South Bend Regional Chamber honors 2022 40 under 40 class

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Sixteen years strong, Michiana Forty Under 40 identifies and recognizes talent in the Michiana region.

Including this year’s class, the South Bend Regional Chamber program has honored 640 individuals throughout St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, Starke and LaPorte counties in Indiana, as well as Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan.

The recipients represent some of the brightest in the region. Beyond their accomplishments, the honorees are recognized for their contributions to community and their selfless desire to give back.

Talent remains the number one economic development driver in the region. That’s why a program like Michiana Forty Under 40, which highlights the amazing gifts of our young people, is another integral component to the quality of place environment that exists in the region.

The process to get selected as an honoree is as follows. Any young adult, professional, executive or leader under the age of 40 (by a specified date) can be nominated for Michiana Forty Under 40, but first he/she needs to be nominated. The online nomination process began in late January and concluded in mid-March. After nominations close, a 10-person selection committee comprising business leaders throughout the region reviewed and scored all nominations to arrive at the class.

Jeff Rea of the South Bend Regional Chamber

This year saw 172 nominations received. I have absolutely no influence over the selection committee. No Chamber employees are on the selection committee. It is a process that works, year after year.

Nominees are scored on a number of factors from professional accomplishments, charitable/civic engagement, awards/certifications, age and more. View the full list of criteria on the michiana40.com site.

The 2022 class is very diverse, from their educational attainment and backgrounds to the type of work they do and their journeys to get there. We have small business owners, managers, builders, marketers, attorneys, realtors, philanthropists, accountants, doctors, teachers, and more. Their accomplishments are truly inspiring.

In May, honorees participated in a fun photo/video shoot at South Bend’s Howard Park where they were able to share in the celebration and joy with family members, nominators, employers, colleagues and friends. In addition to this special publication, the South Bend Regional Chamber created a Recognition video showcasing the class and their personalities that can be viewed at michiana40.com.

On August 31, we continue the celebration with an invitation-only alumni reception at Hotel Elkhart, so all classes can connect.

We are also pleased to announce that we are starting a Michiana Forty Under 40 Mentoring Program, encouraging our alumni to pay it forward. More details to come on this program.

It is important to perpetuate the talent that exists in the Michiana region. The Chamber is proud to present this program each year and looks forward to continuing this for many years to come with great partners like the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, First State Bank, Jordan Lexus of Mishawaka, Gibson, South Bend Clinic and the South Bend Tribune.

— Introduction by Jeff Rea, President and CEO, South Bend Regional Chamber

Raquel Buari

Raquel Buari 

Age: 34  

Birthplace: Michigan 

Residence: Granger

Education: J.D., Valparaiso University School of Law; B.S., Ball State University

Employer: Four Winds Casinos 

Title: Vice President of Compliance 

Who or what inspires you? My family. My parents and brother always expected great things from me, seeing my potential even when I had not. My mother inspired me as a young lady growing up and watching her work so hard and always putting others first was inspirational. Now, my husband and children continue to inspire me to keep raising the bar. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Always take the high road. 

What is something people don’t know about you? My dream as a child was to be in Hollywood, on a stage or on your television set. Instead, I am in an office trying to teach people how to “do the right thing” and no, it is not a Spike Lee joint. 

How do you like to start your day? Turning over to see how many of our children have made their way into our beds in the night. It’s one of those moments that encapsulates what is most important to me, unconditional love (even when you’re annoyed). 

What problem are you trying to solve? I realized a long time ago that I will not solve the world’s problems myself but try to assist in any way that I can to help move the needle in the right direction. In the meantime, I am just doing my best to help raise little humans who are kind beings, in the hopes that with enough kindness in the world, the problems will work themselves out.

Shelby Cook

Shelby Cook 

Age: 27 

Birthplace: Peru, Ind.

Residence: Elkhart

Education: Grace College 

Employer: Momentum Marketing Consultants 

Title: Vice President of Operations 

Who or what inspires you? My grandmother. She is one of the hardest working and strongest individuals I know. She gives more than she takes, and she has taught me many valuable skills throughout the years. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Don’t ever stop learning and growing as a person. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I am a die-hard morning person. I’m always up early, even if I wanted to sleep in, my body clock wouldn’t let me.  

How do you like to start your day? A cup of coffee and a good book. 

What problem are you trying to solve? All of them because if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it. Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it. 

And if that answer isn’t sufficient, then I would say, I’m working to make sure there are opportunities for young professionals to get connected in the Elkhart community.

Paige Corbalis

Paige Corbalis 

Age: 30 

Birthplace: Elkhart 

Residence: Granger 

Education: Jimtown High School 

Employer: Brick Built Real Estate 

Title: Owner and Broker 

Who or what inspires you? I feel like a lot of things/people inspire me. My journey to success has had many bumps along the way. I truly believe my fear of failure motivates me the most, and I did not want to be another statistic. But my family is what keeps me sane. Having my children get excited when I hit a milestone, having my husband, mom and dad to be my rock when the pressure overwhelms me, and having my brother always push me to try new things or give me advice on how to handle business. All of that combined is what inspires me. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? To be honest, I am not the best at taking advice unless I ask for help and I don’t often do that (ha)! But when I was going through my divorce, one of my friends said something to me that has always stuck. She said something along the lines of learning how to look in the mirror and being proud of the person who is looking back. I thought I was during that time, but years later is when I actually understood that feeling she was talking about. 

What is something people don’t know about you?  I had my first child at 17 and married his father. I spent six years abused and controlled by him and finally had the courage to leave at 22 years old. I was a single mother for 1.5 years before marrying my now husband.  

How do you like to start your day?  Since I have three children, my mornings consist of getting them all off to school and drinking A LOT of coffee!  

What problem are you trying to solve?  The problem I am trying to solve is more of a personal one. I am trying to become a more confident person and gain the courage to tell my story; to become an advocate of those who are in abusive relationships, and are teen moms. 

Mallory Edmondson

Mallory Edmondson 

Age: 36 

Birthplace: LaPorte 

Residence: Rolling Prairie 

Education: Ph.D, A.T. Still University; M.S., University of Bridgeport; B.S., Indiana University South Bend; B.S., Indiana University Bloomington 

Employer: Indiana University South Bend 

Title: Director, Division of Dental Education/Clinical Associate Professor 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by my students every day. My students are balancing the world and yet still pursuing their dreams. They have families, jobs, volunteer work, and so many commitments … yet they still show up every day and continue pursuing their personal goals. They are capable of so much and are such brilliant thinkers. They have amazing ideas and passion that causes me to be in awe every moment. They truly inspire me in every way and keep me going. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I have ever received is that you teach people how to treat you. Each interaction you are showing others how they can or cannot act and allowing behaviors to happen. You have to value yourself enough to stand up for yourself. You cannot expect others to know your boundaries, and you can teach others your expectations. You cannot be frustrated with how someone treats you if you have not taken the time to teach them how to treat you. 

What is something people don’t know about you? Although I love people and talking/interacting with them, I have to make sure I take the time to recharge my inner introvert, otherwise I am drained.   

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day with multiple alarming/snooze button sessions and a nice healthy dose of social media scrolling. Recently, once I actually get out of bed, I have been taking the time to exercise. I usually run between 3-4 miles in the morning before getting ready for work. I have found that this new “habit” has greatly improved my stress response and mood throughout the day. Running really sets the tone for the day and helps me to appreciate all that is around me.  

What problem are you trying to solve? Access to oral health services, utilization of the oral healthcare system by all, and addressing oral health provider shortages through utilization of the full scope of practice for which hygienists are trained. 

Nick Eltzroth

Nick Eltzroth 

Age: 29 

Birthplace: Fort Wayne 

Residence: Granger 

Education: MBA, Ball State University; B.S., Ohio Northern University 

Employer: Midwest Energy & Communications 

Title: Manager of Engineering 

Who or what inspires you? My inspiration comes from my parents, Pat and Ginny. While at the time it may not have always seemed like it to me and I may not have always been as appreciative as I probably should have, my parents have always put my sister and me before themselves. The sacrifices they made to provide us with the opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive is something I could never say thank you enough to them for. Always making sure we were able to get to school, our extracurriculars and beyond while juggling their own jobs is what I strive to do with my own kids someday. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Learn something new every day, no matter what or where it comes from. It could be related to work or at home, but every day is an opportunity to learn something new. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I am very particular about how the yard looks and the grass is cut. While I don’t have OCD, with everything I’d definitely say I have it with the yard. Being a golfer, as well as, working at a country club during high school and college on the golf course maintenance staff helped me grow an appreciation for nicely groomed landscape (greens, fairways, rough, etc.). While some people look to mow as little as possible and get it done as quickly as possible, I find it to be relaxing and a place to get away from life. Plus a cold beer after working in the yard during the summer time tastes pretty refreshing. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day early before the sun comes up. I would consider myself a morning person. I enjoy doing things that will get my blood flowing to start my day strong, like going for a jog or reading the paper and watching the early morning news. Sometimes my wife and I pour ourselves some coffee and take Kona, our pup, for a three-mile walk before work. 

What problem are you trying to solve? I’m trying to solve the “this is the way we’ve always done it.“ While this isn’t always a bad thing, there are also some potential opportunities for improving processes and situations by making some changes. Becoming complacent and going through the motions can be very dangerous in my industry. Never trying to reinvent the wheel, but creating some new processes to improve efficiency and safety is the biggest key. 

Michael Fenech

Michael Fenech 

Age: 34 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: Granger 

Education: J.D., Michigan State University College of Law; B.A., Northwestern University

Employer: Barnes & Thornburg LLP 

Title: Partner 

Who or what inspires you? My family, friends, colleagues and faith inspire and motivate me on a daily basis. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I have a Fox Red Labrador Retriever named after the title character in The Godfather. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to exercise with a friend and formulate my plan for the day. 

What problem are you trying to solve? I constantly strive to be a better attorney for my clients; their problems are my problems. Outside of work, I am committed to giving back my time and other resources to youth-oriented organizations to better the lives of children and their families throughout our community. I am also working to perfect various meals on my Green Egg!

Amanda Fox

Amanda Fox  

Age: 38 

Birthplace: Hillsdale, Mich. 

Residence: Niles 

Education: B.A., Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich. 

Employer: Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation 

Title: Teacher 

Who or what inspires you? My husband inspires me. He has had to overcome so many challenges in his life, including a recent bone marrow transplant. He is always encouraging and works to help others accomplish their goals. He has never felt sorry for himself but instead used it as fuel to fight harder and overcome the challenges he faces. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I have received is to always be true to yourself and never let someone distract you from your goals! 

What is something people don’t know about you? Many people don’t know that I dabbled in the pageant world after high school. It was fun to be on stage and it was something out of my comfort zone that I really enjoyed. 

How do you like to start your day? I start my day by getting up before my kids — I like to listen to music while I pack lunches, eat breakfast and drink my coffee. It is the calm before the craziness of the day starts. 

What problem are you trying to solve? One problem I am trying to solve is to bring more STEM opportunities to students. STEM education for young girls is one thing that I feel very passionately about. I want the young ladies that I teach to know they can have jobs in engineering, science and math and they are needed in these fields. 

Sam Fuller

Sam Fuller  

Age: 39 

Birthplace: Chicago, Ill. 

Residence: Niles 

Education: B.A., University of Notre Dame; Medical Degree, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; University of Chicago Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency; The Curtis National Hand Center, Orthopaedic Upper Extremity and Microsurgery Fellowship. 

Employer: South Bend Orthopaedics 

Title: Hand, Wrist and Elbow Surgeon | Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon  

Who or what inspires you? Without a doubt, my family inspires me to be the best person I can be. As a child, my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and an ambitious mindset that I can achieve what I set out to do. My wife, Kristina, who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, inspires me to be creative and use my artistic side in my medical practice and in life. She is the foundation of our family and my strongest supporter and source of balance and love. My three children Quinn, Ty, and Caden, inspire me with their boundless energy and happy vibes to be optimistic and passionate, and provide me with focus to seek out the positive opportunities of each day.  

Best advice you’ve ever received? I have received excellent advice over the years from numerous individuals. One principle that continues to resonate is a quote I received from a high school coach on the first day of practice. He gave each player a sheet of paper that read, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it. You are in charge of your attitude.” While challenging at times, reflecting on this statement has served me well to not only acknowledge adversity but also, and more importantly, to overcome it and remain successful by controlling my attitude, mental focus, and perspective. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I was a Spanish major at Notre Dame, studied abroad in Toledo, Spain, and participated in four medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic!  

How do you like to start your day? I usually start my day with my oldest son, Quinn, waking me up and wanting to watch Transformers on television for a few minutes before I need to shower and get ready for work! He’s an early riser! 

What problem are you trying to solve? From a career standpoint, I am driven to push South Bend Orthopaedics to new heights in the community. During my career, I strive to integrate cutting edge, cost-effective approaches to allow my patients to continue to pursue their jobs, hobbies, and dreams. For instance, I continue to work alongside my patients and staff in accelerating post-operative healing from common surgeries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist fractures, and tendon injuries. In fact, I developed and own a U.S. Patent for a novel tendon repair device that I hope one day advances recovery and outcomes in patients around the globe. From a plastic surgery perspective, I am building a strong, well-rounded practice that offers elite aesthetic results and experiences. The medical field is truly rewarding, and its commitment to lifelong learning resonates with me as I continue to push boundaries to provide personalized care for my patients.  

Lindsay Gehrke

Lindsay Gehrke  

Age: 38 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: Plymouth 

Education: Master’s Degree, Indiana University South Bend; Bachelor’s Degree, Ball State University

Employer: South Central Elementary School 

Title: Elementary School Counselor 

Who or what inspires you? The underdogs! Seeing a struggling student succeed at a goal is one of the most rewarding things I have witnessed! 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Don’t be afraid to shine, the sun doesn’t care if it blinds you! 

What is something people don’t know about you? Something most people don’t know about me is that I’m the second oldest of seven. 

How do you like to start your day? I love to start my day with a workout followed by a cup of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Trying to better prepare kids for the real world by teaching them the emotional skills they will need to be successful adults! 

Patrick Hess

Patrick Hess 

 Age: 32 

 Birthplace: South Bend 

 Residence: South Bend 

Education: MBA, Florida State University; B.Arch., University of Notre Dame 

Employer: Alliance Architects 

 Title: Project Architect 

Who or what inspires you? I’ve always looked up to my dad. Through his humble example over the years, he has taught me what it means to be a faithful Catholic, a good husband, a loving father, and a hard worker. I am also inspired by the heroic virtue of many saints, particularly St. Joseph, St. Benedict, and St. Paul. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? St. Augustine once said, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” Doing the right thing is rarely the easiest path to follow, but it yields the greatest fruit.  

What is something people don’t know about you? I was captain of the Irish Guard during my time at Notre Dame. Marching across campus and trotting out onto the field in a kilt on football Saturdays will be memories I’ll treasure forever.  

How do you like to start your day? Not with coffee. I am one of those rare people who doesn’t drink the stuff. Beyond that, I try to spend a little quality time with my wife and kids before it’s time for everyone to head out the door and start the day.  

What problem are you trying to solve? Rebuilding a sense of community and civic engagement among young adults in modern society. By fostering walkable mixed use real estate development and encouraging young people to actively participate in their church, civic groups, or philanthropic causes, we can make our communities more vibrant, resilient, and interconnected than ever before.  

Kelly Hill

Kelly Hill

Age: 33 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: Granger 

Education: MSD, Indiana University School of Dentistry Graduate Periodontics; DDS, Indiana University School of Dentistry; B.S., Mars Hill University   

Employer: Elkhart Periodontics and Implants LLC (self-employed)  

Title: Periodontist 

Who or what inspires you? I am always inspired by other women who have a good balance between work life and family life.  

Best advice you’ve ever received? Only stress about the closest biting dog. You don’t have to have it all figured out at once; you’ll figure it out as you go. Life is just a series a of problems that need solving; once you finish one, then you move on to the next. 

What is something people don’t know about you? Now that I am not in school, and when I am not busy with the kids, I like to explore both new and old hobbies — growing flowers, watercolor painting, playing the piano, and trying new recipes. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to get up before everyone else while the house is still quiet; usually start with a good workout and then get the coffee going before getting ready for the day and getting the kids out the door. 

What problem are you trying to solve? I’m always trying to figure out ways to be more efficient and see if there’s a way to save time.  

Redgina Hill

Redgina Hill  

Age: 39 

Birthplace: South Bend  

Residence: South Bend

Education: Ph.D., Azusa Pacific University; MBA, Indiana Wesleyan University; B.A., Indiana University Bloomington 

Employer: Saint Mary’s College 

Title: Vice President for Inclusion & Equity  

Who or what inspires you? My mother and my daughter inspire me. My mother pushes me toward greatness and calls out of me things I’ve never thought possible. My daughter inspires me to be my best self and constantly challenges me to color outside the lines.  

Best advice you’ve ever received? It’s ok to say no!  

What is something people don’t know about you? People believe I am an extrovert, but I’m a true introvert (I know how to work a room). I enjoy running, and I’m the first in my family to graduate college.  

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day in a state of peace. This is achieved through prayer, meditation, listening to music, a podcast, or a sermon.  

What problem are you trying to solve? The inequities and barriers that exist within systemic structures and society for women and people of color.

Gage Hudak

Gage Hudak 

Age: 30 

Birthplace: South Bend

Residence: Granger 

Education: Western Michigan University – Haworth College of Business 

Employer: Bradley Company 

Title: Vice President 

Who or what inspires you? My family inspires me. Whether they know it or not, they motivate me to be a better person and to excel professionally. It’s easy to wake up inspired knowing that you have two kids looking up to you and a wife who is counting on you to be a great partner, dad, and provider. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? “Why do something tomorrow when you can do it today?” This mindset has helped increase productivity levels in my professional career, allowing for more personal free time to spend with my family and friends. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I have won several junior national sailing championships. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to wake up early and spend time exercising, reflecting, and learning. I start with a quick run or elliptical workout, followed by a few minutes of journaling or mediation, and then some reading or catching up on news. I have learned that this is the best way for me to get my mind right in preparation for a successful and productive day. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Whether I am representing a landlord who needs to lease up their office building or a restaurant operator who wants to buy a new building, I work to help my clients resolve their commercial real estate needs. There are always several issues that arise throughout the process, so I like to think of myself as a professional problem-solver. 

John Jones

John Jones 

Age: 38 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: Edwardsburg 

Education: Clay High School 

Employer: Cruiser RV/Heartland RV 

Title: Senior General Manager Cruiser RV 

Who or what inspires you? Mentors: AJ Jones, Brother and director of sales, Heartland RV; Kyle Miller, director of sales, Cruiser RV/Heartland RV; Ryan Juday, president, Heartland RV; Chris Hermon, Thor Industries; Coley Brady, Alliance RV. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? If you outwork everyone, no one will be able to stop you. 

What is something people don’t know about you? My love for restoring things: house flips, classic cars. 

How do you like to start your day? I try to get up as early as possible to look at the markets, try to hit the gym or just process a game plan for the day. I believe you get a better sense accomplishment to be up before everyone else. 

Ashley Jordan

Ashley Jordan  

Age: 37 

Birthplace: Sturgis, Mich. 

Residence: Elkhart

Education: Glen Oaks Community College; Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts & Sciences 

Employer: Community Foundation of Elkhart County 

Title: Director of Acts of Service  

Who or what inspires you? When people see possibility, rally together and use their hands and hearts to make a difference. Kindness can spread like fire. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I’ve never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

How do you like to start your day? With a mantra and a positive attitude. And without an alarm clock! 

What problem are you trying to solve? We are working to create positive change in our communities through the gift of time and talent. There are so many nonprofit organizations in our community who heavily rely on volunteers to keep their programs running. We are working to bridge the gap between people who want to get involved and connect them to the organizations that are meaningful to them to help fill those gaps. 

Emma Jordan

Emma Jordan 

Age: 31 

Birthplace: Munster, Ind. 

Residence: Granger 

Education: M.S., Purdue University; B.S., Ball State University; SHRM-CP

Employer: Specialized Staffing Solutions 

Title: Director of Professional Services 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by having the opportunity to change people’s lives. When you learn about people finally getting a reliable car, securing an apartment, being able to purchase a home, or growing in their career, it really makes all the work it took to make that happen worth it. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Always set clear expectations — never assume anyone will leave with the same expectations as you unless you clearly spell them out. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. When you exceed those expectations, or are more successful, it will always be a happy surprise, and never a disappointment. 

What is something people don’t know about you? Most people are surprised to find out that I served in the Indiana National Guard — and they are even more surprised to learn that I was a truck driver! I currently use the skills I learned driving trucks when I drive our company RV aka “Recruiting Vehicle.”  

How do you like to start your day? In the chaos that is my life, the one hour of the day I always have control of, is the sacred hour I spend each morning at Orangetheory fitness at 4:45am. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Currently the biggest hurdle our community faces relative to growth is not only attracting but retaining the high-quality talent it takes to bring their organization to the next level. This is a complex issue that transcends recruiting and is highly influenced by the development of company culture, place making, and affordable housing in our area. 

Pianist Geena Kam, pictured, flutist Aleksandra Kemble and cellist Emily Munn-Wood open the 2022 Buchanan Art Center’s Summer Concert Series with a concert June 26.

Geena Kam 

Age: 39 

Birthplace: South Korea 

Residence: Granger 

Education: D.M.A., University of Iowa  

Employer: Saint Mary’s College and Fischoff National Chamber Music Association 

Title: Piano Faculty and Fischoff Chamber Music Academy Director 

Who or what inspires you? My husband, Alan Huebner! 

Best advice you’ve ever received? The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90, and he answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” This is not exactly advice, but this quote instructs me on how to live my life. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I am currently training with the goal of becoming a Master of Sport in competitive kettlebell sport. 

How do you like to start your day? I go to bed dreaming about my morning coffee, so I start the day with a cup of freshly made Americano! 

What problem are you trying to solve? Finding ways to promote Classical music in our community for people of all ages and backgrounds. 

Bryan Keve

Bryan Keve  

Age: 34 

Birthplace: New Brunswick, N.J.

Residence: South Bend 

Education: B.Arch., University of Notre Dame  

Employer: Traditions Custom Builders 

Title: Owner, Builder 

Who or what inspires you? My family. I work quite a bit at both home and in the office/field, but knowing they are there inspires me. I want to make them proud and provide all I can for them as we continue to grow Traditions while still being involved in our kiddos’ activities. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 10% of people remember what you said, 20% remember what you did, but 100% remember how you treated them. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I had the opportunity to study architecture and Italian while living in Rome, Italy, for a full year. I haven’t been back, but I hope it’s in the cards to plan a return trip to Europe soon! 

How do you like to start your day? I like to get up and map out my schedule for the day, take care of a couple work items, and wait for my kiddos to scurry out of their rooms to say good morning. Then, it’s always a bagel and cream cheese before heading off to work. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Much like many others, I’m trying to figure out how my team can be more efficient in all we do. We want to offer an unparalleled experience while delivering exceptional service to our clients. Quality drives each and every one of our decisions, and the current market is certainly making our job more difficult. Every day is a new challenge! 

Kristin Kloski

Christin Kloski 

Age: 30 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: B.A., Saint Mary’s College; currently enrolled in the Master of Public Affairs Program at Indiana University South Bend.  

Employer: Saint Mary’s College 

Title: Associate Director of Student Equity 

Who or what inspires you? Since I was younger, my mother always tried to help me find role models that looked like me or those who were motivated by the urge to organize and advocate for others. The women who I could look up to as I grew older. The first one I remember was Dolores Huerta. To this day, I am inspired by her work and her dedication to a life of servant leadership. She continues to advocate for change and for the betterment of humankind. Her slogan, ”Sí se puede,” continues to inspire me and so many other Latinas who are reminded that “yes, we can” do anything! 

Best advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I have ever received was to build relationships with people and to learn how to keep that connection. Whether it is an email, a text, a call, it is important to try to check in and say hello because it truly matters for the development of the relationship. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I love to do crosswords. I do the New York Times mini crossword on a daily basis to kick off the day. I also like to write and give handwritten cards for any occasion.  

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and listen to NPR’s Up First to get a quick analysis of the news. 

What problem are you trying to solve? The problem I am always trying to solve is how to make college more affordable for students. From tuition costs to everyday student expenses, I am trying to find ways to assist students throughout their academic journey to better their experience without having to worry about additional costs that are added. I would love to find better solutions beyond scholarships to help students with college expenses and have additional funding for student experiences so they can enjoy their time and make memories with their peers. 

Michael Kozak

Michael Kozak 

Age: 36 

Birthplace: Birmingham, Ala.

Residence: Mishawaka 

Education: MPA, Indiana University South Bend; Medical Degree, University of Alabama School of Medicine; B.A., University of Notre Dame 

Employer: Healthlinc 

Title: Family Physician, Site Medical Director for the Healthlinc Centennial Clinic 

Who or what inspires you? I feel most inspired and energized when a patient who may have been at the margins of society holds their head higher because they feel respected and heard by our team. I love getting to know my patients, what makes them tick, and walking alongside them as we work on their health goals. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Vote with your feet. 

What is something people don’t know about you? Music has always been central to my family. My mother is an amazing violaist at church; my father plays French horn in the symphony, and my brother, Thomas, is a very talented singer-songwriter. Music was always around in our household. I met my wife, Rachel, in our college choir and now we love watching our two kids, Nolan and Vivian, singing and dancing to whatever their favorite song is that week. After a long week, I still love to play piano to re-center. 

How do you like to start your day? I exercise, way too early in the morning. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Our staff continues to make every effort to ensure ready access to excellent care delivered with integrity and compassion, especially for those in greatest need. I want every patient to know that we cared for them as we would our family. 

Kenlyn Laureys

Kenlyn Laureys 

Age: 37 

Birthplace: Norway, Mich. 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: Doctor of Nursing Practice Family Nurse Practitioner, University of Michigan-Flint; B.A. Lake Superior State University 

Employer: Spectrum Health Lakeland 

Title: Nurse Practitioner at the High Risk Cancer Program 

Who or what inspires you? My family and patients inspire me. My family is what motivates me to work hard and to be the best version of myself every day. For the past 14 years, I have worked within the field of oncology. Along my journey in this field, I have met some amazing patients who have taught me to not take life for granted and to forgive and forget. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Never stop learning. Knowledge is power and is something that can never be taken away. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I’m a karaoke queen. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day with a hot cup of coffee and a few moments of silence to reflect on the goals of the day.  

What problem are you trying to solve? Currently at my job I am trying to recruit individuals with a 20 pack-year smoking history to complete lung screening. I have learned that it is extremely difficult to disperse information about cancer prevention. Although there are recommendations for cancer prevention in place, not many realize the importance of early detection and how it affects treatment options and overall survival if cancer is identified.  

Cordell Al Martin

Cordell Al Martin  

Age: 36 

Birthplace: Fort Hood, Texas 

Residence: South Bend

Education: Master’s Degree, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University; B.A., Indiana University Bloomington, 

Employer: South Bend Community School Corporation 

Title: Senior Project Manager 

Who or what inspires you? Definitely my parents (Al and Janet Martin) and my sister, Shanice. My parents sacrificed so much for my sister and me in providing us with the opportunities that they weren’t afforded when they were younger. Everything that I’ve accomplished I owe to them. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Know your worth. 

What is something people don’t know about you? For the last 11 years I’ve been part of an awards organization called the Black Reel Awards. The Black Reel Awards honors the achievements in films and television of stories told through the lens of the African-American and or African Diaspora experience. Since its inception, we’ve honored such luminaries in Black Hollywood like Viola Davis, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Chadwick Boseman, Regina King and Ava DuVernay, just to name a few. I have been in the role of Nominating Chairperson, where I oversee all communication with the network and studio reps, manage our voting academy and design graphics for the show itself.  

This past February, I had the opportunity to executive produce the 22nd Annual Black Reel Awards — my first time ever. This August, I will take on the role again as executive producer and showrunner for the 6th Annual Black Reel Awards TV. 

How do you like to start your day? First with a prayer, followed by breakfast and then taking a look at my calendar for the day. 

What problem are you trying to solve? To bring joy to our youth. With everything going on in the world (racial injustices, COVID, bullying, mental health challenges, etc.), my hope — through my work with the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend and as a board member for the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and GROUPS Alumni Association — is to provide our youth programming and opportunities, as well as the space to not only be themselves but to feel that their voices are vital to moving us forward as a nation. 

Stephanie Maupin

Stephanie Maupin  

Age: 37 

Birthplace: Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio 

Residence: Union, Mich. 

Education: B.A., Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio; Licensed Health Facility Administrator in the State of Indiana; Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in the State of Michigan. 

Employer: Brentwood at Elkhart Assisted Living/Integral Senior Living 

Title: Senior Executive Director 

What inspires you? Working with seniors with mild to severe forms of dementia who benefit from living in a senior living community. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Smart people are full of doubt and ignorant people are full of confidence. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I’ve run a half marathon and attended over 50 live music concerts in the last five years. 

How do you like to start your day? Three shots of espresso and morning kisses from our chocolate Lab, Ruby, and Texas heeler, Jake. I could not get out the door every morning without the support from my husband, Ruby and Jake. 

What problem are you trying to solve? The amount of healthcare workers leaving the industry during and after the pandemic. The last two years in health care have challenged us to think, operate, and make decisions outside of our comfort zones. It’s vital for industry leaders to understand the responsibility we have to train, enrich, energize, and take chances on the current and next generation of healthcare workers. We as leaders have the ability to inspire them and show them why healthcare needs us more now than ever. It’s imperative for us not to abandon our workforce and show them an enormous amount of love and support to get them through these tough times.

Wally McQuade

Wally McQuade  

Age: 38 

Birthplace: Elkhart 

Residence: Niles 

Education: MBA, University of Notre Dame; B.S., University of Phoenix – Online 

Employer: INVO Cleaning Services 

Title: Founder 

Who or what inspires you? Usually people inspire me, especially many with whom I work. Our staff can consist of people who have made mistakes, not finished high school, or have hectic personal lives … all of which make finding/retaining employment difficult. These people inspire me to take chances on them and to be there for them. One of my previous rock star employees interviewed with me while he was living in his car. He told me no one would give him a chance. I did, and he never missed a day of work and did a great job. Last time I spoke with him, he was doing very well and very appreciative. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Understand everyone’s story and put their efforts, or lack thereof, into context. Perhaps there is a reason they are the way they are. If we take time to listen and understand, then we may be better equipped to help. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I’m a Level 60 Druid in the World of Warcraft. It’s a pretty big deal! 

How do you like to start your day? Usually getting lunch from Subway. I go often enough they usually recognize my vehicle or my voice and already know my order. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Preventing homelessness. The same types of people who inspire me are also at higher risk for homelessness or severe poverty because not many employers will take a chance on them. I pride myself in being open to taking chances, which regularly work out very well. 

Sarah Milovich

Sarah Milovich 

Age: 35 

Birthplace: Michigan 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Bachelor’s Degree, University of Notre Dame 

Employer: Carleton, Inc. 

Title: Corporate Attorney and Compliance Associate 

Who or what inspires you? My teammates and their commitment to quality. And my family who motivate me to be the best version of myself both in the office and outside of the office. In particular, now that I have two little girls, I’m inspired to set a good example for them. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? You are your own best advocate, both in what you say and what you do. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I minored in East Asian Languages at the University of Notre Dame and had dreams of living overseas. 

How do you like to start your day? Cuddling with my two little girls, quickly followed by a hot cup of coffee. 

What problem are you trying to solve? At this stage in my life, I’m focused on being the best wife and mother for my family and the best teammate to my colleagues. I’m constantly striving to be the best version of myself so that I can excel at both roles. Professionally, I want to provide my team efficient, innovative, and smart solutions to help us grow our business. Personally, I want to show my daughters that you can have both a successful professional career and an intentional, fruitful family life. 

Adria Minniear

Adria Minniear 

Age: 33 

Birthplace: Kokomo, Ind. 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: Master’s Degree, Indiana University; B.A., Indiana University  

Employer: LOGAN Center 

Title: Chief Philanthropy Officer 

Who or what inspires you? My parents instilled from an early age to be kind and wish big. As public school educators and lifelong learners, they set beautiful examples of curiosity and generosity. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? My grandfather always used to say to my worrisome self, “Don’t borrow trouble, kid.” It’s an idiom that means don’t worry about something before it is time to worry about it. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I interned with a boutique public relations agency on Music Row in Nashville, Tenn., right out of undergrad. It was Garth Brooks’ first manager who started the firm. It was a short, wild ride, and I learned a lot about people. It was probably the best “start” I could have had in the real world. 

How do you like to start your day? Laughing with my husband. He’s the best, and every morning I leave the house with a smile, ready to conquer the day. And coffee, lots of coffee. 

What problem are you trying to solve? At LOGAN, I have a role where I can see new, innovative programming and services come to life through the support of our philanthropic partners. With the mission at the forefront, my colleagues and I continually ask ourselves: How can we all — despite varying abilities — live, work and thrive in this world? LOGAN strives to solve this problem every day. 

Ben Modlin

Ben Modlin 

Age: 36 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: Purdue University 

Employer: School City of Mishawaka 

Title: Engineering and Technology Department Chair 

Who or what inspires you? My kids inspire me to be the best person. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Take that job at Mishawaka and marry that girl. I did both and that was the best advice ever. 

What is something people don’t know about you? When I am nervous I have a stutter. 

How do you like to start your day? With hugs from my wife and kids. Also, Coffee! 

What problem are you trying to solve? Live the best life I can.  

Gabriel Montes

Gabriel Montes     

Age: 37 

Birthplace: Middletown, N.Y. 

Residence: South Bend

Education: Andrews University  

Employer: Crowe LLP 

Title: Senior Manager 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by my children. If I do good in the world, I know they will follow and build upon my lead. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Forgive. Life is much better if you don’t hold a grudge. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I won a Tetris videogame tournament which included a cash prize. 

How do you like to start your day? Every single day I tell the people I love “Good morning, I love you.” I do it over text or in person. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Inequality. 

Shabbir Qutbuddin

Shabbir Qutbuddin 

Age: 30 

Birthplace: Jabalpur, India 

Residence: Mishawaka 

Education: M.S., Purdue University 

Employer: Ivy Tech Community College 

Title: Director of IT Sector Partnership 

Who or what inspires you? Fictional characters in books, films, and tv shows. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? If you want something, ask for it! 

What is something people don’t know about you? I used to be a filmmaker and theatre artist during my undergrad. 

How do you like to start your day? News, exercise, coffee, and emails. 

What problem are you trying to solve? I am trying to advance economic prosperity, develop future leaders, encourage tolerance, reduce conflicts, and bolster our communities through education. 

Lindsey Pianowski

Lindsey B. Pianowski 

Age: 39 

Birthplace: Merrillville, Ind. 

Residence: Elkhart 

Education: J.D., University of Notre Dame Law School; B.S., Saint Mary’s College  

Employer: Sanders Pianowski, LLP 

Title: Partner Attorney 

Who or what inspires you? My parents inspire me. They have always been amazing advocates for me. It was through their unwavering support and guidance that I grew up believing I could be anything I wanted to be. My parents have inspired me to put family first, to provide my children with as many opportunities as possible, and to help my children believe that they can accomplish anything. No dream or goal is too big. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? You’ll never know if you don’t ask or try.  If you want something, ask for it. If you want something, work for it. 

How do you like to start your day? I like to start my day by helping my husband and kids get off to work and school. Once I am at work, I try to tackle my most difficult projects first.    

What problem are you trying to solve? When kids ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I’m a “fixer.” Every day people come to me with legal problems that need to be solved and I enjoy being able to engineer creative, practical solutions to those problems.   

Megan Ramirez

Megan Ramirez 

Age: 31 

Birthplace: Mishawaka 

Residence: Mishawaka 

Education: B.S., Hyles Anderson College, Crown Point, Ind. 

Employer: Monterrey Mexican Bar & Grill 

Title: Owner 

Best advice you’ve ever received? You don’t have to change the world, you just have to change your world. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I used to be a barrel racer and a Clown for 4H. 

How do you like to start your day? With coffee and my Bible. 

What problem are you trying to solve? To find a home for every foster child in the system. 

Michael Shoemaker

Michael Shoemaker  

Age: 31 

Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio 

Residence: Edwardsburg 

Education: M.S.E.M., University of Michigan, Dearborn; B.S., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Employer: iNDustry Labs at the University of Notre Dame 

Title: Engineer-in-Residence 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by inventors who create novel solutions to improve lives around the world. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I enjoy working with my hands and repurposing things to solve problems in creative ways. 

How do you like to start your day? Reading my newsfeed, a cup of coffee, and a hug from my son. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Unlock a competitive advantage for this region’s manufacturing sector by preparing for a more digital future.  

Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith 

Age: 31 

Birthplace: Elkhart 

Residence: Wakarusa 

Education: Ivy Tech and Indiana Tech 

Employer: Manufacturing Technology Inc. (MTI) 

Title: General Manager of Manufacturing Services 

Who or what inspires you? Many people throughout my life and career have inspired me to be the best version of myself, so I am unable to give a full list. The thing that inspires me the most is helping others reach their potential and being a part of their journey. This would include people either on my team at work, or my family at home. Knowing I am responsible for these individuals, and my desire to help others reach their potential, that combination inspires me to be the best leader, mentor, husband, father, etc. I can be. Without having those I can lead, I would not be able to reach what inspires me. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? From a career perspective, this came from Jeff Patterson (one of my early career mentors) when it came to the decision on what department to move into. At the time, MTI was reorganizing and I had the potential of joining four different departments. Jeff posed a question I needed to answer in order to help make the decision. He stated, “There are two avenues you can go down. You can join a group that is already established or you can join a group that needs the most help so in the future you can look back and say you were a part of the team that took the group from where it was to where it is today.” That decision I made over nine years ago has allowed me to be promoted several times and structure a team that is built for growth and success. I, along with other members of the team, had to work extremely hard to help mold the department, but I can look back over the last nine years and say, look where we have come! 

What is something people don’t know about you? I received my eagle scout at the age of 13. 

How do you like to start your day? Rolling over to give my wife a kiss and tell her to have a good day! That is typically followed up with a cup of coffee. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Time management in this thing called life. Having a wife and 4 kids as well as an entire building to manage, there is a lot of schedule changes and sorting out how to be the best version of myself for all and not allowing one area of my life to suffer because of another. It is all about finding the right balance, and that will probably be a problem I will be trying to solve for the entirety of my life. 

Steve Smith

Steve Smith 

Age: 39 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: South Bend 

Education: B.S., Valparaiso University 

Employer: Irish Realty 

Title: Owner, Managing Broker 

Who or what inspires you? People who live their lives passionately for what they believe in and give their all to love and support those closest to them. There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for your friends (John 15:13). 

Best advice you’ve ever received? “If you want more, take care of what you’ve got.” — Pastor Mark Beeson.  

This advice applies to your family, relationships, career, literally anything. If you want a better marriage, take care of the one you’ve got. If you want a better job, take care of (or do your best at) the one you’ve got. If you want your kids to do better, take care of your kids where they are at. It is universally applicable, great advice! 

What is something people don’t know about you? I have a mischievous sense of humor. I love a great meme or prank! 

How do you like to start your day? I try to start my day reading “Jesus Calling” and an appointm with God. Followed by a workout and hot shower! 

What problem are you trying to solve? I am working on addressing the affordable/attainable housing crisis in our community and its central impact on the lives of our citizens. With enormous increases in construction material and labor costs, inflation, labor shortages and a shortage in housing supply caused by reduced building during the great recession, we don’t have enough housing of all types and the cost to build new is not affordable for South Benders. This requires innovation, teamwork and vision to find creative solutions to meet housing needs in a cost-effective way. It is a challenge and a joy, and there are great collaborators bringing awesome ideas forward that will shape housing in our community for a hundred years or more!           

Sarah Melinda Taylor

Sarah Melinda Taylor  

Age: 35 

Birthplace: Elkhart  

Residence: Elkhart/South Bend 

Education: M.S.L., Trine University; B.A., Indiana University Bloomington 

Employer: Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce 

Title: Executive Director of Startup Moxie Elkhart County 

Who or what inspires you? My parents, Vera Ruth and the late David Isaac Taylor, and my big bro John David! My family, Earth Angels, my “kids” (the youth I’ve been blessed to work with at Church, SBCSC, WHS Cheer, RHS JAG, and Moxie); they will change this world for the better. Knowing my nieces and God babies are watching. The arts — they transcend barriers. I aim to find inspiration in everything and everyone who God has placed and will place along my journey! 

Best advice you’ve ever received? As you grow, not everyone can go! Be yourself, know your worth, do what is right, love hard, travel, be a lifelong learner, remain humble, prayerful, and open-minded. Some of life’s greatest lessons come from unexpected teachers and experiences. Do it scared, God has you! 

What is something people don’t know about you? I won Juneteenth Queen of Bloomington in undergrad! 

How do you like to start your day? Enjoying a few moments of peace and quiet (with hot tea sometimes) followed by an online meditation and music with a hot shower! 

What problem are you trying to solve? Figuring out how to contribute to our community and grow our ecosystem in such a way that it makes other millennials want to stay local or at least return to pour their experiences back into others while breaking barriers, creating quality networks and safe spaces for brainstorming, team building, and bringing amazing ideas to life consistently!  

Ryan Towner

Ryan Towner  

Age: 36 

Birthplace: South Bend

Residence: Edwardsburg 

Education: M.ED.L., Indiana University South Bend; Bachelor’s degree, Indiana University South Bend 

Employer: Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation 

Title: Principal, Walt Disney Elementary School 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired daily by our students, staff, and faculty. Within our school exists a great desire to meet students as individuals in addressing their learning needs, and it is a great joy to work with our students and educators each day. Our students inspire me with their creativity, curiosity, and resilience. Our teachers are simply incredible. They have proven time and again that no challenge exists that cannot be overcome, and they do this work each day with great consistency and enthusiasm. Incredible learning is occurring daily in our classrooms, and it’s a great source of inspiration as we continue this important work. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Approach the job with the heart of a servant. In every circumstance throughout the day, have your mind to who you can help and serve. This advice has consistently helped to bring clarity in prioritizing the needs that arise on any given day. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I greatly enjoy construction projects. This has ranged from building three chicken coops, to remodeling bathrooms and our kitchen. I have always enjoyed building, and continue to find it as a source of relaxation and enjoyment. 

How do you like to start your day? I am an early riser, and typically am awake before my alarm goes off. I start my day with reading current events, but also will read other books I find interesting during that time. By 6 a.m., I am usually on the couch with my sons. While they watch cartoons, I am preparing for the school day and evaluating staff coverage assignments. I love chai latte mix from Costco, and sometimes take a cup of coffee for the morning commute. While driving to school, I listen to podcasts. Two podcasts I am enjoying right now are the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast and the Science of Reading Podcast. 

What problem are you trying to solve? I believe that our first academic commitment as elementary educators is to ensure that all students meet early benchmarks for literacy. I am fortunate to work with several teachers and school psychologists who have incredible knowledge of early literacy instructional practices and programming. We collectively work daily toward the goal of literacy for all. This includes planning and implementing professional development with staff, communicating with parents, and the review and implementation of programming with our students. The impacts of the pandemic on primary students has been drastic, and P-H-M has invested in a carefully crafted vision to create success for all students. 

Sean Towner

Sean Towner 

Age: 38 

Birthplace: South Bend 

Residence: Granger 

Education: J.D., University of Tulsa; B.S., Ball State University  

Employer: May Oberfell Lorber 

Title: Partner  

Who or what inspires you? My wife and our two amazing kids.   

Best advice you’ve ever received? Some of the best advice I have received has focused on the themes of working hard and diligently. I try to implement these characteristics in all that I do.  

What is something people don’t know about you? Probably a few things: (1) I had heart surgery when I was 2 years old; (2) I love to read books; and (3) My favorite band is Metallica. 

How do you like to start your day? By dropping my daughter off at pre-school.  

What problem are you trying to solve? I am constantly striving to achieve a proper work/life balance. Spending time with my family is very important to me. I have never met someone who wished they had spent more time at work and less time with family. 

Colleen Wilcox

Colleen Wilcox 

Age: 38 

Birthplace: West Lafayette, Ind. 

Residence: Granger

Education: M.A., Ball State University; B.A., Ball State University 

Employer: University of Notre Dame 

Title: Content Strategist 

Who or what inspires you? I am inspired by everyday people doing extraordinary things. I believe that everyone has a story to share and a perspective to add. This inspires me to continue telling rich and diverse stories that leave people inspired and spark conversations. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Always “show up,” whether that means showing up for colleagues, showing up for your family, showing up for yourself, or showing up for those in the community who need you the most. By always being present, you’re able to lift up those around you. It may feel like a small gesture, but showing up can be an incredibly powerful action. 

What is something people don’t know about you? I love Mondays. I understand that sounds strange, but it’s my favorite day of the week and always has been. I love hitting the refresh button and working toward a purpose. It’s a chance to accomplish new things, set new goals, or simply reset my attitude. It helps that I love my job and work in a creative space. Plus, coffee always tastes better on a Monday! 

How do you like to start your day? As a working mom, it’s important to get ahead of the day. I like to get up early, grab a coffee, check email, browse local headlines, and come up with a plan for the day. I like to anticipate challenges and opportunities each day, both professionally and personally, to ensure that I’m ahead of the game. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Right now, there are nearly 13,000 children in Indiana in the foster care system, and social workers across the state are having trouble finding suitable homes for them. I am trying to raise awareness for the need of local foster families. I serve on the board of KidsPeace in South Bend, and we’re trying to get more families interested in serving as foster parents. Our role is also to support and recognize the work of our current foster families. My daughter was in foster care for three years before joining our family and we feel so incredibly thankful that she received so much love and support during those critical years. I want to do something to raise awareness about the important role that foster families provide to this community. 

Jon Yoder

Jon Yoder  

Age: 37 

Birthplace: Elkhart (grew up in Nappanee) 

Residence: Wakarusa 

Education: M.B.A., University of Phoenix; A.S. and B.S., Purdue

Employer: Goshen Health 

Title: Vice President | Goshen Physicians 

Who or what inspires you? I find inspiration comes from so many areas of my life. A few include: 

• My wife, who just selflessly gives of herself over and over for our family and friends. 

• My parents, who have instilled in me the value of hard work and perseverance as they continue to run the family dairy farm. 

• My kids, who extend grace and love unconditionally when I’m not my best. 

• My mentor, who always knows how to put wind in my sail. 

• The redemptive work of Christ in my own life, which leaves me grateful for each new day. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? Pray constantly for wisdom (to know the right thing) and courage (to do it). Be prone to action. 

What is something people don’t know about you? In the summer, I tend to stop by The Chief for ice cream way more than any one person should be allowed. 

How do you like to start your day? Waking my kids up and making breakfast for them is sort of my thing. I make some mean (ok, mediocre) over-easy eggs and toast. It’s a great way to connect with each of them before the day starts and everyone goes their own way. And coffee … way too much coffee! 

What problem are you trying to solve? With twins who are 9, another that is 10, and one that is 11, this thing called middle school will soon define our world. I’m pretty sure there is no solution. I’m also very passionate about the work of CAPS in Elkhart. With a mission of supporting families so every child can live a life free of abuse and neglect, it’s easy to jump on board and do my part. 

Keya Young

Keya Young 

Age: 39 

Birthplace: Chicago, Ill. 

 Residence: South Bend  

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Bethel University  

Employer: PNC Bank  

Title: Branch Manager Sr., Assistant Vice President  

Who or what inspires you? The women of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated. They embody all that it means to be a servant leader and inspire me each and every day to be “Greater.” It is such an honor to serve alongside with other like-minded women that I now call my sisters.     

Best advice you’ve ever received? “When you have an opportunity to be part of something different, it will be uncomfortable, but bloom where you’re planted. Learn everything you can.” — Christine Cottle, Sales and Client Experience Leader at PNC Bank.

 What is something people don’t know about you? I love to watch ‘Friends,’ I own every single season! 

How do you like to start your day? I start my day with a wakeup call from my husband. Who needs an alarm clock, when you have him around? In all seriousness, this is time that is set aside for just us two. Both of us live pretty busy lives and this time is just ours. 

What problem are you trying to solve? Helping the underserved gain access to the support and resources to gain financial freedom and create generational wealth.

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