MANITOWOC — More than three dozen of Manitowoc County's outstanding young professionals were honored Thursday night at the Holiday Inn.
SAIL, a young professionals network, along with its partners, The Chamber of Manitowoc County and the Herald Times Reporter, saluted "40 Under 40." They were chosen from more than 130 nominations.
"The future business leaders of Manitowoc County are right here in this room," said Karen Szyman, Chamber executive director.
Beginning its fifth year, SAIL's origin was as a discussion focused on the need to attract young talent to the county and retain it.
A program of The Chamber of Manitowoc County, SAIL targets people ages 21-40 in an effort to identify the emerging leaders of the community, assist with their development and ensure they will call Manitowoc County home.
One of them is Nicole Resch, the tobacco control coordinator of Manitowoc County. She captured the inaugural Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Manitowoc Trophy.
As a member of the Holy Family Memorial health network, she works with youth in the community on tobacco prevention and intervention. Resch trains students in Teens Against Tobacco Use and Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco.
Resch also is an advocate for the Sexual Assault Resource Center, participates in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, is active at Faith Church, and will earn her master's in counseling this year from Lakeland College.
"I want to thank everyone, but especially the Lord," she said. "He has given me all that I am and do."
Resch said she would like to open a private counseling practice in Manitowoc that is faith-based and youth-centered.
Anton Doneff Sr. and his sister, Sarah Doneff Nelson, were the winners of the Rising Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Investors Community Bank.
Nelson is the property manager for Doneff Companies, while Doneff is the president of the organization that includes apartment communities with more than 700 units in eight Wisconsin cities.
A St. Norbert College graduate, Nelson is involved with Women in Management, SAIL, the Chamber and other organizations. She coordinates an annual food drive from the firm's local apartments. Doneff Companies matches the donations.
A Marquette University graduate, Doneff is a member in several Lakeshore area organizations, as well as the Wisconsin Family Business Forum.
"I think it is important to have an organization like this to encourage young people to live here, stay here, or relocate here … to help keep a strong, vital community," Doneff said.
Nelson said she was glad she canceled a trip to Mexico to attend Thursday's program. "I am humbled and honored, and thank my brother for his inspiration," she said.
The Herald Times Reporter was presented the Young Professionals Advocacy Award, sponsored by Bartow Builders, in recognition of its championing a cause benefiting the quality of life for young professionals.
The HTR has been a sponsor of SAIL since its inception, has featured SAIL in several stories, preview coverage of its events, co-sponsors the "40 Under 40" campaign, and has launched a "Young Professionals" section on its Web site, www.htrnews.com.
"We realize it is so very important for young professionals to take over eventually … the sooner the better for those of us over 40," said Lowell Johnson, general manger of the HTR.
Investors Community Bank's Ryan Kauth said the judges faced a daunting challenge, picking between scores of "unbelievably qualified nominees."
Honorees were selected based on career accomplishments, community service, and their potential for service to the community over the next five to 10 years.
Jenner Reinke, 2009 SAIL president, said the network "will be an event-driven organization and will grow with the support of the Chamber and local businesses."
SAIL does not have a membership fee. For more information, visit www.sailypn.com.