More than 200 people attended the second annual DBT 40 event Sept. 30 at the Delaware Art Museum This event honors 40 of Delaware’s difference-makers…
No matter what we see on television or read on social media, I believe that it is human nature to be good and want to help others…
By Robert Kalesse Special to Delaware Business Times In conducting the research, reporting and interviews states…
Members of this year’s class posed for the annual class photo after the event. Kevin Wargo was unable to attend, and David Hopkins represented his wife Melissa. Front row, from left: Eric Klinger-Wilensky, Justen A. Wright, Matthew Wilson, John Legare Williams, Diane Wikso, Charles Vincent Grace Stokley, Lawrance Spiller Kimmel. Second row, from left: Tribhuwan Singh, Daniel M. Silver, Sarah Ruffcorn, LaKresha S. Roberts, Maggie Ratnayake, Karen L. Pickard, Cimone Philpotts, Katy O’Connell, Kyle Morgan, Jonathan Moll, Joseph Meyer. Third row, from left: Nick Matarese, Matthew Lenzini, Nikki Lavoie, Kristen Kuipers, Jimmy Jarrell, Tony J. Immediato, David Hopkins accepting on behalf of his wife Melissa Hopkins, Geoffrey L. Grosso, David Grimaldi, Spencer Graves, James Garrity, Lisa A. Ford. Back row, from left: Joy A. Barrist, Jeffrey T. Benson Jr., Candice Caruso, Rebecca Lynn Clark, Kristin L. Davis, Anthony N. Delcollo, Emily Drake, Temeka Easter. Click here to view the individual profiles of the DBT 40 Class of 2015.
They represent a variety of business segments—from business and residential services to high tech and restaurants.
As we reviewed the nominations, we discovered recurring themes when the businesses were asked to describe what set them apart from others.
By Christi Milligan The Delaware Business Times hosted its first event last month, honoring 40…
When I was contacted about some freelance work for the newly launched Delaware Business Times,…
By Robert Kalesse Special to Delaware Business Times At first glance, residents of neighboring states…
DBT 40 Class of 2014
DBT40 class of 2014. Honorees present at the event were: Front row: (left to right) Sarah Zimmerman, Dr. Daniel Young, Karl Wagner, Michael Vanderslice, Herman van den Brandt, Diane Urban, Joshua Twilley, Laura Stimson Second row: (left to right) Amber Shader, Michael Smith, Jen Sheridan, Jeff Shahan, Todd Roselle, Daniel Ridgley, Mona Parikh, Maggie Norris, Sasha Aber Third row: (left to right) Anna McDermott, Evan Lober, Christina Lessard, Kristin Lang-Miller, Justin King, Mark Hutton, Clayton Hill, Tarik Haskins, Wes Garnett Jr., Bianca Frase-Johnson Last row: (left to right) Amanda Murphy, Rebecca Faber, Paige Deiner, Nic DeCaire, Meredith Chapman, Jeni Barton, Kami Banks, Jason Adkins, Stephanie Adams, John Fannin IV
DBT 40 under 40
When Delawareans are looking to get their own startup company off the ground, they start by going to Mona Parikh. An entrepreneur who also happens to practice and teach law at Widener University and University of Delaware, Parikh spends a good portion of her time as the managing director of Start It Up Delaware. For Parikh, staying connected with new businesses and young students is what keeps her going. “I’m passionate about helping people and constantly learning,” Parikh says. “Working with startups and connecting with students every day allows me to do both.”
What’s next: ”I am currently in the early stages of planning two big events: a law/tech hackathon for sometime in the late winter or early spring, followed by a tech week that Start It Up Delaware and Technical.ly Delaware will be co-hosting. We hope to schedule it around Firefly with the help from some of our contacts at Red Frog Entertainment.”
For Todd Roselle, a partner at Blue Rock Financial Group in Wilmington, “being well” is the first step toward being successful. The certified financial planner practices CrossFit, an aggressive strength and conditioning program, six days a week, to keep him in shape, both mentally and physically. In 2009, Roselle combined his love of physical fitness and helping people when he founded the Delaware Mud Run in Middletown, which benefits the Leukemia Research Foundation. All that time in the gym also produces some fringe benefits, like when passersby mistake him for a celebrity. “People tell me I look like Mark Wahlberg,” Roselle says. (Some guys have all the luck.)
What’s next: “We’re working on a knockout lineup for the Delaware Economic Summit. Our goal is financial literacy and to promote the sharing of information that’s financial in nature. I believe that one of the greatest challenges we have as a community is truly understanding things that affect us on a daily basis. Money is one of them, so we want to provide an outlet for business owners and individuals to network, communicate and learn.”
Wes Garnett, Jr.
Wes Garnett, Jr. might be the only college dropout to make our DBT40 list. During his sophomore year at Delaware Tech, his mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and he felt it necessary to step away from school to help take care of her. Since that time, Garnett has helped create Delaware’s first co-working space, the coIN Loft, as well as Kurbi Health, a mobile app that provides those with chronic illness a social media platform where they can keep loved ones and healthcare providers up to date on their status. “I love solving problems and helping people,” Garnett says. Mission accomplished, we say.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “I think I use Tumblr more than anything else to find cool architecture and interior designers. I'm not sure how I would work without the visual stimulus and design inspiration throughout the day. CloudMagic, the email client, would probably be a very close second. Couple, a private messaging app for couples, would be third.”
Not sure what to cook for dinner tonight or even how to prepare it? Anna McDermott, 33, might have some good ideas. In addition to serving as the education programs director for the Food Bank of Delaware, she also oversees the Culinary School in Newark, which offers hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling and life skills. “Seeing the positive changes people make after participating in our programs is very rewarding, “ says McDermott, who also serves on the board of the Newark Day Nursery and Children’s Center.
What’s next: “In 2015, the Food Bank of Delaware will be focusing on expanding our partnerships with the agricultural community in Delaware. A major issue for the people we serve is access to fresh produce. We’ve begun to address these challenges through our CSA program but we want to continue to remove barriers to access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
When she’s not working as senior vice president at Bank of America, Bianca Fraser-Johnson is literally “on board” for just about anything else. The Quebec native is a board member at the Independence School, a board member for Leadership Delaware and a board member (and co-founder, to boot) of the Delaware Youth Leadership Network. Fraser-Johnson was also selected as a 2014 Wilmington Jaycees Outstanding Young Wilmingtonian.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “Shutterfly. I’m very sentimental and passionate about capturing memories. With family in Canada and friends scattered across the U.S., pictures are an important way to stay connected.”
Diane E. Urban
Certified Public Accountant Diane E. Urban likes helping those with four legs as much as those with two legs. She prides herself on providing the best possible support and service for her clients at Gunnip & Co., but also spends much of her free time visiting the Faithful Friends shelter and taking her dog to nursing homes to bring joy to the elderly. “Taking my dog to the nursing home is therapy not just for the residents, but for both of us as well.”
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “My FitBit app. It keeps track of how many steps I take, miles I go and the calories I’ve burned for each day. It keeps me active throughout the day and also allows me to see how I compare to my friends on the app.”
When she was just 7 years old, Jenifer Sheridan, along with her sister and two neighborhood children, threw a small carnival in the vacant lot next to their home – and raised $700 for MS in the process. Fast forward 32 years and Sheridan is still helping people, whether it’s by connecting clients with the right accountant as a Marketing Manager at Gunnip & Co. or working with The Miracles for Molly Dunne, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and awareness of Palliative Care. As Sheridan says, it’s all about the kids. “Our children are the future and we have to invest in them.”
What’s next: “We are holding our first Miracles for Molly (M4M) Art of Living Gala event on Nov. 8 at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and also working to create ‘Camp Molly.’ It will be a safe, supportive environment for Nemours siblings ages 5-17 to share experiences, feelings and struggles with their peers, and to nurture a sense of community among children who have suffered the loss of a brother or sister.”
The résumé of Tarik J. Haskins reads like a template for what every law student should want to achieve early in their career. A partner at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnel LLP, Haskins has served as editor-in-chief of the University of Cincinnati Law Review, where he earned his Juris Doctor. Haskins also serves as chair for the Morris Nichols Diversity Committee, sits on various committees of the American Bar Association and Delaware State Bar Association, and was appointed by Governor Markell to the Delaware Council on Development Finance.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “I use Evernote in a variety of ways to organize my thoughts, appointments and to-do lists, but I would place Flipboard as a close second. I am an information junkie and Flipboard provides a great way to stay abreast of news and content on the websites I visit often in one place.”
37, The Arts
Wilmingtonians have many people to thank for the renaissance the downtown area has seen over the last decade, but few have been more important than Jeni Barton. As marketing and special projects coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Barton has served as Program Manager for Art on the Town, Lunchtime Concert programs coordinator and volunteer manager for the Riverfront Blues Festival. Downtown Wilmington is a better place because of her efforts.
What’s next: “I am very excited to be working on the new Fringe Wilmington Festival in 2015, which is now separated into three genres: Live Fringe (Nov. 19-23), Film Fringe (February) and Visual Fringe (May). Each of the installments of the festival will last for five days and kick-off with a preview party. Fringe Wilmington is Delaware's only five-day celebration of unconventional art and 100 percent of all tickets sales are provided to the participating artists.”
Dr. Dan Young
Dr. Dan Young says he’s passionate about education, and clearly his family had a lot to do with influencing him. Not only was his grandfather the first African American male principal in Delaware, his great aunt was also the first African American graduate of the University of Delaware, where Young now teaches Entrepreneurial Marketing as an adjunct professor. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Business Administration program at Wilmington University. In addition to Young’s educational background, he also serves as chairman for the Council of Urban Empowerment with the Delaware Community Foundation, the Jefferson Awards Advisory Committee, and the Leadership Delaware Alumni Council.
What’s next: “I am the organizer of TEDxWilmingtonUniversity, scheduled for May 8 of 2015. The goal is to create an experience that will excite students and engage their creative minds. I am also working on consulting with Downtown Visions on their efforts to create an entertainment and dining destination on Lower Market Street, as I’m on the steering committee for the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce business incubator.”
Herman van den Brandt
In just over three decades, photographer Herman van den Brandt has seen the world, from growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and living in four different countries and six different states in the U.S. (In fact, when we contacted him for DBT40, he was on assignment in Europe.) At home in Delaware, he shoots everything from fashion to politics to weddings, and does volunteer work with the One Village Alliance, a nonprofit organization “founded with the assertion that it truly does take a whole village to raise a child, raise a family and raise a community.”
What’s next: ”I am planning some mixed media series for next year, painting, photography, graphics and may be some new mediums as well, as well as a personal photo series of street portraits involving the mixing of cultures.”
Meet Mark Hutton, the man who opened M&T Bank’s Wilmington office in 2008 and has successfully made the financial institution a household name. Named to M&T Bank’s President’s Council in 2009 for his efforts, Hutton also serves as chairman of the American Red Cross of Delmarva Peninsula, chairman of the St. John the Beloved Carnival, and development committee member of the Delaware Community Foundation.
What’s next: “I’m working on creating a signature volunteerism effort for local M&T and Wilmington Trust employees. We believe that we can create a major and lasting impact by aligning our collective talents towards a common goal, so I am very excited about the chance to enhance the connections between the bank and the community via the collective energy and enthusiasm of our employees. This is an ongoing process, and we expect to roll this out in 2015.”
Michael J. Scali
As a partner with Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown, Michael Scali, finds it important to remain passionate about the success of his practice and firm. During his down time, Scali loves to surf with his two boys locally, as well as in Nicaragua with close friends. Scali also serves on the board of directors for The Committee of 100, a business organization that promotes responsible economic development in Delaware.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “The one I use the most sets my thermostat at home, which may be grounds to put me in the 60 under 60 category. I spend way too much time on my phone professionally, so I find it hard to enjoy it recreationally; besides, I can’t yell at my kids to spend less time on their phones if I am glued to mine.”
Since he started his first business at age 25, Evan Lober has always tried to leave an impression while keeping a low profile. In fact, that’s the tagline for his current company, Squatch Creative (short for “sasquatch”), which he co-founded. Now he’s all about improving and progressing, especially in web and video projects for his clients. Lober also spends his volunteer hours as a board member to the St. Michael’s School & Nursery in Wilmington, and as an assistant coach for the Newark High School’s ice hockey team.
What’s next: “On a local level, we’re working on the re-branding of the Buccini/Pollin Group (BPGS) and are close to launching their new look, which will be a complete overhaul web design, development and video production. We covered Swim Fashion Week in Miami for global brand, LYCRA®, and are excited to complete the video production eager grow the relationship with new projects.”
If you’re looking for a new wine to try or a craft beer that’s new to the market, Kami Banks, owner of Banks Wine & Spirits in Millville, can help you out. If you want to talk about her hometown of Millville, the Banks is well versed in that category as well. “I’m so passionate about this area of Delaware because I feel like this community is such a great place to live and work,” she says. Banks serves as the president of the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, is involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and is a business partner with the Delaware Center for Inland Bays.
What’s next: “As Chamber President I have been involved with the Route 26 expansion project, and in 2015 I will be working on an expansion of my business. We just added an eight-tap growler system this past April and will be reconfiguring our retail layout to provide customers with an even better shopping experience.”
As director for Strategic Initiatives in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware, Michael Smith, 29, knows a thing or two about fundraising, economic development and community relations. He also uses those skills off-campus, as the founder and chairman of the Pike Creek Charter School, Wilmington Christian Middle School men’s basketball coach, and as a member of the marketing committee for the Newark Senior Center.
What’s next: “With the Affordable Care Act, people need to really focus on health care prevention. In my work, I get to see all the advances in healthcare and the impacts on all populations. In 2015 and beyond, I will be working to bring a full service health and wellness center to the state of Delaware that will focus on all populations and help give people the tools to empower their own health and wellness.”
Rebecca Faber, 39, is all about authenticity and working with people with “fire in their bellies.” As CEO and president of World Trade Center Delaware, a nonprofit that, as she puts it, “helps small and medium-sized businesses navigate the intricacies of international trade,” she loves being part of the excitement and creativity she sees in individuals and companies on a regular basis. Faber also serves on the Delaware Commission for Women, and was named the 2007 National Association of Women Business Owners Pioneer of the Year.
What’s next: “I’m implementing an online education program for international business in collaboration with other World Trade Centers. This will enable small companies in Delaware who may not have time to get away from the office to attend seminars to access the same high quality content at their leisure and at their own pace. The goal is to have a strong library of high quality educational programs available on demand on our website.”
Sasha Aber loves to feed people, whether it means feeding the careers of her and husband Eric’s 60 employees at Home Grown Café & Gourmet To Go in Newark, or feeding the hundreds of guests they host for lunch and dinner on a weekly basis. Aber, 37, is also involved in a great program called Local Flavor Fundraising, where she and her staff are reaching out to local public and private schools and offering students and faculty coupons to Home Grown. When those coupons are used (Sunday-Tuesday), 15 percent of the total bill is given back to the school. “It gives students the chance to dine on healthy food with friends and families,” Aber says. “It’s more of a community outreach program than anything, but it brings people together over good food.”
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “Mindbody has the yoga schedule at Empowered Yoga, where I go to find my center and breathe at 100 degrees.”
For Amber Shader, it’s the little things that make life worth living. She sees it every day in her work as owner of Amber Shader Photography and at First & Little, a baby boutique located in Middletown. Shader also works with children’s charities and is a board member of Middletown Main Street, Inc. Says Shader, “I’m passionate about all things pertaining to the little ones and I hope that shines through in everything we do.”
What’s next: “As a board member of Middletown Main Street, Inc., I have the great opportunity of working on several projects that impact historic Downtown Middletown. One of our biggest projects right now is planning for our first annual Grapes & Grains event in 2015. It will be a great day filled with live music, local food, craft beer and wine, with proceeds benefitting Middletown Main Street, Inc. “
While many of the DBT40 help to build and shape Delaware on a daily basis, Daniel Ridgely actually builds in Delaware as an architect with Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc. Ridgely has helped erect some recognizable spots in Delaware, including the revamping of the Best Western Gold Leaf in Dewey Beach, Camden Town Hall and the Frankford Fire Hall in Sussex County. Ridgely also serves as an adjunct instructor at Delaware Technical & Community College and is a member of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council.
What’s next: “I am currently working on a major renovation at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown. We are turning their existing library building into a ‘Learning Commons.’ This will be the largest Learning Commons of all of Delaware Tech’s campuses, and will be an exciting and interactive space.”
34, Fitness/Personal Training
Since opening Fusion Fitness in Newark eight years ago, Owner Nic DeCaire has always had his mind on helping clients and helping the community. Since he first opened, DeCaire has organized the Main Street Mile, an annual run that benefits the canine division of the Newark Police Department. “Helping people via personal fitness as well as through nonprofit and charity events has been a big part of what we do,” says DeCaire, whose event raised a record $15,000 in 2014.
What’s next: “Fusion Race Timing; I started this company to help local nonprofits have a successful and profitable charity race event. The big project is to put on a half-marathon in the City of Newark in November of 2015 if all goes well.”
At the young age of 29, Bryan Shupe was elected Mayor of the City of Milford in early 2014, becoming the youngest mayor in the town’s 207-year history. Now 30, Shupe remains owner of Milford Live, a news resource for the Kent/Sussex County town, which helps him stay involved in his community. “Community service has always been a big thing for me,” says Shupe. He also promotes awareness of his town through events, charities and civic organizations as president of Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club.
What’s next: “The next twelve months should be exciting for my family and me personally and professionally. In November my fiancée and I will be married. As soon as we return, we will be opening our new location of Fur-Baby Boutique – a doggie daycare, pet boutique, spa and hotel – in downtown Milford. MilfordLIVE.com will be turning 5 years old and we are looking forward to be expanding our news coverage and services. As Mayor, I am looking forward to several new ventures in 2015, including a new replacement hospital and the possibility of a new high school and police station.”
37, Professional Services
In a world with growing concerns about the environment, recycling and going green, Michael Vanderslice, vice president of sales and marketing at Environmental Alliance, Inc., is well aware of the challenges facing our planet. The 37-year-old’s daily responsibilities focus on clients’ goals for each site, with effective clean up strategies to eliminate contamination and ultimately promote human health while sustaining environmental quality. A father of two, Vanderslice finds himself gravitating toward children’s charities like the Delaware KIDS Fund, while his company is a proud sponsor of the “Structures” exhibit at the Delaware Children’s Museum.
What’s next: “We just kicked off a few new Brownfields projects as part of Delaware’s Brownfields Development Program. This state program encourages the investigation, cleanup and redevelopment of underutilized or vacant properties with real or perceived contamination by offering financial assistance and liability protection to the purchaser. A University of Delaware study found that for every dollar spent in the Brownfields Program, a return of approximately $17.50 is realized on the state’s investment in property value, which also leads to gains in tax revenue. It is also very uplifting to see the economic and social benefits associated with the final product of a redevelopment project once the remediation is complete.”
An “infectious smile,” a “drive to satisfy customers,” and an “outgoing spirit” is how colleagues and clients of Amanda Murphy describe her. Murphy, 34, serves as the retail office manager at WSFS Bank in Concord Square, and is also the president of the Concord Pike Business Association. She also works with Meals on Wheels on a monthly basis, serves The United Way as a LGBT youth mentor, and works closely with the Delaware Humane Society.
What’s next: “I have been working on our Concord Pike Business Association because we wanted to create additional opportunities for businesses in the North Wilmington area.”
Jason W. Adkins
Another young politician, Jason Adkins was elected the youngest ever Milford City Councilman at age 24. Currently serving as a an attorney with Moore & Rutt, P.A., in Milford, Adkins, 30, also serves as president of the Next Generation South of the Delaware Community Foundation, as commissioner on the Governor's Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, and is also a 2010 fellow of the Leadership Delaware Program.
What’s next: ”It is hard to identify a ‘big project’ in the legal field, but that being said, I am preparing to assist (pro-bono) with the legal issues facing the large number of unaccompanied alien children that have been located in Delaware. The goal is to provide the legal services that are required for these children to lawfully reside in the U.S. “
29, The Arts
From politics to medicine to the arts, Stephanie Adams seems to be able to make the jump without skipping a beat. Now the marketing and communications specialist at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, she garners much praise from Ryan Grover, curator at the Biggs. “Nobody knows everybody the way Stephanie knows everybody,” Grover says. ”The way she has made transitions from working with Mike Castle to the nonprofit art field is really something. She brings a level of connectivity and experience that I haven’t seen prior.”
What’s next: “The Biggs Museum, having just completed a $2 million capital campaign, has allocated funds for a marketing campaign designed to educate those around Delaware and the region about the museum. I am in the process of developing a marketing committee, as well as developing new marketing materials, a new website, short videos about the Museum and more.”
Hearing their company mentioned on the radio can be a thrilling moment for a business owner. Kristin Lang-Miller, a senior media consultant for Delmarva Broadcasting Company, knows that feeling all too well, and always shares in the joy. “It’s a thrill to hear someone say they had customers walk through their doors because their ad played on one of our radio stations,” Lang-Miller says. She also serves on the advisory board of Foster Grandparents, and handles public relations for the Go Red For Women division of the American Heart Association.
What’s next: “I have been working with a few businesses on a new digital product Delmarva Broadcasting offers, called Geofencing. It’s ahead of the curve in the digital market and highly technical. I’m learning the technology behind it, plus customizing it to best fit each business’s needs.”
34, Health & Wellness
Every day as owner of the Milford Massage, Wellness and Yoga, Paige Deiner gets to help heal her clients and leave them in a better state of mind. “I believe that de-stressing and empowering people allows them to pursue their dreams and achieve a healthier lifestyle,” Deiner says. Fluent in Spanish, Deiner is big on “giving back ten percent,” and typically does so in the form of yoga classes for local charities. She is also a member of the Milford Chamber of Commerce.
What’s next: “In 2015, I plan on to make connections with a correctional institution in Delaware to teach yoga and meditation. In other countries meditation and yoga has greatly reduced violence within correctional centers. It has also eased mental illness challenges, like depression, for inmates. The ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of incarcerating people and to decrease recidivism rates.
36, Real Estate
While Clayton Hill runs a portion of commercial and residential real estate firm Emory Hill as director of property management, he also runs marathons. Hill’s goal is to run the 26.2-mile race in all 50 states, and so far he’s accomplished 15 in 13 states. As for his home state, he’s all about uplifting Delaware. “My position allows me to help the state maintain and improve its trajectory, and we get to build a strong community while helping that aspect.”
Smartphone app I can’t live without: ”97.5 The Fanatic, for getting my Philly sports fix from The Fanatic anytime and anywhere, and MyRadar, which is excellent for determining when the rain will hit and pass; it’s incredibly accurate.”
John Fannin IV
Safety first! That’s certainly John Fannin IV’s motto as executive director of Delaware Safety Council, a nonprofit safety resource and training organization that serves more than 350 businesses in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as a board member for the SafePlace Corporation. “I’m passionate about protecting Delaware citizens against foreseeable losses due to fire, security and life safety issues,” Fannin says. Even outside the office, Fannin helps protect and save lives as a volunteer firefighter of almost 15 years with the Claymont Fire Company.
What’s Next: “The Safety Dot program, which will be introduced in 2015, is being designed to ensure that Emergency Medical Services and other first responders arriving on the scene of auto accidents can quickly gain access to patients’ medical information. The first such program of its kind in Delaware, it will help to save lives by alerting responders via a sticker affixed to the rear windshield, to look for a folder containing the owner and frequent passengers’ vital medical details in the glove box.”
29, Parks & Recreation
Few of us are fortunate to be doing in our adult lives what we dreamt about during childhood. For Sarah Zimmerman, Park Superintendent at the First State Heritage Park in Dover, a history buff since as far back as she can remember, this is her reality -- getting to talk about history and educate people at the same time. “I am fortunate enough to be able to have a job where I get to share my passion with others,” says Zimmerman.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “I love books, so I cannot live without my OverDrive App. It is through the Delaware Division of Libraries. I can check out books – either eBooks or Audiobooks – at all hours of the day or night.”
39, Professional Services
Whether you’re starting your own business, or are already up and running and in need of professional guidance, to Joshua Twilley, President of Incorporating Services, Ltd., is all about great customer service at great prices. “I know it sounds cliché, but it’s amazing how many other companies in our space get this wrong,” Twilley says. “We want our clients to look like a star, so we work hard behind the scenes to get them results faster and cheaper.” Speaking of speed, Twilley is quick on his feet as well, playing for the Delaware Ultimate Frisbee, which he helped found in 2007. He is also a trustee with the Delaware Art Museum and Kent County Fund for the Arts.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “Google Maps. In fact, I've pretty much bought into the seamlessness of the Google platform. At TEDxDelaware last year there was a presenter who had Google glass, and I was pretty impressed how integrated Google has become in my life.”
If you attend any of the 2015 MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival (and we recommend you do), you can thank Laura Stimson, the newly appointed executive producer of the event, for her hard work. As Stimson puts it, “The Festival brings the world to the MidAtlantic, and the MidAtlantic to the world. We strive to provide our guests with one-of-a-kind epicurean experiences as they take a culinary journey through a place as beautiful as the MidAtlantic region.”
What’s next: “In addition to preparing for my first MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival as executive producer, I’m excited to expand our culinary student program, which was kicked off in 2014 by a partnership with William Penn High School. We strive to provide culinary students from all over the MidAtlantic with apprenticeship opportunities and real-world experience. Last year, we had chefs offer students internships, return to Delaware for graduations, and keep in contact to this day.”
27, Real Estate
As controller at Lessard Builders, a third-generation company based in Camden, Christina Lessard is learning every aspect of home building, from the initial sale to groundbreaking to the complete product.
In her free time, she also helps build the nonprofit group “Gals That Give,” which she co-founded in 2013, raising money for Kent County nonprofits. She also partnered GTG with the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce to form the “Innovative Initiative”, a young professional’s mentoring and networking organization, and serves on the board of “Nex Gen South," which is connected to the Delaware Community Foundation.
What’s next: “In the 11 events Gals That Give has done since starting in late 2013, we’ve raised over $40,000 for the local community. Over 240 women attended our last event for Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and it has been truly amazing to meet so many women and local businesses that care about giving back to their local community each month. With the continued exponential growth, we have implemented a meeting schedule that allows us to reflect on flow the event and make changes, if necessary, to create a better experience for everyone.”
Ten years ago, when Meredith Chapman was just a sophomore at the University of Delaware, the notion of companies needing a social media strategist to get their word out wasn’t even in the digital picture. Now a decade later, Chapman serves as the University’s Director for Digital Communications, while moonlighting as an adjunct professor for Social Media Certification and Management. “I’m passionate about the community where I live and the education and development of young adults. This position at the University allows me to do both, which is very fulfilling.” Chapman is also a member of the Leadership Delaware Class of 2015 and serves as a board member of the Newark Senior Center.
Smartphone app I can’t live without: “Hootsuite would be No. 1, because it puts all my social media platforms in one place. Whether I’m collaborating with someone across campus, tweeting with students, or checking Pinterest for scrapbooking ideas, it’s all there right at my fingertips.”
When Maggie Norris, assistant deputy director at Westside Family Healthcare, visited Kenya at age 10 with family, her eyes were opened, she says. “I realized how fortunate I was and how some things that I consider basic are luxuries for many kids around the world.” That trip fueled her passion for social equality, which she infuses every day with at Westside, where she “works to eliminate barriers and provide critical access to care for underserved communities throughout Delaware.” She also serves as a member of the Wilmington Health Planning Council and is Co-Chair of Healthy Kids Delaware.
What’s next: “Since 2013 I have been a member of the project team responsible for implementing Westside’s statewide outreach and enrollment efforts for the Health Insurance Marketplace. We educate Delawareans about their new options under the Affordable Care Act, and we help them get covered. It’s definitely been the highlight of my career thus far.”
During his young career in politics and government, Darius Brown has served on Senator Joseph R. Biden’s campaign staff and worked as a Leadership Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., before returning home to serve as city caouncilman for Wilmington’s 3rd District. If there’s one word to sum up his passion, he says, “It’s service. I’ve always wanted to know how I can better help the neighborhoods in the city I love. I believe that’s why I got involved in public service at Howard High School and still feel the need to provide residents with upward mobility to this day.” Brown has also served on the board of the Wilmington Job Corps and was named Democratic Municipal Person of the Month for July.
What’s next: “In January, I’ll be launching a jobs platform using social networking in collaboration with a company called TweetMyJobs. This new effort will be called City to Work, which will connect job seekers and employers, reducing unemployment and reducing the marketing expenses for small and large businesses.”
Another young business owner, another young Kent County mayor, Justin King serves as president for his family-owned, Kent Propane Co., and mayor of the Town of Camden. For King, a member of the Young Professionals of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, King says his job – in politics and business – is about trust. “With trust, your reputation will stand out in the community and in return allow people to feel comfortable with you; that helps me develop a personal connection with customers and citizens.”
What’s next: “We are currently working on several street repair projects here in Camden, and I’m also attempting to grow our current police force with new officers.”
33, Real Estate
For Jeff Shahan, partner with SB Real Estate LLC, the principles of ethics, integrity go hand-in-hand with providing a level of service that no other brokerage firm can. Why? “Because it's hard to do consistently and requires guts to do it well all of the time,” Shahan says. “Excellence is the cumulative result of working harder and doing all of the little things a bit better than anyone else. We are deeply and personally committed to the success of our clients.” Shahan also serves on the Board of Trustees at The Independence School in Newark and is fluent in Spanish.
What’s next: “We recently earned the opportunity to represent a local developer's 2,000,000 square foot real estate portfolio on the lease renewal side of the business. Our goal for the coming year is to expand with them to provide our full range of brokerage services.”
37, Real Estate
A certified public accountant by trade, Karl Wagner serves as Co-Chief Investment Officer for The Buccini/Pollin Group, focusing on acquisitions, development, and financing commercial and residential real estate. Wagner serves on the board for Downtown Visions, which helps create a quality environment for people who live, work and visit downtown Wilmington. Wagner is also a 2010 Fellow with Leadership Delaware.