40 reasons for optimism
If our 2017 class of 40 Under 40 selections is any indication, Madison’s business future is in very good hands.
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Senior Account Executive
Kennedy Communications LTD
In her eighth grade yearbook Kristin Kupres stated that she wanted to be an advertising executive when she grew up. Now she says she’s living the dream at Kennedy Communications where over the past five years she has worked her way up from project coordinator to senior account executive. Kupres also serves as president of the American Advertising Federation in Madison and is a United Way Rosenberry Society member. She admires Leslie Ann Howard, former president and CEO of United Way of Dane County, and Greg Dombrowski, president of Johnson Bank-Madison, for his involvement with United Way.
Kupres is especially proud to have purchased a home at the young age of 23, which she now shares with her husband and two dogs. Among her guilty pleasures: binge-watching crime shows as well as HGTV and DIY channels, but in her quieter moments you’ll likely find her reading “anything by Malcolm Gladwell.”
Vice President of Investor Relations
SARA Investment Real Estate
Christina Podoll took the long and winding road to her current position at SARA. After studying music education, theory, and performance at UW–Stevens Point, she became a door-to-door insurance salesperson. Then she sold pianos and launched a classroom piano program that grew to several hundred students, much to the delight of her employer. She funded a return to college with a career in cosmetology, which led to an opportunity in wealth management. Long story short, by the time Podoll joined SARA as a commercial broker, her varied experience helped her quickly move up the ladder.
“When I’m doing my job well, they don’t even know I’m around,” she states. Podoll prides herself on making time to enjoy things like pheasant hunting and traveling. She is active with the Madison South Rotary Club and still a mentor to her Little Sister, whom she met in 2008 through Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dane County.
Courtney Lynn Searles
Vice President, Private Banking; Regional Manager
Johnson Financial Group (Johnson Bank)
What can you say about a woman who returned to school years after beginning her career in the finance industry and as a single mother? If she graduated from UW–Whitewater earning Summa Cum Laude honors and a bachelor’s degree in finance, you’d say it must have been well worth the wait. Courtney Lynn Searles certainly thinks so, especially since this achievement led to a career in financial services and the determination to give back through organizations like the Downtown Rotary, where she has become a scholar mentor to a UW–Stevens Point student.
She’ll be providing the young student with guidance throughout her college years, just as she offers guidance to local Make-A-Wish children and their families to help plan and coordinate their special wish. After seeing her own dreams come true, the MAW advisory board member has helped make five wishes come true for others.
Husch Blackwell LLP
With any luck, Jordan Corning has already overcome his greatest challenge. A dozen years ago, when Corning was just 19 and working a summer construction job, he was a passenger in a single-car, work-related crash. He broke or fractured nine vertebrae, suffered serious burns to his back, and was close to dying. He endured hours of spinal reconstruction surgery and spent two weeks in a level-one trauma center, with months of recovery ahead.
Corning was told that most people who suffered such injuries have a 2% to 5% chance to walk again, but not only did he walk again, he’s still walking the walk. The UW Law School grad is currently president of the Dane County Bar Association, he aspires to be a partner at Husch Blackwell, and he’s a four-time recipient of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Star” designation. Not bad for a young man who wasn’t supposed to rise out of a wheelchair.