Message to 20 under 40 class: single action could bolster future leaders, communities


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WATERTOWN — Keynote speaker Joshua J. LaFave struck a small tuning fork during Thursday’s 20 under 40 luncheon to demonstrate a metaphor about leadership.

A single act, he said to the 20 young professionals joining the 2018 class of emerging leaders, can resonate in others and spread across a community, helping to improve it as a whole.

“The most important thing about this metaphor is it doesn’t stop unless you stop it,” Mr. LaFave said. “You’re hitting your own tuning fork. It’ll spread as you help others find their own tuning fork.”

Friends, families and colleagues joined members of the eighth 20 under 40 class as they listened to the executive director of graduate and continuing education at SUNY Potsdam.

Mr. LaFave, who also spearheaded the revival of the St. Lawrence Leadership Institute, said professionals must practice everyday leadership to inspire positive action in their communities. Leaders also have a responsibility to foster relationships that evoke positivity and awe and help others better themselves.

“As leaders, it’s our responsibility to create leaders,” he said.

The 20 young professionals were selected from more than 80 nominees, including several who never expected a nomination.

Kylie Peck, 35, chief executive officer of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, said she was surprised and honored when she received the news. She encouraged prospective leaders to serve as catalysts for change in their community.

“Keep plugging away. Keep reaching towards your goals. Keep moving forward,” said Brittany Davis, 29, marketing and communication specialist for the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency.

Devon Shelmidine, 30, crops, equipment and facilities manager for Sheland Farms, said he was honored to be deemed a leader in his community, and advised his peers to be involved and remain humble.

“(I’m) extremely proud that he’s accomplished what he has in the short time he’s been an adult,” said his father, Douglas Shelmidine, owner of Sheland Farms.

The 2018 20 under 40 class also includes Nance Arquiett, 36, 2 Mama Birds; Jamie Ashley, 38, Community Bank, NA; Christine Augliano, 30, Northern Glass Co., Inc.; Brooke Bazinet, 36, Children’s Home of Jefferson County; Jacqueline Bill, 36, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES; Nichol Borland, 34, 10th Mountain Division-Fort Drum; and Justin Brotherton, 34, Brotherton Law Firm.

Also inducted were Brian Buell, 30, Brian Buell Hoof Trimming; Jonathan Cole, 33, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization; Erin Draper, 36, Clarkson University; Meredith Fox, 37, Watertown Savings Bank; Stephen Hunt, 38, Empire State Development; Kristen LaClair, 36, Children’s Miracle Network; John Nuber, 37, RBC Wealth Management; Emily Soderquist, 29, Samaritan Medical Center; Billy Soluri, 38, Watertown Industrial Development Corp.; and Ammbrose Souza, 39, Watertown Family YMCA.

“This year’s eighth annual class of 20 Under 40 again was diverse and full of committed community members,” said Holly C. Boname, editor of NNY Magazines. “It’s an honor for me to be able to recognize these individuals with their family, friends, peers and fellow NNY leaders. I look forward to next year’s nominations and to be able to continue to grow NNY Business Magazine’s class of emerging leaders.”


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