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A WAXAHACHIE DAILY LIGHT PUBLICATION


We are excited to present you with the Daily Light’s first 40-Under-40 class. The folks

you are about to discover are some of the county’s most extraordinary. From managing large operating units in a corporate environment to owning a small business, 40-Under-40 is designed to recognize those who excel in the right way. Some of the recipients you may know and some you may not, yet all of them have common goals of making a positive difference in the lives of those around them, serving their community and a quality work ethic. 40-Under-40 is only made possible by the interest you’ve shown in making sure these folks are recognized and honored. Thank you for the nominations you submitted. We also want to thank our title sponsor, Victron, a company that understands the essential need for contributors like those in this 40-Under-40 class. And to our judges, Melissa Ballard – SVP/Community Liaison of Town Square Title, Sandy King – Cheif Financial Officer for the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and Chris York – President of Baylor, Scott & White — Waxahachie, we are grateful for the time and commitment you gave to choose the best 40-Under-40 for 2017. Above all, we want to thank the 40 folks recognized in the following pages. For your quality work, your drive to excellence and your desire to serve others, please accept our sincere appreciation and congratulations. This honor is well-deserved.

Scott Brooks

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Daily Light Publisher

Congratulations

To Each and Every One of the 40 Under 40 Award Recipients


Table of Contents Seth Atkins ................................... 4 Amber Jones ............................... 22 Marcus Armstrong ...................... 5 Judd McCutchen ........................ 23 Matt Authier ................................. 6 Andy Lehmann .......................... 24 Lee Auvenshine ............................ 7 Jeremy Cuellar ............................ 25 Jason Bang .................................... 8 Renee McNeal ............................ 26 Lowell Bryant ............................... 8 Richard Membreno ................... 27 Erik Barnard ................................. 9 Keith Nichols .............................. 28 Jenny Bridges ............................. 10 Obinna Ononobi ....................... 29 Holly Browning .......................... 11 Grace Pandithurai ..................... 30 Ryan Cavazos ............................. 12 Shane Petty ................................. 31 Russell Clark ............................... 13 Ryan Pitts .................................... 32 Ashley Colunga .......................... 14 David Poole ................................ 33 Hailee Hardin ............................. 15 Michelle Randall ........................ 34 James Cumbo ............................. 16 Adam Rope ................................. 34 Dr. Jeremy Glenn ....................... 17 Jared Ruffin ................................. 35 Amber Huckabee ....................... 18 Kylar Smith ................................. 35 Krystal Hughes .......................... 19 Dale Siglar .................................. 36 Ryan Kahlden ............................. 20 Travis Smith ............................... 37 Kevin Kosoris ............................. 21 Amber Villareal ......................... 38 Deanna Lariz .............................. 22 Derek Zandt ............................... 39


Dr. Seth Atkins

Ellis County Family Dentistry

Seth is not only an outstanding dentist, but he is also heavily involved

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in the community. Currently, Seth owns and operates Ellis County Family Dentistry where he serves others as a D.D.S. As a family man, most important for Seth is spending time with his wife and two children. Seth graduated from Texas Tech University and currently serves as on the board of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and CASA of Ellis County. Seth is also involved in several other organizations. Seth is a hardworking, genuine and a well-respected young professional in Ellis County. Though spending much of the day as a caring dentist, Seth always makes time to give back to his community. He has continually been recognized as a top professional in his field and also serves the community every chance he gets. Seth is highly motivated to excel at whatever he does and has applied that motivation to his educational and professional experiences to date. Seth has won several awards including the American Academy of Periodontology Award; Dr. Kenneth H. Stewart Memorial Award; Quintessence Publishing Award; International Congress of Oral Implantologists/Sullivan-Schein Pre-Doctoral Achievement Award for Oral Implantology and Implant Dentistry.


Marcus Armstrong

Community National Bank and Trust

Marcus was born and raised in Waxahachie, playing baseball

throughout his high school years before going off to college. After returning to Waxahachie, Marcus worked in a series of jobs before settling in banking. Despite a series of personal tragedies, which would have sidelined many people, Marcus has never lost his drive to succeed or his compassion for others. He has touched the lives of many with his kindness. Marcus is a good son, brother, grandson and friend. He works tirelessly helping friends and family and is well known for the amount of volunteering he does with the Ellis County Miracle league. Marcus can often be found at a variety of community events through his position as a loan officer with Community National Bank. Marcus was a nominee for the Leadership Waxahachie award, and also coaches young pitchers on the weekends. He has also participated in the Legacy Run and the Hachie 50.

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Matt Authier Gateway Mortgage

Though Matt didn’t grow up in Waxahachie, he and his family have

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contributed greatly to our town in the time they have called Waxahachie home. Matt is extremely involved in the community -- everything from church to the school district to economic development. Matt is a proud member of the fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2008 where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.B.A. in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Finance. Matt successfully passed all parts of the CPA exam before graduation and still maintains that license today. Matt began dating his wife, Kate, when they were freshmen at Corsicana High School, and they have been married for 8 years. They have three boys: Anderson (4), Brooks (3), and Campbell (1). The Authier’s are active members of Central Presbyterian Church in Waxahachie. In addition to his position as a Mortgage Loan Originator at Gateway Mortgage, Matt is also a ruling Elder at Central Presbyterian Church, a member of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees and the Gifted and Talented PAC Committee. He is the Chairperson of the Waxahachie Project-Next Generation, a member of the Waxahachie Rotary Club and the Economic Development Council.


Lee Auvenshine Waxahachie ISD

William “Lee� Auvenshine began his career in educational admin-

istration on July 7, 2014, leaving behind his position as Ellis County Assistant District Attorney. As Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services for the ISD, Lee has become extremely knowledgeable in school law, teacher certifications, and school budget. He strives to ensure that WISD hires the best educators and administrators in Ellis County and perhaps North Texas to teach the youth of Waxahachie. Lee is a member of the Waxahachie Lions Club and has served as a past President. He is active in the West Ellis County United Way, serving as Vice Chairman and on the Board of Directors. Lee is also on the Board of Directors of the Ellis County Teachers and Employees Federal Credit Union and the Waxahachie ISD Education Foundation. He is also the Scholarship Chairman for the Education Foundation as well as the Leadership Committee of First United Methodist Church.

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Jason Bang

Northwestern Mutual

Jason is a talented financial planner, but an even more incredible

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person. As part of The Waxahachie Project, Jason has spent much of his time assisting the Next Generation Task Force. The task force is designed to help prepare and deliver content to Waxahachie students and staff on the subject of financial literacy. Jason understands that his vocation goes beyond the office and is committed to sharing his knowledge with the next generation. Currently, an insurance agent with Northwestern Mutual and registered representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, Jason maintains his Securities Series 6, 7 and 63 registrations and his Life, Accident & Health Insurance license. He also holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional certification and has been an NAIFA Quality Award Winner 2013-present. Jason is actively involved in The Waxahachie Project and Dallas Safari Club among others. Jason is also a supporter of Waxahachie Junior Service League and Team Connor Cancer Foundation. Jason and his wife, Whitney, have two children, Jensen and Blair and are members of Farley Street Baptist Church.

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Lowell Glen Bryant FourStory Creative

Jr., as he is known, is a lifelong resident of Waxahachie and attend-

Age 27

ed SAGU while working three jobs. Jr. currently serves as an editor for Fourstory Creative. He is always serving others whether by helping the homeless financially or providing clothing. Jr. is a team player and likes to make connections within the community to offer his God given skills in the media field. Jr.’s other interests include filming Bible based children’s programming, editing wedding videos, creating apps, stories, video and reading materials for Sunday school curriculums. At SAGU, Jr. worked as a media intern where he was blessed to run the camera for chapel and special services, sporting events, and student congress events. Jr. has also worked at First United Methodist Church as a custodian and while also assisting with setting up for worship services, weddings, banquets and special events. Jr. has volunteered as a tour guide for the Gingerbread trail, volunteered at the Republican Headquarters during the 2006 election, helped at Bethlehem Revisited, assisted in running a chess program and helped with several book sales at Sims Library.


Erik Barnard

Ellis County Abstract and Title Co

Erik manages a well-balanced life making his family a priority while striving to be the best in his business and making his community a better place. Erik has been employed by ECATCO since 2003. He has worked tirelessly through the years to learn multiple aspects of the title business so he could obtain a broader scope of knowledge and understanding. He has a passion for real estate in Ellis County and in the State of Texas as he serves/ served on various committees with the Texas Land and Title Association. Erik is an amazing husband, father of two boys who adore him and an active member of the Avenue Church. In addition to serving on numerous boards, Erik’s professional accomplishments include being Certified in Escrow Settlement, serving on the Texas Land and Title Association Federal Issues Committee, the Texas Land and Title Association Legislative Committee, Waxahachie Planning and Zoning Commission, Waxahachie Water and Wastewater Utility Advisory Board, Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Jimmy Lofland Scholarship Board of Directors, Brookbend Grove Owners Association Board of Directors and as a Waxahachie YMCA Youth Coach (Basketball and Flag Football).

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Jenny Bridges Waxahachie ISD

Jenny Bridges is a graduate of Waxahachie High School and SMU.

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At only 34 years old, Jenny has already become a Director in Waxahachie ISD overseeing approximately 1,200 employees and 8,500 students. She is a member of the Superintendent’s Executive Leadership Cabinet where she works closely with the superintendent and other administrators to provide educational opportunities for the students of WISD. Jenny is a team player, always demonstrating loyalty and a commitment to excellent performance. She has been employed by the Waxahachie Independent School District for three years as the Director of Public Relations. She is the district chairperson for the WISD Education Foundation and a member of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce. Jenny has worked on two school bond campaigns including the $125 million bond passed in 2014 which resulted in a new high school being constructed in Waxahachie. Jenny’s commitment to the students of the ISD is well documented in many outreach organizations. Jenny is actively involved in the Junior Service League, WISD Education Foundation, Texas Public Schools Public Relations Association, and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce.


Holly Browning Sims Library

Holly has completely engulfed herself into the Waxahachie community

in order to provide children with the incredible benefits of community libraries and the love for reading. Nicholas P. Sims Library was started in 1905 and has been a staple of our community, but when Holly came on board it came back to life! Holly recognizes that knowledge, information, and entertainment are presented in many formats and she covers all of the bases. She makes learning and exploring fun for children and adults. What’s more, Holly goes above and beyond to support the educational, civic, and cultural activities of individuals, organizations, and groups in the community. If there is a time and place, Holly is there to contribute her passion and enthusiasm for the greater good. Holly is a member of the Texas Library Association’s Community Engagement Task Force and Public Library Division Social Media Committee. She is a graduate of Leadership Waxahachie, as well as a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador. Holly has also taught Sunday school for 19 years.

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Ryan Cavazos Waxahachie ISD

Ryan has been in education for 16 years and is currently the principal

of the Waxahachie High School of Choice and Challenge Academy. Ryan has lived in Waxahachie for a year and is in the process of obtaining his doctorate in Educational Leadership. Through his hard work, many students have obtained a high school diploma who would not have graduated under ordinary circumstances. Ryan is a member of the WISD District Leadership Team and recently worked with Engage2Learn to help build the district’s long range strategic plan. First and foremost, Ryan is a family man who adores his wife and children. Ryan is also involved in Waxahachie Youth Sports and has played an active role in many WISD student activities, including the Waxahachie Education Foundation and Waxahachie Partners in Education. He is actively involved in his local church and volunteers in many other community events.

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Russell Clark Edward Jones

After working in England for many years, Russell has built a suc-

cessful practice at Edward Jones over the last seven years. While in Waxahachie, Russell has served on numerous boards including President of Waxahachie Rotary Club, First Baptist Church Deacon and Dad’s-atthe-Door at Felty Elementary School. Russell is also the recipient of the Ted Jones Prospecting Award, the Century Award, and the Jim McKenzie Production Award., which he has won three times.

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Ashley Colunga City of Ennis

Ashley Colunga has been the Marketing and Communications Di-

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rector for the city of Ennis since August 2016. She is part of the Economic Development team which is responsible for the economic prosperity and vitality of the town of Ennis and is charged with implementing many projects including the Downtown Master Plan. Ashley has initiated several key projects in her position such as the new free mobile app, ‘Ennis Y’all’ which she always encourages everyone to download. Ashley is leading the new destination branding project for Ennis while working diligently to spread enthusiasm and love for her community. She graduated from UNT with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing in 2004 and has been married since 2009 to her husband, Jordan. They have two beautiful children. Ashley is a perfect fit for the City of Ennis team given her youthful and fresh ideas. She is truly a team player with a clear vision for the future of Ennis. Ashley is of Czech heritage and has been actively involved over the years in volunteering for the KJT Hall making kolaches for the National Polka Festival each May.


Hailee Hardin

Doolee’s Baking Company

Fresh out of pastry school at El Centro College in Dallas, Hailee

started her own bakery with her mother’s help on highway 287 in Midlothian in October of 2015. Hailee does everything from the marketing of the bakery to hiring of employees to serving as the head cake decorator. Although working hard, long hours, Hailee enjoys bringing delight to her customers and helping them celebrate their special moments and milestones. Hailee has appeared on “Howdy Midlothian”. She has provided wedding cakes for weddings at all of the local venues along with birthday, anniversary, graduation and other special occasions for customers in Ellis County. Hailee is a member of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Chamber of Commerce Wine and Arts Festival Subcommittee, a supporter of Midlothian Heritage High Football Program and frequently donates products for various charity auctions, to fire fighters and to the police department.

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Congratulations

To Each and Every One of the 40 Under 40 Award Recipients


James Cumbo

Waxahachie Soccer Association

James is a father of three who works a full-time professional job and a side job while still finding time to volunteer as the president of the Waxahachie Soccer Association where he coaches three teams. James has volunteered with the Waxahachie Soccer Association for four years, starting as the Director of Coach and Player Development, before becoming Association President. In addition to those duties, James regularly holds a Coaching 101 class for new coaches. James works professionally for ITW as a regional sales manager and, although only having been with the company for less than two years, has already been asked to lead conference groups on sales techniques. James is one of the top five producing sales reps in the nation for his company. He also volunteers at his daughters’ school for Dad’s-at-the-Door to greet students on their way into school each week.

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Dr. Jeremy Glenn Waxahachie ISD

Jeremy is a 39-year-old educator with a vision, passion and desire to

ensure that all students develop to the highest level. Jeremy was hired as Superintendent of Schools for the WISD in December 2013. Before coming to Waxahachie, Jeremy served as a teacher, coach, high school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Jeremy earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science with a minor in English from the UT Tyler in 2000. In 2003, he received a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration from UT Tyler. In 2008, Jeremy completed his doctoral work in Educational Leadership and earned a Doctor of Education degree from Sam Houston St. University. Under Jeremy’s leadership, the ISD has seen much growth. A Tax Ratification Election (TRE) was passed by voters with overwhelming approval and a $125,000,000 bond election was passed by voters with 75% support. As a result, a new high school is being built and taxpayers are saving money due to a bond refunding. Jeremy currently is a member of the Waxahachie Rotary Club, Waxahachie Lions Club and has been a DEAR Day reader for four years.

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Amber Huckabee Waxahachie ISD

Amber works tirelessly establishing relationships between WHS and

local businesses to find students the best career placement available. She has an enthusiasm and passion for her work and for the teens she serves. Her work is essential to retaining young talent to Waxahachie, which in turn develops pride in community. Amber is a graduate of Leadership Waxahachie and is active in the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, the FFA, and her church. Amber graduated from Texas A&M Commerce in 2003 and is from Cedar Hill. A wife and mother to two young boys, Amber and her family enjoy Ag shows and the outdoors.

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Krystal Hughes Jane Dough Bake House

Krystal Hughes is a vivacious, engaging and inclusive young lady.

She enjoys spreading appreciation and happiness and spoiling teachers when she can. Krystal has a passion for community and the environment. She strives to make a difference in all that she does, from her interaction with people to the ingredients she uses in her business. Krystal’s artistic talent and photography skills are amazing. Krystal started the Jane Dough Bake House while working at Automations Support and Soyokaze Massage. She will be participating in the next Leadership Midlothian through the Chamber and, for years, has assisted with Midlothian Downtown Business Association endeavors. Krystal is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and recently won the Small Business Award of Excellence for 2016.

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Ryan Kahlden Waxahachie ISD

Ryan Kahlden is 37 years old and is the CFO and Assistant Superinten-

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dent of Finance for the Waxahachie ISD. Along with his family, Ryan moved to Waxahachie from Nacogdoches, Texas after spending the first part of his career as a school district auditor. Ryan holds a Master’s degree in Finance from Stephen F. Austin St. University. In addition to working on the 2014 bond and TRE packages, Ryan worked with the superintendent to save taxpayers over $8 million in bond refunding. Under Ryan’s leadership, the WISD has never adopted a deficit budget and maintains a healthy general fund balance. In addition to being recognized by The Texas Comptroller’s Office for his financial leadership in WISD, Ryan’s accomplishments include the passage of Tax Ratification Election (TRE) with 98% voter approval, passage of $125,000,000 bond package with 75% voter approval, completion of two bond refundings to lower interest costs, the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle Award Platinum Level (2014-2015), and the Texas Comptroller Transparency Star – Traditional Finances award (2017). Ryan is a member of the YMCA Board, the Waxahachie Rotary Club and a DEAR Day reader.


Kevin A. Kosoris

Wray, Willett & Stoffer, PLLC

Kevin has been an active member of the Waxahachie community

since he was a teenager, helping his grandfather with Waxahachie Rotary Club activities, serving in many volunteer roles with WISD and through active participation in the First United Methodist Church of Waxahachie. Kevin has continued his service to area nonprofit, civic and faith-based organizations since returning to practice in Waxahachie after graduating from the SMU Dedman School of Law in 2010. Kevin provides informed guidance to many organizations and works tirelessly to benefit our community. Kevin is a member of the State Bar of Texas Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section, Ellis County Bar Association, College of the State Bar of Texas, Texas Land Title Association, Texas Association of Bank Counsel, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, Water & Wastewater Utility Advisory Committee of the City of Waxahachie, Zoning Board of Adjustments, Education Foundation for Waxahachie ISD, Waxahachie Education Finance Corporation, First United Methodist Church of Waxahachie, Waxahachie Rotary Club and the United Way of West Ellis County.

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Deanna Lariz Not Just Piano

Deanna began playing piano at a very young age. Years later, while

raising two daughters, Deanna realized that her love of music could help her achieve financial freedom. So, Deanna began ‘Not Just Piano’ from inside her home three years ago. In that time, her home business in Midlothian has grown to include over forty families. Deanna’s students offer Christmas and spring recitals which reach more than 100 people at each event. To give back to the community, Deanna provides single mothers and students, who would not normally be able to afford lessons, the opportunity to learn for free. She also teaches once a week at the Salvation Army in Waxahachie. Deanna is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at Tarleton State University.

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Amber Jones

Ellis County Acts of Kindness

Amber started Ellis County Acts of Kindness (ECAOK) a few years

ago as a Facebook group but has grown it to over 5,000 members to date. The purpose of the group is to help each other whether someone is in need of an item or service. If someone participating in ECAOK has it, they will give it to those in need. So as to maintain an inventory, all that’s asked in return is that another item be gifted back. By example, if someone needs a crib for a new baby, someone will gift it. In return, the person receiving the crib will gift back an item to ECAOK. Amber is a mother of 12 who works two full-time jobs in addition to running ECAOK. The group has recently applied for Non-Profit status. ECAOK holds Christmas and school drives each year in addition to providing emergency food for those in crisis.

Age 39


Judd McCutchen Citizens National Bank

Judd McCutchen is a lifelong resident of Waxahachie. He takes pride

in his roots here and could not imagine his family living elsewhere. Judd was a part of the Waxahachie High School class of 1997 where he graduated with honors. After high school, Judd continued his education receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from The University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. Throughout his high school and college years, Judd also had a successful golf career receiving a number of accolades for his ability and performance on the course. After college Judd has enjoyed a career as a commercial banker. Starting with the Bank of America in the DFW Metroplex, Judd was recognized with the Award of Excellence as one of the top bankers in the market. For the last five years, Judd has been with Citizens National Bank where he has thoroughly enjoyed helping clients with lending needs in his hometown. Additionally, Judd is a Waxahachie ISD School Board Trustee, a member of the Education Foundation for Waxahachie ISD, a graduate of Leadership Waxahachie 2012 and Waxahachie 101 for 2011. Judd is also a member of the Waxahachie Lion’s Club and Waxahachie ISD D.E.A.R. Day.

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Andy Lehmann

The Oaks Fellowship Church

Andy is an ordained minister and currently serves as Pastor of Mis-

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sions and Community Engagement at the Oaks Fellowship Church in Red Oak. An outstanding leader, Andy has completed the Leadership Program of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Board of United Way and is a founder of the Waxahachie Project. Andy is also newly married. As Missions and Community Engagement Pastor, Andy helps to determine how The Oaks can serve with other people, ministries, and organizations in the community and around the world to see a genuine transformation take place. Andy has also served on staff with OneHope, an amazing organization that engages the next generation with God’s Word. Andy loves Gospel music while also enjoying bands like Coldplay, U2, DMB, James Taylor, Jack Johnson and House music. Andy likes to hike, play tennis, ride his motorcycle, watch movies and play music. Andy was also on The Price is Right once, but didn’t fair too well.


Jeremy Cuellar

Ameritech Facility Services

Jeremy Cuellar is a highly successful businessman who works hard

every day. Although having an office in Waxahachie, Jeremy works all across the country. Jeremy has grown his division of the company from the ground up and is now averaging six million dollars in annual sales. Jeremy is an amazing husband and great father to three very active boys. Jeremy loves his career but always makes time for his family, friends and the Lord. He is a natural leader and a great choice for 40 under 40. Accomplishments include being a Certified Restaurant Facilities Professional, a MABA youth baseball coach, a volunteer in several different ways at the First Baptist Church of Midlothian - coffee shop, Sunday school teacher, VBS volunteer, summer camp volunteer, committee member, former mission committee chair, mission worker in Haiti and Mexico, CASA auction, First Look dinner, school PTO and DOGS- Dads of Great Students.

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Latosha “Renee” McNeal Citizens National Bank

Renee has been with Citizens National Bank of Texas since 2006

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where she currently is Assistant Manager of the Customer Contact Center. Renee is a dedicated advocate of education, as well. While working full-time and attending college, Renee earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of North Texas. Recently, Renee served on the WISD Long Range Planning Committee helping to create the most beneficial plan for ISD schools and students. Renee’s favorite mantra, and approach to life, is “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.” Renee is a selfless and passionate person. She is currently the secretary/treasurer of the Ellis County Hispanic Organization and is active in helping host the Annual Cinco De Mayo celebration. For the past six years, Renee has volunteered the WISD’s Adopt-A-Class initiative, visiting classrooms to tutor and mentor third-grade students. Renee also coaches young women in select volleyball while helping each of them understand how to use dedication, determination, desire and discipline both on and off the court. She applies these same traits to all she does.


Richard Membreno

Baylor Scott & White — Waxahachie

Over the past five years, Richard has been instrumental in analyzing

community health needs, recruiting providers to the community and establishing service lines to meet the needs of our citizens better. Richard’s ability to look at a sea of variables, connect the dots, and execute an action plan is uncanny. He has been a direct contributor to the unprecedented growth BSW has experienced since opening the new facility in late 2014. Just as important, the medical staff of BSW views Richard as their “go to” person when they experience a challenge in delivering patient care. In addition to being a hard-working contributor, Richard has recruited multiple physicians to BSW Waxahachie, worked with all of the hospital’s service line leaders to enhance their offerings to the community and has served as a volunteer with the Prisoner Entrepreneur Program which teaches inmates how to develop a business plan prior to being released. Most of all, Richard has directly contributed to the extraordinary growth of BSW since the opening of its new facility.

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Keith Nichols

Baylor Scott & White — Waxahachie

Keith is a vital part of the leadership team at BSW Waxahachie. His

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responsibilities include leading daily leadership huddles to ensure that all members of the team are pursuing excellence, the deployment of lean concepts, facilities maintenance, patient experience, environmental services, food and nutrition services, safety and security, and materials management. Keith’s contributions have led to award winning performance as BSW serves the community. Keith has played a key role in patient satisfaction at BSW Waxahachie which was recently awarded the National Guardian of Excellence of Award. Other benchmarks achieved by the hospital that Keith has contributed to include being the lowest cost provider in the Baylor health care system and team member engagement at the 90th percentile in the nation. Keith currently serves as chair of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce and as a board member of the Midlothian Education Foundation.


Obinna K. Ononobi Altus Emergency Center

Obi, as he is known, has been an outstanding employee and com-

munity leader. At such a young age, Obi has obtained two master degrees while also being responsible for significant projects within his company, Altus. Obi started as a Fellow and was soon given responsibilities for a new project in Lake Jackson. He then moved to the corporate office for development and assisted in designing and opening the Waxahachie location where he is now responsible for the operations, marketing, and development of the Waxahachie ER location. Obi is active with the YMCA, the Waxahachie Rotary Club, and the Chamber of Commerce. In addition to being a valuable employee, Obi is an easy person to know, a team player and is growing quickly into an extraordinary healthcare executive.

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Grace Pandithurai

Ellis County & District Attorney’s Office

A native of Midlothian, Grace is an accomplished prosecutor pas-

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sionate about seeing that justice is done for the citizens of Ellis County. Motivated by her faith, Grace’s profession provides her the opportunity to help our community’s most vulnerable victims: children. Crimes against children are some of the most emotionally taxing cases in the criminal justice system. In spite of that, Grace conducts herself with a calming assurance to young victims and their families. Filled with genuine spirit, Grace is a joy to our office and everyone she encounters. Grace views her profession as a mission, not a job. In 2013, Grace was recognized by the newspaper in Wichita Falls as one of that community’s ‘20 under 40’. The same year she was also named Alumnus of the Year by Regent University, where she attended law school. Grace is a member of the Advisory Council of the Waxahachie Salvation Army and is instrumental in organizing the D.A.’s annual bell ringing efforts for the Red Kettle Campaign. Grace is also a member of the multidisciplinary team at The Gingerbread House (Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center).


Shane Petty

Waxahachie Fire Rescue

As Pump Engineer with the Waxahachie Fire Department, Shane

is a leader every day. Always calm under pressure, Shane is a highly skilled firefighter and paramedic. He is always happy to take on more assignments, including additional training and classes. Shane serves with Waxahachie Fire Rescue on many public relations events. In addition to his regular work load in Waxahachie, Shane is also a volunteer firefighter in his hometown in Navarro County. He is also a Fire Academy/EMS instructor with Navarro College. Shane was promoted to Pump Engineer very quickly. He is also a Public Safety/Master Scuba Diver, IAFF Union Shift Representative, a National Registry Paramedic, a Certified Wildland Firefighter, a Certified Fire Instructor, a Certified Fire Officer, and holds Firefighter Intermediate Certification.

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Ryan Pitts ETASCO

Ryan is an extraordinary young man with plenty of talent and per-

sonality. As Vice President of Legal Services for Ellis County Appraisal and Title Company (ECATCO) in Waxahachie, Ryan’s contribution to the success of his company exemplifies who Ryan is. Ryan holds a law degree from the University of Texas and a political science degree from SMU. He is also a passionate supporter and fan of SMU sports. Ryan enjoys the outdoors, traveling and spending time with his wife, Faith. Ryan was a member of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Waxahachie class of 2016 where he contributed in a variety of ways. Ryan is personable, smart, funny and willing to go beyond what’s asked or expected in order to help others.

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David Poole

Water Street Baptist Church

David is an all-around great guy. He loves his family, serves God

selflessly and is there when anyone needs him, without fail and question. David is an extraordinary leader in his family life, his church life, his job and beyond. David is the kind of person that just automatically becomes your friend when you meet him. David is easy to talk to, easy to work with and is always growing personally, professionally and spiritually. As Youth Pastor at Water Street Baptist Church, David ministers to teens as if they are his own children and treats every one of them with the love and respect that they deserve.

Age 38 33


Michelle Randall Michelle Randall Events

Michelle is a passionate business woman who strives to support

other small businesses. Michelle and her family are fairly new to Ellis County, having relocated from Southeast Texas, where she successfully ran her wedding and event business for five years before moving to the Dallas area in order to challenge herself in a larger market. She promotes “shop small” on all her social media outlets and, since relaunching in Ellis County, has featured several venues owned by locals during her LIVE Venue Tour segment on FB and Instagram. Before her move to Ellis County, Michelle was featured in VIP of Southeast Texas Magazine three times and was instrumental in bringing the Lupus Walk to Beaumont. She also worked with Marcus Luttrell and the Lone Survivor Foundation on the groundbreaking of their Crystal Beach facility for veterans.

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Adam Rope

Adam Rope State Farm

Adam is consistently named one of the top 50 agents (out of 18,000

Age 34

State Farm agents) in all of the United States. Adam has a heart of gold and is always determined to give back in as many ways as possible through volunteering at The Avenue Church, Common Grounds Ministry and the WISD. Adam is a well-respected colleague and friend among his peers. Adam’s awards include the Million Dollar Round Table Qualifier 2017, State Farm Lifetime President’s Club Qualifier, State Farm Ambassador Travel Qualifier 2008-2017, State Farm Chairman’s Circle Qualifier 2008-2017, State Farm SVP Club Qualifier 2008-2017, Best Insurance Agent in Ellis County 2014-2016, and WISD’s Campus Business of the Year 2012-2013, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017. The Adam Rope Bike Giveaway for Waxahachie’s elementary schools is another way Adam gives. The program has resulted in the Adam Rope State Farm Agency donating approximately 100 bicycles to students with perfect attendance. Adam has been recognized the past three years as a WISD business of the year and the ‘Best Insurance Agent in Ellis County’ from 2014-2016. Adam is an amazing husband and proud father of two, Curry (7) and Porter (5).


Jared Ruffin Mighty Clean

Jared Ruffin is an outstanding example of a young business owner

and leader in our community. An Ennis born and raised entrepreneur, Jared is the owner of Mighty Clean Dry Cleaners in Ennis as well as the Waxahachie Cleaners along with three other locations in Ellis and Navarro Counties. Jared is a member of many city organizations and donor to multiple nonprofits, athletic and educational organizations. At only 34 years old, Jared’s work ethic and generous heart have led to accomplishments that many strive to achieve in their lifetime. Jared is recently married and expecting his first child, a little girl, in just a few short weeks! Jared began working at Mighty Clean Dry Cleaners and Coin Laundry in Ennis during high school as a counter clerk and eventually learned all the aspects of the cleaning business through his tenure there. Jared attended Navarro College and UT Arlington where he studied accounting and business. A member of many organizations, Jared is a true servant and, as a result of such service, was chosen as the 2016 Volunteer of the Year by the Ennis Chamber of Commerce.

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Kylar Smith

Twisted iPhone, LLC

Kylar is a young man who has spent his whole life working hard to

achieve his dreams. He started his business straight out of high school and, after four years, has expanded that business to include four successful locations. Kylar spends a great deal of time making sure his employees are taken care of and works endlessly to ensure every aspect of his business is perfect. Kylar is involved in the Mansfield, Cedar Hill, Waxahachie, and Corsicana Chambers of Commerce. He also attends weekly meetings with a Mastermind Group within the Mansfield Chamber. Kylar most recently ran an event at his stores that led to the donation of over $500 to a charity called The Parker Lee Project which helps families who have children with complex medical issues get the medical supplies insurance won’t cover. Kylar races dirt track go-karts in Ennis at 85 Speedway and donates money when he can. He is always looking for opportunities to get involved in local events.

Age 21


Dale Sigler

Waxahachie Police Department

Dale Sigler has been with the Waxahachie Police Department since 2003.

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Before joining the WPD, Dale served in the US Army reaching the rank of sergeant. Since joining the Waxahachie Police Department, Dale has distinguished himself as an outstanding member of the department and community while working in the Patrol Division and as a member of the SWAT team. Dale now oversees the Patrol Division, Traffic Unit, K9 program, and Field Training Program. Prior responsibilities included the 24/7 operation of the 911 center, the Records Section, Training Division and Community Services. As an active member of the Avenue Church, Dale has traveled to Guatemala to help build homes and care for others. Additional work includes having initiated ‘Breakfast with a Cop’ program and being involved with ‘Dads at the Door’ school program. Dale mentors young people and has served on the Long Range Planning Committee for the school district in Waxahachie. Dale is also a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board at Navarro College and serves on the on the Criminal Justice Policy Development Committee at NCTCOG.


Travis Smith

Waxahachie Daily Light

Travis is a young man with enormous talent when it comes to writing,

content development, editing and design. Travis understands the process by which stories are identified and investigated. Travis is, at a young age, a consummate type editor but with an understanding of how content needs to be presented and delivered in 2017. Travis is intelligent, has quality character, is hard-working, creative and is learning every day how to better lead and inspire those for whom he is responsible. Travis cares about doing a great job in all that he does and is willing to do what is asked of him night or day. Travis and his newsrooms have won multiple awards in Texas and throughout the Daily Light’s corporate parent, Gatehouse. Having an affinity for sports, namely baseball, Travis has done extremely well in the sports reporting field. Travis has recently moved back to Waxahachie from Ft. Worth where he lived while he was editor of the newspaper in Glen Rose. Travis is an asset to the Daily Light and a deserving recipient of the 40 Under 40 award.

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Amber Villarreal City of Waxahachie

Amber began working for the City of Waxahachie as a Vocational Ed-

Age 33 38

ucation student while in high school. Since she began working full-time, Amber has continued to grow and excel in everything she does. Amber became Deputy City Secretary at a very young age, (mid-20s) because of her friendliness, ability to meet deadlines and her excellent organizational skills. Amber just completed her certification as a Texas Registered Municipal Clerk (TMRC) through the Texas Municipal Clerks Certification Program (TMCCP). She completed the program in two years and will officially graduate in January of 2018. Amber is instrumental in the operations of the City Secretary’s Office where she assists with Open Records Requests, citizen inquiries, records retention schedules and administrative support. Amber has participated in Drop Everything and Read (DEAR Day) for the past 12 years and was a participant in Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. She is currently on the City of Waxahachie Employee Committee where she participates in the planning for the Employee Health Fair and the United Way Employee Campaign. Amber and her husband, Wally, have two children.


Derek Zandt Waxahachie ISD

Derek is a family man with a commitment to being an exemplary example

to those around him. Not only intelligent, but Derek also is not afraid to take a step in a new direction while listening to the voices of experienced teachers and administrators. He exhibits a real concern for the faculty and staff with whom he serves and a keen understanding of the educational process. Derek has the ability to motivate those around him while remaining well organized and willing to work beyond what’s expected. Derek is a true teacher, motivator, coach and role model. During his 11 years with the WISD, Derek has proven to be a leader with advanced management skills, questioning techniques, and pedagogical insights seen in veteran teachers. Derek often raises thought-provoking questions that illuminate the tough issues dominating society today. He recently completed his Master’s Degree in only 18 months. In addition to serving as the Finley Junior High Assistant Principal, Derek was a leader on the 2017 WISD’s Long Range Planning Committee and has spent countless hours working with students in the school district. Derek is also involved in youth sports and his local church.

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