NNY Business 20 Under 40 award winners were presented with plaques in 2018. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — What do an attorney, a sales manager, a process engineer, a school counselor and a pediatric dentist all have in common? Not only are they working both on and off the clock for the betterment of the north country, but they’re also members of this year’s NNY Business 20 Under 40 class.

This year’s 20 Under 40 marks the 10th annual event, which honors 20 young professionals each year for their leadership, ongoing career growth and community service.

Over the past nine years, NNY Business magazine has honored 163 recipients from the tri-county region. Last year, 123 nominations for 80 people were received — the highest number of nominations submitted to date. This year, the program received more than 60 nominations of north country professionals, according to Holly C. Boname, editor of NNY Magazines.

Of the 20 recipients this year, there are 11 recipients from Jefferson County, six recipients from Lewis County and three recipients from St. Lawrence County.

“While it seems that St. Lawrence and Lewis (counties) are actually a lot lower than Jefferson, to have six people selected from Lewis County out of the eight that were nominated is huge for them,” Ms. Boname said. “Since I’ve been with the program for four years, we have seen an increase in St. Lawrence and Lewis County nominations, which is great. We really encourage everybody up in those regions to continue to follow the program, continue to nominate.”

This year’s recipients are as follows: From Jefferson County — Melanie Saber, 33, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York; Lindsay Baldwin, 32, North Country Initiative/Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization; Kelly Hale, 28, state Department of Environmental Conservation; Mark Capone, 36, IBEW Local 910Fund Office; Dr. Chelsea Eppolito, 31, Clayton Dental Office; Cortney Shatraw, 37, Red Cross; Jamie McGuire, 38, Runningboards Marketing; Lindsay Herald, 35, Amazon; Laurel Zarnosky, 39, Sackets Paddle Co.; Natalie Hurley, 35, Indian River Central School District; and Tim Sturick, 38, Thousand Islands Bridge Authority.

From Lewis County — Kathryn Bingle Larsen, 38, Lowville Academy and Central School District; Ashley Waite, 34, Lewis County Public Health; Lydia Young, 36, Young Law Firm; Tyler McDonald, 33, Constableville Auction Hall/Adirondack Asset Auctions; Jerian O’Dell, 35, Carthage Area Hospital; and Ryan Piche, 31, Lewis County manager. From St. Lawrence County — Michael Besaw, 30, SeaComm Federal Credit Union; Jamie Bicknell, 37, Clarkson University; and Maria Filippi, 39, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County/littleGrasse Foodworks.

There are 15 women and five men in this year’s class.

“It’s kind of funny how it fluctuates over the years,” Ms. Boname said. “I think the first year that I started it was very male dominated, and now, at our 10th anniversary, the women are holding strong this year — we’ve got some really talented women in the north country that are showing leadership skills.”

Coinciding with the 10th annual 20 Under 40 awards, the upcoming issue of NNY Business featuring the 20 recipients will be the 110th issue of the magazine, which will publish on Dec. 4, and delivered to recipients. Additional copies may be picked up at the Watertown Daily Times, or those interested may subscribe to the magazine to have it delivered directly to their homes.

Due to COVID-19 safety mandates, NNY Business postponed its annual recognition luncheon for its 20 Under 40 recipients, which would have been held on Dec. 4. The magazine, a Johnson Newspaper Corporation publication, will instead hold its annual event in spring 2021 at a date to be determined.

The plan, according to Ms. Boname, is to have an outdoor event in the spring where social distancing will be able to be maintained, while also allowing those present to gather together, network and enjoy a cocktail hour, as well as enjoy the award ceremony and recognition dinner itself.

On the day the event was to be held, a video will be available for viewing on NNY360.com with video interviews with each of the 20 recipients — a way to honor recipients the day of the previously scheduled annual event ahead of the postponed awards ceremony in the spring.

“I think that everything this year for many businesses and organizations has changed so dramatically, that there was no option of canceling this program — leadership doesn’t stop because of a pandemic,” Ms. Boname said. “That’s the message that everybody needs to keep in mind. A lot of these people that were selected this year specifically stood up to the plate and helped their communities in their greatest time of need. Whether it be food donations, whether it be at the hospitals, whether it be at the schools, these people really stepped up to the plate and made a difference in their community not only last year and the year before, but especially in 2020 when neighbors were relying on neighbors to really get through it, so I’m very excited to present this year’s class to everyone.”

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