40 Under Forty event honors young Santa Clarita philanthropists and entrepreneurs

Honorees at the 40 Under Forty Gala socialize during the cocktail hour, November 9, 2018. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal

Capping off a night of cocktails, dinner and speeches, the SCV chapter of the Junior Chamber International’s 2018 Honoree Gala recognized 40 Santa Clarita Valley residents who’ve positively impacted their hometown.

“Tonight is about recognizing the young people in our town and all the contributions they have made to the Santa Clarita community and local business community,” said Sharlene Duzick, one of the event’s three co-chairs. “This is an opportunity to highlight individuals that do not normally get the limelight.”

The 40 Under Forty event’s selection committee received over 100 applications this year from young professionals between the ages of 21 to 40 years old, Duzick said, which is the requisite age range for membership in the Junior Chamber International, or Jaycees. The resumes varied from nonprofit leaders to young entrepreneurs.

“It’s all about the contribution they make to the community,” said Duzick. “So that can be a contribution in terms of philanthropic work, community activism or in the business environment.”

“It’s great honor to be chosen as one of the 40 Under Forty,” said Justin Wallace, who was recognized by the selection committee for his work as the director of educational partnerships at College of the Canyons.

“There’s a ton of great entrepreneurs here in Santa Clarita trying to do good in their community, and continue the strong tradition of taking the city in a positive direction for the future,” he said.

“We actually went to high school together, and now we’re both in the fire service together, so it kind of makes this whole thing a little more funny,” said 40 Under Forty honoree and Fire Patrol Capt. Richard Hilstein in reference to Caleb Willis, a fellow honoree.

Both firefighters were nominated for their work outside of the fire station. Willis served as an active coach in Santa Clarita youth sports and Hilstein worked for Saugus High School’s program “Reaching Excellence at College Heights (REACH),” which prepares students for the transition to a four-year university.

“My wife and I – she’s a teacher at Saugus – also chaperone a lot of dances, and one of her students ripped her dress while she was at prom,” said Hilstein. “I’m a firefighter and we know how to sew. So, there are pictures of me sewing her dress for her while she’s on the phone talking to her mom at the dance.”

This year marked the event’s 10th annual collaboration between the Jaycees and the Magazine of Santa Clarita on the event.

The honorees for the this year’s 40 Under Forty are:

  • Allison Schmidt
  • Amy Nua
  • Belicia Cespedes
  • Besty Sanchez
  • Bri Waterman
  • Brittany Sanders
  • Caleb Willis
  • Chris Bughi
  • Dawnel De Rubeis
  • Heather Duncan
  • Holly Feneht
  • Jennifer Seyfert
  • Jerrod Ferguson
  • Jesse Vera
  • Jessica Boyer
  • Jillian Causey
  • Joelyn Caprine
  • Joshua Kaplan
  • Justin Wallace
  • Kari Hollingsworth
  • Kirk Bardin
  • Kristina De Bree
  • Laura Seguin
  • Lindsay Sharbutt
  • Mai Nguyen Do
  • Masis Hagobian
  • Matthew Nelson
  • Mayumi Miyasoto
  • Michael Villegas
  • Michelle Kampbell
  • Patrick Tatevossian
  • Richard Hilstein
  • Riley Cline
  • Ryan Fitzgerald
  • Samantha Gianukakis
  • Stephanie Mellady
  • Tamer Abdel
  • Tara Rice-Wheatley
  • Taylor Williams
  • Vincent Bird

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