Some of San Luis Obispo County's best and brightest leaders have been selected as The Tribunes Top 20 under 40 award winners this year.
Now in its ninth year, the competition honors the accomplishments and achievements of young women and men under the age of 40 who have demonstrated excellence in their professions and commitment to community service. To be eligible, nominees must have lived and worked in San Luis Obispo County year-round.
Ninety-six individuals were nominated for the honor. Five judges representing both the private and nonprofit sector evaluated the nominations, selecting the winners at The Tribunes request.
The judges were Lino Bozzano, vice president of vineyard operations at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and a 2012 winner; Monica Grant, chief executive officer of the San Luis Obispo County YMCA; Robyn Letters, principal of Opinion Studies; Michael Manchak, president and CEO of Economic Vitality Corp.; and Janice ODell, chief financial officer of Chemlogics Group.
Short biographies of the winners will be published in The Tribune in early February. The winners also will be recognized at a special luncheon Feb. 6 at the Madonna Inn. Tim Bennett, former president of Harpo Inc., Oprah Winfreys production company, will be the guest speaker.
As in years past, winners have proved they have the leadership skills, dedication and vision to make a difference in their organizations and respective communities. They also represent a diverse group of occupations and industries, and have been involved in a wide range of nonprofit organizations.
The judges said their task was daunting.
Many more than 20 deserve recognition and encouragement, said Letters. I am awed by the professional prowess and personal commitment demonstrated by these young applicants. I walked away from this experience with the feeling that our county is in very capable hands as this next generation takes over more and more leadership roles.
Grant, who took over as CEO of the local YMCA in May, said that reading these nominations made me even more excited and proud to be a part of this community. The quality of the up-and-coming talent and community commitment is truly inspirational.
Manchak noted that every nominee is a shining example and reminder to us all that we must all give back and be an example for our community, both personally and professionally.
Here are this year's winners:
- Ryan Alaniz, assistant professor of sociology, Cal Poly
- Jon Ansolabehere, associate attorney, Carmel & Naccasha LLP
- Aaron Asplund, chief business official, Templeton Unified School District
- Anna Bates, agriculture teacher, San Luis Obispo High School
- Anna Boyd-Bucy, executive director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County
- Lani Colhouer, co-owner, Simply Clear Marketing Inc.
- Whitney Diaz, digital brand strategist, Verdin
- Jami Fawcett, business manager, Hind Inc.
- Fidel Figueroa, manager, San Simeon Lodge and San Simeon Beach Bar and Grill
- Benjamin Higgins, director of agricultural operations, Hearst Corp.
- Angella Holmes, Child Welfare Services social worker, San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services
- Tawnee Hosick, branch manager, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc.
- Courtney Howard, senior water resources engineer, San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department
- Michael Hughes, founder and president, Gymnazo
- Betsy Kinsley, chief of staff, Cal Poly
- Dr. Ryan McGaughey, chiropractic doctor, McGaughey Chiropractic
- Salvador Ramos, vice president, La Reyna Market y Carniceria, La Reina Sports Bar & Grill, El Camino Car Wash in Atascadero and Paso Robles
- Judy Staley, board member, Mainstream Energy, and co-founder, REC Solar Inc.
- Tyler Wertenbruch, president, SLO Bicycle Coalition, and information technology manager, Radakovich, Shaw & Blythe LLC
- Mike Wozniak, founder of 3 Ball Academy and co-host of The Sports Bite, a local sports talk show