Yesterday morning, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson invited six members of the 2015 Elite 40 Under 40 to a forum where they could get to know more about one another on a smaller scale. The County Executive holds these smaller forums in effort to build friendships and foster networking among the Elite 40 and the county. In attendance were: DJ Ikeler, Center for Success Pontiac; Brian Lane, Bingo Pet Salon; Megan Mahoney, BASF; Brian Olantunji, Leadfoot Motorsports, LLC; Nadja Payok, Oakland Schools; and Melissa Winkler, Fakhoury Law Group.
The group was also joined by Deputy Oakland County Executive, Matt Gibb; CIO/Deputy County Executive, Phil Bertolini; and Elite 40 Program Coordinator, Kristie Zamora who all shared that Oakland County wants the Elite 40 to be a part of the services and programs that the county offers. Matt Gibb told the group, “The purpose of the Elite 40 is to integrate your great talents and energy into our county. We exist on the strength of our partners.” Phil Bertolini mentioned several of the ways that the Elite 40 can stay connected while living, working and playing in the county and congratulated them, “This program is all about involvement. You’ve earned your recognition by the things that you do.”
L. Brooks Patterson welcomed the group and noted, “Oakland County is recognized around the world as one of the most desirable places to live.” He invited each member a chance to share a little about themselves.
DJ Ikeler: “I have a heart for inner city areas. I wanted to impact every kid.” DJ is founder of Center for Success Pontiac whose vision is to empower individuals and families to live successful lives. Center for Success offers after school programs and is a fundraised-based non-profit.
Brian Lane: Brian became co-owner of the already existing Bingo Pet Salon and in 6 months time, turned the salon into a profitable business. Through sponsorships, Bingo Pet Salon is able to offer free grooming to animal rescues and shelters. They are currently up for a Chase Mission Main Street Grant which would allow them to open a Pet Grooming School in Oakland County.
Megan Mahoney: Megan is global key account manager at BASF. She shared that she is part of the Society of Women in Engineering and the effort to bring people to the automotive industry. She has also taken part in the Brooksie Way and is very involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michigan.
Brian Olantunji: As a professional race car driver, Brian is extremely passionate about automotive and is a proponent of Oakland County. He said, “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Through his company, Leadfoot Foundation, Brian raises funds for school supplies and STEM education.
Nadja Payok: Nadja is an instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus in Royal Oak. 12 – 14 school districts feed into her building where they provide a career-focused curriculum. Nadja shared “We work very hard with the soft skills and career readiness.”
Melissa Winkler: Melissa is an immigration attorney at Fakhoury Law Group. She was born and raised in Oakland County and has been interested in international relations from a very young age. She spoke about a mission trip to Peru and stated, “I loved working with the immigrant population and noticed there were so many issues facing these kids.”
Patterson thanked everyone for their time and announced, “The more I listen, the more I’m impressed with the future.” He also shared, “What I find to be most rewarding is the networking potential of this Elite 40 class and those before.”
After the forum ended, several of the Elite 40 members stuck around to continue chatting with one another about possible networking opportunities. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Learn more about the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 program at AdvantageOakland.com and view the entire class of 2015 HERE. You can stay connected with the program on social media using #Elite40 on Advantage Oakland’s Twitter & Facebook.