‘20 Under 40’ is just the start of the talent that’s up and coming in the Flathead

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Did you see the Inter Lake’s special section recently when we featured the winners of the second annual “20 Under 40” contest?

At a time when the world seems to get crazier by the day, these young professionals — already rich with accomplishments — represent the hope of the future for the Flathead and beyond.

I won’t try to identify all the winners and their various special talents in this column, but you can see them for yourselves. Just visit our website at http://dailyinterlake.mt.newsmemory.com//landing.php and scroll down to Special Sections.

What you’ll find is a mix of business owners, managers and professionals, as well as several nonprofit directors and one school administrator. They were honored at a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon recently, in a program coordinated by the Inter Lake with the help of the Flathead Area Young Professionals and the Whitefish Credit Union.

Congratulations to all of the winners, but what do they have in common? Virtually nothing — other than their success. Indeed, they represent the wide breadth of achievement that is possible to those who apply themselves. There is no cookie-cutter formula, and no single marker that gave them a guaranteed spot among the winners.

What first brought them all to our attention was you, our readers — they were each nominated by someone who knew them, worked with them, admired them. That process resulted in nearly 100 worthy names being sent our way. Then the hard work began, as our 17 judges used a variety of criteria to narrow down the list to semifinalists and then finalists.

The candidates were graded on professional accomplishments and community participation, and each was asked to answer two questions: “What’s the best thing about living and working in this community?” and “Who is the person that’s had the biggest influence on you and why?” Those answers were also graded.

Combine all that, and the selection committee came up with the final 20. That’s quite an honor, but no one here at the Inter Lake is under the illusion that these 20 are the only young professionals worthy of attention. They caught our attention this year largely because they were nominated by their peers, but we spend the entire year looking for movers and shakers to highlight in our news pages.

If you know of someone who deserves broader attention for his or her accomplishments (and 14 of our top 20 this year were women!), please drop me an email at fmiele@dailyinterlake.com or call me at 406-758-4447. Thanks!

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