20 Under 30 Class of 2012

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

In January our readers nominated a collection of accomplished young professionals for this honor, and our editors narrowed the list to the impressive top 20. Here are the talented young men and women.

Written by Savannah Waszczuk Photos by Kevin O’Riley Styling by Kaye Lee and Clarissa Peterson Women’s Clothing provided by Harem & Company. Illustrations by Monica Duwel, Garrett Derossett and Jessica Kennon

 

Amy McGehee is truly living her dream. “I have always loved to bake, and it was my childhood dream to own a bakery,” McGehee says. She graduated from Drury University in 2008, and in 2009 at age 23, she was encouraged by family, friends, teachers and a former employer to open her own bake shop. She purchased the assets of The Bakehouse, and she rents a location downtown for Amycakes Bakery. In addition to selling her scrumptious creations at Amycakes, McGehee also donates baked goods weekly to Harmony House, an organization that provides shelter, advocacy and education to survivors of domestic violence, and she also donates to one of various non-profit organizations monthly.

417 Magazine: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
Amy McGehee: I wanted to be a baker or a princess, but my older sister consistently reminded me that I wasn’t born into royalty.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
A.M.: I have always loved to bake, and it was a childhood dream to own a bakery. With the encouragement of family, friends, teachers, and one of my former employers, I sought the opportunity to open my own shop.  I was able to train with Barb Baker, the retiring owner of the Bakehouse, for two months, and then opened Amycakes in August of 2009.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
A.M.: I find passion through curiosity—always trying to find the best combination of ingredients, making every product from scratch, learning something new every day to make my products better, making mistakes and learning from them.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
A.M.: I spend most of my waking hours at the bakery, but when I am home, I continue to love to cook or bake. I do love to knit and play with my puppy, watch the Food Network, go to Trivia night at Finnegan’s and host creative parties (especially murder mystery parties).

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
A.M.: Pre-bakery I enjoyed several volunteer jobs, but my involvement at this time is limited (time wise) to donations of treats. I donate weekly to Harmony House and monthly to one of several non-profit organizations.

417: What professional organizations are you a member of?
A.M.: I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Springfield Association.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
A.M.: I believe success is directly related to the passion you feel for what you do. I also like to surround myself with friends who have very positive attitudes. They encourage me each day.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
A.M.: I’m able to be creative, learning new and better ways to do things each day.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
A.M.: I love the sense of community and the support among all of the locally owned businesses.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A.M.: Have more confidence in yourself!

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
A.M.: Hard work; Surrounding yourself with positive energy; Being curious and willing to experiment.

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
A.M.: Because I have amazing friends who nominated me, and they know how hard I work and that I love what I do.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
A.M.: In April, I am taking an intense weeklong class on Fondant and Gum Paste with Collette Peters of the Food Network! I can’t wait to learn more cake decorating techniques!

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
A.M.: I made a groom’s cake that looked like the Alamo, cutting each little stone by hand and then painting a food-color wash to make it look weathered.  It was so much fun to create, and the bride was wonderful!

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Friends and family make life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a dance party.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m still baking.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would buy some sweet bakery equipment.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is meeting people with similar goals.

 

 


A little more than one year ago, TaJuan Wilson left a job at a community college in Rock Springs, Wyoming and moved to Springfield. “I was looking for professional growth and challenge, and I also wanted to be closer to my family in Arkansas,” says Wilson, who is originally from Bearden, Arkansas. Wilson’s education, a B.A. in political science and communications from Ouachita Baptist University and a master’s of public administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, helped him attain the position of the director of TriO Programs at Missouri State University. “I have a strong passion to help underrepresented populations reach their full potential, and I get to do that every day in my current role,” Wilson says. He also serves as a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks and serves on the executive board for the NAACP. He’s also the chair of the NAACP’s college chapter, and he is a member of The Network and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

417 Magazine: How would you define the secret to success?
TaJuan Wilson: Treating others the way you want to be treated, working hard and having a good attitude. In addition, never forgetting where you come from, how you got to where you are and how quickly it could all be reversed keeps me grounded.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession? 
T.W.: I relocated to Springfield from Rock Springs, Wyoming last February. I was looking for professional growth and challenge, and I also wanted to be closer to my family in Arkansas (my hometown is Bearden, Arkansas). I interviewed with Missouri State University and I was offered the position as Director of TRiO Programs. I accepted, and the rest is history.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
T.W.: I enjoy volunteering, writing, travel, fast cars, reading, relaxing at home, and spending time with family and friends.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
T.W.: I have a strong passion to help underrepresented populations reach their full potential, and I get to do that every day in my current role. I firmly believe if you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved with?
T.W.: I currently serve as a big brother with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks. I have also volunteered time with Habitat for Humanity, the American Civil Liberties Union and Heifer International.

417: What professional organizations are you a part of?
T.W.:  I serve on the executive board for the NAACP (I also serve as the Chair of the College Chapter), I am a member of The Network, and the Chamber of Commerce.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
T.W.: I get to work with the population of students I really want to. Consequently, I get to impact lives each and every day. That’s powerful!

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
T.W.: The Springfield community has been very supportive, and I am extremely grateful for that.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
T.W.: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
T.W.: I wanted to be a dentist.

417: List three traits that define a successful career: 
T.W.: Hard work, dedication and continual growth.

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
T.W.: I believe that I am a “20 Under 30” because of my strong faith, my motivation to succeed, the fact that I’m surrounded by good people, and because of my parents, who shaped me into the person that I am.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
T.W.: We are in the process of revamping our Upward Bound program to make it an even more enjoyable experience for our students. This will include new activities and more interaction with our students. TRiO programs consist of eight programs total. We are currently funded for two programs at Missouri State; Upward Bound and Student Support Services. I will be writing new grants with the hopes of bringing some additional services to our campus.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
T.W.: Completing my master’s degree at the age of 22.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Family and Faith make life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without my students.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m happy and healthy, continuing to serve others.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would create a non-profit for underprivileged youth.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is my career is just beginning.

 

Weston Kissee originally planned to work in real estate with his father after graduating college. But after he toured the Edward Jones headquarters in St. Louis, he considered another option. “After hearing about how great of a company Edward Jones is, I decided to pursue my passion for the world of finance,” Kissee says. After graduating with a finance degree from Drury University in 2008, Kissee immediately started with Edward Jones. And he’s loved his job ever since. In 2010, Kissee had the opportunity to open his own branch office. “My passion comes from helping people,” Kissee says. He is also a member of Edward Jones regional leadership team and a collegiate recruiting leader for the company, the chapter president of Masterminds of Biz and the president of the Rotaract Club of Springfield.

417 Magazine: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
Weston Kissee: The freedom of running my own business with unlimited growth potential.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
W.K.: I started with Edward Jones right after college. I had planned to work in real estate with my father, but after hearing about how great of a company Edward Jones is, I decided to pursue my passion for the world of finance.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
W.K.: My passion comes from helping people. Investments can seem complex and unreliable, but I focus on educating people about the finances and help them reach their financial goals.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
W.K.: I enjoy spending time with family and friends and traveling around the world. Caitlin and I are heading to Brazil in June and Iceland in July.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
W.K.: Rotaract Club of Springfield, President; Redeemer Lutheran Church, Mission Work, Community Outreach, Usher; Supporter of the Ozark Empire Fair Foundation

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
W.K.: Drury Alumni Council Member; Edward Jones Regional Leadership Team and Collegiate Recruiting Leader; Masterminds of Biz, Chapter President

417: How would you define the secret to success?
W.K.: I would define the secret to success as hard work, long hours and exceptional customer service.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
W.K.: Having been born and raised in 417-land, the contacts I’ve made and long-term relationships I’ve built have allowed me to jumpstart and grow a successful business.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
W.K.: Study harder!

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
W.K.: A train conductor

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
W.K.: Respected by your peers; Sought after for advice; Ability to support and spend time with your family

417:  Why are you a 20 under 30?
W.K.: I’m a 20 under 30 because God has blessed me in more ways than I can count.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
W.K.: As a financial advisor, every day is different and I’m always excited to find new clients and create the right financial plan for them.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
W.K.: I’m most excited that I was able to open my own branch office in January 2010.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

My wife makes life worth living.

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

Ten years from now, I hope I’m living in my dream home with my wife and kids.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would start my own charitable foundation. 

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is being recognized for my achievements at an early age.


During her time at Truman State University, Kim Garwitz realized there was more to theatre than just performing, and she was good at the business side of it. After graduating, she took a year-long internship in theatre management at a professional theater company in Memphis, and in 2009, she saw an opening at Springfield Little Theatre. After spending almost three years working with at theater, Garwitz is leaving this month. She and her husband, Ben, are expecting their first baby in September, and she is going to stay home with the baby. “I’m also really excited that I’ll get to volunteer full-time with organizations I want to support,” Garwitz says. This includes volunteering at the Springfield Little Theatre, as well as with Junior League of Springfield, of which she is a member.

417 Magazine: What project are you most proud of?
Kim Garwitz: I would have to say the success of last season and our current season. In this hard economic time, we have experienced more season ticket holders, underwriters, and more sold-out shows than ever before!

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession? 
K.G.: In high school, I decided I wanted to major in theatre, so I went to college with my major declared and came out four years later with a degree. During my years at Truman, I realized that there was more to theatre than just performing, and that I was good at the “business” side of it. So, after graduating I took a year-long internship in Theatre Management at a professional theatre company in Memphis. When I moved back to Springfield in the summer of 2005, there weren’t any jobs in the arts open, so I stayed in the non-profit world and coordinated Relay For Life events for the American Cancer Society. I knew I always wanted to get back into working with the Arts, so I would occasionally look at job posting. One day in February 2009, I was looking at the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) website, and saw the Director of Development position for SLT. It was seriously as if the heavens parted and angels sang.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
K.G.: I love knowing that I am making a difference. It’s also something that I love (working full-time for the arts, and really, any non-profit). You have to.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
K.G.: I love to read, so I spend a lot of time with my nose in a book.  Last spring, I also started a sport for the first time ever! I took up tennis and LOVE it! I play with a group of women and it is so much fun.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved with? 
K.G.: I am a member of Junior League. Last year, I served as a member of the Kids Count Committee which volunteers at Isabel’s House. This year I am serving on the Education & Development committee, which coordinates trainings for League members. I am also a member of Rotaract and was one of the Social Chairs last year.

417: What professional organizations are you involved with?
K.G.: I am a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

417: How would you define the secret to success? 
K.G.: Being passionate about what you do and staying true to yourself along the way. You have to do what is ultimately best for you in the long-run.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career? 
K.G.: I love being able to see the tangible results of what I do. Sold-out houses, busy phone lines at the box office, donor checks… It’s all great!

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land? 
K.G.: I love how giving this community is. It’s also amazing how interconnected everyone is.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 
K.G.: To have more fun and not take high school quite so seriously.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5? 
K.G.: I wanted to be an actress.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
K.G.: Making a difference; doing something you enjoy; Leaving it better than when you started.

417: Why are you a 20 under 30? 
K.G.: I put my all into what I do, and I think people take notice of that.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about? 
K.G.: We open INTO THE WOODS featuring Kim Crosby on April 13. I am very excited about getting audiences in to the Landers to see one of the original Broadway cast members (and Springfield native) perform this musical with other local actors.

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 laughing—I work in probably one of the most fun offices in town.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m making a difference.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would donate some to SLT, of course.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is still being in my 20s!

 


When George White IV was in middle school, the youth pastor at his California church promoted an opportunity for students to travel to Missouri and volunteer at Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for kids, teens and adults with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities. Little did he know then, that week sparked an opportunity that he could not ignore, and went back every summer to volunteer. White continued growing up in California, and he earned a degree of Arts in Christian Studies from California Baptist University. After he graduated in 2010, he was hired to be on Camp Barnabas’s summer staff. A camp director approached him about helping the camp develop a new life-skill development program. He jumped on the opportunity to move to Missouri. In addition to working for a charitable organization, White is supporting a project by Southwest Special Care Homes called the Branches at Brookline, a Christian group home in the Springfield area.
 
417 Magazine: How would you define the secret to success?  
George White IV: Being passionate about what you are doing.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
G.W.: I have volunteered with Camp Barnabas since 2002, flying out every summer to volunteer for a week. In 2010, I finally applied and was hired to be on summer staff. I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree a few weeks prior to arriving for staff training and did not have any obligations following the summer. While I was serving as summer staff, I was approached by one of the camp directors, Jason Brawner, about helping camp develop this new life-skill development program. I had nothing holding me back in California, so I jumped on the opportunity to move to Missouri, and am so grateful that I did so.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?

G.W.: Back in middle school, the youth pastor at my church was promoting this opportunity to travel to Missouri and volunteer at a camp that serves people with disabilities. Honestly, to that point, I had not interacted much with people with disabilities. I was really interested in this opportunity simply because some of my friends were going and I thought it would be fun. Unbeknown to me, that one week would soon spark a passion in me that I could not ignore. Volunteering at Camp Barnabas became a routine for me. I did not have a summer after that which did not include Camp Barnabas. Year after year I went, and little did I know, God was molding me little by little into the person He wanted me to become. By the time I entered college, I had a passion and fire for people with disabilities that I had no idea what to do with. At first, I had no idea what direction to take my life. My first year at college I majored in elementary education to be a school teacher. My second year I changed to major in Christian Studies with a focus on youth ministry. However, that would all change when I crossed paths with an amazing man, Dr. Jeff McNair. Dr. McNair is a professor at California Baptist University who is in charge of the Special Education department. After explaining my passions to our career services department, I was encouraged to visit Dr. McNair in his office. I went up to his office and explained my passion to work with people with disabilities, and he instantly took a liking to me as he explained that he rarely sees guys, as opposed to girls, walk into his office. He instantly started piling on article after article for me to read as he started to teach me about the past and present state of disability advocacy and disability ministry. I owe my entire career to Dr. McNair. My passion began to develop from my time volunteering at Camp Barnabas, however, that passion really took a direction once I got into contact with Dr. McNair. He brought me along with him to many places, including a History of Social Services conference and a Disability Ministry Summit. I finally started understanding what people with disabilities face in society, and Dr. McNair gave me the tools and the fire to want to do something about it. My life is now devoted to liberating people with disabilities from the injustices they face in the community they live in. I think people can go through their entire life without realizing the hardships that people with disabilities face because they are so segregated in our communities. I probably would have done the same thing if it hadn’t been for Dr. McNair. I am now earning my master’s degree under Dr. McNair in the Disability Studies program. He has become my most significant mentor and I am now devoting my efforts to focus on the inequality that people with disabilities face within the Christian faith community. I desire to see people with disabilities have the freedom to worship and fellowship along with the rest of the universal church without the hindrances and barriers that they face today.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?

G.W.: I am a die-hard San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers fan. I love sports, and I like to always be in the know when it comes to sports. I also like to stay active. I play a lot of basketball, go to the batting cages every once in awhile, play a round of golf here or there. I am not very good at sitting still and reading or something like that, so I like to get up and moving. I really enjoy movies as well. My favorite genre is drama, and I am an avid Denzel Washington fan.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?

G.W.: I am involved with several church organizations. I work for Camp Barnabas, which is very much a charitable organization. In every church I have attended, I have gotten involved in some sort of ministry, which has lately been disability ministry. I am supporting a great project by Southwest Special Care Homes called the “Branches at Brookline,” which is going to be a Christian group home in the Springfield area. I also financially support a missionary back home in California.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career? 
G.W.: Knowing that I am actually making a difference; not only in the lives of my students, but in society as a whole. Barnabas Prep is focused on providing people with disabilities tools and skills towards leading an independent and productive lifestyle.  This idea, independence and productivity among people with disabilities, contradicts a major perspective held by the majority of society. People with disabilities hear one specific phrase more than anything else throughout their life: “You can’t.”  We, at Barnabas Prep, challenge this phrase by empowering our students with various life and job skills. This will first change their own lives by giving them a certain confidence that they never experienced before; a confidence to pursue dreams and never give up. This very confidence is what can change society. Just imagine…people at work, church, sporting events, gyms, movie theaters, etc. will look left and right and see people with disabilities alongside them contributing and participating in the same capacity that they are. And for me, in my current position, this change starts one student at a time. That is what keeps me going in my career.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
G.W.: I am from Sacramento, California and went to school in Riverside, California. I am used to living in bigger cities and so moving out to Missouri was a big change. But I really enjoy it. I enjoy experiencing all four seasons. I enjoy the smaller communities. Almost weekly I will drive from our camp in Purdy to Springfield and back. I love making that drive. I have it down like the back of my hand: Purdy, Monett, Verona, Aurora, Marionville, Billings, Republic, and then Springfield. I like driving through the small towns… I don’t know why, but I find it enjoyable.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
G.W.: Get off the couch! Get involved with the community. There is such a rich society that surrounds us and we can miss out on so much if we don’t get out and experience it. Sometimes when I am driving, I think about the other people in their cars and how each and every one of them have a deeply complex life just like I do. I think we forget that sometimes. We start thinking that we are the center of everything and don’t take the time to look around and see the complexities that surrounds us every day.  I wish I took advantage of that more often…met more people, visited more places, etc. We can learn so much from interacting with others.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
G.W.: I remember that I always wanted to drive tractors, like the big yellow Tonka ones that little boys always play with.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
G.W.: Passion, Confidence, and Awareness

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
G.W.: Honestly, I was kind of surprised when I heard about me being selected for this achievement. I am sure that I can speak for the rest of the 20 under 30s in saying that I can be really hard on myself.  Sometimes, it is difficult to step back and see success in yourself because you are fighting these little challenges everyday and they overshadow the progress you have made. I think this is God’s way of telling me, “Good job.” I am a 20 under 30 because I set goals for myself and don’t give up until I find a way to complete them.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
G.W.: Well, we are extremely excited to start our Barnabas Life program in the fall. Barnabas Prep is only step one of our dream to reach our campers beyond the one-week of summer camp. Step two is to provide a residential program where residents with disabilities can live at our camp for an extended period of time and take part in skilled work as they live in a thriving community comprised of people with and without disabilities. We are looking to start this program in the fall with some of the graduates of Barnabas Prep.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
G.W.: I am definitely most proud of Barnabas Prep.  We started this program from the ground up. A year and a half ago, it was simply an idea in someone’s head. Now it is a successful program that is changing lives every day. With any new program, there are going to be ups and downs, as you learn the right way to do things. I am so proud of not only myself, but my staff and my students for taking those down moments and learning from them and, in turn, making them positive. We have had such a great year and I am so proud of our accomplishments.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Love makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without something going terribly wrong.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m a dad.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would honestly, pay off loans and pay for my wedding (I know, not a fun answer).

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is finally feeling accomplished.


Having worn glasses or contacts since kindergarten, Dr. Emily Thomas knows what it’s like to have vision problems. “I have wanted to be an optometrist since I was 12 years old,” says Dr. Thomas, who is an optometrist at Vision Clinic. “I had a great eye doctor, who was my mentor and is now my boss.” After graduating from Seymour High School, Thomas spent seven years at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where she earned her doctorate of optometry. And her secret to getting through those long hard years? Focus. “You must know what you want and have a clear goal ahead of you,” Thomas says. When she’s not working with patients at Vision Clinic, Thomas keeps busy with Springfield Rotaract, for which she is on the Board of Directors and holds the position as professional development chair, and she was in class XXV of Leadership Springfield.

417 Magazine: List three traits that define a successful career:  
Emily Thomas: Passion, service to others, always learning and growing.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession? 
E.T.: I have worn glasses or contacts since I was in kindergarten, so I grew up knowing what it was like to have vision problems. I had a great eye doctor who was my mentor and is now my boss!

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
E.T.: See above answer! I have wanted to be an optometrist since I was 12 years old!

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)? 
E.T.: Trying new recipes and restaurants, traveling, spending time with family and friends.

417: What charitable organization(s) are you a member of? 
E.T.: I have been a member of Rotaract since 2008, and have served a year as the Community Service Chair and am now on the Board of Directors as the Professional Development Chair.

417: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
E.T.: I am a member of the Greater Ozarks Optometric Society, Heart of America Contact Lens Society, Missouri Optometric Association and American Optometric Association

417: How would you define the secret to success? 
E.T.: Focus. You must know what you want and have a clear goal ahead of you.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
E.T.: The variety in my day! I see every age of patient and they all have a different visual problem that I can solve. I love the amount of thought I have to put into each patient’s case.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land? 
E.T.: I love the mix of city and small-town. We have most of the amenities of a bigger city, but it’s not unusual to run into someone you know when you go shopping or out to eat.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 
E.T.: Learn how to study! I remember trying to figure this process out before my first college biology test… It was not a successful attempt!

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5? 
E.T.: A ballerina!

417: Why are you a 20 under 30? 
E.T.: I think my community involvement with Rotaract and Leadership Springfield plays a part in it, but I also think my choice of career (and passion for it) helps too!

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
E.T.: I am in charge of a lot of our social media marketing efforts, and we are focusing on doing more marketing in this area in 2012. I am in charge of our website and some of our social media marketing efforts.

417: What completed project are you most proud of? 
E.T.: I am always most proud of the job that I do when I am able to restore vision with specialty contact lenses to someone who would otherwise not see well at all.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Family and my career make life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a hearty laugh with a patient!

Ten years from now, I hope I’m able to travel more.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fly to Bora Bora.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is the recognition of hard work.

 


Big things are on the horizon for the city of Ozark, and Samantha Wagner is the woman to thank. As the parks and recreation director for the city, Wagner shares excitement about the new marquee sign that is now in the front of the Ozark Center (nicknamed the OC), and she’s hyped for the new five-year plan to build a new baseball/softball/soccer field in the city. And most of all, she’s ecstatic that she gets to help people in her everyday job. “There is nothing better than helping someone set a goal and watching them reach it,” she says. ”I love working with a group of people on a common goal of building a new playground or trail.” When she’s not busy helping people meet weight-loss goals or planning a new spot for Ozark residents to enjoy the outdoors, Wagner spends time with her 9-year-old daughter, Kaya, and enjoys involvement with Working Ozark Women and the Ozark Chamber of Commerce.
 
417 Magazine: What completed project are you most proud of?
Samantha Wagner: I am proud of the group of staff that I work with and the turnaround we have made financially at The OC in the past year. We have come so far and gained so much support from the community. There is so much potential here in the City of Ozark.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
S.W.: I have always had a passion for the health and wellness field. I started a lifeguard in high school working for a local YMCA in Iowa. I moved to San Diego, where I worked in the recreation field. I moved back to the Midwest after having my daughter. I worked for a recreational organization in Springfield. After I completed my MBA, I applied for the position with the city of Ozark.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
S.W.: I love helping people reach their goals. There is nothing better than helping someone set a goal and watching them reach it. I love working with a group of people on a common goal of building a new playground or trail.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
S.W.: I enjoy working out, horseback riding, movies, reading, watching my daughter play soccer and basketball, spending time with my family and friends, spending time at the lake and river and traveling.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
S.W.: Lions Club (member)

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
S.W.: Working Ozark Women, Chamber of Commerce (member)

417: How would you define the secret to success?
S.W.: Always have a positive attitude. The belief that you can accomplish your goals has to be unwavering. The moment you say to yourself “I can’t…,” then you won’t. Positive things will happen to positive people. I also believe in you need to be honest and dependable; others need to know they can count on you. I also believe you need to know how to communicate effectively. Communication is key in all situations.  

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
S.W.: Every day is different. There are so many aspects to my career. I get to help people reach their health and wellness goals, build new trails and playgrounds and help sustain the environment. Another great thing is the people. We have an amazing group of employees and members that come to The OC.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
S.W.: I love living in the Ozarks. The people that live here are caring and genuine. It is a great place to call home.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
S.W.: Don’t stress so much about the small stuff.  Always keep your eye on the big picture.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
S.W.: I wanted to be an art teacher. Who doesn’t love art projects when they are a kid?

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
S.W.: Positive attitude; persistence/dedication; and don’t be afraid to be innovative

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
S.W.: I think that I made the list because I have been so blessed to have such amazing positive and motivating people in my life. I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t taught to go after what I want.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
S.W.: New marquee sign for out front of The OC, and a five-year plan to build a new baseball/softball/soccer field complex in Ozark.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

My family and friends makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a cup of coffee and my morning walk around The OC.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m still learning new things every day.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would take my whole family on a vacation.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is getting to talk about where I work; I work with a great group of people and for an amazing community. 


Jarod Michel knew he wanted to be an architect at age 12. In high school, he took industrial technology and drafting design classes, and he worked in construction so he could learn the practical methods of building and design. While he attended architecture school at Drury University, Michel worked as an independent contractor at Bates & Associates architecture firm. He graduated college in May 2006, and he became vice-president of the company just five years later.
When he’s not working, Michel enjoys spending time with his wife, Breanna, whom he has been married to for nearly six years. He is currently a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks and a charter member for Metro Rotary, and he serves on the Rock’n Ribs committee. He’s also a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional, a member of the Association of Contemporary Executives, a Leadership Springfield Class XXIV Alumni, a founding member of Springfield Business Works, a past board member of the Fraternal Alumni Council at Drury University and a past member of Business Networking International, Springfield Rotaract and the Ozarks Trails Council for the Boy Scouts of America.

417 Magazine: List three traits that define a successful career.
Jarod Michel: Having respect for whom you represent as a person and the community being inspired by my work are aspects that can define success for me. Most importantly though, I believe happiness defines a successful career.  

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
J.M.: I wanted to be an architect since I was 12 years old, so I started taking industrial technology and drafting design classes in high school. I also worked in construction to help learn the practical methods of building and design. While in architecture school at Drury, I worked as an independent contractor for Bates and Associates.  After I received my Bachelors of Architecture degree, Bates and Associates asked me to work for them full-time.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
J.M.: My favorite things about architecture have always been seeing my vision come to life and sharing the client’s satisfaction with the end result. The idea of turning my vision into design on paper and then seeing it built and enjoyed by others continues to be a rewarding aspect of my job.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
J.M.: Any sport: volleyball, basketball, softball and golf are my favorites. I love to fish and go deer, duck and turkey hunting. I love competing in BBQ competitions. I also started brewing my own unique and seasonal beer with several buddies. We brew 40-gallon batches at a time—we call ourselves “The Brew-Man Group.”

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
J.M.: I am a current board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Springfield and on their Beerfest Committee. I am also a Charter member for Metro Rotary in Springfield and serve on the Rock n’ Ribs Committee.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
J.M.: I am a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional. I am a member of the Association of Contemporary Executives, a Leadership Springfield Class XXIV Alumni, a founding member of Springfield Business Works, a past board member of the Fraternal Alumni Council at Drury University and past member of Business Networking International and Springfield Rotaract and the Ozarks Trails Council for the Boy Scouts of America in Springfield.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
J.M.: I think the secret is simple: if you work hard and love what you do, you will be successful.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
J.M.: While the process and product of architecture has always been my passion, my favorite thing about my career is the business of architecture. How our company operates, what it takes to make us successful and how to maximize a clients return are all important facets of the business of architecture that keeps me motivated.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
J.M.: I love how you can walk into almost any restaurant or establishment and run into someone you know.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
J.M.: I had perfect attendance all through high school, so maybe I would tell myself to take that day off for senior skip day.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
J.M.: To be a professional basketball player; I even stopped cutting my hair with the Vanilla Ice racing stripes because I was told by a teammate that professional basketball players don’t have them.

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
J.M.: I suppose I was nominated because the executive position I hold at my firm is unique for a person my age and people recognize the hard work I’ve put into my career and role I play in the Springfield community.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
J.M.: The Waynesville Education Center for Ozarks Technical Community College is a 28,000-square-foot state-of-the-art education facility that we are thrilled to design and be a part of OTC.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
J.M.: I am very proud of AG Financial Solutions Headquarters in Chesterfield Village. It was a very complex and challenging project that required a coordinated effort between the owner, our firm, and the builder, to achieve the finished product that everyone is very pleased with.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

God and my family makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without being inspired by a project.

Ten years from now, I hope I still have my hair.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still practice architecture.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is knowing I’ve made an impact.

 

When he started his education at Missouri State University, Tyler Snodgrass wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do with his life. His interest in writing led him to take a bunch of English classes. Eventually, he decided to explore the education route, and he’s loved it ever since. He completed his student teaching at Central High School and was offered a job the same semester. When he’s not teaching English to high-schoolers, Snodgrass keeps a crowd laughing with his gig as a mainstage performer at The Skinny Improv. Five months after winning the Deadpan Comedy Festival in 2007 at age 18, Snodgrass was invited to perform on The Mystery Hour. Two years later, he was encouraged to audition for Improv Sports, and in fall 2010, he became a mainstage performer at The Skinny Improv.  

417 Magazine: How would you define the secret to success?
Tyler Snodgrass: Figure out how to do what you want to do, and go for it. Life is too short to be bored or unhappy.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
T.S.: I became a teacher because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and I was really interested in writing and studying literature, so I took a bunch of English classes at MSU. Eventually, I decided that I should make sure I get a degree that will help me get a job, so I explored the education route, and I have loved it ever since. I completed my student teaching at Central High School and was offered a job the same semester, and I’m really thankful to be there, it is a really great school.

I wound up at The Skinny after I performed some stand-up there when I was still a teenager. I won the Deadpan Comedy Festival in 2007 and was invited to perform on the Mystery Hour. By knowing Jeff Houghton, I met several other members of The Skinny and former Mainstage cast member Leah Gunn pressured me to audition for Improv Sportz back in 2009, which I was terrified to do because I had only ever performed written and memorized material. But I tried out, made it, and have been doing improv nearly every week ever since.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
T.S.: I get the most satisfaction out of my work when I’m able to be creative, and when I’m able to make people happy. When I’m teaching English, doing improv, doing stand-up, and teaching music, I’m able to accomplish both.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
T.S.: I play guitar, banjo and mandolin. I actually teach guitar too, which I guess counts as work probably. I’ve played guitar since I was ten, but other instruments I’ve only picked up in the last couple years. I write and read quite a bit—I mostly write jokes, stories about teaching and the occasional rap, which I’m a little embarrassed to admit.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
T.S.: I perform on the Mainstage Cast nearly every Friday and Saturday. I organize the Skinny’s stand-up open mic and usually host the event. I created a show with Sarah Jenkins called Use Your Words, which is a “literary book show”—the entire show is inspired by passages from books brought by the audience. I also perform in the monthly Armando show, and in Skinny Science Theater 3000, where we make fun of bad movies live.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
T.S.: I get to have fun every single day. I always get to do things that are creative, intelligent, and goofy, whether I’m on stage or in my classroom.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
T.S.: The consistent and predicable weather.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
T.S.: Don’t be afraid to take a few more risks. Also, shop at Borders a little more often, because it won’t be around forever.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
T.S.: Cartoonist. I wanted to draw comic strips.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
T.S.: Creative potential; being able to experience new things; continued learning

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
T.S.: I have two lifestyles that are seemingly very different: high school teacher, and comedian/improviser. I have worked very hard to be where I am in both education and comedy, and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish for only being 22.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
T.S.: I sponsor and I teach the Improv Club at Central, and they’re a really great group of kids. I’m excited about how well they are doing and I can’t wait to see put on some hilarious shows. Also, my kids have a test over Animal Farm coming up—that’s not quite as exciting, I guess, but it is on the horizon too.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
T.S.: I’ve been able to open for comedians like Mike Birbiglia and Bo Burnham, which have been some of my best moments in my standup career. Winning the Deadpan Comedy Festival in 2007, when I was only 18, was a big deal to me at the time, and it is probably very responsible for where I am today, performing improv and stand-up over a hundred times a year.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Laughter and irony makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a student making fun of me.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m able to grow a beard that covers my entire face.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would run like crazy because I wouldn’t want to be stoned to death. That was a literary joke, sorry. But really, I would make the zero-gravity battle game from Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, a reality.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is being under 30.

In 2006, Nikki Love-Adkins gave up her job as the face of the Springfield Cardinals. Although she loved the busy lifestyle that came with the role, she was five months pregnant and wanted to prepare for the arrival of her daughter, Bostyn. Love-Adkins planned to go back to work after Bostyn arrived, but she and her husband, Donald, quickly learned that Bostyn had several severe food allergies, so Love-Adkins decided to become a stay-at-home mom. “I started doing yoga to get back in shape, but I soon found that, more than anything, it helped me to keep my mind clear,” Love-Adkins says. “I felt compelled to share it with everyone I met, so I became certified and started giving yoga lessons to friends, family members and several groups of teachers.” In March 2009, Love-Adkins was offered the head cheerleading coach position with Missouri State and started giving them yoga lessons. Then, in May of 2009, Love-Adkins’s best friend, Stephanie Lael, told her about a hot yoga studio that was opening in Springfield. The two were eventually offered a chance to attend Sumit Banerjee’s month-long training program in Arizona, and when they returned, they were offered teaching jobs at Sumits Hot Yoga. In December of 2010, the former owner sold the business to Love-Adkins and Lael.

417 Magazine: What charitable organizations are you involved with?
Nikki Love-Adkins: My business partner and I have been involved in or donate to BCFO, the Humane Society, Joplin Relief, GYNCA, Relay for Life, the Heart Ball, Ozarks Food Harvest, MSU Cheer, March of Dimes, local runs and more.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
N.L.: In 2006, I had just quit my job as the face of the Springfield Cardinals. I worked a hectic schedule (which I love… I’m kinda crazy like that!), but I quit when I was 5 months pregnant with our daughter, Bostyn, to prepare for her arrival. I had always assumed I would be right back to a busy work schedule after she was born. We found out within a few weeks of her birth that she had severe food allergies to peanuts, soy, dairy, corn, wheat, tomato and eggs.  Learning how to feed our baby, as well as how to keep her environment as safe as possible for her, was very stressful. Due to her food allergies, I decided the best thing for her and our family was for me to become a stay-at-home mom. I started doing yoga to get back in shape, but I soon found that, more than anything, it helped me to keep my mind clear. It allowed me to release some of the fear and anxiety that was consuming me. It also taught me how to stay focused and calm in difficult situations. I felt compelled to share it with everyone I met, so I became certified and started giving yoga lessons to friends, family members and several groups of teachers after school in Springfield and Rogersville.  In March 2009, I was offered the head cheerleading coach position with Missouri State and started giving them yoga lessons. Other college coaches began to approach me about private lessons for their teams to help prevent injuries, and that’s when I realized yoga can help nearly anyone in any situation. (I have worked with Drury Baseball, Softball, Basketball, MSU Baseball and the MSU Cheerleaders and Sugar Bears).   In May of 2009, one of my best friends, Stephanie Lael, told me about a hot yoga studio that was opening in Springfield. She had just moved back from Chicago, where hot yoga was already established, and told me how incredible it was. We went as soon as it opened and learned all about the amazing benefits of the heat. Yoga done in a warm environment protects the muscles and joints, helps you to sweat out more toxins and purifies the body, among many other things. I was hooked. Within a couple of weeks, we were offered a chance to attend Sumit Banerjee’s month-long training program in Arizona. Without the support and help of my husband, in-laws, parents and grandparents, it would not have even been possible for me to leave Springfield for a month! I’m so grateful for them. Once we returned, we were offered a teaching job at the studio. In December of 2010, the current owner offered to sell the business to Stephanie and me, and we couldn’t say no

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
N.L.: I truly believe yoga is a gift, and I feel so blessed and fortunate that I get to share it with people everyday! My business partner and I work extremely well together and crack each other up constantly. Our staff is so fantastic. You have to go through the month-long training in Arizona to teach for us, so it’s not like we’re hiring anyone who needs a job, they all have a real passion for it, too.  It’s really hard to not want to find passion in what you do when you’re surrounded by people who feel the same way about your business!

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
N.L.: From 2009-2011 I was the Head Cheerleading coach at Missouri State. I have stepped down and volunteer my time as the assistant coach since we bought the business so I can still be involved.  Coaching is something else I’m very passionate about, so I spend a lot of my free time working with them.  When the weather is nice, my husband, daughter and I love to go for walks and have our friends over for dinner and games. Steph and I like to do fun yoga workshops at the studio, too. We try to travel back to Arizona a couple of times a year to refresh our teaching skills and enjoy some yoga. I also volunteer and teach yoga in my daughter’s pre-school class at Immaculate Conception.

417: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
N.L.: Chamber of Commerce, and we are looking in to joining a new BNI chapter.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
N.L.: Set a goal, have patience as you work hard and most importantly, have faith in yourself. Take the necessary steps to get you to the goal, but be flexible with your timeline. If something goes wrong or is different that your plan, be grateful for it, use it as a learning tool and move on. Take a step back every now and then, and readjust your plan if needed.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
N.L.: That I get to share the gift of physical and mental health everyday while working along side one of my best friends! Every day is new and exciting. I have found a lot of balance in my life with this job too. Being a yogi, I am reminded to let go of the little stuff, focus on the important stuff and give gratitude. Being a business owner reminds me to stay grounded and use common sense and a detailed thought process to make important decisions. Also, even though I put in a lot of hours, they are flexible, so I get to be at all of my family’s important events.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
N.L.: The people in the Ozarks are just so kind, generous and appreciative. It’s a great place to own a business and meet like-minded people. Our community offers just as many opportunities as a big city, but with an intimate, small-town feel.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
N.L.: Slow down and enjoy it. I wish I would have appreciated my mom and step dad more in high school too. I didn’t realize it then, but they are the ones who taught me the value of a dollar and that hard work is just a way of life. To me, life is just more enjoyable when you are finding a way to give your all. They taught me to be honest, do what’s right and work hard to accomplish my goals, big or small.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
N.L.: I was a huge tomboy at that age, so I probably wanted to drive a dump truck for a living or something!

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
N.L.: Patience, determination and assertiveness mixed equally with compassion.

417:  Why are you a 20 under 30?
N.L.: I’ve worked really hard and tried to make it a personal goal to stay on track to attain my dreams.  It’s always been important to me to help the people I love and care about accomplish their dreams too by contributing to their needs however I can, even if it means getting off track for awhile. I genuinely care about our community the people I make connections with.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
N.L.: I’m really excited that Sumits Yoga is a part of the Mama Jean’s Meltdown program that’s happening right now in our community. I think a healthy lifestyle is a key component to a happy life. Also, we are working out details to some big changes to the studio, and it looks like we are going to be lucky enough to hold a local teacher training for Sumits Yoga. I can’t reveal too much on those last two projects yet, though!

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
N.L.: Coaching college cheerleading requires a lot of time, and I’m always second guessing it during the year, but at the end of each year, when I take a step back and reflect on the character of the individuals I coach, I feel really proud. Many of them were raised with great values, but I like to think that they learn a little something from me in the gym that they can take with them in to the real world, like discipline, team work, initiative and how to treat each other when times get stressful. I’m really proud of how my business partner and I communicate. Most people would say owning a business with your best friend is a recipe for disaster, but because we are up front and honest with each other and share the same goals and values, it just works for us. Also, even though marriage is never really a completed project, my marriage is something I’m proud of. We work hard to help one another out and to be kind and considerate to each other. It’s important to us to treat the other with the same respect we would treat a friend or client.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Friends, family, yoga and music makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without laughter, an inspiring student and a lot of sweat!

Ten years from now, I hope I’m still doing and teaching a lot of yoga and that my family is happy and healthy.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would travel the world with my family and friends and start a few more yoga studios…the world would be a better place if everyone did yoga.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is that I feel like I’m making an impact on our incredible community.

 

       

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.

 

While attending Missouri State University, a professor referred Zach Swartz to BKD Wealth Advisors for an internship. After he interned for nearly two years, Swartz was offered a junior portfolio manager position with the company, and he quickly worked his way up to become a portfolio manager. He finds his career rewarding in more ways than one. “Financial management is about more than just generating the highest return,” Swartz says. “It is about helping people succeed.” And he helps people succeed outside of his career, too. Swartz is a member of the Springfield Little Theatre Associate Board, and he is the liaison between BKD and Drury for the Drury University Summer Scholars program. Swartz is also involved in his second year of the Junior Achievement program, for which he teaches second-grade students at Wilder Elementary about how people work together in the community and economy. He’s also a member of several professional organizations, including Springfield Rotaract and The Network.

417 Magazine: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
Zach Swartz: No idea. I’m guessing it was to be some sort of architect or engineer. I loved Legos!

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
Zach Swartz: One of my professors at MSU referred me to BKD Wealth Advisors for an internship. I interviewed with our Chief Investment Officer, Jeff Layman, and was awarded the internship. After interning for almost two years, I was offered a Junior Portfolio manager position with Wealth Advisors. I had interviewed in Chicago and Kansas City, too, but selected Wealth Advisors because they were offering a job that allowed me to pursue wealth management.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
Z.S.: The first thing that keeps me passionate is that finance is constantly evolving and changing. You won’t get bored, because there is always something to research or implement for clients. Secondly, I really enjoy helping people. For some people, finance and investing is a touching subject. At Wealth Advisors, we help our clients develop a financial plan for their life and work with them until they succeed by achieving their goals. Financial management is about more than just generating the highest return, it is about helping people succeed.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
Z.S.: I guess I would have to say running. I would never have guessed that I would enjoy running, but over the past couple of years it has
grown on me. Currently, I am training for my second ½ marathon.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
Z.S.: The Springfield Little Theatre Associate Board—I am a member of the board and our responsibility is to create, plan and execute the Little Theatre’s Big Party each year. The Big Party is the largest fundraiser for the Little Theatre and usually brings in about $20,000 for the programs; Drury University Summer Scholars–I act as the liaison between BKD and Drury regarding this amazing program. The Summer Scholars program provides an opportunity to African American students in central Springfield to attend a summer program that exposes them to a college atmosphere. The students stay in the dorms and take regular classes. BKD provides volunteers to the program to teach classes on business topics; Junior Achievement–I act as a “teacher” in the Junior Achievement program. I teach to second graders in Mrs. Underwood’s class at Wilder Elementary. The topic I teach is called “Our Families,” which provides the students with examples of ways the people work together in a community/economy. My first year was last year, and I was amazed at how quickly the students picked up on the concepts we were discussing.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
Z.S.: Kansas City CFA Society–I am a member of the CFA society of KC where I attend educational sessions on finance and finance-related topics. Given that KC is a long drive for most meetings, I have started planning happy hours for the CFA Charterholders in 417-land. There are about 15-20 charterholders in the area and we have had pretty good attendance so far. I would love to see us get our own society, but that requires 50 charterholders. So, for all those finance professionals out there, go get the CFA!; CFA Institute–I am a member of the CFA Institute, which is the international organization for Chartered Financial Analysts.; Rotaract – I am a new member of Rotaract and look forward to working with other young professionals to support Boys and Girls Town.; The Network–I am a member of The Network, which offers young professionals opportunities to network and learn about topics affecting our community.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
Z.S.: Being passionate about what you bring to the table.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
Z.S.: Helping people maintain and grow their wealth.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
Z.S.: The people

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Z.S.: Short the market in 2008, because Lehman isn’t going to make it.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
Z.S.: No idea, I’m guessing it was to be some sort of architect/engineer. I loved Legos!

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
Z.S.: Leaving a legacy and being a role model for others; Creating successful relationships with clients; Passing knowledge to the next generation

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
Z.S.: Because I give back to the community by helping to educate others in business and finance topics.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
Z.S.: This year, the thing I’m most excited about is earning my CFA Charter. I took 3 exams over 3 years and have waited for a couple of years to earn the work experience necessary to earn the charter.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
Z.S.: I helped to implement a trading system in our firm that handles the trading and rebalancing of nearly $2 billion in assets across multiple offices.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Food makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a technology issue.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m providing insight to the finance profession.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would invest it, duh.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is the chicks.

Amanda Snelson, who is an architecture intern at Dake Wells Architecture, loves the creative aspects of her career. “In a way, my hobby is my work, because often my job feels like play,” says Snelson, who is training to be an architect. “I get to sketch with markers!” Her decision to become an architect was obvious—she says she has always let her creative tendencies guide her life decisions. And she also applies this principle to her leisure activities. Snelson is also the founder of Springfield’s PechaKucha Night, an event in which local creatives are invited to make presentations on various mediums of art, music, design, storytelling, architecture or philosophy. She’s also a chairperson for the Springfield Foundation for Architecture and an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Springfield, and she has volunteered for events through Habitat for Humanity and Project CoRE, among others.

417 Magazine: Why are you a 20 under 30?
Amanda Snelson: I strive, in everything I do—from where I buy my coffee to how I spend my free time—to better our community, and I make every decision with integrity.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
A.S.: I have always let my creative tendencies guide my life decisions. So, when I wanted to major in something where I could practically apply my creative side, architecture was the obvious choice. After graduating from Drury University and finishing a rewarding internship with Jason Hainline, my husband and I moved away so he could pursue his graduate degree. Unfortunately at the time, jobs in my profession were dwindling as construction stagnated. Moving back two years later, I applied to numerous architecture firms hoping to jumpstart my career. Dake Wells Architecture showed interest in me, and I’ve never looked back! I love my work, and everyday I am grateful for finding such a rewarding workplace and career.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
A.S.: I always aim to think of the big picture and the impact of my actions on the community. If I see a gap or problem, I attempt to find a way that I, as an individual, can better the situation–we can always do something. Setting a solid foundation of a meaningful intention behind every work and personal decision makes everything that much more significant and rewarding in the end. The passion comes with knowing you are changing the world (your world), however small, for the better.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
A.S.: Vegan cooking, home improvement (we have a fixer-upper in Midtown), iPhoneography, traveling (I am forever a wanderlust), biking, sketching, yoga.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
A.S.: Springfield Foundation for Architecture (affiliated with AIA Springfield) Chairperson, Exhibition Organizer (headed the coordination of the exhibition “Springfield Modern: The Mid-century Architecture of Richard P. Stahl, FAIA” displayed February 2012 at Drury University); PechaKucha Night, local founder and organizer (5 events from March 2011-January 2012, upcoming events TBD); Habitat for Humanity’s Toolbelts and Bowties 2011 volunteer doghouse designer (submitted through Dake Wells Architecture); Project CoRE (affiliated with OTC, MSU, Drury, CID, and UDA) design competition that took place in November 2010 to design an affordable sustainable single-family residence in Springfield (submitted design through Dake Wells Architecture). We received a Certificate of Merit; Ozark Greenways’ Bike to Work Week, firm representative motivating coworkers to use alternative transportation which led to Dake Wells Architecture winning the 2011 participation award.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
A.S.: AIA Springfield (American Institute of Architects), Associate Member, Holiday Party Planning Committee Member, Joplin Community Advisory Charrette volunteer–prepared maps and diagrams compiling information from FEMA used for a two-day planning charrette planned by AIA Springfield and AIA Central States focusing on post-disaster recovery; NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) IDP (Intern Development Program) Auxiliary Coordinator; Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture volunteer critic for student designs at mid-term and the end of each semester.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
A.S.: Have big dreams genuine to your true desires in life, and stay focused on the big picture (with patience in your back pocket). If you are bored or blaming others for being unsuccessful, you are doing it wrong. Patience is very important with this one!

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
A.S.: The creative process is such a challenging and rewarding aspect of my work. In a way, my hobby is my work because often times my job feels like play: I get to sketch with markers! In addition, being able to see my hard work come to fruition in the built environment is extremely fulfilling by helping design nationally recognized built environments that add culturally to the community. Finally, the everyday challenge of always learning something new and knowing that there is so much more to learn is satisfying.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
A.S.: I’ve lived in 417-land my whole life (besides a two-year stint in Vancouver, Canada), so working in this area feels like a tight-knit community. I feel that my potential to grow my career here is endless, as I am extremely lucky to have a broad network of people here that support my similar interests.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A.S.: Connections with people are the most important thing, and being an introvert is no excuse. Your personal network of people will either help or hurt you as you work to achieve your dreams.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
A.S.: I wanted to be an artist, because my initials spelled A-R-T and I enjoyed creating.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
A.S.: Integrity, love/passion, patience

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
A.S.: I am looking forward to observing the construction of Newburg Addition and Renovation of the cafeteria space for Newburg R-II School District and seeing the finished project. The finished project will provide the Newburg R-II School District with a bigger cafeteria, handicap accessible restrooms, a brand new entrance and updated kitchen equipment.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
A.S.: That’s a very hard question to answer as I feel all of my “projects” are like my children as I have invested so much time, energy and emotion in each one. SFFA’s recent exhibition opening of “Springfield Modern: The Mid-century Architecture of Richard P. Stahl, FAIA” at Drury University’s Pool Art Center was really rewarding, as more than 100 people from the community came out to learn about the rich architecture history of the area while honoring the work of many influential architects of the area. Also, every single PechaKucha Night has been really gratifying, and I always learn something new about 417-land’s creative community. If I have to pick just one, I am most proud of the first project in my architecture career which was a renovation completed last fall on Missouri State University’s campus: Carrington Auditorium.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Being part of a creative community makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without a Captain Kirk joke.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m balancing career with family.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d continue my day-to-day life.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is engaging with a wider audience.

 

Catie Neuber spent a lot of time soul searching while she attended Drury University. She debated several career choices, including doctor, lawyer, news anchor, FBI agent, speech therapist, audiologist, missionary and even a professional ninja. But she decided on none of the above. Neuber got a B.A. in Spanish from Drury University and then a master’s degree in teaching at Missouri State University. Today, she’s a Spanish teacher at Carthage High School and a photographer at the business she started, Catie Neuber Photography. Also, she and her friend Becca Brotherton recently founded The Hana Project, which empowers and equips a group of women in Asia to produce and market goods that will provide daily needs for their families. The project is currently supporting 12 families, but as demand for products increase, the number of families helped will also increase, Neuber says.  

417 Magazine: What completed project are you most proud of?
Catie Neuber: I am most proud of the philanthropy that my friend Becca and I have founded. Living in the United States, it’s really easy to forget what the quality of life is in other countries. To be able to help, even in the tiniest way, helps to remind me that the world isn’t all about me and my life.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
C.N.: I was hired by my then principals Ron Wallace and Jenny Bogle despite a first interview gone wrong. Their belief in me is what began my career in education, and I still teach today because of my students and the professionals I work with and for. My photography began when I bought a nice point and shoot camera in 2008 and began shooting everything! Friends began asking for sessions and wedding photography. Then Stacy Blackington, a client and friend who believed in my work, presented me a Nikon D90 body and gave me a talking to about following my heart and really utilizing my talent into a business. The Hana Project started while doing mission work in South Korea led by my church River Bluff Fellowship. Becca Brotherton and I heard about women in a specific country who make $5 a day. Often times they only eat one bowl of noodles a day. We had to help. Becca and I began working with some people there to figure out a way that we could help the women help themselves.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
C.N.: My husband Patrick inspires me every day. He is the hardest working, most honest and sincere guy I know. He prides himself in his work and will drop everything to help a friend in need. He teaches me every day that if something is worth doing, do it right the first time. In teaching, my students are my passion. It’s amazing how smart kids are these days! They amaze me every day, and I strive to be my best for them.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
C.N.: This year, I’ve started a 365 project as a personal photography challenge. I have two knitting projects going, a quilting project and several paintings that have yet to be finished. I make jewelry, sing (even though my dog usually thinks I’m dying) and collect Chuck Norris jokes. And I’ve always got my rock climbing shoes ready to go.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
C.N.: I love volunteering for the Developmental Center of the Ozarks. I believe their work is essential in our community, and they are so creative in how they raise support for their programs. Donating and volunteering has never been so fun. Another favorite place is the Potter’s House. I volunteered a lot in college, and that’s actually where I met my husband. It is crucial for college students to have a place to go and call “home,” and the Potter’s House provides exactly that place.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
C.N.: I believe everyone should stand by their convictions, pick their battles, and be grateful for the people who’ve helped shape who they are. There is no way I would be where I am today with the support of my church, my friends and my family.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
C.N.: I love working with and meeting new people. The human element is what I love best about my careers. Through my photography and the Hana Project, I’ve met some of the most awesome people in Springfield. Teaching has given me hope for the future. Kids really are the best. Don’t let them fool you into thinking that they are not.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
C.N.: I love the people and the sushi! No matter where I go in the world, the sushi never compares. Also, I couldn’t get through my morning commute without Kevin and Liz. I listen to their radio show every morning and I feel incomplete if I don’t. Shove your show!

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
C.N.: I would tell myself to chill out and take as many different types of classes as possible. I was very indecisive about my major, and I spent a lot of time soul searching in college. Luckily, I had the best friends who supported me through my various (crazy) career choices: doctor, lawyer, news anchor, FBI agent, speech therapist, audiologist, missionary and professional ninja.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
C.N.: I wanted to be the president of the United States, but I wasn’t born here, so then I wanted to be a doctor. I pass out pretty much every time I donate blood, so that career didn’t happen either.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
C.N.: A conscience, a heart and a trusted friend to bounce ideas off of.

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
C.N.: In every teachable moment I have with my students, or in every photo I take, I try to remember to put 115% of my heart and soul into it. Life is too short to wait for your big chance to be given to you. Keith, my father-in-law, always says “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.” I think this mantra is completely applicable to your work life as well.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
C.N.: Photography wise, more of my clients are requesting destination weddings or photo shoots. I love traveling, so this is a mix of two of my great loves in life. Teaching wise, I am honored to watch my kids become adults. They have much more talent than I, so it’s a privilege watching them pursue their dreams.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Chick flicks make life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without coffee.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m still coloring outside the lines.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would acquaint myself with the world.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is the honor.

Isaac Cowart received his degree in exercise science from Truman State University in 2006, and in 2009, he received his doctorate of physical therapy from Rockhurst University. After graduation, Cowart returned to Springfield and worked as a physical therapist for two years. Then he heard that Athletic & Rehabilitation Center, based in Kansas City, was looking to expand regionally and was considering Springfield. “I was familiar with ARC, so I reached out to them,” Cowart says. “I felt that I could help with their mission of redefining excellence in healthcare in the Springfield market.” Cowart was selected to be the director of the company’s first regional clinic. He says he loves seeing the impact physical therapy can have on quality of life for individuals. He also loves the fact that he can be home by 6 p.m. every night to spend time with his wife, Amanda. At press time, the couple’s first son was expected to be born April 1.

417 Magazine: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
Isaac Cowart: The challenge. Every person and every injury is unique.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
I.C.: I moved back to Springfield upon graduating from Rockhurst and began work as a physical therapist. After two years at my previous employer, I heard that Athletic & Rehabilitation Center (ARC) was looking to expand regionally, and that Springfield was a location they were considering. I was familiar with ARC, based out of Kansas City, due to going to school there, and so I reached out to them.  I was really impressed with their growth in less than eight years and felt that I could help with their mission of “redefining ‘excellence’ in healthcare” in the Springfield market. After about a month of interviews, I was fortunate enough to have been selected to be the director of their first regional clinic. I chose physical therapy (PT) as a profession back in middle school–I was always fascinated with medicine and the human body. I knew I wanted to work in the field of medicine, but family (or future hopes of family) was an important value for me. I chose PT because it is a profession that allows me to balance both. I love treating people and seeing the impact physical therapy can have on the quality of life for individuals, but I also love being home by 6 every night to spend time with my family.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I.C.: Being able to positively influence people’s quality of life.  Injuries impact every aspect of someone’s day-to-day routine. ARC specializes in workmans’ compensation rehabilitation, which means I am often working with people who depend on their bodies to support their families. I see quality of life as not only improving the patients’ function and easing pain, but also getting them back to work so they can support their families.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I.C.: Mountain biking, hiking, camping, brewing beer.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
I.C.: For the last three years, I have been captain of “Slow But Inefficient,” which is a small team of family members and friends who ride in the MS-150. I also participate in a variety of 5K runs each year to support local charities.

417: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
I.C.: APTA–American Physical Therapy Association; ARC is member of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Safety Council of the Ozarks and I attend meetings/events with my role as Director.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
I.C.: There is no secret–it is about hard work and setting expectations for yourself. You have to establish a game plan, and work towards achieving your goals along the way. If you do not have an end result in mind of where you want to be or what you want to accomplish, it is impossible to define your success.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
I.C.: The great thing about working in 417-land is living in 417-land.  Being able to have a successful career and live near family is great.  Also, the ability to leave town at 5 on Friday afternoon and be next to a roaring campfire in the woods by 7 is hard to beat.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I.C.: Work on your networking skills. I was fortunate to be born and raised in Springfield and have been introduced to a lot of amazing professionals along the way. I wish I had put more emphasis on the importance of networking, and establishing good professional relationships.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
I.C.: To play for the Boston Celtics–I really thought I was the next Larry Bird.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
I.C.: Being able to balance your career and a family; earning the trust and confidence of your colleagues; happiness–you have to enjoy what you do

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
I.C.: I was fortunate enough to be selected by Athletic & Rehabilitation Center to be Director of their first regional clinic. When someone of my age is able demonstrate the leadership and clinical skills to run a physical therapy clinic, people stand up and notice. ARC has established itself as the premier workmans’ compensation provider for rehabilitation services in the KC metro area, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to both work for ARC and be able to introduce their service lines and expertise in workmans’ comp to the 417 community.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
I.C.: I am truly excited about everything ARC has to offer for the 417 community. Our “project” is simply getting out there and informing physicians and employers about what makes ARC different. I always go back to our mission statement–“To be a catalyst of change in the marketplace by redefining ‘excellence’ in healthcare.”

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
I.C.: Completing my training with ARC. ARC is committed to providing a consistent product and experience between each of their clinics–as part of my training, I actually traveled up to Kansas City Monday-Friday for 3 months to be fully immersed in the ARC culture. It required a big commitment by me and my wife, but I think the outcome was invaluable.  We want to recreate the success ARC has had in the Springfield marketplace and the culture of ARC is certainly a strong component we are looking to replicate.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Good beer makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn't be complete without: a belly laugh from a patient.

Ten years from now, I hope I'm: expanding ARC’s presence in 417-land.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would: build an eco-friendly home.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is: making my parents proud . 

 

Johnathon Allen, executive chef and general manager of the Aviary Café and Creperie, can sum up the key to success with two words: Hard work. “Work till you fall over, then get back up and work a few more hours,” he says. Allen says he works approximately 15 hours per day, but it’s all worth it. “I love seeing the smiles of satisfied patrons,” he says. He grew up with a passion for food, and he has wanted to be a chef since age 5. “I got my dream job,” he says. “How often does that happen?” And while Aviary Café and Creperie has already been very successful, there are also some new projects in the works. He has plans to open a new food truck, like a 28-foot kitchen on wheels, and start a catering and special events portion of Aviary Café and Creperie. When he’s not busy at the restaurant, Allen enjoys spending time with his wife, Casey, who he says is “the prettiest wife in town.”

417 Magazine: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
Johnathon Allen: I love the diverse customer base we see at the café. The people are so nice out here compared to California.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
J.A.: I grew up with a passion for food and worked my tail off.

417: How do you find passion to do what you do?
J.A.: I love seeing the smiles of satisfied patrons.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
J.A.: Fishing, camping, hiking and pretty much anything that gets me outdoors.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
J.A.:  American Culinary Federation

417: How would you define the secret to success?
J.A.: Work till you fall over, then get back up and work a few more hours.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
J.A.: I get to see immediate results, and that is very gratifying.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
J.A.: Quit being lazy.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
J.A.: Chef. Dang, I got my dream job, how often does that happen?

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
J.A.: Hard work, being driven, willingness to learn

417:  Why are you a 20 under 30?
J.A.: I’ve come from being a homeless drug addict to executive chef of an exciting new restaurant in three years, and I have the prettiest wife in town. God is good.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
J.A.: We are planning on opening our new food truck (28-foot kitchen on wheels), and starting our catering and special events portion of aviary café.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
J.A.: Aviary Café and Creperie

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

God makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without about 15 hours of work.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m as blessed as I am today.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would donate 50 percent to Victory Trade School and teen challenge.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is recognition for the crazy amount of work it took to make my café successful.

David Murray and Robert B. Murray, Jr. (Ryan Murray’s father and uncle) are the executive vice-president and president of R.B. Murray Company, a family-owned real estate company that has been in 417-land for more than 100 years. And as a son and a nephew, Murray has truly learned from the best. In 2007, Murray laid the ground-work to establish an asset management division of the business, which launched in 2008 and flourished over the following years. The asset management focus is mainly a service for institutional owners, and it allowed R.B. Murray Company to adapt in rough times and provide a unique group of services to clients. In addition to his role as asset manager, he is also the vice-president of and commercial real estate agent for the company. With so many hats, no two days are ever the same. When he’s not busy at work, Murray spends time volunteering with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which he is on the Board of Directors and chairs a committee, and he is a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast.

417 Magazine: What’s do you like about working in 417-land?
Ryan Murray: The people. No question. I work with people and corporations large and small all across the country, and working with local people is the best.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
R.M.: It’s not unlike the Smuckers commercials, but instead of jam, we sell real estate. Growing up as a third-generation member in a family business that dates back more than 100 years, R.B. Murray Company is more than my workplace, it, quite literally, is my family. However, I was not forced into joining the family company. It is something that I chose to do, and working with my family is the best part of my job.

417: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
R.M.: My motivation comes from a drive to connect people. In our field of work, we get to satisfy the needs of business people both large and small by bringing users and landlords and buyers and sellers together to a mutually beneficial relationship.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
R.M.: Golf, writing, I recently have become obsessed building furniture (working with my hands gives me a break from the stress of work, and the sense of accomplishment when a project is done is very satisfying).

417: What charitable organizations are you involved with?
R.M.: I currently serve on the Board of Directors of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Missouri Southern MO Chapter, and I also chair a committee for Make-A-Wish.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
R.M.: I recently joined the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast where I serve on the membership development committee. I am also a member of the following professional organizations/accreditations: Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), Certified Property Manager, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED Accredited Professional.

417: How would you define the secret to success?
R.M.: Do it all. The excuse, that’s not in my job description, does not fly when you are part of a small family business. In the morning I can be on conference calls with international real estate funds, showing available space and overseeing accounts payable, and in the same afternoon I can be on a roof of a retail project in the pouring rain with maintenance staff and meeting with city officials.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
R.M.: Getting to work together with my family and building the relationships with our clients. My father and uncle have built close friendships and relationships with our clients, and doing business with people you know and trust is satisfying. These relationships allow us to be part of the ground floor helping small businesses in their germination stage. When they are talking with us about starting up or expanding and they need advice, we can help show them some pitfalls to avoid, and tried-and-true methods that we have seen succeed over time, as we help them find a space to call their own.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
R.M.: Don’t let your self get overwhelmed. Whether it is work or study, everything can be broken down into smaller parts that, when taken on one at a time, allow you to reach a lofty goal over time.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
R.M.: Inventor. I wanted to be like Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
R.M.: I can look at my father and uncle and see what I believe to be very successful careers. Having a reputation for being honest, fair dealing, and the best at what you do, which I believe they have achieved, is a mark of a successful career.

417:  Why are you a 20 under 30?
R.M.: I hope it is because I plan on staying here in southwest Missouri for the long term, and working to do my part to help this community thrive.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
R.M.: We have a lot of things in the pipeline right now, and choosing would be like choosing between children. As we hope to see the market improve and the demand return, the 60/65 development will be the most exciting local retail development that has been undertaken in my lifetime.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
R.M.: I successfully launched our asset management leg of the business, and that has allowed our firm to adapt in rough times and provide a unique group of services that are in high demand right now.

Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:

Family makes life worth living.

A day at work wouldn’t be complete without coffee.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m as happy as I am now.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would philanthropize my winnings (a word I just made up to mean give away money to worthy charities).

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is learning how others are successful.

 

Jessie Tindall says that if you want to be successful, you have to have a positive attitude, never stop learning and be dependable. Also, you can’t be afraid to fail. And if you do fail, you have to get right back up and try even harder. In addition to helping Tindall achieve a career as a relationship associate at The Commerce Trust Company, this drive has also lead her to be a founding member of the Child Advocacy Center’s Young Advocates Council and co-chair of its Community Awareness Committee. Plus, she’s a member of the Junior League of Springfield. Her determination has no end. This year marks the second year for the Child Advocacy Center’s Young Advocates Council, and Tindall recently set a goal for the spring fundraiser to raise more than last year. When she’s not busy with her career or volunteering through Child Advocacy Center or Junior League, Tindall enjoys spending time with her husband, Travis, and their two dogs, Banks and Tux.

417 Magazine: Where do you find passion to do what you do?
Jessie Tindall: Along with health and family, finances are at the top of everyone’s mind, especially in today’s economy. I find it so rewarding when my team and I can give a client peace of mind related to any sort of financial issue they might bring to us, regardless of its complexity.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession? 
J.T.: My father has been a money manager with a national firm for some 35 years, so I really grew up around the financial industry. During my sophomore year at Drury University, I began working as a teller at Commerce Bank and really enjoyed it, so it seems banking was my destiny.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
J.T.: I enjoy running, working out, remodeling our turn of the century home and spending time with friends and family.

417: What charitable organizations are you involved with?
J.T.: I am a founding member of the Child Advocacy Center’s Young Advocates Council and co-chair of the Community Awareness Committee.  In addition, I’m a member of Junior League of Springfield and was a member of the “Done in A Day Project” committee.

417: Are you a member of any professional organizations?
J.T.: The Network through The Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

417: How would you define the secret to success? 
J.T.: Have a positive attitude, never stop learning, be dependable and don’t be afraid to fail and get right back up and try even harder.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
J.T.: My role in private banking allows me to serve a very diverse group of clients. So many of our families have banked with us through multiple generations, so I most enjoy knowing our team gives them peace of mind as they transition through all stages of life.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land? 
J.T.: I most appreciate the balance between a larger city and small town feel. People here are very involved in the community and quick to lend a hand to those in need. 

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 
J.T.: Your parents know more than you do, so listen to their “words of wisdom!”

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
J.T.: Veterinarian or a gymnast, as my mom faithfully got me to lessons!

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
J.T.: Self-confidence, positive attitude, persistence

417:  Why are you a 20 under 30?
J.T.: I feel like I have been able to strike a good balance between investing in my career through hard work and dedication, while at the same time giving back to my community. I’ve been so fortunate to have been surrounded by good mentors and role models throughout my life, which has really allowed me to grow as a professional in our community.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
J.T.: Throughout the year, our team treats our clients and prospects to unique experiences (concerts, sporting events, educational seminars, etc.). For instance, this summer I will be helping to coordinate a day trip to the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I look forward to these events and making sure our clients have a great time. Also, not related to work, I’m very excited to kick off this year’s spring fundraiser for The Child Advocacy Center. This will be the second year since the formation of our Young Advocates Council and the team is working towards breaking last year’s fundraising goal.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
J.T.: In 2011, our private banking team experienced record growth, so I’m most proud of the collaborative effort of my teammates. I’m very thankful for the people I have the chance to work alongside, as they are simply the best.

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 a problem to solve!

Ten years from now, I hope I’m happy and healthy.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would go on a fabulous vacation.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is being recognized just for being who you are!

In 2010 and in a struggling economy, Emily Johnson and her business partners opened Revel Advertising. After working at several big-name agencies in Australia and the United States, Johnson was approached by friend and colleague Chris Jarratt to rebrand his design firm into a full-service ad agency. They saw a need to provide professional advertising to small businesses and non-profit organizations at a price that fit into their budgets. They fulfilled that need, and today the agency’s client list includes Anytime Fitness, Missouri State University Athletics and Mercy Research and Development and many others. Outside  the agency, Johnson is a board member for the Bolivar chapter of Care to Learn, which helps children struggling with health, hunger and hygiene issues.  
 
417 Magazine: Where do you find passion for your work?
Emily Johnson: Every day offers something new, and I’m constantly trying to learn more and excel in different areas of the advertising industry.

417: How did you end up at your current job/profession?
E.J.: After working at several agencies in Australia and the United States, including SapeintNitro, DDB Sydney, M&C Saatchi Sydney and Noble, I was approached by a long-time friend and colleague, Chris Jarratt, to rebrand his design firm into a full-service advertising agency. We saw a need in 417 to provide professional advertising to small businesses and non-profit organizations at a price that fit into their budgets.

417: What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
E.J.: Traveling, attending concerts, wine tasting and photography

417: What charitable organizations are you involved in?
E.J.: I am a board member for the Bolivar chapter of Care to Learn, where we help children in our community who are struggling with health, hunger and hygiene. I am also very active in mentoring local university students to help them better prepare for the professional world outside of college life. My business partners and I are constantly critiquing student portfolios, resumes and speaking to college clubs to make sure they entering the work force with the most straightforward information and strongest professional materials.

417: What professional organizations are you involved in?
E.J.: I am a member of the Springfield Business Builders Club, a member of the Springfield chapter of the American Advertising Federation, a sponsor and attendee of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium with Drury University

417: How would you define the secret to success?
E.J.: Hope for the best but plan for the worst. You can never be too prepared for anything that life throws your way.

417: What’s your favorite thing about your career?
E.J.: Everyday is something different. As a business owner and creative coordinator, I am constantly wearing several different hats throughout the day. One minute I can be concepting with our creative team for a client meeting and the next minute going over payroll with our operations manager.

417: What’s your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
E.J.: The people. As a full-service advertising agency, we work with all types of clients and business owners. Their personalities and confidence in our abilities provides the feeling of home even in a professional setting.

417: If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
E.J.: Focus more on learning foreign languages. After living and traveling abroad, I wish I had pushed myself harder to learn more than just the basics of Spanish. It always amazes me when I meet people who can speak two to three different languages on top of their native tongue. It’s also a great resume builder.

417: What was your “dream job” at age 5?
E.J.: I wanted to be a ballerina, that is until I discovered gymnastics.

417: List three traits that define a successful career:
E.J.: Strong communication skills; If you’re on time you’re already late; Working smarter, not harder

417: Why are you a 20 under 30?
E.J.: I work hard everyday to be successful but I’ve have had a lot of help along the way. My goal is to not only run a successful company, but also pay it back by helping students prepare for the future as much as I can.

417: What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
E.J.: My goal this year is to start a women’s networking club. There are so many successful women throughout 417 it would be such an amazing opportunity to build a group where we could turn to for advice, motivation and continuing education.

417: What completed project are you most proud of?
E.J. Starting Revel Advertising. My partners and I opened our doors in 2010 and now work with clients such as Anytime Fitness, Barnett-Davis Dental, Missouri State University Athletics, Mercy Research and Development, The Roost Bar and Grill as well as many others.

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 looking at my favorite blogs.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m teaching classes at Drury.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would pay off my student loans.

The best part about being a 20 under 30 is inspiring others to do more.

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