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Red Carpet Affair: The 2015 40 Under 40 Class

(page 4 of 8)

Adam Jacobson

Sunseed Research LLC
Age: 34

When his former employer, Chamberlain Research Group, became a casualty of the Great Recession, Adam Jacobson and several coworkers immediately committed to starting a new market research firm. A week after co-founding Sunseed Research LLC, Jacobson presented a business plan, decided on the company name, designed the logo and website, and created business cards and promo materials.

Two years hence, Sunseed is a multimillion-dollar firm with a clientele that includes local, national, and Fortune 500 companies. His hands-on role includes using data visualization to help deliver data-driven recommendations to clients.

Jacobson looks up to Edward Tufte, a statistician, artist, and author whom he describes as “one of the most influential data-visualization experts in the world,” and Jonathon Ives, lead industrial designer at Apple.

But as an amateur astronomer, he looks up even further. “The moment I saw the clouds of Jupiter with my own eyes, I was hooked,” he said.

Movie: The Secret of My Success
TV show: Through the Wormhole
Music: Electronic dance music

Mike Johnson

Account Executive
Cottingham & Butler
Age: 31

Mike Johnson has always excelled in sports. A natural athlete, he was a two-year starter at linebacker for Southwest Minnesota State University’s football team. He was good enough, in fact, to pique the interest of a couple of NFL teams, but the injuries he sustained in college ultimately kept him off the gridiron.
But that didn’t mean he was ready to throw in the towel.

As an account executive with Cottingham & Butler, Johnson is hoping to build a Hall of Fame career.

In 2014, his first year in the insurance brokerage industry, he received the company’s 100% Club award — a distinction that puts him in the top 17% of all benefits brokers in the country.

But while he may have left football behind, he still has a keen interest in sports. One of the business moguls he admires is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “Love him or hate him, you have to admire his discipline and intensity,” said Johnson.

Movie: A River Runs Through It
TV show: The Wire
Music: Country, rock

Alyssa Kenney

Executive Director
Age: 37

Alyssa Kenney is an advocate for nonprofits and, in particular, families in poverty. She aspires to one day be known as a “nonprofit advocate” or “special agent of social change” who brings more power and credibility to the nonprofit community.

Kenney started with DANE­net on Feb. 1. Before then, she’d spent nine years working at the Kennedy Heights Community Center, most recently as its executive director.

“For the past 15 years, I have led community development work in two of Madison’s most economically distressed neighborhoods,” she said. Under her leadership, the community center emerged from “financial insolvency and organizational collapse to a thriving focal point for the community, making positive impacts on the children, youth, and families who live there.”

An ultimate Frisbee enthusiast, Kenney exercises regularly, loves to cook, and has two egg-laying chickens. Her guilty pleasures? Eating a second breakfast every day and coloring in children’s coloring books.

Movie: The Usual Suspects
TV show: The Good Wife, Modern Family
Music: Broadway musical soundtracks

Prue Lotharius

Director of Marketing and Communications
The EPIC Life Insurance Co.
Age: 31

Prue Lotharius has set high goals for herself, but with a business role model like Yahoo CEO (and fellow Wisconsinite) Marissa Mayer, it’s no surprise that she’s reaching for the sky.

“I look at Marissa, her career and life accomplishments, and it’s easy to say that she is my idol,” said Lotharius.

While Lotharius may have some distance to travel before she can follow in Mayer’s footsteps, she’s accomplished plenty in her short career.

In 2012, while working with Aetna, she led a marketing campaign that generated more than $1.2 million in gross profit.

“Probably the best takeaway was that it’s okay to go big and try new things, even if they are expensive,” she said.

She’s hoping for even bigger things on the horizon, of course. Lotharius’ top career aspiration is to one day start her own marketing consulting firm.

“I’m blessed to have found my fit within marketing so early, so all I can do is continue to improve and one day run the show!”

Movie: Twilight
TV show: Shark Tank
Music: Rock

Betsy Lundgren

Vice President of Marketing
Madison Region Economic Partnership [MADRep]
Age: 33

“I call myself a tireless champion for the Madison region,” says Betsy Lundgren of the Madison Region Economic Partnership. As part of the organization’s five-year Advance Now Strategy for economic growth, she helped lead an organizational rebranding from Thrive to MADRep, and website changes she instituted helped increase traffic by 68% between 2013 and 2014 while increasing social media followers by 10%.

Her marketing efforts helped the region grow from “little to no brand awareness within the economic development world ... to receiving headline coverage in Forbes as the No. 5 location for high-tech job growth,” among other distinctions. Three of her marketing projects were finalists in the MidAmerica Economic Development Council’s Annual Marketing Awards, with one, the 2014 State of the Madison Region Report, taking top honors among entries from 10 Midwestern states.

Lundgren has been a grant review panelist for the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission since 2012. She also serves on two committees at Red Caboose Daycare and is a member of several economic development trade organizations.

Movie: When Harry Met Sally
TV show: The Cosby Show
Music: Christmas music


Mar 4, 2015 03:44 pm
 Posted by  JennaWeber

Congrats to all of this year's 40 Under 40 recipients! A special congrats to Ryan Birkicht, Sam Owens, Marisa Menzel and Joe Pometto for representing CONNECT Madison. The rest of this year's honorees should definitely check out CONNECT Madison as well- we love building relationships with other local emerging leaders and helping each other succeed!

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