Some of San Luis Obispo County's best and brightest leaders have been selected as The Tribune’s Top 20 under 40 award winners this year.
Now in its 10th 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 the county year-round.
About 70 individuals were nominated for the honor. Five judges representing both the private and nonprofit sectors evaluated the nominations, selecting the winners at The Tribune’s request.
The judges were Chris Connors, general manager, Zurn Industries LLC; Lesley Santos Dierks, chief executive officer, Spokes; Betsy Kinsley, chief of staff, Cal Poly President’s Office and Top 20 under 40 winner last year; Heidi McPherson, chief executive officer, The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County; and Brian Talley, owner, Talley Vineyards.
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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. 5 at the Madonna Inn. Adam Firestone, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Co., will be the guest speaker.
As in years past, winners have proven 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 they were impressed with the quality of all the nominees, both in their professions and volunteer commitments.
“It’s exciting to see so much community involvement at this age level,’’ McPherson said. “It speaks volumes for the leadership of this county.”
2014 Top 20 Under 40 winners
- Melissa Babu, president and attorney, Babu Law Firm
- Devon Baird, executive director, ALPHA Pregnancy & Parenting Support
- Kristi Balzar, executive director, Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers
- Jay Beck, senior vice president, Founders Community Bank
- Jesse Bilsten, principal designer, GoDaddy.com
- Jeff Bower, vice president of consulting, TekTegrity Inc.
- Ryan Caldwell, wealth advisor, R.E. Wacker Wealth Partners
- Lindsey Collinsworth, education director, San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
- Jordan Cunningham, attorney, Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland & Green LLP
- Shannon Downing, marketing manager, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center
- Greg Modica, enrolled agent, Modica Financial & Tax
- Suzanne Parker, manager, government relations, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
- Elizabeth Reynolds, supervisor, Sheep Center and Goat Enterprise, Cal Poly animal science department
- Chris Richardson, managing partner, Richardson Properties
- Miranda Schmidt, senior marketing content specialist, Zurn Industries LLC
- Jon-Erik Storm, attorney, Jon-Erik G. Storm Inc.
- John Waddell, project manager of Los Osos Wastewater Project, San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department
- Christine Wallace, neighborhood outreach manager, San Luis Obispo Police Department
- Janet Wallace, attorney, Duggan Smith & Heath
- Kevin Wilkinson, owner, Coastal Vineyard Services LLC