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Red Carpet Affair: The 2015 40 Under 40 Class

(page 6 of 8)

Sam Owens

Managing Attorney/Founder
Owens & Freeman LLC
Age: 32

As a newly minted UW Law School graduate, Sam Owens traveled the world. But he wasn’t seeking his own fortune.

After graduating from law school in 2007, he traveled to Ethiopia to work as a consultant for the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and the Ethiopian Justice and Legal Systems Research Institute, helping to develop the country’s infrastructure for the training and licensing of legal professionals.

After leaving Ethiopia in 2009, he moved to South Africa, serving as a research fellow with the South African Department of Correctional Services.

Throughout his travels abroad, his income was modest, and when he returned to Madison, he and his wife were forced to live frugally as he launched his practice. Now established in the community, he still finds time for pro bono work.

“I continue to carve out time to serve the legal service needs of my community,” he said, “particularly the needs of individuals who require more affordable assistance in order to enforce their constitutional rights.”

Movie: Dr. Strangelove
TV show: House of Cards
Music: Reggae

Jamie Patrick

Vice President
Madison Area Sports Commission
Age: 34

After earning degrees from both the University of Nebraska and Gonzaga University, Jamie Patrick landed in Madison and has been a part of the development, launch, and implementation of the Madison Area Sports Commission.

As MASC vice president, he took over the local host agreement for Ironman Wisconsin and extended its run through 2018; created the MASC Youth Grant Program to get kids more involved in sports; and through his relationship with USA Cycling, helped attract six national championship cycling events to Dane County, including cyclo-cross national championship events to Verona.

Patrick also serves on the Madison Sports Hall of Fame board and the Madison Festivals board, which operates the Madison Marathon, Taste of Madison, and other events.
The games continue on weekends, when this husband and father enjoys making pancakes into fun shapes for his kids. But after they’ve eaten, he’ll sneak chocolate chips into the batter for himself!

Movie: Good Will Hunting
TV show: Seinfeld
Music: Folk, rock

Joseph Pometto

Regional Director
Modern Woodmen of America
Age: 30

Modern Woodmen of America had already celebrated its centennial when Joseph Pometto was born, and the venerable company was nearly 125 years old by the time he joined its ranks.

But it didn’t take him long to establish himself as a valuable member of the team once he got going.

At the age of 28, he became the firm’s youngest regional director in its 131-year history. And he was just getting started. Last year, his region saw 25% growth, ranking it 16th out of the company’s 75 regions.

Heady accomplishments, but for this former Eagle Scout, they’re all part of a lifelong process of self-improvement.

Indeed, one of Pometto’s role models is Christian self-help writer and business coach Matthew Kelly.

“His message is about becoming the best version of yourself,” said Pometto. “It’s by becoming the best version of yourself that incredible things are accomplished.”

Movie: Star Trek Into Darkness
TV show: The Blacklist
Music: Hard rock

Greg Reinhard

GRB Academy
Age: 31

Greg Reinhard has done what many sports enthusiasts might only dream about. He was named the NCAA Division III National Pitcher of the Year for UW-Whitewater in 2005, the same week the team won the national title. A week after that, he was drafted in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Now in Madison, Reinhard is continuing the dream as a coach and founder of GRB Academy and the Wisconsin Premier Baseball Organization.

GRB Academy is an indoor baseball and softball training program focused on youth development, and since its launch in 2012, 52 of its players have gone on to receive college scholarships, including 34 from Division I schools. Two players have been drafted by MLB teams, and one, Danny Jansen, is on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster.
Reinhard’s company is currently working to develop its own field of dreams: a large indoor/outdoor field complex for baseball and softball in the Madison area.

Movie: Major League
TV show: Shark Tank
Music: Country

Farrah N.W. Rifelj

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Age: 38

Making partner at a major law firm is an impressive accomplishment for any young attorney, but when asked about her most memorable professional achievement, Farrah N.W. Rifelj hearkens back to the very start of her career.

“Hands down, winning my first trial as a first-year associate involving an employment contract case,” said Rifelj. “Hearing the late-night verdict in our client’s favor was worth all the work and was the ultimate proof that it was worth throwing — and catching — my cane at graduation!”

The two-time Boston Marathon runner is still making major inroads in her industry, and she cites former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and current U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb as role models.

“As a member of a profession historically dominated by men, I look up to those women who have paved the way, overcome significant obstacles, and risen to the top of their field,” said Rifelj.

Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness
TV show: The West Wing
Music: Latin, solo piano


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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