Issue: March/April 2011
20/30 Club’s Top 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers
This region’s future leaders are all around us. Native or not, they walk our streets, volunteer in our communities and leave lasting impressions on our local businesses. This elite group of young, resourceful professionals shares a similar goal: to make Northeast Ohio a better place to live, raise a family and build a business. They are the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club’s Top 25 under 35 Movers and Shakers.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the 20/30 Club’s mission is to attract, retain and engage young professionals in Northeast Ohio. Since 2005, the Movers and Shakers Award has highlighted individuals who give selflessly to their community, are involved in nonprofits as volunteers or board members, or are up-and-coming leaders in the community or business they are associated with.
Candidates are either nominated by their peers or self-nominated. An independent committee judges them on their career achievements, as well as social, philanthropic and community involvement. This year’s winners were honored on Jan. 29 at the Old Courthouse in Cleveland, where Henry L. Meyer III, KeyCorp’s chairman and CEO, provided the keynote address.
We talked with the Top 25 under 35 about their hopes, dreams, families and friends, their careers and their accomplishments. And after speaking with them, we get the impression this is not the last time we’ll see or hear from this elite group. They have proved that they are emerging as this region’s leaders for today and tomorrow.
UBS Financial Services
Vice president and wealth adviser
» My favorite part of my job is building relationships. That is why I was attracted to this industry. But most people don’t know I wanted to be a chef — it was my backup plan. I would have loved to be a celebrity chef like Michael Symon.
» My passion is cooking and eating food, mostly Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Right now, my favorite meal to cook is Balsamic-braised short ribs. [My mother] always expressed herself through food and feeding people, and that’s how I’ve grown to love food as well.
New markets and innovation manager
» I was hired as the first employee at Findaway World five years ago. It was a startup without a finished product, no real market and no website. I’m most proud of helping the company figure out the markets we should be in. I helped build out a market within public and school libraries and now they comprise the majority of our business.
» So don’t be afraid to share your ideas and don’t be afraid to disagree. Conflict is good in a startup that is trying to solidify its [direction].
Vice president and chief technology officer
» My passion lies in the Cleveland entrepreneur and technology communities. We have a burgeoning entrepreneurship community right here in Cleveland. I’m trying to create that infrastructure to pull them out of their cubicle and put them behind the steering wheel of their own company.
» In 2009, I helped launch Cleveland Startup Weekend, a conference that brings together over a three-day period passionate people to formalize, build and launch companies. We launched 17 businesses and created a community of 400 individuals, and we raised more money and had more attendance than any other city to date.
Marcus Thomas LLC
Digital project manager
» I’m most interested in increasing the brain gain in Cleveland. I’ve been involved with Summer on the Cuyahoga for the past two and a half years as a board member and volunteer host. We look to bring interns here for the summer to work in hopes of attracting them to Cleveland after graduation.
» I’m paired up with someone from my alma mater, Cornell University, and we set up events and tours of the city to show off the attractive aspects of Cleveland. More than 65 students have relocated to Cleveland following graduation since 2003.
Nichole M. Carter
Cuyahoga Community College
Manager, funding opportunities
» I believe that Cleveland has the resources and potential to be a great city — we just have some work to do. I choose to be a part of the solution rather than just a bystander.
» When I think of my greatest accomplishment, it would be when I tutored a Cleveland School of the Arts student who was reading two grades below his grade level. By the end of the year, he was reading at his grade level and all of his grades had improved.
President and CEO
» The keys to my success are the personal relationships that I’ve developed.
» For me, it really started with the 20/30 Club. I joined the club when I started my company and I remember the first meetings. I was nervous about meeting new members and developing a network. Soon, I couldn’t get through the door without running into someone I knew. I learned to develop and nurture strong relationships in the club and then extended those outside the club.
President and co-founder
» The key to my success has been nurturing people who live with diabetes. It’s a relentless disease that you have to self-manage, so having a support network is extremely important.
We now have 45,000 members on our website. My end goal is to make sure in 2030, when there are 439 million people across the world suffering from diabetes, that they all have access to education and support, so they can live long and healthy lives.
José Feliciano Jr.
Bank of America
» My biggest accomplishment to date has been rebuilding the [Young Latino Network]. Though it started in 2002 … we started coming back together again in February 2008. We created a new mission statement and launched the president and executive boards that exist today.
» As board president, it was extremely rewarding to resuscitate the organization and build the brand and change people’s perception of the value we’re bringing through leadership development, civic engagement and networking.
Center for Families and Children
Project coordinator, Greater Cleveland Integrated Reentry Project
» As a leader, I try to exercise leadership versus power. It’s very important to me that people feel mobilized by my abilities to affect change. In my current role, I provide peace management through reentry services. In my pie-in-the-sky world, I would like to influence the criminal justice system and work on sentencing guidelines. Someone has committed a crime and that person should be punished, but is jail time always the best answer? Once released from jail, most likely they’ll return to their community. It’s almost like setting them up to fail.
The Manufacturing Mart
» The key to my success has been persistence and a genuine love for the area and manufacturing. We work with manufacturers across the country to help them repurpose their capabilities into products. [Cleveland-based] Richard’s Grinding did not have a Web presence. So we helped them develop a website and connected them to other manufacturers that we knew could use their services. In under one year, they are getting more requests for quotes and hired three new employees.
Cleveland Zoological Society
Special events manager
» An old boss of mine at Make-A-Wish Foundation in Northeast Ohio influenced me and taught me everything I needed to know. I followed in her footsteps and watched her hold successful events, and I enjoyed seeing the outcome of happy guests and seeing the revenue come in for a great cause.
» My favorite part of my position is the ability to put on interactive and successful fundraising events. Last year, Twilight at the Zoo — one of our biggest fundraising events — raised close to $500,000.
Associate process improvement specialist, continuous improvement department
» The organization I’ve had the biggest impact on has been the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Northeast Ohio. Over the past year, I’ve had the ability to help positively shape a young man’s life and provide him with opportunities he may never have had without support from a role-model figure. I encourage others throughout the community to become involved as well, as so many young male children in Cleveland today need this type of positive influence.
» I hope to achieve economic development in [Asia Town] so we have a venue to share the Asian culture and traditions with the general public. As president of MotivAsians for Cleveland, I helped put together the first-ever Asian Festival in May. We brought 10,000 people to this neighborhood that people didn’t even know about. It was voted the Best New Ethnic Festival in 2010 by Scene. It’s been able to bring so many of our different groups together, and I see this being a new staple in the Cleveland festival scene.
Manager of performance and learning consulting
» I believe younger people need to get more involved in community and take more responsibility in the direction it’s going in order to make Cleveland a world-class city again. I’m on the board of Cleveland ConneXion. It represents a community of the young professionals in Cleveland and helps to foster more collaboration and connectively to attract and attain talent within the region. We’re trying to open more channels to provide access to leadership and development opportunities for young professionals.
» Most people don’t know I was a professionally trained classical Indian dancer from ages 6 to 22 and performed in esteemed venues worldwide including the Nehru Centre in Mumbai. Since moving to Cleveland, I have taken up flamenco and was taught by “La Romera” at the Cleveland City Dance Studio in Cleveland Heights. For me, the discipline, motivation, perseverance and commitment to details and quality that I learned while training as a classical dancer for more than a decade has contributed immensely to my professional career and has prepared me for my role in corporate leadership.
Danielle M. Kramer
Program manager speaking of women’s health
» My biggest accomplishment was to take a fledgling partnership and create a national women’s health education program both online and offline. It’s called “Speaking of Women’s Health.” It consists of women’s conferences around Northeast Ohio, anywhere from 350 to 1,000 women, and also 20 markets across the country. Women make 90 percent of health care choices and they typically put everyone first. The goal is to educate women, the center of the family, so they leave armed with a lot of information for themselves and the family.
Head chef and owner
» It was something always in the back of my head to open a restaurant. My mom had a Vietnamese restaurant, Chinese Village, in Lakewood and my grandma co-owned Minh Anh on the West Side of Cleveland.
» As I was searching for what I was passionate about, I saw an opportunity and seized it. When I opened [one year ago], I wanted to bridge the gap between modern American and Vietnamese cooking. I’d like to become a respected player in the food scene in Cleveland to show the breadth and diversity of Asian cuisine.
Scott Phillips Jr.
Keller Williams Realty Downtown Cleveland
Managing partner, Realtor
» I’m very, very passionate about Cleveland. When I started Cleveland City Living, my goal was to bring young people to Cleveland, and that’s where my passion began for real estate. I opened the Keller Williams franchise in 2009 in hopes of changing people’s perceptions of what it’s like to live in the city. It’s more fun and safer than people think. Battery Park is an up-and-coming spot. People are moving to places like this because cool restaurants are opening down the street and the city is offering great incentives like tax abatements.
Compass Consulting Services LLC
Partner and consultant
» A lot of my efforts on the community side are based on benefiting the Latino community and closing the achievement gaps in education to develop leaders. My dream is equal opportunity for all within corporations, so they are more diverse, and education so no matter your background you have the same opportunity to go to college. I’m vice president of the Young Latino Network and I’m on a mission, meeting with colleges and universities to help them understand changes that need to be made to support all students.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Human resources performance specialist
» I started with RTA in June 2006. In 2009, I spearheaded a program with my colleagues called RTA Future Leaders Club. We meet once a month and have internal speakers, or even bring in external business leaders, to provide individuals with professional development. As a result, I was named to Mass Transit’s Top 40 under 40. It also has resulted in a couple of promotions within the company because it gives people the tools to do their jobs better.
Founder and president
» The key to my success is my work ethic. I started making websites at age 13 for musicians and nonprofits. I got my first corporate client in high school, Seekers Coffee House. I brought in $100,000 while in college and this really made me believe I can do this on my own.
» I like to have a purpose-driven approach to running a business that is sustainable and creates value. I used to use developers in India, but now I’m working with independent designers and developers in the U.S.
William Tarter Jr.
Cleveland Young Professional Senate
» I see myself as a public servant. So anywhere I can be in a position to help people is my ultimate goal. My dad was a teacher for 30 years at Cleveland Heights High School, and he was a tremendous example on how to help others and he’s been a tremendous influence on me.
» I’m a basketball and football coach for my church. So I’ve been able to teach young men both on and off the court. I offer them advice and really try to be a positive example in their lives.
Key Community Development Corp.
» I would love for Cleveland to be “first in the water” and beat Canada in the race to have fresh water wind turbines off the coast of Lake Erie. Being first in the water means Cleveland would receive worldwide recognition as a cutting-edge example for alternative energy. This recognition would define Cleveland as a leader in the creation and distribution of fresh-water wind energy. This would ultimately mean a future incorporating new business innovation and potential for growth in something that we have already been blessed with, opportune geography.
» I started working with the Royal Family Kids’ Camp six years ago. It helps kids who come from foster homes or orphanages where they have been neglected or abused. We get paired up with one or two kids and are a mentor to them. My first year, I was paired up with this little boy who didn’t want to participate. I showed him a super-secret handshake and by the middle of the week I had him playing and laughing with other kids. I’ve been with him for five years and we stay in touch.
SNIK Studio LLC
» I’m most interested in entrepreneurship — I own two businesses. Launching a business takes more resources and knowledge than just having a skill that’s in demand. There’s more to business ownership than a great product. You have to think about your marketing, customer services, sales, etc. Do you have these skills or do you need to hire someone else? My advice is to know where to get help for the skills you don’t have, such as COSE, JumpStart or other entrepreneurship programs.
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