40Under40 2008 Winners
In putting together this section this year, we looked for natural born leaders – those in positions of importance, influence and power. You'll find 18 winners from last year's listing, and a constellation of new faces. We culled through more than 100 nominations sent in via a form posted on our web site in June and July. We based the decision not only on those who are wielding influence now – but on a basic instinct of who we feel will be guiding our region's growth in the next 10-20 years. With so many young, qualified people to choose from it was a very, very difficult task picking only 40. We think you'll be just as impressed with this year's 40Under40. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Allison Beers, 29, Owner, Events North
If you're looking to define "drive," look no further than Allison Beers. As Events Manager for the Traverse City Film Festival for the last three years, Beers has had the dubious job of arraigning several parties and events during the weeklong event, juggling several suppliers and 100-plus volunteers.
With 10 years of experience and event planning in her blood, she recently launched her own event and meeting management business, Events North, and will teach an event management course at NMC this fall. She mentors young women in the industry and helped launch the Young Professionals Network, a new group through the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
She is also current chair of the annual Extravaganza that raises money for the Women's Resource Center, the area's primary service provider for domestic and sexual violence survivors.
"She has been one of the most dependable and committed individuals that I have experienced," said Cindy Klingler of National City, who serves on the WRC board and works with Beers on fund raising events. "She loves our community and it shows brightly through her commitment."
Jennifer Berry, 32, Attorney, Parsons Ringsmuth Zelenock, PLC
The 200-member-strong Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association is one of only eight in the state and has a long, proud history of service in the community. Members felt Jennifer Berry should lead them, and recently elected her president. No stranger to volunteer service, Berry already regularly volunteers with free legal clinics and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is also a member of the League of Women Voters, moderating various forums during election years.
"Jen takes life by the horns and motivates people to get things done, " said Jennifer Olson, an underwriter at Hagerty Insurance. "She volunteers at the Women's Resource Center and free legal clinics regularly, trying to bridge the gap between the need for legal services and the availability at a reasonable cost. Basically, she rocks!"
Marc Burkholder, 37, Vice President, Burkholder Construction
It's not the best of times to be a builder, but then Marc Burkholder knows how to handle tough situations. As a former University of Michigan football player (Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors in '93), Burkholder is familiar with strong opponents. A soft market for the building industry is just another obstacle to overcome.
He is active on the Board of Directors for the Grand Traverse Area Home Builders Association (HBA), an organization that is working hard to set some national standards for the green building industry.
"Marc is a great guy," said Scott Duensing, president of the local HBA. "He has done a lot for our association."
He is still all "blue," serving as vice president of the newly-chartered University of Michigan Club of Grand Traverse, and his sports roots still run deep as he also serves on the Leadership Board of the Fourth and Goal Capital Campaign to complete the renovations and enhancements of Thirlby Field.
Sarah Jane Bye, 37, Owner, By Candlelight Amish Furnishings
When it comes to the business interests of downtown Traverse City, Sarah Jane Bye is at the table. As the owner of a furniture and home accessories business at the intersection of Front Street and the burgeoning Warehouse District, her voice is an important one in the city's efforts to expand and connect these two retail districts.
Bye became a Downtown Traverse City Association board member last year, has worked on committees related to public art and wayfinding, and this year was appointed secretary.
"Sarah Jane has asserted herself into leadership positions in a short period of time," said DTCA President Todd McMillen. "She is articulate and thoughtful regarding city and downtown issues."
Chris Bzdok, 35, President, Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C.
When the Mayor says you're a force, you're a force.
TC Mayor Mike Estes recently said of Chris Bzdok, "As a city commissioner, Chris provides the city a rational and passionate voice regarding city beaches and the open space. As a new appointee to the Light and Power Board, Chris provided instant leadership and encouraged citizen participation with neighborhood issues. His legal skills have proved invaluable in resolving several complex city issues."
Not only is Bzdok a leader in local politics, he's also established in environmental law. Some of his most prominent cases have dealt with dioxin in the Midland area, groundwater contamination from a sand mine near Muskegon, and air pollution from the old Rouge Steel Mill in Detroit.
Locally, he and colleagues TJ Andrews, Jeff Jocks and Mike Grant have worked on significant cases for Acme Township, the Friends of the Crystal River, the Leelanau Conservancy, and a cherry processing plant in Whitewater Township.
In his 'down time,' he's vocalizing his opinion on the Grand Traverse County Board of Public Works.
Jamie Callahan, 36, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce
Lobbying for the interests of TC Chamber members, Callahan is quickly becoming the voice of northwest Michigan business in Lansing.
"If it impacts the region's business community at the state Capitol, Jamie is the one to count on for reliable analysis and the inside scoop," says Chris Jonkhoff, a fellow 40Under40 winner. "He has firmly established the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce on the legislative map."
His community service is extensive and includes volunteering for the National Cherry Festival, Boy Scouts of America and Order of the Arrow, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Red Wings Hockey Camp and the Traverse City Young Professionals, in addition to membership in other service organizations.
Callahan is currently putting together a regional candidate forum on business issues prior to the November election.
Matt Case, 35, Director of Support Services, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors (Benzie County Office)
In a community where real estate is at a premium and the local realtor association boasts some 668 members, you can bet the organization's president is an influential professional. As president of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR), Case is a de facto member of all association committees and attends numerous state and national meetings.
"Matt is a very educated and articulate leader both at the Traverse Area Association of Realtors and in the regional community," said Kim Pontius, executive vice president of TAAR. "He continues to help Realtors build and promote collaborative partnerships that help unify our region and makes us collectively more noticeable to those with important new economic opportunities."
He is also a "Champion" for The Grand Vision, a citizen-led land use and transportation study that will provide a framework for the next 50+ years of development in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Wexford counties. He was one of three Benzie County leaders approached at the start of the Grand Vision process to help establish its credibility and encourage turnout for events.
Kandace Chapple, 33, Co-publisher, Grand Traverse Woman Magazine
Now in its fifth year, with 10,000 copies in circulation, Kandace's (or Kandy to many) and her sister Kerry Winkler's publication offers educational, humorous and sometimes irreverent copy continues to attract readers, both male and female. In addition, the duo publishes an annual GTWoman in Business Guide and their networking lunches and Network Nites are often sold out. Their first annual GTWoman Exp(o!) attracted more than 1,000 women. Chapple serves as editor and designer for the magazine.
"Kandy truly encompasses who a 'GT Woman' is," said Stacey Skrysak, news anchor at TV 7 & 4. "She's ambitious, successful and a down-to-earth person who cares about the issues affecting women across northern Michigan."
Gerald F. Chefalo, 37, Owner, Law Office of Gerald F. Chefalo
If he's not fighting for someone in court, you'll find him fighting to preserve Long Lake or taking on a competitor at Trigger Boxing.
Chefalo, who has defended numerous life offense cases in Antrim, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, as well as other northern Michigan counties, was voted one of the top three criminal attorneys in the Traverse City region by readers of the Traverse City Business News in a 2007 survey.
He recently built a new office on the corner of Eighth and Railroad in hopes of improving the area for his clients and residents.
He continues his work with At-Risk Boxing, which works with the Probate Court and charitable groups to identify at-risk young people, and marks their progression in a boxing program at Trigger Boxing.
In addition to boxing, Chefalo loves boating and recently began working with the Long Lake Association to try and preserve the lake and organize family events and happenings.
"Minus the athleticism, boxing and the law require the same virtures: Determination, effective aggressiveness and, most importantly, focus. Gerry could probably be as successful in the ring as he is in the courtroom," said Bill Bustance, owner of Trigger Boxing.
Megan Crandall, 27, Treasurer, TCAPS Board of Education
At 26 Megan ran for, and was elected to, the TCAPS Board of Education. Soon after, she was named Treasurer. It's a powerful combination of youth and influence. Crandall is vocal about the impact the quality of our schools has on the economic development prospects of the greater TC area and the need for long-term planning, and input from business leaders.
Her big project at the moment is trying to gain support for (and help in) establishing a foundation and endowment to benefit TCAPS in order to provide more opportunities for funding, independent of the state budget issues.
"Megan pays close attention to detail and is thoroughly prepared for each meeting with probing and pertinent questions," said Fred Tank, president of the TCAPS board.
She coaches a girls' basketball team, serves on the TV 2 (Up North TV) Advisory Board and on the Young Professionals Advisory Committee.
Chad Dutmers, 37, Owner, Giant Motorcycle Swap Meets
Chad Dutmers is the poster child for going after your dream. Last year he left his prominent banking position as National City's regional president for northern Michigan to acquire a company that promotes motorcycle swap meets for biking enthusiasts in Michigan and in Ohio.
While he's no longer the face of National City, he's still a very familiar face on several community-focused committees, including the Executive Committee of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce (Treasurer). He also chairs the City Opera House Heritage Association.
"Chad has the energy, enthusiasm, vision and passion to help the Traverse City region continue its steady growth and prosperity for years to come," said Doug Luciani, president of the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce. "His efforts on behalf of the numerous boards he serves, and on behalf of the area, is sincere and is moving the needle in the right direction."
Heather Dykstra, 34, Financial Advisor, Robert W. Baird Inc. & Co.
When not in the office or spending time with her husband and two children, Heather Dykstra devotes her time and energy to various committees and boards including the finance committee of the area Habitat for Humanity, the Women's Resource Center Board of Directors and as a member of Traverse Bay Twilight Rotary Club. In the past, she has been active with the Third Level Crisis Center, as an Executive Board member of Crooked Tree Girl Scouts and also served as member of the Board of Governors for the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association.
"Heather has a passion for people and service, which is reflected in all that she does," said Greg Jenkins, attorney at Dingeman, Dancer and Christopherson.
A financial advisor with the Kiessel Rivard Group at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., Heather spent the first six years of her professional career as an estate planning and probate attorney with Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in Traverse City. She now specializes in working with the estate planning, business succession and lifestyle needs of her clients. She is also in the process of becoming a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to bring an innovative and creative approach to the divorce team and provide litigation support for attorneys and clients on financial issues.
Kevin Endres, 33, Owner/President, Three West, LLC
Kevin Endres knows engineering and development, now he's taking on hockey. Endres, and his partners in their young commercial real estate and consulting company, have joined forces with the Traverse City North Stars Junior-A Hockey club to bring their business smarts to the ice and lead the team's front office reorganization.
"Kevin sees the bigger picture, but not at the expense of the intricate details," said Lance-Michael Correia, who handles media and community relations for the North Stars. "He attacks everything with a contagious energy, from concept to execution, and exhibits the kind of focused passion you want on your team."
He was also a key player behind the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corp.'s (TBEDC) Guide to Permitting and Zoning in Grand Traverse County, essentially a "roadmap" for builders and developers.
"Kevin is quickly establishing himself as a force in the development arena in our market," added Kevin Byrne, who represents the county EDC on the TBEDC board.
Erik Falconer, 35, President, Chief Investment Manager, Falconer Group
Money is powerful. So is philanthropy. Along with his wife, Leslie, Erik Falconer owns Falconer Group, which offers investment management and philanthropic planning services to non-profits, professionals, heirs and entrepreneurs who want to use their money in a way that not only meets financial goals but social responsibility as well.
And with a constant eye on the future, he's a national speaker on the next generation of philanthropists. He also is on the Board of Directors for Youth Action International, a global nonprofit working to rebuild war-torn African communities.
"Erik's global perspective and work, combined with his demonstrated value of our region's sense of place and quality of life, provide an excellent role model for their successful blending," said Debbie McKeon, executive director of NorthSky Nonprofit Network, where Falconer serves on its advisory board. "His leadership, energy, creativity and talents are at work benefitting our community."
Leslie Falconer, 34, Owner, FLY Enterprises and Mother Goose Time, Inc.
There may not be rhyme, but there is definitely reason for Leslie
Falconer's third naming to this list of influential people. Since she, and fellow 40 Under 40er and husband, Erik, purchased Mother Goose Time (MGT) last year, Falconer has continued to extend her reach across the world to educate children.
MGT's preschool learning materials will soon be utilized by children in Liberia through a cooperative program with the Liberian government and a nonprofit working in war-torn African countries. Another learning initiative is underway in Kenya and Mother Goose Europe is on its way, too.
"Leslie is innovative, compassionate, creative, intelligent and dedicated, especially to benefit the financial literacy of children, promote wise social entrepreneurship and create community conversations that bridge continents," said Debbie McKeon, executive director of NorthSky Nonprofit Network. She leads by example as she works on so many levels-to benefit one child, one organization, one community and one country."
Scott Fluette, 28, Manager, Turtle Creek Hotel & Casino
While many GenXers are still trying to find themselves, Scott Fluette is on the front lines of one of the area's largest and hottest new hotel that happens to be owned by the influential 400-member Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Fluette, now the manager of the new 140-room Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, got his start at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa where he worked as front desk supervisor, conference accommodations manager, director of housekeeping and guest services manager.
Last November he went over to the casino side of the business and began working on gathering operational supplies and staffing needs for the new hotel, which combines a modern design with many organic and eco-friendly elements.
He's been a member of the Grand Traverse Area Hotel and Motel Association for the past three years.
Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council Chairman Robert "Bob K" Kewaygoshkum said, "We are very proud of Scott and his achievements. As a hard-working member of the Grand Traverse Band, Scott brings a contemporary, fresh outlook to Turtle Creek's management team that, in a manner of speaking, matches the contemporary style of the facility.
"Scott sets a good example for the youth of our Tribe, showing them the way to find success by working toward their education, and how that can lead to a key position in the Tribe's business operations."
Scott Harvey, 32, Attorney, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge
This Traverse City native has represented companies in large transactions and entity formations, but he also provides pro bono legal services to many of the nonprofit organizations that enrich our area, including pro bono estate planning services to Munson Hospice residents.
As the Assistant Hockey Coach for Traverse City Central High School, Harvey has a positive influence on hundreds of young people. He is firmly rooted in the community, finding affordable housing for those who need it and helping out with the recently-launched Young Professionals Group.
"After attending law school at Notre Dame, Scott could have gone anywhere in the country to practice law. His first choice, however, was to head home to Traverse City. In six short years he has established himself as a trusted legal counselor and committed community advocate," said R. Jay Hardin, attorney and founding member of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge's Traverse City office.
Shane Inman, 35, Owner, The Inman Co.
Shane Inman, president and founder of The Inman Co., a local interior design firm, has structured his business in terms of customer service and giving back.
"Shane is influential and has the ability to make a change in this community," said Raelene Wooden-Hall, owner of Idea Stream. "He is currently working on a local foundation that will benefit the education, acceptance and safety for gay youth. I have never met a man so driven, solid and talented. He is truly passionate about his career and community."
Inman has done pro bono design work for the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, Traverse City Film Festival, and the Ugly Kitchen Contest. He is a frequent speaker to students at MSU majoring in Interior Design. He has also served as a Goodwill Ambassador to Africa as a micro-business advisor.
Chris Jonkhoff, 26, Sixth generation Funeral Director, Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home
Mention the last name Jonkhoff and one thinks funeral home. Chris is proud to carry on the family tradition of excellence in funeral service as a licensed funeral director, as well as become actively involved in many community service activities.
Chris is an avid golfer having played on both the Traverse City Central High School and MSU women's golf teams. Today, her love for the game translates to service on the Traverse City Junior Golf Association's (TCJGA) Board of Directors, junior membership in the Traverse City Golf and Country Club and competing in various benefit-oriented golf tournaments.
"She has the ability to develop some tremendous leadership skills and really be an asset in the community," said Bob Lober, executive director of TCJGA. "I have every reason to believe she will do that."
She is excited to co-chair with Bryan Taggart the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce's new Young Professionals.
She also is active in the Michigan Funeral Director Association's District 8 serving as Secretary/Treasurer, and recently joined the Grand Traverse Center's board. (Grand Traverse Center is a new performing arts/conference center.)
Deb Lake, 37, Executive Director, Traverse City Film Festival
The final credits recently rolled on a very successful fourth annual Traverse City Film Festival, and topping the list is the festival's forewoman, Deb Lake. While she may deflect the spotlight that founder Michael Moore shines on her in favor of her 1,000-plus volunteer corp, Lake's influence on the event – and its impact on this region – is not up for debate. Michael Moore has said there wouldn't be a film festival at this point without her. Period.
In fact, he says the only way any of his ideas for continuing to build the success of both the State Theatre and the film fest are moved forward is because of "the smarts and sweat" of Lake.
Her commitment to the event showed when she hung around for three months after volunteering for the first festival in 2005 cleaning up and organizing things. Her hard work – and love for the festival – has been shining ever since.
Zach Liggett, 34, Portfolio Manager, FIM Group/Utopia Funds
Zach Liggett, co-manager of the Utopia Funds, can now add "maverick" and "rising star" to his resume.
BusinessWeek recently named Liggett one of the "maverick fund managers" of the future in its story "Contrarians to Watch."
And, the editors of Institutional Investor News selected him as one of the mutual fund industry's "Top 20 Rising Stars," finding that his "expertise, dedication and consistency" make him a likely trendsetter of the future.
"Zach is one of those individuals who has a great, positive, helpful attitude and seems able to do it all with ease. He is committed to our clients, to his family and to doing excellent work for FIM Group and Utopia Funds. He is candid, thoughtful, and provides impactful feedback to help in the management of FIM Group and the Utopia Funds," said Paul Sutherland, president of Financial & Investment Management Group, Ltd.
When he's not at his desk on Front Street managing more than $650 million in assets, you'll find him kayaking on the river or running a board meeting as president and volunteer of the Grass River Association, a group dedicated to watershed protection and environmental education.
Jordan J. Lindberg, 39, Executive Vice President, eFulfillment Service, Inc.
Jordan Lindberg's business philosophy has always been fairly simple: Try stuff and do more of what works and less of what doesn't. Not bad for a philosopher, which Dr. Lindberg also is.
For companies that sell retail products on the Internet, eFulfillment handles the "dirty" work – filling orders, storing inventory and processing returns. Maybe not very glamorous, but neither is having your customers not get what they bought.
eFulfillment was recognized earlier this year as one of the leading tech companies in the region by the Traverse City Business News. And others recognized his tech-aptitude long ago.
"He is one of the first people in Michigan who saw the need to move toward an information economy," said Brooke Di Giacomo, who has been consulting with him about starting up an Internet-based HD video content start-up in town. "His business is the foundation of the new economy."
And if you want to hear the philosopher's no-fluff advice on how to successfully sell online, catch his course on ecommerce at NMC.
Justin Looyenga, 27, Principal/Risk Manager, The Larkin Group
Insurance may not be sexy, but it sure is necessary. Justin Looyenga was just in his mid-20s when he took over one of the area's most well-respected insurance companies in TC and over the last couple of years has led its significant growth.
Looyenga, along with business partners Bryan Taggart (fellow 40 Under40er) and Daniel White, head Larkin locations in Traverse City and Lake Leelanau. Since purchasing the agency in April '06, business is up 76 percent overall and up 30 percent so far this year.
"Justin has distinguished himself as an energetic and positive agency owner," said Gregg Uren of Auto-Owners Insurance, one of Larkin's business partners. "His positive attributes are revealed in part in the definite enthusiasm he has instilled in his staff and in the way he and his staff interact with their customers and business partners."
Benjamin Marentette, 28, Deputy City Clerk, City of Traverse City; Executive Director of the Traverse City and Garfield Township Recreational Authority
As second in command at the City Clerk's office, Benjamin Marentette plays a vital role in the official business of Traverse City, from the activities of the City Commission and the administration of city elections to issuance of licenses and permits. While he may not see his role as influential, others certainly do.
"He is impressive with his never-ending appreciation for all individuals that we serve in local government," said City Clerk Debbra Curtiss. "He works towards solutions and effectiveness and consistently sets a high standard in public service to the citizens, co-workers and elected officials – always with integrity and concern for all involved. His gracious approach and presence brings everyone up a notch!"
Matt McCauley, 33, Associate Director for Regional Planning & Community Development, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
If it involves planning, it involves Mathias McCauley, who designs and manages programs relevant to the economic and social health of northwest Lower Michigan (read: Citizens Guide to Transportation Planning, Poverty in Our Midst, etc.).
He's also administered several other regional planning department activities, including MDOT activities, GIS projects, smart growth/land use development, and workforce housing advocacy/policy. When he's not doing his day job, you'll catch him serving on the Traverse City Board of Zoning Appeals.
Commenting on his impact, TC Chamber president Doug Luciani said, "Matt McCauley is one of the brightest minds and influential planners in our region. His impact on the overall success of the current Grand Vision process has been significant, and his ability to see the big picture but deal with minutiae makes him practically indispensable to any strategic endeavor. He will be a shining star for a long time."
Lee Michaels, 28, District Manager, Junior Achievement
Lee Michaels might be a relative newcomer to the Traverse City area, but that doesn't mean his passion of service is anything new. He is a firm believer in the power of volunteerism and education.
Before moving here in 2007, he served on the board of another chapter of Junior Achievement and decided to become more involved with the organization, pursuing the district manager position in Traverse City.
Since taking the District Manager position, Michaels has refocused the organization's long-term strategy and direction while reconnecting with past supporters and establishing new relationships.
Said Anne Monroe, board member of the JA of the Michigan Great Lakes, Northwestern Service office: "Leland hit the ground running. He has built an excitement and enthusiasm for JA because he has a natural talent for building relationships. Even though he is new to our area, he has taken the initiative to immerse himself in our local and regional culture. His confidence, poise and professionalism will serve him, and JA, well into the future."
Beth Milligan, 24, Communication & Program Coordinator, TC Chamber of Commerce
The new point person for Chamber programs, events and communications, Beth Milligan also heads up (with co-chairs Bryan Taggart and Chris Jonkhoff) the Chamber's Young Professionals program, which has grown from 75 members in March to 400 members in an amazingly short time.
"Beth's recognition in the Business News' 40Under40 is no surprise to me," said Laura Oblinger, senior vice president, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. "With every experience I've had with Beth, she demonstrates exceptional skills in idea generation and implementation. We are proud to have her a part of the Chamber staff and – more so – proud of her recent accomplishment."
With a passion for the film industry, Milligan, for the past two years, has served as publicist of the Traverse City Film Fest. As a side project/business, she is currently working to start a local film office for the northern Michigan region.
She also serves on the Grand Vision Champions Group and the Transitional Citizen Advisory Board for Up North 2 (Northwest Michigan Community Media Center).
Alex Mowczan, 36, Hotel owner, developer, operator, etc.
Alex Mowczan is a "thirtysomething" to watch. The current secretary/treasurer of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau board of directors, he will serve as president in 2010.
"Alex is looked up to as a leader in our hospitality community, providing a balanced perspective, thoughtful insight and vision that will make our industry stronger in the future," said Brad Van Dommelen, president of the TC Convention and Visitors Bureau.
If you play Monopoly with Alex, plan on him winning. He owns and manages 228 hotel rooms (existing and under-construction) in the city market, plus another 25 apartments. Through his company, Apex Construction, he is currently building the new eco-friendly Cambria Suites Hotel on Munson Avenue – an upscale, all-suite hotel. Last year he converted the Travel Bay Lodge into a Comfort Inn hotel and nearly doubled the hotel's July revenue over last year. He has owned the Best Western Four Seasons Hotel since 2001, the Shadowland Motel, Forest Hills Apartments and Summerside Properties Management Co.
As a board member of the Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association in Lansing, he increased hotel membership from 440 to over 500 properties in just two years. He is also the former president of the Traverse City Area Hotel and Motel Association.
Laura Oblinger, 38, Senior Vice President, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce
Laura Oblinger has a voice for business, and she uses it as she guides the efforts of the five-county Chamber in assisting nearly 2,600 members in improving their businesses, something that is extra challenging in today's world. For those who've watched Oblinger in action, she is a leader who is good to follow.
"In my three years on the chamber board, I have watched Laura grow in responsibility and effectiveness," said Board Member Bob Sutherland, who also owns Cherry Republic. "She is a great asset to our Chamber and to Traverse City as a whole."
Colleen Paveglio, 30, Marketing Director, Traverse City DDA/DTCA
If you love downtown Traverse City, one of the people you should thank is Colleen Paveglio. Her job is to be one of its biggest cheerleaders, and by all accounts she is. She handles all the marketing and promotions for the entire business district – from Santa to Shop Your Community Day – and manages the association that supports the merchants. She's also heading up efforts to "green up" our city by the bay through events that aim to reduce and recycle. Those new downtown shopping reusable bags are just one example.
"Colleen is an exceptional example of the young leadership in this community," said DDA Executive Director Bryan Crough. "Not only does she carry on the responsibilities of marketing downtown Traverse City in her job, but she has always looked to add cutting-edge activities and promotions to the downtown image."
Peter Payette, 34, News Director, Interlochen Public Radio
Nearly every day, Peter Payette is charged with directing the news at one of the community's biggest assets: IPR 91.5 FM. The news radio station covers regional and state news and delivers its in-depth reports to more than 18,000 dedicated listeners.
Payette joined IPR when Interlochen Center for the Arts was launching the news radio station in 2000. Under his direction, the station has won numerous awards, including the Michigan Association of Broadcaster's Station of the Year for 2007, and has had at least a dozen stories aired on National Public Radio.
Payette and IPR also helped the Land Information Access Association (LIAA) develop a youth radio program called Listening to the River. This spring, student work was featured in a special program that aired on 91.5 FM.
Payette often hosts the weekly call-in program "PointsNorth." Outside of the station, he is the father of three and is currently president of the Traverse City Cooperative Preschool board of directors. This summer he's been trying to get through all 700-hundred pages of "The Brothers Karamazov."
Jason Piedmonte, 34, Vice President, Investment Advisor, JP Morgan Private Wealth Group
Some things bear repeating, like Jason Piedmonte's naming to this list for the third consecutive year. His leadership as vice-chairman of the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and his work on the Economic Development Corporation are why he's a familiar face on these pages.
"To have Jason's leadership, knowledge and commitment on the Brownfield and EDC is invaluable," said Jean Derenzy, Brownfield Authority director. "His commitment to the protection of our environment, ensuring for generations the quality of life we enjoy in Grand Traverse County and assisting in the economic growth of our community is a testament of why Jason deserves this recognition."
Mike Richey, 32, Attorney, Dingman Dancer & Christopherson
If there's work to be done, call Mike Richey. An Elmwood Township Planning Commissioner since May 2007, he and fellow commissioners are currently working on the adoption of the proposed new Zoning Ordinance – a controversial document with a long history. When he's not serving on the commission, you'll find him teaching NMC students, serving on the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association's Board of Governors (he headed the Association's 2008 Law Day) or at Third Level Crisis Center, providing pro bono legal services.
"Mike Richey is a rising star in our legal community. In fact, Michigan Super Lawyers magazine will list him as a '2008 Michigan Rising Star' in their September edition," commented Kevin Endres, president of Three West and a fellow 40Under40 winner. "His professional expertise, community service efforts, business affiliations and warm personality make him a top influencer in this region."
Sarna Salzman, 34, Executive Director, SEEDS
She is the first (and so far only) executive director of SEEDS, a non-profit research, design and educational institution that has done everything from establishing a baseline for carbon output for Traverse City to installing alternative wastewater treatment systems around the country.
"Sarna is a unique and gifted non-profit entrepreneur," said Sherwood Smith, president of Avero Research. "She generally makes good things happen."
SEEDS is a co-host of Great Lakes Bioneers (with the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center), an annual event Salzman personally helped produce from its genesis. She is a board member of the Grand Traverse Resource Recovery Council (3rd term) and board member of the Oryana Food Cooperative (3rd term).
Mike Schmidt, 34, President, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies
There are still bright spots in the area's real estate industry, and Mike
Schmidt is one of them. Company president and fourth generation in the business, Schmidt is actively involved in all 40 of the company's offices and ultimately oversees the company's 800 Realtors and employees. And, he lists and sells real estate to boot.
"In the ten years I've been with Coldwell Banker Schmidt, I've watched Mike evolve from a eager young broker to a driving force in one of the largest real estate brokerages in the nation, headquartered right here in
Traverse City," said Matt Case, who also serves as President of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors.
"I believe that his energy, vision and insight has been instrumental in the success of the company, and will be invaluable as we continue to grow," added Case.
Russ Springsteen, 39, Owner, Right Brain Brewery
When it comes down to it, Russ Springsteen just wants to offer good beer. A noble goal, indeed, and one that has won Right Brain Brewery in TC's Warehouse District many fans.
Away from the limelight of Front Street with its growing funk-factor, the District is quickly becoming the cool place to hang out. And Springsteen has been a key player in furthering the personality and the foot traffic of the place, all in the laid-back, stripped-down environs of an old warehouse.
"Remarkable success because of innovation, inspiration and lots of perspiration, Russ didn't wait for opportunity to knock, he beat down the door," said Mike Curths, who owns InsideOut Gallery right next door.
Bryan Taggart, 26, Principal/Director of Financial Planning, The Larkin Group
With 17 employees under his charge at such a young age, Taggart certainly serves as both a role model and a leader.
Since purchasing the agency in April of 2006 with his business partner Justin Looyenga, Larkin's business is up 76 percent and over 30 percent year to date. Although The Larkin Group had primarily been known for their insurance services, since 2006 they have added a wealth management division which Taggart heads. This area of business has contributed a tremendous portion to the company's growth.
This past year Taggart stepped up as a co-chair for the newly-created Young Professionals Organization through the Traverse City Chamber, spending several hours creating and hosting opportunities for young professionals in the Traverse City area to network and communicate.
"Being a husband, father, brother, and friend, Bryan Taggart has always put other people before himself," said Brooke Schivley, a close family friend and a packaging engineer for Chrysler. "He devotes his time and energy into his community with volunteer work, and actively participating in the Chamber of Commerce and the Traverse City Economic Club. At a very young age, he has already accomplished so much."
Trevor Tkach, 31, Business Development Manager, National Cherry Festival
Trevor Tkach manages the National Cherry Festival's Corporate Membership Program, a critical revenue source for the Festival. During his short tenure with the Festival, Trevor has increased cash membership revenue by over 25 percent while reducing overhead to the program. He introduced and implemented new revenue-producing programs that produced over $40,000 of income. He also spearheaded the re-design of the Meijer Festival of Races in 2008, resulting in increased racer participation, safety, customer satisfaction, and revenues. He developed and managed new ticket sales programs, along with the Festival's private label product line.
Trevor currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Exchange Club and its Foundation. Through his volunteer efforts, Trevor assisted in developing a new plan for charitable giving that led to gifts of $6,667 to Odyssey of the Mind, and $15,000 to Fourth and Goal, which will help complete renovations at Thirlby Field.
Nick Trahair, 30, General Manager, AmericInn of Traverse City
Hospitality is Nick Trahair's game and he knows just how to serve it up. Just 24 years old when he took over operations at AmericInn, Trahair is also serving his third consecutive term as President of the Grand Traverse Hotel and Motel Association.
"Nick is any organization's favorite volunteer," said Steve Yencich, president/CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. "His attention to detail, his commitment and his follow-through are assets that he always brings to the table and are always appreciated."
He's also assisted in facilitating community workshops for the regional Grand Vision Land Use and Transportation study that kicked off last year, a landmark effort that will help shape how this region deals with future growth. He's excited to watch his community grow, and is invested in it growing in a way that will make people want to visit for a long time to come.
Bryan Ulbrich, 39, Owner and Winemaker, Left Foot Charley
When Bryan Ulbrich brought the grapes, barrels and bottles to town, his urban winery was a first for the northern Michigan wine industry. His in-town locale brought an original face and new accessibility to the regional wine scene when he opened just over a year ago on the grounds of the old state hospital.
His winemaking reputation has happily followed him from the Old Mission Peninsula and the big city seems to be treating him just fine.
"Bryan's wines are recognizably fine by anyone's standards," said Madeline Triffon, a master sommelier and wine director for the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group in southern Michigan. "Other northern Michigan winemakers are forthcoming in telling about his influence on them, quite a compliment in itself. He is impacting the Michigan wine industry as a whole and is a quality ambassador, especially as his wines have garnered out-of-state kudos and awards. Thanks for staying in Michigan, Bryan!"