Celebrating Those Who Give Back

Top 30 Under 40 honored

By Patty Hutchens | Photo by Aaron Borg Photography | Article provided by Coeur d’Alene Living Local

In our community, there are many business, organizations and individuals who do an amazing job giving back to help Coeur d’Alene thrive. While most do not do it for the recognition, Kootenai County Young Professionals has taken it upon themselves to acknowledge and celebrate a certain group of individuals who have gone above and beyond.

In its Top 30 Under 40 contest, Kootenai County Young Professionals recently announced its winners, all of whom are under 40 years of age, for 2017. Nominations opened in September and went through the end of October. The candidate had to be nominated by someone other than him or herself, and the nominee then went through an application and interview process with an independent board of judges.

There is no requirement that the nominee be a member of the Kootenai County Young Professionals, but involvement in the community as well as business production were certainly factors considered. The contest culminated with an event in last month celebrating the winners.

According to James Perkinson, president of Kootenai County Young Professionals, the event was previously put on by the Coeur d’Alene Press and the North Idaho Business Journal. “They discontinued it back in 2014,” said Perkinson. “Our board determined it was important to help recognize young professionals and their contributions to the community.”

This is the first year that KCYP has hosted the event, Elevate 2018, and look forward to doing so for many years to come.

Perkinson said the judging panel was made up of business leaders from the community—Eve Knudtsen, Anne Hagman and Steve Griffitts.

“Once we collected all the nomination forms, the judges got together and reviewed all the forms and determined the criteria for winners,” said Perkinson who sat in on that meeting. “Their main criterion for winners was involvement in organizations in the community outside of paid work hours. There were some great people who were nominated but were not quite able to give back or did not list it on their form enough in the judges’ eyes. So our winners are community-oriented individuals who are highly involved.”

Kootenai County Young Professionals is an excellent opportunity for like-minded individuals in the community to come together for various educational, volunteer and social events.

“We have a fantastic board of directors that volunteer their time to help organize the different events that we put on and have great members that pay an annual fee to be a part of KCYP,” said Perkinson. “That annual fee goes toward putting on amazing events. Our members get into those events for free or discounted rates depending on the event.”

This year, the judges determined there were 26 qualified nominees so instead of 30, only 26 individuals were recognized.

Attorney Jillian Caires was one of the winners of this year’s Top 30 Under 40. She graduated from Lake City High School and after graduating from Washington State University she spent time in Portland before returning to Coeur d’Alene in 2008. Jillian began at Gonzaga Law School in 2010 and was a law clerk for two years before entering into private practice in 2015 with Smith + Malek in its Coeur d’Alene office.

“I love what I do,” said Caires, adding that she was surprised to be nominated and selected for the Top 30 Under 40 award. “All of the individuals who were selected are amazing leaders; it is an honor to be honored on the same list as those women and men. It is really important to note that my career and my involvement would not be possible without my husband and my parents.”

But it is her work outside of her law career that has also made an impact on the community and caught the eye of the selection committee. “I am involved with a number of organizations. I am a member of the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club, the Lady d’Alenes and the Coeur d’Alene Marathon Committee. I am also on the boards of the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Foundation and the Friends of Head Start, and I am an officer in the First District Bar Association,” said Caires.

She encourages others to get involved in giving back to the community, as it is something that has brought her much joy.

“I really believe that while I may not be able to change the world, I can make a big impact in my community,” Caires said. “We live in a special place. Much of what makes it special is the direct result of what the leaders of our community have done to shape development, give back and to maintain the natural beauty. I want to help to continue their legacy in making Coeur d’Alene a caring community that is a beautiful place to live and work.”

Jessica Ball is another recipient of the award and said she is humbled by the honor she has received.

“I feel very honored to have been nominated and selected,” said Ball. “While I have done quite a bit for the community in the past year, I feel like there is so much more that I can still do. I have taken the time to get to know members of my different groups and members of the community and have asked them what I can do to better support them in their business and personal life. From this, it has opened me up to a whole other side of my community and opened more doors to get involved. I want to have a network of resources in our community so that I can better serve my members and the people around me.”

Ball has been a member of the Kootenai County Young Professionals for almost a year. She said it has provided her a unique opportunity to connect and network with other young professionals who are in similar places in their career. “We are able to support each other in a way that builds us as professionals and future leaders of this community,” she said.

In addition to her work as a financial associate with Thrivent Financial and her involvement with Kootenai County Young Professionals, Ball is involved in a multitude of other groups including The Lady d’Alenes, Women’s Impact Network, Toastmasters, Network Coeur d’Alene and the local Chamber of Commerce. “With these groups I have had the opportunity to volunteer in the community for various nonprofits throughout the year,” she said.

With so many opportunities throughout the community to volunteer, it is with great enthusiasm that the winners of the 30 Under 40 award seek to give back to their community. Ball echoes the sentiment of many when she says, “I would like to congratulate the other recipients of this award. It is great to see so many young professionals contributing to our community.”

If you want to learn more about Kootenai County Young Professionals, go to KCYP.org. Congratulations to all the winners and a heartfelt thank you for all you do for our community.