Looking for proof that Idaho is on the rise?
On June 12, Boise Centre East hosted a gala event to recognize 40 of the state’s best and brightest young professionals – a talented group including burgeoning leaders in government, technology, entrepreneurship, education and social service.
Idaho Business Review’s 19th annual Accomplished Under 40 awards drew roughly 320 people to the downtown event space for an evening of mixing, mingling, celebrating and connecting.
The theme of the night was inspiration. Attendees were asked to fill out a card with a description of something that inspires them and hang it up on the bright orange “Inspiration Board” for others to see. The University of Idaho, the event’s sponsor, will have the cards laminated and turned into luggage tags as a special keepsake.
Guests were also able to choose a meal that inspired them from a variety of food stations, including a ramen bar, taco bar and salad bar. It was a fun change of pace from the standard plated dinner typically served at awards shows.
IBR Associate Publisher Cindy Suffa reiterated the inspiration theme during the awards portion of the event. The 40 honorees collected their awards to the tune of their own selected inspirational song – from rap to country to salsa.
Gabrielle Davis, St. Luke’s Health System – Boise COPD educator/inpatient tobacco cessation coordinator, said she chose Beyoncé’s “Run the World” because it has an empowering feminist message: “Who runs the world? Girls!”
A longtime advocate for LGBTQ issues, Davis said she was happy for young people in Idaho to see an LGBTQ woman of color receive a prestigious honor.
To Cody Freston, the Accomplished Under 40 award was a sign he had truly found his home in Idaho. Freston, chief operations officer/partner at Doctor’s Hospice of Idaho, moved to the Gem State from Ogden, Utah, five years ago, a leap of faith that paid off.
“I have found a great circle of friends and colleagues, and now family members have relocated to Boise, as well,” Freston wrote in his Accomplished Under 40 questionnaire. “Seeing me thrive here, they say, ‘We get it! This is where you need to be!’”
Danielle Horras, University of Idaho director of strategic initiatives, called the honorees “a group of individuals who definitely did not settle for just one way of approaching a problem.”
“I’m amazed at how each of our honorees views the world and their role in it,” she said. “They bring a sense of wonder, an insatiable curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning that makes me excited about the future of Idaho.”
During her remarks, popular TEDX Idaho speaker Yvonne Oduro-Afriyie Nyavor encouraged the honorees to help others “shine brightly.”
“I wouldn’t be here tonight, or in this state, or at this point in my life and career, if others, like my headmaster and teachers, had not seen that something in me and given me opportunities to grow and shine brighter,” she said. “As a result, I now make a conscious effort to do the same for other people.”
That message resonated with honoree Shayna Randall, a franchise owner with Dutch Bros of Canyon County.
Randall said the evening had inspired her to seek new ways to encourage people to stand up to naysayers and follow their dreams.