20 UNDER 40 | CLASS OF 2010
HIGH FLIERS JOURNAL GAZETTE & TIMES-COURIER
Page 2 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
SEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING
Changing of the guard
he seventh year of 20 Under 40 in the Coles County area comes with some transitions. This year marked the first time past recipients comprised a majority of the selection committee. Past recipients also are organizing the awards and related events. So members of the now 140 past recipients are the ones operating the program. Many thanks go to Ann Bacon and Jill Nilsen, who served on the selection committee for the first six years and were instrumental in moving the program forward. And best wishes to them in their retirements, Ann from
CARL WALWORTH, publisher Consolidated Communication and Jill from Eastern Illinois University. Welcome to Dustha Wahls and Kim Uphoff, who joined Vince Walk, Greg Witto and me on the selection committee this year. Dave Cox and Andrea Applegate are leading the recognition events. Recipients typically come
from one of seven key areas in a community: education, health care, government, social services/clergy, judiciary/legal, mass media and commerce/business/industry. This yearâ€™s class again features a variety of backgrounds and skills, which is by design. One purpose of the program is to show a variety of quality people represented in key positions who are in an age group that sometimes is overlooked. This section highlights the new class, and lists past recipients. We know there are many more like them through our area, and look forward to seeing your nominations next year.
CLASS OF 2010 Robert Becker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Catherine Bovard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Mark Bovard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Amy Card . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Noelle Cope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Jason Coe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Ryan Ghere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Annie Hernandez . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Melissa Hurst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Amy Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Alex Melvin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Kate Pleasant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Matthew Pope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Greg Powers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Diane Ratliff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Chris Roberts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Jeff Schuette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Kelly Scott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Matthew Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Michele VanHise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
Page 3 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
ROBERT BECKER Age: 28 | Profession: Real Estate Appraiser | Family: Wife Kristin and Son Jackson | Personal Influences: Father and mother, Dave and Denise Becker, Wife Kristin, son Jackson, Gary Swearingen, Waldo Born. Says Becker, “My father laid the ground work for a strong work ethic and motivated me to be the best person I can be. My mother has always been my support system. She always supports everything I do and continues to be one of my best friends. My wife Kristin is one of the most loving and caring people I have ever met. The love she gives me inspires and motivates me to be both a better husband and a better person in life. My 9-monthold son Jackson motivates me to work to my full potential every day. While attending EIU, Dr. Waldo Born laid the foundation for my interest in real estate. The person that has been most influential in my professional career has been Gary Swearingen. Gary is the epitome of constant and never-ending improvement.”
Congratulatio ns Son I’m very prou d of your achie vement. Mom & David
Congratulations Robert Becker We are so proud of you & your success. Josie & Tim
Robert Becker on your selection for 20 Under 40! From your friends at
Corrie Appraisal & Consulting, Inc. Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Residential appraiser Robert Becker plans to begin work on the MAI appraisal, the highest designation allowing him to appraise on the commercial and/or agricultural side. BY DAWN JAMES Staff Writer
Robert Becker, a residential appraiser with Corrie Appraisal in Charleston, said he has always had an interest in real estate. While working on his finance degree at Eastern Illinois University (graduating in 2004) and through the real estate process, Becker met Dan Corrie. He was helping Corrie with some computer work. In time, the two started talking about the possibility of him working as an appraiser — the rest is
history. The 20 Under 40 recipient has been with Corrie Appraisal for the past six years. He said he enjoys his job as it affords the flexibility of both in-office and out-of-theoffice work. In addition, Becker has started a real estate residential rental business in Mattoon. Becker has a Certified General License and can provide appraisals on residential properties or small duplexes up to four units, he said.
Soon he hopes to start working on the MAI which is the highest appraisal designation allowing him to appraise on the commercial and/or agricultural side. He said it requires quite a bit of classwork and will probably take two or three years. In this rural area, one of the most challenging parts of the jobs is definitely “the lack of market data,” he said. “The (market) information is limited which makes it difficult to get the values of the
BECKER | 5
Page 4 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
CATHERINE BOVARD Age: 38 | Occupation: R.R. Donnelley Plant Finance Manager | Family: Husband Mark | Community Involvement: YMCA Board of Directors, Eastern Illinois Accounting Advisory Board, Philanthropic Educational Organization, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, former Hospice volunteer | Personal Inspiration: “My parents (Louis and Judy Rogers) have been my role models for my professional and personal life. My father is a farmer and my mother a teacher who both have worked exceptionally hard while raising a family and somehow still found time to give back to the community they live in. They were very instrumental in my becoming an accountant. They encouraged me to pursue a degree, such as accounting, that would provide a strong foundation of skills which would make me marketable. They also instilled in me how important it is to have a strong work ethic and high ethical standards and to help others if I am able.”
By AMBER LUSVARDI For the JG/T-C
Having now spent half of her life in the Charleston and Mattoon area, Catherine Bovard is not sure what to call her hometown anymore. Bovard moved to Charleston from the small town of Yates City after high school to attend Eastern Illinois University and pursue a degree in accounting. Since Eastern is a smaller university, Bovard liked her odds that she would not feel too out of place. “I liked coming to Eastern from a town of 850 people,” Bovard said. “I wouldn’t just be a number.” After receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern, Bovard was offered a job with R.R. Donnelley in Mattoon and has stayed here ever since. Apart from one year she spent with the Cabot Corp. in Tuscola, Bovard has spent her professional career working her way up through the ranks of Donnelley, now holding the position of plant finance manager. As plant finance manager, Bovard is responsible for the financial leadership at Donnelley’s and annual plant budgets and monthly forecasts. She also leads a team of 16 employees in finance, payroll, scheduling and inventory functions. It was one of Bovard’s longterm goals to reach the position of plant finance manager, and she is at a place where she loves going to work each day. “I feel very fulfilled,” Bovard said.
When not at work, Bovard commits a considerable amount of time to her position as a board member for the Mattoon Area YMCA. Bovard was asked by a friend to consider joining the YMCA board, and as a member and regular user of the YMCA, she thought it would be a good fit. “It is something that I am passionate about and something that I use,” Bovard said. Bovard has held the positions of board development, secretary and treasurer on the YMCA board and she is instrumental in the planning of the annual May Merriment fundraiser. Jason Crowder, a friend of Bovard and former 20 under 40 recipient, nominated Bovard for the award because he considers her to be an excellent role model for young people and a very accomplished person. Crowder and Bovard have been friends for more than 10 years and he is impressed by her willingness to help others. “She has always been high energy and willing to go the extra mile for people,” Crowder said. Bovard has enjoyed being involved with local volunteer organizations because it has given her a chance to make friends and met new people. Along with her work at the YMCA, Bovard is also involved in the Eastern Illinois Accounting Advisory Board, Epsilon Sigma Alpha and the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO). “My husband and I don’t have children so I have more
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Catherine Bovard reached one of her long-term goals, working her way up through the ranks to become plant finance manager at RR Donnelley in Mattoon. time than what some people do so I wanted to do something constructive with my time and give back to the community,” Bovard said. Bovard received her MBA from Eastern in 1999 and one of her goals is to further her professional career by obtaining her Certified Management Accountant certificate.
Congratulations Catherine Your work in the community is appreciated by your friends and coworkers at R.R. Donnelly
Page 5 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
MARK BOVARD Age: 37 | Profession: Lawyer | Family: Wife, Catherine | Community Involvement: Trial Advocacy Program through the University of Illinois College of Law, Mattoon Youth Basketball, Girl Scouts, Mattoon Golf and Country Club Board of Directors | Personal Influences: Young people he has helped through the years in youth programs. By HERB MEEKER Staff Writer
Mark Bovard is at ease pleading a case before jurists in a courtroom or coaching energetic youngsters on the basketball court. Bovard, who joins his wife, Catherine, as a 20 Under 40 awardee in 2010, said his role is not about community leadership, but just pitching in. He was actually more excited about his wife gaining the honor because she is very active in community service. “I consider myself more of a community contributor. I’m not sure if it is because I can’t say ‘No’ or I’m volunteered a lot. But the reward is the different people I’ve come to know.” His legal work has reached commendable levels. The Mattoon attorney has pleaded cases in county and federal courts as well as the Illinois Supreme Court. He has been a lawyer for 12 years, and earned the Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2001 from the Coles-Cumberland Bar Association. He has also volunteered his time with the Trial Advocacy program for law students at the University of Illinois College of Law.
BECKER Continued from 3 properties we’re working on,” he said. Corrie Appraisal covers a broad area, he said. “We cover from Champaign to Effingham, and as far as Paris, as well as locations in Moultrie
“Mark approaches every professional or personal challenge with enthusiasm and total commitment. He has excellent problem-solving skills which is really what the law is all about,” wrote Brent D. Holmes, a colleague, in a letter of nomination for the 20 Under 40 Awardee. Bovard also enjoys coaching grade schoolers in the Mattoon Youth Basketball League. He has also served on the board of directors of the Girls Scouts of River Bluffs County, which includes Girl Scout troops and units in Mattoon, Charleston and most of southern Illinois. “When I was in high school and college I liked working with the Effingham Park District as an umpire. So working with kids now makes sense,” he said. He decided a long time ago he wanted to balance his commitment to legal work with helping others. “I’d say a majority of attorneys are active in organizations or clubs. But there are some pouring themselves into their profession. I guess it depends on your personality,” Bovard said. He has been able to com-
and Shelby counties, he said. In his free time, Becker is committed to helping others. “Bob has been the treasurer for the Mattoon Rotary Club and spent a week last year in Bay St. Louis helping build new homes for Hurricane Katrina victims,” according to Gary Swearingen, branch manager and
LAW OFFICES OF
Heller, Holmes & Associates, P.C. A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
1101 Broadway Ave., P.O. Box 889 Mattoon, IL 61938 217-235-2700
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Mattoon attorney Mark Bovard has pleaded cases in county and federal courts as well as the Illinois Supreme Court and was named Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2001 by the Coles-Cumberland Bar Association. Outside of the courtroom he coaches grade schoolers in the Mattoon Youth Basketball League and has served on the board of directors of the Girls Scouts of River Bluffs County. bine another form of recreation with his commitment to volunteering. Mark has served on several subcommit-
tees to help improve utilization of the Mattoon Golf and Country Club. He was elected to the board
of directors and named chairman of the grounds committee that oversees the golf course.
financial advisor of Wells Fargo, in his nomination letter. “For this work and other Rotary work he was named Rotary Rookie of the year. You can find Bob volunteering for just about every Rotary community project without hesitation,” Swearingen said.
Becker is a committee member for the international disaster committee for Rotary District 6490. “It’s kind of one of those things you hope you don’t have to do, but if something comes up, you are ready,” Becker said. “I do like to do more of the service projects.” In working on this commit-
tee, he said there are five or so members who are responsible for getting other Rotary members from the area together when a catastrophe does occur, he said. Another hobby he enjoys is woodworking. Becker resides in Mattoon with his wife Kristin, and 9month-old son Jackson.
On behalf of the Attorneys and Staff: Congratulations to Mark Bovard, our colleague and friend, and his wife Catherine Bovard. You both are special!
Page 6 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
AMY CARD Age: 39 | Profession: Director/planned giving, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation | Family: Husband, Chuck; children, Rachel, 12, Matthew, 10, and stepdaughter, Gillian, 11. | Community Involvement: Mattoon Rotary Club; Special Olympics volunteer; past coach for Mattoon Girls Softball; past president of the St. Mary School Parent Guild; member of Association for Healthcare Philanthropy & National Committee on Planned Giving | Personal influence: “My brother, David. He had a fantastic work ethic, a successful engineering career, always put his family first and lived by high moral standards. He received a four-organ transplant three years ago and fought so hard to live before he lost his battle with cancer in his early 40s. I’m proud to say this made me go ahead and register with the state to be an organ donor and encourage everyone to do so. His donor allowed my brother to spend a little extra time with his kids.”
Age: 39 | Occupation: Nurse Practitioner, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Pediatrics | Family: Children, Willem, 8, and Nathan, 6 | Activities: Board member and medical director for the Children’s Advocacy Center for East Central Illinois, I Sing the Body Electric volunteer, Parent-Teacher Association member, and school volunteer | Personal Influences: “My parents Fred and Maureen Swets. They have encouraged me that I can do anything I want. Nothing is off-limits to try, they always set high expectations for me. They have always been very encouraging, made me be very independent, they have been supportive of all my decisions.”
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Amy Card, director of planned giving for the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation, said she has met many interesting people in the community through personal visits and at events to help raise money for the foundation. By BETH HELDEBRANDT Features Editor
Amy Card said the best thing about her job at the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation is the people she has met along the way. “The really rewarding part of my job is the relationships I have formed,” she said. Card, director of planned giving for the foundation, said she has met many interesting people in the community through personal visits and at events to help raise money for the foundation. The funds raised go toward projects that benefit the community, she said. “Our sole purpose is to raise funds to do things like provide dental services to children whose parents can’t afford it, provide private rooms so that every one of our inpatients can be more comfortable when they are here, expand our Emergency Department to better meet the needs of our residents and find ways to battle childhood obesity that is a real problem in Coles and surrounding counties.” Card said one of the many friend-
ships she made was with Barrie Hunt of Charleston, a longtime, loyal donor to SBLHC. Hunt, now deceased, not only became a friend, but was an inspiration to her. “Despite his very long battle with cancer, Barrie’s integrity, intellect, optimism, generosity and love for life never failed,” Card said. “Even when he was going through chemo and not feeling well, you’d walk away from a conversation with him and feel great,” she said. “He’s someone I’ll always strive to be more like.” Vallery Mullens, foundation vice president, said Card’s people skills are just one of the many strengths that makes her good at her job. “She understands philanthropy, is bright and has the ability to get to know people very well,” she said. Mullens said she recognized Card’s dedication to people early on, when she suggested that staff members share their home phone numbers with donors who may need assistance.
CARD | 7
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Nurse practitioner Noelle Cope considers her profession as medical director for the Children’s Advocacy Center for East Central Illinois, through which she works with abused children, as a service. By AMBER LUSVARDI For the JG/T-C
People often comment to Noelle Cope that her job must be difficult. As the medical director for the Children’s Advocacy Center for East Central Illinois, Cope, a nurse practitioner, is responsible for examining children for signs of both physical and sexual abuse. “When people hear that they think, ‘that’s terrible,’” Cope said. However, Cope does not think of her responsibilities with the Children’s Advocacy Center as being difficult, but rather she thinks of it as doing a good service to the children who are referred to the center. “I feel like they get a good exam that is not invasive,” Cope said. “I feel like I am doing a good service.” The specialty of dealing with children who have experienced abuse is constantly changing, and Cope sees it as important for her to stay as educated as possible on how to make exams as easy as possible on the children that she sees.
Cope not only reassures the children that nothing is wrong with them or their bodies, but she also makes sure they are connected with the correct people they need to talk to about any issues. “I try to empower them when some of that has been taken away,” Cope said. Along with her duties with the Children’s Advocacy Center, Cope is also a nurse practitioner for Sarah Bush Pediatrics and mom to two boys. Cope admits that sometimes it can be difficult not to take the children’s cases home with her at night. Seeing children who have been physically or sexually abused can make a person suspicious of everyone they know, Cope said. Especially since most of the time, the abuse is committed by someone the child knows. Sometimes it also becomes Cope’s job to reassure parents of abused children that they should not blame themselves for not automatically noticing
COPE | 7
Page 7 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
CARD Continued from 6 “If she can help you, she wants to, and if she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she’ll find out,” Mullens said. Card said she has heard of many success stories of residents who have participated in programs at Sarah Bush, and knowing that she is out in the community to raise funds to support that is a good feeling. “I’m proud to be a part of an organization reaching out to help the people in our communities in these and so many more ways, and I’m touched every time an individual or business sees the need to help
COPE Continued from 6 the signs of abuse in their children. However, Cope knows that parents always want to keep their kids safe and no good parent would intentionally put their child in a dangerous situation. Part of Cope’s professional success comes from an openness to having new experiences, which is what she was doing when she took on the position with the Children’s Advocacy Center. Although she was at one time an emergency room nurse who never thought she would spend more than a year in pediatrics, Cope said her jobs working for Sarah Bush Pediatrics and the
us do that,” she said. “It really is all about giving back to your community.” Card has found many other ways to support her community, as well. She is an active member of the Mattoon Rotary Club, helping with trash pickup, the annual food drive, and is the former public relations chairwoman. She has been a volunteer at the Special Olympics Family Festival for at least 15 years, and has been active with projects to help youth through St. Mary School and the youth girls softball program. “I always want to stay involved,” she said. “It’s important to give back to the community where you live.”
Children’s Advocacy Center are “the best positions in the world.” “I love working with kids, I love going to work everyday,” she said. Cope holds a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science as nurse practitioner from Purdue University and hopes to be able to go back to school again at some point. She regularly attends continuing education programs and is planning a lecture with Lakeview College of Nursing on abuse issues. For now, Cope is also concentrating on enjoying her life. “In this line of work you can get wrapped up in how heinous people can be,” Cope said. “Sometimes you have to stop and enjoy life a little bit and not take life so seriously.”
Congratulations! Mattoon Rotary Members Annie Hernandez Robert Becker Amy Card 2010 Recipients of 20 Under 40
Page 8 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
JASON COE Age: 39 | Occupation: Sales, Richey’s Furniture, Ashmore; sells real estate; landscaping | Family: Wife Julie works at WEIC radio station; children Garin, 19, Lyndee, 17, and Brody, 13 | Community Involvement: Five-year member of the Charleston school board and currently board vice president; member of Salisbury Church and involved in church music programs; participates in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society | Influences: Family and co-workers because “they’re with you everyday and they’re your best assessments, they keep you real”
By DAVE FOPAY Staff Writer
Helping furniture store customers and dealing with school issues both put Jason Coe in touch with a lot of people, and he says he takes mostly the same approach to both. “It’s important that you have a personality,” he said. “It goes a long way.” What you do in public “follows you everywhere,” Coe believes. But being active and involved brings experiences and perspectives you wouldn’t get “until you’re a part of it,” he said. Coe is originally from Chrisman and attended Eastern Illinois University with plans to become a landscaper. Now, he does that work but “mostly as a hobby,” and his career took him to sales at Richey’s Furniture in Ashmore, where he’s lived for 14 years. Co-workers praise Coe for his success at the furniture store, noting that he’s on target for $900,000 in sales this year, “very successful for just one person,” fellow Richey’s employee Dan Lewis said. “I know if Jason were not a part of Richey’s Furniture, we would not be nearly as successful as we are,” Lewis
said. He also told how Coe goes to customers’ homes to help them with furniture selections, and tells them they’ve selected too much if he thinks that’s the case. “It’s all about making customers happy,” Coe said. He added that he likes the connection to local residents that working at a family-owned store brings. Coe has been twice elected to the Charleston school board and said his reason for wanting to be on the board is Ashmore Elementary School “first and foremost.” The board has made numerous budget cuts in recent months, and with school funding uncertain, he said the school “is always going to be looked at” even if, as now, closing the school isn’t being considered. He said all three of his children were attending Charleston school district schools when he was first elected to the board, another motivation for wanting to be involved. “It’s nice to be part of the decisions made for them,” he said. Coe said his “whole family” has been involved in fundraisers for cancer research. However, Lewis said Coe was
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Jason Coe helps Richey’s Furniture succeed by doing what he can to make customers happy. Outside of work, he also has held positions on the Charleston school board.
“instrumental” in organizing a benefit for his mother-inlaw, Joanie Coffey. “Jason continues to give in unselfish ways,” Lewis said.
“It’s important that you have a personality. It goes a long way.”
Jason, You’ve always given your best, and it shows. Love, Your Family Mom, Dad, Jim, Julie, Garin, Lyndee, & Brody
Congratulations Jason!! 20 Under 40 Recipient 2010
from your t friends a
Page 9 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
RYAN GHERE Age: 36 | Profession: Mathematics teacher and soccer coach at Mattoon High School | Family: Wife, Lori; Children, Jacob, 9, Shane, 8, Lillian, 5, and Maggie, 1. Parents: Ron and Connie Ghere, Mattoon. | Community Involvement: Volunteer Coach with Mattoon YMCA Soccer, YMCA Basketball, and Junior Baseball League, T-Ball. | Inspiration: “My dad was a teacher for 35 years and loved teaching. Excellent teachers who influenced me were Pat Genta, Chris Gebben, Michelle Englund, Bob Lockart, and Steve Conlon.” By DAWN SCHABBING Staff Writer
After attending the University of Illinois for a couple of years as a business major, something occurred to Ryan Ghere. “I decided I didn’t want to sit behind a desk and in an office all day long, everyday,” Ghere said. So he looked at a possible change in career ideas. “My dad (Ron Ghere) was a fifth grade teacher in Mattoon for 35 years, and I saw how much he enjoyed it. I decided I wanted to teach and coach,” he said. A 1992 Mattoon High School graduate, Ghere had played soccer and basketball in high school. He’s been teaching in the mathematics division at Mattoon High School for the past 12 years, and has coached both soccer and basketball during that time. Ghere was nominated for “20 Under 40” by two fellow educators. “Ryan has shown much growth and maturity as a teacher leader. Although we do not have departmental chairs, the math department members have looked to Ryan as their leader,” said Michele Sinclair, Mattoon High School principal. Sinclair said Ghere uses “engaging teaching strategies” to help his students be
successful. Ghere, 36, of Mattoon, currently teaches honors geometry, applied mathematics, trigonometry, and pre-calculus at MHS. He also coaches both boys and girls soccer at the high school. He has been coaching boys soccer since 1998, and helped start the girls soccer program in 2001. He had coached boys’ sophomore basketball team for seven years, prior. “We have four children and when I’m not coaching at the high school, I’m helping coach their sports at the YMCA (youth soccer and basketball leagues) or a Little League baseball team. Ghere earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with teacher certification at the University of Illinois. He earned his master’s degree in administration from Eastern Illinois University. He was the first teacher in Mattoon school district to pass the National Board Certification mathematics teacher exam. Fellow math teacher, John Cox said Ghere should be recognized for his outstanding teaching and coaching skills, as well as his community involvement. “Ryan puts in countless hours as soccer coach at Mattoon High School and the teams achieve a great
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Teaching math and coaching soccer at Mattoon High School keeps Ryan Ghere from sitting behind a desk in an office all day long, unlike his initial college major in business might have. deal of success every year under his direction,” said Cox. And through his volunteer coaching at the YMCA, Cox credits Ghere, as well. “The success of all sports in a community depends on volunteers such as Ryan who are willing to spend time and effort preparing children with the skills and
dedication (for) competition and physical fitness.” Ghere said he likes being able to make a difference in a young person’s life. “I like working with young kids. It is very rewarding. I like being able to make a difference in their lives. As a coach, you get to know them better, than in the classroom. We do things all
summer long, up to three days a week,” he said. Ghere said he’s been inspired by many great teachers along the way, who helped him to enjoy school. He also credited his wife for being “understanding and supportive.” “Teaching is a great profession, but you do have to work hard,” said Ghere.
“My dad (Ron Ghere) was a fifth grade teacher in Mattoon for 35 years, and I saw how much he enjoyed it. I decided I wanted to teach and coach.”
BL Ryan Ghere G Only at www.jg-tc.com
on your selection to the
2010 Class of 20 Under 40
Congratulations Ryan Ghere on your selection to the
2010 Class of 20 Under 40 Mattoon High School
Mattoon CUSD #2
Page 10 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
ANNIE HERNANDEZ Age: 31 | Profession: Program officer for leadership and organization development for the Lumpkin Family Foundation | Community Involvement: Coles County Young Professionals, Founding Leadership Team member; Mattoon Rotary Club Member, Rotary Foundation chair and board member; Business & Professional Women’s Club member, 2009 Illinois Young Careerist; Sullivan Area Arts, founding board member; Moultrie County United Way board member; and Business Solutions Center Advisory Team member | Personal Influences: “I have been very lucky to have mentors at each stage of my life that have made me who I am today, from a 5th grade teacher, to my favorite college professor that gave me the push to land in Illinois for graduate school to the graduate school advisor, to board members to a few very special bosses. My family as a whole set the expectation of giving back to your community that I know has inspired my work.” By NATHANIEL WEST For the JG/T-C
In both her work and her volunteer activities, Annie Hernandez is able to marshal community support and growth. “She is truly a catalyst for gathering and equipping people to serve their communities,” wrote Rev. Travis Spencer in a letter nominating Hernandez for a 20 Under 40 Award. “I am always impressed when I see her take the lead in helping gather people to make a positive change in our community,” added Spencer, lead pastor of The Fields Church in Mattoon. Hernandez, 31, is the program officer for leadership and organization development for the Lumpkin Family Foundation, meaning her primary responsibility is helping nonprofit groups excel at what they do in 17 area counties. She specifically assists these groups in collecting grants and developing leadership. She said her favorite part of her job is “having the opportunity to work every day with people passionate about making a difference in our community. I can’t think of anything cooler!” But Hernandez also participates in numerous service organizations on her own
time. She is a founding leadership team member of the Coles County Young Professionals and a founding board member of the Sullivan Area Arts. She is currently Rotary Foundation chair and a board member with the Mattoon Rotary Club, and also a 2009 Illinois Young Careerist with the Business & Professional Women’s Club. As a board member for the Moultrie County United Way, she aided in the merger process with the Decatur Mid-Illinois United Way, and she is both an advisory team member for the Business Solutions Center at Eastern Illinois University and a facilitator for Leadership Coles County. Hernandez even volunteers monthly at the Mattoon Area PADS emergency shelter. “I love helping others find ways to connect,” said Hernandez. “I feel it is my way to give back for all the cool opportunities I have been given. On top of that, I find it rewarding, a great way to leering about the community (and) meet new people with shared interests, especially since I am newer to the community.” She comes to Mattoon from rural Texas by way of Indianapolis. A 1996 graduate of Bryan
Photo by Nathaniel West
In her role as program officer for leadership and organization development for the Lumpkin Family Foundation, Annie Hernandez uses her skills and knowledge to help nonprofit groups excel in their endeavors, plus she is involved in a number of community organizations. (Texas) High School, Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural development with an emphasis on education and leadership from Texas A & M University in 2000. Two years later, she completed a master’s degree in agricultural and environmental communica-
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tion and education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in leadership and change at Antioch University in Ohio. “I didn’t even know jobs like mine existed when I finished my graduate work,”
said Hernandez. “But, through some amazing opportunities, this path of nonprofit development and advocacy work has found me. It offers a great combination for my love of people, developing and connecting leaders and being able to help make a difference.”
Page 11 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
MELISSA HURST Age: 38 | Profession: Secretary and docket clerk for Coles County Associate Judge Brien O’Brien | Family: Husband John is a farmer and a member of the Coles County Board; son Caleb, 8 | Community Involvement: Coles County 4-H equine superintendent; vice president of Coles County Republican Women and secretary for the county Republican Central Committee; Vacation Bible School teacher at Buck Grove Community Church; youth sports | Influences: Volunteers such as 4-H leaders or youth coaches for “doing things for kids other than their own.” By DAVE FOPAY Staff Writer
Appearing in court can be confusing and even sometimes scary, so Melissa Hurst thinks part of her job is to help people who don’t know what to expect. Hurst has been secretary and docket clerk for Coles County’s associate judge for seven years. She said she thinks the work should be more than keeping schedules and making records of what happens in court. “I enjoy helping defendants in every way I can, making their day in court easier,” Hurst said. Hurst worked in a veterinary clinic, doing “a little bit of everything,” as she put it, before her first job at the courthouse about 15 years ago. She was in the State’s Attorney’s Office for eight years before moving to the job with the associate judge, Teresa Righter at the time and now Brien O’Brien, who took the position after Righter became a circuit judge. She didn’t have any particular interest in the court system, she said, but now enjoys working with O’Brien and others in the courthouse. O’Brien, who nominated Hurst for the 20 Under 40 recognition, said she “goes out of her way” to make sure everyone who goes through the court system is treated fairly. “She treats people courte-
ously and never hesitates to assist people with their questions,” O’Brien said. “She is definitely an asset to Coles County and to the court system.” Hurst is also a lifelong horse lover who started riding when she was 5 years old. She stopped giving riding lessons herself a few years ago for a successful attempt at qualifying a horse for a world show, but said she might start teaching riding again. Her own involvement in 4H that started with her being a member as a youngster continues today with her role as equine superintendent for Coles County 4-H. During the horse show at each year’s county fair, she’s responsible for setting up the show’s course and telling judges what the 4-Hers are supposed to try to accomplish. She also coaches the 4H members for a “horse bowl” in which they judge horses and the “hippology” team, which competes in something like a scholastic bowl with questions about horses. Hurst also said she was about 25 years old when she decided to become more involved in politics. She now serves in leadership roles with the Coles County Republican Party and said her chief motivation there is try to help the economy improve. “I started realizing that I
Thanks For Making All Of Our Jobs Easier! From Your Friends At The Courthouse
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Melissa Hurst, in her work as secretary and docket clerk for Coles County Associate Judge Brien O’Brien, ‘goes out of her way’ to help people making their way through the court system, O’Brien said.
wanted to make sure I voice my opinion,” she said. She also teaches Bible school but whether she does that this year will depend on if it fits with her son Caleb’s sports schedule. He’s playing on three baseball teams, she said, and she’s handling the score keeping duties for one of them.
Congrats Melissa! We are so proud of you Love, John & Caleb Hurst
Congratulations Melissa! On your 20 under 40 Accomplishment
Love You, Mom & Dad
Page 12 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
AMY JONES Age: 36 | Profession: Store manager, Mattoon Walmart | Family: Husband, Steve; children Zach, 7; and Kyle, 4 | Community Involvement: Religion education teacher, St. Charleston Borromeo Church, Charleston; Relay for Life participant; Children’s Miracle Network supporter; board member, Mattoon Exchange Club; board member, Mattoon Chamber of Commerce. | Personal Influence: Her mother-in-law, Harriett Jones
By BETH HELDEBRANDT Features Editor
Amy Jones began working as a cashier at the Effingham Walmart at age 17. She didn’t know then that she was beginning a career that would continue for at least the next two decades. Jones, a native of Teutopolis, was a student at Lake Land College when she was encouraged to enter the management program through Walmart. She worked in management at Walmarts in Olney, Effingham, Flora and Salem before moving to Coles County four years ago to become store manager at the Mattoon Walmart Supercenter. In her current position, Jones oversees 300 employees and all aspects of the store, including orders/merchandis-
ing, hiring and customer relations. Jones, 36, said the best part of her job is the people. “There are a lot of good people at this store, and a lot of them have been there from the beginning,” she said. “I enjoy getting to know them and their families.” Part of her role with Walmart is to support community causes. In addition to local grant requests, she serves on a statewide committee that oversees grants through the Walmart Foundation. “Amy works very hard with this group to get funding for the downstate area,” said her co-worker Jackie Culp. Jones stays active in the community as a volunteer, as well. She is currently in her JONES | 23
r u o y From s at d n e i r f
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Outside her work as store manager at the Mattoon Walmart Supercenter, Amy Jones volunteers as a religion education teacher, participates in Relay for Life and helps support other community efforts.
Page 13 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
ALEX MELVIN Age: 26 | Profession: Rural King Vice President of Distributing | Family: Wife, Megan, and daughter, Olivia, and one child on the way. | Community Involvement: Rural King offers different assistance to charities and community service organizations. | Personal Influences: Past instructors and people in the Rural King corporate family.
By HERB MEEKER Staff Writer
Alex Melvin is full of energy each day he shows up at dawn to work in the Rural King corporate office. His energy level must be on the maximum level in April because it is one of the busiest months for the 50year-old company that serves rural areas in seven states. “Yes, this is like Christmas season for us,” the 26-yearold Rural King vice president said. In many ways, Melvin grew up with Rural King as his father, Gary, helped build a local farm supply store into a retail giant with facilities in 45 communities and 2,500 employees. After Monmouth College and work with a construction contracting firm, Melvin joined the Rural King corporation in 2008 and he’s been busy ever since. “I put my finger in everything the company does. Nobody here really has one hat. I work with warehousing, trucking and buying. It’s anywhere the company needs me,” he said while taking a quick glance at two
computer screens with Rural King sales totals. Keeping the company selling and growing is part of his community commitment as a 20 Under 40 Awardee, Melvin said. “When it comes down to helping the community it comes down to providing jobs,” Melvin said. Rural King is currently building new warehousing at its Mattoon site. That is providing jobs in construction and through the company’s expansion. Melvin said community service comes in different forms like the Church Week donations of 5 percent of Rural King sales receipts for different churches. There are also donations to different causes. “Alex is the picture of an entrepreneur which will serve him well in providing a catalyst for Rural King’s continued growth, which we hope is an important factor in the economic growth of Mattoon and our surrounding communities. I think Alex is a great representative of the up and comers of our area,” wrote Don Davis, Rural King
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Alex Melvin has a variety of areas to cover as vice president of distributing for Rural King, but he also manages to support several charities and community groups. CFO, in nominating Melvin. When he ends his day, usually at 6 p.m, Melvin goes home to his wife, Megan, and young daughter, Olivia.
They also have another child on the way. “This job has a lot of responsibility. There are 2,500 employees counting on
you every day to do the job right. And they have families, too. If that’s not enough to drive you then I don’t what is,” he said.
“When it comes down to helping the community it comes down to providing jobs.”
Way to go Dad!! So proud of all you have accomplished Love, Alivia
Congratulations Congratulations ALEX MELVIN Alex Melvin On your 20 under 40 honor! We are very proud of you! Love, Your Family
From Everyone At Rural King On All Of Your Achievements
Page 14 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
KATE PLEASANT Age: 25 | Occupation: Television producer/director at WEIU-TV | Family: Husband, Anthony; Parents: Anne and John Henderson of Robinson | Community involvement: Previously involved with Omega Nu, a community sorority in Mattoon that did a lot of work for St. Jude Children’s Hospital; member of the I Sing the Body Electric Coalition board. | Personal Influences: “I’ve always been influenced by my parents and family. My grandmother did a lot with a little and raised my mother and her brothers and sisters alone. Seeing someone persevere like she has and all the trials and tribulations she’s come through is really inspiring. She has always shown me what it means to be a strong person. I learned by example from my parents. They taught me to be open-minded and giving, and showed me that being an individual and having others like and respect you just the way you are is important.”
By BETH HELDEBRANDT Features Editor
WEIU TV producer/director Kate Pleasant of Charleston has been a fan of the 20 Under 40 recognition program since its inception. “It’s nice to read about those influential people in the community. The 20 Under 40 program highlights what great things people are doing in the community,” she said. Still, Pleasant, 25, said she was surprised to learn that she was named a member of this year’s class. She feels privileged that others view her as an influential member of the community. “I am honored to find myself in such great company. I don’t see myself as that person,” she said. “I just do it because it’s fun. I’m just doing what I do.” What Pleasant does as a member of the WEIU team is varied. As a producer/director, she fills a variety of roles, mostly focusing on local content. For example, she is involved with “The Jim Allen Show” and the “Season’s Greetings” series aired during the holidays. She recently has been put in charge of a local documentary about railway postal clerks, in cooperation with others at Eastern Illinois University. As part of her job, she edits film and commercials,
writes scripts, shoot videos and records voiceovers. But perhaps she is most recognizable as the co-host of WEIU’s “Heartland Highways” TV show. On the show, Pleasant and host Lori Casey travel throughout central Illinois and beyond to feature residents in their everyday lives. Pleasant, originally from Robinson, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2006. She worked as a news reporter for the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier before getting the opportunity at WEIU, where she worked while in college. She currently is pursuing a master’s degree in technology at EIU. Pleasant also has been an active member of the I Sing the Body Electric Coalition board for more than two years. She serves as one of the media consultants, and has been involved in many past projects, videotaping student projects and recording public service announcements, among other duties. Most recently, she was involved with “Bring It Home: Kids’ Guide for Parents,” a program in which Charleston seventh-graders told their parents their views on underage drinking. The program was aired on WEIU. Gaye Harrison, director of I Sing the Body Electric, said Pleasant has been
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Producer/director Kate Pleasant, shown in the WEIU TV control room, is well recognized as the host of ‘Heartland Highways,’ which is among her duties at the television station. instrumental in the success of the program, which targets a teen audience. “She is a joy to work with,” she said. “She is highly professional and makes everyone feel at ease.” Harrison said Pleasant is deserving of the 20 Under 40 award even at such a young age. “She is a consummate professional, yet she is very cre-
Don’t be shy
Love Tony The Hendersons & The Pleasants
ative,” she said. “She is wise beyond her years.” Pleasant believes her characters and values are largely thanks to her family, who taught her to be open-mind-
ed and altruistic. “I’m an observer, and that has helped me be successful in my career,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be like any of them, and I think I am.”
Congratulations Kate! From the Staff at WEIU TV & Hit-Mix 88.9 WEIU FM
Page 15 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
MATTHEW POPE Age: 35 | Profession: President/owner of Pacesetter Universal Insurance Agency, representative and investment adviser with Securities America. | Family: Wife, Kelli. Children: Ethan, 5, and Lundyn, 3. | Community Involvement: Youth pastor and associate pastor at Apostolic Center, Sunday School teacher, Board Member; New Beginnings International Children’s and Family Services in Tupelo, Miss.; Former board member of East Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross. | Personal Influences: “My parents Duane and Lorena Pope for building a foundation in my life of faith in Jesus Christ and strong moral values and character; and for setting an example of great work ethic as two of the hardest workers I know; and for always pushing me and expecting me to do my best at all times. My wife and children, Kelli, Ethan, and Lundyn who are my greatest joy in life and my inspiration for the future. My Pastors Revs. Derold and Judy Doughty and Rev. Shine and Lisa Doughty, the greatest leaders, the most loving pastors, and the most visionary people I have ever known.” By DAWN SCHABBING Staff Writer
Matthew Pope believes if you love what you do, the passion and the motivation comes easily. He keeps busy as the president of Pacesetter Universal Insurance, and as a registered representative with Securities America, both located in Mattoon. He grew up in The Apostolic Center church in Mattoon, and as young as age 12, he became involved in singing and touring and praying with others, while being a part of the Mattoon Youth Choir. “It was a perfect training ground and I’m still involved in that as a chaperone,” he said. “I like to get people plugged in, and help them find their passion.” He credits his parents and church for his successes. “The combination of my parents and our pastors have laid the foundation to make everything possible,” he said. “I enjoy my work, and it creates some flexibility to do what I love to do the most, and that is ministry,” said Pope. He also serves as a youth pastor at the church, and is transitioning into becoming an associate pastor. He teaches Sunday school. A 1992 graduate of Mattoon High School, Pope attended Lake Land College and earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. He also has taken two years of Bible college coursework. Pope has held many roles in the theater performances at his church, including acting, singing, writing scripts, directing and producing, and working with technical crews, at the church. “I like to take (pastors) vision and try to make it a reality, then try to expand on it and make it better. I want to see things happen. I want to help them. That is my personal mission,” said Pope. Four years ago, the church
also purchased the former Time Theater for other smaller comedy productions. As a young boy he participated in church dramas. Jonathan McKenzie wrote in his nomination letter that Pope helps guide young people. “Matt is positively influencing the lives of young people in our community by serving as a role model to the next generation of community leaders,” McKenzie said. He described Pope as a “skilled writer,” and a “motivator.” Working with a team that builds the scripts for musicals, Pope takes all of their work and merges the ideas together to create the final copy for the performances. The church’s biennial production, “I Am He,” was inspired by the original script of “The Messiah.” Pope took a lead in the drama and has played Jesus for the past seven years, in the musical about His life, death and resurrection. Its newest production, “The Last Plague” was presented in April, when Pope served as writer and producer. The church’s smaller comedy performances at the former Time Theater, always come back around to the Christmas story of Jesus, but include fictional characters. Pope’s third grade teacher at Lincoln School in Mattoon, Cora Ruth Turner, also nominated him.
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Matthew Pope, president of Pacesetter Universal Insurance and a representative with Securities America, gives the credit for his success in life to his parents and church. “It was an honor to have him in my classroom and to see him grow and make progress in his development from a young boy to a mature young man with high standards of moral living,” she wrote. Pope also has several years of experience in the insurance and finance business. “I have been licensed since the day after my 18th birthday, so I’ve been at this for about 18 years. I don’t look at
Congratulations Matthew You are so deserving of this reward for your leadership and community service. From the staff of Pacesetter Universal Insurance Agency
myself as a sales person, but as an independent agent with Pacesetter Universal, my focus is getting them a competitive price,” he said. In his investment business with Securities America, Pope
said it is always best to put the customer’s needs first. “There are some things I could do to create more income, but I try to do what is best for the customer,” he said.
Page 16 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
GREG POWERS Age: 33 | Profession: Broadcasting instructor at Lake Land College and manager of WLKL Radio. | Family: Wife, Sarah, and son, Blaine, 5, and daughter, Blair, 2 Community Involvement: Broadcaster for Mattoon High School football and basketball games, umpire and coach in different youth leagues, president of Lane Acres Homeowner Association | Personal Influences: Different instructors like Ken Beno, longtime broadcasting instructor at Lake Land College.
By HERB MEEKER Staff Writer
Greg Powers’ career is powered by words, but his commitment to the community service is more than lip service. At Lake Land College, the Mattoon resident is a radio/television and speech communications instructor and WLKL radio station manager. That means he fulfills many roles for students, including teacher, counselor, mentor, director and sounding board for ideas and problem solver. “Greg is a powerhouse who always gets things done and done correctly,” wrote Dave Cox in the nomination letter for Powers as a 20 Under 40 Awardee. “He has the utmost respect of his colleagues here at Lake Land College.”
But Powers also goes behind the microphone and the plate for his adopted community. He is the voice of Mattoon High School football and basketball on WMCI Radio, and emcee for the annual Mattoon Lettermen’s Club Hall of Fame Banquet each fall for raising scholarship funds. He also is an umpire for Mattoon and Effingham, his hometown, youth baseball leagues. He is also sound technician for Broadway Christian Church and president of the Lane Acres Homeowners Association. “It’s my 12th year of doing Mattoon sports broadcasts. It’s something I enjoy and it keeps you in touch with students,” Powers said. He entered education POWERS | 23
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Greg Powers, broadcasting instructor at Lake Land College in Mattoon, puts his professional skills to work for the community announcing local sports.
Page 17 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
DIANE RATLIFF Age: 33 | Profession: Charleston Parks and Recreation Department recreation supervisor | Family: Husband, Ken, and children, Timothy, 7, and Taylor, 5 | Community Involvement: Secretary for Charleston Parent-Teacher Organization, member of CCAR board, co-chair of Coles County Health Department’s Healthy Families for Life, also on EIU Recreation Administration Advisory Committee, teaches Sunday school at Salisbury Church | Personal Influence: St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children is where she was first introduced to recreation therapy and, consequently, decided to go into this field. Children are the driving force for Ratliff, who believes all children have the right to play regardless of their abilities.
By ROB STROUD Staff Writer
When Diane Ratliff was 16, she saw the St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children’s recreational therapists go to extra lengths to ensure their patients could play floor hockey. Convalescing after knee surgery at the time, Ratliff said the recreational therapists rolled her wheelchair around the rec room floor for the hockey game. She said they even rolled the hospital bed of a 12-year-old boy who was in traction. “I think that is the day I decided this is what I want to do,” said Ratliff, who is the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department’s recreation supervisor. “My goal is to let everyone participate regardless of what their ability is.” Ratliff, a Charleston native, graduated in 1999 from Eastern Illinois University with a recreation administration degree with an option in therapeutic recreation. She subsequently served as head counselor for the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department’s Special Needs Day Camp and as a programmer for an Easter Seals Camp. Charleston City Manager
Scott Smith and Parks and Recreation Director Brian Jones wrote in their 20 Under 40 nominating letter that Ratliff’s strong experience working with individuals with special needs was a key element in the city’s decision to bring her on board during the hiring process. “Diane has been instrumental in providing opportunities for individuals with special needs in our programs. She started our Discovery Club that streamlines these participants in our programs and also has personally assisted as their ‘buddy” if needed,” the nominating letter stated. Ratliff works with a variety of Charleston recreation programs both during her regular work day and sometimes after hours or on weekends. For instance, Ratliff said she recently served as a substitute instructor for a gymnastics class. Many of of the recreation department’s program are geared toward children. Every year, Ratliff organizes a Summer Day Camp that meets at Morton Park and regularly takes its participants on field trips to the Charleston public swimming pool, Fox Ridge State Park
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Working with children through the Charleston Park and Recreation Department, Diane Ratliff was inspired to go into recreation administration as a teenager recuperating from knee surgery. and other fun destinations. “Who else gets to go to work and play,” Ratliff said with a smile. Ratliff said she has particularly enjoyed working with the annual Charleston Challenge Duathlon and the MidWinter Classic foot race.
Ratliff said she likes collaborating with business sponsors and a large team of volunteers to make these races possible. As recreation supervisors, Ratliff said she likes to give the race participants a good experience that will make
them want to come back the following year to Charleston. “We have been impressed with her abilities to provide quality programs and special events to the citizens of our community,” Smith and Jones wrote in their nominating letter.
“My goal is to let everyone participate regardless of what their ability is.”
Congratulations to our Board Member
Diane Ratliff Don’t be shy
CCAR Industries www.ccarindustries.org
CongratulationsDiane on your selection to the top 20 under 40! City of
Page 18 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
CHRIS ROBERTS Age: 39 | Profession: Education/District Network Director | Family: Wife, Laura. Eight nieces/nephews. | Community Involvement: “As part of the day-to-day operations of my position, there are many ways community involvement is provided. These two really blend together daily. For instance, I have been assisting the Booster Club in developing a web-presence. I provide after-hour support of HomeLogic for parents and students regarding Mattoon’s on-line access to student information. Responsible for Alter Notification messaging system.” | Personal Influences: “My parents have to be to the top of the list. When I was in seventh grade, they recognized my interest in computers and purchased our first computer with a couple of books on computer programming in BASIC. With their support and encouragement, I have been programming ever since. Mrs. Mudrock, my computer teacher during high school, is another great influence. She would always have words of encouragement for me and would tell me that I would amount to great things. Her ‘no-spaghetti programming’ speeches are a constant reminder for keeping scripts, programs and operations running in the most efficient way.”
By DAWN JAMES Staff Writer
Chris Roberts’ career in the computer world began as an aide in an Apple II lab at an Orland Park grade school in 1991. Today, the computer guru and 20 under 40 recipient, is employed as District Computer Network Director with the Mattoon School District. “I’ve always been into computers ever since about the seventh grade. I like computers and I like math, and it (his position) involves both.” His responsibilities have graduated from that first position of loading 5.25-inch floppys for students who were needing a place to save their typed masterpieces to overseeing an entire computer network system at Mattoon schools. Most of his work involves troubleshooting computer problems throughout the district remotely from his office. He is able to directly connect with computers and work through whatever problems are occurring from his office, he said. The most rewarding part of his job is knowing that kids are able to use technology, he said. He has received thank you letters from kids who have borrowed laptops when they have fallen behind in their schoolwork or to do term papers. Also, he reminisced about a time when a student was in the hospital and needed a laptop to keep up with school work. “It’s really why I got into education,” he said. (Students) are the future. When we get older, they will be the ones taking care of us,” he said. The biggest challenge to the position is that no day is ever the same. But, he added, that could also be a positive side to the job as well.
Like many others in business and schools in the current economic crisis, Roberts plans to move forward with his goals without increasing costs. Trying to get “the biggest bang for the buck” is his philosophy as he helps the district make strides in going completely paperless with report cards. Currently, an online pilot program in which 70 percent of the staff is engaged, is under way. It focuses on allowing parental access to student grades, lunch accounts, and attendance records on the Web. Also, Roberts said there is a program implemented that can call 7,000 numbers in less than 15 minutes. He said it could be completed quicker, but it is designed to call the numbers where there is no answer three times. In addition, the system is used for school messages/ reminders, emergency information and school weather closings. Efforts are also under way to provide extended online lesson plans. He said this would allow parents, who may be trying to make doctor’s or dentist’s appointments, the information necessary to determine what would be the best day for their child to miss class. Roberts first came to the district four years ago. He said he likes how every-
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Mattoon School District Computer Network Director Chris Roberts says the most rewarding part of his job is knowing that kids are able to use technology.
one in this area is so genuine and caring. Coming from the Chicago area, he likes the slower paced, down-home atmosphere of a smaller community. As a recipient of this year’s 20 Under 40 honor, Carol Moran, executive secretary of technology, said the following about Roberts: “his efforts to
Congratulations Chris Roberts I am so proud of you. Love, Laura
improve relationships with the community have yielded pilot programs enabling parents’ direct access to individual student data such as grades, fees, health records, attendance information, school assignments and lunch account information. In addition, he is on-call around the clock for commu-
nity committees’ access to technology while using the Administrative Service Center as a meeting place. Chris works diligently assisting in the development of curricular coursework for students, preparing their entry into the workforce,” said Moran. His expertise is invaluable.”
Chris Roberts on your selection to the
2010 Class of 20 Under 40 Mattoon CUSD #2
Page 19 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
JEFF SCHUETTE Age: 37 | Profession: Drake Homes’ director of sales | Family: wife, Sonya, and children, Sam, 7, and Olivia, 4 | Community Involvement: EIU Panther Club president, Excellence in Education Foundation for Charleston schools, Wesley United Methodist Church | Personal Influences: Steve Drake, Drake Homes; Barbara Burke and Dale Wolf, EIU; Hank Davis, Wesley United Methodist Church; Joe Dively, Consolidated Communications; Eli Sidwell
By ROB STROUD Staff Writer
Designing a home for someone is a lot of fun because you get to know what is important to them, said Drake Homes sales director Jeff Schuette. “You can start with nothing and really get a home that fits the way they live,” Schuette said. Schuette has developed a home, a career, and a strong track record in community service in Charleston since arriving here more than 15 years ago as an Eastern Illinois University student. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Schuette enrolled at EIU to pursue a bachelor’s in communications and then a master’s in kinesiology and sports studies. Schuette met his wife, Sonya, in this master’s program. They decided to make their home in Charleston. “We love it here. I don’t think we ever considered leaving,” Schuette said. While living in Charleston, the couple hired Drake Homes to construct a house for them. Schuette said he had always been interested in housing development and learned more about this field while getting to know the Drake family. Six years ago, Schuette joined the Drake Homes team. His responsibilities include interacting with customers and designing and developing homes. Schuette said he has been honored to work with first houses, retirement houses, and many types
in between. “Jeff is an all-around asset to the entire company. Besides being a joy to work with, Jeff is a take-charge person who is able to present creative ideas and communicate the benefits,” wrote Steve and Mary Drake in Schuette’s 20 Under 40 nomination letter. During his time as an EIU student, Schuette also was a member of the university’s golf team. Schuette has kept his ties to EIU Athletics by being part of the Panther Club booster group ever since graduation. He is in the first year of a two-year term as president of the club. “I think there are a lot of people who are really excited about Panther Athletics right now,” Schuette said, adding he too is excited about plans for upgrading EIU’s athletic facilities. His recent service with the club has included organizing a “Coaches Run” as part of the Illinois Marathon this
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
After making a home for himself and his wife in Charleston, Jeff Schuette, sales director for Drake Homes, now helps to design and develop homes for others. May in Champaign-Urbana. This run will raise money for memorial funds for EIU assistant coaches Jackie
Moore and Jeff Hoover. “It has been my experience with Jeff that he is genuine, has a great work ethic and
desires to see others succeed,” wrote EIU Athletics Director Barbara Burke in Schuette’s nomination letter.
Jeff Schuette Michele VanHise Noelle Cope From your friends at Wesley United Methodist Church
Jeff Schuette From the
Page 20 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
KELLY SCOTT Age: 38 | Occupation: Co-owner of Community Home Care, Sullivan | Family: Husband Todd is co-owner and chief financial officer of Community Home Care; children Tanner, 13, Sawyer, 12, and Kynley, 7 | Community Involvement: Member of Sullivan and Mattoon chambers of commerce, coaches softball, helps husband with coaching, member of First Baptist Church of Mattoon | Personal Influence: Her family, “the key to what I’ve done”
By DAVE FOPAY Staff Writer
SULLIVAN — Kelly Scott says she knew she was taking a risk when she started her own business, but now she’s glad to see her work is appreciated. Community Home Care in Sullivan, owned by Scott and her husband Todd, now serves about 70 patients in a 12-county area, providing them with skilled nursing in their home settings. A nurse for 12 years, Scott said she enjoys working with the elderly patients served by the business during its six years in operation. “They’re appreciative and there’s something about being in their home,” she said. “They want to remain at home and it’s fulfilling knowing we can help keep them there longer.” Scott worked in a hospital emergency room for two years but has otherwise been in home care nursing. She said some doctors told her they thought she had some good ideas, leading her to make the decision to start her business “from the ground up.” She gave credit to early and ongoing support from her family for being able to start the business and keep it successful. Several relatives work in the field and brought
early help while her husband is the business’ chief financial officer and her brother, Cory Buckley, is its human resources director. Scott handles clinical operations, and she said that includes seeing clients herself. She credits her staff of about 35 employees with promoting the business, and she said she gives her workers room to “thrive” because “one person can’t do it all.” Kim Coy, Community Home Care’s director, was one of people who nominated Scott for the 20 Under 40 recognition and said her effort “by anyone’s measure is a real success.” She said the business has offered free health screenings and Scott also uses her time to help with youth sports teams. “Kelly has put in countless hours working to build this very successful business while making time to participate in these community activities,” Coy said. “Kelly deserves to be recognized for all her sacrifices and accomplishments.” Scott has a sports background and was part of statequalifying basketball and tennis teams while she was at Mattoon High School. That helped with the “team philosophy that’s instilled in my life” and with her coaching,
Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer
Community Home Care in Sullivan, owned by Kelly Scott and her husband Todd, serves about 70 patients in a 12-county area, providing them with skilled nursing in their home settings.
she said, but she her “main interest” with coaching is her own children. “That’s where we spend all our time,” she said. “I don’t want to lose sight of my per-
“They’re appreciative and there’s something about being in their home.”
Congratulations Kelly Open 24-7
We’re so Proud of You Mom & Dad
We’re so proud of you. Love, Todd, Tanner, Sawyer & Kynley
Community Home Care would like to congratulate
on being selected as an outstanding leader in our community.
Page 21 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
MATT SMITH Age: 36 | Family: Wife, Sara; sons Colton, 4, and Kyle and Kennedy, both 1 1/2 | Community Involvement: Salvation Army board, Mattoon Area Family YMCA board, Lincoln Heritage Pheasants Forever Chapter board, Special Olympics Family Festival | Personal Influence: “Easy one — my mother. My father worked very hard and his career kept him away about four days a week. Despite this, my mother balanced her own school work and subsequently started her own business, while at the same time successfully raising two children and instilling a belief that anything is possible through the good Lord above.“ By NATHANIEL WEST For the JG/T-C
In eighth grade, Matt Smith wrote a letter to himself that he opened five years later when he graduated from high school. The letter described his career goal: To be a taxidermist. Now, Smith, 36, is corporate treasurer and director of finance for Consolidated Communications in Mattoon. But his childhood dream of getting into taxidermy remains alive and well, as Smith is able to carve time out of his schedule as a corporate executive to run his own business on the side. “I have enjoyed hunting and fishing for 25 years, and that love for the outdoors led me to start a part-time taxidermy business,” he said. He also manages to be involved in the community while raising three sons (including toddler twins) with his wife, Sara. “Matt has been able to balance his professional career, family life, community commitment and hobbies,” wrote Rick Hall, Mattoon city commissioner, in a letter nominating Smith for a 20 Under 40 Award. “Matt has always done a great job with people relationships and he is well-liked by whomever he works with regardless of the level. Matt’s intelligence and peoplefriendly attitude make him successful regardless of the job he is in. I suspect Matt will continue to grow professionally and will have many opportunities for advance-
ment.“ Smith holds a degree in finance and a master’s in business administration from Eastern Illinois University, and is pursuing a graduate certificate in accounting from DeVry University. Since starting at Consolidated, he has worked as a supervisor in operator services, general manager for public services, manager of billing and collections, and now director of finance. “In every position at Consolidated Communications, Matt has shown his ability to lead a team of employees and gain the respect of both his peers and supervisors,” wrote his wife in a nomination letter. Smith said he most enjoys the diversity of his job responsibilities, which “allow every day to be different, bringing with it a variety of challenges and experiences. One day I might be working on a capital structure strategy and the next day I could be traveling from New York to Boston to Charlotte, presenting the company’s story to investors and analysts. “I have been blessed to have multiple opportunities over the last several years both on the operational and financial side of the business at Consolidated.“ Such diversity is also present in his avocation. An avid hunter for 25 years, Smith said he had always wanted to start his own part-time taxidermy business, and was
SMITH | 23
Congratulations Matthew Smith We’re Proud of You. Sara, Colton, Kyle, & Kennedy
Photo by Nathaniel West
Matt Smith is corporate treasurer and director of finance for Consolidated Communications in Mattoon as well as owner of Rut-N-Strut Taxidermy, a goal he has had since eighth grade.
Page 22 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
MICHELE VANHISE Age: 38 | Profession: CCAR case manager and qualified service professional | Family: Husband, Mark, and children, Mahala, 8, and Danner, 1 | Community Involvement: Wesley United Methodist Church’s Stephen Ministry, Court Appointed Special Advocates | Personal influences: Her parents, Ed and Nancy Marlow, who advocated for her in her youth
By ROB STROUD Staff Writer
As a CCAR case manager, Michele VanHise looks out for the interests of individuals with developmental disabilities. As a volunteer court appointed special advocate, VanHise looks out for the interests of abused and neglected children involved in the Coles County court system. Both roles involve her serving as an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. VanHise said she chose this path in life after seeing her parents, Ed and Nancy Marlow, advocate for her as a child born with spina bifida. “They fought for me. This is my way of fighting,” VanHise said. VanHise, a Charleston native, has worked for a year and a half at CCAR, where she is a case manager and qualified service professional. Her work includes developing annual service plans for individuals with developmental disabilities and setting goals for them. VanHise said this involves maintaining their current abilities and hopefully building more abilities for them. Sometimes a newly developed ability can be something
as simple as learning how to use a vending machine, VanHise said. VanHise said she also keeps in contact with parents or guardians, schedules medical appointments, arranged occupational and physical therapy sessions, and ensure all other needs are met for those she serves at CCAR. “She has always been a giving person who wanted to help others, and she sought out a profession that allows her to reach that goal,” Nancy Marlow wrote in the 20 Under 40 nomination letter for her daughter. Outside of work, VanHise was sworn in as a volunteer with the Coles County Court Appointed Special Advocates program in August 2009. VanHise said the children she serves through CASA do not have anyone to speak on their behalf in the court system. She said she hopes that what she tells the judge in each case will help make the child’s life better. In addition, VanHise volunteers with the Wesley United Methodist Church’s Stephen Ministry. She said this Christian-based care-giving ministry provides “someone to talk to” and other help for those dealing with life situations they cannot handle on their own.
Ken Trevarthan/Staff Photographer
Michele VanHise chose her path as a CCAR case manager and volunteer court appointed special advocate after seeing her parents advocate for her as a child born with spina bifida. Donna Hudson, coordinator of the Stephen Ministry, wrote in her nomination letter that she has been impressed by the dedication VanHise has shown during her four years as a volunteer
“They fought for me. This is my way of fighting,”
BL G Only at www.jg-tc.com
providing confidential one-onone support. Hudson said VanHise is a patient and accepting listener and “there’s not much that rattles” her. “I know I could assign her
to a person with any kind of difficulty, and she’d meet that person with calmness and kindness. This is no surprise, of course, because that’s just how she appears to deal with life,” Hudson said.
Congratulations Michele VanHise
LE E H C MI ISE H N VA We are so proud of you! Your Family
We are proud to have you on our Team! CCAR Industries www.ccarindustries.org
Page 23 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
POWERS Continued from 16 because it is a way for him to give back to his personal mentors from Lake Land and Eastern Illinois University. “When I see students graduate and see them have success in the broadcasting field it is the ultimate enjoyment for me. That’s the most rewarding part of this career for me,” Powers said. His job involves more than
SMITH Continued from 21 finally able to do so four years ago when he and his wife built their own home just outside of Mattoon. Sara Smith said Rut-NStrut Taxidermy continues to grow, and “has truly become Matt’s passion.“ “Although my wife prefers I do the work out of her sight, she has been very supportive
JONES Continued from 12 second term as a member of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Mary Wetzel, executive director of the Chamber, said Jones is known for getting involved and making sure that things get accomplished. “She’s a self-starter. She is one of those individuals who realizes that leadership starts through volunteerism,” Wetzel said. “She believes in this community, and we’re fortunate to have her on our board.” Jones also is a board member of the Mattoon Exchange Club, teaches first-grade religion classes at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Charleston, and is a co-captain of the local Walmart’s Relay for Life team.
a 9 to 5 schedule, which makes community service even more of a challenge at times. “If the station transmitter out here is off the air then I have to come in and get it back on. There is something different with this job everyday,” Powers said. His involvement in local sports goes beyond just describing the games on the radio or umpiring. He also helps coaching Tball teams and YMCA kids
basketball. “This is what keeps my energy up. To give back a little bit. And it is important to give young athletes recognition,” Powers said. Powers said it would be impossible to do all the community work without the support of his employer. “It is important to have that backing from the college. Anyone who has a profession like this does it because they enjoy it,” he said.
of the whole endeavor,” said Matt Smith. “It isn’t something I plan on making into a full-time job, but I already know what will keep me busy when I retire many years down the road.“ He also is committed to volunteering, having served for six years both on the Salvation Army board and the Mattoon Area Family YMCA board, including three years as treasurer. Additionally, he served three years on the
board of the Lincoln Heritage Pheasants Forever Chapter, and he has been involved in the Special Olympics Family Festival and Consolidated’s Children’s Christmas Party. “I believe community involvement is a very important element of a successful city,” he said. “Those who volunteer can individually and collaboratively provide for a better place to live and help the community thrive and grow.“
Her involvement with Relay for Life, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society, is especially close to Jones’ heart. Her mother-inlaw, Harriett Jones of Louisville, died seven and a half years ago of cancer. Jones said Harriett inspired her with her determined attitude. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, she found out that her son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Amy, were expecting their first child — her first grandchild. Although her cancer prognosis wasn’t positive, Jones said Harriett was willing to do whatever it took to live to see her first grandchild. “She relied on her faith,” Jones said. “She wanted to see her first grandbaby, and she did.” The Joneses’ son, Zach, was born on July 14, 2002. Harriett Jones died on Aug. 1
that same year. “She taught me that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything,” Jones said.
We’re here 24 hours a day, 365.242199 days a year
Job t a e r G
s r e w o Greg P do to supportThanks for all you our community! Theresa, Jason, Alex & Keegan Gowin
Daddy You’re the Best! We Love You Blaine, Blair, & Sarah
Congratulations Greg We are so proud of you & your success. Dad & Alyssa
Page 24 | 20 UNDER 40 | Class of 2010
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS CLASS OF 2009 Heather Kuykendoll, Charleston city comptroller Ke’an Armstrong, WEIU marketing Adam Fifield, part owner Pilson Auto center Jay Fisher, CEO of Financial Logic Inc. Jason Gowin, Gowin Parc Theresa Gowin, Gowin Parc David Knox, pediatrician at Carle Foundation Physician Services Amy Diepholz Borntrager, Mattoon Middle School counselor Heide Lucas-Knoebel, Oakland grocer Aimee Laster, US Bank manager Mike Slaughter, president of The Checkley Agency Vickie Beavers, Mattoon special edducation teacher Amy Davee, Cross County Mall manager Sean Britton, attorney Jodi Swann, attorney/instructor Julia Boyd, YMCA staff Tina Moore, Lake Land College career services Carrie Hooten, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center wellness specialist Aaron Kirk, president of Healthcom Inc. Brian Fogarty, State Farm Insurance agent
CLASS OF 2008 Darin Bowers, Owner, Pro-Mow Lawn Care Krista Burrell, Counselor/Coordinator of Student Life, Lake Land College Jeffrey Decker, Product Safety and Litigation Manager, GSI Group Darcy Duzan, Doctor of Optometry, Lifetime Eyecare Jeff Eaton, Owner, JeLeniz and independent flooring contractor Kimberly Ervin, owner, Kim Ervin Photographie Rachel Farmer, Branch Manager, Personal Finance Kerry Fearn, CEO, Area Educational Credit Union Dustha Goddard, Human Resources Director, City of Charleston Merideth Kenton, Manager, Keystrokes Transcription Matt MacDonald, Paramedic/Firefighter, City of Charleston Brian Madlem, automotive instructor, Lake Land College Derek Meinhart, Vice President, Innovative Staff Solutions Kimberlie Moock, Director of Orientation within the Student Affairs Division, Eastern Illinois University Jana Pamperin, Coles County Probation Officer Raif Perry, Partner, West & Co. Anthony Pleasant, Vice President, Coles Together Cory Sanders, owner, Sanders & Co. real estate Amy Spain, Chief Financial Officer, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative Cindy Tozer, Director of Academic Services for EIU athletics
CLASS OF 2007 Andrea Applegate, Business services representative, Crossroads Workforce Investment Board Jeremie Smith, Assistant Principal, Mattoon Middle School Brian Titus, General Manager, Lorenz Supply Brock and Angela Ashley, Engineer, Curry Construction, teacher, Casey-Westfield Jr. High Kirby Johnson, Owner, Gavinia Graphics and Positively 4th Street Jason Tucker, Credit Analyst, Vice President, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust Bob Black Jr., Auto Mechanic, Midas Kyley Willison, Independent Insurance Agent/Owner Scott Bland, Vice President, First Neighbor Bank Barbara Love, Chief Financial Officer, Howell companies Gerald Wood, Vice President, Wood Insurance Agency. Bryan Burrell, Academic Counselor, Lake Land College Vince Welsh, Vice President, Family Farmers Meats and farmer David Wortman, Public Works Director, City of Mattoon. Corey Coffrin, Owner, ATA Black Belt Academy; Sergeant, Secretary of State Police Michelle Mathews, Communicable Disease Coordinator, Coles County Health Department Kim Sherwood, Life sciences teacher, Charleston Middle School Tricia Haworth, Director, Addus Healthcare Stepheny McMahon, Director, Sullivan chamber and economic development Kathleen O’Rourke, Associate Professor, EIU School of Family and Consumer Sciences
CLASS OF 2006 Rick and Audra Berg, owners, Sylvan Learning Centers. Jim Buck, production manager, Hydro Gear. Jennie Cisna, director, Mattoon Public Library. Jason Crowder, attorney, Heller, Holmes and Associates. Duane Deters, drug prosecutor. Beth Heldebrandt, features editor, Journal Gazette/Times-Courier. Mark Jackson, co-owner, Jackson Auto Dealerships and World of Power Sports. Bill Northam, owner, Advanced Digital Solutions. Dan Paulson, owner, Wave Graphics. Kyle Phillips, owner Duzan Furniture. Heather Prahl, owner, Head To Toe beauty salon. Jacob Pschirrer, dentist, Pschirrer Family Dentistry. Steve Rich, director, Alumni Services, Eastern Illinois University. Dave Skocy, assistant superintendent, human resources for the Mattoon school district. Jordan Spencer, dentist, 21st Century Dental. Travis Spencer, youth pastor, First Assembly of God. Vince Walk, business owner and Mattoon school teacher. Matt White, manager of Healthier Communities Mandy White, teacher, Charleston Middle School.
CLASS OF 2005 Kelly Allee, director, public relations, Lake Land College Mike Boksa, owner of Boxa restaurant Tracy Boksa, owner of Boxa Restaurant Curt Buescher, director of public works, Charleston Mindy Cordes, owner, Common Grounds Dave Cox, customer service rep, RR Donnelley Eric Davidson, associate director, student health, Eastern Illinois University Ron Diepholz, owner Diepholz Auto and Real Estate group Kelly Downs, vice president for human resources, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust Rich Fanelli, manager, Comfort Suites hotel Angela Griffin, executive director, Coles Together Larry Lilly, superintendent, Mattoon schools Jay Mann, teacher, Charleston High School Brien O’Brien, associate circuit judge Mark Phelan, manager, Coles County Farm Bureau Dr. Adolfo Ruffolo, president, Lake Land radiologists Gary Swearingen, financial consultant, A.G. Edwards Jodie Warner, director, laboratory services, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Doug Whitworth, vice president, Gardner-Whitworth & Associates. Greg Witto, director of campus and family life ministry, Immanuel Lutheran Church
CLASS OF 2004 Holly Bailey, vice president of Howell Asphalt Mark Bluhm, Charleston community president of First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust Dr. Elizabeth Clyde Druin, owner Clyde’s Veterinary Clinic Chris Considine, financial consultant with AG Edwards Don Davis, chief financial officer and president of distributing, Rural King Kris Maleske, assistant principal at Mattoon Middle School Paul Mejdrich, owner of EL Krackers restaurant Dr. Kellie Jones-Monahan, general surgeon practicing at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Britto Nathan, associate professor of biology, Eastern Illinois University Preston Owen, Mattoon city treasurer and city attorney Steve Pamperin, planner with Coles County Regional Planning and Development Commission Jamie Pilson, general manager of Pilson Auto Center Dale Righter, Republican state senator Diana Smith, partner, West and Co., accountants Michael Smith, Consolidated market response vice president and general manager Scott Smith, Charleston city manager Michael Taylor, chief financial officer of First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust Ed Thomas, owner of Bike & Hike Kim Uphoff, director of planning and business development at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Todd Vilardo, assistant principal and athletics director at Charleston High School