A message from our sponsor
The employee-owners of Riverview Community Bank congratulate each of the 2014 Accomplished & Under 40 honorees. These young professionals have not only demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication, but have also made significant contributions to their businesses and communities.
Their trajectories and stories of success may be unique, but what every member of this diverse group shares – whether an accomplished entrepreneur, a rising corporate star or a nonprofit visionary – is a commitment to their industry and to the people around them. We are confident that, having achieved all this and more before the age of 40, these young leaders will continue to play a substantial role in our community for years to come.
Riverview is proud to once again support the Vancouver Business Journal in this tradition of honoring Southwest Washington’s best and brightest young professionals. Congratulations to the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014!
Class of 2014
Police Activities League of Vancouver, executive director
For more than a decade, John Andersen has worked to improve the lives of children in Clark County – and he’s worked to better himself along the way.
“While completing his undergraduate degree at WSU Vancouver, John took on the responsibility of directing the program activities of the” Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Washington, says accountant Sandi Glandon.
Andersen rose to become director of teen services while earning an executive MBA in nonprofit management from the University of Portland, and was hired last summer as executive director of the Police Activities League (PAL) of Vancouver.
“I have been very impressed with PAL since John became a leader,” says Phoebe Krueger of Pacific Continental Bank, who praises him for boosting the nonprofit’s visibility within the community, and also for creating new programs since joining the organization.
“I can honestly say that he has made a difference in the lives of many, many children in our community,” adds attorney Scott Horenstein.
Columbia River Economic Development Council, business development manager
Less than three years out of college, Max Ault has already impressed many of Clark County’s long established leaders. Officials from U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s office, the state’s director of Workforce Development Initiatives, the head of the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver all say they recommend his work.
At CREDC, Ault is charged with identifying companies that might grow in Clark County, and with connecting them to the resources they need.
“This is a very complicated mission,” said Mike Bomar, the organization’s president. “Without much direct experience prior to this role, Max has hit the ground running, not only improving the process by which the CREDC assists businesses, but also quickly putting himself in a position to provide significant guidance and advice to growing companies. He has impressed many people in a very short time period.”
And WSUV chancellor Emile Netzhammer III says Ault has distinguished himself through his volunteer service on the Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Team Clark Forward, the Middle Class Alliance and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, as well.
“He exhibited a great amount of energy and enthusiasm toward serving his community,” says Netzhammer.
Hasson Co. Realtors, real estate broker
Clark County Planning Commissioner John Blom has built his career and his reputation around real estate, and his work as a Realtor features heavily in his Accomplished Under 40 nominations.
“John is a leader amongst his colleagues,” says Michelle Holm, executive director of the Clark County Association of Realtors. “He has the potential to be a major contributor to Clark County through his social, political and charitable activities.”
Linda McClellan at the Hasson Co. Realtors says Blom is a top-producing broker who is always willing to go the extra mile.
“As my own career and volunteer days wind down,” she says, “John is the Realtor I have chosen to assist my clients and have nudged into stepping into a leadership role.”
But even though Blom helped her find her “dream home,” Amy Johnson, manager of the Snowman Foundation, says there’s much more to him than real estate. Johnson praised Blom’s work as a board member for her nonprofit, which provides music education to children.
“I seldom find board members as dedicated as John, particularly those who are so passionate about our mission for providing access to music for all kids,” she says.
Clark County Community Services, Community Action and Homelessness Program, coordinator II
When Kate Budd was 18, a fire destroyed her possessions and made her homeless, notes Amy Reynolds, director of programs at Share.
“While she moved on from this experience, she never forgot it,” says Reynolds, who recounted Budd’s years working as an AmeriCorps tutor while living on food stamps, then helping families find shelter through the Council for the Homeless and taking a job aimed at increasing local volunteerism.
Today, through Clark County Community Services, Budd shapes policy and works with others to coordinate services provided to homeless people in the community, and she continues to volunteer for a number of groups that address homelessness and hunger.
“She is incredibly dedicated to ending homelessness and making sure social service providers in every corner of Washington have access to information and high-quality training opportunities,” says Kate Baber, homelessness policy and advocacy specialist with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “She is an effective leader who can bring diverse groups of people together and facilitate discussions that result in a consensus decision. And lastly, she brings creativity, innovation and enthusiasm to her work, which is so important to the statewide effort to ending homelessness.”
Energy Events, owner and race director
In 2009, Brian Davis started Energy Events to put on running events. This year, the company expects to put on 15 races, and it has grown to having 15 part-time employees and one full-time employee. Annual sales are now over $500,000.
Vancouver City Council member Alisha Topper says Davis’ business success has been tied closely to his commitment to the community.
“Brian had a vision to put Vancouver USA on the map,” and creating the city’s marathon in 2011 accomplished that vision, she says.
“Brian also uses his events to give back to the community,” through donations to groups like Fort Vancouver National Trust and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, says Phoebe Krueger at Pacific Continental Bank, who calls Davis “a role model for corporate citizenship.”
And through the marathon, monthly runs and formal races throughout the year, Davis has worked to support the growth of Southwest Washington’s running community, says Stephanie Lynn, owner of Sweet Spot Skirts, which has sponsored several Energy Events races.
Opsahl Dawson, president and shareholder
Aaron Dawson started his accounting career in the Seattle area, but by his late 20s he was ready to be an owner, not just an employee. He bought into an established Southwest Washington firm and became president of Opahl Dawson. His wife Jen, also an accountant, joined the firm as well.
Through his work and his relationships, Dawson has built a reputation that draws plaudits from within his industry.
“His financial astuteness, leadership clarity, civic participation and his high regard of family values make him the type of individual you want to list as your colleague and friend,” says Scott O. Davis of Davis & Associates.
Dawson’s “servant leadership” style has inspired staff and built a positive work culture, says employee Matt Lee.
“Our success and positive reputation has much to do with the positive influence Aaron has on everyone in our firm,” Lee adds.
That reputation netted Opsahl Dawson a spot in Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Firms to Work For” list this year. Dawson also does his part to prepare the next generation through his work with Washington State University Vancouver’s Carson College of Business, says Mistie Josephson, the school’s business growth MAP manager.
“The faculty and staff in Carson College of Business appreciate Aaron’s support in helping WSU Vancouver graduates success,” she says.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, Southwest Washington regional field organizer
In 1999, a year before she graduated from Washington State University Vancouver, Laura Ellsworth received a living kidney donation from her father, and that experience has clearly shaped her early career – as well as an ongoing community service commitment.
“From our first meeting, I knew this was a young woman of incredible heart and a depth of character and compassion of a born leader,” says Margaret Allee, director of programs for Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington, who met Ellsworth at the time of her kidney transplant. “She has developed in to an inspiring leader and gifted individual.”
After college, Ellsworth went to work for the National Kidney Foundation, and then for Donate Life Northwest.
In 2006, Ellsworth joined her current employer, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, where she leads get-out-the-vote and community engagement efforts as a regional field organizer. She continues to volunteer for national efforts to encourage organ sharing, and continues to serve Donate Life Northwest.
“She has touched many lives and will continue to do so,” says nominator Dena Horton.
Maureen Andrade, executive director of North Bank Artists Community Project, says she was impressed by Ellsworth’s effectiveness when they worked together during Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
“Laura is a talented volunteer coordinator and she runs some of the most effective phone banks in the community,” Andrade says.
Riverview Community Bank, vice president, small business lending officer
By day, P.J. Fisher works to help small businesses in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon get the loans they need, while trying to make Riverview Community Bank’s processes more efficient.
However, his work in Clark County does not end when he clocks out.
“P.J. balances the demands of his day job with the demands of family and still volunteers his energy and passion to community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest and to the Advisory Board of the Washington State University Vancouver Business Mentor Analysis Program,” says nominator Denise Smith.
Fisher has been a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer for seven years, leading the Clark County Ambassador Board, recruiting more people to give their time, raising funds and serving as a “big brother” to two boys. He also volunteers through Washington State University’s Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program, where he has acted as a mentor and currently gives time to an advisory board.
“I am impressed with P.J.’s initiative, leadership and passion for helping our community grow and prosper,” says Mistie Josephson, business growth MAP manager at the WSUV Carson College of Business.
Webfor, founder and lead search engine optimization consultant
After working at several large Fortune 500 companies, Kevin Getch decided it was time to go out on his own. In 2009 he founded Webfor, a full-service digital marketing agency that focuses on what he calls the three Rs: relationships, results and ROI (return on investment).
The strategy seems to be paying off – especially since Getch worked with the Small Business Development Center to develop a growth plan in 2012 – a year that started with two employees on staff, according to Buck Heidrick, a certified business advisor at the the SBDC.
By the start of this year, Webfor had 11 employees on staff and a record of solid revenue growth, Heidrick adds.
When he’s not working, Getch volunteers at the Share Fromhold Center and in local schools, and he serves on the board of SEMpdx, a trade group for search-engine marketing professionals.
SEMpdx President Alan George has praise for Getch’s efforts to organize a conference and raise funds for charity, and also for his business success.
“Kevin has succeeded in creating a successful and growing local business in Webfor,” George says.
Frumenti Lander & Wallace, shareholder and CPA
Just seven years after joining Vancouver accounting firm Frumenti Lander & Wallace, CPA Ryan Greear was promoted to shareholder.
His colleagues are pleased at the results.
“Ryan is an exceptional leader in our firm and a resource to the community,” says Keith Wallace, majority owner. “As a partner in our firm, Ryan has helped guide the direction of our firm growth, community outreach, staff development and quality control.”
Greear also serves on the Clark County YMCA’s board of managers, the Columbia River Economic Development Council’s Finance Committee, and participates in the Vistage Key Executive Program.
“Ryan has selflessly volunteered his expertise and analytical mind to the finances of the YMCA,” says board chair Robert L. Stewart.
Jewish Business Network
Rabbi Shmulik Greenberg and his wife, Tzivie, moved from New York City to Clark County in 2003 in an effort to unite the local Jewish community.
“But Rabbi Greenberg saw this directive as being much bigger,” says Kate Jones, executive director of KMR Group Foundation, a Vancouver nonprofit that serves children and homeless people. “He has gone from hosting weekly Shabbat services in his Hazel Dell home to opening the first synagogue in Clark County and establishing the Jewish Business Network, which is dedicated to helping underprivileged families in our community.”
Both within the local Jewish community, and in the broader world, Greenberg works steadily to improve children’s lives, says Lynn Miller, co-owner of Vancouver Sign Group, who has worked with the rabbi through Bridge the Gap, a nonprofit that works with abused and neglected children in Southwest Washington.
“He’s donned a chef’s toque to teach children how to make bread, explained the meaning of Hanukkah to those attending the annual public menorah lighting and opened the Gan Preschool to the whole community,” Miller adds.
Even Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt has taken note.
“Rabbi Greenberg’s immersion into the community since his arrival in 2003 has been impressive,” Leavitt says. “He’s repeatedly demonstrated what it means to be a leader and how to help others.”
PR Aqua, field sales representative; Clark College, soccer coach
By day, Sean Janson oversees a multi-state client list for PR Aqua, a Canadian aquaculture company, and he frequently presents at industry conferences. But in Clark County, he’s better known for his deep love of soccer.
“To say he is accomplished is an understatement,” says Greg McGreevey, who nominated Janson. “He is among the highest-level coaches in the Portland area.”
Janson is Clark College’s men’s soccer assistant coach, and recently also became women’s soccer head coach.
“As my lead assistant for the men’s soccer team at Clark College, Sean has been instrumental in the program’s success,” says Biniam Afenegus, head coach for the Penguins, who predicted victories for the women’s team, too, under Jensen’s coaching.
Janson has also volunteered to run multiple Clark County soccer clubs. He founded and oversees the annual Rose City Soccer Club’s goalkeeper clinic.
“His commitment to the sport and to the players is unparalleled,” McGreevey adds.
Kirkwood & Kirkwood, vice president; Big Al’s, CEO
As the younger of the two men behind Kirkwood & Kirkwood, Daniel Kirkwood sometimes gets less notice than his father, who ran the business when they founded it in 2005. Fast forward nine years, however, and he’s the vice president of the family real estate and development firm, and also CEO of Big Al’s Northwest, the bowling and entertainment chain.
“It’s hard for me to argue that Daniel is a ‘rising star’ in our organization, as he’s been its visionary and leader since its inception in 2006,” says Todd Moore, chief operating officer at Big Al’s. “But as Daniel nears 40 next summer, my sincere hope is that he can be celebrated in the community for all that he’s done as a business leader, employer and rooted family man.”
Halbert Construction, partner and vice president
Tracey Malone has been in the construction industry since she graduated from Clark College, when she was hired as a receptionist at Schlecht Construction. As she proved her abilities, she also advanced within the company, eventually rising to become an office manager and project coordinator, then becoming a project manager for Schlect subsidiary Heritage Development.
Then, in 2011, Malone joined with Bryan Halbert to found Halbert Construction Services, where she is a vice president and partner.
“Her integrity as a partner continues to propel our company forward,” Halbert says.
Malone has a long history with the Southwest Washington Contractors Association. As an executive committee member, she helped lead the effort to triple the association’s size and establish its present-day clout in Clark County. Today she is vice president of the group.
Malone also volunteers for the Children’s Center, Innovative Benefit Service and Dozer Days.
“Tracey is the kind of person you want to have on your team when the stakes are high, says Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. “She is reliable, thoughtful and knows how to ensure that deliverables are met.”
Columbia River Economic Development Council, director of communications and strategic partnerships
After she earned her master’s degree in political science, Kimberly Blake Pincheira made a logical career choice: She went to work for politicians. First she served as district representative for the office of former U.S. Congressman Brian Baird, then as Southwest Washington outreach coordinator for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.
“Her capacity to learn quickly was matched only by her good judgment and maturity,” says Kelly Love, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, who first hired Pincheira to work in the Congressional offices.
A year ago, Pincheira left that side of the political equation behind and became director of communications and strategic partnerships at the Columbia River Economic Development Council.
David Hodges, Southwest Washington director for Sen. Patty Murray’s office, says Pincheira’s move from politics to economic development has shown that she is “an asset not only to Senator Cantwell, but also to the entire community.”
“Kimberly plays a pivotal role in the health and viability of the CREDC,” says Mike Bomar, president of the organization. “She has done tremendous work in strengthening existing relationships while building new ties with businesses and other potential partners.”
Riverview Community Bank, vice president and branch manager, Battle Ground
Amy Price always seems to be up to something good. There’s the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce, where she serves as board chair; there’s Northwest Battle Buddies, where she sits on the board and coordinates events that serve veterans; there’s the Battle Ground Rotary Club, where she holds multiple leadership posts; there’s Harvest Days Cruise-In, which she helps to organize.
“I interact with many individuals and recognize Amy as a goal-oriented, natural leader,” says Douglas Quinn, director of water services at Clark Public Utilities. “She is a woman of integrity who has been blessed with intelligence and enthusiasm.”
Price’s work at Riverview Community Bank has also made a difference in the community, says Russell Brent, owner of Mill Creek Pub and vice chair of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce.
“Members often ask for Amy – not that the other staff isn’t excellent, but because Amy has developed great friendships and business relationships that the customers know they can count on every time.”
Eric Fuller & Associates, associate broker
If life is a race, Adam Roselli is in it for the long run, literally – he runs marathons.
Even when he’s not hitting the pavement, he seems to always be on the go. He writes a quarterly newsletter for Eric Fuller & Associates, he teaches a class at Western Washington University and he volunteers for numerous community groups – including the Vancouver Rotary Club and Innovative Services NW.
“He is the consummate professional and feverish worker, driving the reputation of Eric Fuller & Associates even further,” says Ember Shanahan, vice president of commercial services at Stewart Title. “Adam is the total package. He has made himself an outstanding member of this community already in his short 33 years.”
Or, in the words of Roselli’s boss, Eric Fuller, “Adam is a current and future leader of our community.”
International Air & Hospitality Academy, program manager
When things get bumpy, Admir Sabic is the person to call to smooth them out. When working as airline program manager at the International Air & Hospitality Academy, he was asked to take charge of the school’s hospitality program.
“That program immediately began to function perfectly,” says Arch Miller, president and CEO of the academy.
“We lost our program manager for our Northwest Railroad Institute and Mr. Sabic volunteered to assume management of this program,” Miller adds. “Again, the issues facing that program were smoothed out and the program operates very well today.”
Sabic assists the school’s director of education, counsels and advises students and supervises instructors.
“If the educational component is all that Admir did, he would be recognized as one of the outstanding members of the IAA team, but he does so much more,” says Edmund Bedecarrax, vice president and director of education at the academy. “Admir is a remarkably responsible, confident young man. He is deeply respected by his colleagues.”
Clark County Department of Community Services, prevention specialist
As prevention specialist in Clark County’s Department of Community Services, Tiffany Schweterman coordinates a county-wide teen peer education program aimed at preventing substance abuse. She also coordinates West Van for Youth, and serves as a steering committee member of the PREVENT! Coalition.
Schwieterman is a graduate of Leadership Clark County’s class of 2011, and has been active as a volunteer with the YWCA, a 24-hour domestic violence hotline and the Human Development Club.
“Tiffany has a passion for being a voice for the voiceless, advocating against violence and working upstream to prevent the consequences associated with drug and alcohol abuse,” says Dave Cole, program director of Partners in Careers. “She is an inspiration to all that she works with, and I firmly believe that our community – and specifically our young people – need more people like Tiffany.”
WE Plan It, CEO, special event and wedding designer
Wendy Strum started climbing the career ladder when she was 22, the sole bread-winner providing for two young children. She worked at Flightcraft, the Port of Portland and Papa Murphy’s International, eventually becoming vice president at Aircraft Management Solutions.
Then in 2011, she went into business for herself, founding WE Plan it, an event and wedding-planning company.
“She was awarded Best in Business for event planning in 2013, and since has been booked consistently. Though her weekends book up years in advance, she still sets aside time to serve her community with her skills,” says Katelynne Cox, Strum’s daughter, who nominated her mom for this recognition.
“She was always the sole provider for us both and was able to (provide) a more blessed life than most, working every day and commuting long hours to work, but still able to take us to softball, soccer games and cheer camps,” Cox adds.
But don’t just take her daughter’s word for it. Mill Creek Pub owner Russell Brent says Strum does great work.
“She builds immediate trust,” says Brent. “She is honest to a fault. She is generous to a fault [and] always willing to take on a cause.”
Clark County Board of Commissioners, senior policy analyst
Before coming to Clark County, Axel Swanson served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, attended Vermont Law School, and at age 27 was elected to a four-year term on the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners.
Today, Swanson is charged with advising Clark County’s Board of Commissioners on policy matters, a job that has earned him the respect of his colleagues and peers.
“The experience he gained as a Cowlitz County commissioner set him apart from other candidates for the position and has proven valuable to us as a board and as individual commissioners,” says Tom Mielke, chair of the Clark County Board of Commissioners.
“Axel has a talent for blending objective analysis, common sense and the simple truth at times when it is neither popular nor simple,” says Christopher Horne, chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney for the county.
Swanson has mastered the workings of county and state government, and has become a valued conduit for members of the public who come to the board with concerns or questions, says county administrator Mark McCauley, who added that Swanson is likeable, too.
“In fact, if I were to be stuck in a fishing boat with someone for 12 hours, I couldn’t think of a better companion than Axel Swanson,” McCauley says.