by John Kenyon

CORRIDOR – As is clear from the growing number of nominations submitted each year, those in the Corridor feel many young professionals are worthy of Forty Under 40 recognition.

However, what is also clear is that simply being good at your job is not enough to earn that honor. That is a prerequisite, of course, but those selected often have a lengthy resume filled with community activities, volunteering and leadership.

The awards, which have now recognized 240 young professionals in the Corridor since 2005, have very little in the way of criteria attached. In fact, the only stipulation on the Forty Under 40 application is that these be “men and women who have made a significant impact in their business or community early in their careers.”

As is historically the case, Linn County is home to the most honorees, with 22. Johnson County was next with 16, while two hail from Washington County. There are 22 men and 18 women in the class. Twenty-two work in the private sector, 17 in the public sector and one, Adam Mangold, who works in both.

The group of 40 was selected by a panel made up of representatives from the 2009 class based on nominations submitted by readers.

Perusing those nominations and speaking with the honorees, one learns that the 40 people picked for this year’s awards not only participate in the life of the Corridor, but also have spent time thinking about how to make the area better and acted on those thoughts.

Read their responses to the question, “What is the biggest issue facing the Corridor?” which are sprinkled throughout the profiles found on pages 14-29. They cite a need for regionalism, support for entrepreneurial efforts and addressing poverty as among key challenges.

And a look at what they do in their jobs and the time away from them shows that they take these issues seriously. They go above and beyond.
Azeemuddin Ahmed said he pursued an MBA after earning his medical degree because he wanted to learn more about the business world.

“Not only the business world of medicine but the world of business,” Mr. Ahmed said. “I was always very intrigued by the world markets and economies and very successful businesses.”

Chris Buresh, who has volunteered in Haiti medical clinics, puts those efforts into perspective when talking about the difference between the United States and Haiti.

“It made me a little bit crazy that here we spend $35 billion a year to lose weight in this country on health club memberships and diet pills and whatever, and you fly from Miami, the home of the South Beach Diet, and then 90 minutes later you step off the plane and you’re stepping over kids that are starving,” he said. “It’s extreme poverty, and they’re right next door. So there’s something about that that really sticks in my craw and bugs me.”

Brendan Murphy volunteers with several groups because, he said, he didn’t have much when he was growing up.

“Now I’m in a position where I’m able to do something for other people, and that’s what I cherish in my life,” he said. “I don’t know that I could get that sort of freedom to (be so involved) while working for a big outfit or being stuck in a cubicle.”

These are just a few examples of the kinds of things these leaders are doing in their communities. Everyone on the list has similar stories to tell. And all do so while balancing their jobs, commitments to family and friends and other pursuits, as Carrie Steffen articulates.

“I hope to lead by example,” Ms. Steffen said. “It’s a delicate line to balance between spending time with your family and contributing to your community. But you have to show them that nobody is entitled to anything without a contribution, without giving back.”