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FORTY 2019

B SECTION


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fwbusiness.com

GREATER FORT WAYNE

Business Weekly 3306 Independence Drive Fort Wayne, IN 46808 (260) 426-2640 Fax: (260) 426-2503 www.fwbusiness.com

Terry Housholder thousholder@kpcmedia.com Publisher Lisa Esquivel Long llong@kpcmedia.com Editor Ext. 3311 Megan Knowles mknowles@kpcmedia.com Special Sections Editor

GREATER FORT WAYNE BUSINESS WEEKLY

40 reasons northeast Indiana is advancing I am so excited to be part of this year’s Forty Under 40 selection. Looking through the applications, I saw all the great work that these young entrepreneurs are doing for this region. It is good to know that northeast Indiana has so many creative and motivated people. They are just 40 of the reasons that I believe the region is experiencing success. The greatest part of learning about these recipients was the way that they are giving back to their communities. This contribution of their time and talents is truly a gift that is paying forward. It is good to see the number of recipients who grew up and decided to stay here, but it’s also exciting to see what those who came here for jobs found as reasons to stay. They describe northeast Indiana in many ways: “Fort Wayne is a city on the rise.”

MARKETING CONSULTANTS Bobbi Jenks bjenks@kpcmedia.com Erica Smith esmith@kpcmedia.com

Machele Waid mwaid@kpcmedia.com Tracy Smith tsmith@kpcmedia.com George O. Witwer Publisher Emeritus Terry G. Housholder President/Publisher

Louise D. Phelps Chief Executive Officer

Hugh McGarry Assistant CEO

S. Rick Mitchell Chief Financial Officer Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly is a publication of KPC Media Group Inc.

©2019 All rights reserved

“It has been so much fun to see Fort Wayne morph into a place filled with amazing restaurants and activities…” “I can honestly say that there is not another place in the world that offers a person the opportunities that northeast Indiana offers.” “Northeast Indiana has always had the right combination of connection and convenience.” Each recognizes the revitalization happening within northeast Indiana’s communities. This region is truly lucky to have these successful people living and working here. I hope they will make this a region that attracts others like them to continue the work that has already started. Lisa Esquivel Long Business Weekly Editor

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Kanisha Bevins kbevins@kpcmedia.com Special Sections Designer Editorial Advisory Board Marlene Betances Zach Richards Pat Hess Ryan Fruchey Vickie Hadley

March 15, 2019

Franklin Awah.............................................B3 Tabitha Ervin ...............................................B4 Holly Tonak .................................................B4 Adam Welch...............................................B5 Matthew Sparling ......................................B6 Anthony Wilson .........................................B6 Karlye Whaley ............................................B7 Ashley Adamson .......................................B7 Brandon Noll ..............................................B8 Cameron Smith .........................................B8 Jason Russell .............................................B9 Ashley Benvenuti ......................................B9 Matthew Stout ........................................ B10 Megan Butler .......................................... B11 John Felts ................................................. B11 Marcus Heminger .................................. B12 Isaac Lee.................................................. B13 Mike Niezer .............................................. B13 Natalie Manalo ........................................ B14 Allison Wheaton ..................................... B14

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Hajira Khan .............................................. B15 Nicholas Scheumann ............................ B16 Rachel McMeeking ...................................C2 Stephanie Henry .......................................C3 Andrew Royer ............................................C3 Aaron Schaffer...........................................C4 Rachel Schermerhorn ..............................C5 Michelle Love .............................................C5 Melanie Watson ........................................C6 Nestor Rodriguez ......................................C6 Joseph Marana ..........................................C7 Reneta Thurairatnam ................................C8 Jes Farris .....................................................C8 Aric Forbing ................................................C9 Martin Huttenlocker ..................................C9 Amy Lehrman .......................................... C10 Sarah Arnold ........................................... C10 Adam Bartrom ........................................ C11 Zachary Briggs Sr. ................................. C11 Rebecca Worrell .................................... C12

2019

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Franklin Awah • 34 Employer: Fort Wayne Oral Maxillofacial Surgery & Implant Center Education: University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago Dental School, University of Alabama at Birmingham Community organizations: African American Health Alliance, Isaac Knapp Dental Society, Fort Wayne Medical Society, Mathew 25 Health and Dental Clinic volunteer Hobbies: I enjoy staying active and nurturing the mind and body. You can catch me at the Plex playing pickup soccer or at a coffee shop getting lost in a good book. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I moved to northeast Indiana to be closer to family and friends. Fort Wayne is a city on the rise. Proximity to family coupled with unique work opportunities make Fort Wayne the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Even as a child, I knew that I enjoyed helping others — from helping my elderly neighbor with chores to volunteering at church. I feel blessed that I am able to continue that venture in my profession. Nowadays, I alleviate my patients’ dental pain, repair broken jaws and place dental implants. Each procedure is geared at alleviating a patient’s pain or restoring their smile. In addition, I work with some of the best people one could ask for.

What does success mean to you? My definition of success is personal fulfillment with life, career and family. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be in a career of service to others and problem-solving. My career interests covered a wide range, including being a priest, a fireman, a politician. Coming from a small community and seeing the impact physicians have in improving the lives of their patients was the deciding factor that persuaded me to seek a career in health care. Where did your first paycheck come from and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from a job as a cashier at a local grocery store. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My family and close friends have been my biggest supporters. They provided the encouragement that I needed in hard times. My career path has been a long and arduous journey. Having a good support system has helped make the load easier to bear. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Completing the board certification process and becoming partner in my practice has been my biggest career accomplishment thus far. The board certification process is the pinnacle of a

surgeon’s training. It demonstrates dedication to learning and adherence to the highest standard of practice. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My greatest mistake has been not taking enough chances. I feel that I have missed out on several opportunities. Because of this, I learned that self-doubt is the enemy; to achieve greatness, a strong sense of self is as important as the dedication and discipline that is needed to achieve it. What are your current professional goals? My current goals are to keep up to date with new and emerging technologies, expand my procedures and bring cuttingedge health care to the Fort Wayne community. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I remain relevant by being a continuous student — always reading, always improving and expanding my skill set, and engaging my colleagues. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I achieve balance by prioritizing what is most important and realizing I am unable to take care of others if I do not take care of myself. What do you do to relax? To relax, I stay physically active (for example, soccer, running), read, travel and engage with the community.

What book do you recommend? “The Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard is one of the most empowering books I have read. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to achieve greatness. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? I would say stay true to the cause. Your path is filled with greatness. Give your best in everything you do. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take that trip!

MULOKOZI K. LUGAKINGIRA, DMD, DDS, MS FRANKLIN N AWAH, DDS, MD

Congratulations Dr. Franklin Awah, Forty Under 40 Award Recipient! 2121 E. DuPont Rd. Suite C, Fort Wayne

260-440-2730

4011 W. Jefferson Blvd., Suite 300, Fort Wayne

260-579-4653

642 N. Opportunity Drive #102, Columbia City

260-245-3161

www.fortwayneoralsurgery.com

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS American Medical Association (AMA) American Dental Association (ADA) Indiana Society of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons (ISOMS) Isaac Knapp District Dental Society (IKDDS) Fort Wayne Medical Society (FWMS) African American Health Alliance (AAHA) SERVICES OFFERED: • Dental Implants • “Teeth in a Day” • Wisdom Tooth Extraction • Corrective Jaw Surgery • In-Office Sedation


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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

March 15, 2019

Tabitha Ervin • 38 Employer: YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne Jackson R. Lehman branch Education: Pontiac Central High School, Pontiac, Michigan; bachelor’s degree in public administration and two master’s degrees, one in public administration and the other in human services from Central Michigan University and Capella University Community organizations: I am currently on the board at Vincent Village, McMillen Health, Fort 4 Fitness and Healthier Moms and Babies. I am also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the co-chair of the Fort Wayne United sub-committee Hobbies: Reading, traveling and exercising Why are you in northeast Indiana? I moved here a little more than 11 years ago to work at the YMCA. I have since worked at five Y’s in town and was blessed to be able to lead the opening of the newest Y, Jackson R. Lehman. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I have thoroughly enjoyed my work at the YMCA. As a servant leader, I am truly blessed to work for an organization where I get to operate in my life’s mission of serving community and

youth on a daily basis through interactions, programs and volunteerism with a Christian mission at the forefront. I also love to coach and care for staff through mentorship and leadership development. What does success mean to you? Success to me means several things: determination, hard work, never settling, being flexible and, most importantly, having the right attitude at all times. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I actually wanted to be an OB/GYN and deliver babies. I discovered in my 20s that my passion in life was deeply connected to serving people, thus my time as a middle school teacher, sports coach and now community and YMCA leader. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Delphi Automotive as a summer engineering intern. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My mother has been my No. 1 supporter, cheerleader and prayer warrior since birth! My father and my family (siblings and husband) have also been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders over the years. I also have some fantastic support here

locally within the YMCA leadership and through Y leaders around the country who I am connected to. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Opening the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA, hiring staff and building a welcoming and inclusive culture. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? When I first became a manager, I had a hard time navigating my leadership role versus my friendships with staff. I eventually learned how to separate the two and maintain respectable relationships but it was hard my first two years. What are your current professional goals? Continue to grow in leadership at the YMCA. My ultimate goal is to be a CEO. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Continuous training and participation in various local trainings as well as YMCA and other trainings around the U.S. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Very carefully! It can be challenging, and I am always working on it! What do you do to relax? Read and sleep.

What book do you recommend? There are so many! “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Be anxious for nothing but in all things trust God and pray, taken from the Bible, Philippians 4:6-7.

Holly Tonak • 34 Employer: GiGi’s Playhouse, Fort Wayne Education: South Adams High School; Dual major in elementary and special education, Ball State University Community organizations: Special Olympics, Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition Hobbies: I enjoy traveling, swimming, checking out live music and trying out new restaurants in the area. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I grew up in Adams County and when I came back from the Peace Corps everything just fell into place and kept me in the area. It has been so much fun to see Fort Wayne morph into a place filled with amazing restaurants and activities, and the spirit of collaboration among organizations continues to grow. There are so many organizations and people who are working together to make Fort Wayne as amazing as possible, and it is so encouraging to be a part of that scene. What is it about your profession

that you enjoy and why? I get to see individuals accomplish goals and see my friends with Down syndrome exceeding ridiculous expectations that were put upon them by others. Empowering individuals with Down syndrome and seeing them thrive in various environments is what keeps me pushing harder and shouting their worth louder. What does success mean to you? Success is leaving the world a better place. As our mission states, we are here to change the way the world views Down syndrome, and if I can educate our community about what Down syndrome, truly means and leave the world a more accepting place for my friends rocking that extra 21st chromosome that is success. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Since first grade, I always wanted to be a teacher. My aunt, a special-education teacher, would allow me to tag along to Special Olympics events and allow me to assist in her

classroom any chance I could get. That is when I found my passion for individuals of different abilities. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I was a lifeguard at the Berne community swimming pool for years. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by an army of supporters and encouragers. My family and friends have encouraged me to keep going and celebrate with me every step of the way. I dare you to find a more supportive board of directors than the one I have at GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne! They all join in the outside-of-the-box thinktank, constantly support the Playhouse in any aspect and allow me to spread my creative wings. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Seeing the Playhouse grow by leaps and bounds has been an absolute joy. This year, we are seeing our monthly participation and number of check-ins double from last year! What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Learning to delegate was a task, but it is a skill that I am continuing to improve upon. What are your current professional goals? I hope to see the Playhouse continue to grow in every aspect. I look forward to educating more individuals, welcoming new families and seeing my friends with Down syndrome thrive with the support of our free educational and therapeutic programs. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? GiGi’s Playhouse is the only international network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, and we all share and meet virtually multiple times a month. We also have frequent trainings, and I enjoy reading research articles. I also tutor students at the Playhouse,

so it is a great way to try new methods of teaching and constantly better myself as an educator. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? That is the million-dollar question. I’m still working on finding that healthy balance, but as I continue to work in this field, I’m progressively getting better at making sure that the people and activities that bring me joy are being prioritized. What do you do to relax? If it is nice out, I will go for a walk with my two rescue dogs. I also enjoy a great Netflix binge and a glass of wine. What book do you recommend? “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek or “The Art of Happiness” by HH Dalai Lama. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Don’t shy away from thinking outside of the box and embrace the weird.


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Adam Welch • 32 Employer: Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Education:Bishop Dwenger High School; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, IPFW; Master of Public Management, Policy & Administration, IPFW Community organizations: Allen County Purdue Extension Advisory Board, vice president; Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association; St. Joseph Township Fire Corporation; NewAllen Alliance, community collaborator; United Way’s Real Men Read Program; Northeast Indiana Local Food Network; Gateway Coalition; St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Hobbies: Politics, sports, coaching baseball and playing with my kids. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I can honestly say that there is not another place in the world that offers a person the opportunities that northeast Indiana offers. Throughout my childhood, my parents always found a way to sacrifice in order to show us the world. As a child, I failed to realize how much of an impact this would have on me years later. We may not have oceans or mountains or yearlong warm weather, but we have an incredibly strong economy. We have rural, suburban and urban environments and tremendous schools, both public and private. But there is no doubt that the best thing about northeast Indiana is the people. We are hardworking folks that value each and every person we meet and that is something you can’t find nearly as often as you should throughout the world. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? The people I get to meet and help. While I am incredibly humbled to be receiving this award and love helping businesses grow, I know the number of people

in this community who do so much without any recognition. I think about our veterans, or the business owners who have risked everything to accomplish their dream, or the social service workers who do so much to improve people’s lives — all while earning a salary not close to what they deserve. What does success mean to you? Success means going to bed each night thanking God for the day you just lived and asking Him to bless you again with another day. It means firmly sticking to principles while also treating each person, even your opponents, with the utmost respect. And it means somehow, someway trying to help someone in a day’s time. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Chicago Cubs baseball player. Where did your first paycheck come from and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from the New Haven-Adams Township Parks Department where I was a tennis instructor. With this job, not only did I get to enjoy the outdoors, play tennis and help people fall in love with a tremendous sport, but I met my best friends to this day. Some of my best memories from my high school days are from the tennis courts at Jury Park in New Haven. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I could list countless teachers, professors, coaches, friends and supervisors. Without a doubt though, my biggest supporters are my family. I have had some amazing mentors and supervisors in my career, but at the end of the day, the three opinions that matter the most have always been my parents and my wife. It’s

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funny because sometimes when big decisions need to be made, I will go to each of them for their opinion, and in the end, I may not end up agreeing. But despite what they think, their opinions weigh heavily on my mind. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I have worked on various projects in my career, but the one accomplishment that sticks out is when I recently ran — and lost — for county council in the caucus. I am extremely proud of the campaign I ran. I was honest, transparent and learned that at the end of the day, the only strategy that matters is the one you yourself lay out and implement. We can all wait for the perfect time for everything, but that perfect time will never come. At some point, you have to step off the sidelines and take a risk, and I did. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? By far, my greatest mistake was going to law school. I went for one year solely because I didn’t discern things enough prior to applying. I tell many people that I planted the seed for the idea — and then others watered it. Academically, I performed perfectly fine, but halfway through, I realized that I really had no interest in becoming an attorney. Needless to say, that student loan is a tough one to pay each month. What are your current professional goals? I always have a goal to continue learning. If there is a gap in service for employers or citizens, I want to do all I can at Greater Fort Wayne Inc. to help fill that gap. In addition to helping our employers grow our economy, I am thrilled to

continue my work with both our rural community and also with our educators and students to promote careers in the skilled trades. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? My junior high science teacher and then, later on, a tennis instructor summed it up very simply: God, family, school, extracurriculars. And my mother always has reminded me that “family is forever.” To this day, I try to live by this. It’s the biggest challenge any professional has to face, but when all is said and done, I want my family to know where they are in my heart. Of course I have meetings at night and calls I need to take, but generally speaking, unless it is a high priority, when I’m with my family after work hours, my wife and kids are where I place my attention.


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Matthew Sparling • 37 Employer: Principal at MKM architecture + design, inc. Education: Southwood High School, Wabash; Bachelor of Architecture, Ball State University, College of Architecture & Planning; Bachelor of Science in environmental design, Ball State University, College of Architecture & Planning Community organizations: Over the last few years I’ve turned my focus to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In about 2013, I decided that I would give up a few of my professional boards and committees and join a community organization that has a more personal connection. My father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) about 25 years ago and I decided that getting involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society was the best path for me. This year will be my seventh as a committee member for the northeast Indiana Walk MS committee. Hobbies: Architecture. Most people wouldn’t put their profession as a hobby, but architecture is a lifestyle for me. I also enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and figuring out the next home improvement. Why are you in northeast Indiana? Northeast Indiana has always had the right combination of connection and convenience. After I graduated college, I wanted to stay close to Ball State while my girlfriend at the time and now wife (Dara) finished her actuarial science degree. After she graduated, she had job offers from different companies within the surrounding states, and she happily accepted a position with Swiss Re right here in Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne is also a great

location in the center of our extended families, who live in Wabash and Angola. We look forward to raising our two children in this great and growing region of Indiana. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? For a long time, what I enjoyed most was taking something from nothing, to an abstract idea, to a design, to construction drawings, to construction and then to reality. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment. However, the last few years my perception of accomplishment has shifted away from the result of a physical building and more toward the improvement of the health and wellbeing of the patients/customers which our clients and their spaces serve. What does success mean to you? My favorite quote of all time is by Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” So, success isn’t what means the most to me but being someone of value is the bigger honor. Put all your focus into being someone of value, and success will naturally follow. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? My parents were both teachers. So, when I was really young, I just wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps. At my high school graduation, they had us open time capsules we made when we were in sixth grade. Within my time capsule, I had written down that I wanted to be an architect. I have no recollection of when my career choice changed, but during my senior year I was already accepted to the College of Architecture & Planning program at Ball State. My time capsule just reinforced how long I had stuck with the

idea of architecture. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I can’t give credit to one sole individual as there have been numerous people that have had an impact on my career. But I would like to say thank you for the support and guidance from my family (Dara, Eve and Isaac), my parents (Dean and Rosa Sparling), current and past principals of MKM and Ball State professors (Marvin Rosenman, Robert Fisher and Rod Underwood). What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Accomplishing all the things that anyone said I wasn’t capable of achieving. Nothing motivates me to reach a goal like someone saying I’m not capable. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My greatest mistake was thinking that it’s unacceptable to make a mistake. That is an unhealthy way to grow in your profession and run a business. As we tell people at MKM, the first time you mess up isn’t a mistake, its tuition. The second time you mess up it’s a mistake. Everyone is going to mess up, it’s what you do with that learning experience that matters most. What are your current professional goals? To be as great a leader and mentor for the MKM staff as my mentors were for me, pursue certification of the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA), and continue to increase our reputation local, regionally and nationally. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Surrounding

myself with the knowledgeable leaders of MKM, our clients, conventions, and those of similar interests and goals within our target markets we serve. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? An understanding family and working when everyone else is sleeping. What do you do to relax? If you have any ideas, please let me know! I would say I’m most relaxed drinking a cup of coffee in the morning or sitting by a pool or at the beach. What book do you recommend? For work, I recommend the “Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture.” For evenings reading at home, any one of the Pete the Cat books is a great choice.

Anthony Wilson • 31 Employer: New York Life Education: High school Community organizations: Steuben County United Way, Boomerang Backpacks, Angola High School boys soccer Hobbies: I have three small children so that doesn’t leave much time, but when I can I love live entertainment such as concerts, comedy shows and tailgating/ attending professional soccer games. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in Angola, my family has been in this community for more than 40 years. Not only have our lakes kept me here but where else can you live and be a three-hour drive to four major markets like Chicago, Indy, Detroit

and Cleveland? What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love that I get to help people accomplish their goals. No two people’s situation is the same, so I’m always working on new things, which helps to keep me motivated. I also have the flexibility to put my family time first and give back to my community that has given me more than I could ask for. What does success mean to you? Having an impact in my community not only professionally but through service. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a professional basketball or soccer player.

Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from CVS Pharmacy. I was a stock clerk and cashier. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? Aside from my family my biggest supporter has been my good friend Mike Filson. Mike was a friend before becoming a colleague at a past company and helped me establish my sales career. Mike has always pushed me to keep asking questions and learning everything I can so that I am the one people think of to ask for help or an answer. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Leaving the corporate office in Fort Wayne and opening my own NYL branded office in Angola. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Waiting. Don’t wait on things to come to you, they won’t come. And if they do it’s a false positive. You must get out there and ask for the business and build value in what you bring. What are your current professional goals? I want to create the premier financial services practice in Angola and bring on two more agents to work alongside me. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? First thing I do in the morning is turn on CNBC to see what’s gone on in the markets around the world. I read The Wall Street Journal as much as I can. I also attend as many company meetings as I can to hear from our consultants as well as top agents and what they are finding success with.

How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? As I’m making my calendar for the week or month I’ll input my family activities first and start to fill things in around that. I’m able to do some of my community service activities during the day when clients might not be able to meet due to their work schedules. Sunday is strictly church and family time. What do you do to relax? Watch TV or sit by the pool or lake during the summer. What book do you recommend? “Sell it Like Serhant” by Ryan Serhant. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Have big goals, but don’t compare yourself to people who have been doing this for 20 years longer than you have.


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Karlye Whaley • 38 Employer: MainStay Solutions, Inc. Education: Associate degree, Ivy Tech Community organizations: We are proud to partner with many local not-for-profit organizations like Kate’s Kart, Amani Family Services, McMillen Health and many more. Hobbies: Running, hiking, golf, tennis, music, traveling and drinking beer Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised here and never found a need to leave. Northeast Indiana is a great place to run a business and raise a family. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Every day presents a new and interesting challenge. Some days this can be exhausting, but I find it inspiring and never dull. What does success mean to you? Success is a mindset. I am both content and challenged in my career and personal life and that is

my success. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? The moon and stars have always fascinated me so I wanted to be an astronomer. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I was a cashier at Scott’s Foods. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My husband has always been my biggest supporter in all things in life, not just my career. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? A huge accomplishment for me is when running a business changed from “I can do this” to “I am doing this.” It seems like a small shift, but it’s quite the opposite. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Trying to

please everyone. It’s impossible so you must make decisions and be confident in them, even if not everyone is happy with you. What are your current professional goals? To gain new knowledge and experiences that will help myself and my company in the future. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? By always keeping myself open to learning new things and not being afraid of change. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Not every day can be balanced and certain aspects of life will take over others but that’s OK. Accepting life isn’t always balanced is an important part of balancing. And coffee. What book do you recommend? “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Confidence is

everything. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, no one else will. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Ashley Adamson • 29

Employer: Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana Education:Bachelor of Science in psychology, Allegheny College Community organizations: Outside of working at JA, the community organization that I spend the most time with is the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus. As volunteers, we perform in several concerts throughout the year with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra and we put in a lot of rehearsal time to make each one successful. Hobbies: In my free time, I run my own business selling Mary Kay cosmetics. I also enjoy reading, writing, singing, dancing and yoga. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I grew up in Fort Wayne, then went to college in Pennsylvania, and returned to Fort Wayne. I love the people here; I love the spirit and sense of community here. I love the efforts that have gone into revitalizing our city, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love that my profession is so versatile. Every day at JA is different. I get to work with amazing volunteers by training them and supporting them at JA In A Day events. I get to teach in classrooms across Allen County. I get to help write and edit grant proposals/report backs and create projects from scratch by developing and implementing new grant initiatives. I get to plan and coordinate specialty events like a Homeschool Day and an essay contest reception. I get to manage a program committee that brings together educators and business professionals from across the community. But most importantly, I have the privilege of working as part of a strong team of people who are supportive and willing to help out with any project at the drop of a hat. What does success mean to you? Success to me means doing what’s right and bringing my best to everything I do. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was in elementary school, I wanted to do many different jobs: author, teacher, singer, mail carrier. As I reached middle school and high school I thought that I might be an archaeologist or a clinical psychologist, but it has always been clear that whatever career I went on to pursue would allow me the opportunity to continue to learn and share information with people. Education has always been a very important part of my life. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came when I was

working as a literacy tutor in Pennsylvania during college. I worked with the Crawford County READ Program and my job was to tutor adults who wanted to learn how to read in English. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I would have to say that Hayli Beck and Susie Kaiser were two of my biggest supporters coming into JA. They took a chance on me as a part-time staff member when I first came out of college and then again by inviting me to be a full-time member of their team 5.5 years ago. I owe the beginnings of my JA journey to them. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? For me personally, my biggest accomplishment so far would have to be that I have become a lot more confident in my abilities to be adaptable by managing and working on such a wide array of projects. I often get to work with others in the office outside of my personal team. I am honored that I am able to work with so many different people and that they come to me to seek help with a project or to ask my opinion on how to address a question or situation. It means a lot to me that they trust my judgement. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I think my biggest mistakes have happened while learning how to manage my own personal interns/ coordinators. Many of them have been college students, so I have only had each of them for about a year at a time. It has been both interesting and eye opening to see the different personalities they have and the different management styles that they require to be successful. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is like me in their personal work style, so getting the chance to work with a variety of different personalities and styles has made me more conscientious about what my support staff need from me as a manager. I have become more deliberate about listening to what they are telling me (and to what they are not telling me) and keeping lines of communication open. I also make sure to ask for feedback on what I can do as a manager to be a strong support system and a better mentor for them. What are your current professional goals? I had the opportunity to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment a while back and have been able to attend a couple of coaching sessions. One of my big goals lately is to find ways to implement and take advantage of those strengths in my day-to-day activities (my top 5 themes are: Achiever, Input, Responsibility,

Learner and Competition). I also want to continue to help JA be the best organization it can be by helping to refine our processes and come up with creative and efficient solutions to various workplace problems. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I enjoy attending professional development conferences and seminars. I also like reading articles/books and watching videos/ documentaries regarding professional development and advancements in the workplace. From a JA perspective, we are lucky to have many community partnerships (and are always looking to find other businesses and organizations to partner with — especially for volunteering!) so I have the pleasure of meeting people from a variety of backgrounds and am able to share our mission for educating youth in northern Indiana to people all across our community. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? A good calendar is instrumental in this. I have a paper calendar that is colorcoded by activity type (work, chorus, Mary Kay, yoga, family commitments, etc.) and I use my Google Calendar all the time to keep myself organized. What do you do to relax? Honestly, I am not very good at “relaxing,” just ask my husband; I like to stay busy. But, I do enjoy spending time with family and friends. My husband and I are also really into playing board games and have even hosted a

monthly game night! What book do you recommend? I have so many! Right now, I am reading a book series called The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. Jemisin is a strong writer and is extremely good at world building. It is unlike anything I have read before. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? I would tell myself that it is OK to make mistakes and that it is OK to fail sometimes. It is OK to ask others for help.

Congratulations

KARLYE WHALEY

FORTY

2019 UNDER

AWARDS

AWARD WINNER

YOUR COMPLETE IT DEPARTMENT

(260) 486-8100


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Brandon Noll • 33 Employer: Reusser Design Education: Pleasant Lake Elementary School; Angola Middle School; Angola High School; Glen Oaks Community College; Huntington University Community organizations: YLNI, director at large of community impact, football coach at Woodside Middle School; Parkview Cookin’ Men chef; Regional Opportunities Council (ROC) Hobbies: I enjoy attending sporting events and being outdoors. I love coaching football at Woodside Middle School as I am able to pour into lives of young adults that will be future leaders of our communities. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in Angola. I currently live in Fort Wayne. Northeast Indiana is an incredible place to live and work as I am able to enjoy both the lakes of Angola and the downtown life of Fort Wayne. Being raised and employed in northeast Indiana has allowed me to be involved in this great community where people truly care and connect with one another. I thoroughly enjoy being within a community where friendships are formed and people take the time to share a neighborly wave, smile, handshake or hug when passing by in our daily lives. Northeast Indiana is full of opportunities to make it your own. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I am the business development manager at Reusser Design in Roanoke. I thoroughly enjoy my job because I am able to make impactful decisions that will benefit our clients and company. At Reusser Design,

I am not micromanaged, different ideas are welcomed and our team is the best of the best. I make my commute to the office each day knowing that I work for one of the best firms and I have the opportunity to sell an impactful tool for other companies to grow in northeast Indiana. What does success mean to you? To me, being successful is making a positive impact in my community and to the people around me. Closing deals helps as well. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I wanted to be a bull rider or a calf roper. I still have dreams of being Lane Frost in “8 Seconds.” Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck I remember receiving was when I was probably 13 or 14 years old. I worked for a farm where I helped in the process of raking, baling and storing hay. Being a hired hand on the farm also came with many other hardworking jobs that helped form me into the man I am today. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? There are two significant supporters who have helped bring me to where I am today. My mom: She is my biggest supporter in life. Any time I have been down or lost confidence in myself, she would lift me back up with her unwavering support and love. My fiancée: She has brought a tremendous amount of positivity into my life. Her daily challenge for me is to “speak life” in all situations. I strive to apply this positive

outlook in both my personal and professional life. Be love, give love. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? To this point in my life, I feel very unaccomplished. I think that when I have reached life’s final moments I will have more clarity and reflection to look back and say, “hey, look at all you did,” but for now, I stay focused on what is next. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? In the past, I looked up to the wrong leader and passed over other career opportunities. Looking back now, my loyalty was taken advantage of and I have learned that it is OK to be somewhat selfish and do what is best for my career and life. What are your current professional goals? I currently do not know. I am getting married on March 23 and will sit down with my wife to establish those goals. I need to make sure my professional goals align with our personal goals and future. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I wake up every day believing someone is trying to take my clients, my sales or my job. My focus is being at my best, every day, no excuses. If that is reading books, listening to podcasts, attending seminars or having coffee with other leaders, I do it. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I set my priorities and stick to them. I constantly try to work smarter and use my time and talents to their most efficient and effective manner. Taking time for self-reflection has also allowed me to course correct if

my priorities become unbalanced. What do you do to relax? What is relaxation? I tend to stay involved and pretty busy seven days a week. If I get a chance to have some free time, I enjoy going to a TinCaps game, watching the Chicago Cubs on TV or spending time with my fiancée. What book do you recommend? “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? I would go back and tell my high school self to take more risks. My whole life has been calculated as I am a very analytical thinker. I appreciate where I am today and the lessons and paths that God has brought me through thus far. I am very blessed and grateful.

Cameron Smith • 35 Employer: I’m the owner/president of Holm Court Reporting & Video Education:North Side High School, Fort Wayne; Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies, concentration in business and communications, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Community organizations: The Brandon Foundation, which is an after-school mentoring/tutoring program. The Brandon Foundation is a non-profit organization that prizes ethical behavior and integrity while providing educational empowerment with Christian spiritual foundations. Hobbies: Attempting to lower my handicap in golf, football instructing, cooking, recreational ice hockey and fishing Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne. Honestly, I always thought I would end up living my adult life outside of northeast Indiana after I was done playing football. However, I fully committed to being here longterm after making the decision to start Smith Academy for Excellence with my dad and brother. I then met my wife not too long after that (who also is from here). Both of us feel called to serve this community together in hopes of being a part of the holistic development in the community of Fort Wayne. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I’ve had the unique privilege of getting to work with my family both at Smith Academy and Holm Reporting. As an educator, it’s exciting to watch a young person with an array of specific academic and social needs realize what they are capable of when given the right tools. Serving with my family at Smith Academy has produced

some of the best memories of my life! As a court reporter, I’ve gotten to work with truly some of the best attorneys in the Midwest, which I believe is a testament of our continual growth as a city here in Fort Wayne. Like many, I’ve always been fascinated with the justice system. Each case brings something new! What does success mean to you? I believe success is defined by measuring the equation of an individual’s personal ability, capacity and ceiling as it relates to achieving goals. Most of us know what we’re able and capable of doing. Some folks aim even higher because they want to be great! For me, I believe “success” lands somewhere in the mix of attaining those lofty goals and accomplishing what I know I have the ability of reaching. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I’ve always wanted to do something in business and own a company. I recall simply wanting to be the best at whatever I chose to do. My family would all tell you that I’ve been an entrepreneur, however, since about the age of 8. I also wanted to be like my dad as an educator and coach. I was very ambitious! Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? J & N Lawn Services. I learned some great lifelong skills and lessons for a couple of summers working under a great man who was willing to show me firsthand how to successfully run a small business. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I would honestly say that each one of my family members have been my biggest supporters in their own way. I couldn’t just pick one. My wife, Caty,

pushes and supports me in going after all my goals/projects. My dad and brother were crazy enough to do something that hadn’t been done before with me and believe in our vision. My mom was literally my first, formal teacher. She has always believed in me when I would question myself. My sister, Angela Dixon, has literally run alongside me and been in my corner for all my crazy ideas that have now come to fruition. Each of the above mentioned are my heroes! What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Without question, my biggest accomplishment to date has been starting Smith Academy for Excellence with the two men I’ve always studied and strived to model my life after: My dad, Thomas Smith, and my brother, Corey Smith. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Years ago, I trusted co-workers with business information that I should not have. I had what I thought were good business and personal relationships with them. I was wrong. Lesson learned: Sometimes, you need to get in there and make things happen yourself and keep your cards close to your chest. What are your current professional goals? I’m going to say, “refer to the last sentence in the previous question.” But I will say this as well: It has always been a goal of mine to help as many young people as possible find their path and become the best citizens they can be to shape our world for the better. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I do my best to prove to our clients that we are staying ahead of the latest

technology trends within the legal world as it relates to court reporting. My goal is to make every one of our clients more efficient while limiting the amount of time they’re waiting on what they need from us. I am always reading up on relevant information in our industry. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Again, I am very fortunate — I’m able to do it all at the same time! We do set aside special time, however, for just family while limiting discussion on the other things. What do you do to relax? What I call a soak & smoke: Enjoying a nice cigar while sitting in the hot tub and listening to classic jazz and/or neo soul. I’ve also recently taken up puzzling from time to time with my wife.


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Jason Russell • 38 Employer: Optimum Performance Sports Education:Reitz High School, Evansville; Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, Indiana University; Bachelor of Science in biology, Doctor of Chiropractic, National University of Health Sciences Community organizations: Safe Families for Children, Mastodon Athletics Advisory Board Hobbies: Running, golf, fishing Why are you in northeast Indiana? I met my wife, Ali, at Indiana University. She is from Fort Wayne and she brought me here after graduating. I really felt at home here, it is a great city and a wonderful place to raise a family. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Getting to know people and building relationships as well as being able to help people get well from injury. What does success mean to you? Success to me is being happy with where you are in life and what you are doing. Success to me is also feeling respected and influential within the community. In the end, I want people to remember me as somebody who cared, tried hard and was kind. As a child, what did you want

to be when you grew up? NFL quarterback. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Master Tire in Evansville and I had no official title. I worked in the warehouse loading and unloading tires as well as janitorial duties. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My wife, Ali. Without her support I’m positive I wouldn’t be where I am today. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I have had several patients graduate high school and go on to college to follow in my career path. What an honor to have influenced a person in such a way that he/she would want to follow in my footsteps. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I hate conflict, so my greatest mistake is not being upfront with employees about mistakes or problems that are present. I’ve learned that most people want to do well and it’s OK to tell them if they aren’t. I still struggle with this, but I am getting better! What are your current professional goals? This is hard to quantify, but I

want to be the best, and I want OPS to be the best. I want every athlete in northeast Indiana to think of OPS as the sports medicine expert. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? There is so much more to learn about human performance and sports medicine than we currently know in the medical field. I’m always looking for the next breakthrough or tool that I can use to help somebody. Therefore, I read research, listen to podcasts and surround myself with people who are smarter than me! How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? This is the hardest part for me, and the easy answer is my wife! She does a great job of allowing me to be obsessive about work and at the same time reminding me what is important. Being present at home is top priority. We sit down and have a family dinner every night, no matter how late. Little things like this make a big difference! What do you do to relax? Run or exercise. My mind never stops, so I am not good at sitting still! What book do you recommend? “Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. Based on what you know now, what

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would you tell your high school self? That sports do not define you. I grew up a multisport athlete, and sports were a big deal in my family. I think this happens a lot, and I feel bad for kids. Most will fail at sports and will never become a professional athlete, but we make this the end goal for a lot of kids. Sports should be a tool to learn life lessons not to define who you are!

Ashley Benvenuti • 25 Employer: Superior Aluminum Alloys/ OmniSource, Human Resources Manager Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration, concentration in human resources, Indiana Tech; Master of Business Administration, concentration in human resources, Indiana Tech Community organizations: I am on the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana Michiana. Hobbies: My hobbies include working out, cooking, painting, spending time with my family and friends as well as spending time giving back to the community. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I moved from Livonia, Michigan, to Fort Wayne back in 2011 on a tennis scholarship at Indiana Tech. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I really enjoy working in human resources because I love the constant “go go go” mentality and have always welcomed new challenges. I thoroughly enjoy the relationships I’ve gained, and it offers a sense of pride when I can help a fellow employee develop throughout both their personal life journey and chosen career path. What does success mean to you? Success means going to bed every night and waking up every morning feeling satisfied with the things I have accomplished that day or that I plan to accomplish. Being a goal-oriented person, I push myself to meet the many challenges and personal goals I have developed for becoming a better person and leader. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I always wanted to be a teacher so I could positively influence students’ lives as so many teachers have done for me. I have had a few key teachers in my schooling career that have really provided positive direction along my life’s path and I want to be able to help other students do the same. It was really important to me to find a career where I could find personal success while helping others find purpose and meaning in everything they do. Where did your first paycheck come from; and what was your job then?

My first paycheck came from Charley’s Deli & Grille, where I spent two years as a cashier and food server. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My biggest supporter who has helped me advance in my career would be my dad. My dad has always been my constant supporter throughout the years and has helped me become the person that I am today. He taught me the value of a good day’s work and to go after what you want. He taught me to embrace the idea that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to and it has helped me find meaning in what I love to do. His perspective about life that I have learned is that I should view opportunities from the standpoint of I “get to” do something instead of I “got to” do it. Each and every day that you wake up, only you will decide what kind of day you want it to be. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I held six internships during my undergrad and believe one of my biggest accomplishments would be landing a job at Steel Dynamics. My last and final internship during my undergrad was at Steel Dynamics where I helped compile data from an employee survey and worked with one plant location on improvement plans. I spent six months as an HR intern and upon graduation received an offer for an HR generalist position. Within four months, I was promoted to a HR manager at one of their plant locations. I have been at this particular plant for a little more than three years now and recently assumed additional responsibilities for six plants in Michigan. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I don’t view anything I have done up to until this point as a mistake, but rather I have taken each and every opportunity and learned from them and pushed myself to grow and become a better leader and person. A few important things I have learned along my career is to exercise patience and to look for the best in others. What are your current professional goals? My short-term goals are to successfully transition into the HR position supporting the Michigan

plants I am now overseeing, while studying for my HR exam. One of my longer term professional goals includes working toward my PhD and becoming a university professor. I would like the opportunity to influence others’ lives as mine has been by so many wonderful professors at Indiana Tech. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I remain current in my profession in a couple of different ways. First and foremost, I keep in contact with many other HR professionals within all different types of organizations, which allows for the opportunity to discuss the changes and issues we are facing in today’s workplace. I also utilize SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) quite often, as they are a great tool for HR professionals to stay current in the ever-changing world of people management. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Balancing my career, community involvement and social life can be extremely difficult. I live my life by my planner and ensure I make enough time to do it all and that I never overcommit myself. Time management is

my key to success. What do you do to relax? I work out and cook to help myself relax. It also helps me when I spend quality time with my family and friends.


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Matthew Stout • 39 Employer: BKD, LLP Education: Lakeland High School, LaGrange; Bachelor of Science in accounting, Saint Joseph’s College Community organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters NEI, board treasurer; Mustard Seed Furniture Bank, former board treasurer Hobbies: Traveling, camping, spending time at Oliver Lake with my family Why are you in northeast Indiana? My wife and I were both born in northeast Indiana and have always loved it here. I moved to Indianapolis for work after college but received an opportunity to move back here about six years ago. My wife and I jumped at the chance to move back, and we’ve been excited to be around the significant changes and evolution of the area since we have been back. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Working with my clients. I work with financial institutions throughout Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. Being able to help people solve problems that affect their business and their communities is very rewarding. What does success mean to you? Having a great team of people around me who all enjoy working with one another. It’s been very rewarding to see so many of the people that work with me advance in their careers and to see their

families develop and grow. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Astronaut. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I was a bag boy at Purity Supermarket in my hometown. I bagged groceries, stocked shelves, swept floors and shoveled horse manure from the hitching post behind the store. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My wife. My schedule is demanding and I can’t always be home when I want to be. Without her, none of this would be possible. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Being elected to the partnership at BKD, LLP. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Not always recognizing how much others meant to my success. I have had to be humbled a few times along the path to where I’m at and realize that maybe I don’t know how to do everything or am able to handle everything that I thought I could. So many people have been critical to any success I’ve had and there have been times that I had too much ego to recognize that. What are your current professional goals? I would like to continue to

seek leadership positions within our firm. I enjoy being involved in the evolution of our firm and am hopeful to continue to have those opportunities moving forward on an even broader scale. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Staying close to my clients. Technology of how we execute service will always evolve, but there is no better lesson on the current issues than sitting down with my clients face to face. That will never change and I try to make sure I’m present whenever possible. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? It’s a battle and I’m not sure they are ever balanced, or at least the definition of balanced changes often for me. I try to make sure that if I have something with my kids or my wife, that event takes priority over everything. When those commitments aren’t there, I’m giving 100 percent to work or to meetings/ events with Big Brothers Big Sisters. The priorities are constantly evolving and I try to make sure my attention is where it needs to be at that moment rather than trying to give equal attention to everything all at once. What do you do to relax? Play video games with my kids or hang out with friends. A day on the lake in the summertime is a great way to decompress for me.

What book do you recommend? “A Man Called Ove.” I just read this with some friends and it really was a great book. It’s a good reminder that family and community are important parts of our lives. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? You’re not as cool as you think you are or as smart as you think you are but you did a great job locking down your wife.


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Megan Butler • 31 Employer: City of Fort Wayne/Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation/Riverfront Fort Wayne Education: Northrop High School; Tufts University and PFW Community organizations: I am on the boards of Friends of the Rivers, Northeast Indiana Water Trails, Artlink and Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association. I volunteer for United Way and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. I sit on advisory boards for Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana Tech. Hobbies: I love reading, gardening, hiking and public speaking. And I’m learning to fish! Why are you in northeast Indiana? I grew up in the area but left for Boston for a while. I came back and decided I wanted to be part of Fort Wayne’s renaissance. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love finding creative ways to get people off their couch, out of their house and away from the screen, if only for a short period of time, in order to truly connect with their community and work on their civic skills and virtues. Riverfront is in a unique position to foster stronger community ties between people through civic engagement in a fun atmosphere. What does success mean to you? Success to me means living each day in accordance with my intellectual and moral values which dictate that, rather than strive for possessions, wealth or

accolades, we work toward thinking and acting correctly. I hope to do that for myself, set a good example for others and also incentivize — through my work — this behavior in others. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I either wanted to either be a mathematician or philosopher. They still play a large role in my life but I integrate them into work and hobbies. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first job was making Chinese food at a buffet in Boston. I’ll never forget the smell of the kitchen! Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I wouldn’t call him a supporter in the traditional sense but I had a man named Elliot Bartky as a professor who both terrified and inspired me. He changed my entire mode of thinking and made me far more self-sufficient. His leadership taught me how to be intellectually and morally strong in the face of adversity. I owe my career to him. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Surviving! The myriad brand-new problems that Riverfront faces are hard enough but I’m also doing it as a single mom. Every day feels like a marathon but I try to keep my focus on the big picture and define success by internal measures. I believe that the outward successes come in time if you get your mind right first.

John Felts • 33 Employer: Mayor Tom Henry’s office with the city of Fort Wayne Education: Bishop Luers High School; Indiana University in Bloomington Community organizations: Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, Weather the Fort, Downtown Improvement District Clean & Green, Bishop Luers High School Alumni Association Hobbies: My hobbies include spending time with family and friends, playing the drums, working out, playing golf and cheering on the Indiana Hoosiers. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in northeast Indiana. I love the momentum and excitement that we are experiencing in our region. With a proud, historic past, northeast Indiana is once again becoming the perfect place to raise a family, start a business and enjoy a high quality of life. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? It’s an honor and a privilege to work for Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. Mayor Henry inspires confidence and belief in his staff. He preaches that we are all working toward a common goal: A better Fort Wayne for everyone. I love being part of the change happening in Fort Wayne. What does success mean to you? Success to me is waking up each day with a smile on your face. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Aside from playing basketball for Indiana University, I aspired to be a sports journalist for the Journal Gazette. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from Foster Park Golf Course. I worked as a golf clubhouse assistant. My duties included taking tee times, cleaning golf carts, serving food and welcoming guests. It was a fun summer job. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? It’s impossible to name just one

person. I’ve had an incredible support system throughout my life. My wife, Allie, has provided me so much love and support. My parents, Tom and Kay, have always encouraged me to work hard and be kind to people. My brothers, Erik and David, are my best friends. I can’t thank Rudy Yovich, Bill Behrns, Leo Krause, Kristen Guthrie, Dan O’Connell, John Perlich and Mayor Tom Henry enough for their guidance, wisdom and trust. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Having worked at Visit Fort Wayne and now with Mayor Tom Henry, I’m incredibly proud to be one of the many people who have helped make Fort Wayne a better place to live, work and play. It hasn’t been just one person — it has been all of us coming together, listening to one another, sharing ideas and working toward a better Fort Wayne for everyone. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? A few years ago, I wanted to get involved in our community in every way possible. Volunteer groups, boards, committees, etc. While my intentions were fine, I overextended myself. As a result, I wasn’t able to be fully engaged in any of the opportunities. I decided to leave a few a groups and fully commit to causes that mattered most to me. The move paid off. What are your current professional goals? Never stop learning, never stop improving and never stop being kind to people. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? The world of public relations is always changing. I try my best to stay on top of best practices and learn new ways to better communicate and distribute a message. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Life is busy. We are all busy. My grandpa, Jim Felts, always told us that family comes first and that is extremely important to me. I’m

What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? In my family the highest accolade was being called a hard worker. We measured people almost entirely by their work ethic. I’ve made the mistake many times of assuming that other people were the same. I struggle to relate to people who don’t prioritize the impact their work has on the community and my frustration always shows. I’ve learned to find peace and acceptance with the things I can’t change in others. What are your current professional goals? I want to continue to stretch myself and grow my skill sets. I don’t believe any skill is useless so whether it’s learning how to clean fish or learning how to be a better fundraiser, I’m ready and excited to tackle it. We have lots of things in store for Riverfront over the next few years, so I won’t be short of opportunities. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Learning is the most important thing you can do in any profession. I read voraciously, everything from books about how foundations work to theoretical math textbooks to mystery novels. This allows me to connect to almost anyone I meet and creates opportunities to build new relationships that will strengthen Riverfront and our community. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I don’t! Work consumes my life but I’m extremely lucky to have a job that

very fortunate that my wife, Allie, is supportive of my extracurricular activities. Every week, I plan what’s coming up but make sure that family time is top priority. What do you do to relax? I love reading about sports and the history of Fort Wayne and the United States. A nap on the couch while watching a documentary is very relaxing too. What book do you recommend? “Toughness” by Jay Bilas. The author shares lessons on how athletes and coaches overcome adversity in their professional and personal lives. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? You’re going to make mistakes — and it’s OK. I used to live somewhat of a safe life. I’d take chances but not big ones. I would talk but not talk too much. I was fearful of messing up. I’ve learned that it’s fine to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Never hold yourself back because of fear.

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accommodates my sons and sons that accommodate my job. I joke that my boys will grow up on the rivers but I think that’s a good thing in many ways. I want my sons to see a positive example of a woman who works hard to make her community better. Helping me at work has also given them unusual skill sets for kids their ages such as speaking to crowds, hosting and even dragon boating! What do you do to relax? I love to read and go to great lengths to make time for it. I also write, hike, garden, cook, sew, meditate and do math problems to relax.


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GREATER FORT WAYNE BUSINESS WEEKLY

March 15, 2019

Marcus Heminger • 34 Employer: Barrett McNagny LLP Education: Snider High School; Bachelor of Science in management, minor in finance, Purdue University; Cornell Law School (JD) Community organizations: Erin’s House for Grieving Children, board member; Emmanuel Community Church; coach children’s sports (football/basketball) Hobbies: Golf, watching Ohio State football and basketball and the Cleveland Browns, being involved in my kids’ activities Why are you in northeast Indiana? Both my wife and I grew up in Fort Wayne. We spent time in upstate New York, London and New York City. While in New York, we had three young kids and were pregnant with No. 4, making it four kids younger than 4 (twins included). Looking into the future, a six-person family in a 600-squarefoot apartment (I’m being generous on the size) did not seem ideal. Both Meg and I wanted a fulfilling family life and a fulfilling and challenging career. Being familiar with Fort Wayne and Barrett McNagny, we knew there was no option better than Fort Wayne to offer both. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Being a corporate attorney focusing on securities, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance I generally work on transactions and other matters where all parties ultimately have the same goal. Getting there is not always easy but creatively solving problems while working hand-in-hand with

colleagues and clients brings satisfaction. The joy comes by knowing that I and my colleagues helped our clients achieve their goals and that those clients respect and appreciate our advice. What does success mean to you? Making a positive impact personally and professionally, and most importantly, setting a foundation for my children to be more successful (whatever that means to them) than my wife and me. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always say a backup quarterback in the NFL behind a star that never gets injured. Is there a better life than holding a clipboard without the fear of 350-pound men that run 4.4 40s chasing you? That being said, I would have much preferred to be a professional athlete that had the ball in my hands with the game on the line. Where did your first paycheck come from and what was your job then? Fort Wayne Newspapers. Beginning in third grade, my brother and I had an afternoon paper route. A short two years later we got a morning paper route. From that time through the end of high school, we would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to deliver newspapers, including 350 newspapers on Sunday morning. I can’t even begin to list the many life lessons learned from that first job. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? None other than my wife, Meg Heminger. I certainly could not devote myself to my career

without her unfailing support (and willingness to accept that I often don’t know when I will be heading home from the office until I am actually in my car). What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Earning the trust of clients. To me, there is nothing more humbling than realizing that other people rely on you to help them accomplish very important matters, including, for some clients, selling the business they have spent their entire career building. What are your current professional goals? To continue on the great legacy that Barrett McNagny has and deliver high-quality legal advice just as our former and current attorneys do. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I have great colleagues that are always keeping up to date on legal developments. I also attend continuing legal education courses and keep relevant with trade and other publications. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Day by day. My top priorities, in order, are my faith and my family. Of course, this doesn’t always mean that the most hours of each day are spent on those priorities. I often spend the bulk of my time at work but (at least to myself) I justify that by what my career provides for my family and the example I set for my children. I also am fortunate that I can participate in community service alongside my family.

What do you do to relax? Watch sports with my son (although watching the Browns typically isn’t very relaxing), golf, go to dinner with my wife and friends, and lawn work. What book do you recommend? Anything by C.S. Lewis or Tim Keller. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Make time for people you care about. Oh, and don’t hit a line drive to your future brother-in-law to end a game — he will make sure to sneak that into way more conversations than necessary.

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Isaac Lee • 35 Employer: Steuben County Economic Development Corporation Education: Defiance High School, Defiance, Ohio; Bachelor of Arts in marketing and human resources, University of Toledo; Master of Business Administration, Defiance College Community organizations: Steuben County Fiber Network board member, Angola Investment Fund board member, Indiana Economic Development Association board member Hobbies: Lake life, fan of both collegiate football and basketball, spending time with family and children, doing projects around the house Why are you in northeast Indiana? This community is and has been a great place to live, work and play. Being a part of this growing community has been a great experience for me and my family. We have everything that we need right in the region. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Economic development is the profession that I love because of our ability to provide lasting impact for the betterment of the community and our residents. I have found no other profession that

provides me with as much satisfaction. The relationships, projects and vision that this profession brings together is and will always be fuel to my fire. What does success mean to you? Success to me is not how far I go, but how I can advance the careers and motives of those around me and help to build better leaders than me. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? To play for the NFL. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? OfficeMax — I was a sales associate selling cell phones and beepers. I also worked for McDonald’s on the grill. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? Jerry Hayes, my first mentor. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? My biggest accomplishment to date was bringing new programs around leadership to the Defiance area community while I was president and CEO of Defiance Area Chamber. This provided leadership development to individuals whom I am now seeing taking leadership roles in prominent positions in their present

Mike Niezer • 31 Employer: Design Collaborative, Inc. Education: Bishop Dwenger High School; Bachelor of Science in architecture, Ball State University; Master of Architecture, Clemson University Community organizations: Weather the Fort Inc., board president; Fort Wayne Confluence, board president; Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Emerging Leaders Alliance, member; Leadership Fort Wayne, Class of 2019; Ball State University Northeast Indiana Alumni Association, vice president; American Institute of Architects, Fort Wayne Chapter, past president Hobbies: I enjoy running and am an avid Chicago Cubs fan. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne, and after spending several years living in South Carolina following graduate school my wife, Laura, and I returned. We didn’t make this decision because of my origins here but because this is where we could see ourselves starting a family and making our home. Yes, we have other family here and there are other great characteristics like cost of living and other amenities — but ultimately we felt we could make this community our home for us and for our children. Professionally, northeast Indiana offered a pathway of opportunity for me to grow and make lasting impact on this community. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Architecture provides a unique opportunity to positively impact people’s lives through the spaces and experiences we create. There is tremendous satisfaction talking to a building owner or end-user after the completion of a project and hearing how the design of that project has impacted their personal experience, their employees, visitors, families, etc. What does success mean to you? Success for me professionally is when I exceed the expectations of those I work with and for and also the expectations that I set for myself. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I was fortunate in the fact that I wanted to be an architect from an early age — I had an aptitude for drawing/sketching and a curiosity in building things. Though

my understanding at the time of the profession is wildly different than what I know it to be today, that early interest helped guide my way through school and into this career. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck was from my neighborhood swimming pool — I was a lifeguard over the summers through high school. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My biggest supporter has been my wife, Laura, who has allowed me the time and opportunity to dedicate myself to my career and community. I would not be where I am without her support and dedication to me and our family. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Each successful project that I help manage to completion is an accomplishment for me, for my team and for Design Collaborative. I am proud to have accomplished some great projects for some great clients while also being engaged in my community. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My greatest mistakes thus far in my career are when I’ve avoided confrontation instead of confronting problems head-on to find a solution. I can think of several instances earlier in my career when doing so only amplified the problem further, experiences that I learned from and now actively seek to avoid. I try to approach problems today as an opportunity to find a solution that better serves the project and the client or as a learning opportunity for myself or someone else on my team. What are your current professional goals? My current professional goals are to gain my ACHA (American College of Healthcare Architects) certification as well as continue to build the Healthcare Studio at Design Collaborative into a nationally recognized team of architects and engineers. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? My focus at Design Collaborative is health care design and I dedicate time periodically to read various publications on trends, emerging technologies and design.

communities. Fostering future leaders. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My greatest mistake was not being more proactive in my pursuit of scholarships and grants for my college education, as it left me for many years after college saddled with college debt. I was capable of getting help and had the grades to support the processes for applications. But I will say that this has made me appreciate my degrees and appreciate the hard word that has built my character today. What are your current professional goals? To help build a future community, one in which my children have plenty of opportunities to thrive and also give back to the community in which they lived! How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Continuous education and attendance to industry conferences. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Every day it brings its new challenges, but I have an awesome wife and great family support to help me through. What do you do to relax? Going to

I am also actively involved in the Indiana Rural Health Association and attend various seminars and conferences, through that organization and others, to remain current in professional development within the health care industry. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I balance career, family and community service by being intentional about my time and “holding sacred” various times of my week. I have found early mornings to be incredibly valuable in getting things done and allow me to dedicate evenings and weekends to family and community involvement. Some times in the year are more difficult to balance than others, but my wife is incredibly supportive and patient during those times, and I am very grateful and appreciative of her for that. What do you do to relax? Playing with my children, George (5), Ruth (3) and Mary (1), might not be “relaxing” in the traditional sense but spending time with them helps me to relax from work and community obligations and focus on my family. After a stressful day,

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the lake or spending time with the family. What book do you recommend? “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Spend a little more time in self-reflection and devote more time in building a better you.

going for a run also helps me relax, as does sitting down and watching a Chicago Cubs game. What book do you recommend? “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton.

Congratulations Isaac Lee on being selected as one of Business Weekly’s 40 Under 40 2019 Award Recipients!

Issac Lee


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fwbusiness.com

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

March 15, 2019

Natalie Manalo • 34

Employer: Fort Wayne Neurological Center Education: St. Thomas More Catholic High School, Lafayette, Louisiana; Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana; Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Shreveport, Louisiana; Neurology Residency and Sleep Medicine Fellowship, Northwestern University, Chicago; Autoimmune Neurology Fellowship, Harvard University, Boston Community organizations: Volunteer teaching faculty at Indiana University Medical School; Catholic Medical Association, Fort Wayne Guild; Fort Wayne Medical Society. I am involved with volunteer opportunities as they come up at my church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Hobbies: Reading, running, ballet Why are you in northeast Indiana? My husband grew up in Fort Wayne and we wanted to be close to his family. We love it here so far! What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? The brain is so fascinating and we still have so much to learn about it. In my short career thus far, there have been major advances made in the field and that is so exciting! I also enjoy the privilege of taking care of patients. I see my job as a physician not just as a career but as a vocation from God. Just as much as He has called me to be a wife and mother, He has called me to be a physician. God could heal sickness without doctors and nurses (and He sometimes does) but the vast majority

of time He chooses to heal people through us. I feel a great sense of privilege and responsibility knowing that. What does success mean to you? Success for me is following God’s will as closely as I can in all that I do. I’m not always successful! As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a “doctor that takes care of babies.” Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Lafayette Ballet Theatre — I was a ballet dancer through college and into medical school. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My husband, JP Manalo. He is also a physician, and we endured the long years of residency together. I couldn’t have done it without him. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I’ve always loved teaching and one of my proudest moments was being awarded Resident Teacher of the Year among neurology residents at Northwestern. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? When I was chief resident, I learned a great deal about being a leader. I was much too sensitive then about pleasing everyone, which of course is impossible and just makes for an unhappy and less effective leader. What are your current professional

goals? I would like to build up my autoimmune neurology practice. It is a new field of neurology that deals with diseases in which the nervous system (brain and nerves) is attacked by our immune system (which is normally responsible for fighting infections). We are finding that many of the neurological diseases that we used to not understand or that we thought were psychological are actually autoimmune diseases and can be treated with steroids and other such drugs that can suppress the immune system. New diseases are being named all the time now that previously we had no diagnosis or treatment for. I am interested in non-pharmacological interventions for autoimmune diseases as well such as lifestyle changes and diet changes. I just read about a study that looked at ballet-based rehabilitation for patients with multiple sclerosis, and as a former ballet dancer and lifelong ballet fan, I am really excited about that. I would love to start a program like that in Fort Wayne! How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I read all the time. The medical field changes so fast, especially autoimmune neurology. The medical students I work with also keep me on my toes! How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? My family is my priority. My husband and I have a 2-year-old son and a baby girl on the way. When new opportunities present themselves, I’m learning to approach them by asking

myself (and God in prayer) “Is this going to be a positive move for my family?” This has required me to learn to say no sometimes even to opportunities that are good. What do you do to relax? A comfy chair with a good book and a good cup of coffee is my happy place. What book do you recommend? “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Stop worrying so much about what other people think about you. Focus instead on pleasing God.

Allison Wheaton • 39 Employer: Summit Equestrian Center Education: I grew up in North Carolina, south of Asheville in the town of Tryon, and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. I have attended a couple aviation programs in Florida and several equine-assisted therapy programs across the country. Community organizations: I founded Summit Equestrian Center. We are an equine-assisted therapy program and work with people with physical, emotional, social and sensory challenges. I also do quite a bit of animal rescue work through the organization. I also volunteer with my boyfriend in several of his endeavors. Hobbies: I take care of horses mostly and ride them when I can. I’m also a pilot and volunteer +/- 35 introductory flights for people in a seaplane and a J3 Cub. I also teach a bit.

Why are you in northeast Indiana? I met my boyfriend, Randy Strebig, and moved here from Seattle 12 years ago! My extended family is mostly in Michigan but my immediate family is spread across the country. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love helping people. Through the horses and interactions at the barn I am able to guide as people find their own solutions to challenges. The connections we develop are able to reach people that traditional therapy has not. I enjoy all the different facets of being the director of a young, outside-the-box organization because I have the opportunity to learn so many new things, meet people from all corners of the community and share my passion for what animals and getting outside can do for us. What does success mean to you?

Success to me means the freedom to share my passion and help people, with the security of a healthy organization as my foundation. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I thought I wanted to be a pilot and was on my way as I realized I didn’t find that lifestyle fulfilling to me. I started volunteering with a therapeutic riding program and the rest is history. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Growing up I did a lot of babysitting, horse care and petsitting while neighbors were out of town. I suppose my first paycheck was from a waitressing job I had in high school. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My family has helped me expand my education; clients and their families have encouraged me to grow beyond therapeutic riding into social and emotional health work; friends continue to push me to question what I think is true; and Randy is very tolerant of the time I invest and the animals I bring home. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I founded Summit Equestrian 8+ years ago and we have developed unique and effective programs that have a positive impact on our community. I’m proud of our continued growth and development and can’t wait to see what the future holds. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Oh, I’ve made lots of mistakes. Mostly I’ve learned humility and perseverance go a long way, and to be grateful for the opportunity to keep trying. What are your current professional goals? My current goals are to continue to develop Summit Equestrian Center into an asset for our community. Our emotional health and veteran programming is so unique and are making a real

difference. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I take advantage of as many continuing education opportunities as I can. I also make an effort to network in the community to work with other organizations to reach more people who otherwise might never have the opportunity to work with horses. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Balance? I am making more effort to take time for things outside work. I’m fortunate that my business encompasses one of my passions and that I have the opportunity to keep my personal horse at work. What do you do to relax? Trail riding, hiking and flying are my go to’s when I need to take a break. Nothing like climbing up in a J3 Cub for a quick sunset flight to release whatever you’re carrying. Though spending time with my horses in the field is a close second.


March 15, 2019

fwbusiness.com

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Hajira Khan • 39 Employer: Kiddie Academy of Fort Wayne, owner Education: Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a minor in sociology/anthropology, National-Louis University Community organizations: I am a board member of SCAN, Inc. (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) and I help on different committees for the organization. I have taken part in and raised money for Northeast Indiana Heart Walk since 2014. I love getting my academy involved in giving back to the community by hosting various drives at the school. I’m always looking for ideas for teaching students and my own children ways to give back to the community. Hobbies: I love to travel with my family! We have been to Egypt, Turkey, Spain, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Jordan, Dubai, Hawaii and other states across America. We are looking forward to going on a European cruise this spring break. Why are you in northeast Indiana? We moved from Chicago to Fort Wayne in 2004 when my husband opened his eye practice. Chicago was still close enough to visit family and friends often, but Fort Wayne had better opportunities for our family. It’s exciting to see the growth in this area and be a part of the community. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Working with children is a priceless gift. I get to know the children and families well. It’s a wonderful feeling to know how much our academy impacted the growth of each child enrolled with us in all aspects of learning. Some of the children have been a part of Kiddie Academy since they were babies and to see them graduate off to kindergarten is amazing. I was there when

they took their first steps, got pottytrained, learned to write their names and started to read! What does success mean to you? I feel successful when the families at my academy are happy with how we have prepared their children for life. I take feedback and reviews very seriously. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always knew I wanted a career that involved children, so I was set on becoming a teacher. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I used to babysit since I was 12 years old, but my actual first paycheck was from working at a State Farm Insurance agency at age 16. My boss there has always been an inspiration. She worked hard in building her business and clientele from nothing. She taught me office management skills, customer service and her work ethic. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My dad has always been my biggest supporter. He encouraged me to try my hardest and succeed in everything I do. To this day, I love to call him up to tell him the progress of my academy or how my children are doing in school. My husband, Zubair, is a huge supporter on a daily basis. I would not have been able to open Kiddie Academy without his immense support, love and partnership. He has a laid-back personality and doesn’t ever stress when it gets tough. He also earned Forty Under 40 in 2014. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I always thought I would be a teacher but never imagined I would be a business owner. Opening Kiddie Academy has been my biggest accomplishment. I opened with a handful of staff and

few children, but now have almost 30 employees and more than 150 students enrolled. I was honored with the Female Executive of the Year Award in 2015 and Brand Champion Award in 2016. Kiddie Academy brought opportunities that I never thought I would have. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I have learned a lot from opening my business. I spent a large sum of money on unnecessary items and not enough on certain materials. I now know much better, so I can make improvements on the second academy. What are your current professional goals? Opening my second academy has always been a goal for me. It will be interesting handling the two academies, but I look forward to the challenge and want to create a management team that works seamlessly together, as sister academies supporting one another. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I am constantly taking continuing education classes for early childhood education through state, corporate and private avenues. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? A few months after we signed for our second academy, I found out we were expecting our fourth child. Our oldest is almost 17! We now have three businesses and a child in every stage (daycare, elementary school, middle school and high school). Juggling family life, work and community service has not been the easiest this year. I have amazing staff to look after the academy so I can give more time for my family and the community. What do you do to relax? The simple little things are relaxing to me, like a hot cup of coffee without

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interruptions. I am fond of going on walks, bike riding and swimming (anything to do with water). I enjoy photography with my daughter, Sireen. I take delight in cooking with my daughter, Simra. I adore watching my son, Shayaan, play sports. Our baby of the family, Shareef, brings us so much joy, reminds us to slow down and is the greatest stress reliever. What book do you recommend? “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay or “Reclaim Your Heart” by Yasmin Mogahed. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Don’t rush to grow up. I graduated early from high school but I missed out on all the fun events from senior year. I would tell my high school self that you have the rest of your life to be an adult and work. Take time to learn about yourself and the world before settling down.


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fwbusiness.com

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

March 15, 2019

Nicholas Scheumann • 38 Employer: Self employed, Oak Partners Education: Bachelor of Science in economics with a minor in mathematics, Manchester University Community organizations: United Way of DeKalb County; Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival; Junior Achievement; youth sports for football, basketball and baseball; my church Hobbies: All kinds of games with my children, trap shooting, playing the original “Halo” whenever I can squeeze it in Why are you in northeast Indiana? It is simply the best place to live. I grew up in DeKalb County and graduated from DeKalb High School. I wholeheartedly believe there is no better region in the entire U.S. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? As a financial advisor, I love meeting with people. I look forward to meeting new people. I thrive on developing relationships. I enjoy social interactions and providing financial comfort to my clients who are, for the most part, hard- working Hoosiers who had to grind to get to where they are. I respect that and want to make sure I am able to treat their hard-earned wealth with the care and respect they deserve. What does success mean to you? When I am successful

professionally, personally, as a coach or whatever, it means I did it with my three pillars: honesty, humility and honor. That is what’s important about success to me. Having success means I am able to continue to do what I want, knowing I upheld the three pillars. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I thought as a child and acted as a child and had very little thoughts of growing up. Not until I was a young adult did I realize I wanted to be a professional wrestler. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? At the age of 12, from my father who hired me to mow his office lawn. I had to create billing sheets and mail them to him even though we lived together! Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I would say this is close to a three-way tie: My wife, my parents and my community. I would not be here without the support of all three. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? When Mark VandeVelde and I started our own investment and financial planning practice in February of 2015. We have achieved success in a short time and I believe it is because of how we operate and ties into our belief that treating people right is both

*Honorees are chosen based on their professional and community based achievements.

rewarding and awarding. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? The self-applied stress we had during our first couple years of business. At times, our fear dominated our faith. I am not perfect at this now, but I have definitely grown and become better at managing fear and having more faith. Faith in God, ourselves, our clients and our business model. What are your current professional goals? To be able to maintain our current growth projections while always being as big of a part of my community as I am able. This balance is absolutely essential for me. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? My business partner and previous Forty Under 40 winner, Mark VandeVelde, does this very well. So, I rely on and usually mimic him! How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I’m not sure I do, but I make sure my home calendar manager, my wife, frequently communicates with my work calendar manager, our office manager, Tina Blomeke. What do you do to relax? I watch old wrestling videos with my two kids, who are 10 and 8. They love the early ’90s WWF. I also relax when my wife is happy and laughing. So, anything that delivers

that I am game for! What book do you recommend? “You Are Not So Smart” by David McRaney. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? I would be worried about creating the time paradox that unravels the very fabric of the spacetime continuum Doc Brown warned us about in “Back to the Future II.” But, I would try to get myself to buy stock in a new company called Amazon.


FORTY 2019

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GREATER FORT WAYNE BUSINESS WEEKLY

March 15, 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS Franklin Awah.............................................B3 Tabitha Ervin ...............................................B4 Holly Tonak .................................................B4 Adam Welch...............................................B5 Matthew Sparling ......................................B6 Anthony Wilson .........................................B6 Karlye Whaley ............................................B7 Ashley Adamson .......................................B7 Brandon Noll ..............................................B8 Cameron Smith .........................................B8 Jason Russell .............................................B9 Ashley Benvenuti ......................................B9 Matthew Stout ........................................ B10 Megan Butler .......................................... B11 John Felts ................................................. B11 Marcus Heminger .................................. B12 Isaac Lee.................................................. B13 Mike Niezer .............................................. B13 Natalie Manalo ........................................ B14 Allison Wheaton ..................................... B14

Hajira Khan .............................................. B15 Nicholas Scheumann ............................ B16 Rachel McMeeking ...................................C2 Stephanie Henry .......................................C3 Andrew Royer ............................................C3 Aaron Schaffer...........................................C4 Rachel Schermerhorn ..............................C5 Michelle Love .............................................C5 Melanie Watson ........................................C6 Nestor Rodriguez ......................................C6 Joseph Marana ..........................................C7 Reneta Thurairatnam ................................C8 Jes Farris .....................................................C8 Aric Forbing ................................................C9 Martin Huttenlocker ..................................C9 Amy Lehrman .......................................... C10 Sarah Arnold ........................................... C10 Adam Bartrom ........................................ C11 Zachary Briggs Sr. ................................. C11 Rebecca Worrell .................................... C12

FORTY Rachel McMeeking Employer: Lane & Lavender and Wireless Zone of Fort Wayne, Columbia City and Wabash Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Business Administration and Management, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Community organizations: Lane & Lavender participates in events with both the Downtown Business Alliance and The Chamber of Commerce of Whitley County to participate in and help with downtown events. Hobbies: I enjoy interior design and improving my knowledge on the subject, as well as working out, traveling and doing creative projects with my children. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in Wabash. After meeting my husband while in college, we got married, started a family and started our businesses in and around the Fort Wayne area. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I enjoy working with the public. I love meeting new people and seeing regular customers return. I also have a passion for design; I am

Class of 2019

• Ashley Adamson, Junior Achievement, Program Manager In-School/JA in a Day • Specialist • Sarah Arnold, Fort Wayne Trails, Inc., • Community Engagement Manager • • Dr. Franklin Awah, FW Oral Maxillofacial Surgery & Implant Center, • Oral Surgeon/Partner • Adam Bartrom, Barnes & Thornburg LLC, • Partner currently helping several clients love as much as I do. Wireless • Ashley Benvenuti, Superior Aluminum Alloys/ • design and stage their homes. Zone: Being elected as Franchisee • of the Year. OmiSource, Division Human Resources What does success mean to you? Manager Success is a combination of hard What has been your greatest work and preparation; I feel that • Zachary mistake and what lessons• Briggs, thus Visual far, Prime Studios, success is a measure of your hopes Owner/CEO did you learn from it? Not taking and dreams and the journey to advice peopleFort who know more • • Megan Butler, of Riverfront Wayne, Program achieve them. than Manager I do and/or thinking I knew it & Events • all. As a child, what did you want • Tabitha Ervin, Greater Fort Wayne YMCA, to be when you grew up? A What Director are your current professional Executive • pharmacist. goals? Getting an online shop • Jes Farris, Studio 13 Tattoo & Explorer created and figuring out the logisWhere did your first paycheck challenges that faces at the • Conference, Owner/Operator come from, and what was your job Tattootical current moment. then? Walgreens Pharmacy. I was • John Felts, City of Fort Wayne, Public in pharmacy school and worked in Outreach How Coordinator do you remain current/rele- • my spare time as a pharm tech. • Aric Forbing, vant inModbar, your profession? Attending• LLC, Director of markets to keep up with trending Engineering Who was your biggest supporter inventory and by speaking with who helped you advance in • Marcus Heminger, Barrett McNagny, Partner other small-business owners in an • your career? My parents and my • Stephanie Henry, Pocket Potager, Consultant/ environment where we are share husband are all very supportive best practices and discuss ideas. • Advocate of all my efforts and even my • Martin Huttenlocker, Company, Vice crazy ideas. Specifically, from How do you Bradley balance your career, a young age my parents have family, life and community service?• President always encouraged me to chase • HajiraWith children two busiKhan,four Kiddie Academyand of Fort Wayne, my dreams and have helped me in President/Owner nesses, life is just crazy. I suppose • every way that I have needed. I balance it but not very well some• Isaactimes! Lee, Steuben County Economic • My husband and I have What has been your biggest Development Corp, Executive Director learned to be very organized. accomplishment thus far in your Lehrman, Miller, Director career? Lane & Lavender: Taking • Amy What doKatz, youSapper do to&relax? Spend • One Lucky and Guitar, Inc., taking an idea and bringing it to life in • Michelle timeLove, with family friends, the form of a little shop that others Account a nap, golfing with my husband. • & Operations Manager • Natalie Manalo, Fort Wayne Neurological

35

2019

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Center, Neurologist Joe Marana, Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, Director of Operations & Facilities Rachel McMeeking, Lane & Lavender, Owner Michael Niezer, Design Collaborative, Architect Brandon Noll, Reusser Design, Sales Consultant Nestor Rodriguez, Caliente, CEO Andrew Royer, LandArt, Inc., President/Owner Jason Russell, Optimum Performance Sports, Executive Director Aaron Schaffer, First Merchants, Vice President Commercial Banking Manager Rachel Schermerhorn, Sylvan Cellars, Owner Nick Scheumann, Oak Partners, Wealth Advisor Cameron Smith, Holm Reporting & Smith Academy, Owner/Co-Founder Matthew Sparling, MKM Architecture + Design, Principal Matthew Stout, BKD, LLP, Partner Reneta Thurairatnam, Lake City Bank, Vice President, Wealth Advisor Holly Tonak, GiGi’s Playhouse, Executive Director Melanie Watson, Blaire Biomedical, Founder and CEO Adam Welch, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., Director Business Whatofbook do Development you recommend? As Karlye Whaley, MainStay Solutions, CFO it relates to business, “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Allison Wheaton, Summit Equestrian Center, Owner Based on what you know now, Anthony Wilson, Newyou Yorktell Lifeyour Insurance what would high Company, Services Professional schoolFinancial self? Stubbornness is great in moderation. Rebecca Worrell, Sturges Property Group, Broker

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March 15, 2019

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Stephanie Henry • 34 Employer: I am an independent contractor, and my company is CultivationLab. Education: High school, some college, extensive self-directed education — online courses, webinars, conferences, podcasts, etc. Community organizations: I am most actively involved in the Food Council of Northeast Indiana. I am the co-chair of the Northwest Area Partnership; alumni of Leadership Fort Wayne; member of Own Your Success, 1 Million Cups, Georgetown, Inspired Women of Business, Advancing the Voices of Women, and Women of Influence groups. I also participate in Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, It is Well with My Soul, and other community groups. Hobbies: I have a bunch of hobbies and interests. Primarily, they focus around my love of food and history. I love to grow, cook, and feed people amazing food; teach classes about coffee; and throw axes. I enjoy riding my vintage franken-bike around town, especially at dusk, ringing my bell and waving at people. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I moved from north-central Indiana to Fort Wayne because I wanted to be civically active and I saw the opportunity to do that here. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love everything about what I do. Every

day is filled with challenges, new discoveries and amazing people. I am following my passion and calling and though it is difficult, it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. What does success mean to you? Success to me is making a positive difference in my life, the lives of those I care for and in my community in general. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be president and run a farm-to-fork retreat center. I still do. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck was from my next-door neighbor, who had a cleaning company. I cleaned lawyers’ offices and factory admin spaces. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My biggest supporter and the reason I am here today is Leann White. She is my friend, mentor and inspiration. Her passion, heart and dedication to this community is unparalleled. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? So far, my internship in Washington, D.C. is a highlight. I had the opportunity to work with the pre-eminent team of people working in food and farm policy. The experience has changed me and equipped me with contacts,

information and inspiration to make a difference here in my home, Fort Wayne. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My biggest mistake was when I was 18 and in New York. I was approached by a recruiter from “Ebony” magazine and asked to go to an audition. Unfortunately, it was two days after my flight. I will always regret not asking them to extend my ticket. It was my first solo trip and I was terrified of missing my flight. Now I ask all kinds of questions. Never assume. What are your current professional goals? I want to grow my company and team. I am a solo act at the moment, but I am actively looking for and recruiting interested partners and resources. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I have an obscene number of email accounts with Google alerts and subscriptions to outlets and organizations. I also use social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to follow people, companies and interests. I am always looking for new info and having conversations with people about what resources they use for information. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I am a single woman and I do not have any kids. My career, life and community service are all one big package.

Andrew Royer • 31 Employer: LandArt Inc., president (2006-present) Education: Snider High School Community organizations: As time allows, I try to volunteer when I can. I am currently not committed to anything now but would like to be a part of something in the future. Hobbies: Time with the family, hunting/hunting trips, motorsports Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was proudly born and raised in Fort Wayne. I am committed to the area and proud to be a small piece in the ever growing puzzle. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Every day is different and I look forward to keeping the community looking good. I can show up to a property and within a few short hours or days the curb appeal has added $5-$10,000 in value instantly and it drives me. I also enjoy maintaining what we have worked so hard to create. Dually the people you meet along the road of small business is an adventure in itself. What does success mean to you? Building and maintaining a respectful company that not only supports my family but supports my employees as well. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be race car driver, police officer or a farmer. I get to do all three in my profession. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Scott’s grocery store, bagging groceries and I was quickly promoted to cashier. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My parents both played huge roles as I grew into my profession. In short, my mother (Teresa Royer) encouraged me to

advance, helped me set goals and reminded me of my small wins along the way; my father (Dave Royer) gave me the around-theclock support in the field when needed and finds himself on the payroll from time to time yet today. Also last but not least during the growth years I met my future wife (Sarah Bowser now Royer) who comes from a small family business and used her experience to continue steady growth. Sarah is a great listener and excellent sounding board. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Purchasing a building/office to run operations and give LandArt Inc. a home, as well as working alongside 20 employees including a full-time secretary and an operations manager. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Being afraid or shy to connect with new people. I think everyone finds themselves in this situation from time to time but you have to push through it. I literally built half of my customer base from in-person cold calls. Bottom line the hardest situations to overcome can produce the greatest results. What are your current professional goals? To maintain and add likeminded staff and increase market presence in the lawn and landscape industry. Bottom line, when sales increase wages increase. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Absolutely must attend career-related workshops or tradeshows and talk with vendors or competitors in different regions and markets, compare notes, etc. I always pull at least one new idea or product I want to try and it helps keep things interesting. How do you balance your career,

family, life and community service? Family and God first. I tell my co-workers that as well but there comes a time when you have to roll sleeves up and produce. I am blessed to have an equal or better partner and wife (Sarah Royer) who makes it easy for me to excel. What do you do to relax? Relive childhood memories and activities with my kids, which spills into something new and exciting; take a drive down a back road or a day trip; read a book. What book do you recommend? “The Millionaire Next Door.” Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? To enjoy the moment, the people and opportunities in the present will prepare you for tomorrow, not the opposite.

What do you do to relax? I love running a bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, and relaxing in it with a cocktail and something on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/etc. What book do you recommend? Currently I am reading “Rookie Smarts” and “Dark Horse,” so I would start there. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Don’t worry, you’re on the right path, others just can’t see what you can.


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Aaron Schaffer • 31 Employer: I work as a commercial banking manager at First Merchants Bank. I lead a team of commercial bankers that focus on commercial/ industrial and investment real estate lending in northeast Indiana. Education: New Haven High School; bachelor’s in finance, Ball State University; Professional MBA, Purdue Fort Wayne Community organizations: I am involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana. There, I serve as board president and participate on the Strategic Planning Committee. I am also on the board of Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic. There I serve on the finance committee. Hobbies: I am famously terrible at golf but really enjoy the game. I warn people when they play with me that they may see some crazy things. I enjoy meeting new people, eating fancy food, cars, movies, music, reading and traveling. I have been known to appreciate an occasional craft beer (or bourbon). What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I really enjoy the people side of my profession. Commercial banking provides a platform to work with business owners, startup entrepreneurs, CFOs, investment bankers, CPAs and attorneys with a wide breadth of knowledge. I feel fortunate to work directly with influential members of the community. I also get energized by being in a room of smart people working on weighty projects. I also enjoy the team I get to work with every day at the bank. We have a unique set of individuals that are willing to stretch themselves intellectually and put in some long hours to try to make things happen. In our industry, this effort is not always

rewarded immediately. Our theory is that over the long term we will develop a reputation as being a team that can be relied upon to provide solutions, not just a yes or no answer. Even when we do not win, we learn. What does success mean to you? Personally, success is ensuring that I maintain high-quality relationships with my wife, our 2-year-old son and our soon-to-be-born daughter. We are lucky to have a great local support system, and I look forward to experiencing the different phases of life to come. I need to ensure that our marriage remains strong and that we make every effort to raise our children to be people of sound character. Professionally, it means people that work with or at First Merchants view the bank as more than a capital source or job. For our clients, becoming more than a capital source could mean facilitating the transfer of ownership, funding expansion activities or the bank working with them through a negative business climate. I believe the banking industry is commoditized and its institutions are price-takers; thus the majority of industry differentiation occurs by how the institution works with its clients. For our employees, having a place to work where there is mutual accountability, trust and a collective drive for results should create authentic relationships that facilitate a connection with more meaning than a paycheck. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was in elementary school, I spent a lot of time drawing cars. I would spend the most time on the exterior design and I imagined myself getting into product development at Ford or GM. In my teenage years I

considered multiple grown-up jobs. These included becoming a pharmacist, engineer and software developer. I originally attended Ball State as a computer science major but got really frustrated with software debugging. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first job was as a paper boy, delivering The News-Sentinel. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My wife has been instrumental, especially in the past couple of years. During this time, we welcomed our son into the world, I went back to school to get my MBA, started serving as board president for Big Brothers Big Sisters and worked through the transformation of iAB to First Merchants. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? For me, this would be being part of the team that increased the number of matches served at Big Brothers Big Sisters from 1,580 in 2017 to 1,750 in 2018. In 2018, the board took some calculated risks by prioritizing matches and employee development over profitability. By focusing on the mission, we had a year where the match total increased and the agency finished the year with an operating surplus. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Early in my career, I thought more of myself as I experienced success. I would try to get those close to me to share this view of the world; this would at times lead to unnecessary relationship friction. This resulted in me getting called less to spend time with people I cared about, and I began to miss those

relationships. The lesson for me was to not connect success with personal identity. I have found focusing on creating genuine relationships with those around me to be infinitely more fulfilling than finding my worth in telling others about my business success. What are your current professional goals? I am currently learning to be a proficient manager, having taken my current role in late 2018. Over the next few years my hope is to learn the intricacies of helping my team hit their goals. I tend to view my career in chunks of time, and as long as the next few years look promising, I am comfortable. I have personally invested in three start-up companies since 2017, and enjoy seeing a company grow from the ground up. I plan on continuing down that path and will see where it leads.

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Rachel Schermerhorn • 38 Employer: Co-owner of Sylvan Cellars Event Center and Tasting Room Education: Bachelor’s degree from Trine University Community organizations: Parkview Noble Foundation Board, Rome City Chamber of Commerce, Advance Rome City. I also try to help out with all the charitable organizations who host their events at Sylvan Cellars. Hobbies: Spending quality time with my husband, Nathan, and our two children, Grant and Gabrielle. When weather permits, we love doing this on the lake together. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in northeast Indiana, and I love the people here and want our children to be raised in this great environment. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Working with all the events at Sylvan Cellars is satisfying in so many different ways, whether it is a successful benefit that gives hope to a family or an organization to watching someone’s wedding dreams come true. All of this is satisfying!

What does success mean to you? Being your best self for you and everyone around you. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What didn’t I want to be as a kid?! That is the great part of childhood — dreaming big! Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Raceway Car Wash, washing cars Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? Absolutely my husband Nathan! He made Sylvan Cellars the dream come true that it is today! We are a team! What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I would say the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised at Sylvan Cellars for so many different families and organizations. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Maybe letting some of the small details fall to the side in the beginning. There are no small details, you must make sure all details are perfect at all times!

What are your current professional goals? Growing our family business in all ways possible! Making sure to always change with the times and giving our guests the best experience possible! How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Constantly staying with the trends with weddings and the craft bar. The trend is always changing! Also making sure we keep our social media relevant and updated at all times! How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? How does anyone “balance” it all? I take it day by day and make sure to stay on my schedule for the day. A major puzzle piece that keeps us balanced is our amazing family and staff to help us balance it all. What do you do to relax? Enjoying a nice glass of wine with my husband and taking a minute to enjoy our family! I know in a blink of an eye they will be out of the house and we know not to take that for granted! What book do you recommend? “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis.

Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? You are just getting started! Behind you, all your memories. Before you, all your dreams and within you, all you need!

Michelle Love • 34 Employer: One Lucky Guitar Education: Churubusco High School; University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business Community organizations: Board of directors of the Allen County Fairgrounds (board involvement for 11 years, secretary for eight years, part of the lease, marketing and fundraising committees); Allen County Fair (secretary of the Fair Committee for eight years, Marketing & Communications Committee Chair, Free Activities Stage Chair); Miss Allen County Queen Scholarship Pageant (director for 12 years); Notre Dame Club of Fort Wayne; Boy Scouts, Churubusco Pack 3081 (parent volunteer); Girl Scouts, Churubusco Troop 00122 (parent volunteer) Hobbies: I like to be active with my three children. We enjoy gardening, being outdoors, camping and crafting as much as we can. Along with my husband, we raise our own freezer beef and promoting a balance between rural and urban lifestyles is important to me. Why are you in northeast Indiana? My heart has always been in northeast Indiana. I’ve had the opportunity to move away. However, I discovered at a young age northeast Indiana provides me with everything I need and everything I want. I can live in the country and raise my kids similar to the way I was raised yet work and play in a vibrant city. We love that we can visit the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo one weekend and the next weekend we are camping and hiking at a state park. In a single day, I can enjoy the bustle of downtown Fort Wayne while still taking in a scenic rural drive on my way home. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I’ve always considered myself a creative person. Working at One Lucky Guitar combines my passion for people and business with my underlying desire to be creative. I’m constantly challenged with new work and new clients. It is also immensely rewarding when you can advance a client’s mission while cultivating a lasting relationship with them. What does success mean to you? This question can go many different ways so I’m going to focus on how I determine if I am personally successful. To me, it’s not a fancy

title or a huge salary. Success is not winning all the time. It’s about doing my best, every day, to make a difference. It’s about being ethical and going to bed at night knowing I made a positive impact. This shines through in my commitment to client service, my dedication to my family and the way I approach challenges. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Hands down, I wanted to be an artist. I thought about illustrating books or painting murals. I couldn’t get enough arts and crafts supplies as a kid. Then in high school, I took an active role in my state legislature being part of a group called Indiana Point of Youth. We lobbied to lower the legal blood alcohol level and voiced our concerns for many social issues impacting the youth in our state. This sparked a fire in me. I honestly believed I would end up in local government one day. Over time, I learned where my real passions lived and I’ve found I can make an even greater impact by volunteering my time where it means the most to me. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Both of my parents owned their own businesses. As early as I can remember, I was filing papers, cleaning their offices and doing whatever was needed — sometimes landscaping yards in 90-degree weather! However, my first real paycheck might have come from Camp Whitley the summer I was a camp counselor. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I have a lot of people in my personal life to thank for my career. However, the best career advice I received led me to where I am today and it came from a woman that was looking to hire me. It was for a completely different role and would have taken me down another career path. I simultaneous received an offer to work at One Lucky Guitar and she told me: “If I was your mom or your mentor, I’d want you to follow your heart.” What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I’m most proud of the Made Here campaign for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. I felt like my involvement was bigger than me. It was bigger than OLG and bigger than the Partnership. We laid the foundation for pride in our region

and brought awareness to important concerns in talent attraction. Creatively, I feel it was effective and I’m proud I was part of the process. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My biggest mistake was thinking I could do it all. You experience burnout and it leads to poor relationships with your family, friends and co-workers. It is important to determine where your true passion lives and devote your time and energy to those initiatives. What are your current professional goals? I hope it’s OK to say that I’m truly happy where I am right now. I do what I love and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it too. Now, I challenge myself to find new ways to grow and improve in my current role. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I like to follow industry blogs and publications. I also take advantage when organizations like the Ad Fed of Fort Wayne or Creative Mornings provide speakers. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? It’s been hard, but I’m learning to say no. We can’t do it all so I figure out when and where my talents are most needed and make the commitment. I stay organized with a

detailed calendar and I push myself to create a larger divide between work and home life. Being flexible has been key to finding balance for me. What do you do to relax? When I really need R&R, I like to get outside. We go camping or head to the lake.


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Melanie Watson • 37 Employer: Blaire Biomedical, founder and CEO; Trine University, associate professor of Biomedical Engineering Education: Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering, Louisiana Tech University; Master of Science in engineering, Louisiana Tech University; Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, Louisiana Tech University Community organizations: Lifehouse’s Worship & Praise Band drummer (Cedar Canyon Campus) Hobbies: When I’m not busy teaching and working for Blaire Biomedical you can find me at the nearest lake or pond. I enjoy fishing, camping and being outdoors. Why are you in northeast Indiana? Born on the Louisiana bayou, I knew that biomedical engineering faculty employment opportunities would be all over the country but I focused on open positions that were centered in rural America. Trine University immediately appealed to me for many reasons. The community in northeast Indiana reminds me of home (minus the cold winters). Additionally, Trine’s Biomedical Engineering Department was experiencing tremendous growth and had a vast amount of resources. While at Trine, I’ve worked with the Innovation One department to establish my company, Blaire Biomedical. With their assistance, I was able to network and continue advancing my technology. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? As a professor, I have the pleasure of helping students achieve their dreams and watching them move on to work for some of the most prestigious biomedical

companies in the United States. As founder and CEO of Blaire Biomedical, I work toward my ultimate dream of empowering patients with innovative handheld medical diagnostic devices. What does success mean to you? No regrets. As an engineer, I am extremely persistent. I diligently focus on finding solutions to my current technological challenges and more efficient processes. I never want to look back on my career and wish I had pursued an idea. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? At 10 years old, I wanted to be a doctor. I had a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity for how things worked. At the time, I did not know about biomedical engineering, nor that I could get my Ph.D. instead of an M.D. I just knew that someday I wanted to help people. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe, Louisiana. I was a nurse’s aid in the emergency department at the age of 16. I continued to work there until I graduated with my bachelor’s degree six years later. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I’ve had many supporters over the years that include family, close friends and mentors. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Finally finding the right supportive work environment has taken me on an amazing career path. Due to the platform that Trine University provides,

I feel that I am on the cusp of my biggest accomplishment yet: Fully developing Blaire Biomedical while sharing my entrepreneurial experiences with my students. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? In my past, I have let others dictate my direction in life, sometimes losing focus of my goals. Trine University has a very supportive atmosphere allowing me to pursue my goals. I have been able to start my own company and share aspects of entrepreneurship with my students. Additionally, I’ve learned how to balance my entrepreneurial aspirations while being an associate professor. What are your current professional goals? At Trine University, I strive to develop effective teaching skills to inspire the next generation of biomedical engineers. For Blaire Biomedical, I continue to advance my current technology and research. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I stay current in developing technologies and research within my field by reading related scientific journal articles. Additionally, I attend annual biomedical engineering research conferences and seminars on effective teaching styles. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Honestly, it is not always easy. I am blessed to have tremendous support at home. My family allows me to completely focus on my career when necessary at work so that when I am home I can enjoy time with my family. During the weekends I am able to

spend more time with my family and participate in my church’s worship praise band. What do you do to relax? I find fishing, playing the drums and getting massages relaxes me the most. What book do you recommend? “Engines of Creation 2.0” by Eric K. Drexler, Ph.D. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? It’s OK to be different. It is actually your best asset. Every aspect of yourself that you want to change or you are ridiculed about will later be rewarded. You can be a strong-willed female in the engineering world.

Nestor Rodriguez • 26 Employer: Caliente Cuban Café Education: North Side High School, Fort Wayne; bachelor’s in organizational leadership from Purdue University; I hope to finish my master’s within the next year. Community organizations: United States Marine Corps Hobbies: Reading, running, meditation Why are you in northeast Indiana? After boot camp, I was residing in Indianapolis when my father asked if I would help with and eventually take over the family business. We were presented with an opportunity that was too good to pass up so I returned home. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? There is never a dull moment as a restaurant

TrineUniversity_106584 1/8H Forty Under 40 3-15-19

owner. In the last two years of running Caliente I have absorbed more knowledge than I ever thought possible, and was able to accomplish more than I ever had in mind. I would have to say that my absolute favorite aspect about running my own business is how much I have learned about myself in the process; my work ethic, my leadership abilities and my communication skills have all grown exponentially. What does success mean to you? Can you sleep easy every night knowing that you have reached your goal, or are at least making strides to reaching that goal? If your answer is yes, then you are succeeding. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a lawyer.

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Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first job and my first actual paycheck came many years apart. My first job was at Caliente back in 2009 when I was a sophomore in high school, but mom and dad were not about to get QuickBooks just to make me a paycheck — I’d better be happy with the gas money they gave me! No, my first big-boy job was as an appliance salesman working for Home Depot in Lafayette. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My parents have always been there for any decision I have ever taken. From going away to college to joining the military, they have supported me every step of the way. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? We are going strong after two years of business in downtown. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I made a pretty risky financial decision a couple of months ago and I am paying for it, quite literally. This scenario only strengthened my view that when you are conducting business, you have to leave your emotions at the front door. What are your current professional goals? I would like to see Caliente expand and evolve into an organization that has not only diversified itself into something beautiful, but is also able to provide a certain level of community growth that could help to shape Fort Wayne into the city it deserves to be. How do you remain current/ relevant in your profession? I am humble. I realize I do not know everything and I listen. I listen to my customers, I read new papers on marketing, I see what my town

is doing and I try really hard to keep my company fresh and always moving forward. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? We are all in the same boat here. I believe we take one step at a time and live one day at a time making the best of every situation. I stay positive and I believe that everything happens for a reason; life is what you make of it. What do you do to relax? I meditate, it keeps my head clear and focused on what is in front of me. I also really enjoy a good book. What book do you recommend? “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Being humble and true to yourself is the most beautiful and most attractive quality a person can possess.


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Joseph Marana • 31 Employer: Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, University of North Dakota; Master of Business Administration, Purdue Fort Wayne Community organizations: Blue Jacket Inc., Junior Achievement Hobbies: I like to run, play soccer, camp, ski and travel. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I moved to Fort Wayne in 2011 when I was offered a job with the Airport Authority. I didn’t know where Fort Wayne was before I applied, but we have made it home and we couldn’t be happier to be here. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Aviation has been around for more than 100 years but I think it is still one of the most fascinating industries in the world. The economic impact aviation has, from passengers to cargo, always amazes me and it continues to grow as airports work to add more capacity. My job is a small part of the big picture but I’m thrilled to be a part of it. What does success mean to you? I believe success means achieving goals that you set for yourself. I set personal and professional goals for myself often and when I achieve those I believe I’m successful. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an astronaut. Today, that is probably the scariest thing I can think of doing and you couldn’t pay me enough to attempt it. I did get my pilot license in college and the

excitement of flying an aircraft is something that everyone should try. Being strapped to a rocket and going into outer space no longer sounds like a good idea. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I started working as a soccer referee at the age of 12, but my first real job at 16 years old was at Old Country Buffet washing pots and pans. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I’m very fortunate to have many mentors in my life. I love getting insight from people and finding out how people have found success through different pathways. When I speak to high school students through JA programs I try to stress the importance of mentor relationships as much as possible. My boss has always pushed me to achieve more certifications, earn my master’s and excel in the industry as much as possible. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I have managed a few big projects at the airport that have been successful. Possibly my biggest contribution to the airport and the community is the amount of federal funding we have been able to achieve over the last few years. These projects have provided many jobs and have supported the critical infrastructure of the airport. I have had the opportunity to give back and mentor other young professionals in the airport industry. It has been very fulfilling to see

them achieving their goals as their careers progress. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I went to school to become a commercial pilot. I took out loans to pay for my education and flight school was very expensive. Financially, this mistake had a profound effect on my lifestyle after college. However, if I had not gone to flight school I wouldn’t have transitioned into airport management. I learned that things work out for the best and that you can’t be afraid to make tough decisions. What are your current professional goals? I eventually want to be executive director of an airport. I love what I currently do but one day I would like the opportunity to lead an organization as the executive director. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I participate in many trade associations and read as many publications as possible. I participate in national aviation committees and am an officer of the American Association of Airport Executives. I work in a very regulated industry and if airports don’t stay current with the regulatory agencies, changes can arise that can adversely affect our airports. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? This question is very difficult, and I believe everyone struggles with it. I gauge the balance of how I’m doing based on the people I care about the most. I try to do a good

job in all areas of my life and I feel the most fulfilled when my wife, boss, co-workers and others are pleased with me. At different times throughout the year, some aspects of life need increased levels of attention and I try to recognize that and adjust accordingly. What do you do to relax? I like to run and spend time with family and friends. If I could, I would go river canoeing with my family and dog every weekend. What book do you recommend? “Deep Change” by Robert Quinn. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Relax, everything happens for a reason.


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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

March 15, 2019

Reneta Thurairatnam • 38 Employer: Lake City Bank, vice president and wealth advisor Education: Mississinawa Valley High School, Union City, Ohio; Bachelor of Science in economics, minor in management from Huntington University; MBA with a concentration in international business from the University of Saint Francis; Leadership Fort Wayne graduate; Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) Certification; CFP® Certification Community organizations: Allen County SPCA board, treasurer, finance committee chair; Parkview Foundation board, Cookin’ Men event chair; YLNI’s Living Fort Wayne feature writer; Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne philanthropy committee member; USF Alumni Cabinet; Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. investor; Junior Achievement volunteer Hobbies: Traveling (internationally and domestically), reading, going to concerts, discovering new restaurants. I’m a big Packers fan. I’m also a huge animal lover. My dogs, Raji and Jordy, have their own Instagram account and Kitty (my cat who refused to have a Packers name) sometimes makes guest appearances there. Why are you in northeast Indiana? My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka and settled in Ohio. I moved to Indiana for college and ended up settling in Fort Wayne for work. My husband was born and raised in Fort Wayne and the majority of his family lives in the region as well. For me, it is the perfect size. It’s large enough to have an airport, amazing restaurants

and great festivals, but it’s small enough to easily get involved in things you are passionate about. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love helping people. I work in private wealth management so oftentimes I get to work with generations of families as they navigate their finances. It’s pretty cool to see my fingerprints on their financial journey. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping someone accomplish a dream. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from a job as a teller at a small community bank called Farmers State Bank while I was in high school. The bank was so small they used handwritten passbooks and didn’t have proper computers. I’ll never forget my interview, because I had to use an adding machine, which I hadn’t heard of before. I had to add a series of numbers and then at the end I accidentally cleared it all out, because I had no idea what button to push to total it. Luckily, they were impressed with my typing speed! Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? It’s too hard to name just one person — it takes a village to raise a career! My first supporter was my dad. He has always served as a sounding board for me throughout my career. My husband has also been one of my biggest cheerleaders. I tend to be cautious and he always encourages me to reach for that next big, hairy, audacious goal. I’ve been lucky to have some pretty amazing bosses and colleagues throughout my career as well.

What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I was definitely proud to obtain all of my investment licensing and pass both my CTFA and CFP® exams within a year of each other, but one of the things I am most proud of was my role in helping develop an internal sales training program for all Lake City Bank calling officers. While many companies hire out the role of sales training, we learned pretty quickly that our culture at Lake City is pretty unique and who better to teach sales culture than our own employees? Five colleagues and I worked diligently to create a training program that reflected the bank’s relationship-driven culture and went on to teach the program, which we currently use. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? A mistake I made starting out in my career was not being vocal about my thoughts. I’ve always been “young” in my field and assumed my ideas were standard fare. The more meetings I attended, I realized that sometimes people were vocalizing what I was thinking — meaning my ideas had merit after all! This taught me that it’s OK to speak up even if you are in a room full of tenure. Sometimes a fresh perspective is just what is needed. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? The world of banking and finance is continuously changing. For my various certifications I am required to obtain continuing education (CE) credits each year, which helps keep me abreast of the latest developments in my profession. I’m one of

those weird people who enjoy school so I also seek out opportunities to learn and grow. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Not well, but I’m working on it! I used to say yes to everything and now I’m learning to say no unless I am passionate about it and have the time to devote to it. What do you do to relax? Reading typically helps me relax. Or traveling internationally, because I’m unplugged from devices. I am also addicted to deep tissue massages. If I have time I like to watch reality shows like “Below Deck” because they make my life seem so much less stressful!

Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I’ve been lucky to have many supporters in my career. It started with my parents encouraging me to do what makes me happy. Then it was my brother Jake who I went into business with. Then my younger brother John who helped me understand that hard work is the answer. Now it’s my wife and son who drive me to do better tomorrow. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Along with my brother/business partner, we have created the world’s largest learning conference for tattoo artists over the last 24 months. It’s among the top learning conferences for art in general. We are so thrilled to expand our network and share our daily process across the globe. It was the biggest risk we could take at the time and has been the biggest reward as well. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? It took me too long to grow up. One of the best and worst parts of my industry is that you can stay a kid forever. The downfall was I didn’t know what to do with my income. It took a long time to learn to invest in my personal and business future. What are your current professional goals? I’m very interested in forming a nonprofit to aid my community. I was once a much younger entrepreneur. Now, I own a business that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. A little guidance could have helped ease my nerves during the first few years in business. I’d love to create a team that is promoting the next generation of growth. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Quality control. By building processes that create the best environment for creativity. By fostering growth and challenge every single day within my employees.

We transfer that hard work to the customer resulting in the best product we can deliver. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I’m a minimalist. In order to put more on my plate, I had to trim the fat. I have rid my life of 90 percent of the possessions I once owned. What do you do to relax? I don’t. It is the biggest argument my wife and I have. She’s a saint for accepting me this way. My brain is constantly analyzing every business I visit. When on vacation I visit every sight and museum I can; you never know if you will make it back to visit this place again. What book do you recommend? “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? You really can do anything that makes you happy. But, maybe, you should do something that makes others happy too.

Jes Farris • 34 Employer: Studio 13 Tattoo Education: Wayne High School Community organizations: Not currently subscribed to any organizations. I’m definitely interested in some of them, but I tend to go rogue a bit too often. Hobbies: Currently remodeling a tiny house. I’ve become a minimalist at heart. I really enjoy functionality and organization. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I want to see the world. A strong local economy paired with low cost of living has allowed me to travel the world with my family and friends. While it’s great to take some time away, there’s no place I’d rather call home. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? My profession still exists in the margins. In most careers, you know what the next step

on the ladder looks like. In my profession, we are still building the ladder as we climb. What does success mean to you? For me, success means not worrying about the money. Having the ability to focus on everything else — the customer, the employees, happiness and family life. The more I have focused on everything but money, the more it seems to show up. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A professional wrestler. I was grounded most of my childhood for body slamming my brother. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first real paycheck came from Arby’s. I got a job at the Arby’s in my neighborhood at 14. I don’t know what my official title was, but it came with free mozzarella sticks.


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Aric Forbing • 38 Employer: Modbar, LLC Education: Some college Community organizations: In the last few years, Modbar has been in startup mode, taking most of my waking hours. I would like to be more involved with community organizations moving forward. Hobbies: Tinkering, first and foremost. I have always enjoyed building things. Music has always been a large part of my life, and I also enjoy brewing beer when I have the time for it. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I didn’t have much of a say in the matter when I was born in Fort Wayne. However, Fort Wayne is an amazing place to build a startup company. We have a wealth of talent in the area coupled with an established manufacturing industry. When combined with a very affordable cost of living, this made it very possible to build a company here. And the city is really growing in such great ways over the last few years. I’ve personally enjoyed experiencing the “new garde” of cafes, breweries and restaurants that have been opening. I am proud to own and operate my business here. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I really enjoy designing and building things and solving problems. With Modbar, I’ve had a chance to do a lot of all the above! The company started with just two employees and I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with most all of the roles in the organization. As we’ve grown and brought in more

talent, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to focus on the areas that I really enjoy, primarily product development and design. I also have the honor to work closely with a team of very talented folks with La Marzocco, a 90-year-old company that helped start Modbar, in Florence, Italy, to develop and bring products to a global market. There is never a dull day. Lastly, being that we produce espresso machines, we are able to try new and exciting coffees from our customers every day! What does success mean to you? I think that success will always be a moving target. However, if we can constantly improve every day, I think this helps keep us pointed toward the target. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up in a musical household, I was pretty sure I’d be a musician. Maybe musician/ astronaut… Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? I started mowing lawns and cleaning for an aluminum foundry close to my home as a summer job when I was 16 and I ended up working there for almost 15 years. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? The foundry where I had my first summer job was a huge boost, as they helped to nurture skills and interests that I didn’t yet know existed. The family-owned company, Ward Corporation, helped to provide education and experience that was priceless toward later building Modbar. I am

grateful for the opportunities that they gave me. Afterward, Kent Bakke and Joe Monaghan from La Marzocco spotted us early in our quest to make a better espresso machine, and Modbar wouldn’t exist without the support from them and their company. The entire team at La Marzocco feels like part of our family. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Designing, building and bringing our espresso machines to market. Seeing our equipment used worldwide gives me a lot of pride. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I think that we underestimated some of the challenges that we would face. In hindsight, I wish that we would have had more people with experience in the areas that we struggled with initially. What are your current professional goals? I am focused on growing as a business leader through education. I am learning every day how to improve my leadership skills. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I’m constantly learning more about our industry and looking for bridges in seemingly unrelated fields. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I don’t do this very well and could definitely stand to improve. The scales are currently firmly tipped toward career. What do you do to relax? I really enjoy playing music and play bass in

Martin Huttenlocker • 37 Employer: Bradley Company and Great Lakes Capital Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science, University of Missouri Columbia; MBA, concentration in real estate, Roosevelt University, Chicago Community organizations: Southwest Montessori Academy, finance committee member; Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Regional Opportunities Council member; Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s Leadership Fort Wayne Class of 2019 Hobbies: I enjoy golf, running and spending time with my wife and two children. Why are you in northeast Indiana? My wife is a Fort Wayne native and when we decided to relocate our family from Chicago the standard of living and the appeal of raising our children in such a family-friendly environment close to grandparents made northeast Indiana the most attractive option. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I have always been passionate about real estate and architecture, particularly the “bricks and mortar.” The rich history found in existing buildings is as equally appealing as new development projects in my perspective. What does success mean to you? Mastering time; in my opinion the most important thing in life is spending time how and with whom you choose. Therefore, I feel the most successful people are those who can spend their time doing exactly what they love and enjoy. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An attorney, hence the political science major in undergraduate school. Somehow I couldn’t escape my roots in construction and development so I went back into real estate and married an attorney instead. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My father’s company; I worked for

the family business as an electrician’s apprentice. My youth was spent on construction sites “twisting wire nuts” alongside my dad and four brothers. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? Early on my biggest supporter was my identical twin brother — friendly competition can be a valuable motivation tool! However, my wife of eight years has become my biggest supporter in career and in life. She has always been my partner in whatever success and challenges have come about since we met 14 years ago. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? While in Chicago, in a role similar to my role in Fort Wayne, I provided expertise in brokerage, asset management and development work and I won an international award for excellence in asset/property management in 2016. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My greatest mistake would be waiting so long to earn my MBA. In hindsight, I would have appreciated that experience and knowledge earlier in my career. What are your current professional goals? Right now my goal is to continue developing Fort Wayne/northeast Indiana on its thriving path from a real estate and civic-minded perspective. One of the many reasons our family chose to relocate here was the amazing progress community leaders have made recently and I look forward to being a vital part of the next generation picking up the torch. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? My profession has formal requirements such as continuing education and relevant conferences throughout the year. Outside of what is required, I have found that getting involved in the community and being a part of organizations such as Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. and Northeast Indiana Regional

Partnership has proven very beneficial in helping to stay relevant and promoting my professional growth. And of course, avid readership in quality business journals such as Business Weekly! How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I think most people find it difficult to establish a solid work/life balance. I feel an important first step is partnering with a firm that holds similar values to your own. Having your company’s support in getting involved outside the firm is crucial. Identifying community service opportunities that you are passionate about helps to stay focused and enjoy the process. Getting everything on the schedule is essential! I have found whatever I am doing needs to be on the calendar, otherwise it easily gets pushed aside. Finally, I recommend goal setting — it is old school but it works!

a band locally. This helps me unwind from time to time. Otherwise, cooking helps me to slow down and enjoy myself at the end of the day. I also often find myself wandering down the YouTube rabbit hole of watching people create amazing things. What book do you recommend? “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn is one of my favorite books of all time, albeit a bit odd. It examines humanity and philosophy through the eyes of a telepathic gorilla. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Don’t be afraid to dive in.


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Amy Lehrman • 33 Employer: Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM) Education: Bachelor’s in accounting with a minor in nonprofit management, Manchester University Community organizations: Member, board of directors of Junior Achievement of DeKalb County; Planning committee member for the Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana Wine & Beer Festival; Classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana; Classroom teacher for Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana’s Career Success program; participant in the “Women Build” event for Habitat for Humanity; Member of the Lutheran Foundation’s Regional Mental Health Coalition of Northeast Indiana Workplace Segment Committee; advisor to the board of directors of the Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana Hobbies: I have a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son so my hobbies include coloring, playing superhero versus villain, watching Disney movies, dancing, crafting or picking up countless toys several times per day. Otherwise, my husband and I enjoy spending time with our families, playing board games and working out. I also try to fit in a girl’s night every so often so I don’t go insane. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in northeast Indiana and I have always wanted

to raise my family here. I love the small-town feel, the sense of community and the overall support we have here. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? As a CPA with a diverse set of clients in northeast Indiana, I get to learn about the amazing products, companies and families that are in my backyard. I love getting to know my clients personally and learning about their businesses and what drives them. Additionally, being able to improve their bottom lines is pretty cool too. What does success mean to you? Most successful moments in my life are defined by the failures and a learning process that preceded them. Success means being able to learn from your failures. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? At a very young age, I told my parents I wanted to be somebody’s boss someday. I was the middle child and a little bossy. When I was 16, I took my first accounting class — and aced it. I knew then that I wanted to be an accountant. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from Papa John’s in Auburn. I made pizzas! I worked with several of my high school friends and we had a blast! Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My husband. We met while

I was studying for my CPA exam. I don’t know why he stuck around because I put studying and my career ahead of our relationship, but he has always encouraged me to take chances and pushed me to be the best that I can be. I wouldn’t be able to be as successful as I am today without his support. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done with women’s business development efforts. Several years ago, a few female colleagues and I decided that women business leaders may prefer to network over manicures instead of a round of golf. So we organized a spa day. It was met with some criticism from our male colleagues at first. After obvious success, several of the male critics were coming to us asking when the next women’s event would be because they wanted to invite someone. Since then I have organized several women’s events, including spa days, wine tours, fashion shows and self-defense classes. I think it’s critical to provide an environment where women business leaders can network and empower each other. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I am a people-pleaser by nature. I never want to disappoint anyone. Early in my career I said yes to every opportunity that came my way. I eventually found myself over-extended

and not able to perform at my highest level because I was stretched too thin. One of my managers noticed my exhaustion, taught me about the power of no, and showed me how to identify which opportunities deserved my yes. What are your current professional goals? My goal is to make a difference in our Fort Wayne office and our firm. I want to inspire my co-workers like others have inspired me along my journey. I’d also like to become a partner at KSM.

Sarah Arnold • 34 Employer: Fort Wayne Trails, Inc., community engagement manager; Fort Wayne Food Tours, LLC, co-founder/communications director; SociallySeasoned, LLC, CEO/social media strategist Education: North Side High School; Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Indiana University Fort Wayne; Master of Arts in communication & leadership studies, certificate in servant leadership, Gonzaga University Community organizations: New Haven Community Foundation (board member, communications committee chair), NewAllen Alliance (marketing committee member) Hobbies: Singing, volunteering, traveling and enjoying the great outdoors with my family. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in Fort Wayne and now have lived in New Haven for a little over three years. I love

this area because it’s relatively inexpensive to reside here, which allows for us to travel to other parts of the country and world. Our region has so many fantastic things to offer but it’s also such a great size where you feel like you’re in a small town and can easily connect with others. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I love being able to create a strategic marketing plan to figure out how to best market an organization or campaign. In our age, digital marketing is fascinating because we can see in real-time, or very close to, how effective each tactic really is. What does success mean to you? To me, success means a good balance between my faith, family, work and community. I thrive off knowing that I’m making a difference but, for me, that starts at home. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher at a

very young age and then beginning in middle school a Broadway actress/ singer/dancer. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Target, cashier Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My dad, who was a successful businessman his whole life, has given me so much advice on various things in the business and professional realm — questions to ask, things to be aware of and the importance of the 5P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. My mom has always encouraged me to give my all and grounds me with practicality. My parents taught me to go the extra mile and always try my very hardest. There have been others who have come into my life and supported me including Dr. Fred Haigh, who helped me realize my talents and encouraged me to come out of my shell during my middle school years; Heather Schoegler, who has always encouraged me and helped connect me with others; Chris Sanderson, who has been my cheerleader and asked how he could help me; Craig Dellinger and Steve McMichael, who helped me become so involved in the New Haven community; and Sam Graves, who is an incredible and humble leader. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? Successfully running and growing a business for the past five years, getting my master’s degree and receiving this award! What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? My biggest mistake has been not doing due diligence on an organization before joining its team. I have learned that the leaders of an organization make or break it and if your values and work habits don’t align with theirs, it’s not a good fit. What are your current professional goals? I am currently trying to learn more about the world of politics and local government and am

considering serving our community in a different way. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Constantly reading, trying new things, learning from others in my field. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? My husband is a huge help in encouraging me to follow my professional dreams. I have a very flexible career and that is what I was looking for and that was a non-negotiable for me. It also doesn’t hurt that my parents live on the property next to ours and love spending time with our children. What do you do to relax? Play with my kids, watch Netflix or go get a massage. What book do you recommend? “Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Don’t plan your life around chasing a boy. Be yourself. Own your talents and strengths. Don’t get too comfy — always strive for bigger and better.


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Adam Bartrom • 37 Employer: Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP Education: Bishop Dwenger High School; Saint Joseph’s College; Notre Dame Law School Community organizations: Fort Wayne Trails (board member); Saint Vincent DePaul Church (parishioner/volunteer); pro bono counsel for GiGi’s Playhouse; former board president of Parkview YMCA; former executive committee member, Leukemia Lymphoma Society; volunteer coach for Wallen Baseball; Saint Vincent’s basketball and football coach Hobbies: Golf, fishing, hiking and trail running Why are you in northeast Indiana? Fort Wayne is my hometown. I was born here and this is where I wanted to start a family. It has been incredible to see downtown transform into a vibrant place for work and play. I look forward to all of the new and exciting developments on deck. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? Partnering with clients to achieve their goals through strategic thinking, competition, oratory, persuasion and personal relationships. What does success mean to you? Being the best husband and father

that I can be, providing for my family, enjoying what I do and having a lot of fun doing it. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A professional baseball player. But my skill set didn’t match my desire. This was exemplified when, while pitching in high school, I gave up a home run that still hasn’t landed yet. So, I shadowed Magistrate Judge Phil Houk for a day and decided that the law was for me. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? Finish Line. At 16, I began working as a sales associate slinging shoes. I learned the meaning of add-on sales and what it’s like to work on commission — and that I could buy three Auntie Anne’s pretzels for $6. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career that have pushed me to heights that I didn’t think were possible, but my biggest supporter has always been my wife, Emily. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? My biggest accomplishment has been building a successful and fulfilling practice by representing

a diverse and robust client base. I sincerely enjoy working with all of them. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Failing to delegate. As a young partner, I initially struggled to distribute tasks to team members and was bit of a control freak. As I grew into my role, I learned to better delegate these tasks to maximize the efficiency of the team (and reduce my stress level). What are your current professional goals? To continue to grow a successful labor/employment practice with clients of all industries and have as much fun as possible doing it. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? Hard work, strategic/creative thinking and embracing the advantages of technology. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Caffeine, a supportive wife and an understanding that very seldom does the urgent trump the important. What do you do to relax? Wine with my wife, goofing off with the kids, a trail run and golf with friends.

Zachary Briggs Sr. • 31 Employer: Visual Prime Studios LLC, owner Education: Homestead High School; IPFW Community organizations: Say Win Community Connection, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Summit Church Hobbies: I enjoy creating video production and writing music. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was raised in Fort Wayne. I did not have the most glamorous life. In fact, I grew up in poverty, moved around from house to house, was taken away from my mom, stayed in trouble at school, was sent to jail and surrounded by violence. Amongst all of that, there was always someone in my corner helping me through. Different people, some friends, some strangers, but they were always in my corner. Needless to say, Fort Wayne has always taken care of me when I needed it most. Now that I’ve found success, I stay local to contribute as much as I can so I can return the favor. Unfortunately, I’ve also experienced hurt in Fort Wayne, but I believe I can use my background to impact the areas where I’ve experienced that pain. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? My love for creating video production is why I got in my profession, and remains my heart’s desire. As I and the company have grown, providing jobs for others with the passion for video as I do is most enjoyable. What does success mean to you? Simply waking up with the intent to walk in whatever you are purposed to do. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a child, I wanted to be an actor, writer, doctor, athlete, cowboy; basically anyone I saw on TV hat had better life than the one I was living. Although my career choice repeatedly changed, one aspiration remained consistent: I wanted to love the job I chose so much that I

would even do it for free. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck was from Cold Stone Creamery — I was an ice cream scooper! Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? For me it’s impossible to point names…It could be the person who first introduced me to a computer. It could be the boss I hated at Taco Bell that forced me to start my own career. I have several business mentors, aspiring friends and supporting clients, not to mention my talented mother! How do you choose one? Besides, the most authentic answer I can give is not a person at all, but God. His guidance has been endless on all my journeys and I would not have achieved anything noteworthy had it not been for my relationship with him. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? My biggest accomplishment is creating a platform where I can inspire others to follow dreams and work at a job they love. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? Procrastination — it leaves no room for consistency. This has wounded my progress more times than I can count and is the most crippling barrier of trying to find success with anything in life. What are your current professional goals? My current professional goal is to continue to grow a thriving business so that it creates more opportunity for the nonprofit, Say Win, that we’ve started. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I believe if you take care of your city, the city takes care of you. While we have market strategies to reach our demographics, the key is still quality service to people. My clients help me stay relevant.

How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? I’m still figuring this out. It’s a question I confront with my business mentors religiously. It seems inevitable that something will always take priority. As of now, I just write a schedule to make sure nothing is neglected, at the same time being sensitive and flexible enough detour from the script in the event that one of them requires immediate attention. What do you do to relax? I love water and fire — small as a fireplace or large as the ocean. When I’m accompanied by those elements I’m good. What book do you recommend? “E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Nothing, I wouldn’t want to mess things up for him. He is headed down the necessary path.

What book do you recommend? “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu; “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? Listen to your parents more, read CliffsNotes less, trust in God’s plan and enjoy the journey.


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Rebecca Worrell • 38 Employer: Sturges Property Group Education: Associate’s, business administration; bachelor’s, business administration; licensed real estate broker Community organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters — I’m a Lunch Buddy and I absolutely love it. My hope is to inspire my little to pay it forward and become a mentor when she is of age. Make-A-Wish Foundation — It was recently brought to my attention that MAW doesn’t have much of a presence in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas; we are going to change that. We are currently forming a board to raise money to grant wishes in the northeastern Indiana territory. Hobbies: I enjoy spending time with family and friends, they truly add inspiration to my life. I also enjoy watching pro and college sports, lakin’ it when in season, walking my dog and occasionally working out. Why are you in northeast Indiana? I was born and raised in northeast Indiana. I tried to leave in my early 20s and came back in a week. I haven’t left since. Northeast Indiana is truly a great place and offers so much potential. It’s growing and innovative and we have a chance to shape it to what we want it to be. I am extremely excited for all the upcoming new development and can’t wait to see what the future holds for northeast Indiana. What is it about your profession that you enjoy and why? I enjoy working with people. I get to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners on one of their biggest decisions. Having the right space is key for a business and I get to be part of that process. There is nothing more rewarding than placing a business in a new space and returning after a

year to see them settled and thriving. What does success mean to you? Success is a subjective term that can be defined differently by each person. For me, success is seeing a business that I placed succeed and grow. It is also watching the face of a property owner realize their property is fully occupied and running at its fullest potential. Knowing that I have had a hand in helping these individuals is what defines my own success. Where did your first paycheck come from, and what was your job then? My first paycheck came from the Limited in Glenbrook Square. I was hired to work in the back and eventually worked my way on to the sales floor. Working at the mall was a great experience, I got to know a lot of the other mall workers and we would all visit each other on our breaks. I also got my first taste of sales, which has helped shape where I am today. Who was your biggest supporter who helped you advance in your career? My father has always been my biggest cheerleader/supporter. After high school, I had the opportunity to work with him for five years. He would show me local business publications and would frequently tell me to aim to be in one. Both he and my mother are always the first to get a call when I accomplish something. What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career? My first year as a broker my counterpart, Neal Bowman, and I successfully closed more than 60 sale and lease transactions, which amounted to more than 2 million combined square feet. Although some may say this is small, for me, it proved that I can succeed in this industry and be a leader for other women wanting to

be in sales. What has been your greatest mistake thus far, and what lessons did you learn from it? I’ve made many, too many to pick one. We all have made mistakes but it’s how you overcome it that defines you. Life is not perfect, mistakes will happen. How you handle and learn from it is one of the ways we grow as individuals. I believe that mistakes are expected in life, if you are not making them you are not trying hard enough. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone and into the zone where we make mistakes, we will grow and ultimately become successful. What are your current professional goals? My goal is to inspire other young women to aim for the fences like my father taught me. To become an agent of change is not easy, especially when dealing with gender biases. If I can inspire even one young woman and show her that anything is possible no matter what the circumstance are, then I believe I will have met my goal. How do you remain current/relevant in your profession? I am continuously looking for new ways to educate myself and remain “in the know.” Through education, social events and community knowledge I remain current and up-to-date. My goal is to have knowledge of something before it happens, this way I am prepared for anything that comes my way. How do you balance your career, family, life and community service? Balance is very tricky to achieve. For the most part, I feel I am married to my career and community service. I try to carve out time on the weekends to spend time with my family, friends and my dog. It is important

to me that they know they are just as much of a priority as my career and I routinely look for ways to show them how much I value them. What do you do to relax? To relax, I like to veg out with friends. I find I do not get to relax as much as I would like but I am a person that thrives from being on the go. I like action and being a part of what is going on in our community. Based on what you know now, what would you tell your high school self? You are in charge of your destiny, no one else. Relying on another person to make you successful will be the quickest way to fail. Always take ownership of your rights and wrongs and know that you will continue to grow. You do not know everything, keep learning and until you are satisfied with where you are in life and then push past that. Never settle.

Profile for KPC Media Group

2019 Forty Under 40  

2019 Forty Under 40  

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