10 over the next ten Meet Greater Lansing’s future leaders
Every year, the Lansing Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) recognizes some of the Lansing region’s top young professionals who are expected to contribute significantly to our community over the next ten years. Recognized by the LRCC and Grand River Connection each year, 10 unique recipients receive a place on the coveted 10 Over the Next Ten list.
Winners must meet two criteria: The nominee must be 35 years old or younger and must have been working in the tri-county region for a minimum of two years. Nominees are judged based on their professional achievement, community involvement and personal success. An outstanding congrats is due to the 2017 10 Over the Next Ten awardees – we look forward to seeing what you will accomplish in our community over the next ten years!
Tri-County Development & Placemaking Manager, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
“By receiving this award, it is a reminder of my responsibility and honor to join and lead the momentum of transforming our community. Our communities’ strength is built upon those who feel motivated to create impact, and I am passionate about our growth and prosperous future,” said Josh Holliday, tri-county development and placemaking manager for Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP).
Holliday joined the LEAP team in December 2016 where he works closely with its members — as well as the private and public sectors throughout Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties — to provide economic development assistance to the tri-county area.
Prior to LEAP, he served as the program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, coordinating, marketing and implementing smARTS: a professional development program for creatives. Overseeing six funding initiatives that provided more than $275,000 in grants, along with implementing and managing placemaking driven initiatives throughout the region, Holliday planned the annual Creative Placemaking Summit. This brought residents and community leaders together to discuss art and placemaking.
“My professional success can be attributed to the leaders in the Lansing community that have believed in my abilities and potential,” said Holliday. “From being heavily involved in the Charlotte community as a student at Charlotte High School to creating new initiatives within my community-based career, I have been afforded the keys to unlock true and valuable impacts within our region. My mentors and colleagues have continually valued me and my contributions, inspiring me to advance our efforts for the betterment of this special place we call home.”
Julie M. Holton
Marketing Director, Fraser Trebilcock
Prior to taking on her current role as the marketing director of Fraser Trebilcock, a Lansing-based legal firm, Julie Holton had removed herself from the state of Michigan for nearly a decade after launching her career with WLNS. Eventually, Holton returned to the area, and she hasn’t looked back since —knowing now that the supportive nature of the Capitol region is bar none.
Julie didn’t just win her spot on this year’s 10 Over the Next 10. It was practically given to her by her direct competitors. Holton’s nomination by five of her peers was spearheaded by a staff member at one of her organization’s biggest rivals.
“My nominator, Kim Hafley, and I like to joke that we are “frenemies, even though we are the marketing directors at competing Lansing law firms,” said Holton. “Not only did Kim write a nomination letter, she also reached out to some of my personal contacts for letters.”
Holton’s inclusion on the list came as an absolute surprise, yet a testament to the strength and genuine nature of our community at-large. Her work and the recognition are not only a reflection of a relentless focus on success, but a result of her organization’s role in her personal development.
“We have such an amazing network of young professionals who are good at their jobs and passionate about their communities, that I did not expect to land in the top 10. I can say with confidence that the community in Lansing is one of the most supportive I have ever been a part of,” said Holton. “It’s because of this community and the leadership at Fraser Trebilcock law firm that I have been able to spread my wings and thrive. The attorneys at Fraser have provided opportunities for my continued growth, and have supported not just my work at the firm, but my work within our community as well.”
Founder of Grit, Glam, & Guts, Owner of Good Girl Radio, and Media Relations/Journalist for Eric Thomas & Associates
Detroit Native Cameo King was always the kid standing up for her classmates in elementary school. It’s no surprise she grew up to start her own organization, Grit, Glam & Guts, fostering a safe place for young girls and women to be themselves, and providing tools for success both personally and professionally.
“I’ve always had a passion for speaking the truth, being the voice of the voiceless or the power for the powerless. Storytelling can truly change the hearts and minds of a nation. It paints a picture of someone’s life, revealing the strengths, weaknesses, uniqueness, divinity and humanity. It’s a powerful tool, which in the right hands, will unify, empower and make this world a better place.”
As for her Grits, Glam & Guts conference held at Eastern High School, King lets every girl she meets know that she’s their big sister; rooting for her and supporting her. The program has also partnered up with the Residential College of Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, and the Lansing Art Gallery to provide tools to help succeed, workshops and in-depth discussions.
After being recognized at the Ten Over the Next 10 Awards, King felt tremendously grateful and humbled. “Additionally, the recognition is also a challenge to continue to do the work that’s needed in this community. This is just the beginning,” King said. “I believe I’m just getting started and there are more lives to touch, more people to empower, and more goals to achieve.”
She’s happy to be a part of the close-knit small community feel that a large city like Lansing has.
“I would not be the same person I am today without the imprint of love on my heart from Lansing,” King said. “The people of Lansing I have had the privilege of knowing have supported, shared and challenged me — all with love, and all for the better. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.”
Director of Social Media and Public Relations, Edge Partnerships
When Edge Partnership’s Aaron Pumfery, a co-worker of Danielle Lenz, received a spot on the 10 Over the Next Ten list in 2015, she hoped that she would someday place that same accolade on her own mantle to solidify her place amongst Lansing’s young talents. Lo and behold, 2017 is a well-earned cause for celebration. Despite hitting a new career milestone, this award is better symbolized as an introduction of her life’s next chapter.
“This award has made me think differently about my career and my path,” explained Lenz. “It nudged me to step it up. To continue to build momentum in my career, I plan on continuing my education in public relations because the profession is always changing. I want to stay ahead of the game. I also plan to continue giving back to the community that has given so much to me.”
In addition to giving back to the community, Lenz also has her eyes set on assisting in the growth and development of a new generation of public relations talent by presenting her expansive abilities and expertise to interns. For Lenz, PR is more than a professional tool; it’s an integral aspect of how we communicate within our everyday lives.
“I want to teach the Edge interns about public relations and how it can be used in their personal lives as well,” said Lenz. “I would tell others to continuously educate themselves in the career path they have chosen as all professions are ever-changing. I would tell them to build meaningful relationships in the community, make time for themselves and their family, because a fulfilling personal life will bleed over and fulfill their professional life as well.”
In Lenz’s spare time, her focus on success is retained and on full-display. In addition to her work with Edge, she is an expecting mother, an integral member and advocate for the Cristo Rey Community Center and is in the process of launching her very own wellness business: Refined Wellness. She has her eyes set on the future as she constantly pursues new ways to elevate her career, her family and her community.
Founder of Nick Nauta Financial
When Spring Lake native Nick Nauta graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in financial management and economics, he found himself a bit beaten down at the thought of going into a business that was so focused on making money.
“I remember struggling in the credit union and discussing things with my boss,” Nauta said. “He told me a story about a boss of his who told him, ‘You have to be able to spend 97 percent of your time doing things you don’t like in order to spend 3 percent on the things you do.’ I knew that wasn’t good enough for me.”
After attending a work conference a few years later, everything clicked, and Nauta fell in love with financial life planning; inspiring him to create his own business in 2015.
“Now, everything I do is about helping people improve their lives. There are so many people who are struggling with the work they do. They feel stuck.”
Nauta has been busy since opening his own business and volunteers plenty of his time within the community. He is an active member of the Delta Township Kiwanis Club, on the Finance Committee of Loaves and Fishes Ministries, serves on the Board of the Chief Okemos Council of the Boy Scouts, and coaches his son’s kindergarten soccer team in Grand Ledge.
After being recognized at the Ten Over the Next 10 Awards, Nauta was relieved, because he felt everyone was avoiding him. He wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad sign.
“To have an award like this speaks volumes to the work of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Grand River Connection and the University Club. I love being a part of a community that recognizes that business success is more than profit, but really about what you can give back to the community.”
Dispositions Relationship Manager, Asset Management, Cinnaire
“As you can see from the pool of awardees each year, there is tremendous talent here in Lansing that will help lead progress for this region in the coming decade. I’m honored to be a part of that conversation and will help drive and inspire others to contribute. There’s much more work to be done for our community, and this award represents a promise to fulfill that mission,” said Luan Nguyen, dispositions relationship manager of asset management at Cinnaire.
In his current role with Cinnaire, a community development finance institution, Nguyen is responsible for all aspects of analyses, negotiation and deal closures with partners, as they move toward a year-15 disposition of their partnership interests in LIHTC developments.
Nguyen has been recognized by his company and others as one of the emerging leaders in the industry. Within his own organization, Nguyen has embraced several leadership roles with new and existing staff as a leadership coach and Staff Engagement Committee (SEC) member. He is responsible for rolling out departmentwide projects as the asset management project team lead.
When asked how he sees his role in transforming the Greater Lansing region, Nguyen remarked that he sees himself as a next-generation leader that plans to create as much impact as he can.
“It was through the assistance of affordable housing programs and caring organizations that I am afforded the opportunities I have today. It’s incumbent of me to continue to commit time to efforts that help lift people who may have difficult life circumstances,” said Nguyen. “It’s my hope that if I lead by example, my network of peers and others will also seek opportunities to contribute through local community service organizations. We often talk about our mission at Cinnaire: helping others and communities progress in a caring way. I hope to live that out through my work and inspire others to do the same. It’s through this type of engagement and advocacy that transformation will thrive.”
ASL Architecture | Design
From a young age, Corey Rees was drawn to subject matters where he could create things with his hands. An early interest in engineering and auto mechanics, it was his father that suggested he take some architectural classes.
“I fell in love with the idea of helping someone create a space to work, live and play in that can enrich, energize and shape their lives,” Rees said.
That led the Holt High School grad to earn a Bachelor of Science in architecture and a master’s in architecture from Lawrence Technological University. His work with Lansing-based ASL Architecture | Design has been seen all over the globe – to high-end retailers like Montblanc, Coach, Burberry, and even the Atlanta International Airport. But it’s his work locally that makes this designer happy to call the Greater Lansing area home.
What keeps architecture fresh for Rees is that “no two projects, clients, cities or states are the same,” he said. “I enjoy the idea that, despite ASL having been in Lansing for twenty-some years, a lot of people don’t know about us because we have had more of a national presence traditionally. I feel like this has been an awesome opportunity for me to expand ASL’s focus back toward being involved in the local region that I have worked, lived and played in my whole life.”
Rees is actively involved in the community, coaching soccer and mentoring students who are interested in architecture. He serves as an ambassador with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, is an associate board member at Lake Trust Credit Union and sits on the Downtown Development Authority for the city of DeWitt. After being recognized at the Ten Over the Next 10 Awards, Rees was surprised.
“This was my second time being nominated, so I understood if I did not win the award this year,” Rees said. “When my name was announced, there was a lot of gratitude that the work I have been putting in is being noticed. With winning the award comes the expectation to continue to grow upon what I have already achieved; which is very motivating. This is what makes the award so special.”
JJ Ubonwan Saeung, DDS
Schaefer Dental Group
JJ Ubonwan Saeung is an associate dentist with Schaefer Dental Group and Volunteers of America. She started practicing dentistry with the focus of complex health, TMJ pain therapy and oral surgery since early 2015.
When asked what winning this award meant to her, Saeung said, “It is an affirming token to my career choice and to my personal commitment to living in a healthy balance of ‘me’ and ‘us’. Oftentimes, young health care professionals — although going in with optimism — graduate with a stressful load of student loans. Whatever kindhearted motive is left, they find it hard to fathom giving back to the community when they’re focused on making a living to pay back loans, while also trying to afford the life they want.”
Yet Saeung defeated the odds by making a career plan for herself that guaranteed she’d be able to advance her clinical skills while treating underserved groups and staying connected in the academic world.
“Of course, that means there is a lot to balance. I am grateful that my small action has been recognized by receiving this award. It’s rejuvenating!” said Saeung.
With community health as one of her top priorities, Saeung had the opportunity to connect with the local chapter of Volunteers of America and be a part of the executive board that brought the Delta Dental Clinic on Larch Street in Lansing. She is part of one of the original dental teams that provide urgent dental care to homeless and underserved adults and children in the Greater Lansing area.
“I love being a dentist, especially when I am able to remove patients’ pain,” said Saeung. “Growing up in a first-generation immigrant family, we didn’t have much. My mother is a tough woman, and she’d always tell us that we could be anything we wanted even though we might not have a head start like others. Poverty and its related hardships affect many aspects in a person’s life. Having gone through that allows me to empathize and get right to the levels of my patients and understand many shortcomings that interfere with proper care.”
Commercial Loan Officer, Dart Bank
Dan Wilkinson is a commercial loan officer with Dart Bank. He personally helps his clients realize their goals by discussing financial strategies critical to their unique goals. Wilkinson has been able to successfully help many local businesses and individuals reach financial milestones with exceptional advice, support and service.
“I am honored to win the 10 Over the Next Ten Award. The 2017 winners, along with all previous alumni, have done some truly amazing things in the Lansing region. Winning the award really shows how dedicated and passionate all of us are in striving to make Lansing a better place to live and work,” said Wilkinson.
Wilkinson has built many strong relationships and connections with a variety of business owners in the region and will continue to do whatever it takes to provide financial assistance to promote the growth of the Greater Lansing region. He loves being able to drive down the street and see new businesses that he has supported — everything from apartments to salons and coffee shops, even an urgent care facility.
“My professional success is attributed to all of those that have helped drive and shape me into the banker that I am today,” said Wilkinson. “Over my last 10 years in banking, I always made it a goal to try to learn from previous experiences. It is also very beneficial to be working at a financial institution that has been flexible, and has allowed me to take part in various community service roles in addition to my professional job.”
“Lansing has provided me with many opportunities to help shape my professional career and I look forward to returning the favor by working hard to continue moving Lansing in the right direction,” said Wilkinson.
Ashlee R. Willis
Owner of Michigan Premier Events and Lansing Mosaic
When Ashlee R. Willis started her event planning company, Michigan Premier Events, she soon realized there was an entire community of business owners, entrepreneurs and hardworking residents with interesting, inspiring stories. She took it upon herself to create an online platform highlighting those people and showcasing their journeys.
“Lansing Mosaic’s tagline is ‘Our own unique backgrounds are different, yet like a mosaic. We come together to form the Lansing experience,” Willis said. “Lansing Mosaic is a platform to help diversify entrepreneurship in Lansing and to help give exposure to small business owners who don’t have a building just yet,” she said.
Just as Willis is a business owner in her own right, she saw a need to highlight talented entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact within the Lansing area. Many of whom had never really shared their interesting stories of how they got to be where they are.
Willis attended Lansing Community College and Michigan State University, and still regularly speaks at graduations. She also participates in the LCC Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, Grand River Clean Up, and college fundraisers for Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House and Better World Books. In addition, Willis serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Lansing Old NewsBoys Association, raising over $180,000 for children’s footwear and is actively involved in the Lansing Black Chamber of Commerce, serving as on the Executive Board.
After being recognized during the Ten Over the Next 10 Awards, Willis was honored.
“I have worked extremely hard over the years for both of my businesses to be successful, especially while being a wife and a mother of two handsome young boys,” Willis said. “To know people are watching my hard work – those I know, and didn’t know, and saying this is well-deserved, really was an honor. It’s making me work even harder and loving Lansing even more. Lansing is truly supportive in so many ways.”