10 Over the Next Ten Meet Lansing’s next generation of leaders
Every year, the Lansing Chamber of Commerce recognizes some of the Lansing region’s top young professionals who are expected to contribute significantly to our community over the next ten years. They are recognized by awarding them with the 10 Over the Next Ten award.
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. This year’s ceremony marked the event’s 10th Anniversary. A big congrats to the winners of the 2016 10 Over the Next Ten award winners – we look forward to see what you do in our community over the next ten years!
For 10 Over the Next Ten winners like Michael Bass, perseverance has a payoff.
“I was nominated last year and didn’t win,” he said. “I knew some of the winners and they were so deserving. The difference this year was that I joined the Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA) Board and the East Lansing Arts Festival board. Maybe it was those things that struck a chord with the judges.”
Bass is vice president at Friedland Industries Inc., his family’s business, where he began as a teenager sorting scrap metals in the summer and has since built the company’s social media presence and handled an array of operational assignments, among them account representative, pricing, scale operator, sorter, PR/marketing/social media director and legislative liaison.
Friedland is a fixture in Old Town and Bass’s work with OTCA reflects his desire to promote the neighborhood’s unique characteristic in the region and state. It also offers a platform to remind the community that scrap is really recycling. It’s an important connection for a community, he said, an attitude that reflects a new Lansing.
“There is a feeling building that Lansing in the next five to ten years can be a very different place.” And he is committed to the change. “It feels good that the judges see potential in me to create something that helps benefit the community.”
Jose Yanez is owner and founder of Full Circle Financial Planning, a full-service financial service firm providing investment, retirement and insurance planning to individuals and employee benefits to small businesses.
“We work to help people become financially secure, to better understand their finances and start saving for their future. It builds relationships that go beyond the numbers, when you help people put their kids through college and save for retirement, you can really see how what we do impacts their lives,” said Yanez.
His business is not the only avenue in which Yanez impacts the lives of others. As a dedicated community member, Yanez currently holds positions as president of the Greater Lansing Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, vice chair of The Lansing Community College Foundation and council member of the WKAR Development Council. Yanez also oversees Full Circle Charities, the nonprofit wing of his organization.
“I believe that people don’t care who you are or what you do unless they see how much you care about those things. I try to remember that in business, but also in giving back. It is our duty as business owners, community members and human beings to help,” said Yanez.
In 2012, Yanez was selected as the Michigan Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan. Yanez currently resides in Lansing, Mich. and in his free time he enjoys playing basketball and spending time with his wife Sarah and children Hailey, Isaac and Noah.
Michael Nordmann, an experienced financial advisor, has dedicated himself to providing world-class service in the field of wealth management in the mid-Michigan area since graduating from college in 2011. In January 2014, he joined the firm of Morrison, Nordmann and Associates to align himself with a practice whose values, goals and objectives matched his own. The firm provided an environment to help him grow his practice and serve the Lansing community.
“I am passionate about what I do. It has been a wonderful experience ever since I joined the team. I am passionate about providing world class service in the area of wealth management. We work with a select group of successful families using our comprehensive, consultative process to have a significant impact in their lives.” said Nordmann.
Nordmann manages millions of dollars for people across the country, but he focuses his philanthropic efforts in the heart of Michigan. Nordmann has lived in the mid-Michigan area his entire life. He attended Haslett High School and with his wife, bought his first house in Williamston, Mich. a little over three years ago. Nordmann and his family have come to love everything that the greater Lansing area has to offer. He is committed to living here, raising his family here and making this a better place for everyone through his dedication to community service and passion for helping others in need.
“I think working together and giving back is how we improve,” said Nordmann. “The more we are all involved in something that we are passionate about, the more we can move the whole region forward.”
Currently working as an associate strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, Veronica Gracia-Wing feels that her professional success can be attributed to her hard work and the opportunities that the city of Lansing has to offer.
“[It’s] equal parts grit, incomparable mentorships, relationships and the unique opportunities Lansing affords people who want to be involved,” she said.
Gracia-Wing’s role in the greater Lansing area began as a student at Michigan State University, where she majored in fisheries and wildlife. Her passion for natural resources and her storytelling abilities has led her to actively participate in many organizations in the greater Lansing area, including positions as the president of the City of Lansing Park Board, the secretary of the Fenner Conservancy and Nature Center, a board member of both the Westside Neighborhood Association and the Over the Ledge Theatre Company and a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber’s Leadership Lansing program’s class of 2016-2017.
While Gracia-Wing feels that winning the 10 Over the Next Ten award is an honor, she also views it as a challenge and a promise.
“As a member of the lifelong #lovelansing crew, I love this city and what it offers my family and friends,” she said. “I want good things for it and them, so I consider it a serious responsibility and privilege to do my part.”
After growing up in the small town of Dansville, Mich. and attending Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., Tyler Dyke set out to live in a big city. He lived in Chicago, Ill. and Tampa, Fla. After a few years of being away from his home state, Dyke realized that Lansing was where he wanted to be. He moved back to the area in 2008 and currently works as a securities examiner for the State of Michigan.
“Now more than ever, I feel a sense of responsibility to do my part to improving the Lansing region,” Dyke said. “Since moving back to Lansing, I have converted from being a person who complained about what Lansing was lacking to someone who actively participates in planning and developing events for the community.”
Dyke is actively involved in the community by serving on several boards of directors including The Firecracker Foundation, Michigan Pride and Grand River Connection. While Dyke loved what the big cities he lived in had to offer, he acknowledged that it’s easier in Lansing to get involved because it’s smaller. He said that Lansing will never be those large cities, and that’s what he has learned to love about his home.
“It has been a great honor to be recognized by Grand River Connection and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce for the 10 Over the Next Ten award,” said Dyke. “My advice to prospective future winners of this award is to get involved in what you love. If you want to see changes in this community, help make those changes.”
Angela Minicuci never expected to leave her hometown of Troy, Mich., especially because her entire family lives there. But while at Michigan State University, she realized just how much greater Lansing has to offer.
“I took advantage of opportunities that allowed me to see how much potential this community has,” said Minicuci. “People are so welcoming and passionate and I was instantly hooked.”
Minicuci currently works as the Communications Director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; all while serving multiple community organizations, including her role as president of the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America Board and sponsorship chair of the annual PACE Awards. She also volunteers on the Capital Area United Way Public Relations and Branding Committee, is co-chair of the Basic Needs Grant Review Team and marketing chair of the Peppermint Creek Theatre Company Board.
Her extensive work in the community lends itself to her advice to students in the area.
“I always tell them to get involved in the community, whether that be through internships or volunteering,” she said. “There’s so much value in growing professionally through getting involved as well as the value they’ll get out of being a part of truly humbling experiences within our community.”
Patrick Dean states his goal simply: “To make a bigger impact in our state.” And to do so, Dean, vice president of business development for Dean Transportation and Dean Trailways of Michigan, has stepped forcefully into the public policy/business development arena.
Dean is serving his second term as board president of the Information Technology Empowerment Center. He also serves as his family firm’s representative on the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and in 2014 was named by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons, which oversees licensing and industry practices.
Combined with his nonprofit activities, Dean sees his opportunity, along with the passion of other Millennials, to accelerate the transformation of the Lansing region.
“I’ve been impressed with the young professionals in this town,” Dean said. “When you think of this region and the great opportunities and investments that we are making, it is why young Millennials want to move back to the region and raise families.”
Dean has worked for Dean Transportation since 2007 in various operations and business development roles throughout the organization. Currently he is responsible for day-to-day business and operations management, focusing on contract and quality compliance, new business development and oversight of his local management teams.
Growing up in Williamston, Mich., Christopher Sell hardly knew Lansing. Heading west for him was a trip to the Meridian Mall. As for the city, it was mostly a mystery. Not anymore. Having obtained a master’s degree from Michigan State University and working at MSU where he is currently director of alumni and entrepreneur engagement – a program that builds advocacy and support for entrepreneurship, especially among students – he became entranced by Lansing and its attractions to young people.
“I moved to the city and my wife and I moved to the Groesbeck. I started to become familiar with all of the fantastic things happening here. But there was nothing in Lansing connecting young people, showing them the things happening in our community.”
So he and some friends formed Lansing 5:01, an initiative that created summer programs for college interns and young professionals, highlighting the quality of life available to them in the region. It’s an initiative that complements his involvement in #lovelansing, service on the board of directors of Impression 5 Science Center and Friends of the Lansing River Trail nonprofit organization.
Christopher graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University (WMU), a master’s degree from Michigan State University, the 2012 WMU Academic Leadership Academy and, recently, the inaugural 2015-2016 Leadership Lansing program.
Lauren Aitch is a designer-in-residence at The Runway in downtown Lansing and founder and CEO of two companies, Lady Aitch and Our Own, as well as her philanthropic organization, The Aitch Foundation. The start of Aitch’s career came after she left Michigan State University (MSU) with a bachelor’s degree in both advertising and design as well as a master’s degree in public relations. A student athlete in college, Aitch played professional basketball in Copenhagen, Denmark for one year. It was there that Aitch started to follow her passion for design and spent her free time sketching; thus, her fashion design company, Lady Aitch, was born.
“I took a lot away from that experience and it really gave me perspective on what I wanted to do next in my life,” said Aitch.
It was also around this time that Aitch began thinking of ideas for a foundation. Partnering with Dr. Jim Potchen and the MSU Health Teams, The Aitch Foundation was created to raise money for early detection of cancers. Along with this mission, the foundation also includes a youth-mentoring program, holds an annual fashion show at Spartan Stadium and sponsors advocacy days to for guests to learn more about health.
In addition to these organizations, Aitch created a second clothing line, Our Own, which produces high-performance undershirts for people in public service occupations. With so much going on Aitch has found time to support her community and act as an ambassador for the region.
“This city has provided me the opportunities and support I needed when I was trying to get my dreams off the ground, I just want to do the same for it,” said Aitch.
Once a month Ben Rathbun loads up his car with meals, delivering lunches to the aging and infirm in Lansing. For some of those he visits it may be the only hot meal of the day, perhaps their only personal contact.
It’s one way, Rathbun said, to make a difference. But there are others. An independent agent in his family insurance business, the Rathbun Agency, he works with those in need in different ways and at different times. He’s involved with Ele’s Place, where each Wednesday he acts as a support group facilitator, helping elementary school-age children talk about the personal losses they’ve experienced. And there’s the Lansing Rescue Mission, where he and co-workers serve up lunch to those in need.
He founded and chairs the Capital Region Habitat Young Professionals chapter, encouraging others like himself and his friends to support the housing provider’s mission. For Rathbun, it’s about investing in his hometown.
“You really learn a lot about the community,” he said of his volunteer activities. And about people, especially other young professionals. “One of the things I like about Lansing is that it may seem a big city, but it still has a small town feel. It means you can make a significant impact.”
Article by Megan Martin, Mickey Hirten & Ami Iceman-Haueter