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Nine Olivet alumni chosen for Kankakee County Chamber’s “40 Under Forty”

Posted: Jan 30, 2014


Justin Knight, Olivet alumnus and staff member, as well as a marathon runner, on why he runs: “Running was always about me. Running with Team World Vision is a way I can make it about others.”

Recognition by your peers and your community is a double honor. Nine Olivet alumni recently received that honor as part of “40 Under Forty” in the greater Kankakee area: Nick Allen, Bryan Davis, Lesley Hertz, Justin Knight, Carolyn Mitchell, Robin Mroz, Tracey Noe, Marcus Strother and Brent Wright. They were nominated by members of the community and recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields, as well as their contributions to the community.

Sponsors of this special recognition are the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce — a united Chamber serving Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley and Kankakee, Ill. — along with Presence St. Mary’s Hospital, ComEd, Riverside HealthCare, Kankakee County Farm Bureau, HomeStar Bank and Aqua Illinois Incorporated.

Following is a brief overview of the achievements and contributions of the Olivet alumni who received this recognition.

Nick Allen '06 is the director of the United Way of Kankakee County. When he joined the United Way staff in 2012, he had already worked for the American Cancer Society, the U.S. House of Representatives and Hospice of Kankakee Valley, which is a United Way member agency. Nick is very involved in the Kankakee area community and has served on more than 20 boards and commissions.

Bryan Davis '09 is the sales manager and finance manager for Taylor Chrysler Dodge in Bradley. He has been with the dealership for 7 years and currently manages a staff of 25. During his career, he has been named Salesman of the Month several times, and the dealership was named Dealer of the Year for 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. In the community, he has served as a volunteer at local Chamber of Commerce events.

Lesley Hertz '05 left a successful career in banking to pursue the dream of owning her own unique business. Today, she owns Sparkle, a girls' hair salon and party center, in Bourbonnais. This boutique/party studio/salon helps girls recharge their sparkle with parties, events and beauty fun. Girls between the ages of 3 and 8 come in for dressing up, hair styling, even pedicures and a turn on the miniature fashion runway.

Justin Knight '97/'07 MOL recently accepted the position as director of ministry advancement in Olivet’s institutional advancement office. He was formerly the general manager of the Shine.FM broadcasting network. An avid marathon runner with Team World Vision, he has run in Africa as well as in several U.S. races. In 2013, he was featured in the documentary film “This Water Is Beautiful,” which was shown nationwide.

Carolyn Mitchell '08 AA/'12 BBA/'13 MBA earned her MBA while being a mom and building H.U.G. (Help Us Give) Info Center, a local service network to help others. Founded in 2011, H.U.G. is a diverse group of women, men, kids and teens that loves and understands community. The group believes in giving back, protecting and respecting the local community.

Robin Mroz '06 began her career at CSL Behring while she was still a full-time college student. After graduation, she accepted a position as manufacturing production coordinator in 2007. Today, her title is Bulk QA Operations Manager and Quality Assurance Operations Lead. CSL Behring is a global leader in the plasma protein biotherapeutics industry. The research and development and manufacturing facility — a 31-building complex located in Bradley — is the company’s only manufacturing site in North America. The company recently celebrated 60 years at this location. Blood therapy products made there are shipped worldwide.

Tracey Noe '06/'13 MBA is the former marketing director for Hospice of Kankakee Valley. Today, she is a marketing maven and PR executive in hospital and healthcare fields. She is also active in a variety of local organizations, including the Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, Alzheimer’s Association, Kankakee Valley Symphony Women’s Board, United Way of Kankakee County, Kankakee County Hispanic Partnership and American Cancer Society.

Marcus Strother '01/'07 MOE is the assistant principal at Kankakee High School and also well-known as an innovator in creating powerful programs for students, including Brother 2 Brother. In January 2014, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in Kankakee.

Brent Wright '96/'04 MBA is a sought after featured presenter and local healthcare leader, as well as the CEO of OAK Orthopedic Associates. Serving the Midwest since 1945, OAK currently has four locations: offices in Bradley, Frankfort, Watseka, OAK Surgical Institute in Bradley. The practice provides high-quality, orthopedic health care for all people with musculoskeletal disorders. He works with a multi-faceted team of orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, pain management physicians, a podiatrist and physician assistants.