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Honorees pose for a photo to close out the event at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
Honorees pose for a photo to close out the event at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.

Blog: Record crowd makes for memorable night honoring YPs

Posted online

If you were at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center last night, or even within a few blocks of it, you know how grand this year’s 40 Under 40 event was.

Here were some of my favorite moments from the celebration of the 2019 class, which boasted record attendance of 520 people to celebrate our community’s top young professionals.

Always working
These 40 Under 40 honorees don’t rest much. That’s likely how they’ve racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in relatively short careers.

Cameron LaBarr, who directs choral studies at Missouri State University, had a gig the night of the event on campus. We skipped the A-Z award order to allow LaBarr to accept first and head out for the 7:30 p.m. concert.

But before he could leave, he ran into a tenant that lives in one of the 50 properties in his real estate portfolio: Lauren Barnas, one of the night’s emcees and host of KOLR10’s morning show.

A lot of laughs came from the crowd when Barnas sent LaBarr off the stage with, “I think you’re my landlord.”

Another favorite moment also included Barnas.

She announced the award for Nichole Lemmon, the director of blended learning for Springfield Public Schools. But before that role, Lemmon was a teacher at Central High School. Barnas, a 2012 grad, was one of her students.

It was a beautiful student-teacher moment caught on stage between the two women who have achieved success in their careers. SBJ photographer Wes Hamilton overheard Lemmon say “congratulations” back to Barnas as the two exchanged a hug.

Humble honorees
Three honorees shared with me that this award came unexpectedly for them. They initially considered not submitting their 40 Under 40 questionnaire after being nominated. They were so sure they would not be selected.

One of those humble honorees was James Wilson, the general manager of NewStream Enterprises LLC.

Before the event, he said he struggled to brag on himself when answering questions on the questionnaire like, “Give at least three examples of how you have shown leadership professionally.”

He took the packet to his team and asked for their feedback to craft his response. What a rare opportunity to learn from employees on the traits they appreciate in their leader. I hope other honorees took the same chance to gather feedback on what makes them stand out.

The last to accept his honor, Wilson’s friends, family and co-workers did the wave as he took the stage. That might have been a first.

Giving hearts
The honorees selected by the judges for this 40 Under 40 class are not just good at their jobs. That’s truly the baseline. These 40 young professionals go above and beyond, and a lot of that is captured in their volunteer service outside of the office.

That was on display when Discovery Center Executive Director Rob Blevins announced the 2019 Class of Honorees raised $16,734 for STEM education at the center. Discovery Center was this year’s 40 Under 40 charity partner, and each honoree was given the opportunity to raise money for the nonprofit as one way to celebrate their honor.

Ryan Sivill of BKD LLP deserves a round of applause for personally fundraising over $6,000 to lead the pack. What a guy.

I hope each honoree left the event last night with a renewed sense of purpose. It’s important to acknowledge the people who make our community great, and these 40 individuals are the best of the best.


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