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.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Commitment to both company and community is a common thread among our 2017 40 Under 40 selections, and this year’s class of rising young business stars has demonstrated commitment to Greater Madison through their professional pursuits, board involvement, and volunteerism.
From Christian Albouras to Heather Wentler, you will find brief vignettes about each of our 40 honorees over the next several pages. Their interests range from cooking to furniture restoration to simply bargain hunting around local Target stores, but their career arrows are pointing up and they devote much of their spare time to making Madison a better place to live.
And “live” they do. In a nod to the richness of life in Greater Madison, we also asked about their favorite “Madison must-dos” — local activities and places and events they consider a “must-do” part of their lives. It’s no surprise that some of their favorites include the local supper club and restaurant scene, Badger football Saturdays and the tailgating fun that goes with it, and local bike trails, but they cite so much more, including some under-the-radar fun that we invite you to check out here.
One forthcoming must-do for all of them is the 40 Under 40 Intros event. They will be the guests of honor for an evening of networking on Wednesday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Madison Club, 5 E. Wilson St.
Please join us as we recognize this promising group of 40 Under 40 selections and see why the future of Madison business is very bright indeed.
Dr. Jesse Sondel
Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic
In much the same way pet owners come to regard their animals as family members, Jesse Sondel enjoys the personal bonds and relationships he forms with patients and clients. His extended “family” is a big one. Since he founded Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic in February 2013, Sondel’s client base has climbed to more than 5,000 and his patient count stands at 11,000 as of the end of 2016.
That’s a lot of furry and scaled nieces and nephews. “As my business grows, my true aspirations are to continue to be true to myself and my goals of being the best husband, father, and veterinarian I can be,” Sondel states.
That means growing, but not too much that he loses touch with his business family. “Like the Lorax reminds us, there is a fault in always ‘biggering,’” he notes. “I plan to keep my business at a size where I can always have my finger on its pulse.”
Elyse L. Smithback
Vice President, Treasury Management and Private Banking
Oregon Community Bank
Elyse Smithback is constantly on the run, whether she’s training six days a week in preparation for the 2017 Ironman, developing client relationships, or holding fort at an admittedly rockin’ household with a spunky, fun-loving, seven-year-old daughter and energetic five-year-old identical twin boys. Smithback completed her first half-Ironman distance race last summer in Door County, and she can train with husband Eric, also an avid runner.
The person she’d most like to emulate is Miranda Bush, her personal coach and previous owner of The Zone Fitness and Training in Oregon. Not a bad person to pattern her life after, considering Bush is a mother and successful business owner, a personal trainer, and has competed in marathons.
Smithback aspires to become the bank’s market president, and when she finally stops running, you can find her watching old episodes of Friends.
Cofounder, Atlas Providers LLC
Business Development Manager,
Farwell Project Advisors LLC
Since receiving his undergraduate degree in business from Edgewood College in 2010, Nick Lombardino hasn’t taken his foot off the gas. While completing his MBA at Edgewood in 2012 and working on his doctorate in education, Lombardino found time to cofound Atlas Providers in 2016, a website that helps connect entrepreneurs with specialized startup service providers. He was also the second employee of Farwell Project Advisors, which provides organizations with flexible project management and technology services, and has grown into a multimillion-dollar organization with over 25 employees.
Since its launch, Atlas has on-boarded over 20 service providers and established strategic partnerships with Madison’s most influential organizations. Having worked for startups most of his career, Lombardino was excited to build a platform with design concepts and applications he created.
Murphy Desmond S.C.
Having once been a fish out of water herself, Alison Helland knows just how much of an upstream battle it can be for non-native English speakers trying to run a business in this country. Helland traveled to the Czech Republic for an internship when she was in college. “The first couple of weeks in Ostrava were overwhelming, since I had a minimal knowledge of Czech and had to figure out how to navigate daily life in a country about which I knew very little.
Upon her return to the States, Helland became a conversational English tutor and worked as a translator in the University of Iowa College of Law Legal Clinic, assisting Spanish-speaking clients with legal matters. Since graduating law school, she’s remained committed to providing assistance to them, most recently by developing legal and business coursework in Spanish to help Spanish-speaking business owners navigate the various legal and tax requirements necessary to operate their ventures.
Ashley Quinto Powell
Business Development Manager
Perhaps the most impactful thing we can do to close the pay gap between men and women is diversify the male-dominated STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — that include some of the highest-paying occupations in the economy. Ashley Quinto Powell, co-organizer of Madison Women in Tech, is taking on that challenge with her passion for bringing under-represented groups into the technology realm.
Fortunately, she has plenty of help. With an impressive 700 members, Madison Women in Tech is no small group and is focused on professional development, networking, and anything else that advances the cause of women in the STEM fields. Not only is Quinto Powell serving as an example by developing business for the custom software company Bendyworks — she has more than $13 million in career sales — she’s also a frequent conference speaker on topics such as salary negotiation for women in technology and diversity in the tech industry.
Sales & Marketing
Thysse Printing Service
JJ Giese was enjoying a successful career in business development with a local firm when he decided to enhance his personal stock by enrolling in night school at Madison College to pursue marketing. Working and attending school posed its challenges, but he’s never regretted that decision. Now firmly entrenched at Thysse in a dual role of marketing and sales, he hopes to one day become vice president of sales and marketing.
Giese is also sharing his marketing expertise in the local community, serving as vice president of membership for the American Marketing Association Madison and before that, on the marketing committee for Dane Buy Local. But a recent election to president of the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce is among his greatest professional accomplishments. “Growing up in town of 216 people [Union Center, Wis.], I never dreamed of leading a chamber of commerce for a community with nearly 50 times the population!”
Vice President of Commercial Lending
They say one measure of personal character is how easily someone gives up. Based on Justin Hart’s determination to climb Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, few can question his character. Being deployed to the Middle East galvanized Hart’s desire to live with no regrets, so he set a goal of climbing all 20,310 feet of Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley). It takes between 14 and 21 days to reach the summit during ideal conditions; in unfavorable conditions, climbers simply do their best to endure and retreat. Hart’s journey to the top took three attempts, but he was finally able to “summit” under beautiful conditions.
Hart has climbed professional mountains, too, and some with pretty tall peaks. In less than 10 years after starting as a credit analyst at Capitol Bank, he has built and managed the bank’s largest portfolio of commercial loans, including the origination of the two largest credits in the bank’s history.
Marketing Campaign Manager
Healthgrades Operating Co. Inc.
Entrepreneur Sarah Weber-Hurley is fairly new to Healthgrades, a company that connects consumers with the right hospitals and doctors for their health needs. The reason? She and her husband Jesse have been busy developing and running five companies from home. Weber-Hurley handles the marketing and office support for each venture, and together they’ve developed Stic-N-Pic, a trail camera mount system popular on Amazon that allows hunters and outdoors people to mount a camera anywhere in the woods to monitor wildlife. Weber-Hurley developed the logo, product catalog, package design, and website. She also owns a direct sales business named peach, which helps women find the perfect fit for their basic wear.
The ability to work on all of these companies as a married couple has its challenges, Weber-Hurley admits. “Cash flow is a daily conversation even on date nights. It pushes your relationship in ways never discussed in any marriage prep class!”
Director of Freshman Admissions
Derek Johnson is committed to enriching the educational opportunities for students from historically underrepresented communities. Prior to becoming director of freshman admissions for Edgewood College, Johnson served for two years as the interim co-director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Edgewood while maintaining his position as assistant director of undergraduate admissions. In these roles, he’s helped recruit record numbers of freshman students of color.
Johnson also founded and directs Growth Mindset Mentoring, a mentoring agency for at-risk youth in Dane County. To top off his dedication, Johnson recently cofounded the Coalition for Transformative Learning, a group of educators and social justice advocates that promote and encourage transformative learning. CTL recently launched a project called the “College Station” to expand college awareness and promote postsecondary education opportunities in underrepresented communities.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources
Exact Sciences Corp.
Sarah Condella believes people must love what they do; in order to love it, they must have a job they want to show up for every day. Not only does Condella have such a job, she wants to create that environment for other employees of Exact Sciences Corp., a Madison-based medical diagnostics company. While that mission has been accomplished based on the company’s high scores in a Gallup engagement survey, it’s always a work in progress for Condella, whose favorite workplace perk is volunteer time off.
As Condella continues to figure out the recipe for balance in home and work life, she would also like to make a bigger impact in the community by applying organizational engagement principles in a nonprofit setting. Given her love of cooking, Condella has mastered other recipes, too. Her favorite childhood memories include helping her mother and grandmother prepare meals, a tradition she now shares with her own daughter.
Organic Beauty LLC
Coming of age is rarely an easy process for youths. That’s largely why Angela Kowieski helped start the Miss Quince Madison Pageant and Madison’s first Quinceañera expo dedicated to services that are provided by local vendors to the Latino community. The Miss Quince Madison organization gives young Latinas the opportunity to showcase their talents and achievements for a chance to win services and other items needed for them to celebrate their Quinceañera at an affordable price.
As the owner of an organic concepts salon and spa, Kowieski also embraces the opportunity to “pay forward” her experiences to students from her former high school. She provides current students with job training and mentors them in the cosmetology trade and business. When they complete their high school work hours, Kowieski is able to offer these students cosmetology apprenticeship positions at her salon, providing them with quality employment and a career.
Senior Strategy Analyst
Exact Sciences Corp.
As a young man and the son of a single mother, Kamal Calloway was always taught that educational achievement afforded a person the chance to make a significant difference in the world. He credits the sacrifices of his mother and grandparents for his confidence to face challenges headlong. One such challenge occurred in February 2011, when his mother suffered a debilitating stroke, which required round-the-clock, in-home health care.
At the age of 31 he found himself coordinating her care while pursuing his MBA and working full time. He went on to implement sourcing strategies as part of a team for a $500 million health care system in the Chicago area before coming to Madison and Exact Sciences. “I aspire to make a positive change in the world in whatever role I ascend to,” he says. “The job title is far less important; rather the impact I bring to my job is what offers me solace.”
Former Branch Manager
Adecco Group North America
Formerly the branch manager for Adecco General Staffing, Ben Halfen actually earned his chops at Weed Man Lawn Care, where he was responsible for growing the company by nearly $4 million in revenue and earned the “Weed Man of the Year” award in 2012. He never graduated from college, and suggests that his lack of a degree forced him to work harder, longer, and with more determination than his peers. He cites British historian Edward Gibbon, who once said: “Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others, and one, more important, which he receives from himself.”
By that definition, Halfen has been well educated, from overseeing an office that employed about 200 individuals each week to serving as an ambassador with the Middleton Chamber of Commerce. But his involvement with Gilda’s Club, where he’s also the chairman of the associate board of directors, is his primary focus.
Foley & Lardner LLP
Given some of her professional associations, Maureen Easton would be at home in the Brew City. Yet Madison is rivaling Milwaukee in the craft beer category, and Easton, a member of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, is one reason for that. She spearheaded Foley & Lardner’s Craft Beer Initiative to provide industry-focused legal services to craft brewers. As head of the firm’s craft beer team, which is part of the initiative, she assists clients with startup tasks such as company formation, accessing capital, and negotiating distribution agreements.
Easton is also practicing what she preaches, helping to launch a local craft brewery, ALT Brew, with husband Trevor. This brewery is served with a twist because it produces gluten-free beer, the result of Easton being diagnosed with celiac disease and having to give up Wisconsin craft beer for a while. You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. Cheers!
Prior to bringing Cresa, a company specializing in commercial real estate tenant advising, to Greater Madison, the buyer/tenant-only commercial real estate brokerage model wasn’t well established in Wisconsin, notes Matt Apter. He acknowledges there was some trepidation about not knowing how the model would be received in a new market, but he need not have worried. Cresa Madison has since grown to handle more volume in the Madison market than any other firm.
Since returning to Madison in 2005 to establish Cresa Madison, Apter has also jumped headlong into civic engagement as a founding sponsor of the Clean Lakes Alliance, and a as a member of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Board of Trustees, Wisconsin Innovation Network, 100State, and gener8tor, among other organizations. “I am very proud of the company we’ve built and to represent businesses of all sizes throughout Wisconsin.”
Don’t let QuHarrison Terry’s youth fool you. He’s already done more than many people twice his age. The serial entrepreneur and self-starter may have landed a day job as the marketing director at Redox, a Madison health care integration firm, but he’s also the cofounder and president of VNM USA, a full-service ad agency that’s he’s run since January 2013. That doesn’t even include his experience as cofounder and CEO of 23VIVI, a now-defunct online digital art marketplace, as well as work in marketing for EatStreet.
Terry has also made a name for himself as an influential — and frequent — writer on LinkedIn. He collaborates often with Ryan Cowdrey, another up-and-coming Madison area entrepreneur, and together the two are working on their fifth project together, quicktheories.com, a weekly newsletter where Terry offers his thoughts on modern technology and has already amassed about 6,000 subscribers.
Dr. Nestor Rodriguez
Carbon World Health
Life has already taken Dr. Nestor Rodriguez down an interesting path, and the length of that path extends from El Salvador to south central Los Angeles to Yale University to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Despite being raised in a single parent, Spanish-only home, Rodriguez became the first person in his family to obtain a high school diploma, and he was part of the inaugural class of the UW’s emergency medicine residency program.
But Rodriguez wasn’t content with his academic career, so he opened Carbon World Health, a medical and fitness spa, with the hope of revolutionizing the relationship between fitness, health, and beauty. His work with Carbon World Health takes him back to underprivileged areas, as he has established free fitness and weight-loss programs for single parent, low-income homes. Along with his business partners, he wants to use fitness as a way to rehabilitate formerly incarcerated youth.
Executive Director and Founder
Tri 4 Schools
Katie Hensel did not believe wellness programs were for adults only, so she conceived and implemented Tri 4 Schools, a nonprofit organization that encourages kids to be active and healthy through swimming, biking, running events, and other programs that support school wellness initiatives. In six years, Tri 4 has given more than $225,000 back to Dane County schools, benefitting over 10,000 children.
Tri 4’s budget has grown from a modest $13,000 to a robust $250,000, but Hensel won’t stop there. When your philanthropic role models are Diane Endres-Ballweg and Tim Metcalfe, you naturally try to top yourself, and she would like Tri 4 to become a nationwide force for kids’ health, inspiring children and adults to live active lifestyles and creating a healthier generation. While Tri 4 establishes a nationwide presence, Hensel will continue to enjoy contradictory pursuits — competing in running events and indulging her sweet tooth.
LBW Wealth Management
Dan Weiss’ negligent and mentally abusive father forced him to assume the patriarch’s role as a pre-teen, helping his mother raise his younger siblings. Now, as one-third of the managing team at Leach, Bickmore & Weiss Wealth Management (LBW), he’s channeled those difficult memories into positive actions, rescuing animals that need help, including four horses.
A desire to give back drives his involvement with Zor Shrine, Madison Masonic Lodge 5, the Middleton Kiwanis Club, the Young Jewish Professionals, and the Jewish Federation of Madison, where he was recently honored with the Miriam Singer Sulman Young Leadership Award for his involvement in the Jewish community. With role models like Warren Buffet and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, his star is rising, especially when it comes to LBW, where he and his partners are promising to transform the wealth management industry with their unique business model.
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.
Director of Business Development
Creative Business Interiors
Her guilty pleasure involves the occasional use of salty language, and her favorite beverage is Jack and Ginger. Those two personal characteristics help explain why Rebecca Brown was bold enough to convince the principals of Creative Business Interiors that she could help close a revolving staff door and instill in new hires and existing staff the core principles upon which the business had been built. Brown says it took two years of difficult conversations, creative positioning, persuasive thought, and “delicate finesse,” but the company’s identity had gone out the door along with the talent that had come and gone. It was time for a change.
“They had invested the time in me, and it was time to show that I could invest the time in their people,” she states. Brown’s successful staff development has been rewarded, as she is one year into the new role of director of business development for the Madison office.
Employee Benefits Account Executive
Marci Dubler admits she stepped out of her comfort zone when she first joined M3 Insurance, but any consternation paid off as she’s exceeded several sales goals and received recognition for her efforts. At M3, Dubler says she has the freedom and encouragement to be herself. “For the first time in my professional career I am proud of what I do, and I am grateful that I have an opportunity to make a positive difference for my clients and for my community through my work.”
Her community giveback includes serving as a board member for the Cremer Foundation and 100+ Women Who Care, volunteering for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and serving as a board member of Raise for DAIS. This year, she is also charged with raising $50,000 as the silent and live auction chair for the American Heart Association Heart Ball. On the home front, Dubler expresses herself through interior design, fashion design, and art.
Founder, Brand Strategist, Speaker
Strategic Partners Marketing
The phrase “chasing the dream” has almost reached hackneyed-cliché status, but it applies to Amber Swenor. Having the confidence and tenacity to start a business without investors or loans and become immediately profitable does not mean her chase is over. It actually has just begun with Strategic Partners Marketing, her marketing firm, Amberdella Consulting, a brand-development subsidiary she launched in November, and in her capacity as sales and marketing director for Kilter, a Madison-based startup. In 20 months with Strategic Partners Marketing she has transitioned from “me to we” by growing her staff to nine employees and contractors.
The personal brand of this classic-rock enthusiast includes hard-working values passed on by her parents but also a sense of community that comes with her work on the Madison Area Songwriter Conference & Festival, which makes its debut in June.
Director of Project Management
J.H. Findorff and Son Inc.
Schools around the Greater Madison area would look a lot different if not for Matt Breunig. He’s been instrumental in Findorff’s education group, helping spearhead various efforts such as referendum support and day-to-day oversight of construction management activities. In 2016 he was promoted to director of project management and one of his first major K-12 projects at Findorff was the Sun Prairie Upper Middle School. This was a $15 million renovation that required significant strategic planning to complete a tremendous amount of work over two separate summers.
Since that project, Breunig has worked with nearly a dozen other school districts on their referendum projects, as well as UW–Madison for its new School of Nursing. Today he’s involved with the Sun Prairie Area School District, where he had the chance to team with school representatives for the recent passing of a $90 million referendum.
Real Estate Owner/Broker
Spencer Real Estate Group
Spencer Schumacher did something a lot of other people in his field couldn’t — built a business in real estate during a recession. He adds that he did it without having to sacrifice his values of integrity, honesty, working for change, and giving back to his community. That’s not just a tagline for Schumacher, who donates 1% of his gross annual income to local environmental organizations to help fight climate change, an issue that has been important to him for many years.
He also wants to show the real estate world that a good business has a responsibility to the community, family, environment, and its employees. “Eighty-six percent of all real estate agents fail within the first five years they are in business. By paying a base salary plus a commission, and having a strong education component, I am creating a level of security for my employees that will help them build their business in a sustainable way.”
Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking
State Bank of Cross Plains
Not long after joining the State Bank of Cross Plains, Paul Manchester, a Mount Horeb resident, successfully lobbied bank management to create a small business banking division to better meet small business needs. Manchester, a resident of Mount Horeb, is involved with Downtown Madison Inc., the Mount Horeb Economic Development Committee, and the Public Works Commission, but his personal passion is in empowering the younger generation. For the past eight years, he’s been coaching youth athletics and he’s the junior varsity and varsity basketball coach at Mt. Horeb High School. Coaching isn’t about wins and losses, he notes, but about providing kids a chance to pursue goals and measure their own accomplishments.
He tunes into 1940s Big Band music, saying it reminds him of his selfless grandparents. “They worked so hard, served their countries, and sacrificed so much for me.”
Vice President of Operations
UW Health at The American Center
“I feel privileged to serve in a position that improves the health of others each and every day,” notes Wendy Horton, whose early beginnings were in stark contrast to a healthy environment. Horton broke free from an underserved
California community where poverty and gang activity were common to earn an MBA from UW–Madison and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Utah. Now part of a team responsible for hospital operations, she says redesigning workflows has been especially rewarding and inspiring.
Horton serves on boards for the Literacy Network, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, and Generations Fertility Care. She volunteers with YWCA Restorative Justice, is a member of the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Circle of Red, and sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Healthcare Management. Among her guilty pleasures: “Pretending that others aren’t watching and tap dancing in public places.”
Clinical Account Manager
National Cooperative Rx
While many people may only be familiar with their pharmacist from picking up prescriptions, Jocelyn Kerl took her practice a step further by completing a sought-after pharmacy practice residency that transformed her from a pharmacist into a clinician. The residency enabled Kerl to participate in an extensive pilot program with several interventional cardiologists that involved using blood-thinning medications during cardiac catheterization procedures in a patient centric, cost effective manner.
Now she’s seeking to further apply her training in a new position with National Cooperative Rx. “My career aspiration is to use my pharmacy degree in a non-traditional setting. Madison’s health care information technology scene is gaining momentum, and I would love to be a part of it. I envision myself as a clinical project manager, helping to ensure IT systems function seamlessly for end-users.”
Michael C. Morey
Vice President of Investments
Michael Morey admits to having an affinity for “anything associated with 1980s pop culture” including INXS albums, Brat Pack movies, and the game show Press Your Luck, but his role at Oakbrook has been more strategic than chance. With a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a master’s in real estate and urban land economics from UW–Madison, Morey has long focused on improving his urban surroundings.
He is particularly proud of taking the lead on an affordable housing project that Oakbrook will open this year. Its 80 apartments will include 68 targeted to families and individuals with moderate and low-incomes, and 20 designed for persons with disabilities or veterans in need of quality housing. “This one project does not solve the problem [of quality affordable housing],” he admits, “but to be able to play a role in creating housing that eliminates the cost burden for families is personally gratifying.”
Gayle Goers (formerly Gayle Viney)
Assistant Director of Development
Dane County Humane Society
Gayle Goers’ new married surname is pretty appropriate because she’s constantly on the go when it comes to animal welfare. Her employer is an adoption agency for animals, but it also provides life-saving programs to rehabilitate wildlife, keep pets in their homes, and assist the more than 9,000 animals that pass through its doors each year. When Goers was the humane society’s PR coordinator and local media sought her expertise, she was happy to oblige. She showed more than 1,000 animals, found homes for many, and became known as “that pet girl on TV.”
Her latest pet project is to lead the organization’s fundraising, and to reach this point she overcame a great deal of adversity thanks to a community of friends, co-workers, and family who rallied around her following a serious car accident. These days her biggest workplace stress reliever is an afternoon cuddle session with her favorite pet, a two-year-old puppy named Kina.
Director of Sales
Full Compass Systems
When WESCO Distribution, a Fortune 500 organization, acquired Madison-based Conney Safety in 2012, Ryan Mauer, a Conney employee, was charged with running point on the local company’s integration.
“That included running the strategic and tactical integration of sales, marketing, operations, and technical services across WESCO’s 400-plus branches and 15 business units,” he reports. It was a feather in his cap that likely led to his next role at Full Compass Systems.
At FCS, Mauer supervises over 50 employees in sales, customer service, retail, and the rentals department. It’s a perfect fit for the musician who plays guitar, sings, and feels lucky to be able to jam with some of the area’s most talented artists and bands. Despite that performance persona, Mauer insists he’s an introvert at heart.
“I enjoy spending time alone,” he says. “It recharges my battery.”
Business Development Specialist
Summit Credit Union
Christian Albouras is proud of making his mother proud through his own educational attainment. For this UW–Whitewater grad with a master’s degree in business administration (in management), working a full-time job while attending graduate school was quite a challenge. He admits to still getting “fuzzy” recalling the pride of his mother — a single mom — as he walked the commencement stage. Less than two percent of Latino males have a graduate degree, and “she was excited to celebrate the moment,” he says.
Albouras continues to make her proud. Professionally, he provides financial education and empowerment to local employers and their employees through Summit’s award-winning financial education program, CUatWork. Civically, he was tabbed by Mayor Paul Soglin to serve on the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee charged with improving police-community relations.
Red Card Media — Isthmus Publishing,
Red Card Meal Plan,
CAMP (College Athletics Meal Plan)
Being born and raised in Madison and owning a business that provides something for the city and UW–Madison feels pretty good to Craig Bartlett. “This city has been good to me and my family, so now being able actually contribute to the culture and it’s biggest institution makes me extremely proud.”
Bartlett’s company, Red Card Media, runs Isthmus, Madison’s alternative weekly newspaper. He also owns the Red Card off-campus meal plan for UW students, which serves more than 6,000 people and also works with the UW Athletic Department to feed student athletes.
Bartlett says he hopes in another 20 years he can still say he’s the proud owner of Red Card Media. “It will mean that we’ve been successful or have been able to shift into other things and keep growing,” he notes.
Founder, Madison SOUP;
Executive Director & Cofounder, Doyenne Group
Some people have a hard enough time liking the one job they have. Heather Wentler is lucky enough to love all three of hers. “All three of the organizations I have founded or cofounded are passion projects that I am able to reap the rewards of being part of while supporting the Madison community,” she says.
In particular, Doyenne Group was founded because, as a female entrepreneur, Wentler was tired of going to events and feeling like one of 10 women in the room and not being able to find mentors who could relate to the challenges she encountered running a business.
Doyenne Group now has over 150 members within the organization, and raised more than $800,000 in 2016 to fund its Doyenne Evergreen Fund, which provides grants, loans, and equity investments to women-led businesses.
Vice President of Finance & Operations
Nobody can accuse Leah Roe of not doing enough. She was recently elected to the board of the YMCA of Dane County, which she considers a huge personal achievement. She’s a member of the Doyenne Group and a founding member of its membership committee. She is one of the first members of the Next Series Club for financial and operational professionals leading the way in fast-growth, venture capital-backed startups; secretary and board member of the Nakoma Women’s Organization; and recently founded Culture Community, a nonprofit focused on helping companies design a corporate culture.
As a “culture catalyst” at healthfinch, Roe has facilitated a corporate culture to attract and retain top talent. “I am most proud of the fact that I have not played by the rules,” she reports. “I don’t accept the status quo, and I default to innovation.”
Her guilty pleasure? Eating whipped cream straight out of the can.
National Sales Trainer
TASC (Total Administrative Services Corp.)
During a previous career stint at a bank, Bjorn Berg’s leadership helped turn a historically underperforming branch into an award-winner. That ability to lead led him to TASC, where he aspires to become chief training officer one day, a position that currently does not exist. In the community, Berg directs a student leadership camp each summer for middle-school children through the Wisconsin Association of School Councils, serves as assistant program director with Leadership Greater Madison, and is on the boards of Operation Fresh Start and Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin.
On a personal level, completing his first full Ironman triathlon in 2016 was a life-changing moment. “When I signed up less than 12 months before the race, I did not own a bike, did not know how to swim, and could not even run a 5k without walking,” he reports. “The limit of what I think is possible in my life no longer exists.”
Six short years ago, things looked bleak for Nonn’s. The kitchen, bath, and flooring company was losing money, its bank was unwilling to extend any more money on a line of credit, and it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Shutting down a family business that had been open since 1985 was not an option, at least not without a fight, so Adam Nonn put together a plan to buy majority ownership of the company, found a new bank (and a larger line of credit), and turned the company back to profitability in his first year at the helm.
Good thing Nonn, an Iowa State University grad, was armed with a bachelor’s degree in business management. The plan not only saved 75 jobs, the company today has more than 170 employees, it has entered the appliance business, and paid off the line of credit to the bank that believed in its reclamation.
Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.