Two women with region roots were honored as bright stars in their respective fields in the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists published in the magazine’s January issue.
Each year, Forbes honors 30 young innovators and entrepreneurs in 15 categories, ranging from energy to sports.
Both Erica Anderson, 28, honored for her work in media, and Allison Hannon, 29, recognized in the energy field, said growing up in Northwest Indiana greatly influenced their lives and career choices.
Anderson, who now lives in San Francisco, heads up news partnerships for Twitter. She has also worked for NBC, MTV and CBS, where she helped Katie Couric with her digital strategy.
“I oversee the health of Twitter’s relationships with news organizations in a variety of ways,” Anderson said. “We are working on innovative ways to bring the news and Twitter closer. People across the county and around the world are turning to Twitter when news is happening. It is so important that journalists are using Twitter and aware of how it can be used to improve their jobs.”
It was at Valparaiso’s Thomas Jefferson Middle School that Anderson began dabbling in journalism as editor of the school newspaper.
There, teacher Denise Koebcke was her first mentor, encouraging Anderson’s passion for journalism.
At Valparaiso High School, Gordana Sornaz, head of the newspaper and yearbook, “was just great in facilitating that environment to learn to write and create content,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she was lucky to grow up in Northwest Indiana.
“I have a work ethic and I grew up with people and surrounded myself with people who are really good-hearted, good-natured and have a lot of integrity,” Anderson said. “Now as I travel the country and around the world I take that with me.”
Another mentor, Helen Thomas, who turned 96 last year, was the first female White House correspondent.
“She is just a living legend,” Anderson said. “She has given me a lot of encouragement and inspiration to follow my heart and to pursue journalism no matter what.”
Hannon co-founded Root3 Technologies, where she develops software that taps data to help municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals ratchet up the energy efficiency of their onsite power plants. Her first big customer was her alma mater, the University of Chicago.
“The whole idea is to focus on on-site energy plants, anywhere you have a multi-building facility,” Hannon, who lives in Chicago, said. “The idea behind Root3 is to focus on that specific niche. They use our services to help run their central plant resulting in reduced energy consumption.”
Hannon, from Ogden Dunes, graduated from Andean High School. Her interest in energy and climate solutions was formed by growing up in Northwest Indiana’s unique ecological system with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, she said.
“You can’t find anywhere else in the world where you can watch ecological succession by the beach and look left and right and be surrounded by our steel mills and oil refineries,” Hannon said. “I wrote my senior thesis on the intersection between the economy and the environment and how those two things are entirely intertwined.”
Hannon’s mentors include Ted Steck, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Biological Science Division, who allowed her to have the job of running the department.
“He has always been advising me and very encouraging,” Hannon said.
Mentors at her former employer, Tony Blair’s Climate Group, were Chris Walker and Amy Davidson.
“He (Walker) put a lot of faith in me, letting me open an office in the Midwest at age 26,” Hannon said. “He taught me that you can try anything you want. Even if it doesn’t go well the first time, you will learn from it and you will be able to go on from there.”
Davidson allowed her to go to China knowing it was a great opportunity to learn Chinese policy, she said.