2018 40Under40: The Region’s Most Influential Professionals Under Age 40
Now in its 12th year, this celebration recognizes individuals in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie and Kalkaska counties – under the age of 40 – whose professional and community efforts during this past year had the most impact on their community, the region and the economy.
The 2018 class is comprised of several multiple-year recipients, but the majority are new to the list. In addition to being leaders in their professions and helping nurture the region’s economic vitality, the winners are on missions greater than themselves – to end youth homelessness and the energy challenges facing rural communities, to bring attention to autism, racism, Alzheimer’s and addictions, to develop new technologies and improve water quality, and to help families on the edge – among many other challenges.
Below you’ll read about who inspires them professionally, their next “big thing” and maybe learn a thing or two about their backgrounds (who began their career in Egypt; who has met Fidel Castro?)
After receiving 100-plus nominations from the community, a panel of judges reviewed the submissions and chose the 40 influencers. The panel included K.K. Trucco, vice president of recruiting for Hagerty; Doug Luciani, CEO of Traverse CONNECT and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; Luke Haase, publisher of the TCBN, Northern Express and The Ticker; Lynda Wheatley, executive editor of the Northern Express; and Gayle Neu, contributing editor of the TCBN.
Many thanks to Hagerty, again this year’s signature sponsor, as well as the companies that donated goodies for the “swag bags” given to the winners at the reception.
Mortgage loan manager, 4Front Credit Union, 31
Organizations actively involved in: Junior Achievement, board member; Coast Guard City Committee (City of Traverse City), member; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, member; Alma College Alumni Board, career and development chair.
Highlight from last year: Completing my MBA at Davenport University, concluding my first full year in an incredibly rewarding career at 4Front Credit Union and recently joining the local Junior Achievement board where the fun is just beginning!
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Much of my inspiration comes from a tremendous group of people I work with at the credit union. Outside of work, I have had the pleasure of serving on the Coast Guard City Committee with Stan Simons for the past three years. His commitment to our community and his passion for supporting and recognizing the men and women at Air Station Traverse City (and beyond) is inspirational. Stan’s tenacity and the way he tackles challenges has taught me a lot and is largely the reason we get to enjoy our new Coast Guard monument located in Mini Park.
My next big thing: Keep doing what I love and serving a community I’m proud to be part of.
Who knew: I was baptized at the age of 30 when I completed the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Old Mission Peninsula. I received the Catholic sacrament on Easter of this year.
Owner, Events North and Put Your Phone Down!, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City, president; Rotary Charities, trustee; Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, board member; Impact TC, member.
Highlight from last year: Events North celebrated its 10th year in business and took home the award for Best Meeting Planner in the state from Michigan Meetings + Events Magazine for the eighth time. My business continues to grow each year statewide and nationally. I’m blessed to call TC headquarters! Becoming the president of The Rotary Club of Traverse City is such an honor. Seeing the list of those who have led before me over the last 98 years is amazing.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Jean Derenzy, Marsha Smith and Elaine Wood. I love watching these leaders and how they run organizations and plan. It’s been an honor to serve with them and learn from them.
My next big thing: Put Your Phone Down continues to grow and I’ll be speaking around the country more this year presenting on this topic.
Who knew: In 1988 I was waiting for the fireworks to start at Epcot Center. I’m sure I was totally annoying my parents asking every two minutes when it would start! My parents suggested that I go talk to this girl who looked about my age reading a book because I also LOVED reading. We chatted, exchanged addresses and have been pen pals ever since. She lives in Texas. Two years ago, we met in person again (18 years after we met) when I was in Texas for a conference. Now our daughters and sons are pen pals.
Transportation Planner, Bay Area Transportation Authority, 26
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse Heights Neighborhood Association, vice president; City of Traverse City Parks and Recreation Commission, commissioner.
Highlight from last year: BATA successfully launched its first high-frequency route this year. Named the Bayline, buses are every 12-15 minutes, 7am – 11pm, with on-board Wi-Fi. We’ve collectively raised just under $100,000 from stakeholders in the community to offer the service for free. This route took 12 months of planning and engagement to make sure we were meeting the needs of the communities.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Amy Shamroe. As a city commissioner, Traverse City Light & Power board member, past president of the American Association of University Women, director of the Traverse City Children’s Book Festival and Friends of the Library publicity chair, she still maintains time to meet one-on-one with residents, local businesses and regional stakeholders to continue to make Traverse City a great place to thrive.
My next big thing: Looking forward to becoming even more involved in our city and regional decision-making. I hope to be able to do my part to continue to foster a fiscally resilient city and region.
Who knew? When I was an undergrad at Wayne State University in Detroit, I started a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the Corktown neighborhood called the Michigan Avenue Coalition. We partnered with the Greening of Detroit to plant 50 trees in the neighborhood, cleaned up trash from sidewalks after game days and helped improve neighborhood parks through beautification efforts.
Senior manager, National Partners, Hagerty, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Mt. Holiday Race Team, coach (eight years); Help in Heels (we divide our monthly volunteer time among a variety of organizations including: Traverse Areas Community Sailing, Single MOMM, Step Up Northern MI, Glad Meals, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Father Fred, Goodwill Inn); Hagerty Cares; volunteer coach for Traverse City West High School ski team.
Highlight from last year: This professional highlight stretches more like two to three years in duration. I was given the opportunity to develop, launch and manage a very unique, large and dynamic business partnership that involved resources from across the company as well as another large insurance carrier. The program is something that our organization and most carriers have never created before so there was no ‘how to’ or path to follow. It was extremely challenging yet infinitely rewarding. I’m so grateful for the experience and opportunity.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: My mother, Denise Bickel. She’s worked full-time since I was born. She was one of three key leaders who built and grew Bill Marsh Motors back in the late 1980s and remained committed to her leadership role there for more than 27 years. Along the way, she remained dedicated to community service, being a very involved mother to two active daughters, and always took new challenges and opportunities head-on. She’s shown me what hard work, confidence and long-term commitment look like, and I couldn’t ask for a better role model. I have big shoes to fill.
My next big thing: Next year I will be celebrating 15 years at Hagerty! It’s amazing to think that more than 40 percent of my life has been committed to one great company. Working with such amazing people with solid core values and clear purpose has created skills and experience to last a lifetime.
Who knew: I traveled to Cuba as part of a study abroad in college and met Fidel Castro.
Vice president – commercial lending, Independent Bank, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Michigan, board member since 2004; Economic Development Foundation (Grand Rapids), board member since 2014 (also serve on the economic development and loan committees); SCORE Traverse City (panelist, Meet the Lenders).
Highlight from last year: Received Mission-Based Small Business Lender of the Year Award for 2017 from the Coleman Report (one of four nationally to receive the award). SBA Product Manager for Traverse City State Bank, which was awarded Michigan District SBA 504 Lender of the Year for 2017. Originated $40+ million in new loans to businesses in Grand Traverse County.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Connie Deneweth. She is always putting the needs of others in front of those of herself. Her steadfast loyalty to her client base, coupled with her ‘roll up your sleeves and let’s get it done’ attitude naturally guarantee not only customer satisfaction, but customer success as well. Connie sincerely wants the best for those with whom she works and has the unique ability to make every customer feel as if they are the only one!
My next big thing: My next big thing is in May of 2020 … In 2005, when Tony Anderson (Cherryland Electric) announced to the Big Brothers Big Sisters board his idea for Marathon 4 Kids (marathon4kids.com) and that he would run a marathon in all 50 states as a fundraiser for the agency, I told him I’d run #50 with him. Well, I didn’t anticipate he’d actually do it at that point and I hadn’t known Tony long enough yet to know when he tells you he’s going to do something, it happens … guaranteed. Anyway, I have been talking with others about joining in on this final run and my goal is to make a lot of noise for Tony and support him all the way to the end.
Who knew: I played soccer for the University of Newcastle (Australia) for a season.
Chief clinical officer, Autism Centers of Michigan, 34
Organizations actively involved in: The Association for Behavior Analysis International and the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence.
Highlight from last year: I had the honor of leading the Autism Centers of Michigan through the accreditation process to become a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence in 2018.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Mike Dow. Mike joined Autism Centers of Michigan as CEO almost two years ago and has been positively shaping my professional repertoire ever since. Mike’s mentor/leadership style is unwavering and unmatched. Because of him, I’ve found myself learning new things and taking risks that I never imagined possible. He has profoundly impacted my life for the better and for that, I’m forever grateful!
My next big thing: I’ve recently considered venturing out on my own and potentially starting my own clinical business. I’m equally interested in further building my clinical skills repertoire, possibly in a consultative capacity in other parts of the country.
Who knew: I had the privilege of assisting in the formation/development of a sub-chapter of my larger professional organization, Association for Behavior Analysis International, in Nebraska.
Sales manager, Ford Insurance Agency, 30
Organizations actively involved in: National Cherry Festival, logistics director; Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing, board member; Traverse Bay Twilight Rotary, past president; March of Dimes Northern Michigan Signature Chefs Auction, past chair; Northwestern Michigan College BBQ committee, member; Northwood University National Alumni Leadership Council, member; UpNorth Media Turkey Trot, committee member.
Highlight from last year: Working with our team to start the strategic planning process for the agency for the next five years and beyond.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Cat Muncey. I think she is an amazing professional who not only has made a difference at the agency, but in my personal life. She has balanced a loss in her family and our client needs, and did that all with a positive attitude. She comes at every task with a ton of energy and a plethora of great ideas. She has been a great person to bounce ideas off of or just grab a glass of bubbly with on a Friday.
My next big thing: Completing my next professional designation as a certified risk manager.
Who knew: My family has been on the Old Mission Peninsula for five generations.
VP/regional manager, The Huntington Private Bank, 39
Organizations actively involved in: 20Fathoms Technology Hub, chair; Grand Traverse Economic Development Corporation, chair; Goodwill of Northern Michigan, chair; Rotary Charities, board member.
Highlight from last year: The grand opening of the 20Fathoms Technology Hub. This was many years in the making, with challenges, uncertainties, and several false starts – but we didn’t give up; we made it happen. This was a huge move forward for the economic vitality of our region.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Althea Petritz, original developer of Crystal Mountain, along with her husband, George. She is so gracious, with a smile and a kind word for everyone. She’s full of energy and faces everything with an unbeatable combination of a positive attitude and iron determination. She is sharp and active at 90-plus years and is a great example of living life by always having fun.
My next big thing: The Grand Traverse region needs to take a strategic approach to economic development in order to remain – and become more – competitive. My next big thing is to bring leading community organizations together to form a regional economic development organization, a public-private partnership with broad-based investment from private sector companies, local nonprofits and municipal governments. Regional coordination, managed by one leading organization, will allow our local community to better address complex issues, strengthen and support our existing businesses and to market our impressive regional assets.
Who knew: When I finish my battles for the day, I like to cook big, complicated, multi-course Mediterranean dinners with my wife and kids. I’m always trying new things and experimenting. It is my primary way to unwind, de-stress and decompress after a long day.
Executive director, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Coach high school volleyball in Elk Rapids; member of Elk-Skegemog Lakes Association; participate in Green Elk Rapids planning and events; member of the American Fisheries Society.
Highlight from last year: 2018 marks 15 years of restoration efforts on Kids Creek, an urban stream on Traverse City’s west side that is impaired due to stormwater runoff. So far we have invested $5.2 million from 13 sources to improve water quality and enhance the functionality of the creek. This year, we’ve been highlighting the collaborative effort that makes this type of large-scale restoration possible. We even spent an entire week in June celebrating the numerous ways our community connects to Kids Creek, bringing people together to learn about the past, present and future of this hidden gem.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: One of my biggest personal and professional inspirations is Alleen Popp. I met her when we started coaching volleyball together and quickly learned what a hardworking and generous person she was. She spent 25 years providing crisis behavior support to children in several local school districts. When she wasn’t working, she was with her family; either her husband and three sons, her large extended family, or the girls on her volleyball team. She taught me what it means to pour everything you have into what you love, whether it’s your job, your family or your passion. Alleen unexpectedly passed away two years ago, but her spirit still guides me as I strive to lead my coworkers to our fullest potential, be the best mom possible to my kids and teach my volleyball players how to be both good players and good people.
My next big thing: Next year, The Watershed Center will have been protecting and advocating for water quality in Grand Traverse Bay for 25 years. Several people that were integral in forming our organization are still in the area and I am excited to celebrate this milestone with them. The entire community has supported our work and our staff in so many ways that I can’t wait to show our appreciation.
Who knew: Although I run to stay in shape, finding the time and energy to get out there has been much harder these last few years with three small kids. Last year, with the support of my family and coworkers, I achieved my goal of running a half-marathon before I turned 40. And I did it in one of the most beautiful places in the country: Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Communications assist, SEEDS, 27
Organizations actively involved in: Kalkaska for Peace, Beloved Community Network, Kalkaska Phone Tower Garden.
Highlight from last year: Through Kalkaska for Peace, I organized events and conversations to bring together the community after Kalkaska received negative news attention on a national level regarding the racist and Islamophobic Facebook posts by our then-village president. These events included an Interfaith Roundtable and a seminar about how to communicate when we do not agree about politics. I also spearheaded the recall election that ultimately removed the controversial elected official in May 2018.
Local person who inspires me professionally and why: Annette Goodyear is a local business owner in Kalkaska who, despite being new to the area, stepped up to the plate to do what many others were unwilling to do. She was critical in surveying her neighbors, collecting signatures for the recall of the former village president and now is running for a seat on the Kalkaska Village Council. I admire her dedication to follow through on her personal and professional goals.
My next big thing: I am excited about continuing the work that was started with Kalkaska for Peace. I look forward to bringing more educational and community-building events, such as documentaries and seminars, to continue the important conversations that we started. Another mission of mine and the organization is to increase civic engagement on a local level, because it is very important for voters to take ownership of our democratic process. We will do this through candidate forums, recording meetings, and helping citizens learn more about how their local government works and how they can get involved.
Who knew: My family has lived in Kalkaska for six generations, but my second home is Cairo, Egypt, where I began my professional career as the senior editor of Identity magazine.
Managing director, Traverse City Film Festival, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Film Festival, Downtown Traverse City Association Board of Directors, Old Town Playhouse, Up North Pride.
Highlight from last year: The past year has been full of change. Having been with the Traverse City Film Festival in some degree since I was 21 years old, I’m proud to have been a leader through this year of restructuring. This festival is very important to me personally and professionally, and everyone I’ve encountered through my time here has structured the person I am today. I’ve enjoyed being able use that experience to help the great young people that come to work with us each year! I suffered from fear of public speaking and didn’t even talk to people close to me until my early teens, so for me it’s been a pretty wild transition. Taking on more responsibility has also allowed me to begin to serve the community more outside of work alone, by becoming part of the Downtown Traverse City Area Board of Directors, and producing my first production at Old Town Playhouse.
Local person who inspires me professionally: I’m very lucky to come in contact with so many powerful and strong people in the community. Traverse City is truly a unique hotbed of emerging talent who take something they are passionate about and use it to serve others. Having grown up in Suttons Bay, I’ve seen this town transform into something really cool for younger people. Women banding together to raise money to provide grants, kids giving back to the community; organizations donating a portion of proceeds to nonprofits; people of all backgrounds coming together to march for important causes; your dentist serving your popcorn! Every little piece gives me inspiration about how to lead others!
My next big thing: The past five years have been a huge roller coaster for me, so I’m going to enjoy having no big plan for a little while! I’ve found the best plans often surprise you. I’m looking forward to working with my friends and neighbors in TC to launch new projects, strengthen what already exists and think about how we can all be part of a great future. And probably a vacation with whale-watching!
Biggest fan: “Susan Fisher is the kindest, strongest, and most capable creature one can imagine. She brings joy wherever she goes, gets stuff done, and is unapologetically herself. Few people could handle what’s been thrown at her with such grace, goodness and grit. Traverse City doesn’t know just how lucky it is to have her in it. May we all be fortunate enough to have a Susan Fisher in our lives.” – Meg Weichman, creative director, Traverse City Film Festival
Vice president, Commercial Banking, Fifth Third Bank in Traverse City, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Angel Care, Michigan Legacy Art Park.
Highlight from last year: Joining Fifth Third’s Middle Market Commercial Bank. I’ve always admired Fifth Third’s deep commitment to our community and its commercial banking capabilities. A number of the larger banks in our region have consolidated their middle market teams into Grand Rapids or Detroit, so when John Melcher left to become COO at Crystal Mountain, I was pleased when Fifth Third’s leadership retained the position in Traverse City and offered it to me. It’s been a great first year and I’m so proud to have the opportunity to serve an incredible portfolio of companies and work alongside such dedicated, hardworking professionals every day!
Local person who inspires me professionally: Doug Wolf, former community president of Chase Bank. Doug taught me servant leadership through daily practice. He truly wanted to help every client and employee. I worked with him toward the end of his 42-year career and he carried that passion to the office every day. Doug has a “Big Five” he learned from his father and I keep a copy on my desk: Always be a gentleman. Respect others’ opinion and views, especially if they are different from yours. Work hard to support your family. Spend less than you make; save the rest. Don’t let the bastards wear you down. I especially like that last one!
My next big thing: The next big thing for me is seeing my son, Kaden, graduate from Grand Valley’s Business School in December. It’s such an exciting time of life and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for him.
Biggest fan: Chad Dutmers. Chad hired me into banking 16 years ago; he was a fantastic manager and has remained a mentor and friend. He has great perspective on business, life and a gift for storytelling. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something I’ll call him and he’ll tell some random story or joke and I’ll just laugh. It’s a gift. We all need people like that in our life.
President/founder of Inhabitect, LLC, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Northwestern Michigan Invasive Species Network; Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area; Youth Work at Child and Family Services; Green Roofs for Healthy Cities; American Society of Landscape Architects; Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.
Highlight from last year: My proudest moment in the last year was the expansion of my company into new markets across the state. We are actively working on projects within the Detroit metro area. It is amazing to be a part of the exciting things that are happening there. Green infrastructure is poised to be a big part of the redevelopment of that city; I am proud to know that my company is playing a role in helping that community become greener. I am also now a Certified Natural Shoreline Professional, a certification provided by the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, which opens up new doors for myself and my company. We will be focusing on restoring degraded shorelines and improving them with native plants and specialized stabilization techniques to provide our community with healthier habitats and waterways.
Local person who inspires me professionally: It is difficult to pinpoint just one person because I feel this community is filled with inspiring individuals. I am impressed with how many entrepreneurs and game-changers are out there making their mark on our community and how those around me are dedicated to supporting their hard work in nearly every business sector. I truly believe that this region will continue to attract and embrace those brave enough to take a leap into entrepreneurship and generate their income on their own terms. High fives all around!
My next big thing: Inhabitect, LLC is in the process of developing a new office space and shop in Leelanau County. This building will allow the company to continue to expand and create jobs in northern Michigan. This property will showcase the technologies, systems and products that we design, build and grow. This will include a green roof, rain catchment, permeable paving and a rain garden.
Who knew: At one point in life I didn’t cut my hair for more than four years and I have the pictures to prove it.
Clinical manager of Homeless Programs for the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness, vice chair; Michigan Balance of State Continuum of Care governance council and committee chair.
Highlight from last year: In May of 2018 I was asked to attend a congressional briefing and speak to members of Congress about the work we are doing to end youth homelessness. Five leaders from across the country were chosen to speak in the House and Senate alongside representatives supporting this important work. It was an honor to be selected in order to speak on behalf of the rural communities across the country and the unique challenges we face when working to end homelessness.
Local person who inspires you: I have to choose a group of people as well as a very tiny person who packs a lot of inspiration. The former is my fellow executive leadership team members throughout our Coalition to End Homelessness. Every day they are doing the hard work it takes to make a lasting impact in our community. Even though we all work for different organizations, we come together as one team to end homelessness. We push each other but also empower and support each other in order achieve this critical goal. The tiny person is my 18-month-old son Brady. He inspires me professionally as his life has given me a new perspective on the world and the work I do. The time I spend away from him has to be important and impactful. The work I contribute to our Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project is greatly inspired by him as I want him to live in a community where young people are fully supported, empowered and lifted up by adults in order to achieve their own personal greatness.
The next big thing: My next big thing will be implementation of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project. In January 2017 our community was selected as one of 10 communities across the country to receive a new federal grant in order to end youth homelessness. Many of us have been working tirelessly since then to plan, meet federal requirements and then plan some more in order to not only begin housing young people experiencing homelessness, but to also provide them with the support and empowerment they deserve in order to end their experience of homelessness for good. Implementation of this exciting plan starts this fall.
Who knew: My husband and I made the decision to move to Traverse City while sailing on the Tall Ship during a weekend getaway from Chicago. We sailed in September and were in TC by November. Our best decisions are made on sailboats while drinking craft beer.
Regional director, Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Michigan Chapter, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Boom Boom Club; Bay Area Senior Advocates; 100 Women Who Care; Rotary Club of Traverse City; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; FUSE.
Highlight from last year: Passing my financial goal for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s two years in a row and co-chairing, for the second year, the highly successful Senior Expo in Traverse City.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Russ Knopp is the owner of Comfort Keepers and a major advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association. Russ has always been a huge supporter of mine and my go-to for basically everything I need professionally. He is constantly taking on new projects and helping to make the community better. I aspire to be as influential as Russ is in this community.
My next big thing: To collaborate with local arts programs and businesses to offer a wider variety of services to the senior population and caregivers. I view the senior population in northern Michigan as an untapped resource and under-served market.
Who knew: My grandparents were Sara (Farmer’s Market) Hardy and Larry (Parking Deck) Hardy, who taught our family the value of community commitment.
Sales executive, Priority Health, 33
Organizations actively involved in: FUSE Programming and Advocacy Committees; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Government Relations and Leadership committees; Munson Foundation.
Highlight from last year: My proudest professional moment in the last 12 months was being honored as one of 10 Outstanding Young Michiganders in the State of Michigan by JCI Michigan (formerly Michigan Jaycees).
Local person who inspires me professionally: Ty Schmidt of Norte. He’s taken his passion for health, cycling and active kids and turned it into a movement. His energy and positivity are contagious!
My next big thing: I’m working with the Munson Foundation to promote awareness and fundraising efforts for the new Munson Family Birthing and Children’s Center, which will bring a brand new NICU, labor and delivery rooms, and pediatric space designed to accommodate children.
Biggest fan: “What is so inspiring about Lauren is her ability to form and sustain relationships in the community. She is a very talented, hard-working, young professional that has grown to be a trusted community partner of many. I am very proud of her accomplishments and this award is well deserved!” – Jen Seman, director of Client Services at Priority Health
Realtor, The Hodges Group, EXIT Realty Paramount, 34
Organizations actively involved in: Board Member for the Traverse Area Association of Realtors; Realtor Political Action Committee chairman, Young Professional Network; M22 Challenge race director.
Highlight from last year: 2017 was my most successful year ever. I was awarded fourth in the State of Michigan for EXIT Realty for gross closed income. I helped nearly 30 families either buy or sell (or both) in the greater Grand Traverse Region. Nearly all of my transactions happened via a returning client or a referral from a past client. I also hosted, with Nolan’s Cigar Bar and Founder’s Brewing, a Veterans Day Celebration. This event thanks our local vets by buying them a cigar and a drink while sharing stories with their peers. We’re looking forward to our fourth annual event this year.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Holly Hack is an amazing woman, mother and boss. She is easily the most involved person I know; she sits on so many nonprofit boards, donates her time as well as money where and when needed, runs a growing real estate office, runs a successful and growing team and most importantly, teaches her kids that family is always number one. Holly shows me, every day, that by being present in work while at work and family when at home, you can thrive in both. She is the real life Wonder Woman.
My next big thing: Each year we throw a Veterans Day event at Nolan’s Cigar Bar. This year is the 100th anniversary for Veterans Day and I’d like to go a bit bigger. We owe everything to our veterans!
Who knew: I love to golf and I tried out for the Michigan Open in 2002. I didn’t make the cut.
Owner, CEO, Springfield Roofing, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Junior Achievement of Northwest Michigan, advisory board member; Duro-Last Roofing Emerging Leaders, advisory board member.
Highlight from last year: Giving promotions to two very well-deserving employees. It was more satisfying than any sale or personal success.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Terry Umlor, former owner of Springfield. He has and continues to provide a great example of how to treat people and operate a business people want to be a part of.
My next big thing: We are working with Northwest Michigan Works! to develop a federally recognized roofing and fall protection apprenticeship program within Springfield. We look forward to partnering with the local schools to integrate graduating seniors into the trades.
Biggest fan: “Nick is simply a great guy! He is a great business leader, a great leader in our community, a great family man, but most of all he is a great person. His company, Springfield Roofing, takes care of all of our roofing needs for our business and Nick’s professionalism as the leader of the company always shines through in the work that his staff does for us.” – Kevin Schlueter, president, Kalkaska Screw Products
Member relations manager, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Northwestern Michigan College board of trustees; Impact 100 TC board of directors; Traverse Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and government relations committee chair; Munson Manor volunteer.
Highlight from last year: This year we launched a low-income community solar program. It’s the first of its kind in the state and is receiving quite a bit of interest nationally as well. We welcomed our first 50 members into the program this spring. All participants receive weatherization services through Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency and community solar shares through Cherryland. The goal is to make their homes more efficient, their bills more affordable and their energy cleaner and greener.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Through the Impact 100 Traverse City board I’ve had the chance to collaborate with some amazing women that I previously only admired from afar. Bonnie Alfonso is awesome because she’s straightforward, kind and deeply loyal. Tonya Wildfong inspires me because she’s generous, humble and she gets stuff done. Leslie Knopp blows my mind with her knack for strategy and her collaborative spirit. I’m lucky to get to work with them and learn from them.
My next big thing: One of the energy challenges facing rural communities is inefficient and low-quality housing stock. Our moderate and low-income members are disproportionately impacted by this problem and the services available to them just can’t keep up with the demand. We are currently exploring the feasibility of creating a nonprofit subsidiary that would fix up homes and make them safer and more efficient at no up-front cost to the homeowner or renter. It’s a big project and a lot needs to be worked out before we move forward, but this could have a huge impact for our members and our community.
Biggest fan: “Rachel Johnson is one of the brightest minds in our region. She thinks strategically, asks compelling questions, communicates persuasively and stays on task to get results. If you have a chance to work alongside Rachel on any project or committee, be all in. She is remarkable.” – Bonnie Alfonso, owner, Alfie Logo Gear
Northern Michigan regional director for U.S. Senator Gary Peters, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Norte!; Glenn Loomis parent teacher organization; and a dozen or so other committees and groups in the area.
Highlight from last year: I get to roll up my sleeves with committed people every day of the week. From businesses, entrepreneurs, tech start-ups to manufacturers; schools, administrators, teachers and students; tribal governments, local electeds, departments at the state and federal agencies; to concerned citizens, not-for-profits, community coalitions to advocates. It’s a melange of different stakeholders that are advancing the region in one way or another and making it a better place to live, work and play. Any day I get to do work here that has an impact on policy or legislation is a highlight for sure.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Governor Milliken said, “I’ve always felt that good government is good politics … it’s a key to maintaining the public’s trust and respect for public officials. When that is lost, the strength of our democracy is weakened.” It’s inspirational to see how someone can have such a lifetime being willing to not only say the right things, but have good intentions and follow through on it all.
My next big thing: Give me a call and let’s get working on it!
Who knew: I placed second in the pit spit contest at the Cherry Festival this year: 45.5 feet.
Associate director, Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Arts Commission; Networks Northwest Arts & Culture Network; Traverse City Women in Marketing & Communications; Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, grant review panelist.
Highlight from last year: I helped lead Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City’s recent remodel and expansion, which more than doubled our event and gallery space and re-opened the historic Carnegie Rotunda to the public. I was appointed to the Traverse City Arts Commission in June 2018. I wrote and presented the grant that was named the arts & culture category finalist by Impact 100 in October 2017, which put Crooked Tree Arts Center in the running for $127,000 in funding.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Christie Minervini is an inspiration to me because in addition to owning and operating her own business, she talks the talk and walks the walk of her values in our community. She has a generous spirit and is a fabulous writer.
My next big thing: In August, Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City presented Paint Grand Traverse, a new, week-long plein air/outdoor painting festival, which attracted top artists from across the county. My goal is to develop Paint Grand Traverse into one of the premier competitive art events in the country and a major cultural and economic driver for the region.
Who knew: My husband Lars Kelto passed away suddenly in June 2017. It is a special honor to be named to this list this year, as I have tried to carry on in my career and community in his spirit with humor, passion and creativity.
Owner, Image360, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary
Highlight reel from last year: Recently celebrated 10 years of business ownership and 11 years of marriage with my amazing wife, Amy.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Ty Schmidt. He’s an inspirational health nut, philanthropist, father, husband and organization leader. I got to know more about him and Norte! when he presented at Rotary a few months back and at TEDx last year. I am so impressed with the way he approaches living life simply: less ‘stuff,’ more of what matters. Quality over quantity. It seems he’s found the holy grail of professional/personal life balance and I strongly admire him for that as well.
My next big thing: Our production facility expansion is nearly completed, which will allow my team and me to continue our growth trajectory.
Who knew: I’ve been a hobbyist saltwater reef keeper for 10 years. It’s a rewarding and educational hobby growing and propagating many different coral species.
Real estate agent, Coldwell Banker Schmidt, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Women’s Council of Realtors (past president/candidate review team chair, 2018; president, 2017; president elect/education chair, 2016; vice president/marketing chair, 2015); Traverse Area Association of Realtors, membership committee, 2018; Bras for a Cause, TC, sponsorship committee member/’braless’ sponsorship chair, 2018.
Highlight from last year: Being the president of Women’s Council of Realtors, Northern Michigan was an incredible learning experience professionally. The Northern Michigan network of Women’s Council is one of the largest and most active in Michigan. Representing this network on a national level was an amazing honor. The education, business development and networking opportunities were priceless. I also gained lasting professional relationships with leaders both local and nationwide. I am proud and grateful for this experience.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Is it cliche to say my dad? I am on a team with my dad, Rick, and he has taught me a lot about the business of real estate and I think I have taught him a few things (especially technology related) as well. He inspires me to be honest, patient and optimistic in business and in life.
My next big thing: My biggest focus currently is being the best aunt in the world to my first nephew! Family is everything.
Who knew: I was born and raised in Traverse City, so naturally, my first job was working on a cherry orchard.
Marketing and event coordinator, Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation (TART) Trails; co-owner, Platinum Sound,35
Organizations actively involved in: Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities; Recycle-A-Bicycle; Norte!; Cherry Capital Cycling Club; and Northwest Michigan Association of Volunteer Administrators.
Highlight from last year: There are so many exciting things happening at TART Trails right now it’s hard to choose just one. A few accomplishments that I’m most proud of are the growth of our events like Tour de TART, Smart Commute Week and Giving Tuesday; co-hosting the first ever Traverse City Advocate Academy in partnership with Norte!; and becoming manager of TART Trails’ robust ambassador and volunteer program.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Julie Clark, the executive director of TART Trails, inspires me every day. She works endlessly and selflessly to help create a better and more healthy community for all to enjoy. Not only is she super productive and a great leader both in and out of the office, she’s also really fun to be around.
My next big thing: Professionally, I look forward to completing the loop around Boardman Lake with my amazing team of colleagues. Personally, I’m excited about riding on my first bike tour from Pittsburgh (my hometown) to Washington, D.C., and also completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training this winter.
Who knew: I travel around the world to see live music, especially the band Phish. I try to make at least 10 live shows a year with friends from all corners of the country.
Founder and idealist, Cultured Ferments Co., 27
Organizations actively involved in: Kombucha Brewers International; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; Sara Hardy Farmers Market board member; Great Lakes Business Network; American Culinary Federation; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce’s FUSE; International Center for Reiki Training
Highlight from last year: Having Alice Waters tour our brewery. She then requested we ship our kombucha to her at Chez Panisse after returning home! Alice has been a personal role model of mine since high school, so it was incredibly fulfilling. Cultured Ferments had its third birthday, granting us a title of established business instead of start-up business. Reaching the three-year milestone, expanding into a larger building and fostering an empowered, tightly knit team has been a huge highlight.
Local person who inspires me professionally: There are so many to choose from! Holly Hack has inspired and motivated me this year. Entrepreneurs go through a distinct process of thinking: ‘This is good. This is tricky. Oh, this isn’t good. I’m not doing good. This might be okay. This is awesome.’ She has been exemplary in balancing the entrepreneur mindset with work, life, charitable time and professional growth. Her foresight and encouragement for growth push me to expand myself both personally and as a woman in business.
My next big thing: Cultured has a new home and is expanding! As of August we have expanded into a 5,000 square-foot facility. Now we will be able to serve our customers in a greater capacity through the state of Michigan, and eventually the Midwest. There may also be a fun new product line in the future. Stay tuned!
Who knew: I’m not a fan of wearing shoes or socks. In fact, I’m barefoot 99 percent of the time. I’m also a huge sucker for fishing – it allows me to calm my mind for a period of time.
Chief financial officer, Boomerang Catapult, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Impact 100 TC, board member and finance chair; Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, board member and finance committee member; Traverse City Rotary; TC New Tech.
Highlight from last year: At the end of last year I launched into venture capital as part of Casey Cowell’s team at Boomerang Catapult. It has been exciting getting to know the tech entrepreneurs in this community and assisting our portfolio companies in establishing financial foundations as they grow and prepare for success.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Bonnie Alfonso hustles. She wakes up bright and early to teach spinning at 6 a.m. every weekday while still having energy come sundown to lead board meetings and facilitate social connections between community movers and shakers. She looks out for her people at Alfie Logo Gear and is constantly coming up with clever ways for local companies to promote themselves. Only someone motivated to help others stay motivated would give out ‘GSD’ [get stuff done] notepads at TC’s TEDx.
My next big thing: I am proud to be on the ground floor in bringing national and international capital investments to our local tech start-ups. From establishing internal controls to creating multi-year forecasts, I’ll be busy assisting in the preparation of high-value, intellectually intensive companies for seed and preferred round investors.
Who knew: After having ‘No Name Lundquist’ on my crib for the first three days of my life, the hospital gave my parents a bottle of white wine to encourage a decision. Over a baseball game and a couple of glasses, I was named after my dad’s favorite player, Cubs catcher Jody Davis.
Director of information technology, Grand Traverse County, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Information Systems Security Association of Traverse City; State of Michigan CISO CaaS Steering Pilot Committee; Michigan Government Management Information Sciences; Grand Traverse County Wellness Team; Girls STEM Summer Camp 2017, presenter.
Highlight from last year: I am so blessed that have the opportunity to be the director of IT in Grand Traverse County. With just less than 13 months in this position, I was able to develop several technology action plans for the next three years for the county. My team and I implemented a new VSAN environment and are in the process of planning a major network infrastructure upgrade. One of my proudest accomplishments is the implementation of a collaborative, empowering team environment, which has fostered a seamless free flow of ideas leading to more effective action of IT initiatives across the county.
Local person you who inspire you professionally and why: I had the privilege to get to know Jean Derenzy, CEO for Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. During that time, she was the interim administrator and director of community development for Grand Traverse County. Jean’s all-around impressive personality and passion for TC is well-known in our community. Her style of leadership and dedication for all that she does is most inspiring and has encouraged me in my professional and personal life.
My next big thing: My primary goal is to enhance technology infrastructure and solutions for Grand Traverse County. I plan to do so by modernizing network infrastructure with an end goal of providing a reliable, secure, efficient and compliant IT environment. A primary component of this is to continue to establish additional partnerships and collaborations with other governmental agencies to enable knowledge-sharing and the leveraging of government contracts. Our team will strive to provide the county with 21st century technology to better serve our community.
Who knew: I moved to the U.S. when I was a teenager. My first language is Cantonese. I am truly living the American dream.
Business development manager at Traverse City Tourism, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City (board of directors, Friends of the Boardman River dinner chair, social committee, youth exchange committee, Rotary Show PR chair); Da Capo Fund, board member; Father Fred Foundation advancement committee; Northwest Supportive Housing board member; Kappa Delta – Alpha Alpha Chapter of Michigan State University council advisory board.
Highlight from last year: I was elected to the board of directors for the Rotary Club of Traverse City. I am the youngest current board member and one of the youngest they have had. I have been in the Rotary Club for six years and am honored to be on the board of an organization that has always been very influential in the community’s growth and prosperity.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Becky Ewing, executive director of Rotary Charities. Becky exemplifies what it means to be a hard worker. She has so much passion for the Grand Traverse community and its residents. Becky gives so much time and energy to area nonprofits while also flying under the radar. She is not in it for the recognition, but to truly see this region prosper. It also doesn’t hurt that she is a die-hard Spartan fan!
My next big thing: I started in my position with TC Tourism in May during a very exciting time. We have a few big projects and events coming in the next couple of years that will have a very positive effect on the local economy and our quality of life. I am looking forward to promoting and advocating for these projects once they become a reality. I am also collaborating with some other young creatives on the possibility of bringing an entertainment event to town within the next year or so.
Who knew: I may be 32 but have always had the music taste of a much older lady. While most girls had Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync posters on their walls as a teen, mine were covered in Rod Stewart and Billy Joel. I would die a happy girl if Billy Joel ever performed at Interlochen.
Executive director of customer experience, Interlochen Center for the Arts, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Addiction Treatment Services, board of directors vice president; ECHO Awards, judge; Interlochen Center for the Arts, volunteer; Interlochen Public Radio, volunteer.
Highlight reel from last year: As the director of marketing, it was my privilege to share the magic of Interlochen with the world, from helping to promote a new program that resulted in life-changing opportunities at Interlochen for students in the Miami Music Project to traveling around the country and meeting with hundreds of people as the driving force behind phase one of a complete brand review. My most meaningful professional moment occurred at a recent team-building event that happened to fall on my last official day as the director of marketing. My team surprised me with a special baton-breaking ceremony and vocal rendition of the Interlochen theme. This stems from an Interlochen tradition that occurs at the end of every camp season: When the last note is played, the concertmaster breaks the baton, symbolizing the end of something truly special and opening the door for opportunities yet to come.
Local person who inspires me professionally: I choose two. Chris Hindbaugh, CEO of Addiction Treatment Services (ATS) and Trey Devey, president of Interlochen Center for the Arts. Chris is truly committed to the mission of ATS. He has an innate ability to dream big with a belief that it’s right for our community and the people in it and then turn his dreams into reality and truly make a difference in the lives of others. Trey is a passionate visionary who has deep empathy for others and fosters equality. He uplifts and empowers others so that positive change can happen and happen quickly.
My next big thing: I have just been named Interlochen’s first executive director of customer experience. Customer experience is the impression we leave with our students, parents, alumni, patrons, volunteers, donors, guests, faculty, and staff, resulting in how they think of our brand. It accumulates with every interaction they have with us. I’m tasked with making sure that experience exceeds expectations. This involves really listening to our customers through focus groups, surveys, and more; having clear communications; and evaluating operations to ensure we are delivering a holistic, exceptional experience.
Who knew: I was a founding member of the Traverse City Toxic Cherries, the area’s first roller derby team.
Executive director of the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, Oliver Art Center, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts; Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse, board member; NW Michigan Arts and Culture Network, board member.
Highlight from last year: The past 12 months have seen Oliver Art Center enter its 70th year since it was founded in 1948. There has been a lot of reflection and appreciation for how we got here and it has been an honor being a part of that. Being voted into Traverse Magazine’s Red Hot Best was a truly amazing and flattering moment for the organization, its staff, board, and volunteers as well as the community as a whole.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Meredith McNabb, who runs Bayside Printing in Frankfort with her father Bob. She is an amazingly talented graphic designer who does design and print work for many local businesses and nonprofit organizations. She is also a mother of five. She does such an outstanding job of balancing her work and family, as well as involvement in the local community and area school district. I am a single mother and I completely admire her dedication to family while at the same time excelling in her field.
My next big thing: Personally, I am trying to complete my certificate in fundraising management through The Fundraising School at Indiana University. I am looking forward to a new year with new programming, partnerships, and collaborations at the Oliver Art Center.
Who knew: I have had the opportunity to work in some incredible jobs: tour guide aboard a WWII submarine, curator of the world’s largest private collection of Coca-Cola Memorabilia, and Museum Director for the OZ Museum in Wamego, Kansas (yes, the Wizard of Oz).
Communications and marketing director, Traverse Area Association of REALTORS®, 30
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Noon Rotary Club member and member of the Rotary Good Works Committee; vice-chair of the FUSE Young Professionals, co-chair of the FUSE Advocacy Steering Committee, and member of the FUSE Volunteer Committee; member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Community Advisory Committee; member of the United Way of Northwest Michigan Campaign Cabinet.
Highlight from last year: Receiving the 2018 Governor’s Service Award for Volunteer of the Year in recognition of volunteering once a week with a different nonprofit organization each week of 2017. It was a great honor to receive this recognition but most of all I appreciate all of the individuals locally who thought highly enough of my service to nominate and write letters of support on my behalf. Their kind words and support were the best part of receiving this recognition.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Jen and Jordan Yeatts inspire me by the way that they walk the walk much more than they talk the talk. They inspire me by their commitment in their personal and professional life to the social, environmental and community issues they believe in by making the choice to be a car-free household; choosing to work for organizations that support social justice and our local community, Higher Grounds and Cherry Capital Foods respectively; and being involved in the local community as leaders in their neighborhood association and their church. They are a great example of living in a deliberate way to make a difference and they inspire me to continue to work to be a person whose actions match my beliefs.
My next big thing: One of my goals for 2018 and beyond is to pursue a bucket list item of mine: writing a book. After blogging about my year of weekly volunteerism (volunteering52.wordpress.com), I would like to organize these experiences into something that can provide inspiration to other individuals looking to volunteer or gain a better understanding of and closeness to their community. Volunteerism has provided so much for me, both personally and professionally, and I hope through writing about my experience others may be inspired to pursue their passions through volunteerism.
Who knew: I was selected to sing in the state choir my sophomore year of high school and was the lead actor in a play that was selected and performed at the state theatre conference my senior year.
Chief lending officer, TBA Credit Union, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Junior Achievement of Northwest Michigan; Northwestern Michigan College Foundation Scholarship Open.
Highlight from last year: In the last year, I have been involved with several great groups which have been rewarding for me personally. At one point, I was involved with FUSE, a member of the Traverse City Chamber Ambassador program, a Junior Achievement classroom volunteer and a coach of elementary and middle school kids. I am proudest perhaps of becoming the chair of our local Junior Achievement Advisory Board because I greatly enjoy the work we are doing with this program and the other local volunteers I get to serve with!
Local person who inspires me professionally: Several local people have been inspirational to me, but the one that tops my list is Karen Browne. Karen is a tremendous example of a dedicated community service leader in our region. Karen is so well-known in so many community service circles I encounter. She has been making a difference at TBA Credit Union and in our community for over 25 years. I am fortunate to have joined TBACU in the spring of 2016 and I have been able to observe Karen as the leader of our organization as well as a volunteer in several local community functions.
My next big thing: My ongoing mission is to continue to help develop financial education opportunities for youth in our community. This has been an important initiative for me since I started in banking years ago. It continued as the central thesis in my graduate education and is something I can work with as part of the team at TBA Credit Union. It isn’t talked about as much, but financial literacy is a big deal and something I think can benefit us all.
Who knew: I have been involved in coaching or youth volunteering for over half of my life between summer basketball camps, baseball clinics, Amateur Athletic Union coaching, middle school baseball, Junior Achievement classes and most recently coaching my daughter’s T-ball team this summer. I feel very fortunate to pass along the many life lessons I have learned from other great coaches and mentors that have influenced me in a positive way.
Director of northern Michigan programs, Grand Valley State University, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; FUSE; Zonta Club of Traverse City; University Professional and Continuing Education Association.
Highlight from last year: I was honored to be elected to the executive board of the Zonta Club of Traverse City. I joined Zonta because advocacy for women is a passion of mine. However, I soon recognized these remarkable women contribute so much to our community! Being nominated, then elected into this position, as someone they want to help shape the direction of the group has been humbling.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Allison Beers is truly an inspiration. Is there anything she can’t do?!? I’m continuously impressed by her service to the community, creative ideas and positive spirit. She has also mastered a good work/life balance.
My next big thing: This past year I’ve discovered my true calling, which is helping underserved populations. I plan to continue my work at GVSU to help these groups such as first-generation college students and women by maintaining an inclusive environment and creating new opportunities for students to be actively engaged in our community.
Who knew: I love gardening! Everything from the satisfaction of seeing something grow and develop to walking around and enjoying the beauty. Gardening is meditative to me and our family enjoys the bounty all year around.
Executive director, National Cherry Festival, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City; Impact 100 TC; Michigan Festival and Events Association; International Festival and Events Association.
Highlight from last year: My proudest moment for the last 12 months has been to work alongside the best team. We have been through some changes, opportunities and challenges over the last year; they continue to surpass my expectations every day.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Conner Miller still impresses me. He is STILL volunteering and it’s amazing to see. I am inspired by those around me consistently giving back to our community, and there isn’t enough space to mention everyone.
My next big thing: Every year is a new milestone and there is always something we are planning. Stay tuned.
Who knew: I have a certificate in balloon arch making. No, seriously, I took a class and received a certification for making archways entirely out of balloons.
Co-owner and founder, Rare Bird Brewpub, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Pour for More, founder and president; ‘Big’ with Big Brothers Big Sisters; TC Intermediate School District summer camps for healthy eating and gardening, volunteer; Up North Pride.
Highlight from last year: Last year we expanded production of Rare Bird beers. We went from having six on tap to 12-15 at a time. It required a lot of work, planning and reinvestment into the company with buying new equipment, changing spaces and planning, but it has been so worth it. We also put a patio with a bar outside and it we love it! Doing the construction myself again was a lot of fun and brought me back to the days of building Rare Bird.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Fernando Meza. He is a leader in our community and passionate about what he does professionally as well as bettering our community as a whole. He is the epitome of a good person and community leader.
My next big thing: I would like to start another nonprofit making healthy local food more accessible to our community – a ‘farmer’s market for the people.’
Who knew: I love building things. [Co-owner] Nate [Crane] and I pretty much built Rare Bird with the help of some friends, but neither of us had experience prior to that. We just watched YouTube videos when we needed to figure something out. Once I started I realized nothing was really that complicated, and I kept doing projects like building a patio off of my house and remodeling the bathroom. It’s a lot of fun and so rewarding!
Book awards coordinator/festival director at Jenkins Group, Traverse City commissioner, 38
Organizations actively involved in: AAUW Traverse City; Friends of Traverse Area District Library; Traverse City Light and Power Board; Traverse City Arts Commission; Born to Read advisory board; Boardman Lake Loop advisory board, AAUW of Michigan Board.
Highlight from last year: This year there was a major change in our industry and I took the lead on a massive overhaul of the marketing strategy for our book awards. After 11 years and expanding to five awards, it was a great challenge to start from scratch and know I can still learn a few new tricks.
Local person you who inspires you professionally: We have so many dynamic people in the area, it is hard to pick one, but I would have to say Julie Clark, executive director of TART Trails. The Boardman Lake Loop advisory committee was formed just after I was elected and I have been lucky to serve on it since day one. Watching Julie bring the Grand Traverse Community together has been so inspiring. She turned what could have been a project that revolved around numbers and jurisdictions and made it about rallying the community around a vision for recreation in the area. It will be exciting to finally #completetheloop.
My next big thing: The coming year should see several projects I have been working on in my role as commissioner come to fruition: Boardman Lake Loop, first phase rollout of Light and Power’s fiber project and starting the Eighth Street renovation. These are equally important to me as they signal major steps forward for the future of Traverse City and the region.
Biggest fan: “I think Amy’s positions on current issues are practical and well researched; they also seem to be forward-thinking and in the best interest of Traverse City’s future.” –George Hamzik, general manager, Dynatect
Vice president of Hagerty Group Office, 37
Organizations actively involved in: The Children’s House, board chair; GT Economic Development Corp., vice chair; Family Office Exchange; Traverse City Golf & Country Club membership and retention committee; Munson Family Birth & Child Center Committee.
Highlight from last year: Working with other economic development folks toward establishing an Economic Development Organization (EDO) in our region.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Jean Derenzy. She is so collaborative with others and always so positive to be around. The DDA is lucky to have her!
My next big thing: Get a regional EDO up and running. We have many organizations with the same goal of doing great things. It will be nice to have them all communicating and working together.
Biggest fan: “It is no surprise to me that Jessica would be recognized on the 40Under40 list. She is a total rock star who brings A-level competence, poise and positivity to everything she does. She also has a secret talent of remembering obscure rap lyrics. Test her out when you see her next.” – McKeel Hagerty, CEO, Hagerty
Director of housing, Goodwill Northern Michigan, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City; Rotary Charities of Traverse City; Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness; Housing Solutions Network; Community Health Innovation Region initiative.
Highlight from last year: This past year, I had the privilege of being a part of some awesome work to prevent and end homelessness and grow our community assets. They included working on a community-based team to get a four-year, $1.3 million federal grant to pilot innovative solutions to end and prevent youth homelessness in the five-county area; working with Rotary Charities to get Impact Investing initiative off the ground and putting $1 million to work in the greater Grand Traverse area; and working with Housing Solutions Network to develop regional Housing Partnership concept which will launch later this year. I was elected board president of Traverse Development, Inc. (TCDI), a new LLC associated with TraverseConnect, which will raise or make investments for regional economic growth. I also served as 10-county chairperson working with homeless providers to make sure homelessness is brief, rare and ended as quickly as possible.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Tony Lentych, executive director, Traverse City Housing Commission. Tony is someone with talent, experience and guts to make things happen. He has gone above and beyond to include vulnerable populations in his work to make housing options more available for our community. He comes to the table with an open mind, industry expertise and a wry sense of humor. It’s refreshing and needed in our community.
My next big thing: So many things … I LOVE big projects and doing things to create long lasting positive change. It could be anything. My open-minded attitude has helped me get involved in projects I didn’t anticipate and have valued dearly.
Who knew: I miss waiting tables like I did when I was in college. Now I dream of working in a kitchen one day. Creating a beautiful and loved plate of food is one of my greatest joys in life.
City attorney, City of Traverse City, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys board; Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association; Women Lawyers Association.
Highlight from last year: I graduated from the Academy of Municipal Attorneys this year. AMA is a program founded by the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys, which seeks to further academic and scholarly excellence in municipal law. This recognition is shared by only 10 other attorneys in the state.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Heather Abraham has such great energy and she uses it to help others. She saw a need in our community to advocate for those struggling with housing and homelessness and she pulled together the funding, resources and partners to create the Community Outreach Court. Heather’s work is a testament to what one dedicated person can do to change the lives of others. She’s moving on to become a clinical professor in Washington D.C., where she can share her knowledge and passion in this area with law students. Our loss is their gain!
My next big thing: With a baby under the age of one, I’m hoping the next milestone is sleeping through the night!
Who knew: I’m terribly claustrophobic. In particular I can’t stand the idea of being underground in a cave. Just the thought makes me panicky!
Rose Marie Zivkovich
Director, Northern Michigan Partnership/TCAPS, 37
Organizations actively involved In: Homeschoolers In Northern Michigan; Girl Scouts; Make-A-Wish Foundation; Traverse City Little League.
Highlight from last year: Development and full rollout of the Northern Michigan Partnership, a program that offers free elective classes (art, music, physical education, foreign language, etc.) to homeschool and TCAPS public school students.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Kathi Mulder, for her passion and drive to help others through an art that fulfills her and for her dedication and hard work that is bringing change to our community in a positive way.
My next big thing: The Northern Michigan Partnership is starting its second full year this fall with over 230 students!
Who knew: I worked for a media distribution company and designed the collectible deluxe tin for the DVD release of The Greatest American Hero, which won a fan favorite award at a national trade show.