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30 under 30 2018

30 Under 30 2018

We asked, and you totally delivered!

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This year’s 30 Under 30 competition opened our eyes to so many ambitious, goal-oriented, and passionate Eastsiders that we had a hard time selecting the honorees. There was a 16-year-old high school student whose technology startup is rapidly gaining ground. There was a TV reporter who knew who she wanted to be even as she left the former Soviet Union with her family at age 5. And then there was the SoulCycle instructor who is so beloved by his students that 19 of them felt motivated to nominate him — more than any previous nominee in the history of our competition. After much debate, we landed on what we felt was the best of the best. So now we present to you: the 2018 class of 30 Under 30 honorees.

Words by Zoe Branch, Joanna Kresge, Olivia Langen, Todd Matthews, Cole Paxton, Sophia Sonovich, and Courtney Wolfe
Photos by Tori Dickson, Jeff Hobson, Jason Matias, and Roman Rivera


Join us Thursday, Sept. 13, at WeWork Lincoln Square in Bellevue as we honor this year’s winners.
Tickets are available here.

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Ariv Adiaman

Ariv Adiaman, 27

Real estate professional, Vozhi, LLC

Residence
Seattle
Hometown
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Education
University of Washington, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
First job
Cashier at Kentucky Fried Chicken
Hobbies
Rapping, exercising, playing basketball, and technology
Favorite podcast
“Hidden Brain”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists. On the contrary: We understand that life is short. We’re a generation quick to pivot toward interests that offer a deeper sense of purpose.”

Ariv Adiaman might be a dreamer — but he definitely doesn’t have his head in the clouds. As the proud son of two immigrant parents, Adiaman was exposed to the concepts of hard work, humility, and integrity at a very young age. So he applies those principles, along with logic, to his dreams to turn them into successful realities. Less than two years ago, Adiaman quit his corporate job as an engineer to launch a successful real estate solutions company. Next on his to-do list? Integrating real estate investing with culture, music, and technology to inspire positive change for the community. – CW

 


 

Tatevik Aprikyan

Tatevik Aprikyan, 29

Reporter, Q13 Fox News

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Yerevan, Armenia
Education
Columbia College Chicago
First job
Newspaper reporter
Hobbies
Tennis, travel, and reading
Favorite podcast
N/A
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials are lazy and entitled.”

Tatevik Aprikyan may be the last person on the planet who still uses a BlackBerry, but she tends to be a trendsetter. She has established herself as a major-market reporter less than a decade removed from college, but her journalism career began long before that. Officially, it started when she snagged reporting assignments at age 16 for the Bellevue Reporter, where she learned how much grit was needed to be taken seriously. But unofficially, it started a decade earlier, when she detailed her new life in America — after leaving Armenia at age 5 as the Soviet Union collapsed — into the family camcorder. Both reporting and hard work are innate for Aprikyan, for whom English is a fourth language. Plus, she sits on the board of a nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid to Armenian orphans, emcees fundraisers and events, and chats with students about a careers in journalism.  — CP

 


 

Aani Aslam

Aania Aslam, 23

Product marketer, Tableau Software
Blogger, Life of AAni

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Bellevue
Education
University of Washington, Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems
First job
Microsoft intern
Hobbies
Traveling, cycling, exploring Seattle, and anything to do with blogging and social media
Favorite podcast
“The Happiness Project”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The myth that millennials are lazy.”

Aania Aslam is not only a product marketer for Tableau Software, but also a lifestyle blogger for her own brand, Life of Aani. Aslam has always reached for the stars, as her first job was as a high school intern for Microsoft. “I was only 18 and had landed my own office in the corporate world of Microsoft, so you could say I had to learn about office etiquette, presentation skills, and having lots of confidence very early on,” Aslam shared. “I think it taught me how to hold my own and be a strong woman — even when I’m only 4-11.” Not only does Aslam defy expectations with her day job and produce high-quality content for her blog, but she also spends countless hours giving back to her community through volunteer work. — SS

 


Earl Benjamin

Earl C. Benjamin Jr., 29

Instructor, Soulcycle Bellevue and South Lake Union

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Education
St. Johns University,  Bachelor of Science in Journalism
First job
Sales rep at DSW
Hobbies
Photography, walking his puppy, writing poetry, hiking, reading, being with friends, and spending time by the ocean on visits home
Favorite podcast
“Elevation with Steven Furtick”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That millennials are not educated.”

Earl C. Benjamin Jr. inspires more members of the community by 8 a.m. than most people could manage to impress in a month. As an instructor at SoulCycle Bellevue, Benjamin offers much more than fitness advice. He received more nominations than any other young professional on this list, and all his nominators consider him their unofficial life coach. “Earl shows up to a dark room to teach 60+ people on bikes how to fight to be their own light,” said Kaiti Staup, one of Benjamin’s students. “He elevates individuals and enriches the Bellevue community through his steadfast determination and supreme faith.” Benjamin is so involved with community organizations like Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and Search and Rescue that his friends call him the “Mayor of Bellevue.” A “genuine angel” in his students’ and friends’ eyes, Benjamin always is looking for new ways to help others. — CW

 


Danny Brawer

Danny Brawer, 28

Co-Owner, Just Poké

Residence
Mercer Island
Hometown
Mercer Island
Education
University of California Davis, Bachelors Degree in Economics and Political Science
First job
Recruiter
Hobbies
Sports, cooking, and traveling
Favorite podcast
“Serial”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The idea that millennials job hop more than other generations.”

Danny Brawer opened his first location of Just Poké in Kirkland in 2016 alongside his elementary school friend and now roommate Norman Wu. Eating clean, acting right, and living well is the foundation that this duo built their business on. They have expanded to eight locations on the Eastside, all while providing sustainably sourced fish and compostable materials. “I often tell my team that Washington is not just a place for us to do business, but a home to take care of,” Brawer shared. When he isn’t hustling at Just Poké, Brawer enjoys exploring other countries — so far he has visited more than 50.  — SS

 


 

Madelynn BrownMadelynn Brown, 27

Digital Marketing Senior Manager, Amazon Web Services

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Tacoma
Education
LIM College, bachelor’s degree in business
First job
Cleaning people’s desks at her mom’s office from ages 8-10
Hobbies
Traveling, playing tennis, shopping, hanging out with family and friends, and enjoying happy hours
Favorite podcast
“Unladylike”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That millennials are referred to as lazy and entitled — I think oftentimes millennial confidence and self-worth can be misconstrued as entitlement.”

While there are many words that could be associated with Madelynn Brown — “successful,” “smart,” and “hardworking” are just a few — the ones she most strongly associates with might be “girl power.” After college, Brown worked in engineering at a Fortune 500 company as a technical product manager with only a degree from a fashion school. Now, she is a senior manager in digital marketing at Amazon — a job that aligns more with her interests — and she spreads the girl power around as a member on the board of directors for The Sophia Way, an Eastside shelter that helps homeless women get back on their feet. “I hope I can be an inspiration for other young women who feel like they are unqualified for roles on paper, or too young to manage teams, so they can see what is achievable through hard work, passion, and strong character,” Brown said. — CW

 


 

Tyler Cassara-Smith

Tyler Cassara-Smith, 29

Project Director, David Brown International

Residence
Kirkland
Hometown
Bellevue
Education
Bellevue College, Associate Degree
First job
Administrative assistant
Hobbies
Boating
Favorite podcast
”Weekend Radio”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“We are entitled and lazy. No. We just work smarter instead of harder.”

Finding the right talent for architecture and design firms is something David Brown, founder and CEO of David Brown International, has been doing for years. But the job would be much more difficult without his project director, Tyler Cassara-Smith. “Tyler is an entrepreneur whose purpose is to expand our business and continue the reputation of our firm,” Brown explained. “He strives to build our brand, not only making it a locally recognized name, but a national and international name, too.” An Eastside “Bellevedere” (someone who was born and raised in Bellevue), Cassara-Smith offered staffing solutions, business development, and account management expertise to Amazon, Expedia, Google, Microsoft, and T-Mobile before landing at David Brown International. — TM

 


 

Cody Castiglia

Cody Castiglia, 27

Owner, Della Terra

Residence
Snohomish
Hometown
Buffalo, New York
Education
Niagara University, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management
First job
Setting up tables and chairs at his uncle’s business
Hobbies
Exploring the Northwest with his wife, Lia
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The myth that we are irresponsible and not driven.”

Having grown up in a family of chefs, foodies, and restauranteurs, Cody Castiglia decided to step out of the frying pan and into the farm. And then, well, back to the frying pan. His restaurant Della Terra, which means “from the Earth” in Italian, provides farm-to-table catering to the entire Eastside and greater-Seattle areas. Depending on what’s fresh, the menu changes every season — this is part of Castiglia’s philosophy that good food is made with seasonal local ingredients. Castiglia’s friends, co-workers, and collaborators admire his commitment to sustainable ingredients through his connections with Snohomish farmers. Between catering orders, teaching cooking classes, and running the restaurant in Snohomish, Castiglia backs hunger and homelessness organizations that support local farmers. He also enjoys teaching young children how to cook. — OL

 


 

Anthony Gill

Anthony Gill, 24

Economic Development Analyst, City of Bellevue

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Spokane
Education
Santa Clara University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics
First job
Lifeguard
Hobbies
Skiing, hiking, traveling, writing, and agonizing over politics on Twitter
Favorite podcast
“Citations Needed”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“I could talk about avocado toast, but I actually think the biggest problem I have is the idea that millennials even exist. For the most part, people are born continuously — not in waves.”

Anthony Gill’s LinkedIn profile describes him as an “advocate for strong cities and equitable economies,” which sums up his passions quite well. Gill is currently the economic development analyst for the City of Bellevue, where he works to expand large corporations on the Eastside. The saying “follow your passions and the rest will follow,” could not explain him better. Gill’s launch of Spokane Rising in 2016, an urbanist blog and op-ed column, led him down a path to his position with the City of Bellevue. — SS

 


 

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Michael Huntley

Michael Huntley, 25

Product Marketing Manager, Mixer, Microsoft

Residence
Kirkland
Hometown
Columbus, Ohio
Education
Harvard University, Bachelor of Arts in Economics
First job
Lifeguard
Hobbies
Playing video games and boxing
Favorite podcast
“Pod Save America”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“All millennials supposedly love avocado toast (I don’t).”

As a very small fish in the very big pond that is Microsoft, Michael Huntley said he’s trying to figure out how to leverage the right people and make himself heard. If his first few years at the company are any indication, he is doing a fine job of making that happen. He leveraged his Harvard education and lifelong passion for games into a Microsoft internship, leveraged that stint into a two-year rotation program after graduation, and leveraged that into the permanent position he now holds. And at just 25, Huntley should have plenty near-endless time ahead of him for many more rises. — CP

 


 

Caleb John

Caleb John, 16

CEO and Founder, Cedar Robotics

Residence
Sammamish
Education
Currently a student at Tesla STEM High School
First job
Teaching coding and piano lessons
Hobbies
Watching the NBA and NFL, playing pickup basketball, building small electronics and software projects, and trading stocks
Favorite podcast
“How I Built This with Guy Raz”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The myth that millennials are lazy bothers me, as I see many of my friends work very hard every single day at school, sports, and in their businesses.”

Just over halfway to 30, Caleb John has already made big career moves: He has been programming for four years; tested out his hand in entrepreneurship with piano and coding lessons; and is now CEO of Cedar Robotics, a company that produces robots designed to help restaurants improve customer service. “Cedar faced numerous obstacles at first,” said John. “A lot of the technology we wanted to use was either too expensive or too inconsistent.” This led him to pivot earlier this year to thinking about producing robots for the restaurant industry, where the company has since gained traction. “I think Caleb’s ability to execute ideas is what differentiates him,” said his friend and classmate Ayan Gupta. “Many people at our high school have had great business ideas, but he has been able to actually see his idea through.” — ZB

 


 

Lindsay Lagreid

Lindsay Lagreid, 27

Solution Architect, Limeade

Residence
Ballard
Hometown
Oakland, California
Education
Arizona State University, Master’s degree in Healthcare Innovation; WSU, Bachelor of Science in Developmental Kinesiology
First job
Receptionist at Massage Envy
Hobbies
Yoga, cooking, hiking, reading, and meditation
Favorite podcast
“Supersoul Conversations”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That millennials are unsatisfied with work — we’re changing the way the world works and bringing joy back to jobs!”

Lindsay Lagreid lives and breathes Limeade’s mission to help companies thrive by cultivating social well-being and engagement among employees. Her original interest in working in the well-being industry came from a desire to become a healthier version of herself, which extended far beyond physical wellness. “True well-being — feeling good and living with purpose — is a powerful experience I believe all people deserve and should be supported in pursuing,” Lagreid said. “Mental, emotional, physical, financial, and workplace well-being are all crucial ingredients to living a big, bold, beautiful life.” For Lagreid, this life includes ample time spent with friends and family, a good dose of the outdoors, mindful self-care, and gratitude. — ZB

 


 

Chelsea Long

Chelsea Long, 25

Restaurant Supervisor, The Heathman Hotel

Residence
Mukilteo
Hometown
Yakima
Education
Washington State University, Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Business Management
First job
Winery greeter
Hobbies
Avid foodie
Favorite podcast
“Sword and Scale”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“We don’t have a work ethic.”

Chelsea Long is putting in quite an effort to dispel the idea that millennials don’t work hard. In roughly a year supervising Trellis Restaurant at the stately Heathman Hotel in downtown Kirkland, Long has steadily been given more and more responsibility. Supervisors laud her energy and ability to constantly make her team more efficient, but her passion for food and drink doesn’t end when the work does. The self-described foodie is constantly trying new restaurants and drinks to see what’s up in the hospitality industry.  — CP

 


 

Jimmy McCurry

Jimmy McCurry, 28

Owner, Progressive Performance Strength and Fitness

Residence
Kenmore
Hometown
Woodinville
Education
Western Washington University, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
First job
Junior high wrestling coach
Hobbies
Powerlifting and spending time with his dogs
Favorite podcast
“The JuggLife”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials are not willing to work hard for anything.”

Jimmy McCurry wasn’t always destined to open a personal training gym. In fact, he was out of shape when he started wrestling at Woodinville High School (but improved so much) that the program now gives out an award in his name to its most-improved wrestler. Now he’s full of power in body and in business. McCurry powerlifts avidly and has introduced clients to the sport, many of whom now hold state and national records. He routinely worked 12-plus-hour days as he got his gym humming, and has had to expand his space as 18 members became 130. Many of them rave about his “radical” training method, which incorporates hard science instead of the latest common trends. But McCurry doesn’t just cater to fitness mavens; he has worked with pregnant and postpartum clients, people recovering from injuries, and youth athletes. He routinely volunteers in local schools and sets up workouts with proceeds directed to charity.  — CP

 


 

Jennifer Mortensen

Jennifer Mortensen, 27

Designer, Gene Juarez Men at the Bravern

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Findlay, Ohio
First job
Barista
Hobbies
Backpacking and hiking
Favorite podcast
“I’m not much of a podcast girl; I’m more of a music girl.”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“We don’t know how to communicate without texting and smartphones.”

Jennifer “Jo” Mortensen has built a thriving and loyal clientele while earning the reputation as an ethical and hard-working premier designer in the five years she has worked at Gene Juarez Men at The Bravern in downtown Bellevue. “I absolutely love my job,” Mortensen raved. “I am so thankful to have found a career path that is my passion at such a young age.” A self-described extroverted goofball, Mortensen considers herself a ham, even if she’s the only one who laughs at her own jokes; makes sure to sing to her favorite songs using all the wrong words; and is known to don wigs with her friends and dance around a room on a Friday night. When she’s not behind a salon chair, Mortensen is a volunteer at The Bridge Ministries, which helps disabled adults. — TM

 


 

Thao Nguyen

Thao Nguyen, 26

Owner, Lotte Hair Salon

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Seattle
Education
Gene Juarez Academy
First job
McDonald’s
Hobbies
Cars and motorsports, fashion, reading, eating, blogging, anime, and golf
Favorite podcast
Anything by Andy Frisella
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials would rather die than let their phone die on them.”

Growing up poor, Thao Nguyen was long motivated to make a better future for herself. But it didn’t take long for her to realize that her path to prosperity didn’t involve college. Instead, she found business, customer service, and making people happy central to her path. It took years of hard work — from two jobs in high school, to early mornings and late nights when she opened her salon, to the seemingly constant hours of today — but it worked. Customers rave about her “awesome” personality and the “huge smile” she always carries. And she wants others to follow suit: Nguyen says she hopes to encourage every entrepreneur, especially women, that they can be successful in business. — CP

 


 

Kristine Ponten

Kristine Ponten, 26

Owner, Foundations for Fluent Learning

Residence
Issaquah
Hometown
Kent
Education
University of Washington
First job
Daycare assistant
Hobbies
Going to the library, engaging with pop culture, and exercising
Favorite podcast
“Other: Mixed Race in America”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The myth that millennials don’t ever want to get married and that we created the ‘hookup culture’ — I’ve been happily married for almost five years.”

Kristine Ponten’s business goal is to see her students gain confidence in their ability to learn. As the owner of Foundations for Fluent Learning, Ponten accommodates a variety of special education needs and inspires students to realize their full potential. The best professional advice she’s ever been given is to “make sure your customer is the hero in the story of your business — not you.” Ponten has taken this philosophy to heart, applying her skills as a board-certified behavior analyst to support a thriving educational support network in Bellevue. — OL

 


 

Ryan Ponten

Ryan Ponten, 26

Product Development Engineer, Spiration

Residence
Issaquah
Hometown
Bellevue
Education
University of Washington, University of Tennessee
First job
Food service
Hobbies
Basketball, soccer, football, hiking, playing guitar, and trying good food
Favorite podcast
”Winging It”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The myth that we millennials are lazy.”

Ryan Ponten’s work is a breath of fresh air — at least that’s what he works to manufacture. Ponten’s degree in mechanical engineering led him to a career at Spiration, a Redmond-based company that designs and manufactures medical devices to treat lung disease. Originally from the Northwest, Ponten and his wife, Kristine, followed each other across the country to earn graduate degrees and work experience. The Pontens later left Knoxville, Tennessee, with one mechanical engineering degree (his) and two years of behavior analysis experience. Thankfully, the couple brought their skills back to the Pacific Northwest. — OL

 


 

 

R-W

Kate Retherford

Kate Retherford, 29

Senior Social Media Manager, T-Mobile

Residence
Snohomish
Hometown
Granite Falls
Education
Pacific Lutheran University, Bachelor of Business Administration; Bachelor of Arts in History
First job
Seafood clerk at Safeway
Hobbies
Traveling, weightlifting, cycling, blogging at allthingskate.com, and trying to find the best chocolate chip cookie
Favorite podcast
“Revisionist History”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“I hate that millennials have a reputation for being lazy. So many of us hustle day in and day out, juggling full-time careers with side hustles, hobbies, families, and more.”

Kate Retherford knows the hustle. Her life is a balance of managing public social media at T-Mobile and managing personal social media at allthingskate.com, her lifestyle blog. In both of these pursuits, Retherford uses her success to mentor others. Her blog began as a plus- size style blog in 2012, where she encouraged women of all sizes to be comfortable in their own skin. In 2014, Retherford began a health and fitness journey; lost 100 pounds; and now she writes on a wide range of content, from travel, to wedding planning, to body image. She also accepts the fact that her to-do list may never be empty. — OL

 


 

Joey Rothstein

Joey Rothstein, 25

Finance Director, Audi Bellevue

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Las Vegas, Nevada
Education
Some college
First job
Paperboy
Hobbies
Sports
Favorite podcast
“Pod Save America”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That we’re all lazy.”

In only two years, Joey Rothstein has carved his way into a leading position at Audi Bellevue, one of the most prestigious car dealerships in the area. In fact, in his first two months with Audi Bellevue, Rothstein became the top salesperson at the dealership; after a year, he was the youngest finance manager the company had ever had. Not long after, he was leading the department as finance director. It was his strong work ethic that earned him such a quick advancement. This is reflected in his favorite piece of professional advice: “Work like someone is trying to take your job.” — ZB

 


 

Devin Santamaria

Devin Santamaria, 23

Sales Manager, Synology

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
San Mateo, California
Education
University of Oregon, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
First job
Assistant black belt instructor
Hobbies
Hiking, camping, 4×4 driving, and reading
Favorite podcast
“Joe Rogan Experience”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That all millennials feel some sense of entitlement from the world.”

Devin Santamaria has come a long way since his first job as an assistant black belt instructor at age 15. But he said that job actually prepared him for his future career as a sales manager. It taught him how to develop a plan, how to read people’s personalities, and how to make changes on the fly to achieve a desired outcome. He said he’s still learning and preparing for bigger and better jobs. “I like to think I have an entrepreneurial streak,” Santamaria said. “I enjoy taking calculated risks, and I love the feeling of standing up a new project. Whether it’s a software idea coming to life or building a ridiculous wooden structure with some friends for a bonfire on a beach, setting a goal and reaching it is what drives me.” — CW

 


 

Austin Schneider

Austin Schneider, 26

Broker, VDB Compass Real Estate — Kirkland

Residence
Kirkland
Hometown
Woodinville
First job
Serving meals at Brittany Park Retirement Home
Hobbies
Golf, reading, and listening to podcasts
Favorite podcast
“GaryVee Audio Experience,” “The MFCEO project,” “The School of Greatness,” and “Churchome”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials have bad work ethics.”

At age 15, Austin Schneider was serving meals at a retirement home in Woodinville when he came upon a realization so simple and effective, it carried over to his career today as a real estate agent: A smile and warm greeting could make someone’s day. Fast-forward a decade, and Schneider blended that attention to customer service with flat-out hard work at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, where he earned his real estate stripes, and now at Compass Real Estate. “Austin entered the real estate industry like he was a savvy tech startup entrepreneur,” said Stacy Jones, Schneider’s former boss at Sotheby’s. “He passionately outworks anyone I’ve ever seen in this business. He stands out in a saturated market of real estate agents.” When asked what he hopes to accomplish by age 40, Schneider, an avid traveler said, “Learn three languages!” — TM

 


 

Jessica Sellers-Duggan, 29

Program Manager, GSA
CEO, NWPMC

Residence
Sammamish
Hometown
Anchorage, Alaska
Education
Webster University, Master of Business Administration; Harvard University, Graduate Certificate in Disruptive Innovation; University of Alaska Southeast, Bachelor of Business Administration
First job
Arctic Roadrunner, an Alaska family restaurant
Hobbies
Golf, camping, watching hockey, baseball, and football, wine tasting, water activities
Favorite podcast
“Tribe of Mentors”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“The misconception that only millennials check their phones constantly.”

Though Jessica Sellers-Duggan works an average of 65 to 70 hours each week, she lives by the philosophy that when you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. For her day job, Sellers-Duggan is the program manager for GSA, where she fuels her passion for analyzing ways to save taxpayers money on transactions. “One of my favorite moments was negotiating a lease whereas I was already well within our established benchmarks for an acceptable range and could have moved on the next project. I had this idea to negotiate further … and ended saving $650,000 on one project,” Sellers-Duggan shared. Beyond her 9-to-5, Sellers-Duggan works with her husband on their own Northwest Project Management and Construction Inc. to develop and consult on luxury homes. — SS

 


 

Naveen Singh

Naveen Singh, 26

Co-Founder, Center

Residence
Bellevue
Hometown
Bellevue
Education
University of San Diego, Bachelor’s degree
First job
Product manager at Concur
Hobbies
Traveling, hiking, snowboarding, and reading
Favorite podcast
“a16Z”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials all live on social media.”

“Some people get nervous about technology’s impact, but I’m excited by it,” explained tech entrepreneur Naveen Singh. “Technology holds a lot of promise in automating monotonous tasks and enabling humans to make better, more well-informed decisions.” Singh’s latest endeavor is Center, a 35-person Bellevue startup he co-founded in 2014 with his father, Steve Singh. Center made headlines with its release of CenterCard, a corporate digital credit card made of sleek metal, e-ink screen, rechargeable battery, and Bluetooth technology that tracks spending in real-time. Outside of work, Singh has traveled to rural India to teach English at the Jangi Singh Girls College, which aims to educate and empower women to build their futures and families. On weekends, he’s likely to be found boating, swimming, and paddle boarding on Lake Washington. As for the future, Singh wants to “build a business that helps people and companies by pioneering a new future of data-driven software applications” before he turns 40 years old. — TM

 


 

Avi Soor

Avi Soor, 26

Co-Founder, Seattle Gents

Residence
Kirkland
Hometown
Thousand Oaks, California
Education
University of California, Irvine, Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics
First job
Corporate finance associate
Hobbies
Fashion and volleyball
Favorite podcast
“The GaryVee Audio Experience”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That we think we know everything.”

Avi Soor always knew he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, and he had a passion for men’s fashion and social media, but he didn’t take the leap until recently. Previously a corporate professional, Soor quit his day job to pursue his side hustle full-time. His company, Seattle Gents, is a community for men’s fashion influencers and enthusiasts who partner with brands to promote their products and services through social media. Their track record is pretty impressive, too: They’ve partnered with The Art of Shaving, Four Seasons Seattle, Gene Juarez, and more. Soor and co-founder Antonio Smith hope to put the area on the map as a fashion hub by connecting with individuals across the region to inspire their fashion goals. — ZB

 


 

Nathan Straub

Nathan Straub, 26

Managing Director, Awsom

Residence
Renton
Hometown
Kirkland
Education
Master of Arts in Music and Voice Performance
First job
Red Apple courtesy clerk
Hobbies
Being with family, stressing over the news, and obsessing over box office revenues for mega-movies ever since The Force Awakens came out
Favorite podcast
”The Tim Ferriss Show”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That we’re lazy. I work very hard to live like no one else, so that later I can live like no one else! Credit to Dave Ramsey.”

Directly after graduating from Washington State University with a Masters in Opera Performance, Nathan Straub started teaching voice lessons through AWSOM. The company offers music lessons to more than 250 people of all ages in the Greater Seattle area. Three months into teaching, former Managing Director Andrew White promoted him to assistant director; three months after that, he was told to prepare to run the company, which he started doing in January. “Nathan exemplifies the definition of a servant leader, going the extra mile for each and every student he works with,” said White. “It is no surprise that his team is pioneering one of the PNW’s fastest-growing music schools.” — ZB

 


 

Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan, 27

Vice President, Evergreen Erectors inc.

Residence
Clearview
Hometown
Brier
Education
Some college
First job
Union ironworker
Hobbies
Golf; fishing; classic cars; working in his yard; and spending time with family, friends, and his dog Hank
Favorite podcast
“Serial”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“That all millennials are lazy.”

Ryan Sullivan is a dream come true for employers and employees. As vice president of Evergreen Erectors Inc., Sullivan has helped take the company from $8 million per year to over $30 million per year, making it one of the largest steel erectors in the country. But this bountiful bottom line doesn’t mean he isn’t looking out for the little guy — Sullivan said helping his employees feel fulfilled in their work is the best part of his job. Before he turns 40, Sullivan said, he wants to “continue the growth of the company — not just monetarily, but by creating opportunities for my employees to continue to grow and thrive in their careers.” — CW

 


 

Eric Tinnell

Eric Tinnell, 28

Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual

Residence
Seattle
Hometown
Ephrata, Washington
Education
Central Washington University, Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics
First job
Baseball camp counselor
Hobbies
Reading, running, dining, hiking, learning, and getting out of his comfort zone
Favorite podcast
“Financial Advisor Success”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“Millennials are lazy.”

Eric Tinnell moved from Eastern Washington to the Eastside four years ago to pursue an internship at Northwestern Mutual in Bellevue. Today, he is a full-time financial advisor who has earned top industry honors. A former infielder for the Central Washington University Wildcats baseball team, Tinnell now puts his natural athleticism toward more altruistic interests by regularly participating in the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk, Nordstrom’s Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes, and the November Project. He’s also an avid reader who volunteers his time to the children’s literacy program Page Ahead. Tinnell believes his professional success comes from listening to good advice — “The person you become is determined by the books you read and the five people you spend the most time with,” said Tinnell. — TM

 


 

Chirag Vedullapalli

Chirag Vedullapalli, 17

Founder, Creative Children for Charity

Residence
Sammamish
Hometown
Fremont, California
Education
Currently a student at Mount Si High School
First job
Tutor
Hobbies
Hiking, paddle boarding, swimming, painting, organizing community events, researching world issues, and listening to music
Favorite podcast
”Digest” on Spotify
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
“We are addicted to social media. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used for good.”

This 17-year-old serial philanthropist has done more good for more people before his 18th birthday than most people do in a lifetime. Not only has the high school senior volunteered between 500 and 1,000 hours of his time per year and raised more than $25,000 through the sale of his own art; he also started the youth foundation Creative Children for Charity — or 3C, as it has come to be known — when he was only 8 years old. Despite his young philanthropic success, Chirag Vedullapalli said he often is worried he won’t be taken seriously. “A lot of adults will not invest money in youth initiatives, especially when they are organized by youth, for youth,” he said. Though Vedullapalli conceded this is a struggle that gets easier with age, experience, and the cultivation of relationships. He is still deciding where to attend college, but he knows he is far from done helping others. — JK

 


 

Norman Wu

Norman Wu, 28

Co-Owner, Just Poké

Residence
Mercer Island
Hometown
Seattle
Education
University of Washington,  Bachelors Degree in International Business
First job
Nordstrom
Hobbies
Cooking, traveling, tea ceremony
Favorite podcast
“Masters of Scale”
Millennial Myth Pet Peeve
The myth that millennials are self-absorbed

Norman Wu is half of the dynamic duo that is the ownership of the expanding Eastside fast-casual restaurant Just Poké. Growing up within many cultures, Wu was exposed to various cuisines at a young age. Wu loves how food can bring joy and community to people of all cultures.  The opening of Just Poké in 2016 with childhood best friend Danny Brawer is what Wu would say is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream.” In the next decade, Wu hopes to become a professor at the University of Washington to teach a class focused on practical conceptualization, entrepreneurship, and diversity. — SS