Forty Under Forty: The 2009 Class

Three things are apparent when reviewing the area’s top [young] talent: This selection is more “business” focused than previous classes, many are Wisconsin natives (are we doing a better job of retaining area talent?) and the construction trades are well represented because they had so many nominations this year. While we gave a nod to non-profit representation as well, IB’s selection committee was primarily focused on entrepreneurial or business leadership skills — whether serving the arts, sciences, retail, or business-to-business markets. Also, you’ll note that our cover folks represent second-generation leadership in family businesses — another deliberate spotlight. Certainly the 2009 class is a shining example of why Madison is such a great place to live and do business.

Joe Alexander, 30

President, The Alexander Company

Born: Madison, WI

In his role as VP, Alexander managed $490 million of development in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Virginia. Now, as president, he oversees all operations and is redeveloping large-scale sites formerly owned by the federal government such as National Park Seminary (MD) and Laurel Hill (former Lorton Prison, VA).

“I like pursuing such projects because of their historical significance and the way they promote density infill new construction, and adaptive reuse/historic preservation,” Alexander said. “[We] embrace sustainable development rather than create urban sprawl or tear down green space.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I have always admired Susan Schmitz with DMI. Her devotion and enthusiasm for downtown Madison resonates with everyone she comes in contact with. Having grown up in the city and now developing in it, I understand and identify with her aspirations to see Madison thrive, both socially and economically.

Tracey Anton, 38

VP, Googins & Anton, Inc.

Born: Milwaukee, WI

Anton is a “big sister” to 10-year-old Sammy through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. She also speaks at various educational outreach programs, such as MATC, hoping “my work experiences are making a difference in the community.”

In addition to offering financial planning and investment advice, Anton co-hosts a Saturday morning radio program on WTDY with business partner Louise Googins. Other involvements include United Way’s Rosenberry Society (council board) and the Wednesday Night Bike Club. (Anton also advocates for a train connection between Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison.)

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Darrell Bazell is a leader I would like to emulate. He’s an authentic person and an inspirational leader. He spoke to us at a Rosenberry event and I was quite taken with his genuine nature and humble attitude. He talked about growing up poor and his struggles to earn a degree at UW-Madison. He also mentioned he’s a Big Brother for two boys and he takes them to all kinds of events, even meetings! He’s very inspirational because it’s apparent that his mission is to help others and he doesn’t limit that to just his 9-to-5 job.

Brian Bauman, 33

Sr. Counsel, Foley & Lardner

Born: Madison, WI

Although specializing in transactional & securities, private equity & venture capital, and commercial transactions, Bauman donates significant pro bono time and service to the Empty Stocking Club, an area charity providing Christmas gifts to more than 10,000 children. He kept that focus on children when working on an LGM project for THRIVE to identify programs contributing to school readiness.

Bauman aspires to political involvement (city council) to “take a proactive and positive step toward doing something about the changes I would like to see, and continuing the development of things I love about Madison.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

David Walsh, a partner at Foley & Lardner, is an important figure in the Madison community and someone I have a deep regard for as a person. Not only is he my daughter’s godfather and someone I look to personally as a mentor, he has been an influential advocate in Madison in the legal, heath care and academic communities. His work to advance benefits of stem cell research has had a significant impact on his family, the UW research program and the State of Wisconsin.

He is incredibly generous and humble. I respect how he uses his talents to benefit the less fortunate and the greater good of the community, and I aim to be the kind of professional and person that David is by keeping my family first and being the best advocate I can for my clients.

Julie Blystone, 36

Assoc. PR Director, Hiebing

Born: Warwick, RI

During her career, Blystone has skated with milk mustache maven Kristi Yamaguchi, taken a lap at the Indy 500 with spokesperson Eddie Cheever, and reached to touch a Boeing 777 just 200 feet above her head during a ground-breaking ceremony.

Her career achievements are measurable: “Getting a client to believe in PR to the point of increasing his investment from $25,000 to more than $1 million during a three-year period.” She’s won 13 national industry awards and created a strategy for Smirnoff that became its national responsibility campaign. Her involvements include PRSA, Junior League Madison, DECA.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

One of the beautiful things about Madison is that there are many wonderful leaders who simply want to do the right thing. Barry and Cindy Alvarez have been great community leaders as they have driven programs that have helped the community on a large scale.

Cindy Buchko, 33

Shareholder, Whyte Hirshboeck Dudek

Born: Beloit, WI

Buchko represented, pro bono, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence as an amicus curie before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which decided in favor of the position she advocated. This is her proudest career achievement because, “This decision has the potential to help many victims of domestic violence who lack adequate legal representation.”

Buchko wants to be a “go to” lawyer for renewable energy and public utilities law and commercial litigation. She is active in the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Barbara Swan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Alliant Energy Corporation and President of Wisconsin Power and Light Company is someone that I emulate. Ms. Swan is a successful woman executive in an industry that has historically been male-dominated. Her successes have made it easier for other women lawyers such as myself. While Ms. Swan is dedicated to her work, perhaps equally as important is that she is civic-minded. She gives back to the community, including serving on various boards of nonprofit organizations and helping girls and women in the Madison area achieve their academic and career goals through her work with A Fund for Women.

Thomas Carmona, 26


Born: La Crosse, WI

Carmona managed a rural biogas energy project while with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica.

“I won a UN grant for the Santa Fe Women’s group to build 16 bio-digesters that process cow and pig manure to make meth-ane gas for cooking. The project still serves as a solution to local economic, environmental, and health problems in the community of Santa Fe de Guatuso.”

Using his MBA in Entrepreneurial Management to start a business, he works through regional syndication partners and is a developer of cultural and social Web applications. Carmona is active with MAGNET and the UW Entrepreneurship Association.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

John Carmona, my brother and partner in, is a great local entrepreneur. He teaches me valuable professional and life lessons on a daily basis. He is the owner of Wingra Direct, LLC, a pioneer in niche online retailing.

Melissa Destree, 38

President, Destree Design Architects

Born: La Crosse, WI

Destree’s goal is to make sustainable design a standard rather than an exception. Her projects range from Fair Indigo to Fromagination, to the Madison Birth Center, to residential buildings and restaurants. City Ridge Condos received a Madison Trust for Historic Preservation Award and was designed to reinvigorate a distressed urban site.

Destree’s pro bono work includes the Madison Central Montessori School.

She started her own firm and “took every measure to make it successful.” Destree is involved in design and architecture groups, and International Code Council.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Bill Kunkler — he has an excellent balance of community volunteering and business acumen.

Chris Duren, 38

Owner, Duren Law Office

Born: Madison, WI

In addition to practicing law, Duren has been a Waunakee Middle School football coach for 14 years. “[Through that venue], my wife and I also organize a charity softball tournament annually to raise donations for local organizations who serve the area’s abused women and children.”

Though many of his law school peers went to work for large firms, Duren created a solo practice. Hoping to model the work of another area attorney, mentor Joseph Boucher, Duren explains, “I chose to believe in my community’s support for my business, and I’ve beat the odds with 11 successful years.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Business law expert Attorney Joseph Boucher because of his vast business law knowledge and his commitment to helping build and grow new local leaders.

Ted Durkee, 23

Co-Founder, Powered Green

Born: Dayton, OH

In 2006, Durkee led a project in El Salvador to design and build smokeless cooking stoves with local resources. The final product “used locally available bricks and mud, cost less than $20, and has since been replicated hundreds of times in nearly a dozen communities.”

While founding his company still ranks as his greatest achievement, “In just three month’s time, we’ve raised enough money to stop more than a half million pounds of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere, and we’re still gaining momentum.” He finds “infinite opportunities to make money and have impact,” given today’s environmental challenges.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

The professors at the UW School of Business have been extremely helpful and instrumental in founding Powered Green. We really couldn’t have made it as far as we have without their guidance and I can’t thank them enough for that. John Surdyk and Professor Phil Kim have been especially supportive since the beginning. They’re excellent role models in both the academic sense and for our future careers as entrepreneurs.

Ryan Endres, 34

Lead Program Mgr., UW Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Born: Madison, WI

Endres manages the Project Management Office and day-to-day operations of 35 ongoing ophthalmic clinical trials in 32 countries. He helped PowderJect Vaccines develop a needle-free vaccine delivery service, which “helped me fall in love with project management, which ultimately led me to receive PMP status.”

While working in product safety and development for health care industries, he still finds time to work on his fire engine red 1958 Volkswagen Beetle.

Endres also is co-founder of Walker Downey & Associates and is a member of MAGNET.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

The late Madison East High School principal Milt McPike, because he taught me the importance of setting personal goals. Not only are personal goals important, so are goals for our businesses and staff.

Emily Feinstein, 32

Attorney, Quarles & Brady

Born: Cleveland, OH

Following her mother’s lead, Feinstein helps bring medical assistance to a children’s home in the Dominican Republic. A diversity advocate (starting with creating purposefully diverse neighborhood identities), her “off time” is invested in neighborhood association development.

Her proudest “attorney moment” was completing her first jury trial, wherein she assisted in obtaining a verdict of “no liability” against her client, and a judgment for $1.9 million for her client’s counterclaims.

Feinstein represented an animal vaccine manufacturer sued for breach of contract. Her area is litigations and health law.

Who in the Greater Madison business community does Emily Feinstein admire?

One of Ms. Feinstein’s heroes in the Madison business community is her mother, Joan Feinstein. After becoming a mother, Mrs. Feinstein left her career in nursing to help raise her family. As her children grew older, Mrs. Feinstein got back into nursing through organizing and participating in medical missions to third world countries, including Peru and Mexico. Mrs. Feinstein and her husband took a particular interest in the children’s homes run by Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH). When NPH decided to build a children’s home in the Dominican Republic, Mrs. Feinstein and her husband decided to become involved in the development of this new home. Mrs. Feinstein’s medical missions led her back to a career of nursing and she is now the nurse manager for Access Community Healthcare’s south side clinic. Mrs. Feinstein’s involvement with her medical missions inspired her daughter Emily to become involved with the development of the children’s homes in the Dominican Republic. For the past four years, Ms. Feinstein has made annual trips down to the Dominican Republic to work at the home.

Daniel D. Fitzgerald, 38

Principal, Horizon Design Group

Born: Milwaukee, WI

Fitzgerald’s goal: “To become president of Horizon Construction Group and make it a $100 million a year company.” One of his proudest moments was when a tearful new resident thanked him during the ribbon cutting of Verona’s Prairie Oaks Senior Housing, a project he developed with Section 42 tax credits.

“At that moment, I understood the impact affordable housing has on others’ lives,” he said.

Fitzgerald created the first corporate-sponsored Home Meal Delivery Program with the Verona Area Senior Center; employees serve as “fall back” drivers for volunteer shortages.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

We need to be thankful that the Madison area has a tremendous amount of great leaders. That is what makes this question difficult to answer. In fact, I wish I could emulate a little of each of them. But I’ll single out one leader who has demonstrated a tireless commitment to family, faith, community and company and has had the biggest impact on my career: Chuck Heath. Chuck is a leader by example and demands the best from you. He taught me to embrace and commit to written goals which have allowed me to excel in my relationships with my family, my faith, our community and our company. He was the one who ingrained, promoted and pushed the importance of giving back and volunteering within your community. For that, I am thankful and embrace the challenges of becoming a great leader so that one day others will discuss my impact on them as they grow into leaders.

Thomas Gialamas, 33

Vice President, The Gialamas Company

Born: Madison, WI

With respect to the real estate business, Gialamas said that his greatest accomplishment was when he “purchased and revitalized a blighted 150,000 square foot shopping mall in Prairie du Chien.” He is the a top producing broker in the family business, founded by his famous developer father, George Gialamas.

Personally, his best decision was “starting a family with my wife Penelope, and welcoming our first daughter (Candi) and the recent birth of our son, George T. Gialamas.”

Tom has been with the firm 12 years and looks forward to continuing the family legacy.

David Grauwels, 39

President, Mortgage Professionals

Born: Racine, WI

Grauwels wants to “fund, own or build housing solutions for Madison’s homeless families.” Through volunteering for Interfaith Hospital Network, he’s learned about Madison’s significant homeless child population.

He also wants to help educate adults and children about “Money 101” to foster financial literacy as part of every core curriculum. “We can’t expect people who have never been given the fundamental tools of finance to manage their money,” he explained.

“On a personal level, my goal is to own, mortgage free, $10 million in real estate by age 55.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Mark Bugher because he actively focuses on business development in the Madison area and strives to make Madison a better place to live.

Paul M. Hager, 25

Founder, VoVision

Born: Neenah, WI

When working at Rio Sisa, Hager was inventor and director of the first Crime Aware GPS unit, which is coming to market in early 2009. The product enables people to visually see crime information on their GPS navigation screen for the area they are driving through.

Now it’s the story of how a young law clerk founded a software company to solve a legal conundrum: voicemail. From that, Hager founded Madison Computer Specialists. Through Hager’s other biz, Global Technology Transfer, he’s bringing investment and tech transfer to “create the largest and earliest seed fund ever, here in Madison.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Laurie Benson. Not only has she helped mentor one of my companies, but she shows everyone how thinking big can pay off. There are so many great Madison success stories, but I think her’s stands out. She believes in the right things, the customer and the Madison area. Laurie is just one of the many people who have helped and inspired me here in Madison. This is just a great community to help build business and futures.

Angela Heim, 38

President, The Employer Group

Born: Madison, WI

Heim brought growth to TEG by taking a “big, expensive risk” by deciding to create a software application for American Family Insurance, with an ancillary program for its independent agents. “I found the right, tenacious people for the project and we delivered,” Heim said.

The risk paid off, driving up company revenues 48% in one year. Heim was identified as the key employee for succession purposes; she took over the “Top 200” business from departing serial entrepreneur Bob Oyler.

Now she’s working on worker’s comp. legislation and a registration process for PEOs.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Bob Oyler, the owner of Capitol City Harley Davidson-Buell and former owner of TEG, is an inspirational mentor and entrepreneur. He had a vision for me before I had a vision for myself. He allowed me to realize that vision by providing me a sounding board as I purchased the business and became a novice business owner. Although our leadership styles differ, I admire his sense of business. He cares about his employees and clients and continues to mentor me.

He started TEG based on a need of a client in the staffing industry when he owned LifeStyle Staffing. The entire basis of our industry is based on client satisfaction. Bob has always had that philosophy no matter what business he owned. This is something I greatly admire and attempt to emulate every day. Client satisfaction is the number one reason why TEG is as successful as it is. Because of this business concept, I was able to assist in growing the business to what it is today.

I also admire Bob’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I remember a story that Bob once told me about the payroll system going down. Since our business processes payroll for companies, this had the potential for a very negative impact for the company. Bob continued the stor that in order to ensure everyone got paid as scheduled, he had to come into the office on a Sunday and handwrite checks for the entire day. This story had a dramatic affect on me. It displayed to me that a good business owner feels that no job is too small to do as long as the job gets done and my clients and employees are satisfied. I feel this way to this day even after the amount of growth the company has gone through and the size it has become. I do my best to emulate this to my staff on a day-to-day basis as well.

Kyle D. Holen, 39

Associate Professor, UW-Madison

Born: St. Paul, MN

Dr. Holen’s aspiration is to “find a cure for cancer.” He specializes in the treatment of cancers of the GI tract and he holds a patent on a new drug for cancer. He’s the principal investigator for a multi-institution clinical trial evaluating a new cancer drug at cancer centers throughout the county, and has presented his work at multiple national society meetings. He’s also on the HIB NET cancer steering committee.

He’s director, UW Oncology Fellowship; director, Phase II Consortium GI Cancer Group, and has already won national recognition for clinical trials and for his expertise.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I admire George Wilding because of the work that he has done not only in prostate cancer, but in developing new treatments for all different types of cancer. He maintains a very active role in research while still finding time to help foster young people’s careers and lead a major cancer center. He has a reputation for being a strong leader while maintaining a very friendly, approachable demeanor. He has been nothing if not completely honest and forthcoming in every aspect of my interactions with him. And probably most importantly, he is a man with a vision — a vision for an even better cancer center and a vision for eventually finding a cure. Who wouldn’t admire this guy?

Jodie Johnson, 34

Assistant VP, Marketing, First Business Bank

Born: Stevens Point, WI

When Johnson returned to school five years ago to earn an MBA, it was to blend a family life with a challenging profession. Supervising the First Business marketing department and its brand and corporate marketing strategy is “exactly what I wanted to be doing,” she said.

She brings in new points of view for the bank. When working on a Web site for a client firm, the business owner offered a great insight to the value the bank brought to customers. Johnson validated it through third-parties and implemented that as a pivotal brand strategy. Listening and crediting others are her strengths.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I respect First Business’ CEO Corey Chambas as a great leader in the business community. He truly takes the time to get to know everyone at a personal level, welcomes new and challenging ideas, contributes practical advice to a variety of situations, is very open about his thought process behind decisions, and gives a lot back to the community — both personally and professionally.

Jason A. Khodadad, 28

VP, Process Excellence, Associated Bank

Born: Birmingham, AL

Khodadad is a Six Sigma Black Belt. It’s a quality-focused, supply-chain leadership management training usually taken by manufacturing experts. Mastery is shown as a “black belt” honor.

The long road to accreditation “was well worth it” because “it’s helped me become the highest producing officer for my line of business for Associated Bank in less than six months,” he said.

“Every day, I devote myself to learning and adapting the principles of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, because I want to lead a great company. I also want to use my talents to support and lead a strong nonprofit [4Cs].”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I am very fond of Juan Jose Lopez. Juan is always visible in the community and doesn’t always say what people want to hear. I can appreciate that. Too many times do I hear people in the public eye caving to other people’s interests. Juan is also known for being a supporter of grassroots organizations who serve underserved communities.

Kelly Kloepping, 35

VP, Marketing & Communications, Special Olympics

Born: Monroe, WI

In a complementary role as Team USA Communications Director, Kloepping attended the World Olympic Games in Japan and China for Special Olympics, where she inspired a few hundred qualifying USA athletes to capture the gold.

“That taught me that waking up to my alarm every morning is a welcome experience,” she said. “I learned that my job [actually touches] millions of lives.”

“Making a difference” motivates Kloepping. “I want to tell people where I work and have them sincerely enjoy having a conversation about that.”

Jennifer M. Krueger, 34

Shareholder, Murphy Desmond

Born: Oshkosh, WI

Krueger already has received a nod in a case heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on a novel issue of partnership law. Rarely does an attorney get to work on a case, she notes, that “for the first time in the state’s history, defines a particular area of law.”

Krueger also chaired the subcommittee that planned the first ATHENA Young Professional Award. She was president of The Business Forum, which provides $230,000 in scholarships to high school students and adults returning to school, “and I would like to continue to lead new initiatives in our community.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Marygold Melli is a trail-blazer for female attorneys in this community. She uses her legal talents to make a difference far beyond her own pocketbook. She has dedicated her life to conquer the glass ceiling faced by women and ensure that the justice system is available to all persons in need. She was also able to juggle her career as an attorney and her community service work while raising four children. I have tremendous respect for Ms. Melli and hope that I, too, will be able to use my legal talents to better this community while successfully raising my children.

Michelle Kussow, 38

Partner, The Capitol Group

Born: Madison, WI

Kussow is past president of Wisconsin Women in Government, and raised more than $200,000 for the group. Her role at The Capitol Group is, in part, to help lead the way for more women to be involved in government and politics. She especially would like to see “more business owners elected to City Council.”

One of Kussow’s titles via her job is VP of Govt. Affairs & Communications for the Wis. Grocer’s Association. Past experience includes working within the Wisconsin Department of Commerce in the Bureau of Business Finance, where she simplified loan applications and literature for businesses.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Sue Ann Thompson. Sue Ann got involved and is involved for the right reasons. She truly believes in her cause and doesn’t consider what she is doing a job.

Gary Kuter, 35

VP, Commercial Lending, Capitol Bank

Born: Janesville, WI

Though Kuter became part of the United Cerebral Palsy board as a bank function, with no personal ties to the organization at the time, today his son receives services from the birth-to-three program. Kuter notes that being part of this board, in terms of importance to him personally, “might be right up there with becoming VP of a bank.”

Kuter’s goal is “to become president of a local community bank one day.” He laid out the steps he needs to follow to achieve his goal for the “40 Under 40” selection committee, which was happy to see “community involvement” underscored.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Jim Dolister, chairman of the board, Capitol Bank. Jim was an original founder of the bank and is truly respected by all of the customers and employees. He is very patient with people and business decisions. Usually when you get to the top, people try to bring you down, but with Jim everyone works hard to make him look good. Jim also has to be commended for the selection of his successor, Ken Thompson, our current president, who shares the the same values so the transition has been a smooth one.

Jeff Madden, 35

Construction Executive, Mortenson Construction

Born: Kimball, NE

After leading the University of Colorado’s Research Complex 2 project team ($205 million project, with field crews of 600+ craft workers), he’s earned Madison’s big project. For the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research project, Madden oversees the project team — and design review, value analysis, trade package procurement, safety, and quality. He’d like to see Wisconsin projects delivered “with a higher level of quality [via] more flexibility in the ‘standard’ delivery methods.”

Madden also made Building Design + Construction’s national “40 Under 40” honors. Congrats!

Who in the Greater Madison business community does Jeff Madden admire?

Having a long resume of working on high technology projects has provided Madden with the opportunity to meet and learn from researchers, scientists and engineers in a broad spectrum of disciplines. He recently had the opportunity to meet Dr. Sangtae (Sang) Kim, the new Executive Director for the Morgridge Institute for Research whom is returning to the UW campus where he previously spent nearly 15 years of his career. “It is individuals like Dr. Sang Kim who truly motivate me to progress my career, to learn about the world outside of my own industry, and to hone my leadership skills. Dr. Kim is a scientist, an engineer, and a researcher at heart — but he is also known as a bold thinker, a trusted advisor, and someone who is business savvy. He believes in the potential of interdisciplinary research which I believe we can all take away as a concept to improve our own businesses. The idea of being a ‘interdisciplinary and diversified leader’ is something that motivates and guides my career progression.”

Kerry McAllen, 36

Owner, McAllen Properties

Born: Madison, WI

Her Army Reserve experience, McAllen said, has really enhanced her business skills: “I have completed several leadership courses completely relevant to business and have used many military experiences to enhance my business role. Lately, my Army experience has caused me to really get my ducks in a row so the business can run when I am deployed this summer.”

McAllen joined her father in the family’s commercial real estate business when she graduated from the UW in 1999, and she readily admits, “When I successfully convince my dad to do things my way, and it works, that’s oh, so sweet.”

Danielle McIntosh, 24

Water Resources Engineer, Montgomery Associates

Born, Milwaukee, WI

Though she works full time as an engineer, in 2008 McIntosh paired her love of hula hoops with her engineering interests and won $5,700 in the UW College of Engineering contest for designing the Hoopla Rack to carry hoops on a bicycle. Beyond that, she founded Hoops Elation, where she offers classes in the art of hula hooping in Madison.

She “gravitates toward interesting projects” and now is turning her training in biological systems engineering to the question of food sustainability. She’s also the 2009 Rwanda Trip Member for Engineers without Borders, adding to her future potential.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I really admire my current boss, Rob Montgomery. He has started his own company, and really cares about the people he works with.

Colin Mehlum, 39

VP, DirectNetworks, Inc.

Born: La Crosse, WI

Mehlum helped found this Dane County Small Business Award winning company and says that the career validation he felt during the awards ceremony made it one of his best days at work. “You take good people, renovate a cheese warehouse into a tech office, and do your best to make it a place people like to show up and contribute day in and day out.” (Now it is a $5 million business with 21 employees.)

“All of a sudden, that business little by little begins to sustain itself, without your hands in every decision. You can breathe a little. It’s my aspiration to create a great culture that is one of the best places to work in the area.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Iain Macfarlane. He’s a great business leader, accountable, well-rounded, successful and lives for business.

Cynthia A. Meicher, 27

Accountant & Consultant, Meicher & Associates

Born: Madison, WI

The written exam for the Certified Valuation Analyst certificate includes a complete valuation report — a test with a notoriously high failure rate. Not only did Meicher pass, but the National Association of CVAs nominated it for their highest honor, the JRS Award for Business Valuation Writing, and published the report in their national library (and she now gets royalties!).

She brings experience (gained at PricewaterhouseCoopers, San Francisco, as a Senior Associate) to the business her father, Gordy Meicher, built. She is expanding the business with him, focusing on tax and financial consulting.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

My father, Gordy Meicher, has always been a source of inspiration. He built a business from nothing and the successes he has had only drive him to work harder. He commonly uses the phrase “I’m only as good as the next touchdown.” Working with him on a daily basis allows me to learn from someone with incredible business knowledge and insight. At the core of all his work, his focus around improving the well-being of his clients and employees is present.

Tory Miller, 33

Exec. Chef/Co-Proprietor, L’Etoile Restaurant & Cafe Soleil

Born: Seoul, South Korea

Miller cooked Thanksgiving dinner at the James Beard House, the Mecca of the culinary world. “It was incredible to travel with my staff and all my Wisconsin ingredients to New York City for this occasion,” he noted.

His next challenge? “I would love to open another evening establishment, more casual than L’Etoile, that would continue to serve local food.”

Miller enjoys working with students, particularly at Sherman Middle School on a garden project and as the chef-in-the-classroom through the Cooking Healthy Options program.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I have always respected John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie Farm. They have led the way in sustainable beef husbandry since 1987. They treat everyone fairly and heir business is sustainable and ethical. They have also taken a large portion of their farm and restored tall grass prairie and wetlands, which provide a haven for all sorts of bird and other wildlife that had been driven away by industrial agriculture. Their commitment to doing what is right is one that I emulate in my business decisions and especially in my decisions about what ingredients to prepare and serve to my guests.

Allan Naplan, 36

General Director, Madison Opera

Born: Marblehead, MA

In 2005, Naplan became the youngest GD in the U.S. Since then, he’s lead the Madison Opera’s growth, including “record ticket sales, a successful expansion to three main-stage productions, increased fund raising, new and thriving initiatives in education and community outreach, as well as a consistent track record of fiscal health and responsible management.”

Naplan also is a choral composer. His works have been performed in over 30 countries. Naplan’s An American Anthem served as the inaugural wake-up song for the NASA astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Paul Ranola, 32

Owner, Requisite Video Productions

Born: North Dakota (Raised: Milwaukee, WI)

Ranola took a degree in civil engineering, experience working in production development for a large company, and added “personal funds and a small business loan” to start his business.

“Money was definitely a challenge at the beginning,” he noted, “but it was overcome with smart and creative purchasing decisions, focus, and hard work.”

Ranola admires Bryan Chan of SupraNet for creating a successful tech company while connecting the Madison business community through the High Tech Happy Hour. His own aspiration is to become the area’s “premier Web video company.”

Jesse Schluter, 28

Commercial Real Estate Broker, Central Place Real Estate

Born: Madison, WI

Schluter also is Captain of the Middleton Fire Department’s Station 1 for about 60 volunteer firefighters. The station “responds to about 475 calls annually”

for the city of Middleton, Springfield, Westport, and the town of Middleton.

Schluter is now Wisconsin Firefighter I and II certified and has his Hazmat Technician certification. He manages field operations and is on call at any time.

Schluter hopes to use his business degree in his aspiration “to own or be a partner in a commercial real estate development company specializing in retail real estate” (while still firefighting).

Pete Schmeling, 34

Major & Planned Giving Officer, St. Mary’s Foundation

Born: Menomonee Falls, WI

Schmeling really enjoyed standing on the 30-yard line of Lambeau Field, performing in front of 80,000 football fans.

What? Though Schmeling’s highest career achievement was rallying the “financial support and enthusiasm for St. Mary’s $182 million hospital expansion” that will benefit over 120,000 patients a year, this formally-educated musician is also proud to have performed The National Anthem during his 10-year stint with the Green Bay Symphony.

And he’s happy with his day job, too: “A meaningful career in philanthropy that reaches all parts of our community.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Don Gray, retired VP at the UW Foundation, is a great leader and a great mentor. Of course, he has a deep knowledge of and success in the development field, but I most admire his leadership traits that come from his personality and values. He invests so much of his being into other people for the good of the community, both through his job and through mentoring others so that they may carry the same torch into the future. I strive to walk in his footsteps and hope to mentor others in that spirit.

Eva Solcova Smith, 35

COO, Holt-Smith Advisors

Born: Slovakia

Smith came to the U.S. from the Czeck Republic in 2000 as a Madison family’s au-pair. “Once the communist block fell in 1989, I wanted to explore be-yond the Eastern Block borders.

“My first trip to Austria…I remember all the colors, lights after dark, choices, opportunities, and freedom.” As for the nanny experience: “I traveled, learned how people live here, and significantly improved my English.”

Prepared with an MBA earned at Edgewood College, she became publisher of Trails Books and Prairie Oak Press and then VP of Operations for Big Earth Publishing. Then a COO. Her next goal? Owning a business.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Marilyn Holt-Smith and Anita Matcha both are very successful, brilliant and visionary women.

Sukara Sterling, 25

Owner, Sukara Sterling

Born: Green Bay, WI

“Almost everyone around me said I couldn’t start my own clothing boutique at age 21 [upon dropping out of college],” Sterling said. “They said I was too young, too inexperienced. I put the little money I had into it, basically starting from scratch, and I grew it into a thriving business here (State Street) for more than three years.”

Sterling now encourages other young women to call their own shots. Her business “has catapulted me in the direction of starting other businesses” and a nonprofit. “Even if it was all taken away from me, I know I can start over, and the early years would not be such a struggle again,” she said.

Nia Enemuoh Trammell, 36

Administrative Law Judge, State of Wis. Department of Workforce Development

Born: Adazi, Nigeria

Trammell’s proudest achievement was the transition from a private sector position to serving the public (she now assists injured workers with re-entry into the workforce). She also is a court appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children, through her participation in CASA. Her services have additionally been tapped by Madison mayors, who have appointed her to serve on the City of Madison Ethics board.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Trailblazers like Frances Huntley-Cooper, Shirley Abrahamson, and Tammy Baldwin. These are women who distinguished themselves through hard work and determination to achieve great personal success while making remarkable contributions to our community. There are many others like them in our community who motivate younger professionals to strive for their personal best.

Robert White, 34

Group Leader and Scientist, PPD

Born: Herkimer, NY

Dr. White’s achievement? “Convincing PPD to let me guide the development of a cell-based assay facility within the cGMP laboratory” — creating the gateway into a growing market “with few qualified competitors.”

He noted, “I want to focus on developing my leadership skills in order to best serve our customers and their needs.” He prefers a point-by-point action plan, complete with supporting data, versus a purely academic theoretical approach to a posed problem.

Also, White is a “foodie” who will travel to Thailand and Hawaii to share a cultural food experience with locals.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

I hold former UW Chancellor John Wiley in very high regard. While some may not think of him as a member of the business community, he has overseen a period of incredible growth and prestige at UW-Madison. The campus has seen unparalleled strategic growth and expansion in the sciences, business and the arts. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at lenght with Chancellor Wiley and I find him confident, direct, thoughtful and exceptionally well-informed. In discussions of challenges faced by members of the university community, he does not simply offer theoretical means to approach a posed problem. He is more prone to outline a point-by-point action plan, complete with supporting data, to alleviate the problem.

Monika Wingate, 38

Founder, Fountainhead Brand Consulting

Born: Bay Shore, NY

While director of the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the UW-Madison, Wingate started a graduate program where students managed projects for major clients — who in turn helped fund the program.

“It raised over $350,000 for scholarships during my tenure,” Wingate said. She now hires students to conduct research for a Fortune 100 financial institution, and collaborates with Wisconsin-based companies to generate new business, “including local industrial design and engineering firm Design Concepts.” This 2008 Ironman finisher also teaches for the UW Executive Extension.

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Andy Wallman was a colleague at Lindsay, Stone and Briggs and worked his way from a creative director to owner of Knupp and Watson. I admire his passion, and how much fun he seems to have helping his clients!

Jim Yehle, 35

Sr. Project Manager, J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.

Born: La Crosse, WI

Yehle’s greatest career achievement was September 18, 2004. Assigned to the Overture Center for the Arts project for four years, he saw the faces and reactions of the guests on opening night. “It was also my five-year wedding anniversary, so another great achievement,” he confided.

Yehle’s future aspiration is to grow Findorff’s health care operations. One thing he’d like to see changed in Madison is “an increase in the collaboration between the city and businesses to incent more businesses to the central city…we need to continue to be attractive business ‘centers,’ not just ‘neighbors.'”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

Rich Lynch is the President of Findorff and I view him as a great leader. He is the reason I am with Findorff. He is an excellent communicator, motivator, forecaster and listener. He has the respect of the entire staff. Being upbeat and projecting a positive image is also very important as a leader because your team looks up to you. He is also very involved in the community; this shows the company’s commitment which inspires others to get involved.

Ryan Zerwer, 30

Partner, Clotho Business Solutions

Born: Evanston, IL

An avid investor, “I hope to someday parlay my talents for securities analysis into a holding company model.” Meanwhile, Zerwer is eager to add manufacturing to his portfolio: “In my lifetime, I hope to own or manage several different companies in divergent industries.”

Zerwer describes Clotho as “a struggling, money-losing operation” when he was named president in 2006 and, that same year, acquired the company. “My partners and employees were instrumental…we had a difficult path when we undertook the turnabout plan, but confidence and determination saw us through.”

Who in the Greater Madison business community do you admire?

What makes Madison such a remarkable city is that it has a wealth of good leaders in the civic and business communities. It is difficult to choose a single individual that I look to more than any other — I have learned so much from so many. That said, I think Susan Schmitz of Downtown Madison Inc. stands out at someone I feel has bridged the business and civic world exceptionally well and with tremendous results. Her passion for the downtown business community and the lengths to which she goes to ensure that Madison continues to attract and retain top business talent is impressive. She understands that a strong city requires a strong, and involved, business community. This is what sets Madison apart. Its business leaders are encouraged to become community assets and play a part in strengthening the city’s foundation. I admire her abillity to motivate individuals to take on responsibilities and assume leadership roles in every aspect of city life.