In an effort to recognize and encourage Naperville’s leaders of tomorrow, the Young Professionals Network (YPN) of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce presented their inaugural “Four Under 40” Achievement Awards last spring.
All of those nominated had to be an owner or employee of a Chamber member in good standing. They also had to be 40 or younger and needed to be nominated by an employer, colleague or trusted advisor. No self-nominations were accepted.
The 14 nominees were then interviewed and evaluated by a five-person panel of Chamber members that included Deputy Chief of Police for Naperville Mike Anders and Brien Nagle of Nagle Obarski Attorneys and Counselors-at-Law.
“Lots of times it is difficult for younger people to be recognized for the things they have achieved at their stage of life and professional development. We feel that it is important that we do that to acknowledge their accomplishments and encourage them to continue their outstanding performance and involvement in the Chamber,” Nagle said.
“I was impressed to hear about the impact these nominees have been making on Naperville at such a young age. They have been instrumental in making Naperville stronger and better, not just through their business and professional lives, but also through their volunteer efforts,” Anders said.
“They all had such positive attitudes about what they are doing in both their careers and their numerous civic and charitable endeavors in the community,” Nagle added.
Anders agreed. “They were inspirational to me in the way that they are succeeding in life, not just in their careers. They are achieving a work-life balance that was difficult for me at that age. When I got out of college I was busy paying the bills and impressing my superiors. But these Millennials are determined to achieve a well-rounded life as a person, not just as a professional, so they are giving back to the community in an impressive way.”
“I am really excited about this Four Under 40 program and want to see it succeed,” Anders said. “It proves that achieving balance in your life is not just a pipe dream. These young professionals are doing it.”
He cited, for example, Chad Pedigo and the way that he was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the Jaycees’ Last Fling Labor Day festival. Nagle also mentioned Pedigo’s vibrant, positive personality.
Lauren DeSimone impressed the panel with her involvement in numerous community activities and endeavors.
“Lauren caught my attention as she described the passion she has for her work. Her tireless efforts to serve the domestic violence victims of the community are awesome since she knows her work leads to making a difference in so many lives,” Anders recalled.
Similarly, Nagle said, Michael Sitrick earned the panel’s attention with his work as an attorney for a nonprofit agency, as well as with his confident and comfortable manner.
Finally, Erin Doepel Wikstrom emanated a passion for her financial planning business and her clients and showed a high degree of professional competence, according to Nagle.
She inspired Anders, however, because, he said, it was readily apparent in her interview how her faith serves as the foundation for all of the endeavors in her life, including extraordinary service to her community and beyond.
The purpose of the Young Professionals Network, according to the mission statement, is to lead professionals to become tomorrow’s leaders by providing a platform for leadership, personal growth and professional development. They want to grow the next generation of business and community leaders; foster and promote individuals to develop a well-balanced life; and provide opportunities to grow members’ networks and careers.
The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and Young Professionals of the Naperville Chamber (YPN) hosted the first inaugural Four Under 40 Achievement Awards on March 21. The event recognized four young professionals in the Naperville community who embody the principles of the YPN mission including leadership, professional growth and professional development.
The event recognized the following honorees:
Lauren DeSimone of Family Shelter Service
Lauren serves as a development professional for Family Shelter Service where her primary focus is annual giving, donor and board relations, volunteer management and database administration. Over the past eight years, she has worked with a variety of nonprofits, as well as an active member of the Naperville YMCA Board of Directors, Naperville Jaycees, YPN and a founding member of the new Exchange Club of DuPage County where she serves as president-elect. Lauren also serves on the planning committee for the Chamber’s Legacy Circle and was recently selected to be a fellow of the Community Memorial Foundation’s 2016 “Ladder to Leadership” Program in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership.
Erin Doepel Wikstrom of Doepel Retirement Planning Group of Raymond James
Erin has always known that her career path would revolve around helping others simplify their lives; she began pursuing a career in the financial services industry knowing that it would allow her to do just that. In July 2015, she was recognized as one of Raymond James’ Northern Division Top 10 Year over Year Trailing 12 Month Growth for New Advisors. Erin is dedicated to providing a better community by volunteering in Naperville Junior Woman’s Club, serving as Chair of Women in Business and leading a Bible study for her small group at church. She also has enjoyed participating in various mission trips through her church and finds that being bilingual has been of special importance when serving Spanish speaking communities.
Chad Pedigo of Bridge Communities, Inc.
With a passion for entrepreneurship and leadership development, Chad seeks out opportunities to connect and support local businesses, not-for-profit and community organizations, and local community leaders.
Chad is a lifelong student seeking new opportunities to grow and learn every day, and attributes the Young Professionals Network within Naperville’s Chamber as one way he is able to do so. Chad is the Special Events Manager with Bridge Communities, Inc. and currently serves as President of the Naperville Jaycees, a facilitator for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Institute and gives his time as a Board Director for Naperville Community Television and Commissioner for the City of Naperville’s Advisory Cultural Commission.
Michael Sitrick of DuPage Foundation
Michael is vice president for advancement at the DuPage Foundation. In this role, he works closely with the Foundation’s board, committees and senior leadership to devise and implement successful development, marketing and organizational strategies to grow the Foundation. Michael effectively communicates the impact of its programs, educates the community about the benefits of charitable planning while helping individuals and organizations accomplish their charitable goals. Michael is a member of the DuPage County Bar Association.
He is also vice president of Suburban Chicago Planned Giving Council, a member of the program committee for the West Suburban Philanthropic Network, for which he previously served as a board member and its Philanthropy Awards chair. He is also a member of the DuPage County Estate Planning Council, the Illinois State Bar Association and Wheaton Drama, Inc.