, which I attribute to my dad and his willingness to take apart almost anything to fix it.

Best advice to give or received: Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Need to set long-term goals and don't get shortsighted.

Biggest career challenge: Changing employers - going from an estab¬lished consulting company, to being self employed and then to a new technology startup (Agrible).

Pivotal career decision: Leave a stable job and become self employed. The decision was made to provide more time for my family.

From the nominator: "Luke strives not only to be the best when it comes to his commitment and passion for science, but he also puts others and their talents before himself, as all great leaders do!" - Katie Betz, Agrible Inc.

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