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Colorful cast of characters

The 2016 40 Under 40 show their true colors

(page 1 of 10)

From the pages of In Business magazine.

If the adult coloring craze is any indication, chromotherapy is back in vogue among people of all ages, especially the young adults who are moored to technology and seeking simple ways to unplug. As we present our annual 40 Under 40 class, we provide information about their professional and civic contributions and their favorite colors because the latter might say more about them than any other quality.

The fascination with adult coloring is no surprise to Mark Schmitz, principal and creative director of Zebradog Dynamic Environment Design, a Madison-based facility brand integration firm. Schmitz believes it’s a natural result of the daily media bombardment we face. “We’ve been so inundated with media and with our handheld stuff and our computers and everything else that we’re craving baby powder and coloring books,” he says.

Experts believe our favorite colors say a great deal about us — from the action-orientation of red, to the need for socialization associated with orange, to the analytical coolness of blue, to the need for logic and order linked with yellow, to the yearning for security connected with green. Similarly, if your true colors are purple or violet, you’re quest for perfection never ends, while lovers of black crave power and control over their lives, and middle-of-the-road gray devotees are more likely to be the cool and composed types. Meanwhile, gold diggers aren’t shy about displaying their charisma, and anyone wearing white is said to long for simplicity.

In truth, there are as many color theories as there are personalities, and our 40 Under 40 showcases a bit of their childlike whimsy through their own coloring efforts, displayed alongside their profiles on the following pages.

Read on as we explore how Madison’s most promising young professionals color their world and the lives of people around them.

Nic Alexander

Vice President

The Alexander Co. Inc.
Age: 32

Nic Alexander says it was never a foregone conclusion that he would work in the family business. After seven years as The Alexander Co.’s director of marketing, he left to cofound a local advertising agency. That experience, he says, likely helped propel his advancement when he later returned to the family business.

When he’s not busy reimagining new space, Alexander’s interests usually involve food and music. He’s worked in professional kitchens and volunteers as a radio personality for 98.7 WVMO-LP, Monona’s low-power station. He most admires Napster founder Sean Parker and Herb Alpert (of Tijuana Brass fame) for being visionaries in their fields.

Now working for his brother, Joe, the company’s president, Alexander says he has no desire to ever leave the family business, but someday he hopes to make and sell cured meats as a side business.

Favorite color: None. “Every color has an appropriate time and place.”

Dan Anderson

Human Resources Employment Officer 

State Bank of Cross Plains
Age: 37

Dan Anderson remembers finishing his first marathon and learning lessons about focus, commitment, and motivation. Halfway through, his running shoe had been torn, removing the outside support during the final 13 miles. In that long stretch, his foot landed on pavement instead of the shoe’s cushion. “There was a lot of pain but I focused on my goal and committed to finishing the race. I not only finished but hit my target time.”

Anderson, a UW–La Crosse graduate, has been hitting the target ever since in his role with State Bank of Cross Plains and his activities with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Urban League. He derives great satisfaction in finding meaningful work for people who face social or economic barriers.

Favorite color: “Green. In an odd coincidence, it seems the hardest work is put into obtaining green things (lawn, money, and an appetite for green eggs and ham).”

Alejandro Arango-Escalante

I/S Financial Senior Analyst

American Family Insurance
Age: 36

After six years with Kraft Foods, “Alex” Arango-Escalante is relatively new to American Family Insurance but appears well armed for his new career. While at Kraft, several promotions culminated with his final role as cost manager for the Oscar Mayer Cold Cuts category. He’s also well armed in another sense, having served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, which gave him the discipline and drive that allows him to succeed.

A board member and treasurer of the Latino Chamber of Commerce and also an advisory board member at Overture Center, he admires Jorge Hidalgo, co-owner and general manager of Wilde East Towne Honda, and Eve Gervaise. Hidalgo because of his military and career achievements and Gervaise because he tutored her early on and has watched her succeed from high school dropout to the Marines to CitiBank.

Favorite color: Red. “Perhaps because it’s a color associated with risk and danger.”

Erin Arango-Escalante

Director, Client Relations & Early Years 

WIDA, UW–Madison
Age: 35

As an educator, Erin Arango-Escalante has a lofty ambition: to become the U.S. assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement. The position, housed within the U.S. Department of Education, is focused on things she’s dedicated her career to — the development of educational interventions and nontraditional programs — but it also oversees competitive grant programs that support innovative ideas to fight educational inequities.

Having already developed a bilingual early childhood and evaluation center in New York that serves children with disabilities, Arango-Escalante’s interest in evidence-based practices could well take her to the nation’s capital. Her current focus is on early childhood education in Wisconsin and raising children ages 4 and 7.

Favorite color: The “orange-pink” color that illuminates the sky during sunsets. “My family loves to go boating and seeing these colors in the sky and over the lake is the most relaxing and comforting scene.”

Dana Arnold

Director – PR and Social Media, Partner

Age: 39

After growing and selling a successful public relations agency in Phoenix, Ariz., Dana Arnold says she’s living her dream with Hiebing. She’s more than tripled the size of the agency’s PR and social media department and spearheaded the opening of the agency’s Austin office. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Arnold was rewarded with a partnership and board position.

Arnold would most like to emulate Summit Credit Union CEO Kim Sponem, whom she describes as a proponent of female empowerment. “She chose to zig when everyone else zagged,” Arnold notes. She also holds PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in high esteem. “I think she’s remarkable,” Arnold says, adding that she admires her vision, leadership, and diplomacy.

Arnold loves running, but with @BigKitchen as her Twitter handle, cooking is her creative outlet. She even enjoyed a brief stint as a cooking show co-host in Phoenix.

Favorite color: Orange. “It’s bright and unexpected.”


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