10 Young Professionals honored in 13th annual contest

Ten diverse and passionate leaders have been selected as the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’ top Young Professionals for 2020 for their professional and civic accomplishments.

These business and community leaders – all under the age of 40 – stand out in their career, company or industry.

All clearly love our Tri-City community as they have rolled up their sleeves in a variety of ways to make it a better place.

We received a record number of outstanding applications this year. Our panel of judges, which included a retired Pacific Northwest National Laboratory executive, two former Young Professionals winners, a nonprofit executive, and the dean of business at Columbia Basin College, said they were impressed with the slate of candidates.

“It’s comforting to see that the community will be in good hands with the next generation. Nice diversity across several dimensions, too. That wouldn’t have happened when I was a young professional; the world is starting to come around finally,” one judge observed.

Applicants were nominated or  self-nominated. Reviewers ranked them in several categories and then the points were tallied.

Since 2008, we’ve been evaluating applications from the community’s brightest young leaders. To date, we’ve honored 112, including this year’s group.

The 2020 Young Professionals are:

Contest judges looked for leaders who went the extra mile outside their workplace in community service, charity work, leadership or community involvement.

One of this year’s winners, architect Flavien Sawadogo, received two separate nominations. One of his bosses, Doug Mitchell, said Sawadogo represents MMEC Architects and Interiors in an outstanding, professional way and approaches community involvement with determined dedication.

The president of Modern Living Services, Ray Geimer, agreed, writing that Sawadogo took on one of the nonprofit’s projects on a pro bono basis. MLS builds housing for adults with special needs.

“Flavien spent many hours working with the city to come to consensus on what the requirements would be. Not only did he design the home, he put together a plan for a full development of five homes on the 1.7-acre property. … We couldn’t have done it without Flavien,” Geimer wrote in his nomination letter.

Winner Justin Toner of Basin Pacific Insurance and Benefits received high praise from Brian Ace, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin counties, who wrote in his recommendation letter that Toner was a tireless community advocate:

“Justin has a great awareness of the needs of the Tri-Cities community, being a lifelong resident. He listens to the needs present in our community, files them away, and later advocates when he connects with a person that is unaware but interested in that work. People listen to Justin, and trust his perspective on what is healthy and good. This gives him an important role in our community as a connector of those motivated to do great work!”

Several people wrote in to praise Cinthia Alvarez Lucatero, Columbia Basin College’s outreach/academic advisor for the High School Equivalency Program, and her efforts to improve the lives of others.

Mike Chavez credited Alvarez Lucatero in a letter of recommendation for encouraging his completion of a master’s degree. “She believed in me enough to plant the seed that these things are obtainable to a Latinx like myself,” Chavez wrote, also saying, that “she helped me become a leader, and to my understanding, this is how you measure success.”

Rest assured the applications from each of the winners were just as impressive.

It’s never easy to choose which young leaders to celebrate because we always have many highly qualified candidates. We encourage those who weren’t selected this year to apply again next year. There’s an online application form at tcjournal.biz.

To those we singled out in this issue and to all those chosen in years past, we’d like to give you a tip of the hat. We look forward to watching you continue to grow professionally and personally.

We hope our readers enjoy reading about this year’s winners. We believe you’ll be as impressed with them as we are.

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