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					                                                                Class of

                                                                2011




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2   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                                                                   ADVERTISING DIRECTOR
                                                                                                       Trevor Collins

                                                                                                  AuDIENCE DEVElOpmENT
                                                                                                        mANAGER
                                                                                                       Sharon moyer

                                                                                                   lOCAl SAlES mANAGER
                                                                                                      Carolyn mclaurin

  In cooperation with Fayetteville Young Professionals                                                mARKETING EDITOR
  A program of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce                                    Jason Beck

                                                                                                     mARKETING WRITER
                                                                                                       Nikki Toulouse

    In this magazine, The Fayetteville Observer honors 40 of Cumberland                               GRApHIC DESIGNER
  County’s rising leaders for both their business success and community                                Danielle N. Fennern
  involvement.                                                                                        pHOTOGRApHERS:
    They were recognized during a formal gala held in their honor and their                            Honoree photos by
  success is documented in this special keepsake publication.                                             Andrew Craft
                                                                                                   Cover photo illustration and
    The honorees selected in this inaugural class stand out above the crowd.                      gala photos by michael Conti
  They are youthful men and women who make a positive impact every day
  through their careers and community service.
    We sincerely thank our sponsors, judges and participants for making
  this special initiative possible. Thanks to this year’s honorees for their
                                                                                                 The entire contents of this magazine
  passionate commitment to success and service that led to their selection.                        are copyrighted and may not be
    We hope you enjoy meeting our “40 Under Forty” Class of 2011.                                used or reproduced without written
                                                                                                     permission from the editors.

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                                                                                                     Fayetteville, N.C. 28306

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                                                                         www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011     3
Our judges                                                    W
                                                                          hen we asked for the 40 best and brightest young leaders in Cumberland
                                                                          County, we left our panel of volunteer judges with an arduous task.
                                                                          Dozens of nominations were submitted, but we wanted only the most
                                                              deserving honorees inducted into the inaugural class of The Fayetteville Observer’s
                                                              40 Under Forty.
                                                                 Our seven judges sorted through the nominations, debated each candidate’s
                                                              merits and weighed each resume against the others.
             Chris Bostock                                       The consensus? It was next to impossible to narrow the stellar field down to 40.
Financial Advisor, Senior Resident Director                      “It was an extremely strong group of nominees,” said Tim Richardson of First
              Merrill Lynch                                   Citizens Bank. “Without question it was very hard to make the final selection as all
                                                              candidates brought unique qualities to the table.”
                                                                 Those qualities included strong leadership abilities, an insatiable work ethic and
             Dr. Sid Gautam                                   a desire to help others. Judges looked at a combination of all of those traits before
Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship                   making a final decision, said Chris Bostock of Merrill Lynch.
            Methodist University                                 “For me I can’t say it was any one quality,” Bostock said. “What was important to
                                                              me was an established track record of success and a long history of giving back to
                                                              the community.”
      William F. “Bill” Griffin                                  Jeffery Womble of Fayetteville State University said his focus was more on service
                                                              than business success.
       Dean of Business Programs
                                                                 “One of the criteria that I looked for was community involvement,” he said. “So
Fayetteville Technical Community College                      often it is said that our young people are not as actively involved in community
                                                              and civic affairs as they should be. I, and I am sure my fellow judges would agree,
                                                              wanted to make certain that the individuals selected for this honor were giving back
              Robert Hines                                    to the community in which they live and work.”
             President and CEO                                   Suzanne Pennick of Coldwell Banker had two words to describe her ideal
       United Way Cumberland County                           candidate – well rounded.
                                                                 “All of the judges felt as I did, that it was important that the people selected be
                                                              well rounded, not only in their professional lives, but what they were able to give
          Suzanne Pennink                                     back to the community,” she said.
               Broker/Owner                                      Some of the nominations stood out head and shoulders above the rest, said
                                                              William Griffin of Fayetteville State University.
         Coldwell Banker Advantage
                                                                 “Overall the caliber was above and beyond the normal call of duty,” he said. “I did
                                                              not have a hard time identifying my top 20, they came to the top pretty easily. It was
                                                              the second group where I had to look deeper for tie breakers.”
            Tim Richardson                                       Robert Hines of United Way bragged on the honorees’ work ethic.
              Area Vice President                                “You don’t have to chase them or beg them to do it, they want to do it,” Griffin
              First Citizens Bank                             said. “It makes me feel good, because they are Fayetteville’s future leaders.”
                                                                 Richardson said seeing this generation of young leaders encouraged him about
                                                              the future of our community.
          Jeffery M. Womble                                      “Many are already leaders in our community, with many more to follow that were
         Director of Public Relations                         selected,” he said. “Fayetteville is a great place to work, live and raise a family. It will
         Fayetteville State University                        continue to be an even stronger market because of these winners and others with
                                                              the talent, as well as the desire, to keep stretching us to new heights.”




Congratulations from FYP
   When I saw the list of names that were selected for The Fayetteville        As the Chair of the Fayetteville Young Professionals (FYP), I am
Observer’s 40 Under Forty, I was honored to be included in such an          honored to congratulate this next group of leaders who have made
outstanding group of young professionals. From local elected leaders to     Fayetteville their home and are constantly working to make it even
those serving in the military, this year’s inaugural class represents an    better. Part of the mission of FYP is to create a network of young
outstanding cross section of our community. While we all come from          professionals that fosters personal and professional development
different backgrounds and ended up in Fayetteville for different reasons,   to engage them to take ownership in the future successes of our
the one thing we have in common is that everyone on the list gives back     community. Those being honored live that mission daily.
to ensure that this community is better than when we got here.                 As a life-long resident who chose to come back to work in my family
   Today’s Fayetteville is not the same Fayetteville that many of us grew   business, were it not for FYP, I would not have been involved nor made
up in. Our downtown has been revitalized and transformed into a gem         so many new friends. I’ve learned more about the community in this
for the community, per capita income has risen to second in the state,      past year through FYP than I had in the 29 years I had been a resident.
and our quality of life has improved through additions like Festival Park      While the 40 on this list are an outstanding group, there are many
and the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.                                         others who should also be honored for everything they do to make this
   But we all know that change is hard, and transformation does not         community a better place, and I encourage their peers to nominate them
occur by chance. Transformation happens because of hard work,               in the future.
a vision, and a population committed to change and continuous                                                                  Charlie Allen V
improvement.                                                                                            Chair, Fayetteville Young Professionals


4   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
Class of 2011
  Jeremy Aagard                   Marcus Cox                      Latonya Hankins                       Kristie Meave

    Myra Allen                 Kady Ann Davy                      Jackson Howard                         Peter Pappas

  Charlie Allen V           Emily Dickens Esq.                   Hilton Hutchens Jr.                  Louis Patalano IV

 Dr. Patrice Barber          Sonya Evans Oates               Thaddeus “TJ..” Jenkins                    Reshma Patel

  Steven Barnard                  Daniel Fair                         Carrie King                     Nicholas Perkins

 Frances Barragan           Dr. Shanessa Fenner                        Toni King                  Robert “Jason” Poole II

   Jenny Beaver                 Scott Flowers                      Wendy Lowery                       Shannon Shurko

   Alan Buffaloe             John Freudenberg                     Donna Mansfield                       Seema Slehria

    Jose Coker                   Phillip Gilfus                   Jami McLaughlin                       Todd Sullivan

  Michelle Courie              Derick Graham                   Lorna McNeill Ricotta                     Billy West Jr.




                   Jeremy Aagard                   Age 32
                   Assistant General Manager, Fayetteville SwampDogs
                         Working for a baseball team means a lot of fun       helped to organize is not during baseball season,
                      and games for Jeremy Aagard, but it also means          but at Halloween – Trunk or Treat at the Swamp.
                      hard work and giving back. The SwampDogs’               The free, public event has welcomed more than
                      assistant general manager said since he joined the      8,000 children in the three years of its existence.
                      team five years ago, he has worked to make it a fun,    His vision is what allowed it to happen.
                      clean and affordable place for Fayetteville families.      “Jeremy Aagard embodies what we all want for
                         “We want this to be a way families can spend         the future of Fayetteville,” said nominator Darrel
                      quality time together,” he said. “We want them to       Handelsman of the Fayetteville SwampDogs. “He
                      make life-long memories with their experiences          is caring, involved and an excellent leader. Jeremy
                      here.”                                                  has made lasting contributions to our community
                         Aside from helping provide quality baseball,         and will continue to positively influence the path
                         Aagard works with charitable organizations to        our city and county travel down.”
                            improve the community. He helped organize            Aagard is also on the steering committee for
                             pink jersey auction night and the Strike Out     Friends of African and African-American Art
                              Against Cancer Night at the Swamp. He is a      with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland
                              volunteer for the Walk for Lupus and Karen      County. He joined when he was approached to be
                                Chandler Trust fund. He also helped           a sponsor for the Arts Council exhibit “We are
                                establish the Grainger Barrett Memorial       the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.”
                                 Scholarship and serves with the Special      He decided to do more than sponsor and became
                                  Olympics of Cumberland County.              involved to keep things like the exhibit coming
                                     “We are a part of the community          back to Fayetteville.
                                   and we want to take part in the               “There is a whole avenue that I don’t think
                                     community,” he said. “We want to         people in Fayetteville know about. You have to
                                     look back at the end of the night or     look to find what you enjoy doing,” he said. “There
                                     at the end of the year and realize we    are lots of things going on in the community, and
                                   were part of something amazing.”           if you’re not a part of it, it could go away. I don’t
                                    One of the biggest events Aagard          want that.”


                                                                        www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011      5
                                     Charlie Allen V                 Age 29
                                     Vice President, Two Men and a Truck, Vice President of Operations, Green Biz
                                                 Charlie Allen has a knack for growing things.     Truck franchise. It has a business model he
                                               He helped his parents grow their nursery,           believes in which includes giving back to the
                                               Green Biz, as the vice president of operations.     community.
                                               He has also grown his own business, Two Men            “It makes sense to help the community
                                               and a Truck, where he is also a vice president.     out,” he said. “If I ever needed something, the
                                               And he helped to grow the Fayetteville Young        community would be there for me.”
                                               Professionals – for whom he currently serves as        Allen has donated time and money to many
                                               the chairman – from a small group to the more-      local organizations, including Fayetteville
                                               than-400-member organization it is today.           Urban Ministry, The Salvation Army,
                                                 And he is only 29. When asked how he has          Partnership for Children, Cape Fear Botanical
                                               done so much so young, he points to his hard        Garden, Sunshine Kids Foundation and many
                                               work. He goes to work at 6 a.m. or earlier in       others.
                                                order to get a head start on the day. It’s a          “This is my community,” he said. “I take
                                                 practice he began in at North Carolina State      pride in it, and I want it to be the best it can be.
                                                  University as a member of the rowing team.       It’s great to be involved.”
                                                  It was also in college that he began to work        Allen just added one more accolade to his
                                                   for Two Men and a Truck.                        resume, a master’s degree. He graduated in
                                                      “After my first day, I told my friend that   April from Methodist University after attending
                                                    I didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “It    their weekend MBA program. He saw it as an
                                                     was hard work. But my friend encouraged       investment in his companies and knows it will
                                                       me to just come back the next day, and      help him down the road.
                                                       I kept coming back. I stuck with it my         “I saw this as necessary to take my
                                                        entire college career.”                    businesses to the next level,” he said. “It was
                                                           When he came back to Fayetteville       really eye opening how much my family had
                                                        to help his parents, he wanted to          already taught me. I attribute a lot of my
                                                       diversify his business interests and        success to my mom and dad and their hard
                                                       decided to purchase a Two Men and a         work.”




6   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                                                Myra Allen
                                                                                  Age 39
   Healthcare Management Department Chairperson, Fayetteville Technical Community College
   One word describes Myra Allen – ambitious. Even         count on Myra to make it happen, effortlessly, almost
with a busy role as Fayetteville Technical Community       flawlessly.”
College’s Healthcare Management Department                    Allen said she was interested in broadcasting as
chairwoman, Allen is constantly advancing her career       a child and planned on becoming the next Oprah
and education.                                             Winfrey. Though she’s not on TV, she has found
   She holds her real estate license, is a notary public   ways to help those in need. The Guardian ad Litem
and has graduated from bartender school. She holds         program, which provides support for children without
dual master’s degrees in health care and business          an advocate in the legal system, is near her heart.
administration – both earned while working full time.         “There are so many young people in need,”
   “Some people fear spiders, I fear being                 she said. “Me being in their lives makes a difference.”
unemployed,” Allen said. “I know no matter what               She said she’s faced many challenges while
happens with the economy, I can always find                advancing to higher levels in her career.
something.”                                                   “I found myself in the workforce with people
   However, with her success at FTCC, the 39-year-         20 or 30 years my senior,” she said. “I had the
old has career security. In the eight years she’s been a   education plus some and the experience, but
department chairwoman, she’s developed curriculum,         was told I didn’t qualify for the leadership
coordinated the program advisory committee and             positions because I was too young.
managed the department’s budget.                              “As an African-American woman, I still
   She considers programs she developed to give            face challenges,” she said. “I overcame
back to the community her biggest successes. Those         these battles by taking the higher road
include the Black Entrepreneurial Symposium,               and by keeping a smile in my heart.”
Cumberland County World Aids Day and Adopt a                  Her goal for the future is to continue
Pop, a program that teams volunteers with elderly rest     her career development at FTCC and
home residents.                                            eventually start a nonprofit organization.
   “She is the ‘ultimate volunteer,’” said Sonya              “My personal vision is to be the best
Livingtson of Fayetteville State University. “If there     me I can be,” she said. “Not like anyone
is a job to be done and no one else is willing, you can    else.”




                                                                                           www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   7
                                   Dr. Patrice Barber Age 35
                                   General Dentist, Owner, Alliance Family Dentistry
                                               Dr. Patrice Barber found her dream job early,     dream. She operates her business by her own set
                                            but she had to take a risk to achieve it.            of rules.
                                               After pushing through dentistry school and           “When I launched Alliance Family Dental, it
                                            serving in the U.S. Army, the time had come to       was my vision to establish a dental office which
                                            finally open her own office.                         offered the perfect balance of old-fashioned
                                               “It was beyond scary,” she said. “I take          customer service with cutting edge technology
                                            advantage of an opportunity as it presents itself.   and expert care,” she said. “I wanted an office
                                            Without risk there is no reward. I hit the ground    where my staff was committed to the ‘team’
                                            running and don’t regret any decisions.”             concept and adhered to the Golden Rule.”
                                               Her risk was a good decision. In a year and          This same attitude caries over to her personal
                                             a half, her practice – Alliance Family Dental –     life. That’s why Barber loves giving back to others
                                               has been successful. And she’s done it while      through mentorship programs at her church and
                                                raising a preschool child as her husband was     the school system. She also speaks to children
                                                deployed with the military.                      about oral health.
                                                   “I think I have a strong work ethic and a        “I want to serve as a role model and mentor for
                                               very strong desire to succeed,” she said. “I      area youth and involve myself with organizations
                                              would not be where I am if not for the people      that seek to develop skills and mindsets of young
                                              who paved the way and mentored me or offered       people to make them civic-minded, goal-oriented
                                              me encouragement.”                                 citizens,” she said. “There’s a surge of joy I get
                                                  Barber, who said she has wanted to be a        when I’m able to do something for someone else.
                                              dentist since eighth grade, graduated with         Kids are near and dear to my heart.”
                                               honors from the University of Maryland Dental        “It is indeed a hectic life to own a dental
                                               School. Rather than immediately opening her       practice, work in the community and church
                                               own clinic, which was always her plan, she        mentoring youth and being an exceptional wife
                                                 served as a dentist with the Army for three     and mother,” said nominator Ava DeVault of
                                                  years, traveling as far away as Korea.         LaFlamme Dental Clinic. “You could not pick a
                                                    Now, at 35, Barber has achieved her          better professional for 40 Under Forty.”




8   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                  Capt. Steven Barnard               Age 38
 Civil Affairs Plans Officer, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command
   Capt. Steven Barnard strives to give his soldiers       provide additional training and education for senior
every opportunity, especially in education. He enlisted    Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Military Information
in the military after high school and earned bachelor’s    Support Operations officers to better function as
and master’s degrees while on active duty. He wants        strategic-level planners on joint staffs.
soldiers he works with to be able to do the same.             The course is in the process accreditation in lieu of
   Barnard left active duty, eventually becoming a         required professional military education and joint-
full-time reservist with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and   service schooling. Best of all, students earn a graduate-
Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg. He         level certificate from a military university that may
has been instrumental in helping reservists receive        be used as credit toward other national defense-type
college credit for military training like their active-    graduate degree programs with partner schools.
duty counterparts.                                            Barnard is a strong proponent of quality education
   Barnard helped develop the Volunteer Education          at all levels. After he left active duty and before
Program. It gives college credit for many of the           returning to the reserves, he was a teacher in the
military courses the soldiers take and transfers it to     Seattle area for at-risk children. In 2004, he received
college credit. The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special      the Walmart Teacher of the Year award.
Warfare Center and School already had a program for           Part of his success in the classroom was his
active-duty soldiers and Barnard molded the program        investment in the lives of those children. He
for reservists.                                            takes the same approach in Fayetteville. He and
   Barnard is also partnering with James Madison           his wife recently bought a home in Haymont
University for a master’s degree program in public         near Rowan Park and plan to help energize the
administration for civil affairs reserve officers. This    neighborhood, connecting it to the green space
distance-learning hybrid program utilizes tuition          nearby. He sees being engaged in Fayetteville
assistance and gives soldiers the critical skills needed   as a must for himself and other soldiers.
for their branch.                                             “Soldiers have a duty, and it starts locally,”
   The Security, Stability and Development in              he said. “They may be here for two to five years,
Complex Operations (SSDCO) course was developed            but we have to be engaged locally. This is home,
in partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School to       especially for reservists, the citizen soldiers.”




                                                                                             www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   9
                               Frances Barragan Age 32
                               Women’s Tennis Coach, Methodist University
                                           As many times as Frances Barragan played tennis           coach,” she said. “It’s difficult when you get out of
                                        as a child on the courts at Methodist University, she        tennis to get back in.”
                                        never suspected she’d one day be standing on the same           However, when Methodist University needed a head
                                        courts as head coach.                                        coach for the women’s tennis program in 2005, she
                                           Now she is not only leading a highly successful           was selected for the job.
                                        collegiate program, she’s giving back to the                    Her teams have won the USA South Conference
                                        community and teaching children of all ages to               Championship every year since then, with Barragan
                                        embrace the sport she loves.                                 named conference coach of the year four times. Her
                                           “There’s a lot of people out there who want to play       record is an astounding 105-22.
                                        tennis and see the U.S. pros like Andy Roddick or the           She’s a former community coordinator for the
                                        Williams sisters who can’t find a place to play,” the        United States Tennis Association. In 2006, she started
                                          32-year-old said. “That’s my goal, to get kids of all      the Methodist University tennis camp for children.
                                           ages in the sport.”                                       She is also the director of the Fort Bragg Youth Tennis
                                               Barragan’s career as a tennis coach is an             Camp.
                                             extension of her highly successful run as a player         “I always wanted to do something to make a
                                              both at South View High School and at N.C. State       difference in people’s lives,” she said. “I feel like I have
                                                University.                                          the opportunity to impact people’s lives.”
                                                   She worked as a graduate assistant for the           Barragan also gives back to the community through
                                               Wolfpack tennis team, but gave up the position        food drives, children’s reading programs and athletic
                                           after the events of September 11, 2001, made her          training at elementary schools.
                                           second-guess her career on the road.                         She knows few people have found their dream job
                                               “I was supposed to fly that day,” she said. “It       at such a young age, but she wouldn’t want it any other
                                            shook me.”                                               way.
                                                Barragan took a job as a financial analyst that         “I love my job. It doesn’t seem like work.” she said.
                                              would keep her closer to home, but she was never       “I don’t mind working nights and weekends now ... I
                                               satisfied with the simple 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job.       can’t see myself getting out of coaching. I don’t know
                                                   “I knew I wanted to be a college tennis           what I would do.”




                                                                          Jenny Beaver    Age 33
                        Specialty Senior Professional Sales Representative, Shire Pharmaceutical,
                                                              Owner, Just Jenny Designs & Events
   Jenny Beaver has played many roles throughout               Wilmington. Then, as she became more involved with
her life, both on and off the stage. On stage, she’s been      the community, she realized all the things Fayetteville
characters from Hamlet to Janet in “Rocky Horror               had to offer.
Picture Show.” Off stage, she’s been a sales representative,      “I saw that the downtown was actually a place where
business owner, volunteer and committee chair.                 people wanted to visit,” she said. “I love the young, hip
   She’s employed in sales for Shire Pharmaceuticals and       vibe downtown Fayetteville has, and I want the next
shines at work, being named Sales Representative of            generation to continue to help grow the city.”
the Quarter twice and chosen to be one of 15 put on the           Beaver actively continues to improve the city, and is
company’s Field Advisory Board, where she serves the           deeply involved in many organizations including the
company at various conferences throughout the year. She        Boys & Girls Club, Cumberland County Education
also owns her own event-planning business, Just Jenny          Foundation, Child Advocacy Center and Junior
Designs & Events, LLC, which she hopes will one day be         League.
a one-stop shop for any event’s needs.                            She was a founding member of the
   “I’m a very creative person, and I needed a creative        Fayetteville Young Professionals and is an
outlet,” she said. “I had done event planning as a             active member in several other organizations.
volunteer and knew that I loved it, so I made it a             She also continues to act and volunteer with
business.”                                                     both the Gilbert and Cape Fear Regional
   She credits her success with her positive attitude.         Theaters. She said volunteering is an
She also said growing up in the theater makes her              important part of the community, and she
comfortable in front of people, no matter the situation.       wants to be involved.
   She said her supportive family also helped and                 “You don’t volunteer for fame or glory or
encourage her. Family is the main reason Beaver decided        credit,” she said. “It’s nice to think people
to come back to Fayetteville after living in California for    notice or that you make a difference.
three years.                                                   People sometimes joke that I like the
   When she moved back in 2003, she said she would             spotlight because I spent so much time on
spend her weekends in different cities like Raleigh or         stage, but it’s really not about that.”


10   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                                  Alan Buffaloe               Age 39
                                                          General Manager, Gill Security Systems, Inc.
   Sometimes what seems to be misfortune                  heavily involved in the community. He serves on
turns out to be a blessing. When Alan Buffaloe’s          the Reading is Fun committee for pre-kindergarten
15-year career in radio ended due to the economic         children, as a deacon at Lebanon Baptist Church in
downturn, his greatest success was just around the        Eastover, as a member of the Kiwanis Club and as
corner.                                                   the chairman of the board for Cumberland County
   Buffaloe was hired as the general manager for Gill     United Way.
Security Systems Inc., nearly two years ago, and he          His co-workers think highly of his work ethic and
hasn’t second guessed switching fields.                   attitude.
   “I don’t believe in coincidences,” he said. “I’ve         “We are nominating Alan Buffaloe for this honor
been very blessed. I give credit to the Lord. He’s        because he truly represents the type of leader we
opened and closed doors at just the right time.”          need in Fayetteville today,” said Becky Rose of Gill
   Buffaloe, now 39, was a sales manager and general      Security Systems Inc. “Alan is committed to making
manager for broadcast companies. He said his              Fayetteville a better place to live and do business
experience in that field has led to his recent success.   and he is doing something about it!”
   “In the industries I’ve been in, you depend               Buffaloe may be the only member of the “40
on customers,” he said. “Sales is involved in any         Under Forty” club who is a farmer.
business. I’ve always been surrounded by good                He said his small family farm has taught him
people. I’ve been able to work with good people.”         a lot about life.
   He has strong ambitions for his company’s future          “You have got to be a hard worker and
after nearly two years with the security provider.        putting in an extra effort,” he said. “Nothing is
   “As technology continues to evolve, we have            easy on the family farm or the business world.”
the opportunity to better serve our customers                It’s a mindset that’s helped him rise above
and to better fulfill their wants and desires while       even the most difficult times.
still keeping them safe and secure,” he said. “My            “That’s something you have to accept,” he
personal goal for Gill Security is to see the company     said. “There are certain challenges you have
double in size over the next 10 years.”                   to face, but the attitude taken determines
   As a life-long Fayetteville resident, he’s also        the outcome.”




                                                                                        www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   11
                               Jose Coker Age 35
                               Attorney, The Charleston Group
                                      Hard work has never scared Jose Coker away. His            an appropriate example to young people in terms
                                   first job was helping his mother clean an automotive          of exemplifying the opportunities that are available
                                   dealership in town. The child of immigrant parents,           through a good education. Jose is a wonderful example
                                   Coker worked hard and went to college at Old                  of what is good about Fayetteville.”
                                   Dominion University. Then the first-generation college           Coker said his own success motivates him to help
                                   graduate went on to get his law degree. Now the               others try to succeed as well. He wants to be a resource
                                   associate for The Charleston Group Lawyers represents         to people for many different kinds of problems, so he
                                   the automotive manufacturer for the same dealership he        attended the Citizens’ Academy to better understand the
                                   used to clean.                                                workings of the city.
                                        Such humble beginnings keep Coker grounded.                 “What I do in the community leaves an imprint for
                                          And he said his roots have also helped him know        future young professionals who will come in,” he said.
                                            how to give back.                                    “I want them to see the wonderful opportunities the city
                                               “I know what it’s like to have to do hard         and community can provide.”
                                              work, and I don’t forget that,” he said. “It’s a      Coker wants to play a pivotal role in bringing new
                                              good thing. It keeps me honest.”                   business and helping start-up companies come to
                                                  He said he feels lucky that Jonathon           Fayetteville. He wants to help keep young professionals
                                               Charleston took him in and mentored him           employed here and spending their free time here.
                                                 after law school, challenging him and           He helps out by teaching seminars and classes as a
                                                  allowing him to sit in on trials and high-     volunteer with the Center for Economic Empowerment
                                                   profile meetings that many attorneys do       and Development. He offers answers to legal questions
                                                   not get to do until later in their career.    and gives pointers to entrepreneurs who may be
                                                    Charleston is also Coker’s nominator.        unfamiliar with legal jargon and the mass of paperwork
                                                       “His professional and community           that must be filed.
                                                   involvements demonstrate his passion             “I continuously strive to support the growth of small
                                                    for and commitment to the Fayetteville       businesses, including those of Hispanic entrepreneurs,”
                                                     community,” Charleston said. “He            he said. “It’s nice to apply the experience I have to help
                                                     has made a commitment to being              business owners create successful ventures.”




                                                           Michelle Courie Age 39
                                                                                     Community Volunteer
   Michelle Courie never gives up. She strides         to help and encourage them through their
through challenges many have stumbled over             difficult circumstances. She said helping others
and continues to be positive and strong. As            is something she picked up naturally from the
an account executive with R.H. Donnally, she           women in her family. She has been a member of
was able to exceed her goals and often bring           Junior League of Fayetteville since 1996 and has
increased sales from clients who were about to         served as president, Holly Day Fair chairwoman
close their accounts.                                  and publicity chairwoman during her tenure.
   She married her husband in 2005 and                    She is a committee member for the
together they decided to grow a real estate            Cumberland County Education Foundation,
business and start a family. She left her job          March of Dimes and Cape Fear Valley Hospital
and became an active community volunteer.              Circle of Friends Gala. She also participates
While their business took off, Courie had              with the Care Clinic Evening of Care and is
several setbacks while trying to get pregnant.         a member of Haymount United Methodist
It was a difficult time, but her husband, who          Church. Courie is also a founding member of
also nominated her, said that she showed her           the Women’s Giving Circle.
true mettle. She did not back down from her               This year, she is the president of the Cape
commitments and continued to serve as she had          Fear Regional Theatre and continues to work
for years.                                             diligently to ensure the quality of theater in
   “Sometimes when you deal with things                Cumberland County.
personally, it can be distracting from the other          She believes it is important for her son, Taft,
things you need to focus on,” she said. “But I         to see her and her husband volunteering so
always try to find a way to overcome obstacles.        that he will have the drive to give back to his
It was beneficial to me to focus on something          community as well.
larger than myself. Having a positive impact on           “It’s important to reach out and help
my community was a comfort. I was glad to be           people,” she said. “I think it is great that we
there and to place my energy there.”                   have organizations within the community
   She now shares her story with other women           that are willing to go find answers.”


12   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                                            Marcus Cox Age 36
    Fayetteville Market President, Senior Client Manager Business Banking, Bank of America
   From the mail room to the board room, Marcus             forum to thrive.
Cox has been a hard worker. His enthusiastic outlook           He gives back to the Cumberland County community
has carried him to his position of Fayetteville market      in various ways.
president/senior client manager for business banking at        “I try to be as responsible as possible with my public
Bank of America Merrill Lynch.                              service,” he said. “We deal with arts and culture, with
   In his nine years with the financial giant, Cox has      human and health services, and with children as well.”
helped bring the bank to major corporations worldwide.         Cox sits on boards for the Boys & Girls Club, Child
And all from a start in a mail room.                        Advocacy Center, Fayetteville State University School
   During college at Winston-Salem State University,        of Business and Economics Advisory Board, Second
Cox wanted a career in law enforcement. The dean            Harvest Food Bank and others. He most enjoys
required all students to attend a financial services job    collecting and admiring art, which is why he serves
fair and Cox was chosen, but he missed the deadline for     on the board for the Arts Council of Fayetteville/
the management-training program by two weeks.               Cumberland County.
   “I went back and had to work for a year in the mail         “I’m very passionate on community education
room,” he said. “That was a humbling position for me,       and promotion of the arts in all types and all
but it was the best lesson I had. I learned a lot, and it   forms,” he said. “It’s not work; it’s 100 percent
made me a much better manager.                              fun.”
   “I promised I’d never overlook anyone based on their        It’s his work with the Arts Council that
position in the bank,” he said.                             impressed one of those nominating him for this
   Eventually, his can-do attitude and financial prowess    honor.
pushed his career back on track.                               “The community is fortunate to count Marcus
   “Every day I wake up and ask myself how I can be         Cox as one of its most active supporters and
useful to the corporation and useful to the community,”     advocates,” said Deborah Mintz, executive
the 36-year-old said. “It’s about planning and working      director of the Arts Council. “Marcus truly cares
your plan. If you plan well and work with the plan, you     about the health and success of this community
are able to reach great heights through promotion.”         and uses his talents and resources to touch
   His job has expanded his horizons and giving him a       almost every nonprofit sector here.”




                                                                                           www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   13
                                  Kady Ann Davy Age 28
                                  Councilwoman, City of Fayetteville
                                                                                               elected position. Since moving to Fayetteville
                                          At only 28, Kady Ann Davy is the youngest
                                                                                               in 2005 after graduating from the University
                                       member of the 2011 class of 40 Under Forty.
                                                                                               of Oregon, she has been able to blend into the
                                       However, with success in both the business and
                                                                                               community and give back to her adopted home.
                                       political arena, she’s hardly the least experienced.
                                                                                               Politics has always played a role in her life.
                                          How does Davy balance a life full of work, public
                                                                                                  “I was a school senator in middle school,” she
                                       office and community service?
                                                                                               said. “That’s why I like dealing with grass roots and
                                          “Prayer,” said the youngest member of the
                                                                                               dealing with social issues and getting out the vote.”
                                       Fayetteville City Council. “Each day I try to plan
                                                                                                  A daughter of two Jamaican immigrants who had
                                       out as much as possible.”
                                                                                               little formal education, Davy is honored to be able
                                          Stella Mullen of the Massey Hill Community
                                                                                               to be actively involved in the community and give
                                       Watch nominated Davy for her desire to help
                                                                                               back to others. Older adults hold a special place
                                       others.
                                                                                               in her heart, and she volunteers at an area senior
                                           “She has a passion for life and people,” Mullen
                                                                                               center.
                                           said. “She works hard to achieve her goals
                                                                                                  “I love being around seniors,” she said. “I never
                                            and works toward the betterment of the
                                                                                               knew my grandparents, so I always adopt people.”
                                             community.”
                                                                                                  She’s involved in numerous community
                                                 Davy has worked as a community
                                                                                               organizations including the CARE Clinic of
                                               educator, in the health care industry and
                                                                                               Cumberland County, Operation Inasmuch,
                                               in sales. She’s currently exploring future
                                                                                               Fayetteville Urban Ministry, United Way, the Arts
                                                career opportunities while working on her
                                                                                               Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Junior
                                                 master’s degree.
                                                                                               League and Fayetteville Young Professionals.
                                                    She aspires to participate in outreach
                                                                                                  The sky is the limit for Davy. She’s currently in
                                                  work, using her diverse background to
                                                                                               graduate school at Fayetteville State University and
                                                   help others.
                                                                                               knows she will continue to pursue her political
                                                      While her employment success is
                                                                                               aspirations.
                                                    impressive, she is most proud of her




                                             Emily Dickens, Esq.             Age 37
       Director of Government and Community Relations, Fayetteville State University
   Emily Dickens decided to attend N.C. Central        the Durham County Habitat for Humanity
University based on positive word of mouth she         as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She lived in the
heard from an alumnus. A native of Queens, N.Y.,       neighborhood where the group was building
she had never been to North Carolina, but she          houses and was able to directly interact with the
trusted his word. She has never regretted it.          new homeowners.
   She now tries to spread the positive reputation        After that, she earned her master’s degree in
of Fayetteville State University through word of       history and went on to get a law degree, which
mouth. To bolster the institution’s reputation, she    she draws on to help the university build stronger
has been directly involved in several community        bonds with the city and county.
projects.                                                 “We want to be the intellectual and cultural
   She has helped to bring $3 million in funding       center of the community, a community partner
to the community through grants from the               and to promote fiscal and environmental
Department of Defense, the Department of               sustainability,” she said.
Commerce and the Department of Transportation.            Dickens is also an active member of the
The funding means jobs in the community as well        community. She serves as the secretary
as assets for its residents to utilize.                of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County
   “We feel we have a responsibility to make the       Chamber of Commerce, executive
area better,” she said. “The more education in an      committee member for the Cumberland
area, the higher the average income. We leave our      Community Action Program Board,
door open and try to help others open doors with       a member of the North Carolina
education.”                                            Partnership for Defense Innovation
   Not only are Dickens and FSU bringing grant         Board and a member of the planning and
money for research to the area, but they are           evaluation committee for the Partnership
generating money to help improve the southern          for Children. She is also active in Alpha
Murchison Road area around the school.                 Kappa Alpha and recently served as vice
   Helping communities isn’t new for Dickens.          president and program chair, receiving
Her first job out of college was working for           awards for her work during her tenure.


14   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                     Sonya Evans Oates                   Age 39
                                           Owner, Speech Language Pathologist, Need Speech? Inc.
   Sonya Evans Oates grew up wanting to be an                “I truly believe that she has realized her purpose
anchorwoman, but she often found herself working         in life,” McAllister said. “Sonya is doing what she
with kids. Eventually she realized helping children      was created to do in that she is an incredible wife
with disabilities was her calling.                       and mother, an employer of many happy employees
   Now Evans Oates owns Need Speech? Inc., a             ... and a therapist extraordinaire to many satisfied
private speech pathology clinic that helps kids of all   clients and families.”
ages with verbal issues.                                     Evans Oates’ calling carries over into her
   “I started working as a nursery worker even           community outreach. As a member of the Junior
before I married and had children,” she said. “I was     League of Fayetteville she leads a board dealing with
a day-care provider in college ... I’ve always liked     mental health issues, the organization’s focus for
children.                                                this year. Service with the Junior League has also
   “I had a mentor talk to me about speech pathology     allowed her to volunteer with the foster children
and audiology,” she said. “I did not see any type of     program, organize a nutrition fair for children,
speech therapy until I was in graduate school.”          help children obtain necessary shots for
   She picked up on the profession quickly as            kindergarten and paint a child-friendly mural
Womack Army Hospital’s only speech pathologist.          at the Child Advocacy Center.
She started her own part-time business in 2002               “I always tell children: ‘You will always
working with toddlers after hours. From those            need someone to do something for you and it
humble beginnings Need Speech? Inc. has evolved          always feels better to give to someone else,’”
into a full time clinic with eight employees.            she said. “I truly believe in giving back to the
   She said her workers are the secret to her success.   community.”
   “When people come interview with me at Need               That attitude extends to her business as
Speech?, I tell them this is my calling,” Evans Oates    well.
said. “It’s good people and prayer. We like coming           “I discovered my love and gift for working
to work.”                                                with children diagnosed with autism,”
   Co-worker Marla McAllister paid back the              she said. “We take in kids most speech
compliment by nominating her.                            pathologist don’t want to deal with.”




                                                                                         www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   15
                                 Daniel Fair Age 35
                                 Chief Executive Officer, Pierro’s Italian Bistro
                                    Daniel Fair feels like he’s living the American dream.      do so much and grow the business.”
                                 At 23, he thought he’d be a career soldier. Two years             “They say entrepreneurship is taking a calculated
                                 later, he was a successful businessman.                        risk,” he said. “It’s something I’m willing to do, but you
                                    Over the last 10 years, Fair has owned and operated         definitely take a risk.”
                                 nine businesses that posted $2 million in annual sales.           Fair’s risk has paid off. He’s proud of his contribution
                                    Fair, now 35, owns the Pierro’s Italian Bistro brand        to the county, providing more than 100 local jobs and
                                 of restaurants in Fayetteville among other ventures. His       being a major part of the revitalization of downtown.
                                 rise to entrepreneurship came through fate, hard work             “Many businesses did not take a chance in the
                                 and an innate business sense.                                  potential of downtown Fayetteville. Danny did and
                                    As a young Army sergeant, Fair was pleased with             was successful for it,” said attorney Lou Olivera, who
                                 his career path. He’d received his associate’s degree          nominated Fair. “At such a young age, Danny has
                                   in nursing through the military and was settled in           shown what hard work and determination can do,
                                      his role. Then a phone call changed his life and          not only for business but for the betterment of our
                                        future. Fair’s father, a military veteran who           community”
                                          owned a flower shop with Fair’s mother, died             Fair also gives back in other ways.
                                           unexpectedly. Fair took control of the business.        “We are always donating food or gift certificates to
                                              As he prepared for discharge from the Army,       local schools, churches, military organizations, as well
                                           he prepared for his next venture – the first         as civic organizations,” he said. “As members of the
                                           Pierro’s Italian Bistro.                             Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Alliance, we
                                              “We started small with a 28-seat                  work with other business members to have a positive
                                            restaurant,” he said. “I worked starting out,       impact on the downtown and greater community.”
                                             seven days a week from open until close.”             Fair named Pierro’s after his grandfather, who came
                                                 Expansion happened rapidly, with other         to America through Ellis Island from Italy during the
                                               Pierro’s locations opening around town.          Great Depression.
                                                  “In the first three years, I had like seven      “It’s definitely the American dream,” he said.
                                                businesses at one point,” Fair said. “It was    “Getting to fulfill that is great, and I wouldn’t trade it
                                                 a little too much, but I was so hungry to      for anything.”




                                             Dr. Shanessa Fenner              Age 39
            Principal, Alger B. Wilkins Elementary School, Cumberland County Schools
   If there were an extra hour in the day, Dr.          upbringing, something she said prepared her
Shanessa Fenner would find a way to fill it.            well for the future.
The 39-year-old principal of Alger B. Wilkens              “I am the product of a single parent, and my
Elementary School always has an iron in the fire        mother is my greatest inspiration,” Fenner said.
and a new plan on the back burner.                      “She taught me strength, independence and the
   “I am known to be a well-rounded person,”            ability to not put up with any drama.”
Fenner said. “I don’t ever want to lay in bed              When Fenner comes home from a busy day
when I’m older and say ‘I wish I would have done        at the school, she enjoys reading, writing and
this, or I wish I would have done that.’”               listening to music. She combined two of those
   So far, she’s covered it all. In addition to being   passions and wrote songs that were recorded
a highly regarded principal, she writes songs,          on two performers’ albums, something she
blogs, hosts a TV show and performs community           hopes to do more of this year. She also
service. She has earned two master’s degrees and        hosts television’s “Let’s Talk with Dr.
completed her doctorate degree while working as         Shanessa Fenner” on which she discusses
principal.                                              local news and issues. Her goal is to write
   That, she said, was her most difficult trial.        a children’s book – a goal she’ll no doubt
   “It was a challenge,” she said. “When I walked       accomplish.
across the stage, a burden was lifted. You have to         “She is the epitome of making it happen,”
have crazy time-management skills.”                     said co-worker Shirley Hines. “Why would
   As principal, she has a special way of               anyone not want to celebrate a young woman
managing.                                               who does it all?”
   “I’m a very tenacious person,” she said. “I’m           For Fenner, there’s one main purpose.
part of a younger group of principals.                     “I work to motivate, inspire, teach them
   “At my school they know I mean business,”            and prepare children for the future,” she said.
she said. “We are here to teach children”               “I want to be a cheerleader – tell them they can
   Her all-business attitude comes from her             when they say they can’t and give them hope.”



16   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                 Scott Flowers Age 33
                                 Attorney, Hutchens, Senter & Britton, P.A.
                                   It’s not easy being a super lawyer, but Scott Flowers      and has traveled to 70 of the 100 counties. Everywhere he
                                makes it look that way. The 2011 North Carolina Super         travels, he represents his firm and city well.
                                Lawyer Rising Star recipient humbly said that he tries           “I’m trying to get rid of that bad atmosphere,” he said.
                                to be a professional in and out of the courtroom and to       “Just because we are involved in litigation, we can still be
                                represent his profession well. To many, he goes above and     polite and courteous. We need to practice law the right
                                beyond what is expected.                                      way, the courteous and professional way.”
                                   The East Carolina University graduate has spent his           Flowers is also a mentor for the North Carolina Bar
                                entire life in southeastern North Carolina. After he          Association and helps to celebrate law day with the
                                attended Campbell University’s Law School, he decided         local bar by either helping local citizens with home
                                    to stay here with his family and invest and engage        improvement projects or visiting elementary schools to
                                         with the city as an attorney for The Law Firm of     teach them about the constitution. He is also an active
                                           Hutchins, Senter & Britton, P.A.                   member of Haymount United Methodist Church and a
                                               He has coached mock trial and moot court       member of the board of directors for the YMCA.
                                             with Terry Sanford High School. He took a           “Scott is an asset to Fayetteville, our legal community
                                              dwindling team and made it competitive at       and our firm,” said Sarah Miranda of Hutchens, Senter &
                                              the national level. He sees it as part of his   Britton, one of Flowers’ nominators. “I am proud to work
                                                role encouraging young lawyers and future     with him and know him.”
                                                lawyers because he was mentored when he          Green building and urban expansion are his key
                                                first joined his profession.                  interests. He hopes to help play a role moving Fayetteville
                                                    “Several of my past students are on a     toward a more eco-friendly future without expanding the
                                                  path to be attorneys, good attorneys,”      sprawl of the city.
                                                  Flowers said. “I also mentor younger           Despite his busy schedule, he gives his family top
                                                  lawyers, because I was so extremely         priority. He rearranges his schedule to take his daughters
                                                   blessed to have a mentor in Terry          to the doctor or even visit them for lunch on occasion.
                                                   Hutchins, who took time to guide and          “Our goal should be to get better with every
                                                    teach things that law school did not.”    generation,” he said. “I’m just trying to make an impact
                                                        Flowers works throughout the state    while I’m here.”




                                                  John Freudenberg                 Age 34
                         Government and Military Affairs Liaison, Partnership For Children
   While working on the 2008 congressional             want every child to have access to high-quality
campaign for U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, John             child care and family and health support.”
Freudenberg met a veteran from Massachusetts              He gives to charity and joins community
who inspired him to work with military families.       efforts, and he is also a big proponent of what he
   “I wanted to be more than a person with a           calls “civic engagement,” something he said his
yellow ribbon, but actually do something,” the         generation has been lacking.
former veterans specialist and caseworker said.           Freudenberg said he hopes to restore his
“Now, instead of one veteran, I work for a county      generation’s role in civic organizations and
of veterans.”                                          cites the Kiwanis Club, an organization with a
   Freudenberg is the Partnership for Children’s       typically older membership, as an example.
Government and Military Affairs Liaison, and           This problem is something he hopes to
he works to improve the communication and              combat, especially in organizations like
relationship among the military, their families,       Kiwanis which give so much to children.
and the programs and resources available to               “We’ve lost a lot with our generation,
them.                                                  and we’re just not represented the way
   As a part of his job, he helped organize the        we should be,” he said. “We have to stay
Forward March Conference from which sprung             involved with these organizations.”
the Living in a New Normal Initiative. Both               The community has many things
are designed to empower children and military          to offer its youngest members, and
families by helping to address the challenges          Freudenberg is fighting to allow all of
associated with the operational tempo of today’s       them to gain access to the resources
military and its effect on families. The conference    they need to be successful.
brought together resources for parents, including         “All the research shows that
often overlooked mental health resources.              everything for a child starts at an early
   “My goal is to be the best advocate for military    age,” he said. “Everything we do is
and civilian children that I can be,” he said. “I      building bridges.”



                                                                                          www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011         17
                                   Phillip Gilfus Age 30
                                   Attorney, The Mitchell Law Group
                                          By his own admission, patience has never been            Mitchell of The Mitchell Law Group, who nominated
                                       a strong suit for Phillip Gilfus. But hard work and         him.
                                       service have always been part of his character, and for        “He continues to be a role model as he displays how
                                       the former Cumberland County commissioner, it will          to be a public servant,” he said.
                                       continue to be. While he has met some opposition               The experiences and leadership opportunities he
                                       because of his youth, he feels ready to face bigger         had in the military gave him the drive to become an
                                       challenges and climb to higher heights.                     elected official, but it wasn’t easy. Gilfus said he faced
                                          “I’ve been lucky with all of the opportunities I’ve      scrutiny over his age and experience.
                                       gotten,” he said. “To me it’s really about accomplishing       “I’ve always known what I wanted to do,” he said.
                                       things, and I try to do things as quickly as I can.”        “I’ve gotten a taste of the highs and lows, but I’ve
                                           He said he is wired for service and wants to serve      been very fortunate. I’m a public-service person. I
                                         his native Fayetteville, a city full of potential.        think government is where you can make the biggest
                                             It began with an internship with a state senator      difference.”
                                          in Greenville and another at the state Senate. Gilfus       Running for local office again is a given for Gilfus,
                                          was smitten with politics and the idea of service.       but he isn’t sure which office he should seek. While he
                                              Gilfus graduated East Carolina University in         plans to start again at the local level, he does have his
                                           May after the September 11, 2001, attack and            sights set on the state legislature in the not-to-distant
                                           joined the military. He felt it was his duty to serve   future.
                                            his country and volunteered to deploy to Iraq in          “I’m looking forward to finding out where people
                                            2005. After returning, Gilfus attained his law         want me to re-engage in civil service,” he said.
                                             degree from Campbell University. He joined the           Gilfus said he wants to remain in local government
                                             Army Reserves where he serves as a captain            for now. Most services, even those provided by the
                                              in the 12th Legal Support Organization. He is        federal government, are handled on the county or city
                                               also an attorney with The Mitchell Law Group        level.
                                               serving his clients when he is not serving his         “There can be a lot of bureaucracy, but I think it’s
                                                country.                                           rewarding,” he said. “It has its moments, but you get
                                                   It was there that he caught the eye of Grant    to see your direct impact.”




                                                               Derick Graham         Age 39
                      Owner, Director of Player Development, Athlete’s Choice Batting Center
   Derick Graham is more than a baseball                    physically. They often have a hard time finding
instructor; he is a mentor. He knows baseball               healthy food options after a game or a double
requires more than a good swing, quick hands and            header and in many circumstances, may have to
a strong arm. It requires leadership and the ability        sleep on a bus or in a hotel before and after the
to know what to do before it happens. Those are             game. Graham works to help players understand
the things that he teaches his students.                    and, more importantly, prepare.
   “There were some things I missed,” he said. “I              He hopes that his center will be a place for
wanted to come back and give the guys and girls             college scouts to come, and that his students will
the opportunity to learn what I didn’t.”                    be able to use baseball as a vehicle to scholarships.
   This Raeford native and former ballplayer in             He wants his students to succeed both on and
the Cincinnati Reds’ organization came back to              off the field.
Fayetteville and opened Athlete’s Choice Batting               Melvin Teel, a retired command sergeant
Center, where he serves as the owner and the                major, nominated Graham because of the
director of player development.                             great improvement he has seen in his son
   He’s worked with middle schools and high                 since training at the batting center.
schools, and he said he can see improvement. In a              Teel credits his son’s positive attitude
sport where every parent and coach is a critic, he          and improvement on the field to his
said he was glad to see results which point to his          participation in the center’s program.
methods working.                                            Graham wants all of his students to
   “I take a cause-and-effect approach to teaching          become leaders, both on and off the field.
baseball,” Graham said. “Kids get the chance to                “They will lead by example,” Graham
think about what causes them to have a bad swing.           said. “They don’t have to be a verbal guy,
They can process the outcomes and make a right              and they can be mild mannered off the
choice.”                                                    field, but their teammates will follow
   He understands the long grind of the season and          because of the respect they have for
the toll it can have on players, both mentally and          them on the field.”



18   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                    Latonya Hankins                       Age 35
                                                    Controller, Fayetteville Publishing Company
   Family values have driven Latonya Hankins        financial reporting, payroll, cash management
to a successful career in accounting. The 13th of   and business systems.
14 children, the 35-year-old learned hard work         Though her career efforts are impressive, she
at an early age.                                    also stands out in her community service.
   “My father passed away when I was 9 years           She’s a member of Networth, the Fayetteville
old, but even at a young age he instilled in        Young Professionals and the Junior League
me and my siblings a strong work ethic,” said       of Fayetteville, where she serves as the
Hankins, who works as the controller for            chairwoman of the Done-in-a-Day committee,
Fayetteville Publishing Company. “Many of my        which is responsible for planning volunteer
siblings are entrepreneurs and go-getters. I am     opportunities with local organizations.
truly inspired by their drive, determination           In addition, she also serves on the
and persistence, which contributes to my            board of directors for Cumberland County
professional accomplishments.”                      CommuniCare Inc., which provides early
   It was another trait, however, she inherited     intervention to at-risk children. As a former
from her family that pushed her to her current      high school basketball standout, she’s also the
career.                                             assistant coach for the Fayetteville Lady Spurs
   “I’ve always been good with numbers ... we       AAU basketball team, working with 9th- and
are all good with numbers. I think we get that      10th-grade players. She’s also served with
from my mom,” she said. “It made me want to         United Way. This year she’ll be a mentor for a
be in the business and finance area.”               Cumberland County elementary student.
   Hankins has done well in that field. She            “As far back as I can remember I’ve always
earned her master’s degree in accounting from       volunteered, whether it was in church
North Carolina State University and became          or in school, I’ve always worked for the
a CPA. After two years with the company,            community,” she said. “I see the benefit of it
she was promoted to controller, giving her          in people’s lives.”
responsibility for all accounting, budgeting,




                                                                                    www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   19
                                 Jackson Howard                    Age 34
                                 Owner, Principal, Carolina Commercial Mortgage LLC
                                       Jackson Howard was only 30 when he was faced with          ownership wasn’t just a blind risk. Howard has master’s
                                    a life changing decision. He was about to resign from         degrees in real estate finance and entrepreneurship.
                                    his job in sales for a Fortune 500 company and take a            Branching out into development, he is project
                                    partnership in a small local startup.                         manager of a 280-unit luxury apartment community in
                                       In a short time with service giant Cintas, Howard          Jacksonville. He hopes his position as a lender will put
                                    had generated more than $1.3 million in sales. The new        him in contact with more developers.
                                    opportunity came from Fayetteville businessmen John              Grabbing the bull by the horns is the secret to
                                    Koenig and David Allred, and they were up front about         Howard’s success.
                                    the risk and the initial pay cut.                                “In my experience it’s recognizing an opportunity
                                       “(Allred) said, ‘You understand there is no guarantee      in front of you and having the confidence to act on
                                    on this?’ “Howard said of his initial conversations with      the opportunity and work very hard,” he said. “With
                                       his new business partner. “He said, ‘Come back to          that being said, you have to be able to roll the dice and
                                           me with a number you can live with.’ It was about      count on yourself rather than rely on a bigger company
                                            half of what I was making.”                           to do things for you.”
                                               The risk paid off. Five years later, under            His advice for other young entrepreneurs looking at
                                             Howard’s leadership, Carolina Commercial             small-business ownership is to put in some time with a
                                              Mortgage LLC has boasted double-digit               corporate giant.
                                              growth every year since its founding and has           “I would not have wanted to start a business right
                                               provided more than $250 million in loans to        out of college or high school; there’s too much to learn
                                               businesses.                                        from the big boys,” he said. “I think it’s a neat idea to be
                                                    His decision wasn’t completely based on       your own boss, but there is a time and place.”
                                                 finances.                                           He enjoys giving back to the community by
                                                     “I thought I would like to work for a        volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, March of
                                                   local company, rather than a Fortune 500       Dimes and Operation Blessing.
                                                    company,” he said. “I thought it would be        “Giving back is something very important,
                                                     more fun.”                                   something I could do more of,” he said modestly. “The
                                                        Jumping into small business               person giving back receives the most.”




                                                       Hilton Hutchens Jr.                Age 34
                                  Associate Attorney, Law Firm of Hutchens, Senter & Britton, P.A.
   As a child, Hilton Hutchens knew he wanted to              have a job, but eventually I learned how important it
follow in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer. What he         was.”
didn’t know was that he’d follow those steps directly.           That ethic carries over into Hutchens’ community
   Now, as a partner in his father’s Fayetteville law firm,   service. He is active in the March of Dimes, Fayetteville
Hutchens, Senter and Britton, he knows he’s exactly           Young Professionals, the Jimmy V Foundation, the
where he belongs.                                             Fayetteville Bar’s efforts through Operation Inasmuch
   “My father was an attorney, and at early age, I knew       and his firm’s Pro Bono Committee, which gives
I was going to be,” Hutchens said. “I originally wanted       free legal services to those in the community who
to be an astronaut as a child growing up in the ‘80s, but     cannot afford it. He hopes to see the Fayetteville legal
my dad was always my hero.”                                   community come together to be “citizen attorneys.”
   Still, after earning his undergraduate degree from            “Fayetteville is so fortunate to have such
Wake Forest University, coming home was the last              a remarkable young man and attorney
thing Hutchens expected. He moved to Jackson Hole,            as Hutch Hutchens,” said nominator
Wyo., and made ends meet by parking cars and waiting          Sandy Warren of CityView Magazine.
tables.                                                       “It’s so nice to see our younger
   “I didn’t think I’d move back to Fayetteville right        generation get involved and take over
away,” Hutchens said. “I thought I wanted to practice         the responsibilities of making our
somewhere else, but when I graduated from law school,         community a better place.”
I realized Fayetteville was the place I wanted to be.”           Hutchins said he loves the area
   He became a partner about five and half years ago.         and is completely satisfied with his
Now 35, he’s settled in his role.                             decision to return.
   It’s no surprise the father and son continue to expand        “I love my hometown,” he said.
one of the most successful law firms in Fayetteville.         “I am boastful when I tell folks how
Hutchens said his dad instilled in him a work ethic he’ll     my community has grown in beauty,
never forget.                                                 pride, economically, culturally, etc.
   “Ever since I was 15, when I had time to work at a         I am excited to join those who are
paying job, I worked,” he said. “He almost forced me to       making these things happen.”


20   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                Thaddeus “T.J.” Jenkins Age 33
                                President, Owner, The Wrijen Company
                                    As a young college graduate, Thaddeus Jenkins spent            Jenkins said. “You have to provide an asset and show
                                 hours inside a small room in his parents’ home ironing            people you are valuable.”
                                 out the details of his first marketing contract. Kneeling            He met many of those contacts as a disc jockey
                                 in front of his bed – because he didn’t own a desk –              and music promoter while in college at East Carolina
                                 Jenkins signed his name to a deal that would launch The           University. Even before graduation he desired his own
                                 Wrijen Company into the national spotlight.                       business.
                                    “Money was tight,” Jenkins said. “I was so rock-                  Lavar Wright of Rick Hendrick Chrysler-Jeep
                                 bottom broke that I didn’t have a bank account. I had to          nominated Jenkins.
                                  borrow $100 from my dad to get an account to cash the               “T.J. has dedicated his time, effort and funds to
                                        check.”                                                    helping Fayetteville grow to be the great city it should
                                               Six months later, Jenkins’ startup was              be,” Wright said. “Not only does T.J. give back to
                                              moving into an office in downtown                    Fayetteville by way of funds and time, he does so in
                                               Fayetteville’s Systel Building and handling         service to churches, schools and the community.”
                                                multi-million dollar clients.                         Local impact is Jenkins’ focus in all he does.
                                                    Over the last seven years the young               “That’s one of the biggest things, all of the staff
                                                 entrepreneur has expanded his marketing           stays in Cumberland County,” he said. “I grew up on
                                                and promotional company extensively.               Murchison Road. I came back here to make an impact in
                                                 Now 34, he’s branching out into markets           the community. We could have moved to a larger metro
                                                  such as Dallas and San Diego.                    area to get recognition, but we are doing it right here.”
                                                     Thanks to aggressive marketing                   He volunteers his time with Find-a-Friend, the E.E.
                                                   strategies, Jenkins’ first client went          Smith Giving Circle, March of Dimes, the Kiwanis Club,
                                                    public, was named one of Fortune               and serves on the boards of the is a member of several
                                                    500’s top five companies in 2006 and           boards including the Fayetteville-Cumberland County
                                                     still ranks in the top 100. The Wrijen        Chamber of Commerce, the Crown Center and the
                                                      Company currently represents several         Methodist University Foundation.
                                                      national brands.                                “I still want to give back here,” he said. “The main goal
                                                          “It was just me using my contacts,”      is to change the world and to do it from Fayetteville.”




                                                                        Carrie King        Age 36
                                                 Executive Director, Fayetteville Dogwood Festival
   Carrie King’s rise from receptionist to executive      can have anything you want with hard work.”
director wasn’t a stroke of luck. The 36-year-               Outgoing, ambitious and willing to get her hands
old knows a thing or two about hard work and              dirty, King constantly strives to improve the festival,
dedication, which is why the Fayetteville Dogwood         while keeping it family oriented and free.
Festival has been named the region’s best event and          “I feel like I’ve hit the pinnacle with my career,
competes at the international level.                      but I don’t see myself going anywhere,” she said. “My
   At 22, King left college early and took a job          goal now is just to be better at this every year.”
working for the Fayetteville/Cumberland County               She credits her family, friends, board members
Chamber of Commerce as a receptionist. She didn’t         and other supporters for her success and claims that
stay seated behind a desk long. Working her way           without their help, her success wouldn’t be possible.
through the chamber, she earned a reputation as              “I have a core group of people I can call, and they
an event planner and was hired by the Dogwood             are there for me,” she said. “My board members –
Festival five years ago. In 2009, she was named           my top dogs – without them I am nothing.”
Executive Director of the Year by the North Carolina         King said she also has a special talent that has
Festival and Events Association.                          helped her career advancement.
   “Being in the trenches and doing the work is what         “I have a very good memory,” she said. “I can
groomed me,” she said. “As far as the industry goes, I    run into someone I briefly met eight years ago, and
am a lot younger than my peers, and they have been        I can remember who they are and where we met.”
doing this a lot longer than I have.”                        King’s volunteer work includes helping plan
   The Dogwood Festival has been named best               events with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/
event in the state at least three times during her        Cumberland County. She loves the idea of giving
tenure and has claimed dozens of regional and             back to her hometown through providing arts
international awards.                                     and entertainment.
   “At the end of the day it’s about your word and           “It makes my heart smile, because I am giving
your work ethic,” King said. “I’ve always had a job. I    so many people and families a lasting memory,” she
had a job when I was 16. My dad always told us you        said. “This is my home.”



                                                                                                www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011       21
                                   Toni King              Age 36
                                   District Court Judge, 12th Judicial District Court
                                              Toni King loves her job as a District Court judge.      love to continue to do this in the future.”
                                           After all, handing out justice has been a life-long           King also enjoys community service. She’s
                                           ambition.                                                  a member of the Junior League of Fayetteville,
                                              “I always wanted to be a judge,” she said. “I didn’t    Networth and the Upsilon Kappa Omega chapter of
                                           expect it to happen so quickly. I’m still taking it in.”   the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
                                              At 38, King is the youngest judge in Cumberland            “Giving back in the community is important to
                                           County. She was appointed to fill a vacant seat on         me,” King said. “I attribute it to the fact that I don’t
                                           the bench three years ago. Last year, she ran for          have any kids and I’m single. I have free time to give
                                           election unopposed and won her second term in              back to the community.”
                                           office.                                                       She’s also given to the Wounded Warriors
                                              How did a young lawyer with eight years in              Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club, Cape Fear
                                             private practice earn enough confidence from her         Regional Theater and mentored in the school
                                               peers to be appointed as a judge?                      system.
                                                   “Hard work,” King said. “You have to try to           “Judge King is committed to making the
                                                  make sure you are prepared. I had experience        community in which she resides a better place,”
                                                   in different areas. That definitely helps with     said Gretchen Morales of Cumberland County
                                                    the position.”                                    Schools. “She is dedicated to civil service and
                                                        Even though she’s younger than most           believes that it takes many hands working together
                                                    of her colleagues, King has no lack of            to make our environment a better place to live.”
                                                    experience. Practicing as an attorney with           She also gives back through the court system.
                                                    her own law firm gave her exposure to                “I hope I’m giving people justice,” she said.
                                                    all aspects of the courtroom. She said            “People just like to be heard ... tell their side of the
                                                     sitting behind the bench is where she’s the      story.
                                                     happiest.                                           “My favorite part is coming in contact with
                                                         “I love my position, I love my job, and I    people every day,” she said. “I know my decisions
                                                      love being in the courtroom every day,” she     affect people’s lives, but I am happy when I make
                                                      said. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and I’d    the right decision.”




                                                               Wendy Lowery   Age 32
Associate Vice Chancellor of Development, Alumni House, Fayetteville State University
   As Fayetteville State University’s associate vice           “I’ve always been in fund-raising,” she said. “My
chancellor of development, Wendy Lowery’s day never         biggest career success came when I was with the
stops. Her phone rings, her planner is full and her feet    American Heart Association. I raised the most
keep moving. She wouldn’t have it any other way.            money in the (Sandhills Heart Walk) event’s history.
   “When I was a young girl, I had a vision of who          We received national recognition.”
and what I wanted to be when I became an adult and             That work ethic is why Kristie Meave nominated
the life-style that I wanted for myself,” the 32-year-      Lowery.
old said. “I envisioned a woman in a business suit             “Since I have known Wendy, I have been impressed
running up stairs on the way to an important meeting,       with her leadership and work ethic at such a young
checking her phone and signing her signature on all         age,” the nominator said. “I believe Wendy will
sorts of important documents throughout the day.            continue to be a valuable asset to this community over
   “There was always something about the busy               the next several years.”
professional life-style that appealed to me,” she said.        Hard work carries over to her personal life.
“I knew that I wanted to be a part of something that        She enjoys giving back to the community,
made me feel accomplished, and that in return would         supporting organizations such as the
make a difference in my community.”                         Highlands Chapter of the American
   With her job at Fayetteville State, Lowery is doing      Red Cross, Networth, The Fayetteville-
exactly that. She’s in charge of public relations,          Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce
marketing affairs and financing projects on campus.         and Fayetteville Young Professionals. She’s
   “I’m extremely organized with my Blackberry and          also active in the school system, where she
my planner,” she said. “I’m very structured with my         has two elementary-age children.
time. You have got to know how to multitask and just           In fulfilling her goal of being successful
prioritize.”                                                in a busy career, she’s learned one rule to
   Spearheading fund-raising initiatives is her             keep herself on the right track.
strongest asset, something she focused on in a                 “You have got to be positive,” she said.
previous job.                                               “There’s always a good side to everything.”



22   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                        Donna Mansfield Age 34
                                        Community Volunteer
                                           Obstacles never daunted Donna Mansfield. She            go through is so intense,” she said. “I can’t imagine
                                        treated them like a runner does. Even though she           my son thinking at night about if his dad will come
                                        came from a challenging childhood, she joined              home.”
                                        the Army and went on to become the first college              In 2008 she had the chance to host the First Lady’s
                                        graduate in her family. She earned her degree from         first formal military families and spouses meeting.
                                        Fayetteville State University while serving on active      She organized and supplied the guest list and took
                                        duty. It was a hard road, but she calls it a sweet         herself off the list because she didn’t want to take
                                        victory for her family.                                    space away from those with a story to tell Michelle
                                           Her tough childhood has made her an early-              Obama.
                                        childhood advocate, and when she left the military            Mansfield also participated in Leadership North
                                          she began volunteering with Partnership for              Carolina. She is the third person from Cumberland
                                           Children and was eventually named board                 County to be selected for the honor, which allows her
                                            chairwoman. Mansfield found creative ways to           to advocate on behalf of the city and for the economic
                                             raise money for the partnership including the         development of southeastern North Carolina.
                                              Evening with the Stars Oscar Gala.                      “She is a young woman full of promise,” said
                                                 “Some children start their lives exposed to       Eva Hansen with the Partnership for Children and
                                               things they shouldn’t be exposed to and not         Mansfield’s nominator. “She motivates and leads by
                                                exposed to things they should be,” she said. “I    example.”
                                                am committed to the importance of nurturing           She is also passionate about a program called
                                                 and raising strong children.”                     Girls on the Run and wants to start a branch in
                                                     Being a former soldier and being married      Fayetteville. The program takes at-risk girls and pairs
                                                   to a former soldier makes military families     them with a mentor to train for a marathon, teaching
                                                    near and dear to Mansfield’s heart. The        them the discipline and fortitude to succeed.
                                                    USO board member said she can’t imagine           “There are a lot of children who think they can’t
                                                    the stress military children face every day.   achieve,” she said. “Running a marathon means
                                                       “A lot of kids here are in some way         training, discipline and devotion to do it. No one can
                                                    related to the military, and the stress they   let you do it but yourself.”




                                                                           Jami McLaughlin
                                          Downtown Development Manager, City of Fayetteville, Age 34
   Public service is in Jami McLaughlin’s blood.           now she is here to stay. She said she has a love of the
Her grandfather was the first mayor and the first          area and enjoys that even when doing something as
Chamber of Commerce president in Spring Lake. Her          simple as venturing to the grocery store, she not only
father chose to serve the country through military         runs into long-time friends but has the chance to
service, but McLaughlin followed in her grandfather’s      meet someone from another country.
footsteps and was elected the mayor pro-tem of                Her dedication and commitment to the community
Spring Lake at 26.                                         can be seen in her volunteerism. She is involved
   It wasn’t something the East Carolina University        in Junior League, the Fayetteville Duck Derby,
graduate had planned on doing, but when she decided        Fayetteville Young Professionals, Cumberland County
to run, her family supported her.                          Society of Patriots, Daughters of the United States
   “My mom actually backed me,” she said. “All I           Army, Army’s Army, Spring Lake Economic
promised during my campaign was to listen and              Development Committee and Heroes
research, and that’s what I did. I didn’t want anyone to   Homecoming. She is a board member of the
discredit me, so I researched everything.”                 Fayetteville Downtown Alliance and a
   She learned so much that she ended up co-writing        certified tourism ambassador.
a book and editing another, both with the town                According to her nominator,
historian, about the history of Spring Lake.               Chris McLaughlin of Storr Office
   McLaughlin counts it as an invaluable experience        Environments, she is a unique
which she draws on in her current job as downtown          individual with a vision for the
development manager for Fayetteville.                      community who works tirelessly
   “There is so much potential in downtown                 to play her part. While she agrees
Fayetteville right now,” she said. “We’re at a turning     with her nominator that she has
point right now, especially with all the development       one-of-a-kind resume, she said
and the nationally recognized festivals, we’re             she doesn’t feel like she has worked
becoming an event destination.”                            much, but it is a true labor of love.
   She has come back to the Fayetteville area three           “I feel fortunate to have the kind of
times since graduating college and admits she thinks       experiences I have had,” she said.


                                                                                             www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011      23
                                     Lorna McNeill Ricotta Age 34
                                     Owner, Ethos Creative Group
                                                 When you’ve been Miss North Carolina,              James Taylor at Gov. Jim Hunt’s inauguration,
                                              represented your country internationally and          sang the national anthem at a Carolina
                                              island-hopped as a professional singer by your        Panthers game and recorded two solo albums.
                                              mid-20s, what is left to do?                             Ricotta was nominated by Fayetteville State
                                                 Lorna McNeill Ricotta could have been              University’s Wendy Lowery, who said her
                                              satisfied with her accomplishments, but she           friend is the perfect fit for 40 Under Forty.
                                              wasn’t afraid to take on her biggest challenge           “Lorna demonstrates the true essence of
                                              yet – owning a small business.                        being a young professional that has a strong
                                                 Two years ago, the former singer and 2000          passion for her community and professional
                                              winner of the state’s top pageant founded Ethos       growth and truly exemplifies all components
                                              Creative Group, an interior design and event-         for this sort of recognition,” she said.
                                              planning company.                                        Ricotta also has a big heart when it comes to
                                                     The career change may seem like a              service. She volunteers with many nonprofits,
                                                   departure for the 34-year-old Ricotta, but       including the Cumberland County Education
                                                  she said it’s a natural progression.              Foundation, Community Concerts and the
                                                    “Design has been a life-long interest; it’s     University of North Carolina at Pembroke
                                                more of a passion,” she said. “I feel like this     Board of Trustees. She also enjoys mentoring
                                                is where I’m supposed to be at this point in        children.
                                                my life. I’m a multi-faceted person. I don’t like      “Youth development is imperative to our
                                               being pigeon holed. I’m an entrepreneur at           community growth,” she said. “I envision
                                               heart.”                                              creating programs to help our youth excel,
                                                  At Ethos she works to combine the creative        highlight their strengths and improve their
                                               forces of interior decorating and event              weaknesses.”
                                                 planning, two fields she said tie together,           “I look back in life and ask myself how I’ve
                                                  with the design aspect as the common              been helped by a hand up, not a hand out, and
                                                   thread.                                          I feel like that’s something I should do for the
                                                      As a singer, Ricotta performed alongside      next generation,” she said.




                                                                   Kristie Meave Age 34
                                                                             Communications Professional
   Being successful is about taking risk and             the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of
enjoying adventure. Kristie Meave knows a thing          Commerce for seven years. She recently received
or two about taking chances. Six days after being        her MBA and is ready for her next challenge in life.
the first in her family to graduate from college,           “A bunch of doors have opened,” she said.
Meave left Texas for the first time and moved to         “I’ve thought about starting my own business.
Washington D.C. with no job, no place to live and        The chamber taught me what it means to be an
no plans.                                                entrepreneur and many of the skills it takes to be
   The gamble paid off for the young political           successful ... the sky’s the limit.”
science graduate, who scored jobs with influential           Her proudest moment in her previous position
congressmen and senators.                                was starting a new group for young leaders.
   Later, Meave climbed the Great Wall of China in          “The thing I’ve enjoyed most and am
a snowstorm. She’s now traveled to 16 countries.         most proud of is the Fayetteville Young
   “(Climbing the Great Wall) was the scariest           Professionals,” she said. “I suggested it to my
thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I made it to the       boss.”
top with white knuckles and frostbitten fingers.            The group has grown from a handful of
The accomplishment taught me what real fear              members to more than 400 in only couple
is and continues to help me not sweat the small          of years.
stuff.”                                                     She hopes her next adventure keeps her
   After experiences like that, you’d think the rest     here in Fayetteville.
of her career would be dull, but the 35-year-old            “It’s home; I’ve lived here as long as
Meave tackles her work with the same gusto.              I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life,” she
   “Everything you can think of that’s happening,        said. “This is a time for self examination
I’ve been on the committee or board,” she said.          and finding what is important in life.
“That’s one of the greatest challenges, letting          I think people who work hard and are
people know there is a lot to do in Fayetteville.”       nice to people wind up getting jobs
   Meave was most recently employed as the vice          and doing great things.”
president of marketing and communication for


24   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                               Peter Pappas    Age 36
                   President, Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs/ Pappas Commercial Properties
   Few people have been placed in charge of 35 people      and the Council for Hotel and Restaurant Trainers to
at the young age of 20, but Peter Pappas has never         continue to motivate and improve his staff. He also
been ordinary. While he will admit he has learned a        gives back to many local charitable organizations.
lot since being responsibility for those workers, many     He often donates money or food to events, but hopes
of whom were older, he wouldn’t trade the experience       to soon be able to have an ongoing partnership with
of opening a new Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs for            some local organizations and send employees to help
anything.                                                  by giving their time.
   “My family needed a strong leader to take our              He sees a positive direction for Baldinos. He hopes
company to the next level,” he said. “I decided to leave   to be able to transition from operator to franchiser,
Emory University in Atlanta once I had my associate’s      allowing him to focus on the things he enjoys
degree and come home to work and get my bachelor’s         most – menu development, marketing and
degree locally.”                                           associate development.
   His drive and ambition helped him through, and             “I like a challenge,” he said. “This is
after a few years, he said he earned the respect of his    where the fun will start because I could go
workers. He opened two more Baldinos locations in          from running the store to specializing in
2004 while getting his real estate license.                promotions and training. It will allow me
   Since he is busy with so much construction while        to expand quicker.”
opening his new stores, he also incorporated a                His outlook for the future of
construction company. While it may seem like an odd        Fayetteville is also very bright. He said
combination, Pappas said it was a natural progression.     that with the growth of the city and the
   “Right now I manage 20 properties monthly, and          vision of its business leaders, there is a
this puts us in a position to help small businesses,”      positive direction for the community.
he said. “I feel fortunate because I’ve had a lot of          “I look forward to all the new folks
experience, so I end up being the go-to guy.”              who will make Fayetteville a place to
   Pappas is always looking for ways to help, from his     be,” he said. “It’s up to the people in
employees to his community. He attends conferences         my age group to show a welcoming
for the Society for Human Resource Management              and positive spirit.”




                                                                                          www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   25
                                   Louis Patalano IV Age 37
                                   General Counsel and Vice President, Legal Services, Cape Fear Valley Health System
                                         Health care is one of today’s hot-button legal            Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s anti-fraud program and
                                      topics. That’s why when Louis Patalano IV became a           with the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office
                                      lawyer, his heart was set on that specialty.                 in the Medicaid investigations unit. At only 38, his
                                         “It’s a busy job, I’m not twiddling my thumbs for         experience is sometimes a surprise for his peers.
                                      sure,” said Patalano, who is the general counsel and            “I’ve had employees at the company longer than
                                      vice president of legal services for Cape Fear Valley        I’ve been alive, so to have these people working for
                                      Health System. “People don’t realize how many legal          me or answering to me has been a challenge for me,”
                                      situations apply to a health care provider. It’s one         he said. “I am the youngest member of the senior
                                      of those areas of law that is dynamic. You see it on         executive committee of Cape Fear Valley. What I’ve
                                         the front page of the paper, and you see it on the        tried to do is work hard and do the right thing.”
                                                 nightly news.”                                       He is the vice chairman on the board of directors
                                                     Patalano said his job is ever changing,       for Communities in Schools of North Carolina. He’s
                                                    as the hospital needs legal council for a      also on the board of directors for the Cumberland
                                                     variety of reasons. Patalano’s role at Cape   County Education Foundation.
                                                     Fear is extensive.                               With two kids of his own, helping children is an
                                                         “Cape Fear Valley has historically        important part of Patalano’s life.
                                                      not had in-house counsel,” he said. “I          “I enjoy working with and for children,” he said.
                                                       came to Cape Fear Valley and started        “I serve on two boards, both geared toward trying to
                                                       the legal services department from          save kids at risk for dropout. To help children who
                                                        scratch.”                                  may fall through the cracks is very rewarding.”
                                                           The legal department has grown             As an Army brat, Patalano spent his childhood in
                                                         from only three employees when            and out of Fayetteville. He said his goal is to continue
                                                         Patalano was hired to 25 today. He is     to help the community improve.
                                                         able to provide expert advice, thanks         “I’ve watched it develop, and it’s not the same
                                                         to former jobs on opposite sides of       Fayetteville as when I left in high school,” he
                                                         the health care spectrum.                 said. “To be a part of it from Cape Fear Valley’s
                                                            He’s worked both as director of        perspective, and how we are growing, is exciting.”




                                                                     Reshma Patel         Age 38
                                               Occupational Therapist, Cumberland County Schools
    When microbiologist-turned-occupational-therapist      Directors for Cape Fear Regional Theater, a Friends of
Reshma Patel moved to Fayetteville, the only person        Cancer Advisory Council member, a Heart and Stroke
she knew here was her brother. She was born in             Event Coordinator and has co-chaired the Circle of
Raleigh, but had lived in Pittsburgh and Canada.           Friends Hospital Gala twice.
She quickly fell in love with Fayetteville and found          She has been a big sister for the Big Brother Big
her niche working with children in the Cumberland          Sister Program and a tutor for adult literacy. She has
County Schools.                                            delivered Meals on Wheels and volunteered with
    She helps students with fine motor problems            nursing homes. She also wants to become more
resulting from anything such as a sports injury            involved with the fund-raising efforts for military
or congenital deformity to a child with Asperger’s         organizations, such as the Green Beret Foundation.
Syndrome, and she works through the challenges so          She also wants to help children become more
the students can do things more normally. She chose        involved in volunteer efforts, and is looking to start
this job because it allows her to collaborate with         a group where kids can get together and volunteer.
teachers, parents and community services to best help         “The spirit of volunteerism is very important in
each child.                                                my family, and those value are being taught to my
    Even though Patel works so closely with children,      daughter,” she said. “I would love to see continued
helping them every day, her nominator, Karen               growth and sense of community within our city.”
Goldsmith of Atlas Chiropractic, notes that Patel still       Patel said she remembers volunteering in
finds it is important to volunteer and give back to        high school with seniors helping seniors where
the community. She gives back generously, despite          she helped senior citizens. Having a spirit of
personal tragedy in her life.                              volunteerism starts at a young age, and Patel
    “We all have a story with good, bad, all of it, and    encourages her daughter and all young people
it shapes our future,” Patel said. “I could give you a     to give back because it teaches compassion and
laundry list of sad things, but I have one life to live.   empathy.
Bitterness is not an option.”                                 “We have freedom. We have a roof over
    She is involved with many different organizations      our head. We’re lucky,” Patel said. “When we
she personally believes in. She is on the Board of         have that, we have to give back.”


26   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                                                  Nicholas Perkins             Age 30
                                                   President, Perkins Management Services Company, Inc.
   Nicholas Perkins turned a college job in the cafeteria          “Growing up in a modest and humble family structure,
into a career in food service. His food management              I wanted financial freedom, and I recognized having
company provides meals on college campuses and military         access to capital would afford me every opportunity I
installations throughout the South and owns one of the          wanted in life,” he said.
busiest new restaurants in Fayetteville.                           He supports education at E.E. Smith and Fayetteville
   “I always wanted to have my own business,” Perkins           State University through sponsorships, but said his
said. “When I fell in love with food services, I decided to     contribution to the community is the jobs he hopes his
combine the two.”                                               investments provide. In all, his company has about 200
   His company, Perkins Management Services Company,            employees, many in Cumberland County.
provides food services to three university campuses                “It’s very important, which is why we are
and two military bases. The company recently opened             opening businesses inside of Fayetteville,” he
Church’s Chicken on Yadkin Road. The fast food franchise        said. “I’ve tried to increase the employment
has been so successful in its first months that Perkins has     opportunities by actually entering into
announced two more Fayetteville locations to open in the        commercial markets. I give back to my
future.                                                         community in ways we really need.”
   It all started in the cafeteria at Fayetteville State           Perkins’ dedication to personal
University.                                                     service made an impact on Jacquelyn
   “As an undergraduate I had the opportunity to work in        Melvin-Alexander of JMA, Inc., who
food service – it was an enlightening experience,” Perkins      nominated him for this honor.
said. “It was hard work, but it was something I really liked.      “As a business consultant, receiving
   He started his the company five years ago and is seeing      a telephone call from Nicholas to
growth every year. The 30-year-old is proud to be a first-      discuss one of his latest projects
generation business owner.                                      brings an immediate smile to my
   “I knew in college I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he       face knowing that the project
said. “Everything I did in college was for my future career.    will be dealt with the utmost of
I used the classroom and the time in school to establish a      professionalism and a commitment
business plan.                                                  to its success,” she said.




                                                                                          www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   27
                                Robert “Jason” Poole II Age 35
                                Partner , Todd Rivenbark & Puryear, PLLC
                                      Being the partner of a CPA firm before the age of 40           in the Kiwanis Club, which he joined in 2003. He has
                                   is impressive. Jason Poole was named a partner at 30 at           served on the board of directors and currently is the one
                                   Todd Rivenbark & Puryear, PLLC. His hard work and                 of the youngest president-elects of the club, something
                                   lead-by-example mentality is what his nominators say              both of his nominators noted and applauded.
                                   got him his position, but he has a more humble opinion.              “The Kiwanis just felt like a good fit for me,” he said.
                                      “I got really lucky,” he said. “I put in a lot of hard         “I love their mission, which is to support kids, and
                                   work, but really it was good timing.”                             I’ve always been interested in volunteering. When the
                                      The natural-born leader is an East Carolina                    opportunity came, I took it.”
                                   University graduate and a native of Fayetteville and                 Poole immediately jumped in by chairing the annual
                                       he thinks that growing up here gave him a unique              Talent Night event that awards winners with a summer
                                           perspective about the city’s future.                      music camp scholarship to Methodist University. He
                                                “I like Fayetteville,” he said. “There is a lot of   also actively participates in their Smart Start program
                                               opportunity, and I saw the potential that the         and Reading is Fun and sponsors a Little League
                                                 city has.”                                          baseball team.
                                                       His parents and college professors               “Jason is an impressive young man who truly leads by
                                                      taught him to give back. He is treasurer       example,” said Gary Cooper of Carolina Mortgage, one
                                                       and a member of the board of directors        of Poole’s nominators. “He is respected by everyone who
                                                        for the Highlands Chapter of the             observes his work ethic and values.”
                                                          American Red Cross. He is also the            His involvement is not likely to slow down any
                                                           treasurer of the Homebuilders             time soon, either. He is looking to find some more
                                                             Association of Fayetteville.            organizations within the community. He is also looking
                                                                Poole is also an active member       into possibly serving on a local government board.
                                                              of the North Carolina Association         “I would like to get involved with local government,”
                                                              of Certified Public Accountants        he said. “The timing would have to be right, but I
                                                                and Fayetteville Young               believe that I should take an active role in being part
                                                                 Professionals.                      of the solution, and help our elected leaders make
                                                                     He is probably most active      Fayetteville a better home for everyone.”




                                                             Shannon Shurko               Age 35
                                             Military Support Liaison, Cumberland County Schools
   Classrooms are comfortable for Shannon Shurko.            gives of her own personal time to get a job done.”
She is an excellent educator who loves watching her             Her responsibilities have grown, and her job and
students become interested in learning. She is also          volunteer efforts often overlap. She gives her time
an active Army wife who volunteers with her Family           to students and their parents, which often means
Readiness Group and other military organizations.            checking her email into the night waiting for replies
   Then she found an opening for a Military Support          from deployed and overseas parents, but it’s not
Liaison for Cumberland County Schools, the first             something she would change.
position of its kind in North Carolina, and applied. A          “There are men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan
few months later she was offered the job. She calls it       and all over the place, and they work on off hours to
the perfect marriage of her Army and civilian lives.         us,” Shurko said. “I would want someone to answer
   “In a lot of ways, you have to be in the military         me if I wasn’t around. My kids deserve that, and so do
machine to know how it works,” she said. “I want             theirs.”
military kids to know that they are supported. They             Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was
are sacrificing right along with their service member.”      awarded 82nd Airborne Division Volunteer
   Since then she has served on White House panels           Recognition in 2008 and was given the
looking to support military families, and helped             Partnership for Children’s Military Family
organize conferences designed to bring services, both        Leadership Award for outstanding leadership
military and civilian, together for families. She creates    in 2010.
an umbrella of sorts with information for students and          She said the recognition makes her want to
parents.                                                     work that much harder for her students. She
   Her efforts do not stop there, as her nominator           would like to see the position grow to include
Nakol Lovett pointed out. Shurko organized a                 government affairs so someone could lobby
graduation for veterans who served during World War          the state legislature for changes to support
II, Korea and Vietnam and were honorably discharged.         military children in the school system.
   “Shannon is clearly not only a leader, but someone           “I want the students to have an innate
who loves to help others learn to lead as well,” Lovett      sense of support here,” she said. “This
said. “She deeply cares for those around her and often       should be a safe place for students to fall.”


28   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
                                      Seema Slehria Age 39
                                      Community Volunteer
                                                After winning sales and customer service           prescription they need any other way.”
                                             awards, it was hard for Seema Slehria to leave           Slehria is the event chairwoman for
                                             the banking industry to stay at home with             the Women’s Giving Circle. This year the
                                             her children. But she knew she wanted to              organization chose to start a campaign directed
                                             volunteer her time and make a difference in her       at combatting homelessness in Fayetteville.
                                             community. Looking back at what she has done             She is also a Fashion Show Committee
                                             for her community during the last six years, she      Member for the Medical Society Alliance. That
                                             does not have a single regret.                        organization is made of physicians’ spouses who
                                                “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said,     raise money for health education foundations
                                             “But I knew I wanted to be involved. I have           supporting nursing programs.
                                             learned so much – leadership, event planning             Slehria’s nominator, Christin Bellian, said she
                                             and teamwork. I have learned how to make the          is the first one to volunteer when help is needed,
                                               impossible become possible.”                        and she always keeps her cool, never getting
                                                   She earned her master’s degree in health        angry or annoyed.
                                                 care management and became active in                 “I feel at the end of the day, if I have even
                                                  nonprofit organizations with which she           touched one life or made a difference for even
                                                   has personal connections. After her             one person, I am successful,” she said.
                                                   father passed away from complications of           Even in the rough economy, Slehria continues
                                                    diabetes, Slehria began volunteering with      to set her goals high; she wants to use her
                                                     Better Health, an organization that fills     degree and return to the private sector while
                                                     the health-care gap so patients can get       continuing her work with nonprofits. But after
                                                      the medical supplies and prescriptions       running the house for several years, she thinks
                                                       they need but might not be able to          it will be a fun challenge.
                                                       afford.                                        “People who stay at home don’t usually get to
                                                           “What matters to me is being able       see the full benefit of what they do,” she said.
                                                         to help people,” she said. “Maybe         “They may think it’s just a household, but it’s
                                                         it’s a sick person who can’t get the      a lot.”




                                                                       Todd Sullivan        Age 36
                                 Vice President, Sullivan’s Highland Funeral Service and Crematory
    Todd Sullivan learned to serve by watching members        college has.
of his family. His grandfather was a particularly                “FTCC is such a huge asset to Cumberland County,”
strong influence. He was mayor of Fayetteville and a          he said. “It provides a big economic engine for those
businessman who strove to make Fayetteville a better          who don’t want to or can’t afford to go to a four-year
place to live.                                                university. It gives them practical training.”
    Sullivan said it was that drive that brought him back        A hunting and fly fishing enthusiast, he also is a
after working in the planning department of a large           long-time member of Ducks Unlimited. He believes
manufacturing facility and then designing investment          the conservation of the wetlands and its wildlife is
portfolios. He followed in his grandfather’s footsteps        paramount, because when it is gone, it won’t come back.
and is trying to make his hometown one of the best               In 2005, he purchased the funeral service his
cities in the state.                                          dad was working with and became the
    “I think my grandfather was sensitive to civil affairs;   vice president in charge of day to day
it’s not many people who are willing to serve,” he said.      operations. It’s a job that allows him to
“He was convinced, and I agree, that if you put the right     help other people during some of their
people in the right place, we can make Fayetteville a         lowest points.
great place, and it will continue to grow.”                      At that time he was also diagnosed
    He knows Fayetteville has the spirit and tenacity to      with cancer. Even as he continues to
grow, even in a down economy. He points out the Cape          battle cancer with many treatments
Fear Botanical Garden and how supporters have built           and surgeries, he has still been able
new facilities many said couldn’t be done because it was      to continue working, helping people
too big. Sullivan points out that all the project needed      in need.
was passionate people who believed in it.                        “It helps you identify with
    He is very active with Fayetteville Technical             people going through something
Community College, serving on its foundation board.           similar,” he said. “It make you
Sullivan helps raise money for scholarships, award            look at life differently and see
grants for students to attend school and educates the         what’s important to you. It really
community of the tremendous positive impact the               puts things into perspective.”


                                                                                           www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   29
                                    Billy West, Jr. Age 36
                                    District Attorney, Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office
                                        Being selected as an Atlantic Coast Conference’s          back to the community.”
                                      Outstanding Male Scholarship Athlete is impressive,            West is a member of the Child Advocacy
                                      but the trophies Billy West keeps at his house are          Center Board of Advocates, the Fayetteville Police
                                      those he won locally.                                       Foundation and the Cumberland County Joint
                                        The district attorney has won the Cumberland              Criminal Task Force. He has served as the chairman
                                      County Golf Championship five times, the                    of the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens
                                      Cumberland County Match Play Championship                   Dinner and an event volunteer for the Rape Crisis
                                      three times and has been named the Cumberland               Center.
                                      County Golf Association Player of the Year five times.         He has also previously served as a coach for the
                                        “I followed the county championships through the          mock trial team of Terry Sanford High School and
                                      years, and now I get to win some of the local stuff,        Fayetteville Academy, leading his teams to the
                                           which is the most important to me,” he said.           regional championship twice and to the state finals
                                                   While West’s nominator George Breece,          three times.
                                                admires his ability on the golf course, it’s         “The mock trials are a chance for me to give back
                                                his attitude off the course that caught his       in an area where I have experience and expertise,” he
                                                attention and led him to nominate West.           said. “It gives them a confidence in public speaking.”
                                                    Having a local focus to every part of his        While his volunteering improves the quality of life
                                                 life is important to the life-long resident of   in Cumberland County, West tries to do the same
                                                Cumberland County. After attending North          through his office. His goal for the District Attorney’s
                                                 Carolina State University and earning a law      Office is to protect the integrity and independence
                                                 degree at Campbell University, West came         of the office while being fair and objective to all
                                                 back to Fayetteville and began working           citizens.
                                                 as an assistant district attorney. He said          “I care about the future of our community, its
                                                 he wants to play an active role in the           success and its image,” he said. “I believe a strong,
                                                 community.                                       independent District Attorney’s Office has a positive
                                                     “I had a lot of support growing up here,”    role to play in the life and growth of Cumberland
                                                  West said. “I think it’s important to give      County.”




30   The Fayetteville Observer’s 2011 40 Under Forty
www.fayobserver.com/40under40 • Sunday, May 15, 2011   31

				
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