Chattanooga continues to grow and prosper, presenting new challenges and great opportunities for our community.
We are fortunate to have an active, excited crop of young leaders committed to the Scenic City and ready to make the most of the chances given to us by the positive changes taking place in our region.
This year's 20 Under 40 recipients represent a diverse collection of the city's progressive spirit, from cutting-edge technology to locally grown heirloom tomatoes.
Each recipient extends their passion past their chosen profession to represent our community in countless other ways, making an impact that will be felt by generations to come.
Vitals: Architect/owner of David Barlew Architects • Board Vice President of Kidney Foundation • Member of Master Plan Committee for Brainerd Road Master Plan • Married and owner of three cats, Tyger, Sugar and Simon, and one dog, Dixie
Favorite food: I love hot peppers so anything Mexican, Thai, Indian or even just hot sauce.
Childhood aspirations: I honestly thought I'd be a scientist. I was the kid always catching turtles, lizards, snakes and bugs.
Secrets to success: Don't try to do everything at once. If you have a goal just keep working toward it in small, doable steps. Eventually it will total up and be something really great. When I took over the business we had no marketing materials and I don't have any experience with marketing. But I just did one sheet per project and kept adding to it. Now we have a substantial portfolio.
If I won the lottery: I would want to do SimCity but in real life. I would buy several blocks in Chattanooga and build whatever I wanted to.
Life-changing moment: Living in Poland. I studied abroad my fourth year in college in Krakow. Living there, everything was a puzzle. Even going to the grocery store was an adventure and I loved every minute of it.
If I were mayor... I'd change Chattanooga to be more multi-modal, meaning getting around on an efficient public transportation system or on foot or bicycle.
Vitals: Vice President of EMJ Corporation • Husband to Carla and father to Mary Morris, 5, and Maddy, 3 • Board member of ACE Mentor Program (Architects, Construction, Engineering)
Favorite bands: I'm from Austin so I'm a bit of a music nut. My sister is one of the event coordinators for the South by Southwest Festival so she keeps me in the loop. Right now I'm listening to Metronomy, Alabama Shakes, Dawes and Bon Iver.
Proudest professional moment: I would have to say completing the Hunter Museum Project. That was the last project I managed as a project manager and it was so special because it's essentially a sculpture. There are only a handful of jobs like that going on in the entire country in any given year. It was so special to be able to work on something that was so complicated, and the fact that our city has a building like that is really incredible.
Secrets to success: First and foremost my wife Carla. She has been and always will be my most trusted counselor. Secondly, I've had some great mentors. Our former head of office, Ron Jobe, and current head of office, Doug Martin, have taught me the vast majority of what I know. They taught me to plan my work and work my plan. Any success I've had is in large part due to these three people.
Worst job: In high school I was a salad chef at a restaurant/ bar called The Hula Hut. It's an awesome place but if you're at The Hula Hut the last thing you want to do is be in the kitchen making salads.
Vitals: Advertising and Special Projects, Delegator • Founder of The UnFoundation • Board member with AVA (Association for Visual Arts), Make Work, Chattanooga History Center, Glass House Collective • Founding manager, Track 29 • Guitar player for local band Shark Week
Reasons for starting his own foundation: It spurred from realizing you don't have to be 60 years old and a millionaire to be a philanthropist. Young people can be just as effective by pooling our resources.
Secrets to success: You never know what random interaction is going to lead to something significant happening in your life. So for that reason treat every interaction, every conversation, every opportunity equally. If your policy is to be consistently kind, respectful and hardworking to every person you meet, you never know how that will pay off.
Life-changing moment: I had just graduated college and a friend who has a window-washing business asked for my help. The last place we washed windows was at CreateHere. I was blown away by it. I had a scruffy beard and jean shorts on but I walked in and basically forced them to interview me, which ended up leading to a job there. I believe everything I've been able to do and the people I'm connected with are related to my time at CreateHere.
Future goals for Chattanooga: I don't want people to feel content or satisfied with all the progress we've made in the past 25 years. We've got the city everyone worked hard for, but if the new generation of leaders just sits back and enjoys it we are doomed to fall back into the same cycle. It's up to us to carry the torch rather than celebrating that we've been handed the torch.
Vitals: Orthopedic medical device sales representative, Stryker • Habitat for Humanity volunteer • Husband to Whitney and stepfather to Kailey, 6
Major Milestones: Has achieved 20 percent sales growth each year and named President's Club Member two out of three years.
Favorite book: I like anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
If I won the lottery... I would open a restaurant. I've always been fascinated with the farm-to-table movement and I think I'd really enjoy working with the farmers.
If not working or with family, where would you be? Traveling and eating my way through a country Anthony Bourdain style.
Secrets to success: Having time to myself in the morning is important - be it a quiet time or something like exercising. Disconnecting is very important, which is hard in what I do. Being on call I never know what the afterhours are going to bring so I try to take advantage of the calm before the storm so to speak.
If I were mayor... The public school system is the one area where we're still weak right now. As much positive that's going on in the city I think that's still a drawback to living here.
Life-changing moment: Not getting into medical school. For as long as I can remember I'd wanted to be a pediatrician. I was pre-med at Sewanee and went through the rigors of that curriculum and ended up not getting in. It seemed like I had spent my whole life working for something that wasn't meant to be, but that's how I changed gears to sales.
Little-known fact: I played the handbells in high school. I'm pretty sure my parents made me do it, but at least it was an easy A.
Vitals: Principal of Gilbert Elementary in LaFayette, Ga. Working to launch The Optimist Club in his area • Husband to Katie and father to Rylee, 12, and Jack, 5
How I landed my dream job: I taught fourth-grade reading and enjoyed it but I knew I wanted to be in administration. So before I finished my master's an assistant principal position came open and I thought I'd like to see what the interview process was like. I got the job.
Little known fact: I'm a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Favorite books: I like Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough. For kids, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.
Proudest professional moment: I don't know if there's one moment. We installed a school garden this year that I'm really proud of - it's huge and the beds spell out GES. We got a Math/iPad lab put in with beanbags. We're kind of known as the school on the other side of the tracks so it's neat to give everybody something they're proud of.
Secret to success: I try to focus on continual improvement. There's nothing you should be doing the same for 30 years. It used to be that a computer was just amazing to our kids and they were so engaged because they never had access to it. But kids now are amazed to go dig in the dirt. I'm getting my degree in educational technology so obviously I'm a big believer in technology but I think finding ways to pair it with hands-on experience can help solve the educational puzzle.
Vitals: Dentist • Junior League of Chattanooga • Upcoming PR/Communications Chair of Chattanooga Area Dental Society • Holds yearly charity dental cleaning day • Certified aerobics instructor • Owner of two dogs, Belle and Harry Winston
Wow factor: It's been about two years since I've owned my practice 100 percent and the growth we've seen has been amazing. It's basically tripled within a year. It's due to being surrounded by the right team and motivating them and creating a happy, caring environment where the patient is our number one priority no matter what.
Dream jobs: I've always wanted to be a dentist but my dream job would be a motivational speaker. I also wanted to be a Rockette growing up, but I didn't get to five feet tall until 10th grade so that dream was kind of squashed. If they ever had a mini squad I would totally be there!
Proudest professional moment: Graduating from dental school was a huge moment. But also the first time I did a cosmetic case - it was veneers. The patient broke down in tears and was so grateful to me for changing their life. The smile says so much. You can fix someone's makeup or their hair but self-esteem really lies within the smile.
Life-changing moment: I'll never forget my first year in dental school I had a doctor tell me I should have been a professional cheerleader and asked why I was even doing this. I was totally offended. I really had to have a major re-evaluation, but all it did was fuel my inner fire to be even better.
Vitals: Real Estate Broker • Vice president of East Brainerd Elementary PTA • Vice President of Friends of East Brainerd Board • Secretary of Brainerd/East Brainerd Council of the Chamber of Commerce • Hamilton County Zoning Board of Appeals • Leadership Chattanooga, 2011 • Full-time single father to Keaton, age 7
When not working or with family, we'd find you: Running or doing anything outdoors like hiking or mountain biking.
Career crossroad: I went to UTC and I have a chemistry degree and English Lit minor. So that does me a lot of good now. I was pre-med all through college. When I decided not to go to medical school, I just jumped into real estate.
Future plans: I really want to get into politics. I care tremendously about Chattanooga. I've lived here pretty much all my life and have watched East Brainerd change from these little pig path roads to a booming Hamilton Place. I think it's a great city and has tremendous potential but there's so much more that we can do.
Proudest moment: My son turning out to be a good child - he's very well behaved and does great in school.
Future goal for Chattanooga: I feel like there needs to be a better relationship between Chattanooga government and the constituents they represent. I think we pulled a lot of money out of our police force and they just don't have enough officers on the street. Chattanooga is growing pretty fast and I just don't think we thought about that and crime's kind of snuck up on us.
Vitals: Co-owner and GM of Track 29 • Trustee of the UnFoundation • Member of the Nightingale Network • Wife to Adam and owner of three dogs, Mallie, Lula and Olive, and one cat, Ruckus
Favorite bands: I love such a variety of music. My taste is really all over the board, but I am a longtime fan of what I call the two Daves of music - Dave Matthews and Dave Grohl. At the same time I love Girl Talk.
Childhood aspirations: I wanted to be a veterinarian. I started in pre-veterinary medicine in college but I realized my heart couldn't handle seeing all of the mistreated or abandoned animals - I'd be the one to take them all home with me. I quickly changed my focus to marketing.
Most proud professional moment: Having the courage to leave the comfort zone of a job I wasn't happy in without a set plan, and still knowing it was the best decision for me. It took a lot for me to do that because I'm such a planner. I feel like that pushed me professionally because I realized I didn't have to have a set plan to move forward.
Behind the curtain: I think people have this perception that it's all fun and games running a music venue, but it can be pretty non-stop. On the day of a show I'm usually here from 9 a.m. until 3 a.m. But when it all comes together and you're watching the show and seeing the guests' experiences, it makes it all worthwhile. And I can't give the team here credit enough.
Vitals: Director of Sales and Marketing, ERMC • Campaign manager for Mike Carter - District 29 Tennessee State Legislature • Volunteer for Memorial Hospital's Pink! Gala • Planning committee for Medical Society's Denim and Diamonds event • Hospice Planning Committee • Wife to Matt and mother to Allie Lynn, 5
Secrets to success: I work with all seven different divisions of ERMC so planning is key. I try to be one week ahead. I also think being self-motivated and proactive are important, but success for me is finding that balance between spiritual, personal and professional. I also work a lot when everyone else sleeps.
Proudest professional moment: I'm helping install a monitoring system at a local elementary school. ERMC Security Solutions donated the alarm system and through the PTA I helped organize a fundraiser that will add to it. I'd love to do this for all area schools to keep our kids and teachers safe and secure.
Life-changing moment: When I was I3 I woke up one morning after being very ill with Bell's palsy, meaning I couldn't move one side of my face. It eventually went away but it was very traumatic at that age - I didn't want to go to school. But it put me in a place not to ever take for granted your physical abilities. It made me grateful for the small things and put even more drive in me. You are so blessed if you are able to work.
Little-known facts: I went to college on a basketball scholarship and I'm only 5'2". I also have a twin brother.
Vitals: Farmer/owner of Signal Mountain Farm • Supporter of Chattanooga Area Food Bank through weekly donations
Proudest professional moment: One season we were harvesting, packing and selling about 1,500 pounds of No. 1 heirloom tomatoes every day, seven days a week. No. 1 tomatoes are really hard to get because they can't have even the slightest blemish.
Life-changing experience: My first overland motorcycle trip to Asia. I traveled through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam when I was just 18 years old. I try to do a trip like that every offseason. I've ridden all over South America, Asia, India, Colombia - 30 different countries in all.
Major milestones: I started out in 1998 with a quarter acre and about 15 families I did home delivery to. Now we're farming roughly 60 acres and distributing throughout Chattanooga and Atlanta, as well as the Southeast through Whole Foods. We aim to have more than 150 families in our CSA program this year.
Advice to 10-year-old self: I would tell myself to start learning more languages, save money and buy more land. Worst job: When I was 18 I worked for three months in Laos clearing five acres of jungle with a machete then turning the land by hand with a hoe. I was living on the farm and they were feeding me, but I did the work for free.
Vitals: Site Communications Manager for Wacker Polysilicon North America • Committee chair for TenneSEIA (Solar Energy Industry Association) • Walker Valley High School Marketing advisory board • Economic Development Council for Bradley County • Government Affairs Committee for Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association • Lookout Chapter of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) • Wife to Sergio
Proudest professional moment: I worked with the city of Chattanooga while still at my agency job putting together the Tennessee Municipal League's annual meeting. It was mayors and congressmen and all sorts of elected officials from the entire state of Tennessee. I helped the city organize a celebration for them at the Chattanooga Zoo - it was about 900 people. It was a great way to show off how wonderful our city is.
Hidden talent: I was the bass guitarist in a progressive rock alternative band for nearly 10 years called Frankly Scarlett. It was all through college, grad school and a little when I was working. I really enjoyed that time of my life. It also taught me a lot about promoting and grassroots efforts, which has really helped in my career in communications.
Childhood aspirations: In kindergarten I wanted to be a spokesmodel. I don't know what I wanted to talk about but that's really what I thought I wanted to be.
Little known facts: I teach dance lessons at Karen Horton School of Dance. It keeps me young. I also used to have two pet snakes - I love reptiles.
Vitals: Deputy Director of Chattanooga Hamilton County Planning Agency (land-use/transportation planning) • Chair of Signal Mountain Design Review Commission • Room Parent at Siskin Children's Institute • Section Director of Tennessee American Planning Association • Wife to Keith Grant and mother to Isaac, 5, and Wyatt, 2
Hobbies: I enjoy cooking. I try to do a home-cooked meal every night but I really love to try new recipes so some nights are more successful than others.
Proudest professional moment: Getting to the point where I've learned how to lead an effective meeting even if things get contentious. I now can appreciate the process of working through a problem, listening, thinking on my feet and to be able to understand passion while still conveying information.
Advice to 10-year-old self: I wish I'd learned earlier to appreciate the variation in people. Every personality type brings something to the table and I now really value and appreciate that.
Future goals for Chattanooga: I kind of think of Chattanooga as a teenager - we've experienced a lot of growth and developed as a community but still have a way to grow. I hope we as a group make good choices and really think carefully about what kind of community we want to be, what we want to preserve, what we want to change and how will we make that happen. But I'm very excited about Chattanooga's future and I think that's a great place to be.
Vitals: Program Manager with River City Company • PR/Marketing for Brewhaus, On the List Catering and Fork & Pie Bar • Past president of YPAC (Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga) • Member of Cornerstone Development Committee, Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Palate 2 Palette Steering Committee, Allied Arts Governance Committee and Nightingale Network • Graduate of Holmberg Arts Leadership Committee • Wife to Michael and mother to Elijah, 9 months
If I were mayor... I would create a Police Athletic League, which is basically a sports camp run by the police, which helps engage them more with youth. I think it could do wonders for our city, especially with the gang issue we're having right now.
Life-changing moment: Becoming a mom. You tend to think life is going to stop once you have kids and you won't be able to continue being the person you are. But the beauty of being a mom is that you don't continue being the same person - you're better. Having my son was so empowering. It just makes me want to get everything that I've ever wanted to do and more completed to show him how to be a good steward to our community.
Little-known facts: I have a degree in theatre and went to school on a dance scholarship. I did tap, jazz and ballet, but I also clogged for 12 years.
Worst job: I was a telemarketer for about five days when I was 16.
Vitals: Town Manager of Signal Mountain • Sunday school teacher at Signal Mountain Bible Church • Wife to Joshua and mother to Parker, 4 months old
Favorite food: Cereal. I must have 10 boxes in my house - I have to have a variety.
Proudest professional moment: Getting my job at age 26. It was my first full-time position as a city manager and I had to work really hard to get it at my age. Fortunately I have a council that looks at qualifications instead of years.
Secrets to success: I would say my faith. When I have a decision at work I'll pray over it, and I also think it helps me in service to others. Also my husband - we're equal partners at home. I'm also a big believer in lists or I won't remember what I'm doing. I'm one of those people who will write it down just so I can cross it off.
Spare time: I love to read. I'm also a professional looker - I don't shop as much as I look.
Advice to 10-year-old self: I'd probably tell myself to focus on my future versus my present. I know that probably sounds opposite but that was a really rough time in my life. My parents were getting a divorce. I wish I'd had the foresight of what's to come.
Life-changing moment: When I got saved. It was on a college trip to Cairo, Egypt and I was standing in the middle of a landfill where Christians were persecuted.
Vitals: Orthopedic Surgeon • Emily's Power for a Cure half-marathon participant • Project Access (provides healthcare for the uninsured) • Husband to Mindy and father to Colin, 5, Ryan, 4, and Evan, 2
Life-changing moment: When my son, Colin, was diagnosed at 14 months old with neuroblastoma. It's the second most common childhood cancer but the survival rate is 30 percent. This happened the first year of my practice. Talk about redefining who you are as a human - it definitely changed my priorities and the way I viewed relationships. But he's doing great now and has no evidence of disease. He's one of the lucky ones.
Little-known fact: I'm one of the ringside doctors for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) when they come to Tennessee. The UFC is like the Super Bowl of martial arts. We also have a traveling Scottish surgical fellow visit Chattanooga annually to observe surgery in the U.S. system, which seems to be one of many connections Chattanooga has with Scotland.
If I won the lottery... I'd do what I'm doing now but probably focus more on innovation. I do some consulting and have secured a few patents for surgical devices. I was an engineer in college and one of the reasons I went into orthopedics was to have that synergy and understand some of the bio-mechanical concepts better. I try not to have too many expectations about it now but I think it has the potential to be something that alters the way people practice in the future.
Hidden talents: I play the piano, banjo and guitar. When I was in residency I used to sing and play guitar at an Atlanta sushi bar.
Vitals: Vice president of marketing for Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau • Leadership Chattanooga 2012 • North Chattanooga Chamber Board • Marketing Committee for Normal Park Fork and Gavel fundraiser • Dragon boat racer for Children's Hospital at Erlanger • Husband to Kourtney and father to Jack, 4, and Liam, 1
Favorite Book: Three Musketeers. I read it while on a 30-day NOLS backpacking trip in the Yukon. Whether it was the book or the setting I'm not sure.
Why I love my job: I took a year off in my 20s and traveled the world with my wife. I sold just about everything I owned, took my savings and we just went off and traveled. That's why I have no challenge recommending that other people come see Chattanooga. I KNOW we have it good here.
Life-changing moment: Traveling around the world really shaped who I am and put in perspective how good our lives are. We were not staying in nice places - hostels and friends and family where we could find it. We rode public transportation everywhere, which in Guatemala means riding around in a chicken bus.
Wow factor: I was a producer for seven years with CNN. I covered science, technology and space. I got to go to shuttle launches, covered the Mars landings, fly on a zero G flight, go to NASA's underwater research center and fly a full-shuttle simulator.
Worst job: I was a gorilla for a weekend at a convention. I put it on my resume for the next 10 years because it was such a great conversation piece.
Vitals: Judicial Commissioner (magistrate) • Volunteer judge for high school mock trials through the Young Lawyers Division of the Chattanooga Bar Association • Leadership Chattanooga, 2011 • Mother to Sierra, 15, Shane, 13, and Shamond, 12, and owner of a 3-year-old shih tzu, Butters
Childhood aspirations: A model, but I stopped growing. I'm only 5 feet tall! But I've always liked the law.
Life-changing moment: In 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm in remission - it's completely gone - but it helped me realize how fragile life is and that you literally need to make every moment count.
Major milestones: I moved to Chattanooga in 2007, started interning at the Public Defender's Office in 2008, got laid off later that year from the job that moved me here, got diagnosed with cancer in 2009, passed the bar in 2010 and was appointed to be judicial commissioner in 2011.
Secrets to success: Prayer, which allows me to keep a positive attitude. And I'm very resilient - I always have been. Growing up - I had to be probably 5 or 6 years old - I wanted to go to this candy store. I invited a friend who was maybe 8 to walk with me and her grandfather said, "You all don't need to be going to that candy store. You have to cross a busy street - it's too far." And I said, "It ain't too far for me!" I've always had that attitude. I've always felt like nothing is too hard, I could do anything as long as I put my mind to it and don't quit.
Vitals: News Director, WRCB-TV Channel 3 • Board member of Tennessee Associated Press, Hamilton County UT Alumni Association and Partnership for Christian Media • Leadership Chattanooga, 2009 • Husband to Heather and father to Zoe, 8, and Ella Claire, 4
Favorite bands: Coldplay and Chris Tomlin
Proudest professional moment: Building a new team at Channel 3 and seeing them win the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence. It's the highest level of Murrow awards and we were competing within a five-state region. It hasn't been in Chattanooga since 2003.
Life-changing moment: In college I wanted to be an on-air reporter. One of my broadcasting professors pulled me to the side and told me the qualities she saw in me as a producer or a manager, which was her way of saying I don't see you as a reporter but I do see you taking a producer or managing route. She was so convincing that literally like a switch I changed my dream that day and never looked back.
Not so picture perfect: I was flipping through family pictures a few years ago and realized that almost all the pictures that I was in the background I was on my phone. I saw it from my family's eyes, that all I was doing was working. It was really embarrassing to me to think that was who I'd become. It made me realize I don't have to answer every email within five minutes to be successful. I slow down a lot more now and try to keep things in balance.
Vitals: Chief of Staff for Senator Bob Corker • Husband to Katie and father to Laura Kate, 10, Rebekah, 8, John, 6, and Andrew, 4
Going the distance: I'm actually in Washington half the week and back in Chattanooga half the week. It's been great because you get out of that insular, beltway environment and you get home and it's amazing the kind of feedback you get from folks that you can take back every week. It's a sacrifice for my family and wife but it's really been an important way to do the job.
Secrets to success: Find something you like doing, work for someone you respect and really throw yourself into it. Throughout my career I've tried to never say no and give it all I've got.
Proudest professional moment: Standing at the Hunter Museum of Art for the Volkswagen announcement. We got the word Friday morning and actually negotiated the deal around Senator Corker's dining room table. There was going to be a small press conference but word got out. People literally stopped what they were doing and before you knew it, the atrium was packed. Just knowing the tens of thousands of families that would be impacted made it one of my most meaningful experiences.
Worst job: I had a friend in high school whose dad owned rental houses. He paid us each $100 to paint a house. All I did for about two or three weeks was scrape and paint and it was about an hour's drive away.
Vitals: Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at UTC • Husband to Angela and father to Nathan, 8, Nicholas, 7, and Seth, 2
Life-changing realization: Convincing my wife to sell our house and move to Canada with our two small children so I could pursue a master's in theology. Ever since high school I'd wanted to be in finance, and I had my dream job as a stockbroker in Florida. I was successful but I became disillusioned with the whole business - it wasn't very fulfilling. Now I'm making peanuts doing what I love.
Proudest professional moment: I published my first book last year with Oxford University Press, a biography on 18th century evangelical John Erskine. I have a second contract with Oxford for a book on early evangelicalism that I hope will become a textbook.
Secrets to success: I'm not so concerned about success. I just try to have fun in what I do. I really enjoy teaching the students - they keep you young. I thought I was young until I made a Seinfeld reference and they had no idea what I was talking about.
Worst job: Working in a bakery at a grocery store. I had to get there at 5 a.m. and stand all day covered in flour. I also worked with these old ladies who would bicker all day.