20 Under 30 Class of 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to meet the 2012 class of 20 Under 30.

(page 6 of 10)

       

A few months after he graduated from Southern Methodist University, Marshall Kinne accepted a job in Washington, DC with Roy Blunt, who was a U.S. Representative at the time. But after approximately two years at Rep. Blunt’s office, an opportunity arose for Kinne to come back and work with his father at Med-Pay. Kinne decided to return to 417-land, and he’s been busy ever since. Kinne serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks Board of Directors, the Springfield Workshop Foundation Board of Trustees and the Child Advocacy Center’s Young Advocates Council. He’s also a member of Rotaract of Springfield, and he’s on the Network Advisory Board for The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals. Kinne is also on the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Relations Committee, Local Issues Public Policy Task Force and its Business After Hours Committee. “Giving back to the community is a priority for me, and I have been fortunate enough to become involved with some great organizations,” Kinne says.

417 Magazine: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Marshall Kinne: Buy Apple stock.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
M.K.: After graduating from SMU, I accepted a job in Washington, DC with then Congressman Roy Blunt. Two years into my tenure with Mr. Blunt’s office, an opportunity arose for me to come back to Springfield to work with my father at Med-Pay. While the decision to leave DC was a tough one, I decided I was at a place in life where I was ready for something new. I haven’t looked back since.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
M.K.: I have always enjoyed helping people find answers to tough questions. As a director of compliance and health insurance producer I enjoy providing insight and value to our clients that allows them to make the best benefit decisions for their respective organizations. I am also fortunate to work with an amazing group of people who share in my passion for our clients.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
M.K.: Spending time with friends and family, hunting, shooting skeet, snow skiing, flying, politics, boating on Table Rock Lake, attending MSU Bears basketball games and Kansas City Chiefs games and staying actively engaged in my civic and charitable obligations.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved with?
M.K.: I serve on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks Board of Directors, the Springfield Workshop Foundation Board of Trustees and the Child Advocacy Center’s Young Advocates Council.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
M.K.: I am a member of Rotaract of Springfield, The Network Advisory Board for The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals, Chamber Governmental Relations Committee, Chamber Local Issues Public Policy Task Force and Chamber Business After Hours Committee.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
M.K.: Enjoying what you do for a living and giving your all every day to become better at whatever it is you do.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
M.K.: I enjoy being able to help our clients find benefit solutions for their organizations. The personal interaction with local business leaders that my job allows me is very fulfilling. Also, I enjoy being able to work with my father to continue the success of Med-Pay.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
M.K.: The welcoming nature of our business community, and the sense of community responsibility that exists in the area. 

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
M.K.: I wanted to be a professional soccer player.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
M.K.: hard work, persistence and passion

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
M.K.: The simple answer is someone nominated me, and 417 Magazine was crazy enough to include me on their list. But in all honesty, I think I was selected because of my civic and charitable involvement. Giving back to the community is a priority for me, and I have been fortunate enough to become involved with some great organizations.   

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
M.K.: While no specific projects come to mind, I am excited to do my part to continue to grow Med-Pay’s presence in the employee benefits industry. 

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
M.K.: At our company, we have over half our clients’ benefits renew on January 1st. This year I was proud to help renew nearly all of our business, and to add a few new groups to our client list.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Family and friends make life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without my morning cup of coffee.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m established in my career and happily married with a few kids.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would take a month vacation to Europe.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is sharing this honor with the 19 other young professionals being recognized. I know many of them personally, and to be included in the same group with them is a humbling experience.

Most people run from growling dogs. Not Ashley Pickens. “I like a challenge, and when a dog growls at me or acts aggressive, I make it my mission to make them my friend,” Pickens says. She is the lead kennel tech and rescue coordinator at Taney County Animal Control, a role she fell into. She had wanted to be a photojournalist, and she had moved to Springfield for school. But Pickens had trouble finding a job, and the only place that called her back was a local vet clinic. “After being there for a while, I realized I didn’t want to do anything else but work with animals,” Pickens says. When a job at Taney County Animal Control opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. Pickens also helps animals through MercE Pantry, a nonprofit organization she started in July 2011 that provides pet food to families that are struggling financially.

417 Magazine: Why are you a 20 under 30?
Ashley Pickens: I have gone above and beyond what I have been asked to do and I have a drive to create change.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
A.P.: I started working in veterinary medicine on accident. I had worked in Branson as a lighting technician at a local theater for six years and decided to move to Springfield to focus on school. I wanted to be a photojournalist. I moved to Springfield and couldn’t find a job! I tried for months to find something, and the only place that called me back was a local vet clinic! Little did I know that that would change my life! After being there for a while, I realized I didn’t want to do anything else but work with animals. I worked as a receptionist for two years, and then I took a job as an animal handler/trainer at Sight and Sound Theaters in Branson. While working there full-time, I also worked part-time as a veterinary assistant at a veterinary clinic in Branson. I learned a lot and loved being able to help animals. I eventually decided to go full-time at the vet clinic and leave the theater behind. I have always been very involved in rescuing animals. I fostered for local rescue groups and volunteered at events. I foster just about anything that needs help! I have fostered dogs, cats, birds, ferrets and rabbits. Through fostering and working with rescue groups, my heart grew stronger with a desire to help shelter animals. I was also looking for a job with better pay and benefits, and a job at the local animal shelter just happened to open up. I applied, and here I am today! I never thought I’d be in charge or getting these animals into rescue groups and how much time and effort truly goes into it! From November to February, I have sent more than 150 dogs to different rescues groups throughout the United States! I am not only proud of that, but so happy for the new lives these precious animals get to have! Knowing they get a family and a second chance makes all the stress, tears, anger and sleepless nights well worth it!

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
A.P.: I find passion in knowing that I am a voice for the homeless animals in this area. I fight for them every day, and I find peace in knowing that I am able to help them get a second chance in life. People that know me also know I have a passion for the most difficult to save animals. People will often see me fostering dogs that need socialized, have been abused, neglected or have injuries. I like a challenge, and when a dog growls at me or acts aggressive, I make it my mission to make them my friend. I don’t want any animal to not be given a chance. I also have a love for pitbulls, one of the most misunderstood breeds, and through my work, I strive to make people see how wonderful they are! My job is filled with emotions. There are days when I want to scream and burst into tears, and there are days when I smile and laugh, but in the end, it’s the happy endings that keep me going. I love that I can be there for these animals and help educate people about spaying and neutering and proper care of animals.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
A.P.: I enjoy photography, and I am never without my camera. I also love being active. I love biking and hiking when I can. I have arthritis from growing up dancing, and I have issues with my back, so sadly, I can’t be as active as I’d like. I love to hang out at home and listen to some good music as well!

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
A.P.: MercE Pantry is my non-profit organization. I am the founder of this pantry. I started it up back in July of 2011. It is a non-profit pet food pantry. It is named after a pitbull I rescued, named Mercedes. The pantry was established after receiving a Pepsi Refresh Grant of $5,000. MercE Pantry helps families who are struggling through a financial crisis. We provide pet food for them based on the number and size of their pets. Our goal is to keep pets with their people! We do not want people who hit a low to have to give up their pets when times get hard. We all know that life happens and people lose their jobs, get sick and can’t work, their cars break down, a family member passes away, etc., and we don’t want people who are already stressed and upset to have to make the decision to give up something else they love. We want to help not only the pets, but the people as well. We want to give them a sense of security when times are hard. If people are anything like me, my pets help me get through hard times, so giving one up when things are going back would just make it worse!

417: How would you define the secret to success?
A.P.: I think success is defined by finding something you love doing and letting it grow. I love animals, so I find ways to expand on that. I think when you truly love what you do that is when you can truly be successful.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
A.P.: My favorite thing about my career is I get to be there for a lot of animals who have no one else. It can be very stressful, and there are a lot of tears, but in the end you rest in knowing you did all you could and that you loved them! We sadly can’t save all the animals, but we can love them while we have them and give them the best care possible while with us. Sometimes a simple blanket means the world to a dog who has been living on the streets. When an animal comes to the shelter abused, I also rest in knowing that they are safe now and never have to worry about hurting again. They may not be in a home, but they are in caring hands and never have to feel pain while with us.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
A.P.: I love the Springfield area for the bike trails and the beautiful parks. One of my favorite places to go is Nathanial Greene Park.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A.P.: I would tell myself to stand up for myself and not let others bring me down. I would say don’t be so shy and don’t be afraid to shine because you are so scared of what others think.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
A.P.: I truly don’t remember what I wanted to be at 5, but I did grow up very involved in dance and I wanted to be a professional dancer when I was little! I also had hopes of someday training whales when I was little! That hasn’t happened yet!

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
A.P.: To me, a successful career is when you wake up and look forward to going to work every day. Secondly, a successful career is when you desire to be challenged, because it will better you, the people around you and your place of employment. Third, a successful career is when you can go home at the end of the day feeling like you made a difference.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
A.P.: I am currently working on building a stronger foster program for the shelter. We have a few people that are willing to step up to help temporarily foster animals, but we need a much larger system of foster homes. Foster homes enable us to place animals with special needs and medical needs in a home temporarily and receive the care they need. Some animals need socialization to make them more adoptable and some animals don’t thrive well in a shelter setting. Also some animals come to us injured or abused and require special care. These animals do much better in a home setting where they can heal and have one on one attention. My hope for this year is to build a stronger program to help make many animals more adoptable.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
A.P.: I am very proud of the MercE Pantry. I rescued a pitbull from the shelter a few years ago and sadly due to neglect she had a lot of issues and I had the make the hard decision to humanely euthanize her. I promised her that I would make her life worth more and with the help of a grant I was able to honor her with this project. The pantry enables me to help others and save animals from ending up in the shelter when they have a loving family who truly wants them. I started this project all alone and it’s been hard, but I am gaining support and I hope one day that MercE Pantry can make a huge impact on many lives!

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

God makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without sweet tea!

Ten years from now, I hope I’m living on a farm with lots of animals!

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would buy some land and start a rehabilitation ranch for abused and neglected animals and also have children with mental illnesses and disabilities come there and spend time with the animals for therapy.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is that I can raise awareness for shelter animals and gain support for my non-profit organization the MercE Pantry.

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