The Springfield Business Journal proudly features 40 leaders who are under the age of 40 in the Springfield and neighboring business communities. These individuals are selected based on their contributions to our local business community and the community in which they reside.They represent, in part, the future of business in our community and in central Illinois.

The selectees’ career paths, educational background, and community affiliations are varied. They represent the best and brightest from a wide range of occupations. You can expect to hear more from and about these leaders in the years ahead. The program is able to continue due to the commitment of local businesses that realize the importance of acknowledging these up and coming business leaders and supporting community business programs.

Visit to view selectees from previous years.

Raychel Yokem

Age: 34

Occupation:  Human resource business partner at Horace Mann

Education: Master’s degree in human resource management

Family:  Fiancé Richard McBride and daughter Raya Johnson

Affiliations/Community Activities: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois board member, Illinois Women in Leadership board member, Springfield Building Board Diversity task force committee chairperson, Leadership Springfield, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority – Kappa Sigma Zeta chapter member, Toastmasters, Society for Human Resource Management, Abundant Faith dance ministry leader, United Way and Illinois State Alumni volunteer.

What’s your guiding principle in life? To always remember that I didn’t get here alone. It is because of my family, mentors, friends and faith that I have been able to live out my passion and purpose daily. I know that many people before me have opened doors that have allowed me to do the work that needs to be done. Keeping that in the front of my mind allows me to remain grateful and humbled by every opportunity.

Why did you choose you current career? Much of human resources is bound by policy and law; however, there is a part that is flexible and built by the culture in which it resides. It is in that space that I have the opportunity to explode with creativity and innovation. It allows me to mix my passions around diversity, equity and inclusion with workplace culture.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That we will build a community where everyone will want to raise a child – a community that values differences and creates opportunities for all of its residents.


Brian Wojcicki

Age: 36

Occupation: Chief executive officer of Illinois Capitol Group

Education: Chicago-Kent College of law

Family: I have immediate family in the area including my parents and sister, who is married with two boys (the oldest of which is my godson) as well as an aunt and uncle, along with two cousins, who are both married.

Affiliations/Community Activities: Downtown Springfield, Inc. executive board member, The Outlet board member, member of Springfield Jaycees, and volunteer for the various downtown festivals

What’s your guiding principle in life? Don’t complain if you haven’t given it your best.

Why did you choose your current career? As an attorney and lobbyist, I’m often able to conveniently combine legal work with government relations, which helps with my professional sanity. It also provides a variety of opportunities to help businesses and associations in the community.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope Springfield has a sustainable future that balances homegrown and recruited talent.


Bryan Tippy

Age: 39

Occupation: Federal grant compliance monitor, U.S. Department of Commerce

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Family: Partner Kelly and stepdaughters Haley, Kaytlynd, Lorena and Joshlynn

Affiliations/Community Activities:  Big Brothers Big Sisters, Illinois Senior Olympics, Springfield Ball Charter School board, Legacy of Giving Music Festival, Springfield Oyster and Beer Festival, Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault

What’s your guiding principle in life? Try your best to leave the world a better place than how it was when you came into it.

Why did you choose your current career? After a successful stint in the local brewing and hospitality sector – which is a very fun industry – I sought a more professional role with Clark Kent-like hours to allow time to focus on extracurricular activities.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope that we embrace necessary changes for a brighter future, including changing the “old guard status quo” in a way that benefits all of Springfield; that downtown Springfield becomes a hip, active and vibrant place again that has regular traffic of all sorts during more than just daytime business hours; that Springfield embraces technological trends in both businesses and educational offerings in order to beat the curve in the economy of the future; and that Springfieldians understand and embrace the incredible power and benefits of keeping their activities and dollars going towards local businesses.


Jennifer Sylvia

Age: 38

Occupation: Financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial

Email: [email protected]

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation, College for Financial Planning

Family: Husband John and children Leeora, Charlie and Zoey

Affiliations/Community Activities: King’s Daughters Organization, Catholic Charities, Christ the King Church and School, Philanthropic Educational Organization Chapter MI, Illinois Women in Leadership, Women Entrepreneurs in Central Illinois

What’s your guiding principle in life?  Strive to do the right thing in each choice I make for the good of all, not just myself, and to lead and teach my children by example.  Finding a balance between family, work and community can be a challenge, so I try to include my family where I can when volunteering in the community or through work events.

Why did you choose your current career?  I love people, numbers and helping people.  Financial planning is a perfect marriage of all three.  I have to think quickly and look for solutions outside of the box, keeping me engaged and challenged.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I have been in Springfield just over 10 years and have fallen in love with the big, little town.  I hope this vision continues while adding additional opportunities for big and small businesses and continuing to focus on our children and their education opportunities.


McKenzie Smith

Age: 38 years old

Occupation: National child welfare consultant; program manager for Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System at DCFS

Education: Master’s degree in social work

Family: Significant other Jake Lohrenz, daughter Irie Lohrenz and son Nash Lohrenz

Affiliations/Community Activities:  Big Brother Big Sister of Central Illinois board member, Ronald McDonald House, Contact Ministries, Helping Hands, Family Service Center, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Women in Leadership, Friends of Chatham, Hope Church, Storm Fastpitch 08, Chatham Blaze, SBSA White Sox, National Association of Professional Women, National Association of Social Workers

What’s your guiding principle in life? Being brave is not the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.

Why did you choose your current career? I was blessed with two loving and supportive parents who did everything in their power to make sure I felt love, support and consistency. They put me and my sister first in order to afford us opportunities to maximize our God-given potential. I want the same experience for every child born into this world.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? My greatest hope for Springfield is that it continues to develop into a more community-minded city – more sidewalks, more walking paths, more communal areas, development of downtown areas, farm-to-table dining, local musician opportunities, increased diversity, etc.  “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”


Sierra Senor-Moore

Age: 33

Occupation: Attorney, currently the chief investigator for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Children and Family Services

Education: Juris Doctorate

Family: Husband Patrick Moore Sr., son Patrick Jr. and a baby due in October

Affiliations/Community Activities: Springfield Park District trustee, Sangamon County Juvenile Justice Council member, American Bar Association member

What’s your guiding principle in life? “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Why did you choose your current career? I decided to go back to law school because I believe everyone is entitled to justice and equitable opportunities. I wanted to assist members of my community in obtaining those equitable opportunities.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? My hope is for Springfield to continue to grow and provide its residents with excellent educational, cultural and entertainment experiences in a safe and nurturing community.


Kara Rapacz

Age: 39

Occupation: Principal at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School

Education: Master of Arts in educational leadership

Family: Husband Chris and children, Joseph, Emily and Wyatt

Affiliations/Community Activities: Associate for the Springfield Dominican Sisters, member of Christ the King Parish, member of the Illinois Principal’s Association, participant in Illinois Women in Leadership

What’s your guiding principal in life? This is all God’s plan and it is our responsibility to surrender and listen to his message.  Working with high school age students has given me the unique opportunity to share this message so that they can learn the lesson at a much earlier age than I did.  True success and happiness occurs when these connections are made.

Why did you choose your current career? With the help of my extraordinary high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Karen Hoffek, I identified at a fairly early age that I wanted to go into the field of education. It was a tremendously rewarding career choice and I honestly had no intention of moving into administration.  On the advice of a very wise mentor, I chose to explore the idea of high school administration as a career shift, and now I cannot imagine doing anything else. It is by far one of the most challenging, but at the same time, rewarding experiences of my entire life.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? My greatest hope for Springfield is that we can foster a love for our community so that our young people can be proud of where they came from, and in turn, choose to start their own careers and families here in Springfield.


Katie Patsche

Age: 37

Occupation: Vice president of collections/COO-elect at Heartland Credit Union

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration with a focus in marketing and human resources from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville

Family: Spouse Mike, children Mikey and Rylee, parents Charlie and Carol Hayes, siblings Lori Sabo (husband Tom) and Jess Hayes (wife Heather)

Affiliations/Community Activities: United Way of Central Illinois financial stability vision council member, Illinois Credit Union League Sangamon Valley Chapter chair, Central Illinois Fraud Group member, volunteering at several local charities including United Way Day of Action, Memorial’s Festival of Trees and Habitat for Humanity.

What’s your guiding principle in life? Hard work, honesty and integrity will always pay off in the end. Kindness matters! You never know what someone else is going through.

Why did you choose your current career? I love being able to work for a local organization that serves and gives back to the community where I live and raise my family. I truly enjoy working with the membership and with my co-workers at HCU.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope that young professionals choose Springfield as a place to start their career. I have loved growing up in the Springfield area and moved back to this area after college to start my career and family. Springfield is the perfect mix of city life while still having the small community atmosphere.


Marcus Passoni

Age: 37

Occupation: Owner/operator and dealer principal at Sports and Imports Affordable Car Care

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Family: Wife Jacquelyn Passoni and two fur babies, Macy and Ava

Affiliations/Community Activities: St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Fight for Air Climb, Wet Nose Wednesday on 99.7 the Mix, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Dancing With the Stars, local youth baseball, Relay for Life, Children’s Miracle Network, Powerlight Fest, Abraham Lincoln Car Show sponsor, Friends of Sangamon County Animal Control, developer of Passoni Park

What is your guiding principal in life? I want to be everyone’s friend, whether it is showing a young car buyer how to change a tire, attending a local community event or just being available for anyone who needs my assistance. My goal is to be a giver, not a taker.

Why did you choose your career? I felt the car industry needed an alternative to the stereotypical car salesperson.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope that Springfield can remain a place where honesty, integrity and hard work can help entrepreneurs flourish in small businesses.


Adam Nicholson

Age: 38

Occupation: Executive director of Sala Creative Association, sole proprietor of Nicholson Communication, editor and contributing writer for Springfield’s Own Magazine

Email: [email protected]

Education: Master of Arts in english

Family: Mother Marcia Langsjoen, brother Graham Nicholson and father Henry Nicholson

Affiliations/Community Activities: Sala Creative Association, Sangamon Aikikai, Springfield’s Own Magazine, The Studio, Lincoln Land Community College, The Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space, Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program, Springfield Art Association, Springfield Poets and Writers, The Springfield Renaissance, Twelve Winters Press, University of Illinois Springfield

What’s your guiding principle in life? Your passive qualities define you much less than your effect on the world around you. Health, strength, wealth, influence, beauty, intelligence—what have you—are assets to be valued and nurtured but, more importantly, should be applied to some purpose.

Why did you choose your current career? Rather than a career, per se, I have tended toward several, often concurrent, short- and long-term pursuits. But the projects that captivate me, from independent art to mass communication, bring critical analysis and creative problem-solving to bear on issues of meaning-making and the various codes we use to make ourselves understood.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? Springfield is raw material and potential energy; well-poised geographically and politically, and rich in creative and entrepreneurial talent. Oakland didn’t produce Andre Iguodala. Los Angeles didn’t produce Brendon Small. Minneapolis … arguably produced Morris Day, but look, he was at least born here. We won’t be a global city any time soon but could and should be a GaWC gamma city or better within the decade – really, should have been by now. I believe the key is not in governance or community organization but rather in the aggregate of individual action. My hope is that talented locals will aspire not merely to meet or exceed some perceived benchmark but to be and do the best they can, here at home. Whatever you find yourself wishing existed in Springfield, make it happen. Be the change you want to see in your city.


Natalie Nale

Age: 31

Occupation: Operations manager - Springfield and interim practice manager of Gastroenterology, General Surgery/Trauma & Children’s Surgical Services at HSHS Medical Group

Education: Master of Arts in health care administration

Family: Children Bradyn and Tess, and my biggest supporter/significant other, Joey and his two children, Brynn and Colin.

Affiliations/Community Activities: Army National Guard, Medical Operations and Planning with the U.S. Army Reserve at Scott AFB, Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Chatham Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Miracle Network volunteer, mental health advocate and Hope Learning Academy supporter

What’s your guiding principle in life? Be at the right place at the right time in the right uniform. Live a routine. Be two steps ahead, always.

Why did you choose your current career? I consistently announced the intention to be a brain and heart surgeon as a child. After joining the Army, life took me down many roads, but medical school was not one of them, although I never strayed from the avenue of health care in my military or civilian careers. With the help of many good and bad leaders, I found satisfaction in conducting health care operations, planning and strategizing. Like oil cannot run without a rig, practitioners cannot practice without health care administration, which is what I do now in my military and civilian careers.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? The same hope I have for the world – that adult men and women pursue dreams that will set our children up for success. It is important to me that we create an inclusive community so children in our communities can have an individualized avenue to approach success. I hope Springfield can achieve additional resources to support individual children’s needs to succeed both physically and mentally.


Brian Matthew Moore

Age: 35

Occupation: Optometrist, Prairie Eye Center

Education: Doctor of Optometry, Indiana University

Family: Wife Chelsey, and daughter Elise

Affiliations/Community Activities: Chatham Jaycees past president and management vice president, American and Illinois Optometric Association, Midstate Optometric Society

What’s your guiding principle in life? I seem to constantly be adding to my list of guiding principles. I annoy my wife with inspirational quotes every time I read a book or listen to a new podcast. One of my all-time favorites is: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a bit know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why did you choose your current career? I think most of us choose a career because we want to make a difference in the lives of others. I needed vision correction from a young age and always enjoyed going to the optometrist more than the dentist or primary care physician. This positive experience from a young age, coupled with the ability to help people by diagnosing and treating their ocular diseases, made optometry a natural choice.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? As a parent of a young child I hope most for a chance to make Springfield a place my daughter is one day proud to call home.


Corrin McWhirter

Age: 37

Occupation: Gallery director, Springfield Art Association

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Family: Husband, Christian McWhirter and son, Dylan McWhirter

Affiliations/Community Activities: Downtown Springfield Inc. Image and Design Council, Hoogland Center for the Arts resident building board member, Lincoln Memorial Gardens land art support, Ball Elementary School volunteer, artist and curator

What’s your guiding principle in life? Support each other because “it’s chaos, be kind.”

Why did you choose your current career? I believe that art has the power to communicate across barriers and lift a community. Supporting and facilitating visual art in Springfield has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I look forward to seeing Springfield continue to progress as a city, but it should remain open to change. Springfield is full of amazing, innovative, talented people who are passionate about the community. We need to let them shine.


Megan Luckey

Age: 37

Occupation: Sign language interpreter and co-owner of Serious Lip Balm

Education: Bachelor of Arts

Family: Parents, Dan and Vanessa Luckey and son, Gabriel

Affiliations/Community Activities: Innovate Springfield, Local First Springfield, Illinois Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

What’s your guiding principle in life? Leave it a little better than you found it.

Why did you choose your current career? I became fascinated with American Sign Language as a kid and knew I wanted to be part of bridging the gap in communication between hearing and deaf people. As far as the business is concerned, I did not set out to start a small business, but I have always wanted to make things better for those around me. Serious Lip Balm is the way the universe made sure I was able to do that

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That its citizens embrace and embellish on its small town sensibilities. The greatest part of Springfield is how its size lends you the ability to get involved in many things. In the world you may experience seven degrees of separation, but in Springfield, you have two to three degrees at the most. Also, if you search hard enough, you are bound to figure out that that person is actually a cousin or former co-worker. If we all joined forces and improved our already existing connections, this place can, and will, become even more amazing.


David Lee

Age: 29

Occupation: Sales account manager, Stryker

Education: BA in finance, marketing and management, Augustana College

Family: Wife, Amanda; parents Stephen and the late Shirley Lee; stepmother Martha Lee and sisters Stephanie Solomon (husband Adam) and Jennifer Jansen (husband Pete)

Affiliations/Community Activities: Downtown Springfield Inc. volunteer and member, DSI Economic Vitality subcommittee chairman, Momentum on Main Street (DSI) chairman, Hope Church, Innovate Springfield member, Elks Lodge #158 member

What’s your guiding principle in life? I regularly picture myself sitting on a rocking chair on my front porch when I’m at the end of my life. I think about how I would look back on my life. I know life is short and nothing is guaranteed. I don’t want to look back on life with regrets, at least ones I didn’t learn from. Because of this, I am constantly looking to improve and live in the moment, while also striving for a better future.

Why did you choose your current career? I love being in the medical sales field because our products truly make a difference in patients’ lives. Our mission at Stryker is “Together with our customers, we make health care better.” I have heard real-life stories about people that have been greatly impacted by our products, even lives saved by their uses. It is fun to sell something that has such a positive impact on the quality of health care in a community.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? This is a personal passion of mine. I went to college not expecting to move back. When I returned for a job opportunity at the age of 25, my pride for my hometown only grew. Being away really opened my eyes to all the amazing things about our community. I think some people have allowed various outside circumstances to distort their vision of our city, and that makes me sad. I want to love where I live, and I want the same thing for others. Let’s embrace the strengths and positives of our city. This doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to the challenges, although many of the challenges are not unique to this place. I ultimately want Springfield to be its best self, and I think that we have exciting things happening here. I’d love to see a lively, vibrant downtown that is the entertainment, social, and economic hub of the entire central Illinois region. I enjoy the small-town friendliness and connections, as well as the urban feel of a capital city. I think this is a great place to live, work and enjoy life. However, that needs to be continuously improved upon if we are to attract and retain residents to our city. Here’s to hoping we can all take action and do our part to move our city forward.


Tamar Kutz

Age:  37

Occupation:  System administrator for Home Services and Post-Acute Care, Memorial Health System

Education: Master’s degree, business administration

Family:  Husband, Todd Kutz, and children, Regan and Reed

Affiliations/Community Activities:  Member of FACHE, school board member, District 27, Lincoln Elementary School District

What’s your guiding principle in life?  “Everything happens for a reason.”

Why did you choose your current career?  I chose to go into health care as it is a fast-paced and ever-changing environment that provides the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield?  To be a more connected and caring community that values and respects others.



Paul Kmett

Age: 38

Occupation: Deputy general counsel at the Illinois Capital Development Board

Education: Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago

Family: Wife Leslie, children Nola and Edison

Affiliations/Community Activities: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois (golf classic committee), Downtown Springfield Inc. (Adopt-A-Street), Friend-In-Deed, Sangamon County Bar Association, Government Bar Association

What’s your guiding principle in life? Give. The secret to living a full life is to give back to your community. Donate money to your favorite charity, volunteer at an animal shelter, pick up garbage downtown, play golf in a charity outing, purchase a raffle ticket from a charitable organization, run in a charitable 5k event – just do something and I guarantee you will feel a greater sense of fulfillment in your life.

Why did you choose your current career? I have always been a huge proponent of public service. During my time as an engineer and now as an attorney, working for the government provides me the opportunity to see firsthand the impact my work has on the citizens of Illinois. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to combine my love for both engineering and the law at my current job with the Capital Development Board.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I would like to see downtown Springfield continue to thrive with its amazing restaurants, bars, breweries, shops and summer festivals. I also hope something amazing happens with the vacant Y block.


Darlene A. Kmett

Age: 38

Occupation: Senior vice president retail – regional manager, United Community Bank

Education: B.A. speech communication, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Family: Husband Robert Kmett

Affiliations/Community Activities: Illinois Women in Leadership board member, Illinois Women in Leadership Athena chair

What’s your guiding principle in life? Dream big, work hard and surround yourself with good people!

Why did you choose your current career? It actually started as a part-time job when I was in college. Looking back over the 20 years I have been in banking, I continued to choose it because of my customers. I enjoy being able to help people in my community. They are my neighbors, people I went to school with, kids who play sports with my nieces and nephews and friends. That is what makes it great, being able to help the people I care about in a community I love.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? One of my hopes for Springfield is the continued growth of local and family-owned businesses. I would also like to see all parts of Springfield develop and grow into a place where families will continue to want to build their lives.


Kristi Jones

Age: 37

Occupation: Management consultant at Kerber, Eck & Braeckel

Education: Masters in public administration, University of Illinois Springfield

Family: Husband Brian and children Hannah and Sydney

Affiliations/Community Activities: Hope Ambassador, Catholic Charities advisory board, Christ the King Parish discipleship and stewardship council, Illinois Agri-Women, Illinois Farm Bureau Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow, Girls on the Run of Central Illinois, former board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capitol Region

What’s your guiding principle in life? Kindness inspires kindness.

Why did you choose your current career?  Consulting provides the opportunity to use your experiences and skill-set to help others. When an organization is working through an issue, it is difficult for them to look at the big picture because they are so involved. As a consultant, you are able to offer a new lens for clients to see through and ultimately create effective processes.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? My greatest hope for Springfield is that it continues to adapt, but always remains a big “small town” with Midwest values.


Sonja Hilson

Age: 35

Email: [email protected]

Occupation: Lead consultant and president, Htrav Consulting, adjudicator at Illinois Department of Employment Security and a community psychologist

Education: Ph.D

Family:  Husband Alonzo Travis III, son Jay, daughters Vinny and Kael, stepson AJ and stepdaughters Alonah, Kaylynn and Kayla

Affiliations/Community Activities: Racial Justice Action Group, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Black Student Union, Notarized Inc.

What’s your guiding principle in life? “We must be the change we want to create.”

Why did you choose your current career? Since I was a young girl, I’ve proactively sought out ways to create equity, cure deficiencies and create positive pathways for growth to elicit holistic societal change. My role as a public servant for state government allows me to positivity impact our home communities. My role as a consultant seeks to help small businesses manifest and become sustainable, thereby growing the state economy and creating opportunities. As a community psychologist, I collaboratively seek to find solutions to social injustices.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? It is my hope that Springfield seeks to be the pillar of diversity, economic stability, transparency, opportunity and equity for not only its residents, but for the entire state.


Staunzie Grady

Age: 30

Occupation: Artist, community event coordinator, banker

Education: Bachelor’s degree in art with a minor in science

Family: Mother Sherry Grady; father Gary Grady; sisters Haley Grady, Ally Williams, Chanell Hamilton and April Wilson; an amazing boyfriend, Christopher Pugh; and three cats.

Affiliations/Community Activities: Coordinating and hosting The POP! Art shows monthly at Arlington’s, The POP! Does Comedy, The POP! Variety shows and The POP! Murder Mystery events, curating the Anvil and Forge monthly art rotation, coordinating and hosting The POP! Talks in partnership with Sala, St. Patrick’s Day Memorial Breakfast, St. Patrick’s Day Parade Council.

What is your guiding principle? You can always do something better tomorrow than you did today.

Why did you choose your current career? I have always had a passion for helping people succeed. I have been in finance for six years and I have been able to show people the tools they need to accomplish lifelong financial success. I have been creating art for 15 years and I started my very small business (Staunztastic Art) just a few short years ago. These avenues have allowed me to help people succeed in different ways. Art has allowed me to tap into my creative side and bring joy to people’s lives.

What is your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope to continue to aid in the growth of Springfield’s art community by implementing more programs for art education outside of traditional options for all ages and skill levels. I also hope to continue to help cultivate a warm, welcoming and inclusive art community.


Sherry Grable

Age:  39

Occupation:  Controller and CPA at Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc.  (CMT)

Email: [email protected]

Education: MBA, University of Illinois Springfield

Family: Husband Sean, parents Patty and (the late) Mike Stinson and siblings Christy Toland and Matt Stinson and their families

Affiliations/Community Activities: Treasurer of the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair, treasurer of my hometown church, member of my local American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, member of the Sangamon – Menard Chapter of The Well Armed Woman

What’s your guiding principle in life? “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” I don’t know for sure if Walt Disney really said that, but I believe it is true.  We often talk too much about what we need to do or how something needs to be done instead of just digging in and getting it done.

Why did you choose your current career?  After several years of working in public accounting and assisting clients with their business needs, I decided it was time to move to the other side of the desk and be a part of the private sector.  At CMT, I am able to use my experience from various industries and past situations to assist with the ever-changing ways of the business world.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That it continues to grow and thrive while retaining the feel of a small community.  I would like Springfield and the surrounding communities to once again become the face of Illinois and remind outlying areas that we have a voice.


Jacob Godar

Age: 30

Occupation: CEO at Scooter’s Lawn Care, Inc.

Email: [email protected]

Education: Routt Catholic High School graduate

Family: Wife Nicholle, sons Blake and Jace, one daughter on the way and father Rich Godar.

Affiliations/Community Activities: Member of Local First Springfield, Central Illinois Food Bank and a sponsor of regular community events like Pridefest, Zara’s Collision Center annual benevolence program, Cigars for the Troops by Cigars for Aficionados, FatAss 5k and Patrick Sheehan’s annual memorial golf outing.

What’s your guiding principle in life? I start every single morning by writing down my daily and long-term goals. Those goals include being a husband that my wife is proud to be married to and a superhero father to my children. I strive to create a life beyond my family’s wildest dreams – embracing the opportunities of entrepreneurship and its journey, wherever it takes us. Professionally, my goals are to continue building a positive, nurturing company that serves its clients as well as its employees, and where our team will find unlimited growth.

Why did you choose your current career? I’ve always known I wanted to own my own company. When it came time to open Scooter’s Lawn Care, I was working at Zara’s Collision Center. Brad Zara has been a longtime mentor and close friend throughout my adult life.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope Springfield continues watching and participating in the growth of its local businesses. This community is so unique in its social network of like-minded business owners. Meanwhile, we are all helping serve the residents of Springfield in our own ways through our own businesses, while supporting each other.


Scott Germeraad

Age: 38

Occupation: Lighting and design sales manager for Springfield Electric’s showrooms in Springfield, Bloomington and Champaign

Email: [email protected]

Education: Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, Western Illinois University

Family: Wife Colleen, son Declan and daughters Merrin, Verity and Isla

Affiliations/Community Activities: Lincoln Memorial Garden, United Way, Compass for Kids, Sparc, Leadership Springfield, Springfield Area Home Builders, Home Builders Association of Illinois, National Association of Electrical Distributors, American Lighting Association

What’s your guiding principle in life? Give more than you take. Find time to help those who are in need.

Why did you choose your current career? Life has an amazing way of providing you with great opportunities that you wouldn’t think of taking. I was a teacher in Michigan; life happened and now I have the incredible opportunity to work for a company that my great-grandfather started 87 years ago. I love what I do for a living, but I love what this job allows me to do for the communities we serve as well.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? To continue to see it be a great city in which to raise a family and provide a positive impact on those that live and work here.


Alyssa Furling

Age: 32

Occupation: Owner of Fresh Fit Subs, Inc. (Subway) and AH Properties, property manager at Furlco, LLC

Email: [email protected]

Education: Bachelor of Music, music education, University of Evansville

Family:  Wife Heidi Furling, son Meyer, parents William and Cindy Furling, grandparents William and Delores Furling and siblings Chelsea and Tracey Furling

Affiliations/Community Activities: master gardener volunteer with the University of Illinois Extension, music director of the Old State Capitol Chorale, Unity of Springfield music team and choral director, Central Illinois Subway franchise advertising board member, Illinois Women in Leadership member, Springfield Zeta Tau Alpha Alumnae Chapter, local community theater

What’s your guiding principle in life? To always do better than yesterday. We all make mistakes and, hopefully, learn from our failures. As long as we are striving to do and be better than we were yesterday, we will succeed! We also focus a lot on our values of teamwork and love – really working to build each other up. We can get so much more accomplished as a team than we can individually and that is only magnified with love and respect for one another.

Why did you choose your current career? My career has chosen me! I went to college intending to become a music teacher, but as my parents invested in and grew their businesses in Springfield, my people skills and knowledge of teaching and learning became an integral part of the business. I have been able to use my skills to build training programs, leadership development and grow our businesses. I love to learn new things, and as an entrepreneur and business owner, there is something new to learn every single day.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I want to see Springfield grow and flourish. It’s such a great place to raise a family and so rich with history and culture. Springfield has always supported our small businesses and I would love to see more technology and environmentally focused small business join our ranks. We have a great deal of talent and skills in our workforce here in Springfield, and we can provide a really great environment to grow some of the next great businesses and leaders.


Kimberly Fuiten

Age:  35

Occupation:  Superintendent, Sangamon County Veterans Assistance Commission

Email: [email protected]

Education:  Master’s degree in human services

Family:  Children Matthew and Parker

Affiliations/Community Activities:  Veterans Service Officer, Senior Vice Commander VFW 4763, Sangamon County veterans treatment court mentor coordinator, education chair for the Illinois Association of County Veterans Assistance Commissions, volunteer with Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, member of Team Red, White and Blue, Disabled American Veterans volunteer driver, volunteer with St. John’s Breadline.

What’s your guiding principle in life? Do what you love!  Think bigger than you are – anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Why did you choose your current career?  I served on active duty in the United States Navy from 2002-2006.  When I returned home, I began working for the Veterans Assistance Commission. As a veteran myself, I have always wanted to work with veterans and their families to help them get the benefits that they have earned.  I want to continue to work with the community and help others who are in need.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield?  My first hope is for more supportive housing for the homeless population.  I would also like our community to come together in an effort to link local services, allowing for a more seamless and smoother transition from homeless to housed.


Stacy Lynn Feldmann

Age: 36

Occupation: Director of clinical services for LeadWell, Occupational Health and Anytime Care - HSHS Medical Group

Email: [email protected]

Education: Master of Science in kinesiology

Family: Parents Terry and Elisa Feldmann

What’s your guiding principle in life? You can’t always choose the path that you walk in life, but you can always choose the manner in which you walk it.

Why did you choose your current career? I’ve always been a natural caregiver, and after many years of participating in sports, the decision to become an athletic trainer felt very easy and natural. From there, my career has been about working hard and seizing opportunities as they came to me. I’ve been very fortunate to have people see my potential and offer me the chance to make my mark.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? My hope is that Springfield becomes a more inclusive community where we support our local small businesses, find ways to decrease violent crimes and become a city anyone would be proud to call home for their families or businesses.


Matthew Evans

Age: 36

Occupation: President and co-owner of Heartland Heating and Cooling, Inc.

Email: [email protected]

Education: Trade school, Capital Area Career Center

Family: Wife Samantha Evans and daughter Adrian

Affiliations/Community Activities: Warming the Hearts of Springfield with Midwest Family Broadcasting and Rheem

What’s your guiding principle in life? Helping others and not putting off until tomorrow what can be done today

Why did you choose your current career? I like to work with my hands and I enjoy problem-solving.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That we can work together and grow to become a stronger community.



Annie Elble-Todt

Age: 35

Occupation: CEO and co-founder of Give Hope, Fight Poverty

Education: PhD

Family: Parents Dr. Rodger and Suzanne Elble, husband Tyler Todt and daughter Tinlie

Affiliations/Community Activities: West Side Church, International VIPKid teacher

What’s your guiding principle in life? Use your gifts to serve others.

Why did you choose your current career? It chose me. I aspired to use my Ph.D. to make money and have a real job.  But on my first visit to Eswatini, Africa, during my Ph.D./MPH program over a decade ago, I fell in love with the orphaned children, saw their needs that we could fill and have never looked back.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” We have all been given a passion for something local, national or international. The world is a mess.  It needs us to be fearless.



Ayo Dele Abitogun

Age: 28

Occupation: Owner of HISO Music, HISO Event Hall, 107.9 FM - The Wave, AoA Real Estate

Email: [email protected]

Education: High school graduate

Family: Mother Kate Abitogun, father Michael Abitogun and three brothers

Affiliations/Community Activities: I built a recording/production studio at the Boys and Girls Club and the employees at HISO teach kids how to use the software or to engineer, do audio production and how to DJ. I do a talent show for high schools in Springfield and donate instruments to the elementary schools. We also work with the Urban League and many other nonprofit groups.

What is your guiding principle in life? To help a million people reach a million dollars. While on this journey as a businessman and trying to figure out who I am as young adult, I realized helping people is more important to me than being a businessman. I realized if I help people, the money will come – it works hand-in-hand.

Why did you choose your current career? My love for music.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope that we let go of so much judgment. No one is perfect. If we work together, we can build a better city that’s more involved in the community.


William Davis

Age: 37

Occupation: Attorney at Brown, Hay & Stephens LLP

Email: [email protected]

Education: Juris Doctor, Southern Illinois University School of Law

Family: Wife Ashley Davis

Affiliations/Community Activities: Sangamon County Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association

What’s your guiding principle in life?  To live by the four cardinal virtues – wisdom, justice, temperance and fortitude.

Why did you choose your current career?  Originally, I chose to be a lawyer to do civil litigation defense with a focus on medical malpractice.  I spent years in criminal prosecution and then defense and eventually found my way to the spot I wanted in law school.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield?  I would like to see the expansion of private sector businesses to fill the gap left by the outsourcing of state government jobs.  It would require multiple parts working together and supporting one another to expand the base in all areas, not just one.


Korey Davis

Age: 36

Occupation: Vice president of finance, Memorial Health System

Education: Master’s degree in professional accountancy, Illinois State University

Family: Wife Melissa and children Jared, Tyler and Megan

Affiliations/Community Activities: Active member of Elkhart Christian Church, board member of Myanmar Agape Christian Mission, advisory board member of Illinois State University Department of Accounting, member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association

What’s your guiding principle in life? Matthew 22:37-39.

Why did you choose your current career? Health care is a challenging and fast-paced industry which is professionally gratifying, and MHS is a special organization with bright and compassionate colleagues who serve together to achieve its mission.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? For its leaders to be humble but to lead with courage and conviction in doing what is good. For its citizens to always represent their community with dignity and honor. To be a place where people desire to live, grow and serve.


Justin Creasey

Age: 37

Occupation: Real estate broker at The Real Estate Group

Email: [email protected]

Education: Bachelor of Science in marketing at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Family: Wife Jennifer Creasey, children Mac and Quinn and parents Lisa and Jan Creasey

Affiliations/Community Activities: Treasurer of MacArthur Boulevard Association, Young Philanthropists, Ambassador of Hope, YMCA, Capital City Crossfit and active member of Blessed Sacrament

What’s your guiding principle in life? My guiding principle is pretty simple – work hard and always strive to be better, but don’t forget to take time to have fun and enjoy life with friends and family.

Why did you choose your current career? My mother is a realtor and my father owns Creasey Construction. I liked the idea of using the knowledge I had in construction but combining it with my education in marketing and using it for good in real estate. My mother and I worked together as The Creasey Team at The Real Estate Group for 10 years and recently merged with Killebrew Real Estate.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I feel like we are close to getting over that hump in making Springfield a really great city again. With a little less red tape and more people getting involved, I believe that not only can we get there, but can exceed expectations and make this a place our citizens get excited to call home.


Michelle Clatfelter

Age: 37

Occupation: Vice president legal affairs, Hospital Sisters Health System, Central Illinois Division

Education: Juris Doctorate

Family: Husband Trevor; children Harrison, Adeline and Theodore; and our beloved dog, Emma

Affiliations/Community Activities: Member and immediate past chair of the Sparc board of directors, St. John’s Society for Service and Leadership, American Health Lawyers Association and the Illinois Health Lawyers Association

What’s your guiding principle in life? My first and foremost “must do” is to be consciously aware of God’s presence in my life – both personally and professionally.

Why did you choose your current career? As the daughter of two clinicians, I was sensitive to both the opportunities and the challenges faced by health care providers. For many years, I thought I was destined to become a clinician myself. As I grew older, it became obvious to me that my place was not going to be at the bedside, but rather supporting those at the bedside. Fast forward to today, I am grateful to be doing that each and every day at an organization in which my values and its mission align and in support of people whom I respect and value.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? It is my hope that we as a community continue to invest and reinvest in making Springfield a great place to live, work and build relationships and families. While the complexion of what exactly that looks like may change from time to time, the need for active, engaged community members, coupled with thoughtful planning and economic development, will not.


Jokima Christison

Age: 38

Occupation: TeleNurse Manager, Springfield Clinic

Education: Bachelor of Science, nursing

Family: Husband Chris and children Dallas, Evan and Owen

Affiliations/Community Activities: My passion is helping at-risk youth and disabled children. Compass for Kids, Refuge Ranch, Camp Courage, Leadership Springfield, Sigma Theta Tau International and Toastmasters.

What’s your guiding principle in life? Be decisive, trust your instincts and stand your sacred ground.

Why did you choose your current career? As a registered professional nurse, I am passionate about helping people achieve the best possible outcomes so that they can live their best lives. In my position as TeleNurse Manager, I am afforded the opportunity to help the people in my community on a much greater scale by ensuring that my team of nurses and access staff provide the highest quality care when people need it most. I am incredibly blessed to work with a great team of people who believe in the mission and advocate for our patients 24/7/365. I love what I do, but more importantly, I love the team with which I do it.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That we continue to work together as a community to remove barriers and improve access to health care and mental health services for all people and also improve the social determinants of health for all of our citizens.


Julie Beveridge

Age: 38

Occupation: Assistant vice president and assistant to the vice chairman of the board, Bank of Springfield (BOS)

Email: [email protected]

Education: Attended University of Alabama

Family: Husband Patrick and son Rory

Affiliations/Community Activities: Chair of the 2020 Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair, United Way Employee Campaign Coordinator for BOS, co-chair of the BOS Success Team, Christ the King School, member Christ the King Parish.

What is your guiding principle in life? Life is not fair. Be content and do your best even when things are not going your way.

Why did you choose your current career? I have always enjoyed talking with and helping people. I started with BOS as a teller which gave me the opportunity to talk to customers daily and assist them in a variety of ways. I grew to love the banking industry and have continued in it to this day. My job has changed over the years, but I still enjoy the interaction with customers that a career in banking gives me.

What is your greatest hope for Springfield? I hope that we continue to support and build up small, local businesses. My father was a local business owner who always said to support local because it helps to improve the local economy. Small business owners are a big part of our communities. They are our neighbors and our customers. When they succeed, we all benefit.


April Becker

Age: 34

Occupation: Corporate safety manager, Hanson Professional Services

Email: [email protected]

Education: M.S., library and information science, University of Illinois

Family: Husband Kevin, mom Vicki, brothers Richard (Melissa) and Chris (Amy) and pets Oreo, Mozzie and Hildie

Affiliations/Community Activities: Practice partner and 5k planning committee member with Girls on the Run of Central Illinois, Hanson’s United Way and Children’s Miracle Network campaign committees, United Way Day of Action, Leadership Springfield, Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce member, past member of the Illinois State Library Advisory Committee and Illinois Heartland Library System Executive Council

What’s your guiding principle in life? Surround yourself with the right people, be humble and never quit. A great support network is essential if you want to be a success — no one exists in a vacuum or achieves great things without help and encouragement from others. Recognition of those who have helped you is important and serves as a reminder to stay grounded and never forget your roots. Never give in — push yourself to do new things, move outside your comfort zone and do not stop when things become challenging. Every step forward, regardless of how small it seems, adds up quickly to big results.

Why did you choose your current career? I was always interested in helping others and initially pursued a career in library service. My enjoyment of research and learning new skills allowed me the opportunity to become involved in safety, and I love it. It is a perfect blend of my desire to challenge myself and to help others. Safety and security are the most basic of human needs, and it is very rewarding to connect people with the tools they need to do a job well and go home safely.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? As a transplant to the area, my hope is that we continue to explore new ways of growing our community — focusing on job creation and improving social and community services to encourage young people to recognize Springfield as a great place to live and work.


Jeff Baker

Age: 38

Occupation: Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Illinois REALTORS®

Education: J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Family: Wife Kim, son Micah and daughters Macy and Mylee

Affiliations/Community Activities: Westside Christian Church, Hope (Ambassador of Hope), St. John’s Breadline

What’s your guiding principle in life? Nothing is impossible.

Why did you choose your current career? My career has evolved quickly in a short period of time. It is a blend of business, law and politics. I want my work to serve as many people as possible, and I’m fortunate to get to do that in the areas in which I am strongest.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That our community is willing to think outside the box, try new things and be innovative. An historic town can still be driven by new ideas and practices.



Lisa Badger

Age: 39

Occupation: Community affairs specialist, Illinois State Treasurer

Education: Master’s degree in conflict resolution

Family: Daughter Alexandra and son Chayce

Affiliations/Community Activities: Springfield Park District board trustee, Springfield Jaycees, American Bar Association (Division of Dispute Resolution), Association for Conflict Resolution, Molina Enrollee and Community Advisory Committee, The Gregory Youth Foundation, Harvard Park Neighborhood Watch, Greater Springfield Democrats,  Lincoln Land ABATE, precinct committeeperson, union steward for Teamsters Local 916, various community organizations

What’s your guiding principle in life? “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Why did you choose you current career?  Transitioning from health care (as a nurse) to government is not as dramatic as many people seem to think, as each is a public service. Many of the communication skills I obtained both in health care and through my master’s degree program are used quite frequently. Working on state treasurer Michael Frerichs’ staff allows me the great opportunity to travel throughout the state meeting with constituents and community leaders alike. I am able to make a positive impact on the lives of others through both our college and savings programs, as well as through financial literacy.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? That everyone is afforded equity in resources and opportunities to reach their full potential.


Shane Adkins

Age: 35

Occupation: Financial adviser for Wells Fargo Advisors

Email: [email protected]

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Family: Wife Maggie and sons Nolan and Archer

Affiliations/Community Activities: Treasurer for Compass for Kids, Young Philanthropists, former board president of Community Connection Point.

What’s your guiding principle in life?  Meet your fears with faith.

Why did you choose your current career? Being a financial adviser has allowed me to develop lifelong relationships with clients who I can now call friends. I cannot think of another career that lets you celebrate successes and persevere through failures together like the one I have chosen.

What’s your greatest hope for Springfield? I would love to see Springfield flourish and become a welcoming, sought-after landing spot for both young and experienced professionals. If that doesn’t pan out, I’ll settle for a healthier version of the horseshoe.





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