Forty North Bay professionals younger than 40

Jennifer Alesio, 31

Senior Trial Associate, Brayton Purcell, LLP, Novato

“Multi-tasking” is just one way to describe Jennifer Alesio as she works with Brayton Purcell’s clients to get the best results, while also handling pre-trial court appearances and managing the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Greatest professional accomplishment: “I was lead counsel on the Whalen v. John Crane, Inc. case where the jury returned a $70 million verdict in favor of our clients. During the six-week trial I missed dinner and putting my then nine-month old son to bed only once - the night before closing arguments.”

Best advice received: “A partner in a San Francisco law firm told me when I was six-months pregnant, ‘Take as much time as is legally and financially possible for maternity leave. You don’t matter as much to the people you work for as you do to your child.’”

Mentor/admired businesspersons: “Essentially everything I’ve learned about trial practice I learned from Gil Purcell and James Nevin.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: Not a lawyer.

Hobbies: Stand-up paddle boarding, skiing, eating and chasing my toddler.

Louis Bardis, 38

President, FJM Capital, Inc., San Rafael

With the spirit of a young, self-made entrepreneur, Louis Bardis has reached and exceeded his business, financial and family goals many years ahead of his peers.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Originating $140 million in new loans in 2014 while creating and implementing the operations processes allowing his mortgage business to grow.

Best advice received: Focus on one thing you like to do and do it better than anyone.

Steps taken to sustain the organization and morale: “Since the labor market is stronger, we are hiring inexperienced staff with accounting backgrounds. We give these individuals new mortgage operations skills and pay higher salaries once they are trained.”

Community and nonprofit activities: “I owned and operated a transitional living home for young men needing help in overcoming drugs, alcohol or addictions. I also donate to the Boys and Girls Club and St. Jude’s Hospital and have coached baseball and flag football.”

Favorite book: Think and Grow Rich.

Favorite after-work drink: Pelligrino.

Hobbies: Going to movies, Bikram Yoga, traveling and spending time with his wife and three kids.

Prema Behan, 39

Chief operating officer, Three Sticks, Head High, LUTUM & Classic Wines, Sonoma

Making the leap from Bill Price’s executive assistant to COO of his Classic Wines portfolio, was Prema Behan’s greatest professional accomplishment.

She exemplifies the spirit of being a top 40 Under 40 professional by being fueled by passion, intelligence, loyalty and a desire to achieve collective goals.

Her greatest professional challenge: Committing to the SSU EMBA program in April 2012 during a year when the company was launching three new brands. She completed the course with honors.

Best advice received: 1) Be impeccable with your word; 2) Don’t take anything personally; 3) Don’t make assumptions, and 4) Always do your best - by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Single most important event: Officially opening the Adobe in Sonoma and overseeing the restoration process and re-imaging the incredible Vallejo-Castenada Adobe circa 1842 into its present protected state.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A doctor. “I went to UCSD as pre-med - and then I met organic chemistry!”

Last vacation: “In January I went to Isla Mujeres with my best girlfriends from high school to celebrate the year that we all turn 40.”

Tom Billeter, 31

Principal Engineer, Atterbury & Associates, Healdsburg

Keeping a variety of managerial balls in the air for several residential, commercial, and wine-industry projects - while also supervising staff and conducting marketing and business development functions - is what drives Tom Billeter.

His greatest professional challenge was being offered the opportunity to purchase equity with Atterbury and Associates and become a business owner.

Best advice received: Always be pursuing BHAGs - Big Hairy Audacious Goals - and never stop meeting new people.

His next professional goal: To open an additional office in Mendocino or Marin Counties to further the firm’s geographical reach.

Mentor/admired businesspersons: “My two supervisors over the years, Tom Atterbury and Michael Hicks. I also appreciate my stepfather, Ray Delagnes, for guiding me toward business professionalism at a young age.”

Community/nonprofit activities: “I volunteer as general manager and assistant coach of the SRJC ice hockey team I founded in 2002, and I am involved with the Rotary Club’s youth services.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A locomotive engineer - “Well, I did achieve the engineer part.”

David Buerger, 37

Co-Founder, President and CEO, CUneXus Solutions, Santa Rosa

While doing two jobs at once as Marketing and Social Media Manager at St. Francis Winery, David Buerger worked late nights and weekends to build the foundation for CUneXus, create its software product and bring it to market.

“I negotiated our first major strategic partnership with Intuit Financial Services and sold our first client contract to a $2.2 billion credit union while still working full time at the winery.”

Later at CUneXus, he acquired the first four credit union clients with software installations responsible for generating over $100 million in consumer loans in the first nine months of service.

Next professional goal: To continue to gain traction and market share, with the goal of making our “Comprehensive Pre-Screened Lending” strategy and the concept of “Perpetual Loan Approval” industry standard.

Mentors/admired businesspersons: “My parents, Daniel and Ann Buerger, are my greatest mentors, and I also learned a lot from Brett Martinez and Robin McKenzie at Redwood Credit Union, as well as from Christopher Silva of St. Francis Winery and Vineyards.”

Favorite Books: Breaking Banks, by Brett king; Zero to One, by Peter Thiel; the Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen and The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King.

Daniel Byrne, 28

Principal Civil Engineer and Engineering Department Manager, Hogan Land Services, Santa Rosa

As leader of the engineering team at Hogan Land Services, Daniel Byrne works collaboratively with engineers, marketing and sales personnel to achieve his client’s development goals.

His mission involves delivering a quality, value-engineered finished product that satisfies ever-changing codes and regulations, while meeting diverse client needs.

Exemplifying the spirit of a 40 Under 40 professional, he brings youthful enthusiasm and 21st century swagger to the difficult and daunting process of development permitting, while exuding “We’ll Get the Permit” confidence.

Single most important event: The custom design and implementation of a new company-wide project management system using Intuit’s QuickBase HLS.

Greatest professional achievement: Being licensed as a Registered Civil Engineer and joining his mentor, Ken Carr, in the “first attempt passers club.”

Steps the company has taken to sustain the organization: “Hogan Land Services has stayed true to its original purpose of helping people achieve their dreams.”

Favorite book: The Bible.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: Firefighter, pro athlete or mailman.

Best advice received: “I never failed, I just discovered 10,000 ways that won’t work” - by Thomas Edison.

Sonu Chandi, 30

Owner, Stout Brothers Irish Pub & Restaurant; co-owner of six Mountain Mike’s Pizza sites; president, North Bay Franchise Management, Santa Rosa

“I moved here with my family 14 years ago with virtually nothing. We worked hard and now have seven businesses and are part of the community,” Sonu Chandi said.

Best advice received: Don’t forget about family while busy working. “We’ve been married five years and have a two young children.”

Single most important event in your professional life: Graduating from Leadership Santa Rosa, class 31, and learning so much about Sonoma County.

Steps our company has taken to sustain our organization and morale: “We are striving to make all of our restaurants Green certified and create more engagement with employees so they feel part of the team’s success.”

Next professional goals: Developing a concept for a brewery and a modern Indian restaurant.

Community and nonprofit activities: Chandi is a member of the 20-30 Club, a chamber member in five cities, and is a committee member for the Santa Rosa Downtown Association. He also donates to CPI, LLS, SSU, SRJC and other North Bay schools.

Favorite after-work drink: Whiskey on the rocks or a Manhattan.

Julia Cooper, 32

Quality Assurance Manger, La Tortilla Factory, Santa Rosa

Wearing many hats, Julia Cooper manages programs, people and the company’s 2015 strategic initiatives, while ensuring that all products are of the highest quality, safe to eat and comply with regulatory and third party certification programs.

She exemplifies the spirit of a 40 Under 40 professional by inspiring others to stretch farther to reach their goals, and work cross-functionally to achieve a balanced workplace where every opinion is heard.

Single most important event: “After an exhaustive 17 months, I completed the EMBA program at SSU, where I also received my bachelor’s degree in chemistry.”

Favorite books: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Best advice received: Follow your dreams and be passionate about your work.

Community/nonprofit activities: She currently serves on the SRJC Foundation’s board of directors, is chair of the Quality Assurance Subcommittee of the Sonoma County BEST Food Industry Group, and volunteers at the Redwood Empire Food Bank - “when not buried in homework.”

Hobbies: Swing dancing - Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jitterbug and other dance steps of the 1930’s to 50’s.

Jon Cromwell, 36

Senior Project Manager, Outside Plant Construction, Sonic, Santa Rosa

In addition to building Sonic’s fiber optic network across the Bay Area, Jon Cromwell is responsible for the design, budget, implementation and execution of fiber projects as well as managing the firm’s fiber-to-the-home and business park fiber divisions.

“I bring knowledgeable, youthful exuberance to the company and to the future of the very competitive fiber field.”

Greatest challenge: Learning how to differentiate between good advice and not so good.

Best advice received: Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.

Single most important event in the last 12 months: “Using my experience to streamline Sonic’s outside plant processes and take them to the next level.”

Steps taken to sustain the company and improve morale: “Everyone gets face time with Dane Jasper. The doors are open and people are willing to help you with anything you need.”

Most admired businessperson: Christine Cromwell, of Cromwell Tax and Bookkeeping. “She started her small business and it has grown, due to her extreme unwavering honesty and unchallengeable ethics.”

Favorite movie: Old School.

Matthew Davis, 33

Resident Director, Assistant Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor, ?Merrill Lynch, Santa Rosa

Being the person in charge of an office with some $2 billion in assets under management staffed by 23 associates, 17 financial advisors and six client associates, Matthew Davis is also responsible for ongoing compliance monitoring, risk management, budgeting, hiring, community involvement and creating a work environment conducive for growth.

He exemplifies the spirit of a 40 Under 40 professional by adhering to the motto: Win Everything You Do. “Not always in the literal sense, but be authentic and strive for success.”

Greatest challenge: Helping clients move away from a market-centric approach by not focusing on investment products and solutions, but on what clients wants their money to do for them over the long term.

Next professional goal: To grow this office from $2 billion to $4 billion in assets under management over the next five years.

Best advice received: We all make mistakes. Confront the issue head on or it will only get worse.

Most admired mentor: “Former Resident Director Steve Reuter who helped me develop my investment philosophy.”

Last vacation: “In Croatia with my wife on a voyage from Zadar to Dubrovnik stopping at quaint islands along the way.”

Sheila Elo, 39

Associate Accountant, Pisenti & Brinker LLP, Santa Rosa

Specializing in QuickBooks, payroll consultation and tax preparation for individuals and businesses, Sheila Elo focuses on serving clients, as well as her community, coworkers and friends.

“I always strive to offer value and work hard for our customers. I turn 40 in August, so please select me now!”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Becoming an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor allowing her to offer clients unparalleled assistance.

Greatest challenge: Providing exceptional service while being attentive to the busy schedules of two teenage children.

Best advice received: When faced with a new challenge, accept it and give it your best shot. Inaction is your worst enemy. Every opportunity that pushes you outside your comfort zone is a learning experience.

Single most important event in my professional life: “Getting engaged to a wonderful man who I look forward to adventuring with throughout our life together.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: To work for National Geographic, visit places around the world - “I still have an annual subscription.”

First job: In a hosiery department in Scotland. “I knew every single color of tan tights known to man!”

Bryan Fikes, 38

Chief Strategist, Zenergy Works, and Chief Fund Raiser, Zenergy Ventures, Santa Rosa

Solving complex online marketing issues for clients and Zenergy Work’s own ventures is all in day’s work for Bryan Fikes. A successful entrepreneur and visionary, he is also a thought leader in the digital marketing space building new companies based on experience and industry knowledge.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Winning “Google’s Most Creative Agency” award in 2013.

Greatest challenge: Keeping up with future technology.

Best advice received: Risk it all once.

Steps the company is taking to sustain the business: “I started my business during one of the worst recessions. We built a company based on sharing the success of our clients and our own. We strive to keep that culture and build upon it.”

Next professional goal: To build a $100 million company.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A successful entrepreneur. “I told my grandmother I wanted to give $1 million away after succeeding in business.”

First job: He established a mistletoe business when he was 12.

Favorite book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Favorite movie: “Anything about super heroes.”

Melissa Geissinger, 31

President and COO, Web & Interactive Media Professionals (WIMP LLC), Santa Rosa

Running an interactive global web community of over 1,000 on a daily basis is just one thing that keeps Melissa Geissinger motivated.

She maintains a referral program connecting small agencies and freelancers with clients and employers, and also runs WIMP Space, a coworking environment in Santa Rosa.

“I develop events and programs, such as WIMP Camp, a yearly conference for North Bay web and digital media, as well as WIMP Gives - my brainchild - an annual charity ‘hackathon’ where several teams built free websites last fall for seven local nonprofits in a single day, donating 50 volunteer hours worth $75,000.”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Opening WIMP Space giving WIMP a home to foster education for industry specialists and students within web and digital media world.

Greatest challenge: Operating WIMP full time, “Which is not yet breaking even, while relying on my web design career to pay the bills.”

Best advice received: If not now, when?

Education: BA in physics with a concentration in astronomy from SSU.

First Job: Student web assistant with the NASA Education and Public Outreach Group at SSU’s Physics Department.

Emily Harrington, 36

Vice President and Branch Relationship Manager, Summit State Bank, Santa Rosa

Being responsible for maintaining and expanding existing business loans, along with ensuring customer retention efforts are focused on providing excellent service, gaining referrals and cross-selling products and services, is all part of Emily Harrington’s job.

She exemplifies the spirit of a 40 Under 40 professional by contributing positively to her community through generous Summit Bank donations and involvement in local nonprofits, granting small business loans, supporting the Go Local movement and offering a local personal banking experience.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Her team increased deposits, loans and product sales more significantly than ever before.

Greatest challenge: “I am a natural go-getter and I’m often harder on myself than anyone else ever could be. Now that I am a mother, finding work/life balance is my biggest daily challenge.”

Best advice received: Attitude is everything.

Next professional goal: To attend the Pacific Coast Bankers School and earn my MBA.

Favorite book: Unbroken by Louis Zamperini, “A heart-wrenching story that portrays the resilience of the human spirit.”

Hobbies: “Watching my children grow and experience everything for the first time.”

Erin Hawkins, 30

Community Outreach Project Manager, Petaluma Healthcare District, Petaluma

Ensuring that the health and wellness needs of the diverse communities are understood and addressed in Southern Sonoma County is the role of Erin Hawkins with the Petaluma Health Care District, an organization described as a model for the state.

She manages the Community Health Initiative of the Petaluma Area, bringing financial and technical resources to groups and individuals, as well as planning support to the HeartSafe Community Initiative, while also channeling grant and sponsorship funds to organizations and schools.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Successfully managing a community film screening and panel presentation on the importance of high quality early childhood education to help make universal preschool a reality in Sonoma County.

Greatest challenge: “Bringing the community together to identify our greatest health priorities and developing shared strategies to cope with them.”

Next professional goal: “To develop a data dashboard to track the impact of our local health initiative.”

Best advice received: Finish projects ahead of schedule when possible in order to meet career and family needs.

Favorite book: My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin.

Bahaneh Hobel, 39

Senior Alcohol Beverage Counsel, Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, Napa

“My practice is focused exclusively on all aspects of alcohol beverage laws and regulations,” according to Bahaneh Hobel. “This includes state and federal licensing for wineries, breweries, distilled spirits plants, importers, wholesalers and retailers such as hotels and restaurants.”

As owner of Hobel Wines, she combines insider knowledge of the industry with her legal expertise, while also providing clients with up-to-the-minute advice on complex alcohol beverage laws.

Greatest professional challenge: Being able to structure the successful Bottlerock Napa Valley Music Festival 2014 in full compliance with ABC rules, allowing the involvement of interested alcohol beverage sponsors, event concessionaires, promoters and nonprofit beneficiaries.

Community/nonprofit activities: She is a member of the Sonoma County Vintners, Napa Valley Vintners, the California State Bar, the Wine Institute Public Policy Committee, California ABC Department’s Licensing Work Group, the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and Women for Winesense.

Next professional goal: To become a partner at DP&F.

Hobbies: “Hobel Wines is our small family winery, which is less of a hobby and more of a second job, and also being with my husband and daughter Coco.”

Favorite movie: French Kiss.

Courtney Hurwitz, 38

Orthopedic Service Line Manager, St. Joseph Health, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa

Originally hired by St. Joseph Health as a Physical Therapist, Courtney Hurwitz soon became the Total Joint Replacement Patient Navigator. Her role later expanded as Orthopedic Service Line Manager responsible for the Center for Bone and Joint Health. She also oversees the Orthopedic Physician Management Group and the Spine Physician Management Group.

“I exemplify the spirit and character strengths of diligence and perseverance, critical thinking, teamwork and loyalty, enthusiasm and future mindedness of a Top 40 Under 40 professional,” she said.

Greatest achievement: “My leadership and project management skills in helping to establish the peripheral block program for post-surgery pain management for orthopedic patients.”

Next professional goal: To become St. Joseph Health’s Regional Orthopedic Service Line Director.

Mentor/admired businessperson: “My husband, Dr. John Hurwitz, internist and entrepreneur.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A radiologist. “I was always fracturing bones as a child and loved to go to the ER to get x-rays - this is how I ended up in orthopedics.”

Favorite book: Preschool Wise, “The only good instruction manual I’ve found for my three-year-old so far.”

Yasmin Kaderali, 37

CEO, Mommy’s Bliss, San Rafael

As founder and CEO of a rapidly expanding enterprise, Yasmin Kaderali oversees company strategy, innovation, sales, marketing, operations and team culture.

“I’m always game to learn, to find solutions, accept failure and be myself. Success is balancing all that and having a company grow beyond your expectations,” she said.

Greatest accomplishment: Getting one of the largest national retailers to carry Mommy’s Bliss products.

Best advice received: Hire people smarter than you are, and learn to be OK with doing things your OWN way.

Greatest challenge: Slowing down to discover strategic ideas that are worth the time, effort and distraction.

Single most important event in your professional life: “Taking our team on an overnight retreat to create a five-year innovation plan. Everyone walked away with smiles and motivation.”

Steps you are taking to sustain the business and morale: “We keep our priorities in check while maintaining a positive and dynamic team culture and developing more new products.”

Education: MPH and MBA degrees.

Community/nonprofit activities: “I spent a month in India last year with my mom volunteering at an orphanage.”

Jesse Katz, 31

Winemaker for Lancaster Estate, and Founder and Winemaker for Devil Proof Vineyards and Aperture Cellars, Healdsburg

Lancaster Estate is a full-time job for Jesse Katz, where he oversees all winemaking decisions from berry to bottle, as well as for Devil Proof and Aperture Cellars, a partnership with his photographer father, Andy Katz.

“I oversee the vineyard practices and winemaking decisions while dad handles marketing and sales, with his photographs gracing our bottles.”

Katz is dedicated to quality with a passion for conservation that allows him to continue developing fine wines while exploring innovations to improve sustainability in the vineyard and winery.

Best advice received: It’s always the destination (quality in the bottle after aging), never the speed.

Single most important event in your professional life: “Robert Parker’s and the Wine Spectator’s recognition of the highest rated (100%) Malbec in California’s history, made from a small lot of my first vintage of Devil Proof Malbec.”

Community and nonprofit activities: “Helping my dad with his book “Children of the Wilderness” which will support educational opportunities for children impacted by poverty. I’m also making a barrel of pinot noir for the 10th annual Pigs and Pinot Healdsburg event, with 100 percent of proceeds going to No Kid Hungry in Sonoma County.”

Gabe Kearney, 33

Safety Officer, Burning Man, Petaluma

Overseeing all safety aspects for one of the largest music festivals in the U.S., Gabe Kearney is also in charge of risk management for Burning Man, an event that makes Black Rock City the 6th largest population center in Nevada, bringing a $55 million boost to the area’s economy in just a few days.

Greatest challenge: Ensuring the safety of 75,000 people attending Burning Man.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A police officer. My grandfather was with SFPD and my mom graduated from the SFPD Academy, but chose to raise her family instead.

Greatest professional accomplishment: “I was honored to receive the Louis Peterka Award in 2010 for outstanding commitment to emergency management by the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department.”

Best Advice received: Stay true to yourself.

Next professional goal: Beginning to work with Coldwell Banker as a real estate agent.

Community and nonprofit activities: Councilmember, City of Petaluma; Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplain Service NorCal Deputy Field Operations Coordinator; Team Rubicon (disaster relief) Board Member, and Friends of the SRJC Petaluma Campus Trust.

Samuel Lee, 39

Inpatient Pharmacy Director, PharmD, Kaiser Permanente, Santa Rosa

Managing a safe medication process in a hospital with 173 licensed beds, along with an off site ambulatory surgery center, Samuel Lee also serves as co-chair of the medication safety committee at Kaiser Permanente.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Participating in the design of the new hospital pharmacy while meeting strict regulatory standards and passing all inspections in the fall of 2014.

Greatest challenge: Unexpectedly having to act as interim inpatient pharmacy director and learn on the job while opening a new hospital wing in 2010.

Community and nonprofit activities: He is a member of the local California Society of Health System Pharmacists and past president of the local chapter. “I’m also a volunteer Bible teacher for children at the Santa Rosa Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: “In kindergarten, I wanted to own a toy store. As I matured, I wanted to be an active member of the healthcare industry.”

First job: Assistant microbiology teacher at Pacific Union College.

Favorite after-work drink: Milk. “With two boys, that’s what I stock in the refrigerator.”

Molly Locke, 32

Senior Marketing Manager, Clover-Stornetta Farms, Inc. Petaluma

Directing all marketing output, from billboard campaigns to coupons and everything in between, is part of Molly Locke’s job description. She is also redefining the brand with a new initiative destined to change the face of Clover.

Exemplifying the spirit of a 40 Under 40 creative professional, She uses consumer insight and marketing know-how to grow Clover in new territories, while evolving customer relationships.

Greatest accomplishment: Saving Clo the Cow and her logo, after a 2,000-consumer research project measuring responses to different packages indicated those with Clo were associated with “high quality, good for children” and stood for “sustainable local farming.”

Best advice received: “Do the right thing or nothing at all,” and “Choices can define you or destroy you, but ultimately they strengthen you.”

Single most important event: “We’re launching a new line of ice cream with flavors called Happy Hour with Racer 5 IPA, Chocolate Nirvana with TCHO chocolate and Petaluma Pothole (Rocky Road). Other ideas are emerging around finding the “voice of Clo.”

Next professional goal: Becoming Director of Marketing, VP of Marketing, or CMO at Clover - you get the drift!

Erin Loy, 37

Chief Technology Officer, VinoPRO, Santa Rosa

Building software systems, large and small, in the most innovative way that he can, is Erin Loy’s passion. His role covers everything from IT support to custom designed applications.

“I’m hands-on at every level, and can jump around and dig in where needed,” he said.

Greatest professional achievement: Being a founding member of “We built the business from zero to tens of millions in revenue enabling me to bring many lessons from my experience at VinoPRO.”

Best advice received: “When problem solving, ‘doing nothing’ is always an option worth considering. I use this advice daily. It helps me stay focused on things that really matter.”

Single most important event: “We launched a client-facing website that offers a dashboard for tracking critical business metrics.”

Steps the company is taking to sustain the organization: Games and contests happen daily. Incentives include great local food and casual days when the company reaches important goals.

Education: “Some college and technical training, but mostly learning on the job with 20-ish years developing my library of skills.”

Hobbies: Computers, video games, family and kids - “Not necessarily in that order.”

Kathy Marlin, 37

Managing Director, Negociants USA, Napa

As leader of Negociant’s U.S. business unit, Kathy Marlin is responsible for developing a vision and strategic plan to guide the organization, while acting as spokesperson for the company.

She exemplifies the spirit of a 40 Under 40 professional by being a strong and recognized leader in a male-dominated industry where she strives to enhance opportunities for young women and teach them that the sky is the limit.

Best advice received: From her grandfather and one of Canada’s most respected businessmen - “Always keep smiling, and lean in.”

Education: BA in psychology and linguistics, TESL certified, and with marketing and executive business diplomas.

Mentors/admired businesspersons: Her grandfather, and her first wine industry mentor Rick Carl, as well as Jim Oliver, VP of D&E Glazers.

Community/nonprofit activities: “My father has Parkinson’s and I enjoy supporting people with this horrible disease as well as being a business mentor for young women and volunteering with my local tennis club.”

Favorite After-Work Drink: “I’m a glutton for bubbles” (Champagne).

Last vacation: In Dubai, “Seeing my twin niece and nephew in this amazing cultural wonder.”

Jared Milligan, 38

President, Pacific eDocument Solutions, LLC; Petaluma, and Mandinga Inc., dba Funk n Flash, Sebastopol

Embodying a unique blend of entrepreneurship, environmental stew-ardship and as a community leader creating sustainable jobs and products, Jared Milligan brings these skills to his role as CEO of firms offering web forms and paperless technology.

Greatest professional accomplishment: “Navigating and bouncing back from the poor economy and landing the largest contract in my career worth $240,000 in 2014. “

Greatest challenge: Running a mom- and-pop imaging company and competing with large corporate entities with deep pockets. “We’ve managed to grow the business while paying living- wages, benefits, offering a 401K plan and retaining clients.”

Steps taken to sustain the business: By providing personal and team development programs with Laurie Cameron of WAKE UP! Enterprises.

Best advice received: Listen to employees and they will tell you what the business needs.

Single most important event: The purchase of the Funk and Flash retail store in Sebastopol.

Hobbies: “I practice Capoeira, a Brazilian Martial Art, and also play drums in a local rock band, grow a garden and enjoy yard work.”

Favorite book: The Power of Now.

Brian Noble, 38

Owner, Law Office of Brian A. Noble, Santa Rosa

When you are a sole practitioner like Brian Noble, your responsibilities can be summed up in one word - EVERYTHING! By owning his own business and continually volunteering in the community, he exemplifies the entrepreneurial and civic mindedness of an under 40 professional.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Leaving a larger law firm in 2009 during the economic downturn when many clients had significant legal issues, but were in precarious financial situations.

Greatest challenge: “Dealing with uncertainty when running your own business. The legal profession is often a feast or famine proposition, so managing your time is a constant challenge.”?Best advice received: Spend five-to-10 years in “the show” (Los Angeles) to hone your skills before coming back to Santa Rosa, from a partner in a local firm during a job interview.

Community/nonprofit activities: Serving as a Judge Pro Tem for the Sonoma County Superior Court; a volunteer mediator for the county’s no-fee mediation panel; a Sonoma County Children’s Museum board member; an Active 20-30 Club officer; and member of the LSR Class #25.

Last vacation: “Just my wife and I in Vegas.”

Jeff Okrepkie, 35

Commercial Lines and Bonds Producer, George Petersen Insurance Agency, Santa Rosa

Gaining new clients, differentiating himself by analyzing their needs and giving the best insurance coverage at the fairest price is what drives Jeff Okrepkie, as he also places client bonding needs in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Greatest professional challenge: Starting from scratch by getting a part-time job and moving up the ladder at George Petersen.

Best advice received: If you have time to whine and complain, you have time to do something about it.

Next professional goal: “To grow my book of business to be the largest in the company.”

Mentor/admired businessperson: “My dad. He and I work in the same industry and company and I am learning from his experience. He came here from upstate New York with two kids and a pregnant wife and is now the two-term Mayor of Windsor. He showed me the value of hard and diligent work and the importance of giving back to the community where you live”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: An Army man.

Favorite book: Band of Brothers.

Favorite movie: A Few Good Men.

Deanna Partridge, 36

Partner, Allen Wine Group LLP, Santa Rosa

As a contract controller responsible for the accounting departments of seven companies, Deanna Partridge has to build relationships with owners, bankers, investors, tasting room personnel, winemaking teams and many others.

“I do my best to lead by example while being kind and considerate of those around me,” she said.

Greatest challenge: “Becoming a working mother and wading through the challenges of being a great mom and still maintaining my success - knowing that my hardest critic is myself.”

Single most important event: Living a dream experience as a guest speaker for an SSU auditing class and sharing my experiences. “I was full of nerves and fear, but apparently they learned something from me that day.”

Next professional goal: “I would love to obtain a part-time teaching position in the accounting department at SSU or SRJC.”

Community and nonprofit activities: Serving as treasurer for her daughter’s school PTA; volunteering in the classroom, and “Assisting my partner with his SSU business mentee while helping accounting students network.”

Mentor/admired persons: “Mom and dad taught me that hard work pays off, so stay the course and have fun while you’re doing it.”

Rae Paulson, 37

Senior Manager, Moss Adams LLP, Santa Rosa

Working in the business assurance audit department with wine and food industry clients also gives Rae Paulson a chance to be involved in on-campus recruiting, training, development and mentoring staff.

“I also lead our Moss Adams Charitable Donations and Pilar Committees and am a member of our office’s People Cornerstone and Innovations Committees,” she said.

Single most important recent event: “Results of our annual employee engagement survey were excellent with 90% participation and a 100% favorable response to the question I Am Proud to Work for Moss Adams, and a 95% favorable response to the company Being a Great Place to Work and a firm where I would refer a friend or family member.”

Next professional goal: Making partner.

Community and nonprofit activities: “Participating in Moss Adams’ Helping Hands Days where we volunteer a day of our time at various charitable organizations in Sonoma County and volunteering at the food bank and elsewhere.”

Last vacations: “Golfing in Cabo San Lucas and spending time at a Truckee cabin we have which is home away from home for my boyfriend and our dogs.”

Dan Rotlisberger, 31

Viticulturist, Redwood Empire Vineyard Management, Inc., Geyserville

Maintaining high quality vineyard sites for his company’s 1,000+acres of vineyard land under management on the California North Coast is only part of Dan Rothlisberger’s job that also includes being responsible for vine nutrition, irrigation, pest and disease control and winery/client relations.

“In my spare time I am a Sonoma County Winegrape Commissioner and chair the organization’s first-ever sustainability committee.”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Completing his MBA while still holding a full time job and meeting family obligations.

Greatest challenge: Recruiting and retaining the RIGHT people.

Next professional goal: “I would like to operate a small wine brand based on my family’s 100 years of agriculture experience in Sonoma County.”

Best advice received: Always be filling your toolbox, from Dr. Robert Wample, retired chair of CSUF’s Department of Viticulture and Enology.

Mentor/admired person: “My grand-parents raised me on a Sonoma County farm. Granddad instilled a hard working attitude in me at an early age.”

Hobbies: “I love the outdoors, fishing, kayaking, wood fire cooking, baseball, piloting drones, gardening and hockey.”

Favorite after-work drink: “It has to be Sonoma County Wine.”

Tony Sarno, 38

Director, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., ?San Rafael

When handling commercial real estate, reviewing leasing renewal documents or assessing the financial impact of buying or selling a building, Tony Sarno knows you have to cover all facets of a client’s needs with professionalism and knowledge.

His greatest accomplishment was brokering the sale of 1179 North McDowell to the Petaluma Health Center. Based on his relationship with the owner, he structured a sale that worked for all parties that led to PHC becoming a model health care facility.

Greatest professional challenge: Managing client expectations to appropriately match economic conditions.

Best advice received: Don’t be afraid to say “NO.”

Single most important event: “My team recently represented the seller of an 11 building, 500,000 s.f., real estate portfolio making this one of the largest commercial real estate transactions in Petaluma.”

Next professional goal: To continue to grow existing relationships and to cultivate new ones.

Community/nonprofit activities: He is the current president of the board of the Petaluma Health Center, immediate past president of the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce Board, and coach of the Boys and Girls Club kindergarten basketball team.

Hobbies: Spending time with his wife, 6-year-old twins and a 4-year-old.

Jessica Schieberl, 28

Senior Center & Aquatics Manager, City of Rohnert Park

With “Service Above Self” as her motto, Jessica Schiebert organizes, supervises, directs and coordinates a major segment of community programs for the City of Rohnert Park, along with managing the city’s Senior Center, Aquatics and Sports Center.

Her greatest accomplishment was being elected President of the Rohnert Park-Cotati Rotary Club in 2012 and again in 2014.

Greatest challenge: Thinking outside the box may not always be the best course. “So I try to learn from others before me what has worked and has been successful.”

Best advice received: “Make it a great day,” from Rotarian and Realtor Pat Miller.

Single most important event: Being asked by our department director to step up as Interim Supervisor for six months.

Steps your organization is taking to sustain itself: Investing in employees by providing training opportunities and including front-line staff in the strategic planning process.

Education: She is currently taking classes to complete a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Strategic Management at SFSU.

Last vacation: “Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. My boyfriend and I went there last October and he proposed to me on Main Street in front of the giant Mickey Mouse pumpkin - it was the best vacation ever!”

Steve Shira, 36

Business Development Officer, Exchange Bank, Santa Rosa

As a business development officer, Steve Shira provides real estate loans for purchasing and refinancing commercial properties as well as equipment loans using lines of credit and conventional and SBA financing.

Volunteering where he can do the most good, and contributing the most input and value, is his philosophy of leadership. He donates over 100 hours a year as a volunteer.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Earning MVP honors from his classmates at the Hartford School of Insurance.

Greatest challenge: Helping business owners and underwriters work toward a common goal.

Best advice received: If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.

Single most important event: Being the chair of the 4th of July fireworks committee at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and earning the Press Democrat’s Reader’s Choice 2014 award for Best Fireworks Show.

Next professional goal: Developing a mobile phone application to wirelessly charge cell phones using cutting edge technology not in mainstream use as yet.

Mentor/admired persons: “My father Wayne and brother Tony, both very successful and driven individuals.”

Last vacation: “Celebrating our wedding anniversary in a romantic cottage overlooking Drakes Bay.”

Dante Tolbert, 32

Assistant Vice President, Operations, NorthBay Healthcare, Fairfield

Providing executive oversight of key ancillary and operational service functions at two NorthBay Healthcare hospitals is just part of Dante Tolbert’s job description.

Developing and deploying a unique nursing model that increased patient safety and organizational throughput is his greatest professional accomplishment.

“Like most other leaders from my generation, my work is related to my mission in life. I am driven to have the largest possible impact I can have on humanity through dedication to providing quality healthcare and by improving accessibility for all,” he said.

Greatest challenge: Changing from a role as leader of a function to leadership at the peak of an organization.

Best advice received: Don’t put your wishbone where your backbone should be.

What steps is your company taking to sustain the organization and morale: NorthBay invests deeply in employee education and training, while also encouraging and promoting employees to be involved in community and civic organizations in Sonoma County.

Next professional goal: To become president of a hospital.

Community and nonprofit activities: Active in Leadership Today, 100 Black Men.

Favorite book: From Superman to Man by J.A. Rogers.

Allison Tussey, 37

Attorney, Smith Dollar PC; and Manager, Tussey Investments, Santa Rosa

Being an associate attorney with Smith Dollar PC, means that Allison Tussey is responsible for litigation and transactional work, while taking on a new role of assisting attorneys with marketing.

She also is actively involved at Tussey Investments overseeing ranch operations, stable management and horseback riding lessons.

Greatest professional accomplishment: “During the economic downturn, I decided to diversify my legal career by opening an equine retirement boarding facility. Within one year my ranch reached capacity with blissful horses living out their years on tranquil acreage rather than in 12-by-12 foot stalls.”

Best advice received: The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Community and nonprofit activities: “I offer free horseback riding lessons to children and at risk youth, and donate legal services to budding entrepreneurs assisting them with entity organization.”

What you wanted to be when you grew up: Either a horse trainer or a lawyer.

Favorite book: The Master Key System by Charles Haanel.

Hobbies: Show jumping, boating and spending time with friends and family.

Favorite after-work drink: Called Arnold Palmer.

Matthew Veal, 39

Vice President and Senior Investment Management Consultant, Graystone Consulting, Morgan Stanley, Santa Rosa

As head of Graystone Consulting’s client wealth management practice, Matthew Veal works with multigenerational families to help them with complex financial planning issues.

He exemplifies the spirit of an under 40 professional by honoring his mother’s perseverance.

“My father died when I was three, so my focus on education and my career is a tribute to her dedication to seeing me succeed.”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Becoming a partner at Graystone and managing the teams private client business overseeing more than $400 million in assets.

Greatest challenge: “Breaking out of my introverted nature in an industry dominated by extroverts.”

Next professional goal: “To continue growing our team in a smarter, more efficient manner, as I begin to groom my successor - I don’t want to become an irreplaceable cog in the operation.”

First job: Working at his family’s business - Johnson’s Oyster Farm.

Community and nonprofit activities: He is the former chair of Sutter Santa Rosa’s community advisory board, and also served on the board of USF’s North Bay chapter.

Last vacation: New Zealand. “Where my girls got to see penguins, mini-dolphins, kiwi birds, and Hobbiton - we’re big Tolkien fans.”

Daniel Vermillion, 34

Senior Associate, Farella Braun + Martel LLP, St. Helena

Drafting estate plans for clients who wish to transfer assets efficiently and effectively as they look to the future is how Daniel Vermillion fulfills his personal challenge of always looking for ways to help those in need.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Teaching an estate-drafting course at his alma mater, UC Hastings.

Single most important event in your professional life: Moving to his current firm in bucolic St. Helena.

Best advice received: Don’t get tunnel vision - see the bigger picture.

Steps your company is taking to sustain your organization and improve morale: Making sure that this is a place where people want to come to work. “We have an upcoming ski trip offering a great opportunity to socialize with other attorneys and meet their families.”

Next professional goal: Expanding his network in the Napa Valley.

Education: LLM from New York University; JD from UC Hastings, and a BA from UC Santa Barbara.

Mentor/admired businessperson: Phil Feldman at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy and Bass LLP.

First job: Selling shirts at Haight-Ashbury T-Shirts.

Favorite book: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.

Favorite movie: The Big Lebowski.

Seth Wood, 30

Founding Partner/Brewmaster, Woodfour Brewing Company, Sebastopol

As founder, acting CEO and brewmaster, Seth Wood’s scope of responsibilities is all encompassing.

“I can’t do everything, so I make sure I have a solid team around me so I can focus on the big picture - vision, growth strategies and brewing delicious beer!”

He says he doesn’t exemplify anything, but tends to be very curious about a lot of things.

“I try to create a culture supporting and curiosity. We want people to get excited about beer. Curiosity helps push the beer culture forward to sustain what we do.”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Starting the company and celebrating its first year in business last August.

Greatest challenge: Living up to his expectations every day.

Best advice received: Go hard!

Community and nonprofit activities: “We receive 15 requests a week and donate to a dizzying number of nonprofits. As a small firm, it’s hard to honor each request, but we try to connect with as many as possible.”

Mentor/admired businessperson: ”My partner Olav Strawe and my parents have been ongoing sources of inspiration.”

Favorite after-work drink: Woodfour Sour Farmhouse Ale.

Last vacation: I can’t remember…

Craig Worthen, 31

Chief Financial Officer, Interior Incorporated, Santa Rosa

While handling the company’s accounting and human resources departments, Craig Worthen also works with the owner to develop long-term financial planning strategy.

“I do my best to show leadership in my work and community with the goal to affect positive change.”

Greatest professional accomplishment: Developing a new product line for educational clients.

Best advice received: Never be afraid to fail. The best baseball players fail seven out of 10 times at bat.

Single most important event: Working with Rodney Strong to complete the redesign of their offices.

Steps your company is taking to sustain the organization: “We’re constantly re-evaluating our practices and results, while taking time to celebrate our achievements - big or small. It’s more important to recognize success and achievements in hard times.”

Next professional goal: Researching new ways current companies are working and operating, and finding products that fit their requirements and budgets.

Community and nonprofit activities: He is a member of the Active 20-30 Club #50; as a leader of the Santa Rosa Chamber finance committee; and serves with the Sonoma County Alliance’s Education Committee.

Mentor/admired businessperson: My father, Steve Worthen.

Favorite movie: A Good Year.

Katie Fonsen Young, 31

Interim Fair Manager, Sonoma County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa

Supervising 26 permanent and 600 temporary employees, while administering a $9 million budget and handling over 300 events annually, is just on page one of Katie Fonsen Young’s job description.

Her to-do list includes new business development, managing the RV park, overseeing capital improvements, purchasing, and upgrades for a 160-acre facility, securing block grants and managing the vendor program for the Sonoma County Fair.

Greatest professional accomplishment: “Country Summer,” a three-day country music festival welcoming over 10,000 people each day, and transitioning our brand from “Fairgrounds” to the “Sonoma County Event Center”.

Greatest challenge: Managing the fair’s 14,000 community exhibits, 27,000-square-foot floral show, and a million dollar junior livestock auction, to name a few.

Next professional goal: Raising $1.9 million for the Saralee and Richard’s Barn project, a multi-purpose agricultural education center. “Over $900,000 has been raised so far. We want to break ground in 2015 and complete the project by 2016.”

Community and nonprofit activities: She is a board member of the Santa Rosa Convention & Visitor’s Bureau; SRJC’s Ag Trust; the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Fair Foundation.

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