More 10 under 40

Program honors people who are helping FD thrive

People of all ages help a community thrive. A community’s long-term success, however, requires that there be an ample supply of young leaders moving into key leadership positions.

With that in mind, the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, the Fort Dodge Young Professionals and The Messenger partnered in 2016 to create an awards program to honor the top 10 community achievers each year who were under the age of 40. The project is called Fort Dodge Region Top 10 Under 40.

“We have a lot of great young professionals in the Fort Dodge area that are just doing a lot of really great things in the community and professionally,” said Jill Nelson, who is community development director at the Growth Alliance and secretary of the Fort Dodge Young Professionals board of directors.

She said this is a way to honor their contributions to the region they call home.

That point was seconded strongly by Regina Suhrbier, multimedia sales manager at The Messenger.

“We, at The Messenger, are happy to partner with such great local groups to recognize a new generation of individuals who stand out in their profession and in our community,” she said.

The sponsoring organizations announced this week that nominees for this award in 2017 are currently being sought. Nomination forms are available online at the Growth Alliance website:

“It’s a very simple process,” Nelson said. “Anybody can nominate someone as long as that individual is under the age of 40.”

In making nominations, two things should be kept in mind, according to Nelson.

“There are two criteria,” she said. “The first one is that the individual is contributing to the community and that they are a leader in the community and they are engaged in community work. The second is that they are showing excellence in their place of business.”

Nelson stressed that nominees can be professionally engaged in either the business world or the nonprofit sector.

“They could be a business owner or employee,” she said. “They could work for a nonprofit. We want to see on the application that they have a commitment to professional growth and professional excellence.”

Nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. July 10.

That’s when the selection process begins by a five-person committee whose members are drawn from the three sponsoring organizations. That committee scores each nomination form and ranks the candidates.

“The nominees go through the selection process anonymously,” Nelson said. “We remove their names from their forms so there is no bias in the selection process. That is why it is very important that people who are nominating people be as detailed as possible and provide some great examples. We really try to uphold the integrity of the award so it really truly is an honor to receive a 10 Under 40 award. It is not the number of nominations that matters, it is the quality.”

The top 10 nominees are honored in two ways – one public and one more private.

In September, The Messenger will publish a special section insert in the newspaper that will include profiles of the honorees. Prior to that, they will be presented a plaque at their place of employment in a confidential ceremony held in advance of the public announcement.

“Once the top 10 are selected we work with the person who nominated them to facilitate a get-together to surprise each nominee separately with the award,” Nelson said. “It is a really great opportunity for the individual to be recognized in a private setting with their family, friends and individuals at their place of business. We do 10 separate gatherings. That information is still kept confidential until the publication comes out in September. These mini-celebration parties will be at the end of August.”

Nelson said that both the individuals honored and their employers benefit from being chosen.

“Not only is it a recognition for the individual that is receiving the award, but it also is a recognition for their place of business,” she said. “The community learns that they have a high-performing individual as a part of the staff or maybe it is the owner of the business. It gives that business some additional visibility and publicity.”

Beyond that, however, Nelson said this award program helps the community send the message across the Hawkeye State that the Fort Dodge area is an environment in which young professionals can fulfill their potential.

“We’re working to attract young professionals to live in the Fort Dodge region,” Nelson said. “So, it is really important that we show that there are some really great successful professionals already living here. We hope that encourages additional professionals to move to this area.”