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Current Issue
September 2009 • Vol. 16 • Number 2


Current Issue
Current Issue
September 2009 • Vol. 16 • Number 2

Below and in the box on the left side of this page are some of the stories you'll find in the most current issue.

40Under40




Movers. Shakers. Progressive community, region and economy makers. The winners of our annual 40Under40 list are exceptional folks, no doubt. By your recommendation or sheer standout star power, hundreds of nominees came to our attention for countless reasons. But as we whittled down that initial list to the big 4-O, a singular attribute emerged: impact. Each winner is making an undeniably positive impact during one of the toughest economic times in history. No small feat, this. But one that makes us infinitely proud to be part of a place where people in the most impossible of times are seeing—and sparking—possibilities. Inside, we unveil the winners of the 2009 40Under40.

Myles Christian Anton

Executive Chef, Trattoria Stella

Bragging Rights: Opened Trattoria Stella 2004; Opened Bunker’s Wharf in Winter Harbor Maine 2003; Opened D’amatos’ Ann Arbor 1999; Numerous Food Network functions 1998-2000 working with Emeril Lagasse, Ming Tsai, Bobby Flay; Epicurean Classic 2004-2007 taught classes and represented at final dinner; featured in Savor Michigan cookbook, 2006; numerous write-ups in magazines and newspapers including 45th Parallel, Edible Grand Traverse, and Record Eagle. Winner Great Macaroni Cheese bakeoff numerous categories 2004-2006; winner Wisconsin Cheese Throwdown 2009

I Believe: The most important thing in being successful is to show up and be available for good results to happen.

Secret Weapon: Being in the right place at the right time with an open mind.

Turning Point: I broke my leg very badly in 1998 and was forced to stay out of cooking for a year. It made me realize that I was born to do this and motivated me to succeed.

Derek J. Bailey

Chairman of the Tribal Council, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians

Bragging Rights: Was the fifth seated Chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians since the Grand Traverse Band was reaffirmed as a native sovereign nation on May 27, 1980. I am the youngest Chair to date.

Proudest Moment: Meeting President Barack Obama and accepting his recognition of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians on July 14, 2009. This was a government-to-government moment—two sovereign nations, coming together, respectfully recognizing each other.

In the Club: Serve and have served on committees galore but am most proud of this: the three years as a Big Brother (part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America) while studying at Grand Valley State University in the mid-’90s.

Secret Weapon: Communication skills and a positive mental attitude! I try to be visible in the community always with a positive attitude. Plus I try to use technology (Twitter, Facebook, e-mail newsletter) to heighten that visibility for the Grand Traverse Band and the region.

No Guts, No Glory: The election process became a defining moment in my personal and professional maturity, as the Creator helped me reach my core self, discover who I am, giving me the ability to better lead. It was an opportunity to face the challenges of our electoral process and take a stand as a citizen to uphold the constitutional rights of our Tribal nation.

Diana Barrie

General Manager, City Opera House

Bragging Rights: In two years, I went from City Opera House volunteer, to program and events coordinator, to interim management to general manager. No one really knew the City Opera House was open when I started in 2007; we project 75,000 attendees for 2009.

Moonlighting: Real estate broker (licensed in Florida and Michigan); owner of real estate investment company, The Diana Group, LLC—named by my grandfather and mentor—since 2004.

Personal Motto: “Don’t big deal it, just do it”—these were the words of my grandparents as I was growing up and later when I worked for them. I try to keep that in mind every day.

Big Plans: I hope to grow the City Opera House—originally built as the people’s place in 1891. I hope to help facilitate cross-generational dialogue with the patrons that attend our shows, to expose the area’s youth to a new art, to work as a team member of the downtown, and to simply help people check out of the stress of life and into a few hours of laughter or delight. The best part of my job is the moment in the show when you notice the audience is enthralled with what is happening on stage. Seven hundred people laughing or cheering is what this building was made for.

No Guts, No Glory: I left my previous job with no plan, and started volunteering for the Film Festival and City Opera House. When the Programs and Events Coordinator position became available, I took it as an interim position. I immediately loved it like nothing I had done before and threw myself into it to learn everything I could. That changed everything. Bragging Rights: In two years, I went from City Opera House volunteer, to program and events coordinator, to interim management to general manager. No one really knew the City Opera House was open when I started in 2007; we project 75,000 attendees for 2009.

Moonlighting: Real estate broker (licensed in Florida and Michigan); owner of real estate investment company, The Diana Group, LLC—named by my grandfather and mentor—since 2004.

Personal Motto: “Don’t big deal it, just do it”—these were the words of my grandparents as I was growing up and later when I worked for them. I try to keep that in mind every day.

Big Plans: I hope to grow the City Opera House—originally built as the people’s place in 1891. I hope to help facilitate cross-generational dialogue with the patrons that attend our shows, to expose the area’s youth to a new art, to work as a team member of the downtown, and to simply help people check out of the stress of life and into a few hours of laughter or delight. The best part of my job is the moment in the show when you notice the audience is enthralled with what is happening on stage. Seven hundred people laughing or cheering is what this building was made for.

No Guts, No Glory: I left my previous job with no plan, and started volunteering for the Film Festival and City Opera House. When the Programs and Events Coordinator position became available, I took it as an interim position. I immediately loved it like nothing I had done before and threw myself into it to learn everything I could. That changed everything.

Brian Beauchamp

Policy Specialist, Michigan Land Use Institute

Bragging Rights: I’ve worked in Lansing, Ann Arbor and now Traverse City for statewide non-profits advocating for policies to protect the environment and quality of life in Michigan.

My Working Style: Is like a great haircut; it inspires confidence, can pull you out of a rut, and remind you that anything is possible.

Big Plans: Connecting and networking. I’m a big believer in the power of collaboration and the human network to solve problems and find solutions that work. I’m busy working on expanding and strengthening the network for our region and the state.

Secret Weapon: Make friends with your work, run off your worries, and never completely write off anything or anyone.

Shelly K. Bedford

CPA, MST; Partner, Dennis, Gartland & Niergarth

Bragging Rights: Named partner at age 34 in January, 2006—DGN’s second female partner in history. Heads up DGN’s 50-person tax department. Oversees DGN’s technology department and led firm’s transition to a paperless system.

Words of Wisdom: My dad used to say, “I’ll give you the tools, but it’s up to you to use them.” He challenged me from a very early age. He also showed great faith in my decision-making and always supported me in whatever direction I went. I strive to do the same for others.

Big Plans: To help DGN continue to grow and, especially, to retain our local ownership and follow growth opportunities that allow us to continue to give back and be involved in our community. That’s how DGN started 35 years ago; my goal is to make sure we keep growing and giving back for at least 35 more.

What Made Me: Pure determination. I always wanted to be an accountant, but there were many people along the way that told me I couldn’t do it, wouldn’t stick with it, or that I wouldn’t like it or be successful. Well, I did it, and I love it. The naysayers made me work that much harder to prove them wrong.

Allison Beers

Owner, Events North

Bragging Rights: I’m planning the inaugural Michigan Schooner Festival in September; have been a part of the Women’s Resource Center Extravaganza for the past five years, chairing for the last two years; and served as the Traverse City Film Festival Events Manager, planning at least six parties during the festival each year—many of which have been zero-waste parties.

In the Club: I am so proud to be a Rotarian; on the board of Directors Big Brothers, Big Sisters of NW Michigan; part of the advisory board and a co-chair for the Young Professionals development committee.

Me in Three Adjectives: Organized, friendly and organized … did I say that twice?

Shout Out: To my parents for not ripping me out of Albion College when I told them I wanted to plan events instead of sing. (I went to school as a vocal music major—really, do either sound super realistic?) Instead they embraced my new career path, learned about it with me, and my mom has helped me execute more than 20 events all over the country. Also to my husband for being so supportive and always having confidence in me. Also, I’m thankful that he’s a numbers guy and does my books for me.

Aaron K. Bowron

Attorney, Zirnhelt & Bowron, P.L.C.

Bragging Rights: Member of the Michigan and Arizona State Bars, editor of the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association (GTLA) Newsletter, Leadership Grand Traverse 2007 graduate, licensed private pilot since age 18, certified Scuba Diver, avid motorcyclist, licensed amateur radio operator, can unicycle and juggle at the same time!

In the Club: Serve on Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, Kalkaska County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association Board of Governors, Traverse Area Historical Society Board of Directors.

Do Goodin’: Volunteer attorney at Third Level Legal Aid Clinic, also volunteer with United Way and Junior Achievement.

Personal Motto: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” —H.D. Thoreau.

Secret Weapon: A supportive family and a sense of humor.

Chris Bzdok

Lawyer, Olson, Bzdok & Howard

Bragging Rights: I spent the first decade of my career litigating environmental and land use cases in Northwest Michigan, Detroit, Manistee and Muskegon. Half my work is now devoted to renewable energy and energy efficiency, primarily representing environmental groups in utility cases in Lansing.

Moonlighting: Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University College of Law; City Commissioner, Traverse City.

Personal Mottos: “Lawyers are either social engineers or else just mercenaries.” —Justice Thurgood Marshall. And “Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.” —Ani Difranco.

Big Plans: As a lawyer, I hope to continue doing hard cases for the right reasons and playing a small role in making the future better than the present. In November I hope to be elected Mayor of Traverse City, where I hope to work with other dedicated, forward-thinking people to help our city reach its full potential.

Secret Weapons: The people in the organizations that Olson, Bzdok & Howard represent. I have been blessed to work for and learn from some of the bravest, smartest, most honorable people anywhere: from the Friends of the Cedar and Crystal Rivers, to the Acme Township Board, to the Michigan Environmental Council and the Leelanau Conservancy, to the residents of South Dearborn and the Gateway Communities of Southwest Detroit.

Dr. Jessica Carden

Founder of Revive Chiropractic, PLLC

Bragging Rights: In two years, I founded Revive Chiropractic in Glen Arbor, and have branched out to serve patients at Union Yoga of Lake Leelanau, and at the Beaver Island Rural Health Center. My husband, Jesse, and I served the people of Madagascar by bringing chiropractic there for the first time in history.

In the Club: I will soon begin serving my profession as the secretary of the American Chiropractic Association Pediatrics Council, a group that advances awareness of the efficacy of chiropractic care in newborns, kids and expecting moms. Chiropractic enhances kids’ lives tremendously—as treatment and as prevention—and I feel honored every time a parent asks me to check their child.

Working Style: I have excessive optimism (they think it’s pathological).

Big Plans: Through Gen Netxt, the Leelanau Chamber’s tech accessible network, we’ll help create a sustainable economic future in Leelanau, so our grandkids will be able to live and work here. Buying locally and supporting one another’s businesses is the only definite way to secure our future as a community.

Secret Weapon: Cheerful attitude, priceless smile, constant communication (i.e., iPhone).

Smartest Move: My husband invited me to move here in 2007. I created a business that became my dream job: I help people take their lives back every day. I feel lucky to live where others vacation, play in the great outdoors and enjoy the most beautiful scenery on my commute. Best of all, I get to come home to my own chiropractor and feel the support and understanding that only he can give me.

Matt Case

Director of Support Services, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies

Bragging Rights: 2007 Realtor of the Year, TAAR; 2004 Manager of the Year, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors; Rookie of the year 1999; top producing agent for the past seven years.

Personal Motto: “A clean stable is the sign of a dead horse.” (Anyone who has seen my office will understand.)

In the Club: I’m very proud of my service as past president and current RPAC Chair of the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS®, as well as my work with the strategic planning and executive search committees. I feel I have had a real impact in molding the future of the organization.

Secret Weapon: A creative brain that won’t turn off, the ability to “work a room” and a metabolism that yields lots of energy.

Shout Out: My family. Dad is the best among many best friends, Mom encourages my brain and continued growth, and my wife, Tammy, loves, supports and tolerates me even when I don’t deserve it. My three sons keep me sane and focused on what matters.

Smartest Move: I decided not to pursue a career in my father’s Chrysler dealership and left the auto business, which allowed me to discover my calling in real estate. I still follow the auto business, and there are opportunities ahead, but wow—what a tumultuous few years it has been in that industry.

Tyler Cerny

President, Strata Design

Bragging Rights: Steering Team Member: Northwest Michigan LEAN Consortium—one of the only and best programs in the country formed to get companies and people exposed and trained in LEAN manufacturing practices; LEAN Trainer for NMC Training & Research; President of Strata Design.

In the Club: I am totally honored to be working with Bay Pointe Church Elders Board—such a great group of people at such a great organization—toward a driven mission. Also, a founding member of NWSlabtown Block Party Planning Team.

Working Style: I have been called “the hands-on Jimmy Stewart.” I love to get involved in the operations as a coach, but I love to represent the company in the marketplace as the honest, hardworking guy that will help our customers be successful—just like George Bailey [of the 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life.]

Big Plans: We want to smartly grow Strata Design as the quality, low-cost provider for casework and millwork in the Midwest. This will allow us to continue to add good paying jobs to northwest Michigan.

Luckiest Break: Finding a company in Traverse City with a team like we have at Strata Design and buying it from a guy like Chuck Cady.

Kevin Endres

P.E., Owner, Three West Commercial Real Estate

& Consulting; Founder, filegofer.com

Bragging Rights: MSPENorthern Chapter “Young Engineer of the Year” 2004; youngest shareholder in my previous company’s history; five kids in eight years.

In the Club: Munson Medical Center Biomedical Ethics Committee; Junior Achievement Board of Directors, Chairman of the Board; Grand Traverse Republican Party Executive Committee Member; Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) Board of Directors; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee, NDFG DevelopMentor Panel, Leadership Grand Traverse Program Graduate.

Motto: When people ask how I’m doing, I always respond, “Living the Dream!”

Secret Weapon: Relationships and Networking! I don’t think people realize that building business relationships and strategic partnerships takes a long time and a lot of effort. I have spent years building my network, and I don’t think I could put a price on that.

Shout Out: No. 1 is my beautiful wife. There is no way I could have done what I have up to this point without a wife who is 100 percent supportive of the path we have gone down (even at times when it seems like it may have been the wrong path). The others are my parents. They have always provided strength, support and prayers when needed. My mother watches our kids everyday so that we can put as much time and effort into our business. This support is invaluable to our success.

Nathan J. Glidden

Director, Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College

Bragging Rights: I have held a position in the hospitality-management field since I was 20 years old. When I was 25 I was given the helm of an 80-year-old private club in southwestern Michigan, making me—at the time—the youngest club manager in the state.

Pride and Joy: The Hagerty Center is attracting an increasing number of conferences throughout Michigan—good for the local economy. This year we were a finalist in Michigan Meeting & Events Magazine’s “Best of” awards for best meeting/event venue outside of Detroit (without a hotel). The other two finalists? DeVos Place and The Lansing Center. Not bad competition!

Motto: I subscribe to a motto that my dad taught me: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Luck is great, but as the saying goes, it is simply the point where preparation meets opportunity—you create much of the luck that comes your way.

Secret Weapon: Work hard, listen to what other people have to say, keep your eyes and ears open, and always make decisions in the best interest of your organization. They’re all very simple ideals, but many people forget them all the time.

Shout Out: Growing up with my parents was like winning the lottery. I don’t mean that in terms of money, but rather in the things that really matter in life. They taught me about things like work ethic, honesty, loyalty, perseverance and how to genuinely take care of people—pretty important for someone in hospitality.

Christy M. Jonkhoff

Funeral Director, CFSP,

Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home

Bragging Rights: Sixth-generation funeral director; first female funeral director in my family to continue the legacy of excellence in funeral service; recently received my Certified Funeral Service Practioner (CFSP) designation, which required 120 hours of continuing education; Secretary/Treasurer for the District 8 Michigan Funeral Directors Association.

In the Club: I am on the board of the Traverse City Junior Golf Association, the new Grand Traverse Center and—most exciting—the co-chair on the Traverse City Chambers Young Professional (YP) Board. When I first came back to Traverse City, I was convinced that only people my parents age existed here. In reality, we have a huge group of young people in the area anxious to network and make friends.

Motto: “Life is too short” fits what I do in my profession. I see people of all ages pass away, and it helps to put the frustrating things in life back into perspective and enjoy whatever the world throws at you.

Turning Point: The major turning point in my life was my junior year playing golf at Michigan State: I finally decided that a professional golf career was not something I wanted. I love the sport, but most people make it so competitive and ruthless that friendships are lost. I love people, and especially, helping them. That's when I decided that I wanted to be a funeral director. Being a funeral director I get to meet all kinds of different people on a daily basis, and the best part is that most of them still like me at the end of the day.

Deb Lake

Executive Director, Traverse City Film Festival

Bragging Rights: The volunteers at the film festival are the ones who deserve the credit and praise. I just try to keep their efforts coordinated and find great movies.

OK, If I Must: There are no other film festivals of our size around the world that run with just two paid staff people like ours does, and we are also running the State Theatre year round, so we have our hands full.

Shout Out: I am lucky to work with Michael Moore and the great volunteers in our area.

Secret Weapon: I work at least 100 hours a week year round—and many more hours when the festival is happening.

Leland Michaels

Senior District Manager, Junior Achievement

of the Michigan Great Lakes

Bragging Rights: I was a board member for Junior Achievement downstate and moved to Traverse City in the summer of 2007. I was recently promoted to Senior District Manager—responsible for Junior Achievement programs in 15 counties in northern lower Michigan. It was something that I hoped would happen in five years, but it happened in two.

I Believe: Our youth are our future, and I see myself as someone who can help open their eyes to what life can be like after high school and college. Thanks to technology and a global economy, the roles of business and commerce are changing before our eyes. I believe that for the next five years, there will be immense opportunity for people to create their own success through innovation and thinking entrepreneurially.

Do Goodin’: I have been part of the United Way Citizen Action Team for the last two years— a great way to impact philanthropic efforts in our community—and part of the Leadership Grand Traverse class of 2009—a program that is far beyond anything that I have seen hosted in other communities. Both require a lot of work but are very rewarding.

Motto: “The path of least resistance does not lead to greatness.” In other words, low-hanging fruit doesn’t change the world. It’s important to make sure the simple things get done, but if that is all you do, you will never leave a legacy or inspire anyone to excel.

Benjamin Marentette

Deputy City Clerk, City of Traverse City; Executive Director, City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority

Bragging Rights: Awarded entrance into the Interna-tional Master Municipal Clerk Certification Academy in 2008. I am currently working on designation as a Master Municipal Clerk, the world’s highest level of certification for City Clerks and Deputy City Clerks.

I Believe: The purpose of human life is to help others and show compassion, and I try to live this every day. Also, with the tremendous volume and variety of tasks that our office and the city handle, I believe that organization is the key to happiness!

Big Plans: : In my professional capacity, I have an amazing chance to encourage the participation of others in their city government and local government as a whole —by treating others and their issues with sincerity, respect, impartiality, and by having a consistent and strict eye for the details and really knowing what I do. When government is open, balanced, honest and responsible, people believe in it—and I see that as an opportunity I have every day.

Turning Point: After a short time serving as a customer service representative in the City Treasurer’s Office, I was offered the position I have today. I was kindly told by the City Clerk that it wasn’t my job experience or credentials that landed me the job but the impression I made as a dedicated, careful person with a helpful spirit. My position has evolved tremendously, and I can’t imagine I would have been hired if the position was then what it is today. I consider it a lucky break and an opportunity I seized—even though, at the time, it was way outside of my comfort zone. I learned from that and continuously try to put myself outside of my comfort zone to learn and experience whatever I can.

Matt McCauley

Director for Regional Planning and Community

Development, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG)

Bragging Rights: Initiated the NWMCOG's 3e Program—regional economic development strategies focused on renewable energy and freshwater; author

of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Economic Forecast, and convener (read: person who calls the meeting) of the Grand Vision.

In the Club: American Planning Association, Manistee River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, a Leadership Grand Traverse Day Chair and member of the United Way board.

Me in Three Adjectives: Positive, willing, committed.

Big Plans: To facilitate and be part of community-based initiatives that further the goal of creating a highly prosperous region.

Secret Weapons: A positive willingness to switch between being a leader or follower as the situation demands.

Lucky Break: I was fortunate that my career at the NWMCOG began with the first—and only—interview I did as I was finishing up my

graduate degree at Grand Valley State University.



Beth Milligan

Young Professionals Coordinator, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

Bragging Rights: Official blogger for the Traverse City Film Festival and State Theatre; Community Outreach/PR Manager for Porterhouse Productions; licensed insurance agent; as YP Coordinator, I developed the chamber’s Young Professionals program from 75 to 800+ members in about one year.

I Believe: If you care about your community, sitting on the sidelines is not an option.

Motto: “Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.” You never want to be overly difficult to work with, or continually try and fix what’s not broken, but you can’t be afraid to challenge process and tradition.

Big Plans: I’m launching my own company this month with a focus on working with organizations that promote creative economy jobs and attract young talent to the region. I’d love to see Traverse City become a hotbed of artistic talent—the next Austin or Seattle.

Secret Weapons: Confidence and a willingness to challenge the status quo. I’m not afraid to ask for the opportunity to prove myself, or to try something new. Too often, individuals in their 20s think they can’t make an impact, or are afraid to speak out, or believe they have to put in their dues to earn a place at the table. I don’t believe age is a reliable signifier of competency or ability. You need to respect each generation and seek out more experienced viewpoints for guidance, but you can’t undervalue your own contribution to the process.



Alex Mowczan

Owner/President of Summerside Properties, LLC

Bragging Rights: Bought first hotel, Best Western Four Seasons, at age 29. Acquired three more hotels, an apartment complex, and a construction company since. Employs almost 100 people. Do Goodin’: This year, the staff at each hotel chooses a local charity—Best Western supports Cherryland Humane Society, Comfort Inn supports Father Fred, and Cambria Suites supports Habitat for Humanity. The employees donate time; the hotel donates resources (monetary or tangible). In the past we’ve supported Women’s Resource Center, House of Hope, and Goodwill Industries.

Personal Motto: He who cares, wins.

My Working Style: Like a grandmaster chess world champion—intelligent, persistent, and with a long-term internal motivation to excel.

Shout Out: My parents, Nikki and George Mowczan, were amazing people who believed in me and all of my big dreams. As a child they always told me “you can achieve anything you set your mind to” and they meant it. They taught me to put other people ahead of myself and encouraged me to believe in myself.

Inspiration Point: As a child, my family would visit the Mom & Pop hotels in Traverse City. The owners were always caring and kind and obviously loved their job and customers. I told my parents at 7 years old that I was going to own one of those hotels in Traverse City some day. Of course, they always believed in me.

Meg Murphy

Director of Public Relations,

FAST Physical Therapy & FAST Fitness

Bragging Rights: I assisted FAST in winning the 2009 Hagerty Small Business of the Year. I am a coach of the NorthStars (Northern Michigan’s premier girls soccer club) and the U12 NorthStar Academy Green Team, as well as a NorthStar Board Member. I've served as assistant coach (2008) and head coach (2009) of the Glen Lake School Girls Varsity Soccer Team.

Pride & Joy: I am extremely proud to be a girls soccer coach in this community and be a mentor for young female athletes. I feel that I am teaching these women skills on and off the soccer field. I also feel honored to help parents grow successful, effective, passionate, well-organized adults who know what it takes to succeed—and who are not afraid to compete to achieve. My best moment? I led the 2009 Glen Lake Girls Varsity Soccer Team to its best record in the school’s history (17-4). For the first time in the school’s history, we beat Suttons Bay, the biggest rival—twice.

In the Club: Volunteer Chamber Ambassador; Young Professional Advisory Board Member; Young Professionals Social Events Committee Member.

My Working Style: I float like a social butterfly—working, coaching, going to chamber and Young Professionals events—and sting like a bee—I am tenacious and extremely competitive on and off the soccer field.

Secret Weapon: Jumping jacks—before every big sales presentation, big meeting, big interview or big game. And coffee. I drink it all damn day long.

Laura Oblinger

Senior Vice President,

Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

Bragging Rights: Through the work of volunteer leadership, committees, member experts and other staff members, I have led processes that introduced new communications to our members—weekly e-News, social media, specific event and program direct mail, enhanced printed communications, the first ever Chamber awareness advertising campaign; grew many of the chamber’s existing events and programs—among them the Business Expo and Business After Hours.

Me in Three Adjectives: Passionate, determined, confident.

In the Club: I’m frankly a bit proud that I protected my balance of time to not include a long list of affiliations. I only have so much time to spread professionally without jeopardizing my quality time with my family and personal life. Therefore, my hours beyond my workload at the chamber is dedicated primarily to …

Do Goodin’: One of my proudest accomplishments within the past year was the completion of my training as a Stephen Minister. I am a proud member of the Central United Methodist Church, which is home to a strong and committed Stephen Ministry program. As a Stephen Minister, I work with leaders and other Stephen Ministers to provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around our congregation.

Inspiration Point: Nearly 15 years ago, my talented, loving and vivacious mother passed away of breast cancer. Since her death, my passion for success and happiness in whatever I do is inspired by her life. She was a woman that led an admirable life—her love for people, happiness and success are all characteristics I’m proud to have inherited. It is the belief that she is watching my success and happiness that keeps me striving for more.

Megan Olds

Associate Director,

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Bragging Rights: I serve both as the Conservancy’s operations manager and fund development director. Our active land protection campaigns across the region total $18.4 million and include efforts to protect significant dunes and a 1/4 mile of Lake Michigan shoreline within the Village of Elberta; to reinvent, protect, and enhance a mile-long stretch of the Grand Traverse Bay shoreline at the gateway to the region in Acme Township; to support the creation of a new public natural area on the Old Mission Peninsula; and to conserve land along the Boardman and Betsie Rivers that protects water quality—which makes for some happy anglers and supports our tourism economy.

Me in Three Adjectives: Optimistic, adaptable, sincere. I have a pretty relentless internal drive and ambition to do good work and self-improve. My mom tells this story of when I was a little kid learning to write my letters: I practiced—writing and erasing—so many times on a piece of paper that I actually tore a hole in the page from the repetition.

I Believe: Empowering other people is important. I never think of myself as the “expert” in any room, and I try to hire and surround myself with folks who are smarter than me or who have a different perspective than I do.

Secret Weapon: Seeking out work that matches my values, focusing on building relationships, being assertive and confident when making decisions, and being comfortable with change and uncertainty.

Lucky Break: That I have the honor of devoting my skills and energy to this work every day—it’s a gift.

Colleen Paveglio

Marketing Director, Traverse City Downtown Development Authority

Bragging Rights: This past year, I am most proud of two projects: the new Wayfinding system in Downtown Traverse City, and the recycling program implemented in August 2009. Downtown Traverse City will be one of the first in the state of Michigan to recycle on a permanent basis. I’ve dreamt of this for a long time, and it’s great to finally make it happen. We even hired a local company, Ace Welding, to construct each receptacle. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Do Goodin’: I volunteer for various organizations within the community. However, because I run so many community events annually, I’m the one seeking volunteers. If anyone is interested—colleen@downtowntc.com.

Secret Weapon: I would like to say that I am organized, but by the looks of my desk, no one would ever believe that statement.

Smartest Move: The move to Traverse City after graduating from Michigan State University. I had no job or place to live—thank goodness for family—but worked very hard, sometimes two or three jobs at a time, to get where I am today. The DDA hired me at the age of 26, and I am so thankful to be working for an organization that has a positive impact on our community.

Peter Payette

News Director, Interlochen Public Radio

Bragging Rights: On a dozen occasions or so, I’ve filed reports for NPR for national broadcast. That’s something you tell your mom about. I’m also proud when we win awards for work done by community producers and interns. I expect my staff to win, but it’s fun to win for contributions produced by people who don’t do this for a living.

In the Club: I just finished two years as the president of the Traverse City Cooperative Preschool. I am a firm believer in play-based education for young children, with heavy parental involvement. I think children flourish if they are given generous amounts of time to engage the world at their own discretion with their parents around.

Big Plans: I do have a concept (and a name) for a regional magazine I’d like to publish, but no idea how to develop a business model. I don’t have any spare time either. I’d also like to start a cooperative elementary school.

Inspiration Point: After nearly a decade, I see that being settled is critical to success. It’s easier to understand what goes on in a place you know well, and it takes a few years to know any place at all. That’s why the long knowledge of journalists like Bob Allen, Dave Miller and Jeff Smith is such an asset to our region.

Sam Porter

Owner, Porterhouse Productions

Bragging Rights: Founded Porterhouse Productions; Obvious Advertising & Marketing; Northern Rockies Bioneers Conference (NRBC) and the BORN Network (NRBC’s not-for-profit home); served as president of Ted Turner’s youth foundation, Bozeman Youth Initiative; sold 40,000+ tickets to events; studied hand percussion and folkloric music in India, Cuba and Latin America.

Big Plans: I’m in the beginning stages of developing The Good Work Collective (goodworkcollective.org), a youth empowerment organization in the Traverse City area, and TC Youth Productions (tcyouth.org), a youth empowerment productions-based organization that aims to run parallel with Porterhouse Productions. One of my visions is to create a “great good place,” a business that is locally hand crafted for people to celebrate and enjoy food, drinks, family and music, arts, ideas and community.

Me in Three Adjectives: Juggler, doer, giver. I’m one who can manage 20 projects at once. My ability is to have ideas and to follow through with them. And it’s not about me—it’s about making the world a better place.

Shout Out: Behind every good person, there’s a really, really great person. The woman I married, Abby Walton Porter, is my really, really, really great person.

Luckiest Break: I’m still looking for it … anyone interested in investing? Contact me at sam@porterhouseproductions.com.



Alexandra Rheinheimer

Co-founder and co-producer of the Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival;

Vice president of Horse Sports by the Bay, Inc.

Bragging Rights: Alongside my husband, Dean, and our army of dedicated staff, I’m responsible for the implementation and production of the Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival —which, in its six-year history, is now one of Traverse City’s largest sources of summer tourism dollars. If I weren’t doing this I’m sure I’d either be a wedding planner or a conductor to a 1000-piece orchestra.

In the Club: Licensed United States Equestrian Federation Show Jump Judge, which, in a field that’s mostly dominated by older men, is an accomplishment in itself!

Motto: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this” – Joan of Arc

Big Plans: I look forward to increasing the number of events that take place out at Flintfields and to exposing the park to the many other equestrian disciplines that have yet to discover Traverse City and northwest Michigan. I also look forward to joining the newly formed Acme Business Association. Acme and the surrounding east side have unlimited potential for growth.

Secret Weapon: My tenacity. As my personal fitness trainer keeps telling me, “There’s no quit in that body.”

Mike Richey

Attorney, Michael A. Richey, PLC

Bragging Rights: Practicing law since 2002; licensed in Florida and Michigan; started own law firm in 2009; named a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine in 2008; obtained a Certificate in Family Law from ICLE in 2008; completed General Civil Mediation training in 2009; completed Collaborative Divorce training in 2009.

Do Goodin’: Third Level Crisis Center Legal Aid Night, Volunteer Attorney; Conflict Resolution Services, Volunteer Mediator.

Pride and Joy: I am particularly proud of my affiliation as an Adjunct Professor at NMC because I get to interact with students and hopefully motivate some to consider a career in law.

Motto: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Turning Point: My father passed away from misdiagnosed cancer when I was 14. From that tragedy, I learned a lot about life and myself in general. Most notably, I was inspired to “do something” with my life at an early age, and so far, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish.

Sarna Salzman

Executive Director, SEEDS Ecology,

Education & Design

Bragging Rights: Just awarded MLUI’s Milliken New Generation Leadership Award; SEEDS celebrated 10th Anniversary with a huge potluck party on the Minervini’s Piazza; Live in Minervini-ville; just turned 35 and still have yet to own my first car; Old Town Playhouse let me play Magenta in the Rocky Horror Show.

In the Club: Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University College of Law; City Commissioner, Traverse City.

Personal Mottos: Board member of Oryana Natural Foods Cooperative. I wish more people had an opportunity to learn about cooperatives and credit unions because cooperative economics is a very functional system.

Do Goodin’: I mostly volunteer with for-profit institutions that I believe in like Yana Dee Catering and the Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery.

Me in Three Adjectives: Grassroots, non-toxic, more fun.

Secret Weapon: Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. And Gary Howe.

Smartest Move: Helping start the Great Lakes Bioneers. The annual conference—our eighth this October!—connects local change makers and international inspiration, and results in a growing, powerful network that believes in grassroots, nontoxic fun.

Mike Schmidt

President, Coldwell Banker Schmidt

Family of Companies

Bragging Rights: Our company was fouth in the country for Coldwell Banker, which boasts 109,000 sales associates offices in more than 3,700 offices in 47 countries and territories. (There are more than 700 Coldwell Banker offices outside of the United States.)

Do Goodin’: I have scaled way back on these to focus on my board at home—my 4- and 5-year-old boys and my wife, Lisa—but I have been former board member of National City advisory board, the State of Michigan Commercial Realtor Board, Detroit Area Commercial Board Member, Coldwell Banker Commercial National Advisory Board Member, and am currently part of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) of West Michigan group.

Big Plans: I just really want to be a part of an organization—one where people respect what we do and tell my sons and grandkids how much their dad and granddad is respected as a person versus a businessperson.

Secret Weapon: I rely on having smarter people around me—they make me look good. I love a team atmosphere that likes to win.

Luckiest Break: I got a really great job after college as a commercial broker in Chicago. I learned a very good work ethic and gained a lot of knowledge from some of the top brokers in the country.

Trevor Tkach

Business Development Manager,

National Cherry Festival

Bragging Rights: Elected to The National Cherry Festival Board of Governors in 2006 during the festival’s governance change. Three months later, Tom Menzel hired me on to staff. I invented the question mark.

Pride and Joy: Former Whitecaps Baseball Account Executive and Senior Account Executive. I received a Midwest League Championship Ring in 2005 when the team won—it’s huge, and I’m afraid to wear it.

Mottos: Fresh out of college, the president of the company I was working for used these words of encouragement that stuck with me: “Find out what they want and #%^@* give it to them!” Also, the president of the Whitecaps used to remind me, “Nobody loves you but your mama.” That’s a good reality check.

Big Plans: It is an honor to work for the National Cherry Festival. The economic impact that an eight-day festival has on a region is amazing. My goal is to help more businesses take advantage of the Festival’s success and help all of our guests have more fun.

Shout Out: My 3-year-old daughter. We have excellent conversations that help me come back down to earth. I’m a more balanced individual thanks to my wife and two children.

Chris Treter

Director, Higher Grounds Trading Co.

Bragging Rights: Co-founder of Higher Grounds Trading Co.; recipient of Michigan Small Business Development and Technology Center’s award for northern Michigan’s Best Small Business of Year, 2008; Pioneer License Award from the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; recipient of Northern Michigan Environmental Action Coalition’s Environmental Business of the Year Award in 2009.

Do Goodin’: Currently raising $50,000 to build a middle school in Yrgacheffe, Ethiopia. Work actively with Mayan indigenous people in Chiapas, Mexico, to fund and build potable water projects for those without access to water. I donate time and energy to build community in our Grand Traverse region.

Secret Weapon: Continued inspiration by growers and indigenous peoples who fuel our struggle to create a business model that is focused on social justice and environmental sustainability while offering consumers the best cup of coffee available anywhere.

Tonya Wildfong

Vice President / Director

Team Elmer’s

Bragging Rights: Organized record-breaking World's Largest Cherry Pancake Breakfast at the National Cherry Festival for Team Elmer's 50th anniversary. The volunteer team, including National Cherry Festival members, Team Elmer’s volunteers, and other local dignataries, fed 5,162 people in one hour and forty-five minutes. I once chose to run 13.1 miles (Mackinac Island half marathon) and no one was chasing me. I might wait until someone is chasing me before I do it again.

Personal Motto: Every day above ground is a good day.

Secret Weapon: Our team. Our team working together is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s amazing to watch them in action.

Isaiah Wunsch

Owner ISA Apples; co-owner The Goodness

Tree Fruit Company

Bragging Rights: I was able to fund most of my education at the University of Michigan by selling locally produced apples at the wholesale level and by using the same connections to buy, resell and deliver assorted fresh fruit to my classmates.

I’m like a: Juggler. At this stage in the game, I’m keeping my business interests relatively simple in order to keep them synchronized with each other and with my academic obligations.

Big Plans: I hope to study law beginning in 2010, and to use my legal background to move regional products into the global sphere, insuring the long-term stability of local farms.

Smartest Move: Deciding to continue selling fruit from our farm while in college—it allowed me to build a relatively large produce distribution network from what had a few years before been a stall in the Sara Hardy Farmers Market.

Kathleen Blashill Young

Co-Owner, Food For Thought, Inc.

Bragging Rights: Our business was voted Business of the Year by the Benzie Chamber, 2007; Top 10 business of the year by the Traverse City Chamber, 2008; and one of the 50 Companies to Watch by the Edward Lowe Foundation, 2008.

In the Club: I am a member of the Leelanau Independent Women for Democratic Action, the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, and the Michigan Land Use Institute.

Working style: “I am thorough, fair and the comic relief of the company.

Big Plans: We (FFT) would like to continue to provide the highest quality organic and fair trade products, as well as continuing to educate and foster others on the importance of local, organic and sustainable.

Shout Out: My husband, Timothy, is the passion and force behind our company. And he is the finest person I have ever met.

Inspiration Point: I was already on the path, but spending time in Chiapas, Mexico with Chris and Jody from Higher Grounds was an eye-opener for me. It brought it home that everything we do in life impacts others and made me want to think more about conservation, fair trade and the value of all of us on this planet.

Karrie A. Zeits

City Attorney, City of Traverse City

Bragging Rights: Attorney in private practice with Sondee, Racine & Doren, PLC, 2000-2007; Deputy City Attorney for City of Traverse City, 2000-2007; appointed City Attorney, August 2007.

In the Club: Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys, Grand Traverse Leelanau Antrim (GTLA) Bar Association, GTLA Women Lawyers Association.

Motto: “Consensus is best.”

Shout Out: My mother—for teaching me that there are no insurmountable barriers.

Matt Myers and Keegan Myers

Owners, Broneah Kiteboarding and M-22 brand

Bragging Rights: One of the best things that we have been able to accomplish with both of our businesses is the fact that we have never had to take out a business loan at any point. We were able to start each company slowly and allow each company to pay for itself.

Do Goodin’: Our M-22 brand donates 1 percent of total sales to the Leelanau Conservancy. For any startup business, taking a percentage of total sales at the end of each year and cutting a check is not an easy thing to do, but we have made it a goal to select one organization and contribute as much as possible to it and its cause.

Our Working Style: Break free of the routine, get out and travel, explore—new ideas will pour in. Be open to all solutions to a problem. We also strive to keep the big picture in mind, remind people what they are working for, and always remain appreciative. It’s amazing how just appreciating others and their work will naturally motivate them.

Big Plans: We would like to continue the growth of Broneah Kiteboarding, helping people in this area to safely and efficiently get started in one of the best sports ever. We live in the perfect location for the sport and would love to see more locals getting into it.

Luckiest Break: Keegan was pictured wearing one of our first M-22 shirts on the cover of Traverse Magazine. Once that issue hit the stands, the number of people that called and were interested in the shirt was out of hand. At that point we knew that something had to be created, and quickly!

Brad Platt and Julia Lilley

Owners, Century 21 Northland

Bragging Rights: We are aggressively growing a real estate brokerage in this economy. We started in March 2006 with the three owners and two agents and now have 23 full time REALTORS plus three employees. Our brokerage market share is increasing whilst the major players’ is decreasing. We are pretty proud of that.

In the Club: We are both members of TAAR (Traverse Area Association of REALTORS). Brad sits on the Board of Directors of TAAR.; Julia sits on the Professional Committee at TAAR. Brad is a founding member of the Commercial Group of Traverse City REALTORS.

Do Goodin’: At each closing, all of us donate to the Medallion Society for Healthy Futures’ Munson Program—our brokerage’s flagship charitable organization that all of our agents choose to donate to from every closing.

Our Working Style: Create the finest environment to work in, and the success will fall into place.

Big Plans: Century 21 Northland plans to continue our current growth and become No. 1 in market share in the greater Grand Traverse area. Our value is client focused and will provide full time REALTORS the support they need whilst creating full-time jobs. We enjoy being at the forefront of technology in regards to this industry; real estate does need to catch up.

Secret Weapons: Brad’s entrepreneurial mindset—formed at an early age—and refusal to be afraid of failing, coupled with Julia’s organizational skills, support and pragmatism. We’re like Ying and Yang. And knowing when to listen has also come in handy!

Shout Out: Besides each other, we have to mention our business partner and broker, Jason Kudary. We could not do this without him.

Kandace Chapple and

Kerry Winkler

Publishers, Grand Traverse Woman Magazine

Bragging Rights: In the last six years, through our magazine and events, we’ve created a community for women in the Grand Traverse Region, of which nearly all women members have a sense of humor, while very few can tell us apart. We were honored as one of the Top 10 Small Businesses by the Chamber in 2007. Most recently, we launched “Twin Time” on TV 7&4, a regular spot on Monday morning where we discuss all things woman.

Our Working Style:

Our Working Style: Laughter. If we aren’t laughing, we are doing something wrong. (And if something goes wrong, you must be looking for the other twin.)

Big Plans: It’s amazing to see the power of women when they come together. After taking over the world, we plan to stock it with comfortable bras, leashes for children, and chocolate.

Secret Weapon: The 100 List. When we started dreaming this, our first step was to write down every woman we knew in the area. Between friends and the cashiers at Glen’s, we came up with a list of 100. We figured that was plenty. Turns out we were right; for every woman who believed in our vision, there was another 100 behind her.

Turning Point: The birth of the Mom Mafia. In the beginning, we often let it go when people didn’t pay their bills for ad space. But one day we had a list of delinquents and a full tank of gas. We piled the kids into the minivan and went about town collecting checks. We threatened to leave our children with the delinquent payers if our demands weren’t met. It was empowering (and effective). It gave us legs, gave us confidence. But ultimately, we made a statement about our worth to them and to ourselves. Imagine the roar of excitement in that minivan when we realized we could do it.

Justin Looyenga and

Bryan Taggart

Principals / Partners,

Larkin Group

Bragging Rights: Since purchasing Larkin in 2006, we’ve increased revenue more than 350 percent, expanded employee base more than 300 percent and, in April 2009, merged with well-known and local Fawcett/ Dopke Insurance Agency. This year Larkin was named one of the Top 10 Growing Businesses by the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce; received the Hastings Mutual Insurance Company’s Exceptional Agency Award; was recognized as a Master’s Forum Producer and a member of MDRT; and is among Top 25 sellers of Auto Owners Life Insurance in the nation, and the largest Auto Owners writer in the region.

In the Club: We’re active in the Chamber of Commerce, including the CEO Roundtable. We are also very involved with the leadership of the Travers City Area Young Professionals. Additionally, we are active participants in legislative acts regarding insurance reform—including visits to Washington DC and Lansing to meet with legislators—and contribute to more than 100 local charities through the Larkin Group.

Big Plans: We do not put a ceiling on the agency’s potential. We look forward to continuing to grow and reinvest in this community.

Secret Weapon: An intense focus on customer service and the ability to provide customers with the best products in the industry.




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