WENATCHEE — Introducing the Wenatchee Valley Business World’s “30 Under 35” Class of 2018, spotlighting 30 of the region’s up-and-coming leaders under the age of 35.
They are the movers and shakers of tomorrow described by bosses, colleagues, community and family members who nominated them as dedicated, enthusiastic, trustworthy, responsible and passionate. In short, they are “forces to be reckoned with,” as one nominator put it.
The annual recognition, designed to encourage talented community and business leaders of the future, started in 2011.
The request for nominations goes out each May. Nominees are then sent a questionnaire asking for details — What have they accomplished? What are they most proud of? What inspires them?
The challenge is paring down the list.
This year’s class is a diverse group, ranging in age from 23 to 34. Women outnumber men. A bit more than half grew up here. All but a few have college degrees. Several served in the military. About one-third are in the fields of sales, marketing and communications. At least three own small businesses. The group includes several attorneys, an accountant, a financial adviser, a social worker and two in the ministry. Others are in security, hospitality, health care and agriculture.
One of the largest common denominator, other than their success — however they define it — is their source of inspiration. Of the 30, 20 mention family as at least part of what inspires them. Six credit colleagues and mentors.
What follows, in their own words, gets to the heart of what makes them tick.
We asked, “Tell us who or what inspires you to be successful.”
Here is what they said:
Whitney Acheson, 32
Owner, Moody Sisters Skincare
My family. My parents were artists and traveled the states selling their pottery at art shows and I was their sales side kick. I always admired their ambition and gained self-confidence from being a part of the journey, whether it was being allowed to help set up displays, giving customers change or coming up with new ideas — being a part of the process allowed me to see the value of family business. Now, when I have to work late or need help, my kids get to be a part of my journey and I still get to see them grow up. I feel like I’m working for them, to be available when they need me and to inspire them to work hard for their own dreams.
Annagrisel Alvarez, 31
Public Information Officer, City of Wenatchee
My family inspires me daily. My parents left their dream jobs, extended family and basically their entire lives to give us kids a better future in this country. But particularly, my dad who is my rock and example; he leads his life by the values he instilled in my siblings and me. He taught me that no matter what you do, and where you do it, an individual needs to do it with passion and commitment, or not at all.
Sacrifice, gratefulness, passion and commitment are core values that inspire me to be successful every day and perseverance, strength and huge faith in the Lord, are the foundation of our family.
Geoff Bailey, 31
Certified Public Accountant, Littrell & Bailey, P.S.
My wife, Alicia Bailey has been instrumental to my success. She has always been supportive of my career decisions and instills confidence in everything that I do. My parents, Jay and Laura Fulbright, exemplify what it takes to be successful and have offered guidance whenever needed. James Littrell has been an excellent mentor and has inspired me to always strive to be the best professional possible.
Kelsy Bendtsen, 29
Social Worker, Eastmont School District
I have always wanted to give back to others and work in a helping profession. Social work has been a calling, not a career. When coming up against policies that interfere with work I want to accomplish or a lack of funding/resources to connect families to, it can be difficult to stay motivated, but I am continually inspired by the students I serve. They face hardship after hardship and yet will still get up and come to school to try and make a better future for themselves. They are truly amazing!
I am also inspired by son. I hope to raise a person who values hard work, community, service and the importance of human relationships. My goal is to demonstrate those values to him through my service to the community as a social worker, and as a community member.
Errin Bratton, 31
Orthopedic Practice Manager, Confluence Health
From a young age, I have held high standards for myself. I am fortunate to have had some great mentors in my current and past positions and it has been instilled in me to work hard for what I want. I joined Confluence Health with the goal of eventually joining the ranks of management; little did I know it would happen so quickly, for which I am very grateful and humbled by. I don’t take my leadership role lightly and hope that I can continue to inspire those around me to strive to be better in their current job, in working toward a goal of theirs, or even in their personal lives.
Brandi Buck, 34
Marketing Specialist, Hagadone Directories
My mother definitely inspires me to keep pushing toward new and higher goals as she is in the same line of work. Sales jobs are tough sometimes. You have bad days, weeks and even months. She motivates me by encouraging me to brush off the small stuff and look at the big picture. My kids also keep me motivated to be the best I can be. I want them to be proud of me and to know that anything they set their minds to can be accomplished. Being a single parent of two was not what was planned, but I strive to make sure that I provide the life that I planned on them having. Nothing short, nothing less.
Marissa Collins, 30
Marketing Director, Numerica Performing Arts Center
My parents inspire me to be successful. No matter what my struggles, they always believe in me, and despite my imperfections they are proud of me. My parents inspire me to believe in myself, personally and professionally.
Kyle Eberth, 33
Area Director, Young Life
I am deeply inspired by our volunteers. Our volunteer adult leaders give hundreds, and collectively, thousands of hours annually on behalf of local adolescents. It is never dull work; it is rarely easy; it stretches them beyond what’s comfortable or normal; and it’s deeply rewarding. Our leaders epitomize the power of being present. They simply show up. They are faithfully present on the edges and when enough trust is earned they are right in the middle of adolescent circles. Our leaders are motivated by the experienced love of Christ we share and the common mission to see, speak to, and empower the image of God in everyone we meet, particularly local adolescents.
I have the privilege of working with long-standing volunteers who have been serving Christ and local kids for 15-plus years. Their deep work with students leaves a wake of influence that reverberates through out our communities. They know kids, have earned the trust of kids, and are some of first people relied upon when the challenges of adolescence arise.
Similarly, I am inspired by the dynamic achieved only with a team. We are together vastly more dynamic and effective when we learn to set each other up, allow the giftedness of the team to shine, and recognize that my lack in skill is often specifically fulfilled by that of a teammate. Take away all the practical elements that make up a good team, one of the most important keys is that you simply enjoy the people you work with! Our Young Life Team is dynamic because our leadership team likes to be with each other. Kids see that, they recognize what’s real and what’s forced, and want to be apart of something authentic.
Christal Eshelman, 34
Project Manager, North Central Accountable Community of Health
My Mom: My mom has been a source of inspiration as well as a great mentor throughout my life. She has modeled key virtues that I strive to emulate, including: tenacity and drive that’s unstoppable; attention to detail; high integrity/honesty; and a commitment to excellence in all we do.
My Dad: When I was growing up, my dad often repeated two quotes to me:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the Earth” by Archimedes. At the time, the wisdom in these words was beyond my years, though I watched my dad embody them as I was growing up. He always faced life with courage and a “can-do” attitude you rarely see. As an adult, I greatly respect these qualities in others when I see them and I am constantly striving for them in myself. As I’ve encountered challenges, I repeat these words to myself and they give me the courage I need to keep going.
My community: In my own way, I strive to contribute to creating community by being a good friend to others; fully engaging in whatever I do that builds community and helps others also contribute while finding joy in their participation.
Jana Fischback, 32
Executive Director, Sustainable Wenatchee
My success is defined by my effectiveness to encourage community members to live more sustainable lives. What inspires me to strive for that success is my concern that if we do not begin to make changes in our daily behavior, we will be leaving this beautiful valley (and planet) in much worse condition for future generations. As a new mom, I’m inspired to be a leader in making that change. I strive to be an example for my daughter in both my career and in “treading lightly” in my own daily life. Two other people have provided much of the inspiration I’ve had in pursuing my passion. The first is my husband, whose encouragement and support have enabled my success so far. The other is my co-founder and board president, Tandi Rolen (30 Under 35 Class of 2016). If it wasn’t for Tandi’s passion and energy, Sustainable Wenatchee would likely not exist.
Becca Freimuth, 24
Communications Manager, Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance
I like to feel like I am part of something larger than myself and that I am making a contribution to my community. Because of that I am continually learning, exploring, and engaging with the community around me. So, I guess you could say the community inspires me to be successful. If I can be a small part of something that progresses and benefits our beautiful region then that is success to me.
Christopher Goehner, 33
Sales Finance Manager, Swire Coca-Cola, USA
At a young age, and being deployed to Iraq, I dealt with having people’s lives in my hands. It was my responsibility to do everything in my power to help save lives of my fellow service-member or foreign nationalist that came into my trauma center; treating over 1,200 trauma patients and be a part of 450 operating cases during my second deployment to Al Taqaddum, Iraq. While I may not be able to have the same instant or direct impact in saving people’s lives, as I did while deployed, I do have the opportunity to help others within my community. Living abroad taught me that wherever we live, we are able to help improve the lives of those around us. It is that chance and opportunity to help others that keeps me going, wanting to learn as much as possible, which will allow me in being better equipped to help not only myself but others in the community.
Additionally, President Bush has encouraged me by saying that my time in public service did not end when I took off my military uniform. While it has been 12 years since I wore my U.S. Navy uniform, there are still opportunities to serve and help others in my community.
Clayton Graef, 30
Attorney, City Prosecutor, Davis Arneil Law Firm
I am constantly inspired by the people around me. This started when I was growing up, when my parents served as an example of success and what it took to be successful. My father was an electrician who worked hard at his job, and then on the weekends worked to remodel and improve our house. My mother initially stayed home and homeschooled my brother and I, and then entered the workforce when my father passed. These were examples of hard work, dedication and sacrifice that motivated me throughout my youth and still motivate me today.
From that experience, I’ve learned to find inspiration in the people in my life. I firmly believe that I can find an inspirational trait in everyone I meet. Some aspect that makes me want to be like them. Of course, sometimes it is difficult.
However it becomes easy when you surround yourself with good people. With dedicated professionals with a sense of community. It is easy to be inspired when you work with a solo practitioner who spends his personal time giving pro bono legal services to the community, with an attorney who still remembers a client from 20 years ago and the details of a case they worked on. Here the community is full of these people. This holds me to a high standard and makes it easy for me to find success.
Katie Harmon, 25
Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Stemilt Growers
Two people that inspire me to be successful are Brianna Shales and Roger Pepperl.
Brianna has been an incredible supervisor. Brianna is Stemilt’s communications manager. Not only has she taught me an incredible amount of information about the industry, but she has also helped me learn a lot about myself and encourages me to embrace who I am — both strengths and weaknesses. She is showing me how to be a great leader simply by leading by example. She is an excellent mentor who allows me to run with my ideas and thoughts all while teaching me everything I need to know to ensure my content is successful and well absorbed.
Roger is another mentor who has taught me an incredible amount of things that have applied to both my professional career and home life. Roger and I think and act very similarly – we are fast-paced and are direct with our actions – which is a trait that can work against us if not used properly. Having him as a leader has helped me learn how to manage these personality traits and utilize them effectively. Roger also has an incredible passion for the industry. This passion is contagious and is motivating as his employee as I am always striving to produce my best work.
Sarah Lindell, 29
Financial Advisor, Cashmere Valley Wealth Management
Persistent curiosity is what inspires me to be successful. The world is full of interesting people and things and the desire to learn and gain knowledge is what drives me to be thorough and diligent in whatever I do.
Hannah Etengoff, 29
Public Defender, Counsel for Defense of Chelan County
My father is an attorney and growing up I was inspired by him to pursue a career in law. He was and still is involved in various groups and organizations that work toward equal justice and improving our communities. He instilled in me how important it is to work hard and to serve others in our community. He also instilled in me how important it is to treat others with kindness. He encouraged me at a young age to pursue a career in law and always told me that if I wanted to serve my community, law would be the best way.
Breanne Hensley, 29
Permit Technician, Chelan County Department of Community Development
My parents are my biggest inspiration to be successful. They have taught me that in order to succeed in life you need to work hard and help others, and I strive to do that every day.
Meredith Hilger, 29
Program and Event Director, Wenatchee Downtown Association
Small Business Owners. I was raised by small business owners, and it was impressed upon me from a young age what it takes to own your own business. They don’t get to clock in from nine to five, they are always on. Also, they serve the community in so many ways. I can’t go on Amazon and buy something that was hand selected for my community. Who knows this community and the needs of those who live here better than the people who live and work here every day?
I worked in the greater Seattle area immediately following college for two large corporations, one in the retail sphere and one in technology. Gaining the perspective I did from working for large scale organizations in a major metropolitan area made me appreciate the community where I grew up so much more. I knew that I wanted to move home as soon as it was feasible, and after four and a half years in Seattle, I moved back.
Today I fight for the right to walk into a retail store and have a customer experience unlike anything the internet, no matter how it continues to develop, will ever be able to offer me. I am endlessly inspired by those who own businesses in this downtown, and they drive me to succeed each and every day.
Shannen Itterley, 33
Director of Homeschool Co-op; Director of Children’s Ministry, Calvary Crossroads Church
I am inspired by my mom. My brother had severe special needs and in order to know how to take better care of him she went back to school to become a nurse. She did this all while being active and involved in my life and providing 24-hour care to my brother. She also was very active in our local community and was constantly finding ways to help those in need. She made blankets to hand out to homeless people and worked tirelessly to spread awareness of students with special needs and the positive impact they have in our communities. Currently, she and my dad spend their retired life impacting our community. She thought up and directed an event called “Pay It Forward” which was supported by our church, Calvary Crossroads, that gave dental hygiene bags, food bags, a free lunch, free haircuts, free photography services, free dental procedures and more to more than 400 people in our valley in need. My mom inspires me to be successful, to continue fighting for those in need, to show love and grace in times when it doesn’t seem possible, and that hard work doesn’t come easy, and is not only possible but necessary. She and my dad have been married over 30 years and are the example of success to me, both occupationally and personally.
Allie Jordan, 29
Self Employed, Elevated Marketing; Co-Owner, Happy Crop Shoppe
My family and myself really do inspire me to be successful. I grew up with extremely hard-working parents and they are always in the back of my mind when I think I don’t want to do something or its been a long day. You just suck it up and do what you need to do.
I also think about who I want to be. Am I being the kind of strong, hard-working person that I would have been proud of as a child, or someone who would be inspiring to others?
Those kinds of thoughts do run through my head daily. Am I really doing all I can to be a strong successful businesswoman?
Those things inspire me to keep pushing until I know I am completely proud of what I have built. I know I will never be satisfied. It is just not in my blood, but I can be proud of my work while always striving for more.
Amanda Lundy, 29
Senior Strategic Development Manager, Logic20/20
There are two things that inspire me to be successful. First and foremost, I want my two daughters (Kennedy, 4 years old and Nicole 1.5 years old) to know that they can do anything they put their minds to with hard work, perseverance and dedication. I want them to be motivated by a challenge and, in the future, to be proud of what I have accomplished and the example I have set.
I am also inspired by a challenge. There have been days I have been overwhelmed with the scope of what I’ve taken on, but it makes each small victory that much more rewarding. This being the first satellite office for my company, it’s success is based on my success. I want to establish a high bar for what success looks like within our company.
Baron McGaha, 31
Application Specialist, Mid Valley Hospital
My 300-plus co-workers inspire me to be successful! I enjoy seeing other staff members give outstanding customer service to our patients and their fellow co-workers every day. They inspire me to improve my own skills – my goal is to help them offer the best services, whether technical or customer, to all our patients.
Ensuring our hospital exceeds the expectations of service and healthcare for our patients inspires me daily to work toward that goal.
Cinthia Piedra, 23
Legal Assistant/Paralegal, Jerry Moberg & Associates
This question has always been a struggle to answer. Although I am surrounded by inspirations to be successful, my inspirations are the two individuals who raised me. My brave parents brought me to this country at the tender age of 2. For them, this was their only solution to promising me a better future. They worked their way up in a country they knew nothing about. My parents left a country, family, and friends, all so that I would be able to have a better future. With only the clothes on their backs, they pushed through those struggles. Coming into this country initially was clearly not easy for them. Slowly but surely, they were able to provide a safe and loving home for me. Hearing the stories of their struggles, and seeing where they are now, has inspired me tremendously. I believe it is my duty to give back to their sacrifices. Success may not come easy, but my parents are proof that it is possible. From their sacrifices I have learned to never be satisfied, and to always want to be better. In the times we are living now, I have learned to respect my parent’s decision. Their only motivation to moving to this country was to live a better life. They have shown me the importance of hard work. Though they believe in hard work, they also believe in putting academic goals first. Fulfilling the American dream has always been my definition of successful, however, giving back to my parents is the ultimate goal.
Elliott Salmon, 34
General manager, Icicle Broadcasting (KOHO, KOZI, Z-COUNTRY)
First, providing for my family. Raising my children in the best community and giving them the same opportunities my parents provided for me.
Second, the joy or success that my efforts can bring others. Maybe it’s helping a nonprofit get their message out over-the-air, or helping to grow an organization’s sales through advertising. My work in broadcasting has been a great platform for helping many different segments of people in our community.
Ryan Smolinsky, 34
Attorney, Overcast Law Offices, PS
For one, I am inspired by my father. He has always been successful professionally, but put his family first. He has been there for me more times than I can count.
I am also inspired by my wife. She can juggle multiple tasks and objectives to a degree that I will never be able to.
I am also inspired by this community. I know I am a transplant that has only been here for five years, but I am excited for what is to come in Wenatchee. I feel a real pulse to this community and I think we are at point where our community is going to thrive. I want to be part of this growth and betterment of the community and I hope to be a lifelong active member of this community.
Nick Sowle, 31
Group Sales Manager, Icicle Village Resort
My colleagues in the industry. I’m lucky enough to be a member of the Washington State Chapter of Meeting Professionals International as well as the Washington Society of Association Executives and my fellow members constantly inspire me to be my best self. People who work in the meetings and events industry are some of hardest working, most dedicated people that you’ll ever meet. And all without a lot of thanks or appreciation. Their drive, motivation and passion for their work is something to strive for.
Luke Tonnemaker, 29
Farm Manager, Tonnemaker Hill Farm
My family is the primary source of my drive to be successful. Our business is very much a family operation and we all have a vested interest in growing the best produce we can. When your name and financial well-being are tied directly to the product, it’s pretty easy to be motivated to go the extra mile. My wife Amanda — who handles restaurant orders, CSA boxes, and the Royal City farmstand — and I have a 16-month-old and the last thing I’d want is for him to miss out on growing up on the farm and having the chance to add to the family legacy down the road.
Additionally, our customers are some of the best people around and truly appreciate the work we do and the produce we grow. Learning how impactful our produce is to our customers provides all the inspiration we need to bring the very best quality possible to market.
Johnny Urdahl, 32
Security Services Supervisor, Confluence Health
Perhaps my greatest inspiration to succeed is the memory of those who couldn’t make it home from the war. A close friend of mine who I served with in Fallujah, Sgt. Joseph Bovia, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. Joey was one of the most selfless men I have ever met, and I would be lucky to be half the man he was. At every hurdle in life, I think of his memory and remind myself that I have a duty to make the best of every day of my life to honor him.
Jon Wilson, 33
Lab Director, Confluence Health
It’s easy to be inspired when you work in healthcare. I get to interact and learn from others whose sole driving force is to provide the best possible care to patients. I get inspired when a phlebotomist stays late to respond to a code, a lab tech who picked up an extra shift because they know it will be a busy night, or a pathologist working late into the night to make sure a patient’s treatment can begin as soon as possible. I find an immense amount of value in knowing that the team I get to work with will put patients first and strives for excellence in all that they do.
Jeremy Wrzesinski, 34
General Manager, Chateau Faire le Pont Winery
I consider myself a hard worker and I never want to fail at anything I do. I get my work ethic from my parents who both worked extremely hard for our family. My Dad passed away of cancer when I was 9 years old and my mom raised myself and three siblings on her own. She almost never called in sick and would work a full-time job while taking accounting classes at the same time. Seeing firsthand the drive to always improve yourself and benefiting from your hard work has helped me realize that choosing a career that brings joy to you will never feel like a burden and growth and learning is never ending.