Waterford, Michigan -- Starting today the public can cast an online vote to choose the winner of the Oakland County Executive's Elite 40 under 40 Class of 2014.
More than 500 applications and nominations were reviewed by a panel of judges, looking for the top 40 young professionals and thought leaders who live or work in Oakland County. The 40 honorees have achieved excellence in their field and contributed to the quality of life in their communities. Of that group, the three candidates who scored the highest are placed before the public vote to determine a 2014 winner.
"There are so many talented young people who are a vital part of Oakland County," County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "Their innovation, talent, leadership and ideas will help shape this county for years to come. I'm thrilled with the class that was chosen and encourage the public to participate in the online vote for the candidate they think is the best of the best."
Voting begins Monday, Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. and continues through Friday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. Individuals may vote once every 24 hours at AdvantageOakland.com/Elite40. Among other opportunities, the top vote getter will introduce Patterson at his State of the County Address on Feb. 12 and get free business classes from the One Stop Shop Business Center.
Online voters must choose between:
- Susan Kruger, 38, President and CEO, SOAR Learning, Inc. She has spent the past 13 years teaching hundreds of students how to succeed in school. She began tutoring individual students in study skills. As demand for her expertise grew, so she created the SOAR® Study Skills Workshops to reach more students. Her book, "SOAR Study Skills: A Simple and Efficient System for Getting Better Grades in Less Time," is the worldwide best-selling study skills book (according to Amazon) for more than five years and her curriculum is in more than 2,000 schools nationwide and more than 14 countries.
- Leila M. Matta, 36, Brand Identity, Design & Art Program manager for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Known as the in-house art curator at MBFS, Matta creates annual art exhibitions, including exhibitions from Cranbrook Art Academy graduate students, Detroit Public School children and MBFS employees. She creates printed art catalogues, online galleries and interactive/educational programming using art as a tool for learning and development. As a board member on the Founders Junior Council (FJC) of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Matta helps promote and position the DIA throughout the Detroit area. Using her expertise in brand identity and communication design, her contributions include the design of marketing communications for FJC fundraising events and supporting the redesign of the group's visual identity system.
- Zack Sklar, 28, Chef/Owner of Cutting Edge Cuisine; Social Kitchen & Bar and Mex. It was a visit back to Michigan that focused Sklar's interest. He realized his hometown market didn't have the culinary options he could provide so he built Cutting Edge Cuisine. It is now Michigan's fastest growing catering company.
He opened two restaurants in Oakland County in the past two years. Social Kitchen & Bar, located in Birmingham, opened in 2012, was an immediate success. A year later, Sklar opened Mex in Bloomfield Township to rave reviews. He plans to open more restaurants in Michigan, and is looking to expand to a nation-wide. Sklar frequently donates his culinary services to nonprofit events, focusing on organizations that support youth cancer patients and animal shelters. He is currently developing a food program for an area church as a way to give back.
The members of the 2014 Elite 40 under 40 class are:
- Roland N. Alix, P.E., Partner and VP, Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Inc., 33
- Chris Barnett, Township Supervisor, Charter Township of Orion, 36
- Eric Barritt, VP, Development, Alumni, and Community Engagement, Oakland University, 39
- Tom Berman, Chief Business Development Officer and General Counsel, Reverie, 34
- Dr. Lloyd C. Crews, Dean of Campus Affairs, Oakland Community College, 39
- Christina Del Pizzo, Second Grade Teacher, Detroit Country Day School, 31
- Matthew Farrell, Executive Principal / Partner / Founder, CORE Partners, 37
- Lisa Forzley, Humane Education Manager, Detroit Zoological Society, 35
- Brian Foster, Entrepreneur, Stars & Stripes Kids Activity Center, 38
- Tom Gorman, Club Director, Boys & Girls Club of Troy, 32
- Ryan B. Hertz, MSW, President & CEO, South Oakland Shelter (SOS), 33
- Ingrid Jacques, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The Detroit News, 34
- Lorron James, VP – Business Affairs, James Group International, 30
- Jeff Jorge, Executive Partner, GDP | Global Development Partners, 39
- Thomas A. Kabel, Shareholder, Butzel Long, P.C., 39
- Bryan K. Kieler, VP Community Development Lending Portfolio Manager Senior, Huntington Bank, 36
- Adam Kochenderfer, Attorney, Wolfson Bolton PLLC, 33
- Josh Kozlowski, English Teacher, International Technology Academy, 28
- Susan Kruger, President/CEO, SOAR Learning, Inc., 38
- Kelley LaFontaine, Dealer Principal/Owner, LaFontaine Automotive Group, 38
- Tom Lanni Jr., VP, Beaumont Health System, 36
- Jennifer Llewellyn, Director, Oakland County Michigan Works Troy, 36
- Michael Ari Mandelbaum, Sr. Analyst, Group Business & Corp. Marketing Health Care Reform Team, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, 31
- Leila M. Matta, Brand Identity, Design, & Art Programs Manager, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, 36
- Dominic Mirabella, Field Director, Northwestern Mutual, 35
- Matt Mosteiko, Meteorologist Intern, National Weather Service, 32
- Molly Murphy Landis, Art Therapist, Artist, Molly Murphy Landis, ATR, 39
- Stephen Naughton, Campaign Architect, Marketing Impact Inc., 24
- Leah Ohmer, Executive Director, Huron Valley Council for the Arts, 37
- Andrew B. Raupp, Executive Director, STEM.org & Virtual Education Solutions, 33
- Molly Reeser, Executive Director, Camp Casey, 31
- Dennis Richardson, Owner/Sales Manager, DDR Wealth Advisors/MassMutual SE Michigan, 31
- Layne Sakwa, Associate Attorney, Fried Saperstein Abbatt PC, 35
- Jake Sigal, Founder & CEO, Livio, 32
- Zack Sklar, Chef, Owner, Cutting Edge Cuisine, Social Kitchen & Bar, Mex, 28
- Mark Tapper, President, Tapper's Diamonds & Fine Jewelry, 33
- Nancy Tomovska, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Stance, LLC, 37
- Stephanie Tomovska, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Stance, LLC, 33
- Jason Vazzano, CEO, President, & Co-Founder, Vectorform, 36
- Tate Truc Vo, Owner, Dentate Smile Design, 37
- Brian D. Wassom, Partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, 29