A message from our sponsor
Davidson & Associates Insurance has been protecting what is important to individuals and business since 1990 in this great community!
We love this community and are excited about the future leadership which is exemplified in the Classes of Accomplished and Under 40.
We at Davidson & Associates Insurance are proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of this great event. Congratulations to the class of 2018! We appreciate what you have done in the past to get you here and look forward to your future accomplishments and contributions that you will make!
Council for the Homeless
Poised at the center of the regional housing crisis, Melissa Baker is the Housing Solutions Center Director at Council for the Homeless, and she is committed to assisting the community’s most vulnerable populations at every turn. In addition to her career, Baker volunteers with veteran’s assistance groups, she counsels at-risk youth, and she developed and leads a children’s program at New Heights Church.
Baker has a Master’s degree in Public Affairs and bachelor’s degree in Social Science, both from Washington State University Vancouver. Prior to her engagement at Council for the Homeless, Baker was a Housing Case Manager for Lower Columbia Community Action Program, and she interned at Central City Concern in Portland working with homeless veterans. In addition she is a busy mom with eight children.
“Our community is very fortunate to have Melisa tirelessly committed to making this a better place to live and work,” said Michael Torres, Clark County Community Housing and Development manager.
Briana Blocker is a financial advisor in the community, and her volunteer outreach seems to extend from one end of town to the other. Prior to her work with Ameriprise Financial, Blocker was a banker at Wells Fargo. She is on the boards of several local charitable organizations and is particularly devoted to serving children. She is on the boards of Bridge the Gap, which provides resources to abused and neglected children in foster and adoptive care; Fruit Valley Foundation; and Learning Avenues Childcare. She also divides her volunteer time between Share Vancouver, Humane Society for Southwest Washington and the Southwest Washington Contractors Association. She earned Bachelor of Music from University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music.
“Briana believes the path to success is paved in early childhood and that every child deserves access to world-class education,” said Jerry R. Todd, executive director, Learning Avenue Child care Centers.
Opsahl Dawson CPAs
Having purchased the company with her husband nearly 10 years ago, Jennifer Dawson is vice president and shareholder at Opsahl Dawson, a now-thriving Vancouver accounting firm. Prior, she was an Accounting and Auditing supervisor at Clother & Head in Seattle. Dawson earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Western Washington University.
Dawson is rooted in Ridgefield, and is an officer of the South Ridge Elementary PTA as well as a board member with the Ridgefield School District Foundation. Dawson is in the 100 Women Who Care SW Washington Chapter, balancing work and volunteerism with family life with three young daughters, including twins.
“Jen continually strives to do more and I am amazed at what she has accomplished both personally and professionally,” said Tina Krause, Leadership Clark County Board member & Curriculum Chair.
Washougal Police Department at Camas High School
Serving his community as a Washougal Police Officer for 13 years is only the beginning for Zane Freschette. Last year he came to be Law Enforcement liaison for the Region 6 Target Zero Task Force, made up of traffic safety experts from each agency in Clark County, which affords him a direct voice to Washington State Policymakers. He is a mentor to young people as the head wrestling coach for the Camas Wrestling Club and has been coaching wrestling throughout the county since 2007. He was named the Greater St. Helens League 4A wrestling coach of the year in 2012. That he has time to start a small business is a small miracle, but in 2017, Freschette launched Durabuilt Construction and is a general contractor in the family business.
“Sgt. Freschette excels at everything he puts his mind to, whether it is serving his community in his law enforcement role or mentoring … our youth as a wrestling coach,” said Washougal Chief of police Ron Mitchell.
iQ Credit Union
Serving clients, customers and community seems to be Andrew Gratzer’s triple bottom line. In addition to his work as a Business Development Officer at iQ Credit union, he has a long career of committed customer service and extends this work ethic to charitable and professional organizations throughout the county. Gratzer is the Board President of Emerging Professionals in Clark County and a founding board member of Good Sport Equipment Connection, which provides quality sports equipment to students in need. He also serves on committees at the East Vancouver Business Association, the Parks Foundation of Clark County and Share Vancouver. Always reaching for the sky, Gratzer has earned a private pilot license.
“Andrew inspires those around him both through his personal projects as well as those that are business related. He is an incredible advocate for the underrepresented in our community,” said Kim Hash, director of Development and Communications, Share Vancouver.
City of Vancouver
Every day, Rebecca Kennedy is at work making Vancouver is a more vibrant, connected, small-business-friendly place to live, work and play. She brings vast knowledge from her Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree and her work in Portland’s Neighborhood Economic Development department to the neighborhoods of Vancouver. A long range planning manager in Vancouver’s Community and Economic Development Department, Kennedy has made an unmatched impact on the Waterfront Development, the Fourth Plain Corridor revitalization and paved the way for food trucks, brew pubs and other small businesses to navigate their way to success. In addition, she is a founding board member of VanTalks, a TED-style speakers event, a Southwest Washington Representative of the Urban Land Institute Northwest, board member of Housing Land Advocates, and founding board member of Emerging Metropolitan leaders.
“A rising star at the City of Vancouver, Rebecca’s knowledge, enthusiasm and hard work sets a high standard at the City of Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle.
RJL Business Services
Jennifer Loftin is a creator at heart. She is the CEO and owner of her own business, RJL Business Services Inc., and where she consults small businesses on financial planning and success strategies, as well as provides various budgeting, bookkeeping and payroll services. Loftin is also the co-founder of Game Changers Global network, a local business network focused on “giving and serving.” All the while she has served as an integral team member of Discover-e Legal. She volunteers as the Children’s Church Leader at Faith Baptist Church and is the former vice president of Ridgefield Little League. She is a member of 100 Women Who Care Southwest Washington, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, and the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
“Jen has always been a forward thinker with a positive attitude, pushing herself and everyone around her to be better. Jen is a person you can trust and rely on and is always making tough tasks look easy,” said Rob Oliver, president of Discover-e Legal.
Workforce Southwest Washington
A tireless champion for “opportunity youth,” Miriam Martin has made a substantial impact on driving workforce development in Southwest Washington by lifting up young adults at every turn. This year, Martin was promoted to Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council Director after serving as the Youth Initiatives Manager for two years. In 2017, Martin unveiled the vision for what would become “NEXT,” Clark County’s new Youth Education and Employment Center, streamlining services from several agencies that guide youth with significant social and education challenges into careers. In addition Martin serves on the Emerging Workforce Committee and the STEM Network and Career Connected Learning Advisory Committee, among other volunteer responsibilities.
“Miriam has a bright future ahead of herself and she is leaving and incredible legacy within our community. She works hard to put others’ needs above herself and is passionate about our community and all that live here,” said Dave Cole, director of Southwest Washington WorkSource Centers.
A “true leader and super star in our community,” Kareen Mills has been a Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) Ambassador since 2015, wrote a book called The Sixth Sense, started a networking group called the Game Changers Global Network, LLC, and also started a podcast under the name Mother Hustler. She is also an Independent Insurance Broker with LegalShield Broker Division.
As co-founder of Game Changers Global Network, Mills is responsible for marketing strategies to launch groups across the country and eventually on a global scale.
In addition to her professional life, Mills is also a very involved mother of two boys and the wife of a hardworking husband.
“Kareen’s determination to help humanity has inspired many people in our business community to join her efforts to make a positive change through networking and supporting local causes,” said Amy Tanska, membership recruitment director for the GVCC. “Not only does Kareen win awards for her business productivity, she actively encourages her peers to achieve more in their own fields through her motivational and informative podcasts and blogs.”
Miller Nash Graham & Dunn
Senior Counsel with Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP, since June 2017, Michelle Nisle works as an estate planning attorney, handling the drafting of trusts, wills, and medical directives, and appearing in court for guardianship petitions, probate proceedings and estate litigation.
Nisle has also worked for the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, NW Legacy Law Center and had a solo practice, The Law Office of Michelle E. Nisle, PLLC, that focused on estate planning, probate matters and guardianship petitions. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, a member of the Estate Planning Council of Southwest Washington and an Order of the O member.
“Michelle’s experience in dealing with crime victims, self-represented litigants and vulnerable individuals makes her an exceptional lawyer and advocate,” said Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark. “She demonstrates unwavering civility and calm in dealing with difficult people and situations.”
NEXT YOUTH CAREER CENTER
For the past decade, Morgan Parker has been a strong advocate for disadvantaged youth in Clark County, first working with at-risk youth through a program called At Home At School (AHAS) that was sponsored by Washington State University Vancouver. In this position, Parker worked with more than 600 youth and 150 volunteers to implement arts-integrated programming. Parker also currently worked as program coordinator for Partners in Careers (PIC). She was promoted to that position after holding the position of YouthFirst employment specialist. She is a member of the Clark County Career and Technical Education (CTE) Consortium Committee, the STEM Network and Career Connected Learning Subcommittee, the Washington Association for Career and Technical Administration (WACTA) and the Curriculum Committee for Leadership Clark County (LCC).
“Morgan has an undeniable passion for serving our community through serving our youth,” said Dave Cole, director of Southwest Washington WorkSource Centers. “I am proud to know her and even prouder to work with her.”
Industrial Training International
President and CEO at Industrial Training International, Inc.; founder at LITES.org; co-founder, chairman and adviser at DeepCanopy; and vice president and COO at Industrial Training International, Inc., Zack Parnell is inspired by people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Leonardo da Vinci, and is a “voracious consumer of knowledge and information.”
Parnell’s community involvement and activities have included the Washington State University Vancouver MAP Program as a mentor, youth sport volunteer and he recently added to his family by adopting two boys.
“During my time (in the position of Business Growth MAP Manager at Washington State University), Zack served on the Business Growth MAP Advisory Board,” said Mistie Josephson. “As an advisory board member, he went above and beyond to help the program grow. He sponsored the program and served on a working committee, referring potential volunteer mentors and clients. Zack’s engagement in the community is an inspiring example for leaders.”
In just over two years at LSW Architects, Merry Saari has become a champion of LSW’s love for people and the community. She has worked closely with LSW’s ownership, as their focus manager, to implement strategic initiatives and set the foundation for the firm’s ability to recruit amazingly talented team members. Saari also provides business development acumen for LSW’s Interiors Studio, helped launch LSW’s Bootcamp4Business and support the start-up of RYD.
Saari is also a part of the Vancouver Downtown Association Board of Directors and the Parks and Recreation Marketing Committee.
“Merry is a natural entrepreneur and thrives in creating value for those around her,” said Shara Wokal, Chief Financial Officer at LSW Architects. “Merry goes beyond the surface to get to know the people she engages with, learning their needs and working to meet them or connect them to others who can. Merry’s ability is awe inspiring.”
Marshall Stagg is currently an attorney and shareholder with Landerholm, P.S. He has been an attorney here in Vancouver since 2011, and over the years has been an attorney and Certified Public Accountant. Prior to working with Landerholm, Stagg worked an independent attorney at the Law Office of Marshall K. Stagg, and also worked as a tax consultant with Schiller & Company, a volunteer attorney with Legal Aid Services of Oregon and an associate attorney with Kurtz, Anderson and Associates.
Stagg served on the Board of Directors for the Clark County YMCA for five years, and is currently looking for other board opportunities.
“Marshall is a talented attorney that I have not hesitated sending family and friends to,” said Tim Cross, executive director at Touchmark. “He is professional and always looking out for what is best for people. On top of this, he is someone I consider a great person and friend.”
As president of Blaze Restoration, Ken Stryker works to execute new customer acquisition, increase sales, contract negotiations, cost reduction and more. He is also the director of Team Stryker Foundation, a nonprofit corporation in Washington aimed at reducing the number of weapon-related deaths in schools through security devices, activism, planning, incentivized buy-backs and education. Stryker is involved with several other organizations, including Landover Sharmel Neighborhood Association, Glaze at Blaze, Habitat for Humanity, youth basketball coach, sponsor/member of DogPaw and more.
“Mr. Stryker has proven to me to be a steward of our community and adept at running his small business in a marketplace filled with nation-wide powerhouses,” said Matt Wiles, executive vice president of operations for Howco Distributing. “Not only does Mr. Stryker run a successful business in our community he also volunteers his time as vice chairman of his neighborhood association.”
American Family Insurance
When Tina Vlachos moved back to the Clark County area in 2014, she hit the ground running. She started EPICC and led the organization for two years, she’s highly involved in Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, NWRI, PIC, 100 Women Who Care, NWABA and more.
Vlachos has been an insurance agent, business owner and marketing specialist with American Family Insurance since 2008, holding life, disability, property and casualty licenses in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. She protects financial security by providing insurance for clients and more.
“Tina is an absolutely force to be reckoned with in the community,” said Evan Strandberg, business development manager at iQ Credit Union. “From her work with EPICC to Rotary, she continues to show up and put her whole heart into the organizations she supports. I have been lucky enough to sit at her table at the NWABA fundraiser and see her passion for helping children shine.”