You probably have noticed we don’t start soliciting nominations for our annual 20 Under 40 awards until summer, but that doesn’t mean good candidates don’t come to our attention on a regular basis throughout the year. What is surprising is the super-achievers who maintain a low profile: People like Dyer Chief of Police David Hein, just proud to serve in his hometown; Brandon Kroft, a lawyer who works on educational and government boards; Ryan Richardson, who has made his job at Luke Oil a vocation by educating others on locally-sourced food, are just a few of the quiet ones. Then there are the dreamers like Bill Welter, who started a distillery business from an idea he had as a kid. Brian Jackson also has an amazing story about surviving a terrible plane crash when he was 5-years-old. Now he helps others who have been injured. Daniel Timm worked his way from the private sector to public service.
We also have a group of 20 under 40s who have turned the model of giving back to giving forward. People like Manoj Bahl who has been providing dental care to underprivileged children since before he left school. As young as Bill Hanna is, he can look back from his post as CEO of the Regional Development Authority on his accomplishments, as director and city manager in Valparaiso. Mitch Gaffigan, the chief technology officer at InTouch Pharmaceuticals, has devoted himself to developing a workflow management system for those in long-term care with their special needs. Tara and Jared Tauber are a sister-and-brother legal team who devote hours each week to pro bono work for victims of domestic abuse and helping with adoptions for Catholic Charities. Matt Valuckis, who created the famous Pierogi man, also works for the Better Boys Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Jon Schmaltz is another attorney who dedicates his time to public service and community causes.
Bethel Church’s Brad Lagos work includes The Barnabas Project, to instill young men with the value of leadership. Alfred Martin, of Urban Suns, helps young men become stronger physically and mentally. Bishop Noll Institute Principal Colleen McCoy-Cejka and volleyball champion Julie Wiejak have chosen paths that help teenagers become the best they can be. In 2009, Tiffany Simpson started her interventions and counseling company. Kasandra Tenbarge was propelled further into community involvement when her former Munster home and neighborhood was hit by the 2008 floods and Andrea Proulx Buinicki built upon a 16-year career in fundraising by starting her own philanthropy consulting firm, Giving Focus.
That reminds me of something else these young people have in common: they help others because there is somebody who helped them along the way.
Congratulations to our winners and keep up the good work.
Until next time,
Bill Masterson Jr.