This year’s top Young Professionals represent a diverse and distinguished group from the Tri-Cities.
These new rising stars of business are under the age of 40 and work in Benton or Franklin counties. They didn’t have to be business owners to compete in our ninth annual Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business contest, but they had to prove how they stood out in their career, company or industry.
The judges also looked for young business leaders who went the extra mile outside their workplace in community service, charity work, leadership or community involvement.
A panel reviewed all the applications after the nominees’ and their businesses’ names were redacted. They were ranked in several categories and then the points were tallied up.
The judges – myself included – agreed this year’s batch of applicants had inspiring stories to tell about their career arc, their business and life philosophies, how they got started, what they like most and least about their jobs, who has inspired them and their hopes and challenges.
They were brutally honest and thoughtful. Some also made us laugh.
Listening to young millennials in the workplace is becoming increasingly more important to businesses, according to Dan Schwabel, an author and expert on millennials, or those ages 18-35.
Schwabel, 33, laid out some compelling statistics during his keynote talk at last month’s Association of Washington Business’ Policy Summit in Cle Elum.
He spoke about what drives millennials and what motivates them in the workplace.
He said millennials are tech savvy, diverse, connected and activists for personal rights. He also said they want to make a difference.
His description mirrors what our Young Professionals said – even though some of them are technically Generation Xers, or those ages 36-51.
Our Tri-City Young Professional applicants had a lengthy list of ways in which they donate their time to a variety of groups, including the Children’s Miracle Network, Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, coaching youth sports, United Way, and autism and cancer support groups.
Their lifetime goals also were inspirational and humbling.
Laura Eder of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates said she “would really love to be involved in economic policy at the national level.”
Tri-Cities Cancer Center’s Dr. Guy Jones’ greatest wish is “that my work leads to improved care for patients battling cancer and I will consider my efforts a success if I am able to make the Tri-Cities a more safe, supporting, welcoming, and tolerant community that people are proud to call home.”
Anne Spilman of the Academy of Children’s Theatre said she’d like to visit all 50 states “to learn about the diversity of our country, go to a yoga retreat to heighten my physical awareness and fall madly in love.”
Jeff Pomeroy of Legacy One Insurance’s goal was closer to home: “To have a marriage that is alive and healthy and is a role model to others, to have healthy and beautiful children that understand the value of giving to others and a strong passion for Christ.”
It wasn’t easy to choose which of these young leaders to highlight because we had many outstanding candidates. We encourage those who didn’t make the cut this year to apply again next August.
We’d also like to note the two winners on our list who share the same last name — Christopher Porter and Elizabeth Porter — aren’t related.
To those we singled out in this issue, we’d like to congratulate you.
We look forward to watching you continue to grow professionally and personally. Our community is lucky to have you.