2019 40Under40: The Region’s Most Influential Professionals Under Age 40
This highly-anticipated 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 2019 class is comprised of 22 women and 18 men, as well as 15 multi-year recipients and 25 new faces from a wide range of sectors. What do we know about this year’s class? Aside from their favorite highlights from last year, read on for some very honest answers on who inspires them professionally, what their next “big thing” is and a thing or two about themselves you might never have expected.
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; Warren Call, President and CEO of Traverse CONNECT; 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 Aug. 29 reception.
Assistant Vice President, Banking Center Manager, Honor Bank, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Boy Scouts of America; United Way; Traverse City Economic Club; Rotary Club of Traverse City; Village of Kingsley Downtown Development Authority, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Zoning Board of Appeals; Paradise Township Planning Commission; East Bay Masonic Lodge #264; Traverse City Golf & Country Club; Father Fred Foundation
Highlight from last year: Leading Honor Bank’s expansion into the downtown Traverse City market and being promoted to an assistant vice president for the bank.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Al Zelinski has been a great friend and mentor. Professionally, I can think of few others who have had such a profound impact on my career. He embodies true servant leadership and always has a kind word to say about everyone. He cares so deeply about our community and is currently serving on, or has served on, just about every important board in our region. He has helped me learn to practice patience and try to slow down as I tend to be a rather fast-paced individual. I’m lucky to have someone like Al to share his more than 30 years of industry knowledge and experience and I’m proud to work alongside him.
My next big thing: Further expand Honor Bank’s footprint and open our second building in downtown Traverse City, which will house both local business tenants and our commercial lending team.
Who knew: I’m a huge fan of karaoke and have won more than $2,000 at competitions around the region.
Transportation Planner, Bay Area Transportation Authority, 27
Organizations actively involved in: City of Traverse City Planning Commission; Traverse Heights Neighborhood Association president; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce government relations committee; Traverse Transportation Coordinating Initiative
Highlight from last year: Having our first high-frequency route celebrate one year of service. We delivered more than 150,000 rides on the community-crafted Bayline route, and can’t wait to see the route grow in future years.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Nicole VanNess, parking administrator for the City of Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. Her title should truly be a regional mobility coordinator, since her role is much more than parking. She is actively pursuing ways to encourage multi-modal transportation use by transit, biking and walking. She always has a positive and innovative approach to her work at the DDA.
My next big thing: Looking forward to getting married in September 2020!
Who knew: Usually you enjoy vacations for visits to beaches or museums. My favorite part is to check out their local transit authority’s routes, schedules and buses.
Community Planner, Networks Northwest, 32
Organizations actively involved in: TART Trails; Top of Michigan Trails Council; Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network; Holiday Race Team
Highlight from last year: Every time a local government passed a resolution to approve a plan or support a project I’ve been working on.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Julie Clark, executive director of TART Trails. I admire her passion and personality and her ability to connect, communicate, and push the boundaries, all while staying grounded in reality. However, it’s really hard not to include Sarah Lucas here. I couldn’t be more grateful to have worked with Sarah at Networks Northwest. She is a brilliant and lovely person. We are so fortunate to have these two remarkable people working in our communities.
My next big thing: Working on the Traverse City to Charlevoix Trail! It’s a pretty epic project that will connect all the amazing assets that we live here for. Once completed, you will be able to ride a bike, walk, rollerblade, etc. from Suttons Bay to Alpena on designated trail. That’s 325 miles of continuous trail across northern Michigan. The recreation, transportation and cultural opportunities are endless!
Who knew: I’m proud to be from here, but I didn’t ‘boomerang’ (to borrow from local jargon) back. I left law school after one year, and pretty much crash-landed in Traverse City. I’ve lived in Vermont, Panama, Boston, Argentina, Montana and Ann Arbor, and never imagined myself living here for any extended period of time. Now I can’t imagine a life anywhere else. I’ve felt the judgment for sure — moving back to where I’m from without a career path or a family of my own? Well, place matters to me. I’m excited to be living and working in a place where we — the dropouts, boomerangs, baby boomers, you name it — care about community and about making this a more vibrant, prosperous and accessible place to be.
Freedom Software Engineer, ATLAS Space Operations, 23
Organizations actively involved in: ATLAS Space Explorers post chairman; Traverse Area Community Sailing volunteer instructor; TC NewTech; 20Fathoms
Highlight from last year: As a software engineer on the ATLAS Freedom platform, I developed satellite command and control communications capabilities, including operational network monitoring, signal processing in cloud environments and Internet of Things capability for ground communication hardware. This technology is key to expanding ATLAS’s network of ground stations, including sites in Japan, Guam, Ghana, and Tahiti serving customers within the U.S. government and new space commercial sector. In February 2019, I was selected to participate in Catalyst Accelerator’s Resilient Space Communications Cohort sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory. This business accelerator focused on developing commercial technologies with dual use capability for the U.S. Air Force. The program prepared ATLAS to work with government contracts including marketing, contract capture, and technology development and protection.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Mike Carey is ATLAS’s chief strategy officer and is a retired USAF major general. One of Mike’s traits I respect the most is his ability to judge character. Mike naturally connects with people and builds strong teams, which I am fortunate to be a part of both at ATLAS as well as leading our STEM program, the ATLAS Space Explorers. Mike takes care to build relationships both personal and business and has been a role model for entrepreneurship.
My next big thing: Starting this fall, I will begin developing ATLAS’s capability for cognitive constellation management. This includes building our next generation real time scheduling algorithm. Satellite constellation operators will benefit with cost and manpower reductions using the system to manage large numbers of satellite downlinks autonomously monitored and scheduled through the cloud.
Who knew: As a lifelong Traverse City native I enjoy racing sailboats on West Bay and Lake Michigan, including the Chicago to Mackinac Race.
Managing Partner, RE/MAX Bayshore and Realtor, Brick & Corbett Group, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Brickways Foundation vice president; Immaculate Conception – GTACS volunteer and parent
Highlight from last year: Two years ago, BJ and Kecia Brick and Bob and Nancy Brick made significant sacrifices financially, professionally and personally to bring my wife Betsy and me into the business as owners of the brokerage and true partners of the sales team. By the end of 2018, it was extremely satisfying to receive the news that the Brick & Corbett Group had sold more real estate in Grand Traverse County than any other agent/team and RE/MAX Bayshore had also captured market share.
Local person who inspires me professionally: My wife Betsy, who has been my business partner for more than 10 years in three cities and currently shares a 10′ x 10′ office with me, is the first person I ask for advice and she’s my biggest inspiration. Although sometimes I don’t appreciate it at the time, she knows how to push me when I need it and she motivates me to always seek higher standards for work.
My next big thing: The real estate industry is changing rapidly, and we have to be flexible and forward-thinking in our approach over the next few years as a result. We no longer compete against only other brokerages, but industry tech powerhouses like Zillow as well. The biggest question that will be facing the industry is, ‘What is the value of hiring a Realtor?’
Who knew: My entrepreneurial spirit started at a young age when I started selling $10 mixed CDs out of my backpack to my high school peers. I called it White Boy Records and the mixed CDs were packaged with custom labeling, my own artwork and marketed with highly anticipated release dates. Before freshmen year was over and the school shut me down, I had made more than $5,000. My high school friends still make fun of me.
Co-founder, Chief Risk Officer, Birch Infrastructure, PBLLC, 39
Organizations actively involved in: 20Fathoms; Old Mission Peninsula School; Norte Youth Cycling
Highlight from last year: Left position as director of renewable energy at Microsoft where I was responsible for more than $1 billion of annual renewable energy procurement. I started Birch Infrastructure to develop, own and operate utility infrastructure on behalf of hyperscale cloud providers. Structured as a public benefit company, Birch is committed to, among other things, rural economic development and use of renewable energy. Birch now employs nine people between its offices in Traverse City and Portland, Ore.
Local person who inspires me professionally: My father-in law. Having the courage to venture out and start his own company in the early 1980s, he has quietly and without fanfare created local jobs and contributed to the growth of Traverse City over the past thirty years.
My next big thing: Completing fundraising for Birch Infrastructure and financing of first renewable energy transaction.
Who knew: In the 15 years between graduating from college and moving to Traverse City, I’ve lived in seven different states plus Auckland, New Zealand.
Co-0wner, Raduno, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Soup and Bread – Traverse City founder and organizer; North Boardman Lake District board member; Northern Michigan Women in Hospitality co-founder
Highlight from last year: As restaurant owners, my partner (Janene Silverman) and I always have a million things going on at once, and sometimes the worry creeps in that we might drop one or several of the balls we are juggling every day. Day after day, our loyal customers keep showing up and telling us that our food is great and they are grateful we are here. I think that is the thing I am most proud of – that every day we are still here, and that we have built a comfortable and necessary neighborhood place.
Local person who inspires me professionally: I have two – Jennifer Blakeslee, co-owner, The Cook’s House and Cammie Buehler, co-owner, Epicure Catering and Events. These women always make the time to lend an ear to someone who needs professional advice, or a hand when a fellow cook or chef is in a major pickle, or volunteer their time to help new cooks in the area find a network of other restaurant people. In an industry where true leadership can often be lacking but sorely needed, both of these women are outstanding examples of inspiring culinary leaders in our area.
My next big thing: We are really looking forward to the Eighth Street project coming to fruition so that we can really start to grow as the area becomes more walkable, bikeable and more of a destination in the city. We are crossing our fingers that we become a new part of the TC Downtown Development Authority so that we can benefit from and contribute to our vibrant downtown culture.
Who knew: I’m really interested in weather! For my birthday one year, my husband, Ben, gave me a little remote weather station that lives on our chicken coop that remotely relays the wind, barometric pressure, rain fall, temperature and humidity to a little screen in our kitchen. It’s my favorite thing we have.
Director of Academic and Career Advising, Northwestern Michigan College, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse Bay Sunrise Rotary; Rotary Youth Exchange; International Affairs Forum board; Academic WorldQuest; NMC Be What’s Possible comprehensive campaign team
Highlight from last year: I’m most proud of the constant collaborative effort made by our faculty, staff, alumni and volunteers to support students. I love working with my colleagues in advising and the student services team at NMC – they are incredible and their biggest strengths are building relationships across campus and in the community, and empowering students.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Local childcare providers, specifically the amazing woman who helps raise, love and care for our kids, Chris Bazzett. She is a highly skilled and seasoned professional who dedicates every minute of her day to nurturing and strengthening young children. No professional, who is also a parent, can be successful on their own, and childcare providers and educators are sorely undervalued and in very short supply in this region and beyond.
My next big thing: This academic year we’re formally launching the Academic & Career Advising Center at NMC. We’re structuring our comprehensive career advising services to ensure all students at NMC receive the assistance they need with career decision-making, academic planning, and employment readiness services. Outside my work at NMC, my mom, Kathleen Guy, and I are preparing for a mother-daughter succession as TC Sunrise Rotary Club president while I continue my energizing work with the outbound students in our Rotary Youth Exchange program.
Who knew: Right after college, I taught elementary school for four years with Teach for America in Phoenix, Arizona where my first class of students was 42 third graders. My respect and appreciation for educators is huge!
Chief Operations Officer, TBA Credit Union, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Optimist Club board of directors; Northwestern Michigan College BBQ board of directors
Highlight from last year: Being promoted to COO and taking on the responsibility for overseeing marketing, branch operations, and compliance. I started my career at TBA Credit Union as a marketing assistant, then marketing director. Our leadership team knew it was time to develop a COO position for our organization and I was energized by the challenge of taking on not only a new role for the credit union, but also stepping outside of the comfort zone of my marketing background. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
Local person who inspires me professionally: I have really enjoyed watching Ty Schmidt of Norte make his mark on our community over the last several years. I first met Ty when TBACU signed up for Carter’s Compost, then I began volunteering with Norte at various events. His passion is incredible and Traverse City is lucky to have him.
My next big thing: It’s been a big year for my family and I already. We just moved into a new home and are expecting baby girl #2 in early September. My next ‘big thing’ would be to sit back, reflect and be truly grateful for such an amazing year.
Who knew: I am a huge Montreal Canadians hockey team fan. Go Habs, go!
Vice President, Data Product Engineering and Marketing Technology, Hagerty, 32
Organizations actively involved in: Extra Life – annual board game marathon raising $3,000-$5,000 for Hurley Children’s Hospital; Habitat for Humanity – led organizing Hagerty technology volunteer teams and participated in constructions; Machine Learning Guild – teaching Hagerty employees machine learning concepts and skills during off hours.
Highlight from last year: Watching an employee who I mentor evolve from being a strong engineer to being an exceptional leader, and now a great leader of leaders.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Soon Hagerty. She’s a strong leader in the office, a working mother, and started her own amazing and successful restaurant downtown. I admire her ability to be equally successful inside and outside of the office.
My next big thing: Hiring and building a data science team and harnessing their talents to solve some interesting problems for our members.
Who knew: I enjoy deep and complex strategy board games. I have a collection of over 200. My favorite is made by a small Dutch company and is called Food Chain Magnate.
Founder and CEO, Superior Physical Therapy, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Invisage – national mastermind of disruptive innovators in the health care industry; Rotary; Norte; Michigan Physical Therapy Association
Highlight from last year: Superior Physical Therapy was awarded the 2018 Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award and the Red Hot Best award with the first-ever category for physical therapy. I’m also proud to say that in the last year Superior Physical Therapy had its 12th employee graduate from the Fellowship of Applied Functional Science program, which Superior provides a full scholarship.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Casey Cowell. He shows that when you have passion for your work you can accomplish anything and you really never retire. I hope I can always find passion in what I’m doing and continue to serve the community in new and creative ways, which Casey has done and continues to do so daily in his work.
My next big thing: In June of 2020, Superior will celebrate 10 years in business. My next big plan is to become the online expert for musculoskeletal or movement-related pain. I created the first telehealth platform for physical therapists called My Online Session, which will be launching in the next six months. This will allow physical therapists to interact with individuals around the country who are looking for more information on musculoskeletal care.
Who knew: I started my own business at 11 cutting lawns in my neighborhood. I cut so many lawns I wore the tires completely bare on my parents’ lawnmower, which became my first expense. $300 a week as an 11-year-old is not too shabby.
Clinical Manager of Homeless Programs, Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness chair; Michigan Balance of State Continuum of Care governance council member and committee chair
Highlight from last year: I was able to help lead the implementation of the Homeless Response System for Youth in our community after over two years of planning. This involved the rollout of more than $1 million of federal, state and local funding targeted to ending homelessness for young people in our communities. Implementation would not have been possible without the team members throughout the coalition dedicated to ending homelessness day in and day out. Together, we have connected more than 40 young people with permanent housing connections since the fall of 2018.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Tina Allen. She is this remarkable person who comes into your life every once in a while who is able to push you to excel while at the same time being your personal champion every step of the way. She is a dedicated mother, grandmother, wife, friend, community leader and mentor. The Coalition to End Homelessness would not be where it is today without her leadership and undying commitment to all of us as well as to ending homelessness in our communities.
My next big thing: Effectively ending youth homelessness in the greater Grand Traverse area. An end to youth homelessness looks like homelessness becoming rare, brief and nonrecurring for young people in our communities. This goal will be achieved not through the work of one person or agency alone, but through the dedicated and passionate folks involved throughout the coalition to end homelessness as well as through the support of this incredible community.
Who knew: I’m obsessed with documentaries about really anything, but I’m always up for a good (or bad) doc about the Kennedy family.
President, Mid-American Title, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Freemasons; MLTA Technology, Education, and YTP committees; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; TC Young Professionals; Traverse Area Association of Realtors
Highlight from last year: Celebrating the company’s 30th year in business. A Top 10 Hagerty Small Business of the Year finalist. Seeing our team grow 300 percent – from five to 20 people – since coming on board. Also, purchasing and remodeling an additional office location.
Local person who inspires me professionally: I am not sure I can narrow this down to a single person. I have had many mentors, and get inspired by multiple local individuals, each for different reasons.
My next big thing: Grand opening of our newly remodeled office location in Sault Saint Marie, working toward both expansion and diversification.
Who knew: Before settling down in Traverse City, my prior job had a lot of travel. I lived in eight different states in three years.
PR/Media Manager, Traverse City Tourism, 29
Organizations actively involved in: I am forever changed by Sojourn Church. As a born and raised metro-Detroiter, Sojourn connected me to authentic community when I first moved here fresh out of college in 2012. And single ladies, it’s also where I met my husband! Through Sojourn, we’ve had the chance to partner with TC Cares Health & Wellness Clinic, Safe Harbor, Young Life, Christ’s Hope International, and many more. My husband works at Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region and you’ll see me emcee their events regularly, too.
Highlight from last year: I happened to join the TC Tourism team at the dawn of a major brand overhaul. In PR, we are often referred to as the ‘keepers of the brand.’ It’s uncommon though to also develop the brand you’re keeping. Much of my first year was crafting the new voice of our destination. On a heavier note, I’m also trying to wrap my arms around the practice of sustainable tourism and what that looks like for Traverse City. It’s complex, convicting and a great contrast to the fluff that is often travel journalism.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Kim Herron. She’s one of the hearts behind Traverse City Candle Co. She’s a mom of four and, like most mothers, she’s walked the hard line of balancing motherhood with professional calling. Wanting to pursue work-life balance and making her time away from family worthwhile, she launched the candle company with her husband and some friends. She’s found a way to tap into creative entrepreneurship without sacrificing her other gig (mom-ing).
My next big thing: The more work environments I experience, the more I’m realizing how much I value and thrive in one-on-one time with others. In a digital world, it’s rare to work face-to-face, and I’m bummed by that. I hope to find my niche working in real time, in shared spaces, with more people and less screens.
Who knew: I had a terrible fear of taxidermy until I was about 13. And I mean running-out-of-restaurants-crying fear. Good thing it faded before coming north … and dining at Sleder’s. (For the record, I have kissed Randolph.)
Assistant Program Director and Site Director, Grand Valley State University Physician Assistant Studies Program (Traverse City campus), 37
Organizations actively involved in: Munson Medical Center; NMC Pre-PA Society, Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Physician Assistant Education Association
Highlight from last year: Grand Valley’s Physician Assistant Program has had a location in Traverse City for five years now. Recently I was honored to transition to the role of assistant program director and site director for Traverse City. However, even more exciting for me is to be part of the success of GVSU’s PA program that is here in my hometown. We have amazing students and graduates who are providing exceptional medical care and giving back to the northern Michigan communities.
Local person who inspires me professionally: Jim Frick, PA-C. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in so many aspects of the PA profession and in life in general. He is a model of someone who has dedicated his life to helping others, and that is inspirational.
My next big thing: I have a passion for advancing the physician assistant profession at the administrative and business levels. My goal is to advance my education and will begin a doctorate degree in administration this coming year. I want to use my education to advance students’ knowledge in the administrative and business aspects of the PA profession as well as grow the PA profession administratively. Additionally, I have been fortunate to have been invited to speak at statewide conferences on a variety of medical topics and hope to expand this to national conferences in the upcoming year.
Who knew: I have family ties on Mackinac Island. My grandmother was born and raised there, my father owned a photography gallery there for more than 20 years and our family has a burial plot on the island.
Founder and Idealist, Cultured Kombucha, 28
Organizations actively involved in: American Culinary Federation; Fermenta: A Craft Women’s Collective; International Center for Reiki Training; FUSE Young Professionals; Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; Kombucha Brewers International; Sara Hardy Farmers Market board member; Father Fred Foundation advancement board member; Great Lakes Culinary Institute advisory board member
Highlight from last year: Cultured Kombucha Co. successfully expanded from 1,100 square feet into a new 5,000 square foot production facility to continue our growth in ready-to-drink Kombucha Tea. Cultured placed in the top 10 for Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Celebration in 2019. I was also awarded Alumni of the Year 2019 by Great Lakes Culinary Institute.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Holly Hack (EXIT Realty Paramount broker/owner) continues to inspire my work ethic on a daily basis. Her consistency, tenacity, and personal development are always moving toward the next level. Fred Laughlin (retired director of Great Lakes Culinary Institute) has inspired my career since the beginning of my college studies. His career has spanned so many areas, yet his dedication to local food and beverage, quality education, and an equitable food system has always been persistent in his ethos.
My next big thing: Cultured Kombucha Co. has two additional product lines launching in spring 2020 and will also be launching into the Chicago market. We’re looking forward to sharing these new products with an expanded community by continuing to nourish each other from the inside out.
Who knew: I am certified as a Reiki master and meditation facilitator. The connection between mind, body and spirit has allowed me to grow on a personal and professional level.
Executive Editor/Producer, The Boardman Review, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Inland Seas Education Association; Kenyon Alumni Association of Northern Michigan
Highlight from last year: Publishing our eighth issue of The Boardman Review, and therefore completing our first two full years as a quarterly publication. Seeing the growth from day one and exciting prospects ahead made it feel like a true milestone.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Joseph Beyer, executive director of the Michigan Legacy Art Park. I’ve never met someone in my life who is so happy to connect people without requiring a direct benefit to himself. In addition to that, the principles he applies to his career choices, motivations and life balance are inspiring.
My next big thing: My brother (Nick Loud) and I hope to help produce both a feature film and short film shot primarily in the Traverse City area within the next year, alongside some great collaborators, old and new.
Who knew: I love my work, and I’m constantly surprised at how lucky I am to be involved in these great projects recently, but I would drop everything if I was paid a decent wage to write about the Detroit Lions.
Creative Director/Video Producer, the Boardman Review, 30
Organizations actively involved in: Mission Point Press; The State Theatre; Inland Seas Education Association; Kenyon Alumni Association of Northern Michigan
Highlight from last year: Going to the Tribeca Film Festival world premiere in New York City along with seeing the release on HBO for the documentary “At The Heart Of Gold,” in which I filmed all of the courtroom proceedings of the disgraced USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. And having our two-year anniversary of The Boardman Review quarterly with our eighth issue release event at Workshop Brewing in Traverse City.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Cammie Buehler, co-owner/managing partner of Epicure Catering and The Leelanau Conservancy Board Member. Her incredible work ethic is something of legend and also her dedication to always doing things the right way. She is the great connector for many of us in northern Michigan and a valuable asset to our community.
My next big thing: My brother and I hope to help produce both a feature film and short film shot primarily in the Traverse City area within the next year, alongside some great collaborators, old and new.
Who knew: I first started working on the concept of The Boardman Review when I was living in Norway for two months. Being further away from northern Michigan actually helped me understand what was so special about it.
Chief Financial Officer, Boomerang Catapult, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Impact 100 TC president-elect; Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan treasurer; Yen Yoga & Fitness Advisory Council member; Traverse City Rotary member
Highlight from last year: As a leader and team member at Boomerang Catapult, it has been exciting to develop and implement strategies that have positioned several companies in our portfolio to secure additional capital and expand their reach internationally. Over the past year alone, Boomerang Catapult has executed over $5 million in new investments and increased its portfolio to 14 local start-ups and emerging growth companies. Aside from its financial activities, I also find it deeply meaningful to work for a private-sector organization that is so committed to supporting civic involvement, philanthropy and health.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Jean Derenzy was one of the first people to welcome me to the community when I moved here in 2016. I enjoyed serving Grand Traverse County with her and since our departures have been proud to watch her ongoing success as the Traverse City DDA director. She is innovative in her pursuit of economic development for the region, well-reasoned in her approach and an eternal optimist. Her intelligence, sincerity and humor make her invaluable as a colleague and friend.
My next big thing: Since its inception in 2017, I have been thrilled to serve on the board of Impact 100 TC as finance chair. I’m now president-elect. During that time, it’s been an incredible experience working with such a variety of intelligent, dedicated and collaborative women as we have established the organization, created processes and improved the experience to make the 2019 grant cycle even more rewarding for our members and applicants. Impact 100 TC has grown to 304 members and will be giving away three transformational grants of $101,333 each to nonprofits serving this community in October. That means in just three years, we will have given away more than $800,000.
Who knew: For a semester my freshman year in college, I worked part-time as a costumed character for kids’ parties. My favorite characters were Rapunzel and Daisy the Clown.
Business Insurance Risk Manager, KorthaseFlinn Insurance, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Vistage International; NMC Foundation Scholarship Open chair
Highlight from last year: I’ve been fortunate to be a part of growing KorthaseFlinn on a variety of fronts and it is rewarding to be able to work with so many great people in each of the communities we operate in throughout northern Michigan. I am very proud of the investments and commitments we have made to growing our team personally and professionally, our focus on serving our clients and providing peace of mind, and finally, our commitment to being engaged, active members in all of the communities we are fortunate enough to serve in.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: There are so many great people in our community that it’s very hard to pick just one, but the first that comes to mind is Randy Flinn (KorthaseFlinn president.) Randy is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and his leadership skills are spot on – he’s always looking for ways to support our team and help us grow both personally and professionally. He’s not afraid to invest in the team to make it happen. He’s also a very hard worker who does the right thing at every turn with a sincere focus on helping our clients protect what matters most to them. I am very fortunate to work alongside Randy.
My next big thing: We are very excited about the next few years as we have a lot in the works. Our new Traverse City office will be a big focus and we are looking forward to growing that team of professionals as well as continuing to build our relationships within the Grand Traverse region. I’ll also be completing my Certified Insurance Counselor designation, as well as starting my MBA.
Who knew: I’m a Yooper and proud of it!
Public Relations Manager, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, 29
Organizations actively involved in: Public Relations Society of America; Grand Traverse Area Women in Leadership; Traverse City Women in Marketing & Communications; Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Green Committee; Watershed Warriors
Highlight from last year: Being featured in the Lead Like a Woman series from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce ATHENA organization, receiving a Public Relations Society of America PRoof Award for influencer marketing campaigns, and speaking at the 2019 Public Relations Society of America Travel & Tourism Conference.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Diana Fairbanks. When I first returned to Traverse City, I got to work with Diana as a media coach. She is an incredible mentor, a talented PR professional, and a valued friend.
My next big thing: I’ll be hosting the second annual Women Writers Weekend this fall at the Resort, which brings together female travel writers from across the Midwest to experience Traverse City alongside professional development opportunities.
Who knew: I am also a children’s book author (pen name Lillian Jaine), and one of my books, “Just One You!” was read at the White House Easter Egg roll in 2015.
City Clerk, City of Traverse City, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Junior Achievement of Northwest Michigan; Rotary Charities of Traverse City board of directors; Rotary Club of Traverse City; Michigan State University College of Medicine
Highlight from last year: Having the opportunity to speak at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass., to this year’s global cohort of senior executives in state and local government. Being given the chance to speak to people who shape federal, state and local communities about how to completely flip how we brainstorm solutions for optimal results was beyond humbling, when I think about the potential these concepts have if utilized around the world.
I was also thrilled to be appointed by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to a 25-member team made up of national election experts and scholars and election administrators to modernize and overhaul Michigan’s election systems and processes to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: My husband, Matt Turner. He serves as senior manager of IT Support Services for Hagerty. Matt is one of those people who has one primary goal for everything in which he is involved: to make it better. And his drive for excellence is working its magic from the really big thing that has the potential to drive a substantial business initiative in the right direction to something many would consider small, but sets the right tone. Matt is exceptionally bright and has this ability to turn a problem around in his mind almost like it’s on a carousel so he can see all angles, and routinely goes to work like it’s his first day, so he’s always fresh. Matt embodies what we call the growth mindset: His eyes don’t gloss over anything. He inspires me and anyone who wants to be the best version of ourselves.
My next big thing: I have been prequalified by the United States Department of State to observe the election process in relatively new democracies (primarily in Western Europe), serving as part of an international delegation that works to ensure voting is truly open to all, especially women and minorities, where voting rules and processes are sometimes designed to prevent this from participating. At the end of the delegation deployment, we will make recommendations to the Department of State and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on how to ensure each and every citizen’s right to vote is truly protected and secure.
Who knew: I often create my own triathlons for myself (which I always win!) or with friends, pushing myself in all four seasons to maintain physical as well as mental fitness. Sometimes a kayak race replaces the swim portion of a triathlon and we’ll be paddling as fast as we can until we reach shore, jump out and start running – and I can only imagine what other people are thinking!
Director of Information Technology, Grand Traverse County, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Information Systems Security Association of Traverse City; TBA Credit Union committee; Michigan Government Management Information Sciences; Mi-GMIS Session Committee; Grand Traverse County Wellness Team
Highlight from last year: My team and I successfully upgraded and redesigned the entire network infrastructure and implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning software for the City of Traverse City and merged and integrated software for multiple departments. We are currently in the process of one-application permitting for the building code process. I am fortunate to have a dedicated IT team which is critical in supporting our vision and which is willing to work above and beyond.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Daniel Mays, senior biologist of Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (and my husband); Brenda McLellan, Traverse City Chamber of Commerce ambassador; Donna Kinsey, human resource director of Grand Traverse County; Phillip Bertolini, deputy county executive/chief information officer, Oakland County. All these people are great leaders and passionate about what they do. No matter how busy their lives are, they always have time to support and mentor me.
My next big thing: Continue to improve the county’s technology, create/implement a secure digital government, increase citizen satisfaction through improved responsiveness and create efficiency and effectiveness of government services. Become the 21st century/one digital technology county leader.
Who knew: I was the first college graduate in my family.
Business Development Manager, Traverse City Tourism, 33
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City member, board of directors; Rotary Camps and Services board of directors; Da Capo Fund board of directors; Father Fred Foundation advancement committee; Kappa Delta Sorority, Alpha Alpha Chapter council advisory board
Highlight from last year: I was elected by my peers in the Rotary Club to the Rotary Camps and Services board after serving as the presidential appointee the prior year. I was also accepted into the Leadership Grand Traverse Program through the TC Chamber of Commerce, where I met a great group of professionals I will always remain connected with. I also learned more about the inner workings of various aspects of the community like our health and human service organizations, local government entities and our school systems (private and public). I came in thinking I already knew most of what there is to know about the Grand Traverse region after living and working here for so long, but left pleasantly surprised about what I learned throughout the three months of Leadership Grand Traverse.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Warren Call, president and CEO of Traverse Connect. Warren has always been a young leader in the community, but I think he has stepped up and has been doing great things for our chamber and economic development. He cares a lot about the future of the region, which is evident in his efforts to bring higher paying jobs to the region and affordable housing for young professionals, among all his other projects. I cannot wait to see the impact he has on Traverse City within the next 10 or so years.
My next big thing: At Traverse City Tourism we are focusing on destination development: opportunities that enhance quality of life for locals, while also encouraging economic activity through travel to our region. One example is our investment in gathering data and leading community conversation in support of an indoor sports complex. It would not only bring in tournaments during slower seasons where travel is lighter, but would also give locals more opportunities to stay active in the winter. Though we are just in the research stage, this is a project I would like to see through. The economic and health benefits that an indoor sports facility could bring to the Grand Traverse region make it a project that should be on everyone’s radar.
Who knew: I used to be a hand model while in high school and then as an intern at TV 7&4. I modeled for a local jewelry store’s engagement ring ad campaign and also in a television commercial.
CEO, Oneupweb, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Northwest Michigan Health Services board of directors; Traverse City Chamber of Commerce board of directors; Front Street Irregulars
Highlight from last year: Officially launching our sister brand, PointA, a digital marketing service for small businesses and franchise owners and having it get awarded its first major contract.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: This might be stretching the definition of person, but our team at Oneupweb is a constant source of inspiration. I’ve never been around a group of professionals that has been so passionate about the work that they do, absent of ego. They show up every day and lay it all out on the field on behalf of the team and the clients that they manage.
My next big thing: When I took over Oneupweb, we had 19 employees. By the end of the year, we’ll have 50. We can see hitting the 100-person head count in the next five years between our two companies. This October also marks our five-year anniversary of ownership. Time flies!
Who knew: I ran the 2000 Los Angeles Marathon without training and I bought new shoes the day before because, well, I’m an idiot and I didn’t know you shouldn’t do that. I still have the scars on my heels to this day. For clarity, I didn’t run the whole time, but it was the first time I had ever run 10 miles straight … oh to be young.
Government Affairs Director, Traverse Area Association of Realtors; On-field host, Traverse City Pit Spitters, 31
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Noon Rotary Club member; FUSE Young Professionals vice chair; FUSE Advocacy steering committee co-chair; FUSE volunteer committee member; Housing North Advocacy committee member; Blue Cross Blue Shield community advisory committee member; United Way of Northwest Michigan Campaign Cabinet member; Michigan Realtors® Convention Task Force member
Highlight from last year: Highlights include organizing a candidate training academy in partnership with the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, conducting a housing survey on housing options in our region, and registering voters on National Voter Registration Day as a part of the FUSE Young Professionals advocacy committee. Also, becoming the on-field host for the Traverse City Pit Spitters where I get to play a role in something that unites us and gives us pride in our community. I had no idea just how much it would mean to me to be a part of Pit Spitters family. I am so glad to play a small role in bringing this family-friendly, community-minded, fun brand of baseball to Traverse City. Go Pit Spitters!
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Ryan Hannon, street outreach coordinator with Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan. I have been inspired by Ryan since I first heard him speak on the street outreach program when I was a participant on a United Way of Northwest Michigan Citizen Action Team (C.A.T.) more than five years ago. We are fortunate to have many people working to end homelessness in our community. But Ryan, to me, is the heart and soul of efforts in our community to assist individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. What inspires me most is how much he cares and the genuine connections he makes with those he serves. I am inspired by Ryan to treat and serve everyone with the same compassionate heart that he shows everyone every day.
My next big thing: I am excited to be stepping up from vice chair to chair of the FUSE Young Professionals, a program of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. I am looking forward to building upon the great work that previous chairs, especially the soon-to-be-past chair Valarie Handy, have done. I am thankful to Valarie for all her hard work putting together a strong foundation and a great team of Young Professionals that I am excited to work with in the coming year.
Who knew: My favorite song to sing for karaoke is “All Or Nothing” by O-Town
Physician Assistant; Executive Team Member, Addiction Treatment Services, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Hope Not Handcuffs; Bluffs Association president
Highlight from last year: April 2019 marked a successful first year for Addiction Treatment Services’ outpatient health clinic. In response to the opiate crisis epidemic, I opened a clinic for the service organization in order to provide medical healthcare to clients, who for the past 40 years have essentially only received social services from ATS. I care for patients in residential treatment for substance use disorder as well as provide medication-assisted treatment for clients in all levels of care at ATS. More recently we have added two part-time psychiatrists to properly treat co-occurring mental illness.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: I draw my inspiration from several local influencers: Jeff O’Brien, chief of Traverse City Police, who has shown compassion and has challenged his deputies to do the same, which is to treat addiction as an illness; Dr. Roger Gerstle, medical director of Traverse Health Clinic, who has been a phone call away, always willing to offer advice and support; and ATS’s executive team, which has shown unwavering support while I worked through the ups and downs of opening a medical clinic.
My next big thing: Opiate Health Home – a comprehensive medical model for treating addiction with a no wrong door approach. Also, I hope to network with other local providers who simply do not have the capacity to treat their own patients’ substance use disorders.
Who knew: One of my favorite jobs was working EMS while attending Central Michigan University.
Owner/Founder of Quirky Crate & Owner/Founder of Quirky Headquarters, 34
Organizations actively involved in: Co-founder of Small Town Roller Derby
Highlight from last year: This was my second year running my subscription box, Quirky Crate. My business continues to grow each year nationally and globally. My ‘pinch me’ moments of this year were being named USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Top 10 Subscription Boxes of 2019 (#3) and being featured on the cover of the Northern Express. I also very recently expanded and fulfilled a long-time dream of mine by opening up a colorful gift shop in downtown Kalkaska that features indie artists and makers from around the globe and other quirky and colorful gifts.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: My piano teacher, Dawn Moses, who has raised nine children, runs her own business, is active in our community, and enriches the lives of so many adults and children through music. Dawn exemplifies the definition of ‘Girl Power’ as she’s a strong, hard-working entrepreneur and mother who gives back to her community in many ways. I hope to be like her someday.
My next big thing: The last few years have been a whirlwind, getting my business up and running, opening up a storefront, and packing and shipping out over 14,000 boxes. Now that I’ve got my groove, I hope to get more involved in our community and give back where I can. I am passionate about bringing some life and color to our downtown area and hope to get involved with the DDA in someway, shape or form. Kalkaska recently has had so many people step up that work hard to make positive changes to our town and I hope to stand beside them.
Who knew: My husband and I competed on CBS’s “The Amazing Race” season 26. We made it to the final episode and placed fourth. We may have not won a million dollars, but we had the experience of a lifetime, traveled 35,000 miles to eight different countries (in less than 26 days!) and also won a trip to Prague, where we got engaged.
Executive Director of Customer Experience, Interlochen Center for the Arts, 37
Organizations actively involved in: Addiction Treatment Services board of directors president; Rotary Club of Traverse City member; Interlochen Public Radio volunteer; Safe Harbor volunteer
Highlight from last year: I pioneered a customer experience strategy in a brand new position at Interlochen Center for the Arts. My job is to ensure that great customer service is woven into Interlochen’s guiding principles, systems, culture, and bottom lines. As part of the strategy I’ve spearheaded several initiatives, including a tiered rollout of a new onboarding and training system for every employee at Interlochen and the development and implementation of a digital tool that allows us to quickly and easily capture and collate customer feedback to improve processes and performance.
My next big thing: Addiction Treatment Services has just begun a strategic planning process that will ensure our community continues to have a leading public health strategy for addiction treatment and recovery. This will include enhanced options for women’s residential treatment, launching The PORCH (Providing Opportunities for Recovery and Community Health) program to provide same-day assessments, wrap-around services, and more.
Who knew: I can take a few steps into a cornfield, look at some leaves, and tell you exactly which insects and diseases are present in that field.
Biggest fan: “I am an enormous fan of Maureen. She has been an integral part of the Interlochen Center for the Arts team since 2011 and has consistently helped move our organization forward. She is creative, tenacious, and deeply committed to the mission and vision of Interlochen. In her current role, Maureen focuses on one of Interlochen’s most important constituencies: the community members of the Traverse City region. She has successfully pursued opportunities for Interlochen to better connect and serve as a resource for our local community.” – Trey Devey, president, Interlochen Center for the Arts
Vice President of Digital Innovation and Technology, Hagerty, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Hagerty Cycling Club member; Traverse City Area Public Schools coach
Highlight from last year: In the last year, we launched our Hagerty Drivers Club, which allows automotive enthusiasts access to our premier programs and publications. The technology team was instrumental in this endeavor. I am inspired every day by our team’s authentic dedication to our goals, mission, and values. Being able to work alongside them is the best part of my job.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: During my time at Tamarack Holdings, I had the pleasure of working with Wendy Becker. I feel very lucky to call her my friend. Her professionalism, wisdom, great attitude, and kind heart made our time together as colleagues infinitely rewarding.
My next big thing: I have had a dream since I moved to Traverse City to work with local businesses and educators to develop an intensive computer science summer program for high school girls. I worked with an organization when I lived in California called Girls Who Code and had the opportunity to see this course in action. The education and mentorship that it provided to young girls during a key time in their lives was truly invaluable.
Who knew: Last year, I had the opportunity to paddleboard three of the Great Lakes in a single day.
Senior Financial Advisor and Partner, Elemint Wealth Management, 36
Organizations actively involved in: Old Town Playhouse co-president; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan; Londolyn Shores Waterfront Association president; Traverse City Economic Club member
Highlight from last year: My career is a mix of professional and philanthropic growth. Professionally, my partners and I focus our financial services firm on Michigan clients, whatever their financial situation may be. Philanthropically, my firm was the first title sponsor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Golf Outing, which this year raised more than $78,000 to benefit at-risk youth in northwest Michigan. Old Town Playhouse’s 60th Anniversary Gala just broke the $100,000 mark for the first time.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Paul Schmuckal, chairman of Schmuckal Oil, exemplifies what it means to be philanthropic. He supports and lends his expertise to many local charities and causes – always in the background, never for recognition. I learned from him that in giving, you get back more than you ever expected.
My next big thing: Though my involvement in both organizations, Old Town Playhouse recently developed a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan to offer scholarships for “littles” to attend Young Company Camps and pay for free tickets to Old Town Playhouse events.
Who knew: At 5’9”— diminutive for a high jumper — I willed myself over the bar and broke the Traverse City Central freshman high jump record, previously held by retired NFL tight end Mark Brammer, 6’3”.
Co-owner/Attorney, Danbrook Adams Raymond PLC, 34
Organizations actively involved in: Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan board of directors chairperson; Impact 100 TC arts and culture chair; Traverse Area Human Resources Association member
Highlight from last year: Receiving an opinion and award in favor of an employer in a labor arbitration that spanned several months, including a two-day hearing, examination of multiple witnesses, and submission of a post-hearing brief. The culmination of all that work and effort in a favorable decision for the client was extremely rewarding. I was also selected as a Super Lawyers Michigan Rising Star in 2019 for the third year running.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Allison Beers. Not only is she a successful business owner and mother, she is also extremely involved in the community and has a heart of gold. Her kindness and authenticity is so appreciated and inspiring.
Who knew: I have a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater and love to sing and dance. I have been in more than 14 theater productions, including as Sandy in “Grease,” Pamina in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Cinderella in “Into the Woods,” and Princess Winnifred in “Once Upon A Mattress.”
Biggest fan: “I have the honor of serving with Lindsay on the boards of Impact 100 and Goodwill. As an attorney, of course she always shows up organized and well-prepared; as a person, she always shows up with valuable and keen contributions to discussion, a quick wit, and a generous heart. Very few people in life embody the kind of light that shines through Lindsay.” – Jody Lundquist, chief financial officer, Boomerang Catapult
Owner and Brewer, Rare Bird Brewpub, 33
Organizations involved in: Pour for More founder and president; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Up North Pride
Highlight from last year: Rare Bird celebrated its fifth year! I feel like five years is a big milestone in the food and beverage industry. We are continually learning and improving and trying new things. It’s easy to be forgotten in this industry, so we strive to stay fresh and relevant. The first five years have been very good; here’s to many more!
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Terra Bogart is a huge inspiration to me. She is a nutrition educator for Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. In the past year, she has made leaps and bounds in the community with the Farm to School program as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program. She is having a positive influence in kids’ lives every day and continues to excel. TBAISD was recently ranked in the top 25 percent in the state for their work in this space.
My next big thing: I think the marijuana industry is the next big thing coming to Michigan. I have been working for the past year on getting a foot in on the industry. I think it’s time people stop seeing it with such a stigma and accept it for what it is. At this point, it should be viewed no differently than alcohol.
Who knew: I love to sail! I bought a boat a few years back with no real experience and taught myself how to sail. I’m always up for a challenge!
Book Awards Coordinator and Festival Director at Jenkins Group; Traverse City Commissioner; 39
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse City Light & Power; Traverse City Arts Commission; Friends of Traverse Area District Library; American Association of University Women of Michigan
Highlight from last year: Working with fellow board members and staff at Traverse City Light & Power to bring the fiber/FTTP plan for a vote and get it rolling. In my four years on the commission, this was my biggest lesson in how government moves versus private enterprise. In the end, I am glad it was a slow process because we now know every facet was examined and everything was dotted and crossed that needed to be.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Angie Judge. She is a nationally respected businesswoman and author, and is active with many organizations in our community. She brought Battle of the Books to Traverse City, which is a fantastic event with lots of student participation. She is an all-around badass and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
My next big thing: The 10th Annual Traverse City Children’s Book Festival on November 9th! For 10 years we have been ‘the little festival that could,’ as I like to say. We provide a free day of entertainment at the City Opera House for families to celebrate the joy of reading in a fun, interactive way. It is a great event in a great setting and I hope we can continue doing it as a low-key, primarily locals’ festival for years to come.
Who knew: I am a podcast addict and listen to everything from true crime to comedy. I love listening while working and driving. I am sure people have heard some strange things coming from my car at stop lights.
President, Intrust CPA, 39
Organizations actively involved in: Firefly Children’s Initiative treasurer and board member; Cub Scouts den leader; Bethany Christian Services foster family
Highlight from last year: Working with many local individuals and business owners this past tax season and helping them take full advantage of the new tax law. Purchasing and starting a substantial rehabilitation of a new office building, with the goal of transforming it from an obsolete industrial building into a newly renovated office building.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Jeff Wood, my business partner. Jeff is intelligent and highly respected by anyone he works with, but also exemplifies the greatest level of humility of anyone I’ve ever met. Jeff’s ability to truly listen to others is inspiring.
My next big thing: We are eagerly anticipating the move into our new building. This, along with the strong base of employees and a recent rebranding to InSolutions, will give us a solid platform for our business to see significant growth and expansion.
Who knew: My family and I have participated in 11 home exchanges over the past several years, including Paris, Utah, Arizona, Chicago and many others. Home exchange is where we travel and stay in someone else’s house while they stay in our house. It’s like VRBO, but no money is exchanged. The best part of home exchange is that we have visited places we never would have visited otherwise and seen each destination through a local’s perspective.
Grand Traverse Baykeeper®, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, 36
Organizations actively involved in: The Waterkeeper Alliance; Citizen Science Association; Michigan Clean Water Corps; MSU-Extension Water School advisory committee
Highlight from last year: For several years, I have been monitoring and working to eliminate an illegal discharge of hot, chlorinated water into a cold-water stream that was harming resident brook trout. I worked with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the property owner to find a solution to treat and reroute the discharge. This summer marks the first time in four years that Tributary AA of Kids Creek is running cold and chlorine-free, making it a desirable brook trout habitat once again.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: The volunteers at The Watershed Center inspire me daily. They don waders and head into stretches of our local streams to assess water quality. They serve as my first mates on our tugboat. They volunteer their time to enter water quality data from more than two dozen beaches in our region into our database to ensure people swim safely. The fact that people in our community care about keeping our water swimable, fishable, and drinkable as much as we do as staff is incredible.
My next big thing: In 2018, The Watershed Center piloted a citizen advocacy program called Watershed Warriors, which helps citizens speak up for clean water in our region. This year, our program has grown to almost 50 engaged citizens that advocate for policies and decisions that protect our water. We are now designing a civic engagement training program for citizens who want to learn more about how they can be an effective voice for clean water.
Who knew: This year marks my third year of accomplishing the two-mile open water Swim for Grand Traverse Bay.
Assets for Thriving Communities Director (formerly Director of Housing, Goodwill NM), 39
Organizations actively involved in: Rotary Club of Traverse City member; Rotary Camps & Services board member; Rotary Charities board member; Traverse Area Association of Realtors board member; Commongrounds Real Estate Cooperative Development finance person; Venture North loan committee member; Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness vice chairperson; Housing North advisor; Old Mission Peninsula School volunteer
Highlight from last year: There’s something to be said about planting seeds, cultivating relationships, and watching them turn into real change in our community. Initiatives that I’ve been involved in over the past few years, like Housing North – the first 10-county rural housing partnership led by Sarah Lucas – or the HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, are underway. We plan A LOT in our community so it’s especially gratifying when these plans take shape.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Kate Redman. Kate thinks big and is fearless about the challenges of taking on a new real estate investment and community building model. Kate has adapted her smart legal brain into building something community-led and driven for the benefit of creating a landmark on the future Eighth Street.
My next big thing: Well, I’m turning 40 in 2020, so this is my last opportunity to be part of this venerable group of young people. I’ve enjoyed the friendships and opportunities to collaborate with other 40U40 members and the next big thing will surely be to build upon relationships like these in our community.
Who knew: After leaving my corporate job at JPMorgan after six years, I went on an naively planned Alaskan camping trip with some friends to decompress. Each day was filled with a new terror. From trying to convince my friends to not follow bear tracks with hot, steamy poop along the trail, to eating cold reindeer hot dogs in what looked like a Blair Witch Project cabin, I promptly ‘re-entered’ non-corporate life in a few days.
Parking Director, Downtown Development Authority/Traverse City Parking Services, 35
Organizations actively involved in: Bay Area Transportation Authority board of directors
Highlight from last year: Focusing on integrating multi-modal options into the parking system. This year, we added Destination Downtown as an employee transit incentive. (The Destination Downtown Program allows a pass holder to utilize existing BATA City and Village routes to get downtown for their daily commute to and from work.) We also added bike fix-it stations, expanded bike parking options, and purchased bus shelters for downtown.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Jan Warren (of Northwest Michigan Works and the League of Women Voters) has taught me to stay true to the cause or goal even if it is unpopular, and to give more of myself in order to inspire others.
Who knew: In 2003, I placed third in a rookie demolition derby in Abilene, Kansas. I still have the trophy to prove it.
Biggest fan: “Nicole deserves high praise for getting it done and done well. She not only manages daily parking concerns with positive professionalism, but she is also implementing industry-leading demand management programs. Her efforts will benefit Traverse City for years to come.” – Gary Howe, advocacy director, Norte
eMarketing manager, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, 38
Organizations actively involved in: Grand Traverse Area Women in Leadership education chair; Grand Traverse Area Spartan Alumni member; Traverse City Track Club member; Varsity S Club member
Highlight from last year: In the past 12 months, I’ve been a part of unifying the marketing departments of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Turtle Creek Casino, and Leelanau Sands Casino. During this transition, I’ve taken on digital marketing responsibilities for all three properties, including the development of long-term strategies as well as day-to-day content creation and implementation. I am exceedingly proud of the work we have done and look forward to our plans for 2020. During that time, my peers nominated me for a Leader of the Quarter award.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Scott Chouinard, vice president of accounting and assistant general manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The longer I work with Scott, the more I admire his encyclopedic knowledge of our business and his unflappable nature. He is a quiet, steady force at the Resort. He has acted as our general manager multiple times during his career and his direct-report team has some of the longest work tenures in our company, a testament to his leadership.
Who knew: I was a four-year varsity rower for Michigan State University.
Biggest fan: “Kelly isn’t only a digital marketing wizard, she’s also an empowering, thoughtful leader. She constantly seeks ways to get involved in her workplace and community, and her natural enthusiasm brightens every room she enters. Congratulations, Kelly!” – Jillian Manning, public relations manager, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
ALEX J. ZELINSKI
Director of Corporate Partnerships, National Cherry Festival, 31
Organizations actively involved in: Traverse Bay Sunrise Rotary Club community service chair; Bay Area Recycling for Charities board member; Traverse City Elks Lodge member and trivia night co-chair; NMC Barbecue committee member and volunteer coordinator; Chamber CEO Roundtable member
Highlight from last year: Helping give back nearly $80,000 to the community on behalf of the National Cherry Festival. Continuing work with our partners at the DTE Foundation, American Waste, SEEDS, and the Green Team on the Green Initiative at the National Cherry Festival, which reduces the waste stream of the event. In 2018, 93% of waste was diverted from the landfill. Creating a new cocktail hour and networking event for corporate members within the National Cherry Festival. Growing the Festival Foundation sponsorship program about 20% by adding additional events to the foundation portfolio.
Local person who inspires you professionally and why: Suzanne Miller Allen of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. She is always optimistic, kind, and energetic. She is always willing to offer advice and insight while also being a great listener.
My next big thing: Running a half marathon!
Who knew: In 2012, I lived and traveled in Europe for two months with just one backpack while working on a farm for a bit. My wife and I went back last year for three weeks to visit the friends I had made while there in 2012. I was Guinness Perfect Pour certified at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.