Meet Our 2020 Forty Under Forty Winners
Each year, we celebrate 40 young business professionals who are working to evolve the state of Utah’s business landscape. These 40 individuals (who are all under 40) are elevating our future and paving the way for a new state of success.
Austin Woodward, 29
Cofounder & CEO | TaxBit
Austin Woodward and his team are building and creating something in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere that hasn’t been done before. “Constantly having the opportunity to leave your comfort zone and tackle new challenges alongside an incredible team of people is what I love most about work,” he says, and he’s proud of the team he’s built.
Woodward is looking forward to a future that enables the widespread adoption of digital currencies by automating the enormous hurdle of tax compliance. Outside of his work in technology, Woodward is also a competitive paintball player, playing in leagues across the country.
Mason Laird Woolf, 39
Partner, Chief Compliance Officer, Director of Trading | Albion Financial Group
Mason Laird Woolf started his trading career by buying and selling toys (specifically G.I. Joe) in the Salt Lake Tribune’s classifieds section when he was a kid. “As far back as I can remember, people have been telling me that I’d end up working in the financial markets,” he says. And coming to be a partner at Albion Financial Group has been the culmination of 20 years of hard work and a passion for finance.
“My passion and career are intertwined. I look forward to focusing on what we’ve done as a firm for the past 37 years, putting the client first and always doing what is right for them above all else.”
Karen Rodriguez La Paz, 26
Founder & CEO | Code In Color
Karen Rodriguez La Paz grew up in the Bronx, a city where less than 20 percent of college students graduate and about 86 percent of houses don’t have access to the internet or the hardware necessary to become college-ready. “I knew I wanted to create a platform for people to get the right education that propels them into the tech sphere without the extremely costly confinements of a college education,” she says.
She also wanted to build a program that would give companies the diverse talent they were looking for. “By working together, we can ideate better, fix more solutions, and create better work cultures. I am passionate about building diverse and collaborative teams that propel our industries forward.”
Dalton Wright, 39
Partner | Kickstart Seed Fund
“The best part about working in venture capital is being able to build relationships with creative, passionate entrepreneurs and help them pursue their bold visions,” says Dalton Wright. And as a partner with Kickstart Seed Fund he meets with entrepreneurs every week to help them raise capital and find success. “The variety of personalities and the problems they hope to solve keeps my mind active and my optimism high for the future,” he says.
While Wright doesn’t consider himself a leader, he does consider himself lucky to be able to invest in some of the best leaders in the state. He’s even helped create the Campus Founders Fund at Kickstart, a student-led fund that invests in student-lead startups with the goal of helping young people get the access they need to succeed.
Ben Dilts, 35
Cofounder & CTO | Lucid
“I’m one of the lucky few who found my calling in life very early,” says Ben Dilts. Beginning to write code at the age of six, he took his first programming job the summer before his senior year of high school. And he’s never had a paycheck from any job that didn’t involve writing code.
“Building software, both as an individual and a leader on a team, is an act of pure creation,” he says. And that’s what really drew him into the field initially. “I love the creative energy I get from attacking difficult problems (the bigger, the better) and inventing new ways to solve them.” And as the cofounder and chief technology officer at Lucid, one of Utah’s fastest-growing companies, Dilts has no shortage of creativity.
Caroline Garrett, 34
Chief Veterinary Officer | PolarityTE, Inc.
Caroline Garrett spent 100 percent of her time in college, veterinary school, and her residency studying and gaining clinical experience. Studying the complex disease states between animals and humans, she’s been working to impact the future of medicine through discovery, design, and development. And since leaving her faculty position at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, she’s worked hard with the R&D team at PolarityTE to develop a robust, highly collaborative preclinical research program to revolutionize biomedical technology.
“Meeting incredible patients and learning of the many challenges our clinical cases successfully treated using our technology is highly motivational.”
Darlene A. Carter, 38
Division President | C.W. Urban
“I have learned the only way to measure your success is to measure the success and satisfaction the team,” says Darlene A. Carter, division president at C.W. Urban. Working to inspire others while the company has made a significant splash on the Salt Lake housing market has been no simple task, but it has been the most rewarding.
“I believe who is in your fox hole with you is everything when it comes to how much you ‘enjoy’ your job,” she says. Passionate about translating the culture of the company to her projects, Carter helps provide the “missing middle” opportunities in real estate, such as multi-family housing projects that provide community within communities.
Ben Veghte, 37
Director, Communications | Pluralsight
“A week after graduating college, I packed my car and moved to Washington, DC, because I knew I wanted to start a career in politics,” says Ben Veghte. Working on John McCain’s presidential campaign, then as a congressional staffer, Veghte continued to build a career in communications, advocating for startups across the country.
When he came to Utah, Veghte put those skills to the test. “Working for Pluralsight has definitely given me the tech bug,” he says, and he looks forward to being able to roll up his sleeves to help scale and grow other companies like it in the future. “I love working as a communications professional because I get to help create and share amazing stories with the world.”
Aubriana Martindale, 28
Division Corporate Affairs Manager | Smith’s Food & Drug, Division of The Kroger Co.
“I truly have a dream job,” says Aubriana Martindale, describing her work with Smith’s Food & Drug. Able to focus on her professional career while also bringing positive change to the community, she has recently lead the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan, creating more meals for more families in need.
“I am not only professionally, but personally dedicated to closing the hunger gap amongst our youth,” she says. And working with Smith’s Food & Drug as the first corporate sponsor to open a free-standing school pantry in the state of Utah, she’s working to remove barriers for students in the same school district she grew up in. “No child should wonder where their next meal is coming from or be asked to focus in the classroom with an empty stomach.”
Steven “Cobra” Smith, 39
VP Team Security | Utah Jazz
VP Public Safety & Guest Services | Vivint Smart Home Arena
Steven “Cobra” Smith loves working with people. “Whether it’s leading a deployment for my public safety and guest services team, helping a guest in the arena, de-escalating a situation with concert-goers, or helping a Utah Jazz player stay safe in a foreign country, I relish the opportunity to engage with people in all different types of scenarios and use my training and background to ensure positive outcomes,” he says.
One of the youngest heads of security for an NBA team and vice presidents of public safety and guest services of any NBA and live entertainment venue, he takes his responsibility seriously. And he’s working to impact the future of public safety services by driving strategy and innovating the way security officials approach their responsibilities.
Brady Bloxham, 37
Founder & CEO | Silent Break Security
“I’ve loved computers for as long as I can remember,” says Brady Bloxham. From playing on Windows 3.0 as a kid and finding the voice digitizer in MS-DOS to building his first computer with spare parts at the age of 12, he’s been working with technology his whole life. But, combined with his self-described “mischievous tendencies,” he was particularly drawn to hacking.
Countless years later, he’s made a career out of it. Silent Break Security started out as a side gig, but after Bloxham took it full time, he’s seen exponential growth. “We do what people would get thrown in jail for doing anywhere else,” he says. “The thrill of hacking into a large corporation or breaking into a building never gets old.”
Yelena Caputo, 38
Co-owner & Vice President | A Priori Specialty Foods Importing & Distribution
Managing Director | Caputo’s Market & Deli
Yelena Caputo practiced law for seven years at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, prosecuting violent felons before joining her husband in the family business. “He poached me, so to speak, and after months of grueling deliberation, I decided to make the switch in my career,” she says.
Caputo’s departure from law into the deli world was a shock to everyone. But she never doubted that her risk would be a success. “The rapid and successful growth of our company, particularly being the premier and only craft chocolate distributor in the nation (if not the world) is striking,” she says. Being able to adapt to the quickly changing specialty food market, Caputo is leading by example and changing the face your local deli.
Annastasia Kaessner, 31
Office Specialist | Colliers International
The last year has been a whirlwind for Annastasia Kaessner. “I made a move over to Colliers and had to prove to all my clients that it was worthwhile to make the leap over with me,” she says. But after hard work and careful navigation, she’s seamlessly stepped into a leadership role.
“I had the opportunity to lead pitches for Walker Center, Vibe Properties, and a few others, all of which my team and I won,” she says. Now sitting on the board of CREW Utah and Salt Lake County Arts & Culture, Kaessner is leading her community with confidence and encouraging others to follow.
Cameron Russell Williams, 31
Founder & CEO | Everwoke, Inc.
Director of Diversity & Principal Sales Architect | Domo, Inc.
A top-ranked athlete and survivor of two brain surgeries, Cameron Russell Williams plays hard and works harder. As the founder and CEO of Everwoke, Inc. and the director of diversity and principal sales architect at Domo, he spends everyday learning and adapting to be the best leader he can be. “I am very passionate about diversity and inclusion, as well as introducing new people to the opportunities in tech here in Utah,” he says. Williams sits on the board for the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce, is the chair of the Utah County Black Chamber of Commerce, and helps lead Living Color Utah.
Martin Ritter, 34
President & CEO | Stadler US
“I actually went through an apprenticeship program when I was 16 and graduated as a farmer before I went to college,” says Martin Ritter of his early ambitions. Since then, Ritter has found success with Stadler US which employs more than 300 people and has built a 230,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility here in Utah. Ritter has also been instrumental in developing a first of its kind apprenticeship program to enhance vocational education. “Mobility is key to a good quality of life, and we help make people mobile.”
Maria E. Chumbita, 36
VP Engineering | CoreBrace
“I felt that engineering got me,” says Maria E. Chumbita. “We make things happen that have not been done before… it’s like going 200 miles per hour.”
“I want to keep being involved in the worldwide effort to reduce casualties and mitigate the effects of natural disasters and their social and economic consequences,” she says. And while she’s currently focused on growing business at CoreBrace, she sees plenty of opportunity for the future of her industry.
Dennis Steele, 33
Cofounder | Podium
“True leadership comes from understanding you aren’t the expert in everything,” says Dennis Steele. Having seen the rapid success of Podium since he helped found it in 2014, it’s easy to see that Dennis has surrounded himself with the secret to success.
“Podium now has close to 700 employees, and every so often we have company events where our team bring all of their family members, and you can visually see how this idea we had back in 2014 is positively impacting so many people and providing experiences and resources for so much future growth,” he says. “When you have the potential of making one of the biggest changes in a decade for local businesses, it’s exhilarating.
Jacklyn Briggs, 39
Marketing Director | Vestar, The Gateway
“When I got my first taste of event planning and felt how rewarding it was to create something from scratch, I was hooked,” says Jacklyn Briggs. Having recently helped revitalize The Gateway in Salt Lake City, she’s been on the front lines transforming it into the entertainment district it was meant to be. “It’s been especially rewarding to see it transition from a distressed area of Salt Lake to something that’s exciting and new,” she says. “I want to create a city and a community that I want to live in, so it drives me to work hard to impact change and create that.”
Chris Sanchez, 34
Managing Partner | LUX Catering & Events
Chris Sanchez has been in the catering industry for more than a decade. “I’ve put my heart and soul into it,” he says. After eight years with the company, he’s become an owner and one of three managing partners. “I would remind my younger self: upward and onward! Push past your struggles and complications to find your next big thing, even if it feels like you’re not going in the right direction.”
Outside his work with LUX Catering & Events, Sanchez is heavily involved in his community, especially with homeless youth. “As a gay man myself, I long to help those who have been kicked out of their homes after coming out, or have had their lives uprooted.”
James Jackson, III, 39
Founder & Executive Director | Utah Black Chamber
Supplier Diversity Program Manager | Zions Bancorporation
“The most important ability in leadership is being able to connect with people,” says James Jackson, III. The founder and executive director of the Utah Black Chamber has also had a hand in many efforts and initiatives to elevate Utah’s diversity, such as the Utah Diversity Career Fair, Living Color Utah, and the Inclusion Experience Project. And while many people told him early on that he should quit, he’s never given up on encouraging and supporting the diverse landscape of our state. “If diversity is elevated, Utah is elevated,” he says. “Everything I do in the community revolves around that mission.”
Ben Peterson, 35
CEO | Blue Raven Solar
Ben Peterson knows better than anyone how rapidly the residential solar industry is evolving. And he makes sure that nobody adapts as quickly, and as efficiently, as Blue Raven Solar. “I am motivated by a sense of purpose and duty—a sense of purpose to the environment and renewable energy movement and a sense of duty to our employees to build an enduring company of lasting value,” he says.
With a deep passion for helping others offset their carbon footprint, he’s helping to not only make our state a greener, more environmentally-conscious place, but to save his customers money in the process. “I hope to help create a world where our children and grandchildren see solar as the norm instead of the exception.”
Adam Cohen, 38
CEO | Odyssey House of Utah
Adam Cohen is passionate about extending a hand to those in need. “I struggled with substance misuse as a teen,” he says. But he got help at Odyssey House and graduated from the program in 1999 at 17 years old. Working with Odyssey House as a peer, he continued dedicating his time as he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and after becoming CEO, he set his goal to help as many people as possible.
“When I became CEO in 2009, we served about 1,000 individuals annually,” he says. But in 2019, that number reached 7,000 and in 2020, Odyssey House is projected to serve nearly 10,000. Instead of letting victims of substance abuse languish in the system or on the streets, Cohen is working hard to do something about it, making Utah a better place.
Jared M. Brader, MBA, 34
President | Intermountain Audiology & Hearing and Brain Centers of America
Jared M. Brader broke into the hearing and audiology profession by helping his grandmother. “Helping her along this process, holding her hand, and seeing the inefficiencies and problems in the profession kickstarted the problem solver in me,” he says. Leading a movement to treat more than 42 million patients in need, like his grandmother, he’s helped practices across the country deploy a proven method of success easily and effectively seek the treatment they need.
“Leadership puts a tremendous toll on you, but the rewards of watching others in your care grow, achieve, and elevate themselves is priceless.”
Isaac Westwood, 33
Cofounder & COO | Simplus
Recently expanding from 0 to 500 employees in five years, opening offices in London, Dublin, Sydney, and Melbourne, and then acquiring seven companies in the last three years, cofounder of Simplus, Isaac Westwood hasn’t had a moment to sit back and relax.
“What gives me the greatest joy is seeing my employees grow in their careers, provide for their families, and enjoy their work,” he says. “I am proud of our team and what we have been able to accomplish in such a short time, all while building an incredible culture.” Moving forward, Westwood hopes to be a force for good, helping businesses find ways to improve the quality of life of the people they serve.
Kim Mains, 39
VP, Enterprise Product Experience & Operations | Vivint Smart Home
Kim Mains has had a passion for technology and problem solving since her dad brought home the first family computer when she was six. The first person in her family to graduate from college, and a former semi-professional athlete, she now considers her hunger for learning, new experiences, and education as one of her most important characteristics as she pursues her executive MBA from the University of Utah.
Mains is also passionate about women in technology and the wider LGBTQ+ community and is involved in a variety of organizations through Vivint Women and Vivint Pride. She is also a commissioner with the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission, where she is responsible for making recommendations to city government on diversity and works with local organizations to encourage change.
Matt Blaser, 33
Founder | Intermark Steel
Matt Blaser found his career when he stumbled across a KSL classified. That ad blossomed into one of the fastest-growing construction companies in the state. “When I look at a steel structure coming out of the ground, I see much more than the steel members being bolted and welded together. I see the faces of forgotten men of our country that are quiet in their demeanor and ambition,” he says.
“My greatest sense of pride comes from working with these men and learning from their grit and determination.”
Mike Terry, 38
Regional Operations Director | Discover Financial Services
Mike Terry began his career with Discover as a part-time phone agent. “I had no education, no experience, and no money for college,” he says. So he took the opportunity to use the company’s tuition reimbursement to push himself toward success. “I only planned to stick around long enough to accomplish that goal,” he says, but along the way, he found a passion for developing others.
Now, as Discover’s regional operations director, Terry not only develops his employees, but is able to directly influence his customers. “What had started out as a job has become an incredibly rewarding career… I say to [our young employees] I was once where you are and that means there is no reason in the world you can’t get to where I am.”
Lexie Kite, PhD, 34
Cofounder & Codirector | Beauty Redefined
Lexie Kite felt compelled to begin her nonprofit at the culmination of her master’s degree research on body image. And alongside her twin sister Lindsay, they made it happen. “We had learned so much about how girls and women are held back by being preoccupied with their looks and how harmful so many of our cultural messages are,” she says. “We knew we needed to help people recognize their value as more than bodies to be looked at, judged, and fixed.” A decade later, Kite has spoken to countless thousands of people, and garnered a book deal for More Than A Body, which will be on shelves in fall 2020. “We can be more purposeful, powerful, and happy because of the pain we experience―not just in spite of it. That is body image resilience.”
Tomu Johnson, 35
CEO | Parsons Behle Lab
Tomu Johnson knew he was going to be a lawyer when he joined his high school debate team, and within a year of becoming an attorney, he knew he wanted to build a company that would change the way lawyers work for the better. Which is how he came to help create Parsons Behle Lab, a company making automated legal solutions to address client efficiency and cost demands.
“The legal field has been providing its services the same way for more than 100 years,” he says. “It’s invigorating to work and change what has become stagnant in the legal profession.” Johnson also serves as the president of the Young Alumni Association, helping prepare law students at the University of Utah for their future legal careers.
Matt Melville, 39
Director of Homeless Services | Catholic Community Services of Utah
Matt Melville was originally drawn to the Catholic Community Services of Utah for their work with refugees, but he quickly found a home with homeless services, and he’s proud of how he’s been able to help the program grow.
“The model has changed from a one-size-fits-all shelter to three smaller population-specific resource centers,” he says. “We’ve also expanded our service from daytime only to a new 24/7 resource center with 200 beds… I know that our guests rely heavily on us to find housing, job opportunities, and food to keep them working towards their goals and it motivates me to provide the best opportunities for them.”
Levi Roberts, 31
VP, Data Science | InMoment
Levi Roberts has always loved math and problem-solving. He grew up in the experience economy with a passion for using the experience brand as a battleground for differentiation. Working in an industry that has seen rapid growth over the last five years, Roberts has never shied away from a challenge. “The definition of leadership is evolving and we have to evolve with it,” he says. “Younger generations communicate differently, they are motivated differently, and the reasons they come into work are different than generations past.”
Gregory Larson, 33
SVP of Engineering | Divvy
Gregory Larson has helped build a world-class engineering organization, and has fostered an empowering culture along the way. “I love setting the stage for a team to come together, with each member of the team bringing their strengths and passions and seeing them accomplish or create something they’re truly proud of,” he says. “You have to invest in understanding how to support each person you lead and how they can work better together.”
Kate Bradshaw, 39
Director of Government Affairs | Holland & Hart, LLP
Kate Bradshaw has been interested in government for as long as she can remember. “I wrote letters to Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush as a kid with my thoughts on the happenings of the 1980s and 1990s,” she says. In college, she worked as a congressional intern, authoring many response letters to young constituents on behalf of her congressman. And recently, she lead the lobbying effort to increase the alcohol content of beer sold in Utah’s grocery and convenience stores, which saw a successful compromise in raising the percentage from 3.2 percent ABW to 4.0 percent.
“As a little girl, I didn’t see women in the professional and political positions I dreamed of being in,” she says. And she intends on being that role model for little girls like her.
Nick Stice, 39
CEO | Tech9
Nick Stice grew up listening to stories about programming with punch cards, but when he came into the programming scene, he was blown away by the possibilities. “[I enjoy] seeing technology become an asset for organizations,” he says. “Our mission is to help companies Tech Happily,” and that means putting his end-users first.
“As engineers, I think it’s easy to get distracted by the solution and the technologies used. We often lose sight of the problem we’re solving and who we’re solving those problems for.”
Kamron Barr, 34
Project Manager | PCI, Inc.
Kamron Barr was always fascinated with architecture. “Being able to look back and physically see the results of your hard work that you put in to build something has always been really inspiring to me,” he says. So making the career jump to work in specialty contracting wasn’t a hard decision.
Having just completed his masters at the University of Utah, and as a member of the team that won the 2019 Utah Real Estate Challenge, Barr has had an eventful year. “Do your best to enjoy the journey,” he says. “There will be late nights, early mornings, missed events, stress, frustrations, happiness, and joy along the way. But before you know it, it will all be over.”
Nubia Peña, 36
Director | Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs
Nubia Peña has always been an activist. Having previously worked with survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking, and a juvenile defense attorney working toward youth justice reform, she’s had a compound of experiences that have given her a compassion and selflessness to address the injustices around her.
An immigrant herself, she currently works for the governor at the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs to elevate the voices of marginalized populations and serve as a bridge between our diverse communities and government. “I want to make a difference,” she says. “I truly believe that, regardless of my job title, I want to create solutions and improve practices that better fit the unique needs of the diverse and multifaceted community we exist in.”
Ana Valdemoros, 38
Cofounder | Square Kitchen
Founder | Argentina’s Best Empanadas
Councilwoman | Salt Lake City
Passionate about building communities, Ana Valdemoros began her career in city planning and local government. But her entrepreneurial spirit had her making and selling empanadas at the Downtown Farmers’ Market, too. And in founding Square Kitchen, she was able to merge both of her worlds.
“I found myself happiest when I could go about doing my part on building our community and use my creativity to make it happen,” she says. Through the culinary incubator in Poplar Grove, she created a pathway to help others build community with her. Passionate about being involved, whether it’s as an elected official, building community in the kitchen, or volunteering her time down at the women’s resource center, Valdemoros spends her time serving and innovating wherever she can.
Timaree Later, 39
Founder & Creative Director | HUB Studio
“I don’t think I ever really had a choice,” says Timaree Later on what drew her into her career. “I don’t believe I chose this dream; I believe this dream chose me.”
Recently celebrating her company’s fifth birthday, she’s extremely proud of the challenges she’s overcome and the team she’s built to get there. “I work in an industry that is historically predominantly male-driven, especially in the Utah market,” she says. “I believe we have made an impact, and my intent is to continue to do so and be part of clearing a path for others to know they can do the same.”
Elizabeth Cordero, 36
CEO | Cordero Investments
“The biggest surprise for most people is the fact that almost everything I have accomplished in my career happened while I was an undocumented resident in the US,” says Elizabeth Cordero. A native of Mexico, she was undocumented for more than 20 years. “People need to understand that when you’re undocumented, it’s not because you want to be,” she says. Lack of education, advocates, and access are what stand in the way. Now, as a legal resident of the US and entrepreneur, Cordero looks forward to getting into politics and pushing her work towards humanitarian efforts.
Sarah (Birdsall) Huizingh, 39
Global Marketing Director, Software & Services | Motorola Solutions
Sarah Huizingh was convinced she would become a journalist. With an unhealthy obsession for proper grammar and as the former editor-in-chief of her high school yearbook, she was on track in her studies at the University of Utah to do just that. But as her coursework expanded, she fell in love with something else: graphic design.
Now, as the global marketing director with Motorola Solutions, Huizingh has worn many hats. “Don’t be afraid of change or to take on a new role or responsibility that may feel uncomfortable at first,” she says. “I firmly believe that you have to get uncomfortable to grow and discover new opportunities.”