Forty Under 40 Class of 2013

Class of 2013

Allison Bailey

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Age: 29 | Owner | Barta Bailey

Pop-up shops are all the rage in Oklahoma City, and the person behind many of them is Allison Bailey, owner of Barta Bailey, a retail consultant firm for independent retailers that specializes in flexible retail solutions and pop-ups. She considers her most recent achievement to be taking a big risk by putting together the inaugural season of the 2012 Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Shops. It was a risk that more than paid off when it was successful enough to develop into a wonderful event for Downtown that she is excited to participate in—as are the local shops—for the 2013 holiday season. This year’s Holiday Pop-Up Shops will present more than 25 local, independent vendors over four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas at 1000 N. Walker. Each shop will be hosted in a glowing geodesic dome nestled amid a Christmas tree lot hosted by Bishop John Carroll School.

But for Bailey, improving Oklahoma City isn’t just a holiday thing. Better Block OKC was a project that she and Kristen Vails (executive director of the Plaza District) decided to take on as an urban experiment. Over the last two years, the project has developed into events for which many locals mark their calendars way in advance. She has also gained notice as the coordinator for the beloved Mustache Bash, Shop Good’s event that benefits its annual charity partner. With a vision that will impact Oklahoma City for years to come, Bailey truly has made— and continues to make—her mark in the community.


Andrea Gossard

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Age: 28 | Project Manager | Manhattan Construction Company

To Andrea Gossard, project manager for the highly esteemed Manhattan Construction Company, one of the largest and top-ranked construction management companies in the United States, her proudest business achievement thus far was being promoted to her current position not only while being under 30 but also as a female in a highly competitive and largely male-dominated profession. As project manager, she serves as the team leader on construction projects ranging from $1 million to several million dollars, with heavy-duty responsibilities that include managing the budget, schedule, safety and overall quality from start to finish.

Her commitment to perfection has led her to numerous accolades and awards, including the 2009 and 2012 ABC Excellence in Construction Award, as well as the 2011 AGC Build Oklahoma Award.

As one could imagine, this doesn’t leave too much free time in Gossard’s life to volunteer for some of her favorite causes. That is why when the opportunity to be a part of the construction of the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Campus came her way, it was a project that not only was one of the more rewarding of her career, but one that she believes she’ll be proud of until the end of her career, which, at 28, is thankfully a long time away.


Amanda R. Daivs

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Age: 36 | Assistant Vice President, University Development | Oklahoma City University

As a college student, Amanda R. Davis had always intended to be an academic, but those plans were derailed when she fell in love with the nonprofit industry shortly after graduation. Instead of pursuing a Ph.D., she enrolled in an master’s of public administration program and immersed herself in in public service, developing fundraising and management skills that have allowed her to serve the communities in which she has lived. She relocated to Oklahoma in 2010 to work for Oklahoma State University, but later was recruited to work for Oklahoma City University. It is where she continues to implement her skills today as assistant vice president of university development, creating and managing all OCU fundraising programming.

Since moving to Oklahoma City and deciding to put down roots here, she has enjoyed getting to know OKC and finding her place in the community as both a leader and a public servant. While living in New Orleans, she saw firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and played an important part in the response and recovery effort as the director of development and public relations for the Southeast Louisiana chapter of the American Red Cross. It was an experience that inspired her to be at the forefront of any community in which she lives. It’s an emotion and duty that she has noticed from many Oklahomans who live here, and it is why she is proud to call OKC home.


Autumn Rose McMahon

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Age: 29 | Director of Development | Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education University of Oklahoma

Where would many organizations, nonprofits or schools be without development directors? Practically non-existent. They are the backbones of many of these places, spending most of their time implementing numerous community outreach initiatives while tirelessly seeking donations, grants and contributions, all areas that Autumn Rose McMahon has succeeded and surpassed as director of development for the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma. During her tenure there, she has not only increased grant opportunities and nurtured individual donor relationships and patronage but also crafted and worked a plan to expand social media avenues in her quest to further build community outreach.

But McMahon is not content to rest on her laurels; she currently is pursuing her master’s of education in adult and higher education with an emphasis in higher education administration at OU. If this wasn’t enough to fill her schedule, she also makes it a personal priority to serve the Norman community in any way she can, be it by serving on various boards; service to her church; or, most notably, as an adviser for high school students involved with the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Tomorrow’s Leaders program and the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Teen Advisors of Norman. With her persistence and tutelage, it’s almost guaranteed the kids she mentors will become the next generation of Forty Under 40 honorees.


Bob Funk Jr.

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Age: 37 | CEO | Prodigal LLC

Over the past few years, Oklahoma City has become a major hub for sports excitement, and one of the people who is getting us to stand and cheer is Bob Funk Jr., owner and president of Prodigal LLC, a local sports and entertainment marketing company that operates the popular Oklahoma City Barons hockey franchise. But the puck doesn’t stop there. Prodigal also copromotes Professional Bull Riders events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa; operates the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo; and oversees the Prodigal Sports Group, which represents nearly a dozen of the best rodeo and bull-riding athletes in the world. They have recently begun to represent baseball players as well.

The behind-the-scenes world of sports and sports entertainment has been a lifelong passion for Funk, who worked with outfits such as Express Sports and the United States Tennis Association after graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1998. In 2003, he joined the RCA group and acted as tour manager for not only the legendary AND1 street basketball tour but also as a production manager for the Winter and Summer X-Games and the Moto X Championships. But Funk doesn’t solely focus on sports for a living; he also spends his time with the Special Olympics and the Oklahoma City Youth Hockey Association, not to mention Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, and serves on the Oklahoma Chapter of March of Dimes. It’s this selflessness beyond the business of sports that should give OKC a reason to stand up and cheer for Funk.


Brad Poarch

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Age: 35 | CEO | Cory’s Audio Visual Services LLC

It specializes in integrated audio, video and lighting systems for rental, purchase and installation. It’s a business that Brad Poarch has been involved with his entire life, and when he took over as owner and CEO, the honor of being responsible for something with such a legacy of success taught him many new things about responsibility. He currently employs 30 people and has to think every day about how his decisions affect each of them and their families in important and personal ways. Through this, he has learned the value of loyalty and trust and how to compassionately and carefully guide a large team to success well into the future.

He has received numerous honors and recognition from diverse organizations such as Juvenile Diabetes of Oklahoma, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Oklahoma Broadcast Education Association, and his own personal favorite, the Boy Scouts of America. He takes takes great pride in his roles in several committees within Oklahoma’s BSA, from planning Oklahoma Centennial celebrations to planning the birthday of the BSA. For Poarch, it has been a great honor to use the skills and connections he has gained in his professional life to help benefit organizations that have helped teach him the many skills needed to get where he is today. These skills have made him one of the top professionals in Oklahoma City and a distinguished Forty Under 40 honoree.


Brian Dwayne Knight

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Age: 30 | Tax Manager | Eide Bailly LLP

For Brian Dwayne Knight, it all comes down to one thing: connecting. He connects daily with businesses, communities and people. In his position at Eide Bailly LLC, where he assists clients with income strategies to help reduce income tax liabilities, Knight has the opportunity to connect with numerous businesses and professionals from all sorts of industries, which gives him the opportunity to connect people with similar values and strategies. He believes that the best part of being an accountant is finding ways to build relationships and help individuals find success in their business and personal financial dealings. It’s that personal touch that makes him one of the Forty Under 40.

But even he will tell you that sometimes it takes more than that to change a community. According to Knight, it takes action as well, and he uses his actions to improve the lives of as many people as he can. Along with his wife, Carly, he sponsors an apartment at the Neighborhood Services Organization which is used as transitional temporary housing for single homeless women with multiple children. It has been a life-changing experience, and one that he brings to work with him every day. His personal motto is “just think where we would be as a society if everyone improved the life of at least one person.”

That’s truly something we can all learn from.


Brianne Renee Hinojosa

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Age: 33 | Marketing & Special Events Coordinator | Oklahoma Zoological Society

While many of us would think that working at the zoo would be a dream job, feeding the monkeys and whatnot, Brianne Hinojosa instead found her dream job working behind the scenes as the marketing and special events coordinator for the Oklahoma Zoological Society.

It has always been her goal to work for a nonprofit, especially one for which she has a passion.

She is doing what she loves for an organization that she loves, which just happens to be one of the best zoos in the nation. And yes, she does love having an office where she can walk out and see elephants, lions and monkeys on a daily basis.

But humans also are a concern to her, and she serves as a steering committee member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City Young Professionals. It is a charity that is personal to her, as in 2005, her nephew was diagnosed with leukemia. She saw firsthand what such a devastating diagnosis can do to a family. When the executive director of RMHC-OKC asked if she would be one of the seven to sit on the steering committee to help recruit new members and build the program, she couldn’t say no. Utilizing her skills both for the zoo and Ronald McDonald house, she has created awareness for two important causes. At the end of the day, that is ultimately its own reward.


Caitlin L. Dempsey

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Age: 27 | Industrial Advisor | Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort

One of the busiest Forty Under 40 selections has got to be Caitlin Dempsey. As industrial advisor for the commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort, she sells and leases warehouses and distribution facilities. Her proudest achievement was being able to, after a year-long search, find the perfect new location for HomeWetBar.com. The space helped the company upgrade from a closet to a 30,000-square-foot facility. It’s a commitment that has led her to seek ways to always go above and beyond for her clients.

But even that can’t compete with the sheer amount of work she does for her community. As a member of almost ten professional and civic organizations, including Leadership OKC’s LOYAL IV, Urban Land Institute and Neighborhood Services Organization, she still has time to volunteer with the Central OK Humane Society, OKC’s yearly Festival of the Arts and Junior Achievement, to name a few. Where does she get all of her energy? According to her, it comes from her love of OKC and the goal to change her community for the better. As committed to her home city as she is to her job, Dempsey wants to do everything she can to watch both grow. It’s that eye for progress in every field that makes her a perfect choice as a Forty Under 40 honoree.


Camden Chitwood

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Age: 27 | Wedding and Event Planner | Emerson Events

One of the busiest Forty Under 40 selections has got to be Caitlin Dempsey. As industrial advisor for the commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort, she sells and leases warehouses and distribution facilities. Her proudest achievement was being able to, after a year-long search, find the perfect new location for HomeWetBar.com. The space helped the company upgrade from a closet to a 30,000-square-foot facility. It’s a commitment that has led her to seek ways to always go above and beyond for her clients.

But even that can’t compete with the sheer amount of work she does for her community. As a member of almost ten professional and civic organizations, including Leadership OKC’s LOYAL IV, Urban Land Institute and Neighborhood Services Organization, she still has time to volunteer with the Central OK Humane Society, OKC’s yearly Festival of the Arts and Junior Achievement, to name a few. Where does she get all of her energy? According to her, it comes from her love of OKC and the goal to change her community for the better. As committed to her home city as she is to her job, Dempsey wants to do everything she can to watch both grow. It’s that eye for progress in every field that makes her a perfect choice as a Forty Under 40 honoree.


Chadwick Theopolis Holeman

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Age: 36 | Attorney | Devon Energy

For more than ten years—the majority of his professional career—Chadwick Theopolis Holeman has been fortunate enough to work for Devon Energy, one of the most lauded and respected businesses in Oklahoma. As an attorney, he provides legal counsel to Devon’s information technology, records management and corporate finance groups. He believes that he adds value to the organization by working in various departments, including accounting, finance and legal, and leading multi-million dollar projects that have consistently been delivered on time and under budget. It’s a career that he is extremely proud of, and he looks forward to being even prouder in the future.

As a board member of Junior Achievement of Oklahoma and the Urban League of OKC, he sets out to improve his community whenever the need arises. Recently, he chaired Junior Achievement’s 2013 Masquerade Bowl, a bowling event to raise money on behalf of JA literacy and entrepreneurship programs. With that, as well as other fundraising ventures, he helped JA more than exceed its target goal of $100,000. The funds will reach more than 13,000 Oklahoma City students in dire need. It’s an open-andshut case: Holeman is truly one of the brightest Forty Under 40 stars, and people can’t wait to see what he does next.


Cory Elizabeth King

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Age: 36 | Director of Human Resources | American Energy Partners LP

When many people think of human resources directors, they just imagine someone who listens to complaints. That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when it comes to Cory Elizabeth King. It’s her job to attract, hire, retain, and develop the best and brightest professionals in the everimportant oil and gas industry by creating a boldly energetic and driven corporate culture. Her most significant business achievement in her career so far has been earning the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of American Energy Partners. She is helping build its team and shape the corporate culture to propel the company from a startup to a best-in-class exploration and production company serving not only Oklahoma but the entire country.

As one could imagine, doing that means many long hours, but it’s worth it to King. Still, she says that her own personal recent achievement is managing to work 50 hours a week, teach Sunday school, teach at OU on the weekends, serve on two nonprofit boards, chair the annual fundraising for a medical mission and perform in community theater and benefit concerts, yet always finding the time to be a wife and mother to her four children. With a powerful work ethic like that, she is truly giving her kids—as well as many professionals in Oklahoma City—someone to look up to.


Courtney Elaine Hyder

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Age: 27 | Marketing and Development Coordinator | SunBeam Family Services

Early in her career, Courtney Hyder felt as though attending the Grammy awards or booking an artist at the Grand Ole Opry would be the pinnacle of her professional journey. However, the work that she is a part of at Sunbeam Family Services has quickly outweighed those tiers of achievement. As the marketing and development coordinator, she assists in the agency’s coordination of volunteer and fundraising efforts, as well as marketing and public relations.

But, as important as all of that is, for Hyder, the job means so much more. When a foster parent is recruited, meaning a child has a safe family and a place to live, or when a senior citizen in the community who has been made homeless due to a catastrophic event or illness has a place to sleep that night, she says that she is quickly reminded that preserving families and offering hope and the opportunity to succeed to her neighbors is the most important part of her job. Just ask the group of girls that she works with at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County.

She takes those lessons and imparts them to the children, being an example that believing in yourself is one of the most significant things we can learn in life. And you don’t have to be a Forty Under 40 honoree to understand that.


Damon Lane

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Age: 33 | Chief Meteorologist | KOCO-TV 5

As the May and June 2013 tornadoes have reinforced so clearly, if it wasn’t for Oklahoma’s meteorologists, who played such a big part in not only warning Oklahomans about the impending weather but also saving numerous lives because of it, things could have been so much worse. One of the major players in those harrowing days was Damon Lane, KOCO’s chief meteorologist. Being in the top weather seat at KOCO is quite an accomplishment because OKC is widely considered the most severe weather market in the nation and, from a professional standpoint within the television news industry, is also the most competitive. Overseeing an entire weather department in this part of the country can be very demanding, but Lane has found it to be a rewarding challenge.

Professional accomplishments aside, Lane feels that his most significant community achievement came during the May 20 Moore tornado. Being a resident of Moore who knows the town well, he provided KOCO viewers with extremely accurate and detailed information regarding the precise direction and location of the tornado, even recognizing the businesses and neighborhoods in its path.

This has inspired him to serve as a stakeholder on the city’s parks and recreation committee, providing input on future development as the rebuilding process continues. And when the skies turn dark, we’re just glad we have a friend at KOCO who is looking out for us.


Emily Garman

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Age: 35 | Chief Operating Officer | Oklahoma Media Group LLC

In this digital age, when technology moves faster than most of us would like, it’s always good to have someone on your business’s side to help guide clients through the maze of zeros and ones. Oklahoma Media Group is a full-service website development and application programming company that delivers custom solutions to clients of all sizes. From mobile apps and social media to websites and interactive media, Emily Garman has got you covered. As chief operating officer, she works in cooperation with the CEO to manage project development, interacting with clients in a very hands-on way, doing everything from concept meetings to ongoing training. In other words, she and her company will provide the roadmaps needed to navigate cyberspace.

But she is also grounded in the real world, utilizing her skills to bring about social change. In 2008, she founded The Social Animal, an endeavor that provides free online and low-priced, in-person training so animal welfare organizations can learn how to use the Internet and social media to raise money, recruit volunteers and accomplish missions. She put her knowledge of online media and love for animals to amazing use after the Moore tornado on May 20, setting up a website clearinghouse for pets that were lost and found in the storms. She is also very active in the OKC LGBT community and considers it a responsibility to cultivate other LGBT entrepreneurs, even going as far as becoming a mentor to a young woman whom she is certain will be nominated for Forty Under 40 in a few years.


Eric Tyler Wells

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Age: 37 | President and Chief Pilot | Private Jets Inc.

Eric Wells has always looked to the skies, completing his commercial license on his 18th birthday and following that up with an airline transport pilot license on his 23rd birthday, flying as captain of a Learjet shortly thereafter. Since then, he has obtained a captain rating for planes and jets such as the Hawker, Citation, Sabreliner and Challenger, just to name a few. With over 10,000 flight hours logged, he lives the dream with a job soaring through the clouds while most of us are stuck on the ground.

When he started Private Jets, it was a small aviation company with no jet aircraft and only five employees. Over the years, however, he has watched it grow into a large, complex jet charter company with 22 full-time employees. He has also expanded his operations quite considerably, opening new bases in San Antonio, Texas, and Naples, Fla. For many Forty Under 40s, the sky’s the limit, but for Wells, it’s a daily reality.


Erin Elissa Engelke

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Age: 34 | Vice President of Communications and Public Relations | Feed the Childern

Erin Engelke has proven herself a leader with strong interpersonal skills, leading with precision and discretion. It is with these skills that in March 2013, she took on the role of vice president of communications and public relations for Feed the Children. Highly organized and detail-oriented with excellent analytical, time and project management skills, she has demonstrated achievements in strategic planning, budgeting, corporate and nonprofit promotion, branding, media relations, event planning, social networking and web marketing. In other words, she is a nonprofit’s dream come true.

At only 26, she was hired as vice president of marketing and communications for World Neighbors. It was a daunting task, as the position had not only been newly created, but the organization had never dedicated resources or attention to this area. But she created a strong brand, raising more than $1.7 million in revenue and cultivating thousands of new donors for World Neighbors. She also dedicated time and energy to give back to her community, specifically to the empowerment of women, serving as board member and president for the Association for Women in Communications, as well as playing various roles in the Junior League of Oklahoma City. From her dedication to her community and the world through Feed the Children, Engelke has changed the lives of untold numbers of people.


Jason Thomas

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Age: 37 | President | JTC Tradesmen Development

Jason Thomas started JTC Tradesmen Development on his personal belief that America was built with hard work and unyielding determination from men and woman who desired a better life. It was this same hard work and determination that brought JTC from an old pickup with a string hanging out the window to open the broken door to, in 2011, reaching $1.8 million in sales in only its second year of business and opening satellite offices in Tulsa and Dallas. Thomas has come a long way from that old pickup, but he has never forgotten his vision—to develop working tradesmen through simple systems of motivational and educational certified training while they are working and making a living—which he has passed on to his company.

Thomas also uses this same hard-work ethic in his personal life, serving in several charity campaigns, including as vice chairman of Major Gifts Division for the Expanding the Harvest Campaign, the Tribal Foster Parent program with the Cherokee Nation, as well as the 111 Project, a charity for the faith-based community to help children in foster care find homes. Add to this his jobs as a shift ministry leader and a kids’ basketball coach and you’ve got a Forty Under 40 honoree who earns every single bit of this honor and then some.


Jay Willis Wright

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Age: 33 | Founder and CEO | Spokesme.com

In 2011, Jay Wright, in his own words, experienced a “gut-level entrepreneurial flash” that inspired him to totally change his course in life, walking away from an established career and income to begin building a technology company from scratch. In this economy, that’s something that too many people wouldn’t have the guts to do, but he has never looked back. The company is SpokesME.com, a social technology firm that helps businesses, brands and other organizations upgrade the ways in which they reach, connect and engage with their current and targeted audiences, working with each business to identify and then magnify its strengths with the help of local spokespeople and a patentpending SoMoLo (Social+Mobile+Local) technology platform that delivers the most important word possible: word of mouth.

While Wright feels his most significant business achievement was to leave his said established career to do what he feels he was born to do, he achieves an even greater satisfaction in helping improve his clients’ lives and livelihoods through offering topnotch service. It has inspired him to start a nonprofit, ELiEorg (Entrepreneurial Leadership & Experiential Learning in Education), which is dedicated to providing the resources, opportunities and experiences to fuel a new generation of confident, problem-solving entrepreneurs—and possible future Forty Under 40 honorees.


Jayme Denise Buck

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Age: 33 | Director of Marketing | Young Brothers Inc.

It’s not easy being director of marketing for Young Brothers Inc., a custom fabrication and granite and stone surface installation business with a specialty tile showroom, but it’s all in a day’s work for Jayme Buck. She especially takes pride in being able to make a name for herself as a successful woman in a predominately male-focused industry. In her role, she must maintain all print, digital and social media for Young Brothers. It’s a position that helped lead her to her most important personal success for the company: after 43 years of successful business, Young Brothers took a household name—SW Tile and Merchant—and masterfully re-branded it without a hitch. It was something that led her to being nominated (and winning) the company’s MVE award, which is voted on by fellow employees. She also has been awarded the National Association of Home Builders’ Spike Status for new member recruiting efforts, as well as being nominated for NAHB Woman of the Year.

But director of marketing is just one of the many hats that Buck wears. She feels that her major accomplishment is that she is succeeding as not only a full-time career woman, but also as a full-time mother and wife. With the help of her family, she has participated in Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity’s 5 Blitz Builds, Stock the Pantry, Relay for Life, the Salvation Army’s Bucks for Bikes and organized a collaboration between Habitat and the National Kitchen & Bath Association to donate a new washer and dryer for each Blitz Build project. It’s all part of her attempt to contribute to the betterment of our world.


Jennifer Marie Blevins

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Age: 38 | Senior Art Director | vi marketing and branding

Jennifer Blevins came to VI with the desire to find a mentor. Little did she know that she would quickly become a mentor herself. Taking pride in her role as senior art director, she guides others to reach their greatest potential job by job, day in and day out, serving her peers by providing design guidance, being a voice for the department and expanding the role of designers. As the winner of numerous ADDY awards, Blevins, at only 38, has earned a level of gravitas that takes some an entire career to achieve.

Wanting to live a long and healthy life is also a huge priority for her. She was inspired in 2007, when VI was awarded the Tobacco Settlement
Endowment Trust account. Seeing her mother directly affected by the dangers of secondhand smoke in the workplace, the project only furthered her resolve to become a dedicated advocate for educating Oklahomans about the negative effects of tobacco.

Now, as a mother herself, her passion for this cause has only grown stronger, giving her the creativity to develop campaign themes in an
effort to curb this problem. And it seems to be working; smoking rates have dropped to unprecedented levels during her time handling the account. When she kisses her little boy good night, she takes the time to be thankful that, for his sake, we are living in a healthier state.


Jennifer Lynn Klos

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Age: 32 | Curator | Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Recently promoted from associate curator to curator, Jennifer Klos brings the best in art and culture from all over the world to Oklahoma City on a daily basis. As curator, she organizes and coordinates exhibitions for the world-renowned Oklahoma City Museum of Art. She has gained much notoriety for her coordinating exhibitions such as Sketch to Screen: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design, FUSION: A New Century of Glass and most recently, Herb Ritts: Beauty and Celebrity. One of the reasons her projects are always met with such art community fervor is because she has been able to utilize immense knowledge and experience gained while working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Leonard Fox Ltd., both in New York City. With credentials like that, it’s no wonder that Klos has helped OKCMOA become a premier art destination.

As an Oklahoma City native, she is proud to contribute to the community through not only her job but also various volunteer opportunities, many times giving her the chance to integrate other OKC civic groups into the activities of the museum, planning special events and educational opportunities with groups such as the Casady Alumni Association and the Junior League of Oklahoma City. She says she is proud to be able to make an impact in Oklahoma City by helping present exciting works of art that also engage and add value to the community, guaranteeing continued cultural growth and success for future generations.


Jessica Schambach

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Age: 35 | TV News Anchor | KOCO-TV 5

When it comes to news, Oklahomans need a reporter they can put the trust of their lives—and their family’s lives— into, as seen during the recent May and June tornadoes.

As a TV news anchor for KOCO 5, this is a responsibility that Jessica Schambach takes with the utmost seriousness and responsibility. She believes that her job is to not only report the news in Oklahoma that impacts all of us but, most importantly, deliver life-saving information in a timely and dutiful manner. During the May tornadoes, she was on the air for more than 65 hours in a week-long span, striving for coverage that was accurate, sensitive and updated during a time that was trying for us all.

Sure, she has been nominated and has won numerous awards, including Emmy, Edward R. Murrow, OAB and OAPB, but the reason she does this job is because she has a family just like yours. An active and involved parent, Schambach wants to be the best role model she can be for her daughter and step-sons, adhering to a strong belief that community starts at home and family is the ultimate priority. With a responsibility like that, you can believe that she will deliver the news to protect not only her children but all of Oklahoma’s children. And when done right, no award could ever top that.


Jill Brown DeLozier

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Age: 34 | Marketing Director | Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.

When it comes to news, Oklahomans need a reporter they can put the trust of their lives—and their family’s lives— into, as seen during the recent May and June tornadoes.

Downtown Oklahoma City has been going through a renaissance of sorts as of late, with areas like Automobile Alley and Film Row being the most recent examples. As marketing director for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. since July 2011, Jill DeLozier has been on the ground floor of Downtown OKC’s growth and success. After all, she oversees advertising, events and communications, three of the most important factors in driving people to the area. She’s most proud of the conception and realization of a new Downtown OKC event, Starlight Supper, which benefitted Emerson High School. This event brought many types of people in the community together, raised awareness and funds for Emerson and actually activated an underutilized Downtown space.

However, many people might also know her from her recent work with the opening of the 100-year-old Century Chest time capsule in Downtown Oklahoma City. She worked on public relations, securing media coverage and advertising, as well as some event logistics, all of which led to one of the biggest positive events in Oklahoma City. She not only enjoyed working on the historically significant event but also hopes to be part of the burial of the next Century Chest. As an important member of the OKC business community, she is indeed a significant addition to this year’s Forty Under 40 class.


Jody Lynn East

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Age: 34 | Director, Corporate Hospitality | Oklahoma City Thunder

When it comes to news, Oklahomans need a reporter they can put the trust of their lives—and their family’s lives— into, as seen during the recent May and June tornadoes.

For Jody East, “Thunder Up!” isn’t just an expression; it’s a way of life. She was one of the first Oklahomans hired by the Thunder when the team arrived from Seattle in 2008. Since joining the organization, she has been able to help with strategic decisions by providing direction for the marketing and sales programs based on her knowledge of how Oklahomans would respond. Since her job is to develop and implement a firstclass service platform to ensure all Thunder events, meetings and interactions with clients are exceptional, it’s easy to say that she is one of most important faces of the Thunder. She is “proud to be part of creating a world-class brand based on professionalism, attention to detail and quality of service.”

Thanks to the numerous philanthropic organizations the Thunder is involved with, such as Thunder Holiday Assist, Rebuilding Together, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, East feels grateful for the opportunities. She’s most proud, however, of her involvement with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Oklahoma and the positive impact she has made on the life of her “little sister.” She is a role model and example of a professional woman that she hopes her young protege will strive to be one day.


Jose L. Ocque

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Age: 31 | President | Venhones LLC

As Oklahoma City continues to grow and attracts more businesses and families, so does the home market. Jose L. Ocque, president of Venhomes LLC, manages and controls the design, building process and sale of new homes—maybe even yours—in the Oklahoma City market. It was a business that he saw a need for after spending almost eight years working for a local homebuilder in the metro. Armed with years of experience and expertise in the construction field, he teamed up with John Cresap and Cresap Capital LLC to establish Venhomes LLC, which has garnered notice in OKC as an innovative and creative business dedicated to the construction of fine quality homes.

Ocque believes this is a beautiful city that is only growing and getting better every day with numerous opportunities. It’s a belief that he passes on to children through working with the YMCA’s Y-Achievers program. Even though he works 40-plus hours per week, he still finds time to dedicate to the program, helping and inspiring kids to build their future goals, teaching them the importance of going to college and never giving up on big dreams. And what better example than Ocque, whose big dreams have not only led to continued success but a spot in this year’s Forty Under 40.


Katherine Mazaheri

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Age: 32 | Managing Partner | Mazaheri Law Firm

After clerking with Liberty Mutual Insurance, Katherine Mazaheri returned to Oklahoma in 2009 to open the Mazaheri Law Firm, a full-service, general practice firm for plaintiffs’ civil litigation in the areas of employment, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, personal injury, DUI defense, and real estate and business advisement. You’ve probably seen her ads all over town. The Mazaheri Law Firm has grown from a solo practice to a burgeoning law firm with five attorneys, multiple student law clerks, and a full-time legal assistant in a short time, gaining a powerful reputation for taking on cases that fought various social injustices, leading to extensive recoveries for clients in cases of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation based upon race, gender, national origin, sexual stereotyping, age, disability and pregnancy. In short, she’s a true hero to the people of Oklahoma.

Speaking of heroes, she also divides her time working with the Oklahoma Lawyers for Heroes Program, helping military families suffering financial strain from uncontrollable circumstances, as well as Oklahoma Lawyers for Children. She also has worked tirelessly for families, helping with the adoption process for many Oklahomans. It’s a process that she’s familiar with, having recently added a new little brother and cousin in her own family, so it’s a cause, among many others, that she will wholeheartedly continue to fight for. As Oklahomans, we are lucky to have her on our side.


Larry Winters

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Age: 39 | President | Tri-State Industrial Group

As the president and lead innovator of the Tri-State Industrial Group, a business that offers complete infrastructure solutions and project management services to the commercial, energy and industrial markets, Larry Winters is responsible for the executive leadership team, managing the business for today and the future, including financial management, business architecture and strategic growth planning, with areas of focus that include leading systemic planning for financial and operational growth, company culture and change management. Tri-State offers turnkey solutions, providing customers with a single point of contact for site excavation, concrete and foundations, electrical, automation and controls, power construction, mechanical and more. It provides assurance of project completion on time and on budget. Winters’ lifelong experience with projects such as these have only added to the reputation of excellence that Tri-State has achieved.

Prior to joining Tri-State, he was the co-founder and project management practice leader for the Persimmon Group. He led and educated others on standards of excellence in all areas of project management services and methodologies. It’s a skill that has led him, a member of the National Speakers Association, to become a sought-after speaker whose inquisitive approach helps develop a one-on-one relationship, even with larger audiences. He happily spreads his wealth of knowledge to everyone from CEOs to office workers, and maybe even the next group of Forty Under 40 honorees.


Lauren Adrienne Toppins

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Age: 31 | Staff Attorney | Paycom Payroll LLC

Having the opportunity to start Paycom’s legal department is an accomplishment that Lauren Toppins, staff attorney is very proud of. She runs the legal department, handles all legal issues and manages all outside counsel, and she has had the opportunity to create policies and procedures from scratch and has met the challenge of integrating the department into a valuable tool, helping the company grow at an exponential rate. Because Paycom is such a rapidly growing and changing environment, it is vital that she have the ability to change directions and think of ways to become more proactive. She oversaw a program that normally takes 18 months to get in place, but Toppins and her team were able to get it implemented and certified in only six months.

She applies this same proactive leadership in her personal life as well, particularly in her involvement with the OKC Chamber Greater Grads InternOKC program, allowing students interning for Oklahoma companies to become informed professionals who realize the potential that OKC offers and allowing various speakers to share their personal stories—what brought them here, why they stay and how OKC has helped foster their careers. She will not only be able to tell this story but will continue being a living example.


Lenny Henderson

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Age: 39 | Medical Doctor, Co-Director | St. Anthony’s Dermatology Center of Excellence

Dr. Lenny Henderson’s story is truly inspiring for anyone who thinks they are too old to become a success in any field of their choosing. Before he went to medical school, he had a career as a certified financial planner for Morgan Stanley and Prudential Securities, even co-authoring a book titled “Making Work Optional,” in 2004. But as successful as he was, he still had a dream of going to medical school and ended up doing just that at the age of 30. It’s what he considers his most significant business achievement. Being able to change careers in his thirties wasn’t an easy task, but taking the lessons he learned in his former career and using them in the complex business of medicine in a group practice setting has ultimately been a success, as his group is the largest dermatology group in the state.

The good doctor takes an active leadership role in everything he does, from the business and financial aspects of his medical group to the hearts and minds of his middle son’s Cub Scout pack, where his was awarded the Wolf Scout Den Leader of the Year for the Baden-Powell District in only his first year. He also conducts a free dermatology clinic at the Ministries of Jesus at Henderson Hills Baptist Church and is one of the rotating staff members at the St. Charles free clinic, coordinating the care of patients in need of free treatment for skin cancer. Without a doubt, his career change has impacted numerous people, proving that it’s never too late to truly make a difference.


Levi Daivd Heard

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Age: 35 | Vice President | Senior Care Services

Senior Care Services is a family-run business that has been a top senior care services provider since 1980. In 2013, Levi Heard is continuing this tradition as vice president. Originally starting out as marketing director, he saw the business achieve significant and steady growth thanks to a multifaceted marketing strategy that he created and executed, which resulted in a consistent 40%-50% growth every year. As a result of this remarkable success, he was promoted to vice president in 2007 and currently is responsible for all day-to-day operations and strategic partnerships.

But his dedication to the elderly in our community doesn’t end there. He has been an active volunteer with the Oklahoma City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for more than ten years. Having three grandparents who suffered from this horrible disease, he has seen firsthand the kind of pain that it causes families and has made it a personal mission to see it eradicated in his lifetime. In 2011, he was given the opportunity to chair the Alzheimer’s Walk, and, despite a renaming and a rebranding, through his efforts, they were able to increase walk participation by 60% and fundraising by over 40%. As a result, the 2011 Walk to End Alzheimer’s became the most successful in the history of the Oklahoma chapter. The elderly in Oklahoma have an amazing and inspiring ally.


Lindsay Michelle Flesher

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Age: 32 | Project Manager (Special Projects Group) | Cardinal Engineering Inc.

After receiving her master’s of science in civil engineering with an emphasis in project management and construction engineering from Oklahoma State University in 2006, Lindsay Flesher quickly rose to the top of her field. While working with Crafton Tull until March 2013, she managed project teams and was involved with not only engineering design and cost analysis in the area of land development primarily for residential developments, small commercial sites and various municipal projects also in the design of sanitary sewer lines, water lines and drainage improvements and performed key flood studies. It’s this experience, hard work and attention to detail that she says is one of her most significant business achievements.

She brings that same hard work ethic to her community, volunteering and being an active board member for such places as the OU Children’s Hospital, the City Rescue Mission and, after her goddaughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She volunteers at Great Strides, golf tournaments, the Color Me Rad 5K and the Breath of Life Gala. She is proud of the fact that she has been able to bring about more awareness of cystic fibrosis and, even better, that they are so very close to a cure.


Miguel Armando Garcia

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Age: 28 | Associate Attorney | Michael Brooks-Jimenez PC

With the subject of immigration being a daily political hotbed of controversy, people tend to forget, in the middle of their punditry, that immigrants are real people. Even though Miguel Garcia, associate attorney for Michael Brooks-Jimenez, is a criminal defense attorney, he also works in the gray area between criminal and immigration consequences. He has developed proactive strategies that include upfront services that allow his clients’ cases to be amended or dismissed, therefore protecting their immigration rights.

He is an esteemed board member of the Latino Community Development Agency, and helped them through a recent transitional period when the founding executive director retired and the torch was passed to the new executive director.

The LCDA offers 24 programs that help the community, and it was important to Garcia to make sure they continued uninterrupted during said period. Another important achievement he has made as a member of the LCDA has been the ability to connect the probation services of the Oklahoma City Municipal Court to Spanish services so people can receive services in their native language in person, which was not done before. Garcia not only is an important member of the Oklahoma City community but a true hero to the downtrodden. We sure could use more like him.


Rachel Bundy

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Age: 38 | Project Manager | Rees Associates

Before joining Rees Associates, Rachel Bundy worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years, waiting tables and as a bartender to put herself through school. She says that she is constantly amazed at how much her previous experience in that industry benefits her current career as project manager for Rees. It taught her to communicate with and relate to just about everyone, regardless of their position or social status. As project manager, where her job is to oversee, coordinate and manage the design and construction of commercial architectural projects, the experience has been invaluable, helping her successfully interact with everyone from corporate executives and university leaders to contractors and product reps. Who would have thought that experience serving food and drinks would turn out to be so handy?

Even though she feels as though her career is just beginning to flourish and develop, she counts working on the OSU Henry Bellmon Research Center project, for which, by the end, she was the acting project manager, as one of her major professional accomplishments. She also has put her personality and skills to use volunteering and working with charities such as the Helm Farm Neighborhood Project and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, as well as helping to organize AIA KIDesign, where, recently, she and her husband were recognized with AIA Volunteer of the Year awards for all of their many efforts. Her rise to the top of the OKC business community will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration for many hardworking servers and bartenders for years to come.


Rachel Pappy

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Age: 33 | Managing Attorney | Roderick H. Polston PC

While working as an accountant, Rachel Pappy determined that she wanted to fight and defend her accounting clients. She says the IRS was often taking advantage of and assessing additional taxes against people, with disregard for evidence and proper accounting. Seeing these injustices inspired her to attend Oklahoma City University School of Law, where she was mentored by the late William Conger, who only further instilled in her the fight necessary to bravely defend the defenseless and serve to uphold justice in the world of accounting and taxes. She succeeded, and is currently the managing attorney for Roderick H. Polston PC, a 20-person tax law firm in Norman.

She says that her most significant business achievement thus far has been retooling the traditional law firm format of handling a legal case. The most common complaint of every law firm is the lack of communication between clients and attorneys, so Pappy has made it one of her missions to ensure that her firm escapes that stereotype by creating a new system to handle cases that increase communication and efficiency. It’s the same efficiency that allows her, her husband and two kids—with one more on the way—to spend time renovating their new home in Yukon and stay active in church and the business community. As her career and family continue to grow, so does her name in Oklahoma. And it will only get bigger.


Renée Harriman

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Age: 35 | Media Group Leader | vi marketing and branding

When Renée Harriman took an internship at VI 12 years ago, she knew that it was the beginning of her career. Officially, it was for college credit, but she treated it like an entry-level position, and her employers took notice, giving her the opportunity to truly work in media, not just do grunt work. When she graduated, VI offered her a position, moving up the ladder from media coordinator to media buyer and then to senior media buyer/planner. Today, she is still with VI and is the media group leader, where she manages a team of seven media professionals—one of the largest media staffs in Oklahoma—and handles all strategy executions for VI’s media accounts.

This all ties into what she considers her most significant business achievement: building the digital media staff at VI. As a media professional, her job is to put the client’s messages in front of the right consumers. Recognizing the need for this in the digital age, she was one of the very early adopters of digital media, not only training herself to understand this new frontier but also recruiting, hiring and training a digital media staff. As the leader of the largest and, in her words, best digital team in Oklahoma, Harriman hopes to have a legacy of pushing her agency and clients into new realms of marketing communications for years to come.


Ryan Cross

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Age: 35 | Senior Vice President and Oklahoma City Business Banking Manager | Bank of Oklahoma

Bank of Oklahoma is one of the state’s largest and most respected financial institutions, and that’s because of hiring determined leaders like Ryan Cross. With more than a decade spent in the banking industry, he brings the experience and know-how to keep BOK on top in the 21st century. This led, according to him, to his most significant professional accomplishment: building his new team at BOK. Starting nearly from scratch, he hired one new assistant and three new banking officers within four months to add to his existing team that included one part-time assistant and himself. This team has achieved incredible success in their first full year together and continues to grow as they look to expand their presence with business owners in Oklahoma City.

Cross also is a dedicated fundraiser for the March of Dimes, having personally helped raise more than $60,000 over the past eight years. Additionally, he raised over $9,000 per year while leading Oklahoma City, as well as the state, in fundraising for the March of Babies in each of the last three years. He says that he is dedicated to the March of Dimes because even though he is blessed to have four healthy and growing girls, in 2005 his twins were born 12 weeks premature and it was the March of Dimes research and support that helped save their lives. Now that Cross has made a name for himself in business, he’s returning the favor to make sure everyone knows the name of the March of Dimes.


Shani Amon Nealy

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Age: 39 | Senior Vice President of Administration | Urban League of Greater OKC Inc.

The Urban League of Greater OKC’s mission is to assist African-Americans, other minorities and the poor in achieving social and economic equality. The group works to accomplish this mission through advocacy, bridge-building, research and program services in five major areas: children and families; employment and training; affordable housing; minority entrepreneurship; and urban health. It’s a mission that Shani Nealy, senior VP of administration has tirelessly been a part of for more than 15 years. She has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, but her most significant business achievement was being a part of the grant writing team for the Urban League’s multifamily unit complex, Capitol Square Villas, in 2004. The 36-unit town home, duplex-style neighborhood was completed in 2009, and the project helped the economy of the area and developed at least 69 new jobs. Nealy was with the project every step of the way.

As senior VP, she handles human recourses and legal compliance, program and facility supervision, as well as strategic planning. She is continuing her education, studying for a master’s of science in counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, with an expected completion in December 2014. This love of family and community goes all the way back to her hometown of Spencer. She has participated in advocacy events for voter awareness; written grants; and, even though she did not have children in the school, became a member and eventually membership chair of their PTSA, where she has succeeded in raising funds for uniforms, identification cards and supplies. Whether it’s Spencer or Oklahoma City, one thing is for sure: we’re all better for having her as a voice of the community.


Sheri Guyse

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Age: 37 | Communications Director | A Good Egg Dining Group

From Cheever’s Cafe and Iron Starr Urban Barbeque to Tucker’s Onion Burgers and Republic Gastropub, Oklahoma City clamors for A Good Egg Dining Group’s eateries. As communications director, it’s Sheri Guyse’s job to keep hungry patrons coming back by overseeing PR, marketing and advertising. So the next time you see a billboard pointing the way to Tucker’s and get a hankering for an onion burger, think of Guyse. Graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2004 with a bachelor’s in journalism, she spent a few years freelance writing before working full-time for the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, where she planned and executed around 30 business developing and networking events each year. It was a passion for local food and social media, however, that inspired her to create her own position at A Good Egg, presenting a proposal showing the reasons it needed social media and PR. Within two weeks, she had achieved her dream job and today continues to create strong buzz and loyal followers for every restaurant that’s a part of A Good Egg’s portfolio.

In her career, she has been recognized as an American Marketing Association OKC ‘MOFO’ and was a co-founder of the Midtown Rotary Club, which was named the Small Club of the Year and was given a District Governor Citation, receiving accolades for focusing on serving the arts community. With continued successes in both business and community, there’s another honor that Guyse can add to her resume: being a part of the 2013 Forty Under 40 class.


Steven G. Charles

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Age: 32 | Executive Director | Touchstone Youth Project

It’s frequently said that children are our future. This hits a little closer to home for Forty Under 40 honoree Steven G. Charles. As executive director of Touchstone Youth Project—whose mission is to serve disadvantaged Oklahoma youth at no charge—he offers rock climbing, mentoring and life-skills cultivation, giving young people an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise. He oversees the organizational development, financial matters, fundraising, staff recruitment and retention of development for the organization. Basically, the glue that holds the project together. But it doesn’t stop behind the desk: he also actively enjoys recruiting youth and partner organizations to be a part of the team.

He believes that he is lucky to have a job in which he gets to go to work and make a direct impact on the community—a dream job for many of us. In his role at Touchstone Youth Project, he has successfully increased the number of students who are being served to approximately 100 per week, inspiring more people to come out and become mentors and increasing their annual operating budget. Charles, along with many volunteers of Touchstone, is truly paving the way for the next generation with an undoubtedly brighter future.


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  1. Pingback: Forty Under 40 Class of 2013 List | okc.BIZ

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