TCBN: 40 Under 40

Tonia Bailey

Principal, 7th Legacy Consulting, LLC

"Elitnaurrsteq (A Sharer of Culture)"

Good deeds: Invested countless hours of volunteer work for the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center and through her board leadership has helped the TBCAC develop professionalism and policies around cultural competency. "Tonia inspires others to understand the Native culture and work toward understanding one another through the individual self and the entire community," said Brooke Nettz, executive director of the Advocacy Center. "Professionally, she's worked in many social work settings, including foster care, addiction treatment and domestic violence. Her passion for humanity emanates in everything she does."

Achievements in past year: Bailey helped her husband start 7th Legacy Consulting, LLC in 2012. As a principal, she helps Tribal Nations identify ways to meet the health and educational needs of their tribal citizenship. "I’ve targeted areas of health and education from the Affordable Care Act to tribal communities defining what a “healthy Anishinaabe child” is for the legacy we leave for future generations."

I love TC: With four seasons, a caring and passionate community, Traverse City is not just a destination but a home to many because of what the area offers through nature, the arts, dining and entertainment.

Inspiration: "The Fast Runner" movie inspires me because it accurately depicts my cultural heritage on my Alaskan Native side – and that my ancestors were able to survive that hostile arctic climate and that is why I’m here today.

Allison Beers

Owner, Events North

"The Job Whisperer"

Professional: In five years took Events North, her events planning business, from a home-based operation to a three-person office downtown. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, Events North was named the Readers' Choice Best of Award Winner from Michigan Meetings + Events Magazine for Best Meeting and Event Planner. Freelance writer for several statewide publications and speaker at industry events.

Of note: My favorite passion has turned into connecting new people in town with jobs, friends and a network. I've become the job whisperer.

Good deeds: President, National Cherry Festival Foundation Board of Directors; founding member of the Traverse City Young Professionals

"Allison has a heart of gold that she gives selflessly, not only to her husband and two young children, but to everyone she interacts with, at work and in the community," said co-worker Rachel Jarosz

Mitchell Blue

Senior Vice President, SBA Product Manager, Traverse City State Bank

"True Blue"

Accomplishments in the last year: Added to the Traverse City State Bank senior management team; awarded SBA Northern Michigan Lender of the Year for 2013 by the Economic Development Foundation; served Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest Michigan as board president.

Advice to a newcomer: Our area leaders are involved, not only in their companies, but in bettering the community. As someone new to town, get involved in something you are passionate about on a volunteer basis. The next thing you know, you will have relationships with other passionate people, the same passionate people that go above and beyond within their companies and who are the leaders in our community.

Inspirational quotes: "Do, or do not. There is no "try." – Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back) It's how I approach everything I am involved with. I'm either in or I'm out. There is no in-between. And, "They've done studies, you know … 60 percent of the time, it works every time." – Brian Fantana (The Anchorman) Both my job and myself are very numbers-oriented and often people are very matter of fact about something they are trying to convey. So I typically resort to this Anchorman quote to lighten the mood.

Warren Call

Senior Portfolio Manager, Wealth Management division, Huntington National Bank

"The Consigliere"

Accomplishments in the last year: Rebuilt investment brokerage division, earning him a significant promotion as one of the youngest senior portfolio managers within Huntington Wealth Advisors; named chair of the Traverse City Young Professionals in 2013, with related role on the Chamber board of directors; joined Michigan Legacy Art Park board, named treasurer; joined Paperworks Studio advisory board.

Advice to a newcomer: This is my specialty – I see myself as the "plumber" for information flow. I want to be the go-to person for making connections and it's been the focus of my efforts with the Young Professionals. This year we created YP Connects, which serves as the "hub" to get young people connected and engaged with the economy and community. I've been thrilled with our results thus far.

Inspiration: Every Winston Churchill quote about optimism, determination, guts, bravery, grit, character. What inspires me is the iron-fisted determination to never, never, never give up … no matter what.

"Warren has encouraged and energized the Chamber’s YP committee, resulting in a laser sharp focus on the program’s purpose and priorities," said TC Chamber COO Laura Oblinger.

Aaron Cook

NMC Director of Aviation

"The Aviator"

Good deeds: Serves as assistant director of the National Cherry Festival air show; trustee and past president of the Elk Rapids board of education; appointed to the state board for the Michigan Advanced Aerial Systems Consortium.

Milestones: NMC's Aviation program has been rapidly growing due in part to Cook's vision and implementation of the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program, recognized globally and one of only six programs in the country to train operators, as well as the International Aviation Partnership and increased recruiting efforts.

Advice to a newcomer: I'm probably the most visible person in the region when it comes to aviation. If someone wants to know about aviation, usually I can help or connect them with someone who can. Albeit, someone recently came to me and said, "So, I'm told you're the guy who can get things done with the FAA." My response: "I am not a miracle worker."

I love TC: Hands down, it's the best place in the country to fly, live and raise a family. I have had the chance in my career to travel extensively and have yet to find another TC!

“There were a few raised eyebrows when Aaron was first introduced as NMC’s Director of Aviation. He seemed, so, well, young! Today, however, after revamping our training fleet, implementing our business plan, affirming NMC as a center for international training, and placing Michigan at the forefront of unmanned aerial training…let’s just say it’s hard to imagine NMC Aviation without him or his team!” – Marguerite Cotto, Vice President for Lifelong and Professional Learning, NMC

Troy Daily

Owner of Daily Medias, which focuses on guerrilla and ground marketing

"Imaginative ROI Creator"

Accomplishments in the past year: launched first official TC Dining Guide; co-captain of TC Cycle Pub; co-founder of TC Ale Trail.

Advice to a newcomer: Be open to new people and situations. Be outgoing and use the power of networking to help you connect ideas and resources. Be a risk taker, step out of the norm, be a leader.

I love TC: It's where I grew up and learned to become a leader … and where I first realized I could be whoever I decided to be.

Inspirational quote: "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." (Albert Einstein) I don't want the focus of my life to be on making money or being "successful." I want to build relationships in this community that last a lifetime, support others, and in turn help me to become the best version of myself.

"Troy is a top influencer because he does what he loves, in a town he loves, while encouraging those around him to do the same," said Whitney Brown, (TITLE TK)

Aaron Dennis

Founder, filmmaker, producer for Stone Hut Studios

"The Frequent Flyer"

Good deeds: Active with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, On The Ground, Oryana, Food For Thought, Carter's Kids, NMC, The Champion, and more.

Professional: Dennis works mostly on short films for good-for-the-world businesses and organizations such as Scholastic. His first feature-length documentary was The People and The Olive, which focused on fair trade olive farmers from the West Bank and the Run Across Palestine.

He and his wife Chelsea are now working on a film about fair trade coffee farmers called Connected by Coffee about the long-term relationships of producers and roasters such as Chris Treter from Higher Grounds in Traverse City.

In just over a year, Stone Hut Studios has grown from a solo operation to having four team members and two interns. His work has taken him to Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, France, India, Nepal, Tibet, Central America, Palestine, with upcoming projects planned in the Middle East and possibly Asia.

Inspiration: My favorite book and secret weapon for breaking creative blocks is called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It gives great insight into methods for motivation and creativity and for avoiding the resistance that holds us back from achieving our goals. I can never keep it on hand since I'm loaning it out so much.

Heather Dykstra


"The Giver"

Good deeds: Treasurer, Women's Resource Center board of directors; secretary, Traverse Health Clinic.

Professional: Dykstra has practiced law in the legal and financial industries for 15 years and presently manages her own private law practice, which offers estate planning and divorce services to clients in Michigan and Wisconsin.

"Heather is unassuming and always gets the job done, never turning away a request for help. This ability, her knowledge and her skills make her a great role model for future community leaders." – Arlene Brennan, Traverse Health Clinic CEO

I love TC: Traverse City is truly a community in every sense of the word. Most of the leaders here dedicate their personal and professional lives to making this a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Inspiration: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me." (Erma Bombeck) This quote inspires me because I am blessed with tools to truly make a difference to those less fortunate and strive every day to give back what I can to better my family, my community and those who seek out my counsel.

Kevin Endres

Owner/Associate Broker Three West, LLC

"Family Man"

Good deeds: Left a position on the Junior Achievement board to become the spiritual advisor and member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul board, which serves the community's underserved.

Achievements over the past year: Continued growing business with the addition of two new staff, a company rebranding and launch of a new website; became the #1 commercial real estate company based on market share for the five-county area; received broker's license.

Insight for newcomers: For as much as we've grown and improved, we're still a small town and relationships are a big part of success in this town. If you treat people right with honesty and integrity, and not only concern yourself with making money, you will be rewarded.

I love TC: It has everything anyone would want, a beautiful landscape, outdoor activities, great people who appreciate and respect what we have, a great Catholic school system, family. There isn't another place I would want to raise my family.

Inspiration: "Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words." – St. Francis of Assisi. I feel people's actions speak louder than words. What you see is what you get. I try to live my life based on my Faith and it guides me in all that I do.

Laura Galbraith

Vice President of Administration, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; General Manager, Traverse City Area Chamber Foundation

"The Rainmaker"

Good deeds: Traverse Area Human Resources Association Board of Directors officer;

Long Lake Elementary PTO.

Professional achievements: Galbraith manages $4.6 million of funds at the Chamber Foundation. Since November 2012, Galbraith and her team have secured eight loans that amount to $200,000 for energy efficiency projects that are projected to save $50,000 annually for the participating businesses. Galbraith also helped secure a $50,000 grant with Fifth Third Bank, which will help fund a new Sub Micro Loan Fund for small entrepreneurs.

"Laura has become one of the most influential and 'go to' people in the regional access to capital market for business. She is sought after by bankers, angel funds, and other financial professionals as a problem solver for gap financing that makes the difference between deals happening or not." – Douglas Luciani, president and CEO, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

Advice to newcomers: Get involved in the community, whether it be going to networking events, volunteer at an area nonprofit, or join an intramural sport. I have heard leaders in our community state that they are seeking young talent to continue to grow the region, so that we all prosper.

I love TC: Birds of a feather flock together. It is all about the lifestyle of Traverse City. It is such a beautiful region with amazing outdoor recreation that we all take advantage of. I still smile when I see the bay on my way into town.

Influential quote: Whenever I deal with a stressful situation at home or at work, I always feel better putting the situation into perspective. "Did anyone get hurt or die in this situation?" is a quote Chamber staff uses frequently.

Chris Girrbach

General Manager, Pangea's Pizza; acting sales manager/owner, Great Lakes Potato Chips

"The 'Get It Done' Guy"

Achievements over past year: Became sole owner of Pangea's Pizza Inc.; launched Great Lakes Potato Chip at Kroger, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Gordon Food Service, as well as a number of other chain and independent stores; currently sells potato chips to approximately 1,000 stores in Michigan.

Advice for newcomers: Traverse City is a great market for people willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to succeed – no matter what industry they're in.

I love TC: At the end of a hard day's work, I can still feel like I am on vacation.

"Chris is a community-minded business owner who helped spearhead many improvements to the Jay Smith Walkway," said Rob Bacigalupi, acting executive director of the Traverse City DDA. "He is kind and easy going, but also knows how to get things done – including making an awesome pizza!"

Chris Hale

Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Shanty Creek Resorts

"The Ambassador"

Good deeds: Mt. Holiday board of directors; America's Summer Golf Capital Association board of directors; Bellaire high school soccer coach.

Personal Achievement: Awarded the 2013 Sales and Marketing Star of the Industry at the Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism.

Professional: Hale helped form a co-operative marketing group called America's Summer Golf Capital Association, which markets Michigan as a destination for golfers around the world. The 2012 – 2013 ski season at Shanty Creek had its highest revenues in more than a decade, with year-to-date revenues outpacing last year by 10 percent.

I love TC: I've said it several times since being introduced to Traverse City: "If you have the chance to live, work, and raise your family here, say yes," because the lifestyle approaches perfection. My mom tells her friends that I live on vacation. And she's right.

Inspiration: Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." So whatever you do, have passion, have pride. And do it well.

"Chris serves the community in many ways as a devoted father and husband, board director, coach and mentor, and tourism/resort executive. I have witnessed his efforts first hand, and am proud to call him my boss and friend." – Tracey Ramsey, colleague.

Jessie Houghton

Principal, Westwoods Elementary

"The Educator"

Good deeds: West Senior High National Honor Society advisor; supporter of Endurance Evolution; grader for the Advanced Placement College Board

Milestones: Houghton was selected to become principal of Westwoods in May 2013, serving about 400 area children. Prior to this appointment, she taught calculus at Traverse City West Senior High and served on the school and district leadership teams for the past nine years.

Inspiration: "Get comfortable being uncomfortable." Learning is hard work. The pathway for learning is not linear; it is messy. Errors and mistakes are welcomed as learning opportunities, allowing us to remove incorrect knowledge therefore creating a base to explore, connect, and engage in deeper and meaningful understanding.

"Jessie is definitely a rising star in TCAPS. This year she served as a part-time interim assistant principal at West Senior High and did such a fine job she was hired as the new principal at Westwoods Elementary." – Juleen Jenkins-Whall, teacher, Traverse City West Senior High School

Andy Humphrey

Owner, 231 Commerce, LLC

"E-Commerce Whiz"

Achievements over the past year: Purchased and redeveloped a commercial property to accommodate current and future staffing needs; doubled online sales and started three new ventures, including a recent marketing partnership with the Traverse City Ale Trail; through his consulting entity, he works with local non-profit organizations and other local entrepreneurs to help them sell more online.

Advice to a newcomer: Don't be afraid that moving up North will isolate you from opportunities, relationships or career experiences. My experience is that local leaders and professionals have an open door policy and will gladly make time to visit with any newcomer to our area, myself included.

I love TC: The attitude is contagious. I can feel the energy every day. Traverse City is big city-minded, while maintaining small town charm.

"Andy's a true entrepreneur in the best sense of the word. He's breaking new ground on both a local and nationwide level for how e-commerce businesses are run. Plus, he's open to sharing what he's learned with others interested in selling online," said Norman Plumstead of Honor Bank.

Jason Jones

Director, Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation

"The Gladiator"

Good deeds: Active in Traverse City Young Professionals; elected as president of the Michigan Recreation & Park Association

Achievements in the past year: Helped launch the new 231 app; co-developed the Michigan Recreation and Park Associations Young Professional Network; received the Commitment to Excellence Award from the Michigan Recreation and Park Association; led Team Grand Traverse in logging over 38,000 miles in the MI Big Green Gym Challenge.

Inspiration: "It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood." (Theodore Roosevelt) This quote inspires me because it verifies that even attempting greatness is still greater than succeeding at the cowardice of not trying.

"Jason has been instrumental in change to our parks system for the last few years. He holds a very important job for someone his age." – Allison Beers, president, Events North

Jennifer L. Jones

Regional Manager, Huntington Wealth Advisors

"The Giver"

Good deeds: Simultaneously served as board member and past president for Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region (2006-2012) in which she received the 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award in the State of Michigan; Traverse City Board of Zoning Appeals member since 2011; Rotary Club of Traverse City member since 2009; and City Opera House board member.

Milestones: Joined Huntington Bank as a vice president and senior trust officer with the Private Financial Group in January of 2009 and was promoted to regional manager of Huntington Wealth Advisors in Northern Michigan in September of 2012. She is one of youngest to serve in this capacity throughout the over 30-plus offices of Huntington Wealth Advisors.

I love TC: This community is full of people who are passionate about the life they carve out here. There are so many great ways to donate time and energy to "give back" and so many of our area leaders are on the ground doing just that.

Inspiration: I've kept this quote from Walden by Henry David Thoreau on my desk since college: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." Thoreau's writings have always resonated with me and this quote stuck with me at an early age. You must keep moving toward your goal to find success and there is nothing wrong with dreaming big!

Lars Kelto

President and owner of Lars Kelto Technology Services: includes roles as technology director for the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR) & the new Northern Great Lakes Realtor MLS (NGLRMLS), the Traverse City Film Festival and State Theatre

"The Data Director"

Accomplishments in the past year: Helped launch a new multiple listing service and new websites for TAAR and the NGLRMLS; directed launch of a new wide-area network that connects the Bijou by the Bay, the State Theatre and the festival offices (allows advanced management of ticket sales, theatre operations and the show equipment itself).

Advice to a newcomer: Volunteer, for anything, especially where your specialized skills are of disproportionately high value. This town rewards it tremendously. I am still surprised daily with how a person from a job five years ago or a board 10 years ago or the coffee shop 20 years ago becomes an important connection for today's projects. Specifically, I would send them to the Old Town Playhouse. It is a business network, a bar, a stage and a church wrapped up into one.

I love TC: It's just big enough to grow and reach in great ways, and just small enough to still know so many of its most invested citizens. And because of summer.

"Lars' life revolves around community service to arts organizations, he never says no to anyone who needs help. Not to mention the fact that from the beginning and to this day, he has been among the top two most important TCFF volunteers, inventing systems that other film festivals like Sundance have used after us." – Deb Lake, executive director of the TCFF

Justin Looyenga

Principal, The Larkin Group

"Mr. Dependable"

Good deeds: State Theatre volunteer, Cherry Festival volunteer, TCAPS Donation Program.

Milestones: Along with his business partner Bryan Taggart, Looyenga has grown The Larkin Group more than 400 percent in seven years, adding 24 jobs to the region. About a year ago, the company began donating 20 percent of revenue from each new auto, home or business policy, giving more than $20,000 to Traverse City Area Public Schools. Larkin is also in the process of using local contractors to build a 13,000-sq-ft building, which will allow for future expansion and growth.

Advice for newcomers: First, I would tell the newcomer to become a part of the community, not only giving your financial resources to local charities but also your time. Also, have balance in your life. It is great to be successful but if that success comes with giving up any moral or ethical values then walk away from it.

I love TC: Traverse City is large enough to grow the size of business I wish to operate and small enough to have it feel like a close community.

Inspiration: "What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve." (Napoleon Hill) I love this quote because my father always stated it when I was younger and it stuck to me. If you put your mind to something, with a plan, and monitor that plan then you will find you will achieve it.

"Justin has always been an exemplary leader within the organization and within the community. He has always been one to lead by example and encourages his employees to continuously improve their skills and their education." – Bryan Taggart, principal, Larkin Group

Benjamin Marentette

City Clerk, City of Traverse City

"The Young American"

Good deeds: Traverse City Young Professionals; Rotary Club of Traverse City.

Achievements in the past year: Marentette has prequalified as an international election observer, with the goal of providing recommendations to ensure the voting process is one that is open, fair and one with integrity that the newly democratic countries can believe in. This year, he was asked by the Michigan Department of State to serve on a small panel to make a recommendation on which voting system(s) Michigan should implement for the next decade, providing the opportunity to shape a key component of Michigan's democratic process.

Advice to others: Reach out – get involved. Ask someone to connect you with people. This community is as amazing as it is because there are talented people who roll up their sleeves and jump in. Also, embrace the snow … embrace our four distinct seasons!

I love TC: It is a road biker's, sailor's, runner's, skier's, food-lover's, nice people-liker's, thinker's, hard-working person's, nature lover's, culture junkie's … dream!

Inspiration: Albert Schweitzer said it best: "The purpose of human life is to show compassion and the will to help others." When we realize it's all about everyone else, and how we can be of service, life is much more fulfilling.

"For the last year, Benjamin has tirelessly worked to help educate the Young Professionals on the roles that boards play in our city. He's such an advocate for stepping up and helping and is the first one to do so!" – Allison Beers, president, Events North

Bradley Matson

Community Organizer, CoWharf co-working Space

"The Serial Entrepreneur"

Good deeds: ThinkTC, CoWharf, and actively involved in any number of community enriching movements at any given time.

Milestones: This year, Matson and his wife opened CoWharf Coworking Space in downtown Traverse City. The office has about 40 members that come in a few days a week to work on writing, software development, business startups, and other creative endeavors. In May, Matson co-founded ThinkTC, a group dedicated to connecting creatives, entrepreneurs, and young professionals to Traverse City. He is also working on two mobile application projects that will be launching within the next year.

I love TC: I believe that Traverse City can become a sustainable example of livability, natural beauty and forward thinking.

Inspiration: "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation." – Petro Gustavo, mayor of Bogota, Columbia

This quote highlights a higher goal of placemaking and livability. It's an achievable vision of a more harmonious future.

"Bradley's entrepreneurial and community vision is effecting change in real time, and portends to enrich our town with improvements through creation of jobs and governmental and not-for-profit action. Bradley has returned to his home community to do good in this community, and I for one am impressed with his energy and forward-thinking attitude." – Tres Brooke, Michigan Northern Branch Director for Comprehensive Emergency Management Associates, Inc.

Leah Bagdam-McCallum

Director of Development, Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan Inc.

"The Convener"

Good deeds: Serves on the Traverse City DDA board.

Achievements over the past year: As a DDA board member, she helped food trucks find a place downtown this past year; raises money through grants, events and individual appeals to cover whatever retail store revenue does not for programs like the Goodwill Inn, Food Rescue, Farm to Freezer and others; through her efforts, Goodwill will exceed its fundraising goal by 25 percent-plus this year.

Advice for newcomers: Get involved. This community is generous and supportive to those who share their time and talent. Join a service club, like Zonta or Rotary. Serve on the board of a nonprofit or city/county department. This investment is the best way to learn the art of getting things done, Traverse City-style.

Inspiration: "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by Salman Rushdie. I'm inspired by people who can tell a good story and this book is about the value of sharing stories and the importance of speaking up – even (and sometimes, especially) when you're in the minority.

"Leah no doubt inspires others and is often top of mind to other community leaders when a young professional that can make an impact is sought after," said Laura Oblinger, chief operating officer of the Traverse City Area Chamber. "She's a rising star I would keep my eye on for greater things yet to come."

Janie McNabb

Northwest Michigan Works! Chief Operating Officer

"The Worker Bee"

Good deeds: Co-chair of the Poverty Reduction Initiative for Child & Family Services; Grand Vision convener

Milestones: McNabb developed the Career Caf̩ at Traverse City Michigan Works!; which is both a web site and a physical location. "This makes the center welcoming and non-bureaucratic, reinforcing the fact that we are not the unemployment office Рwe are a private non-profit here to help people find jobs," she said.

Advice for newcomers: I give newcomers a list of people to meet over coffee. I would also tell a newcomer to volunteer as much as possible – to find a nonprofit whose mission they have a passion for. Most people here place high value on giving back to the community, so volunteering is a great way to experience what's important to the Traverse City area.

Inspiration: I'm one of those geeky Harry Potter fans. My favorite line in the books is from Dumbledore, the archetypal sage character: "It is our choices, Harry, that tell us who we truly are, far more than our abilities." I love this line because our culture focuses so much on ability to achieve and show accomplishment, when a person's character is far more important. The choices you make reveal what's really important to you.

"Janie's work with Poverty Reduction Initiative and Grand Vision has not only benefited our region but she has inspired and enabled others to participate as well. She is an outstanding advocate for our region. The benefits of her work will be felt for years to come. – Steven Wade, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation

Erin Monigold

Owner, Social Vision Marketing

"The Social Butterfly"

Good deeds: AC Paw animal rescue volunteer; Twitter fundraising for animal shelters

Milestones: Founded TC TweetUp, a social media networking group and the Traverse City chapter of Geek Breakfast, an international group that brings creative professionals together in the mornings for networking, idea sharing and learning.

Advice to newcomers: I'd invite them to network with the growing creative class in northern Michigan! In my opinion, there's no better place to do that than at a TweetUp or Geek Breakfast. I would invite the newcomer to these events and make sure to introduce them to our diverse professionals and members who are involved in the community in many different ways.

I love TC: I grew up here and I am still in love with our small town charm, our sense of community, and because it's also an amazing place for creative talent. The region continues to grow with more young people. The beauty of our area in every season is the perfect place to take a break from technology and to get inspired. You don't have to spend a lot of time searching for inspiration in Traverse City, because it's everywhere you look.

Inspiration: Michigan author Mitch Albom's book For One More Day. I love all of Mitch's books, but this one in particular left a lasting impression. It inspires me and reminds me to never take anything in life for granted.

"As an entrepreneur and the founder of several community groups, Erin Monigold is putting northern Michigan on the map as a haven for creative professionals. While many stories report on young people leaving Michigan for other opportunities, Erin is creating them in Traverse City. With Social Vision Marketing, Erin brings expertise in social media and digital marketing to local businesses." – Sloane Kelley, interactive strategy director, BFG Communications

Brooke Nettz

Executive Director, Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center (TBCAC)

"The Fearless Leader"

Accomplishments: Leading the charge in building a community that has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse by forging relationships and sharing her passion with community members, medical professionals, governmental and nonprofit agencies and others in the child protection field.

Advice to a newcomer: Don't be intimidated to reach out directly to leadership because often times you will find that they answer their own phones.

Inspirational quote: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you … (A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson)

"Brooke is dedicated to ending child sexual abuse and working herself out of a job! She has taken the TBCAC from a start-up, in April of 2010, to a shining star agency in just three years time. Her dedication to the sexually and physically abused children in this region is nothing short of saintly." – Denise Busley, Grand Traverse Pie Co.

Annie Shetler-Olds

Certified Small Business Consultant and Agriculture Specialist, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center

"The Spreadsheet Queen"

Accomplishments: Worked with 134 existing and new businesses to either open their doors or help grow, collectively generating more than $4.6 million in capital; helped create 48 new jobs and retain 27 others; joined families at the kitchen table identifying ways to transition ownership to the next generation and sat in boardrooms of growth companies needing international trade and export assistance.

Advice to a newcomer: Connections and "knowing people" are important and it's how business has been getting done for a long time across our region.

I love TC: It's one of the most beautiful places on earth! And, it's only 45 minutes from where I grew up in Kalkaska on none other than the Shetler Family Farm. Milk, anyone?

"As many young people reject a career in farming, Annie brings her youth and energy to the Northwest Michigan Agriculture and Food System Sector Alliance where she brings the excitement of entrepreneurship to the agriculture sector," said colleague Mary Rogers.

Jon Plummer

Co-owner/operator, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream; Moomers Farm Creamery

"Ice Cream Guru"

Good deeds: Sponsors local teams and events; donates to numerous causes and groups.

Milestones: Maintaining an award-winning, fun and local ice cream destination and continued growth in both retail and wholesale – especially after last year's "perfect ice cream weather" and the national Traverse City media frenzy, including EveryDay With Rachel Ray, USA Today, and the Today Show.

I love TC: It’s a hip and fresh area that stays ahead of the norm. New and different ideas keep our area on track as being one of the greatest places! I could not imagine living, working and raising a family anywhere but here.

Inspiration: "I am just a bouncing cork in the river of happiness" – Bob Plummer (my dad). This reminds me daily to have fun, smile and enjoy life! Life is too short and you must make the most of it.

Sam Porter

Owner, Porterhouse Productions, event promoter

"The Visionary"

Achievements over past year: Through the efforts of his crew and many volunteers, Porterhouse helped raise more than $50,000 for local nonprofits; helped gather more than 25 tons of food for local pantries via events like the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival; supported local, regional, and national musicians, local businesses and restaurants, brewers, nonprofits, youth gardens, craft culture, and more.

What's in store: He recently completed the final phase of investment and funding for a mobile 4,000-capacity tent venue that will offer tools and resources for community events – and initiate new off-season events. Also, he's in the process of launching Michigan Next, which will offer access to capital, marketing and coaching resources to up-and-coming local entrepreneurs, and he's working closely with (consulting firm) RECON Management Systems on an Entrepreneurs Academy, to provide coaching and direction to emerging entrepreneurs.

Advice to newcomers: Network the networks! Spend time at common spaces like Brew, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Grand Traverse Pie. Visit local businesses and restaurants and get to know the owners and chefs. Go to special events. Attend city meetings. Go to nonprofit fundraisers and give. Volunteer. Immerse yourself. Be bold.

Inspiration: "You can’t have a mission without a margin." – Ray Minervini, The Minervini Group. One cannot have a significant mission to do great things in one’s community without keeping a steady, strict and sustainable financial margin. That doesn’t mean entrepreneurs don't take great risks!

Tim Pulliam

President, Keen Technical Solutions

"The Closer"

Achievements this past year: Keen was among the TC Chamber's 2013 Top 10 Small Business Celebration finalists and has embarked on a LEED Gold project to build and redevelop a building in the heart of downtown. Company is seeing double-digit growth for the sixth straight year.

â? ̈Personal achievement: Learning to surf waves in Frankfort.

Advice to newcomers: Traverse City is a hot spot of creativity that has begun to attract the talent necessary to help creativity flourish from a business standpoint. We can’t underestimate the value of our region's beautiful natural resources to market to our potential business leaders and thought creators.

I love TC: Our great community makes it feel like home.

Inspiration: "Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right."

“Tim is a very solid successful businessman. He's an extremely passionate, trusting, proactive and positive person who is always motivating others to higher levels." – Steve Morse, CEO, Keen Technical Solutions

Sakura Raftery

Director of Business Enterprise, Goodwill Industries

"The Enterpriser"

Professional: Raftery oversees all Goodwill Workforce development, managing 55 employees. She created and implemented the new food services training program. She also oversees Paperworks Studio and the SSDI/SSI program. Her work bridges the gap between the nonprofit, corporate and governmental sectors and strives to break established barriers to getting people with disabilities and disadvantages engaged in the workforce.

Raftery has led initiatives in local food processing, retail, environmental services and at Paperworks Studio. She has developed pathways to training and work experience with the support of Goodwill's social services and in partnership with community agencies.

I love TC: I learned quickly that we live in a community that cares deeply about its long-term growth and success. I have the opportunity to work alongside community leaders and it is overwhelming how supportive established leaders are in developing the next generation of leadership. My advice is to get out there, collaborate to create solutions that address multiple constituents, and work with established leaders as a sounding board to get it done!

Inspiration: The book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Balancing a full-time career that I am passionate about and having two toddlers at home takes multi-tasking to a whole new level. I appreciate insight into the life of a career-oriented mother and the multitude of options that a woman can consider for a fulfilling career and family life. Living in Traverse City makes it all the more attainable!

Mark and Ryan Ribel

Co-owners, H. Cox & Son

"The (co-) King of Beers"

Good deeds: H. Cox & Son is very involved with community fundraising, including the YMCA, TART Trail, Father Fred, Traverse City Film Festival, Bayshore Marathon, March of Dimes and NMC.

Mark Ribel

Milestones: Over the past year, formed partnerships with three new breweries to include New Belgium Brewery, Brewery Terra Firma and Perrin Brewing Company. I helped lead our company in getting out in front of the craft beer craze 12 to 13 years before it became the new hot thing in beer by educating our employees and making sure our craft brands were placed in stores and on tap. When I started as a sales manager, we sold around 1,400 cases of Bell's Beer. By the end of the year, our Bell's case sales will push 70,000 cases.

I love TC: There is not another place in the Midwest that compares to the stunning landscapes and outdoor options that Traverse City and surrounding communities have to offer. The people of Traverse City are authentic. There is a constant sense of making our community better and people are not afraid to speak from the heart.

Inspiration: "What goes around comes around." Helps me make better long-term decisions and makes me a better person.

Ryan Ribel

Milestones: Led the restructuring of the company's sales organization; oversaw the

highest volume of cases sold in the company's history; successfully raised more than $10,000 for the Father Fred Foundation as a part of its Lucky Leprechaun Fundraiser, with more than $100,000 given in 15 years; facilitated partnerships with Michigan breweries; partnered with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins Colorado (Fat Tire Beer).

Advice to newcomers: This area is about networking and innovation. They should also understand this is one of the best areas in the world to live and raise a family.

Inspiration: "Don't give up; don't ever give up" (Jim Valvano, American college basketball coach and broadcaster who died of bone cancer in 1993.) To see someone fight cancer so hard till the very end is extremely inspirational. I try and use this mentality each and every day when challenges arise.

"Despite their impressive positions at such a young age, Mark and Ryan are humble. They have continued H. Cox & Son's history of being very civic minded, with the list of their philanthropic involvement reading like the list of available charities around town." -H. Douglas Shepherd IV, attorney, Brandt, Fisher, Alward and Pezzetti

Megan Schmidt

Senior Manager, Sales and Client Services – Northern Region, Priority Health

"The Health Promoter"

Milestones: Promotion to Senior Manager, Sales & Client Services for the Northern Region of Priority Health; graduate of Leadership Grand Traverse, Fall 2012; Traverse City Chamber of Commerce health care committee chair 2013.

Advice to newcomers: Get engaged, get knowledge and get involved. Be passionate about your community and exude the positive energy to move things forward … be sure to have fun doing it!

I love TC: Because we make really good wine! (Full disclosure: My husband is a wine maker.)

Inspiration: "Be a hill seeker. Life happens on the hills. They're opportunities to prove to yourself that you're stronger than you ever imagined.'' I believe this is what drives me in both my career and personal life. I look forward to taking on the challenges to make things better and solve problems for those around me and my family.

Mike Schmidt

President, broker, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies

"The Real Estate Guy"

Accomplishments: Appointed chair of the Multiple Office Broker Group, an organization consisting of the top Coldwell Banker Companies in the county focused on innovation and industry best practices.

I love TC: because of its people.

Inspirational quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again …. – Theodore Roosevelt

Bryan Taggart

Principal, The Larkin Group

"The Builder"

Good deeds: State Theater volunteer, Cherry Festival volunteer, TCAPS Donation Program.

Milestones: Along with his business partner Justin Looyenga, Taggart has grown Larkin Group more than 400 percent in seven years, adding 24 jobs to the region. About a year ago, the company began donating 20 percent of revenue from each new auto, home or business policy, giving more than $20,000 to Traverse City Area Public Schools. Larkin is also in the process of using local contractors to build a 13,000-sq-ft building, which will allow for future expansion and growth.

Advice for newcomers: Get involved in everything. When I moved here, I knew no one but my business partner. We immersed ourselves into everything community or network driven and it totally paid off. My wife laughs all the time now because when we go out for dinner or drinks, there are constantly people that say hello or stop to chat and when they leave my wife says, "Who was that?"

I love TC: There is a tremendous sense of community in this town. I love that people in this town want to do business with others in this town. Plus, there is really no better place to raise a family.

Inspiration: One book that really stuck out to me was Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. He explains how he overcame ups and downs to build one of the biggest companies in the world and how it was all predicated on customer service.

"Larkin continues to exemplify devotion to community service by the leadership of Bryan. While the work of one can be powerful, motivating others to volunteer and contribute to the community can be exponential. Bryan has done this within the organization and encourages employees to donate their time and services." – Justin Looyenga, principal, The Larkin Group

Rebecca Teahen

NMC Executive Director for Resource Development & NMC Foundation

"Foundation Builder"

Good deeds: Oryana Natural Foods Market board member.

Achievements in past year: The NMC Foundation had a "tremendous" year, restructuring the department and adding new staff to create a strong new team and creating the department's first business plan to guide its work and successes for the next several years.

Advice for newcomers: I love to share my favorite destinations for outdoor adventures or great food and drinks. I'm always happy to talk with newcomers about NMC programs and opportunities to connect with the college. Depending on their area of interest or expertise, I also try to connect individuals with our region's non-profit organizations to explore possible career, volunteer or philanthropic opportunities.

Inspiration: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou) This inspires me to be a better person and is a great reminder to greet people with a smile and treat them with respect.

"Rebecca is an enthusiastic supporter of NMC and the community as a whole. Her passion for promoting an investment in NMC as an investment in our region is compelling. She is really making a difference!” – Wendy Steele, Financial & Investment Management Group, Ltd.; secretary, NMC Foundation Board

Trevor Tkach

Executive Director, National Cherry Festival

"The National Cherry King"

Good deeds: Took over the ad sales for the annual Rotary show and increased sales in the first year; Northwestern Michigan College's BBQ board member.

Milestones: Named executive director of the National Cherry Festival in 2012; led the National Cherry Festival to win the 2013 Best Event in the State awarded by Michigan Meetings & Events Magazine; took over Winter Fest and combined it with Comedy Fest.

Advice to newcomers: I always encourage people to get involved in the community and volunteer, not just for the Cherry Festival. This is a very generous town, giving back to the community should be expected of all professionals. Showing a commitment to the community is recognized by community leaders. It opens doors and garners respect.

I love TC: because of the people.

Inspiration: The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. Spelling and grammar are important.

"Trevor is a connector who is always looking to see how partnerships can make things better. He's ethical and works very hard because he cares about this town and the cherry industry." – Allison Beers, president, Events North

Chris Treter

Cofounder, co-president, Higher Grounds Trading Co.

"The Global Thinker"

Good deeds: On the Ground (the company's philanthropic arm) constructed a library in Hase Gola, Ethiopia; a water system in Chiapas, Mexico; and co-produced the People and the Olive, a critically acclaimed documentary about the Run Across Palestine.

He works to directly source high-quality specialty grade coffees from innovative organic coffee producers around the world while creating community development projects in farming communities around the world and here at home.

Achievements in past year: Treter traveled through Central America to chronicle lives of coffee growers, the basis of which will be featured in the documentary called Connected by Coffee. He also formed a new trading relation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to promote peace in the region. This is the site of the largest war since World War II, with nearly six million killed in recent years.

Advice to newcomers: Treat our town like you are at a year-long summer camp; all activities are at your doorstep. Being in a big town and little city allows everyone to pursue their own goals with the support of the community, as all the amazing people and organizations that make this place so special are close by and accessible. Seek them out, learn from them, and take action to make the difference you seek.

I love TC: There is a perfect symmetry between the amazing landscapes and ecosystems. We have a community that cares about the well being of our environment and the people that call it home.

Inspiration: "If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." (E.B. White) This quote encapsulates my daily conundrum.

Jessica Wheaton

Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator, Traverse City Light and Power

"The Wine-O"

Good deed: Co-founder of Hands Are Not For Hurting, 5K run which supports services for domestic violence victims and abusers.

Accomplishments in past year: Helped develop and launch Michigan's first community solar project, offering area residents a way to invest in solar energy; developed and implemented TCL & P's yearlong centennial celebration; appointed to the Women's Resource Center board of directors.

Advice to a newcomer: Work hard and play hard, too! Take every opportunity to learn more about the community, the business leaders and join groups that will assist in connecting with the right people. Traverse City is a small community and most business professionals run in similar circles. In doing so you'll create a successful path, but don't forget to embrace and enjoy living in one of the most desirable places in the nation.

Inspirational quote: "If you wish to live in a better place, better the place in which you live." The only way we'll better the place in which we live is to get involved. This quote was my call to action.

"Jessica is an effective and passionate leader, she is very motivated and driven to not only achieve success, but surpass expectations," said Allison Seeley (TITLE TK)

Mark Wilson

Multimedia Specialist, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

"The Communicator"

Good deeds: Involvement with the Wellbriety movement, volunteering with the Grand Traverse/Antrim Families of Tradition community anti-drug coalition; mentored local youth in the positive aspects of hip hop culture at Soul Step Urban Dance Studio.

Accomplishments in the past year: Helped revamp the Grand Traverse Band's online presence, broadcasting of council session and documenting GTB's involvement in the Boardman River Restoration; my work with GTB is to convey information between the tribal council, the tribal membership, GTB Government Programs, and the surrounding public at the direction of the Tribal Manager.

Advice to a newcomer: I have a native perspective, live on both sides of the tracks, and know every nook and cranny of this area. For a friend trying to get involved with community leadership I would suggest studying the work of local innovators such as Tom Menzel (BATA) or the late Bryan Crough (Downtown TC).

I love TC because: This is where my elders live, where my ancestors are buried, and where the local commitment to one another is strong.

“Mark is not only an emerging leader in our tribal community, but also within our shared area. His commitment to engage at-risk youth, maintain cultural programming for our tribal families, and utilize current technologies to increase tribal communications has allowed many of us to see his true abilities and potential," says Derek Bailey, former chairman of the Grand Traverse Band.

Christal Frost Wilcox

Morning Shows Producer, WTCM NewsTalk 580


Good deeds: Child abuse prevention coordinator for the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center; co-founder and producer of CherryTBall Drop (now 5 years old) that raises tens of thousands of dollars for local charities and food banks; Volunteer of the Year, TC Fire Department and GT Metro Fire Department.

Advice to a newcomer: The best thing about Traverse City is that there is a place for all passions, from community to business and beyond. We are blessed to live amongst leaders who are approachable and open to new people and ideas. If you want to get things done, and you have the dedication and fortitude to do so, you will. Our community works with you, not against you.

Inspirational quote: “Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and walked out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.” – Christopher Walken as Frank Abagnale Sr., Catch Me if You Can.

"You'll find Christal's fingerprints on a lot of great projects in Traverse City. She has overcome humble beginnings and adversity at a young age to pursue her passions and career, and along the way has set an example that you don’t have to stop for roadblocks. She is the kind of person called upon to make things happen through her talents, energy and network of friends and associates," said colleague Ron Jolly.