This is the ninth year that Arkansas Business has sought out talented young leaders in our business and nonprofit community to introduce to readers in a feature called the New Influentials: 20 in Their 20s.
The New Influentials may seem a lot like our 40 Under 40 feature, and some personalities that we honored when they were in their 20s have already “graduated” to the 40. But we have long recognized that the younger nominees for 40 Under 40 rarely make the final cut because they are mixed in with a much larger crowd of people who have had an extra decade in which to make their marks.
As always, I’m blown away by the personal stories and professional accomplishments of these honorees. What kind of courage did it take for Jing Zhao to leave her native China and tackle law school in a second language? What kind of motivation did it take for Russel Viegas to badger his way into a securities license while still in college? Isn’t Nancy McNew exactly what the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce needs — a director with the skills of a marketer and the heart of a hometown girl?
I’m also delighted that this year’s class is influencing communities all over the state, not just the larger business markets of Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. Young people are taking the lead in Mountain Home, Lakeview, Jonesboro, Stuttgart, El Dorado and Conway. You’ll want to get familiar with them now because I expect that some of these names and faces will be household names for Arkansas Business readers 20 or 30 years from now.
We invite nominations for this honor, but we make the selections internally. I have mixed feelings about being part of the selection committee: I always feel good about the individuals we choose, and I feel good about the process we use because I know we are looking for the right things. Yet I always have a nagging feeling that others who were equally or even more deserving somehow slipped through, possibly because they weren’t nominated.
If reading through these profiles makes you think of some young leader who would fit right in, I would encourage you to submit a nomination. We are already accepting nominations for the 2018 class of 40 Under 40 at ArkansasBusiness.com/40, and nominees who are under 30 are automatically considered for the 20 in Their 20s.
The Complete 20 in Their 20s Class: