Here is some more information/bios on each of the 14 honorees from this year’s class! Congratulations again to all of you!
In addition to working as a relationship banking officer, VP with Columbia Bank, Andrew Harper is also an active volunteer with numerous area nonprofits, including serving on the board for Second Step Housing and serving as the chair of their finance committee.
According to a letter of recommendation written by Tim Foley, executive director of Second Step Housing, Harper joined the board of directors this year and immediately stepped into the role of treasurer. He quickly and effectively took leadership of the finance committee and serves as the direct liaison to the board on all financial matters. Beyond his technical knowledge and willingness to volunteer his time, Foley wrote that Harper is a keen supporter of the Second Step mission, which is to empower homeless individuals and families with opportunities that foster self-sufficiency through affordable housing partnered with community services.
“It is a tremendous honor to be included in this year’s Accomplished and Under 40 Class,” Harper said. “This recognition wouldn’t be possible without the colleagues I work with on a daily basis, as well as many others who have mentored and supported me over the years, both professionally and personally. I look forward to joining the rest of this year’s class in our continued efforts to have a positive impact in the SW Washington business community. Thank you VBJ for this honor and congratulations to the rest of the class of 2020!”
Washington State Patrol
Although Trooper Brandon Kesler is a dedicated member of the Washington State Patrol, his career combined with his work in the community makes him a prime candidate for the Accomplished and Under 40 recognition.
Kesler frequently volunteers with high school football teams, volunteers at a local private school and participates in local school events. In addition, he also provides leadership by encouraging and coordinating donations for a local food bank and families in need.
In his career, Kesler has dedicated himself to public safety. He is a field training officer, who volunteers to work with inexperienced officers to assist them in their training. He is also a Drug Recognition Expert, assisting officers and prosecutors with holding drug-impaired drivers accountable for their choices to drive impaired.
“It is a great honor to be recipient of the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2020,” Kesler said. “My role as a public servant has provided me the means to make a difference in my community both through my role as a state trooper and as a resident of Clark County. This has been supported by the Washington State Patrol’s values and encouragement for community engagement amongst its troopers. It is an honor to be a recipient of this award knowing many other public servants in our community are also making a difference in both their line of work and community involvement.”
“A caring person and a diligent public servant” – this is how Mike Dalesandro (who nominated Cherish DesRochers-Vafeados for this recognition) describes his fellow Battle Ground City Council member.
DesRochers-Vafeados is a customer service representative for C-TRAN, but her volunteer work in the community shows that she does so much more. Her service to the community includes being the president/founder of the nonprofit Food with Friends, which includes the Shower Outreach Project, Project Going Places and Emergency Weather Outreach.
As a current Battle Ground City Council member, DesRochers-Vafeados is the board chair of the LEOFF 1 (Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters’ Plan 1 Retirement Board). She is on the Battle Ground Housing Action Plan Advisory Group, the Trueblood Taskforce, Urban County Policy Board and the Advisory Committee Air Force JROTC for Battle Ground High School.
“I don’t do things for the recognition, but boy does it feel good to be recognized,” DesRochers-Vafeados said. “A huge thanks to Mike Dalesandro for nominating me and to the Vancouver Business Journal selection panel for choosing my nomination.”
Danielle Reyes is a successful team manager, single mom, board member, community volunteer and “a force to be reckoned with,” according to one of her recommendation letters from Paul Kuthe, owner of Tributary Couching LLC.
Reyes is currently training store general manager with Wendy’s DBA – Jorcody Restaurants. She travels to other restaurants to help managers who have more tenure than her with organization and leadership, and she works to balance the needs of the business and all of its employees, hiring and training, cleaning and organizing, managing product, PNLs and assets.
Reyes also currently serves as vice president on the Evergreen School District Foundation Board. In this role, she coordinates fundraisers on behalf of the organization for major events of up to 400 people; is involved with community events and more. She was also event director for the former nonprofit networking group Impactful People NW.
“This year I chose sobriety, bought my first house, paid for my first dream car in cash and now I get to be a part of this exclusive group and it’s an honor to know that even through all the chaos and behind closed doors setbacks, that 2020 ended so beautifully,” Reyes said. “It means more to me that my 5-year-old gets to see his momma make it this far. I’m coming for more.”
James Sikora, an attorney with Landerholm, P.S., just this year became a shareholder with the firm and actively participates in numerous committees related to the firm’s operations. Sikora’s practice focuses on advising and counseling businesses throughout Washington and Oregon in employment law and related areas.
In a letter of recommendation from fellow Landerholm attorney Phillip Haberthur, he writes that Sikora is widely regarded as the “go-to” lawyer for employer needs. He is well known for his quarterly employment seminars that he provides to area businesses, and he is a sought-after speaker on employment, Compliance and ADA issues.
In addition to providing many hours of pro bono legal services to area nonprofits and individuals, he also volunteers his time as a member of the Humane Society for Southwest Washington Board of Directors and as a member of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Advisory Committee. He has also been a part of the Landerholm Hood to Coast team.
“I’m honored to be selected for this award with such a talented group of young community and business leaders,” Sikora said. “When I look at the accomplishments of other recipients of this award, both past and present, I’m excited about the future for our community even in these unprecedented times. I’m thrilled to be considered, let alone selected, to be a part of this group and receive this award.”
Fairway Independent Mortgage
A loan officer with Fairway Independent Mortgage, Jason Presser helps individuals with all of their home purchase and refinance needs.
In addition to his mortgage career, which comes after a long career in the banking industry, Presser is also currently involved with numerous volunteer organizations. His involvement includes board president of the Fruit Valley Foundation; board member of Biz Social; board member of EPICC; Southwest Washington Contractors Association, events committee; board member of Evergreen Business Association; member of the Clark County Solid Waste Advisory Commission; CDM Services, development committee; and Building Industry Association of Clark County, Building Futures Foundation.
In a letter of recommendation, Tina Vlachos of Tina Vlachos Agency LLC, wrote that Presser is beyond a professional, is a charismatic leader and also wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to matters regarding the community.
“I just want to say that I am completely humbled by this recognition by the VBJ for Accomplished and Under 40,” Presser said. “I truly believe that when you strip everything away, what truly matters is the impact you can have on others in your community. If we continually look at how we can lift each other up, a lot of our problems would be solved. I am honored to be recognized amongst this amazing class of community changers.”
Lighthouse Community Credit Union
As senior vice president and branch manager with Lighthouse Community Credit Union, Jennifer Small maintains communication between branch management and the Board of Directors; formulates recommendations and provides feedback to the Board regarding operational policies and procedures; maintains oversight over audit procedures to ensure compliance with controls and much more.
Stacey Graham – a board member of Lighthouse Community Credit Union and Lighthouse Foundation – described Small as “an experienced financial leader with specific skills and a heart for helping low-income families become financially savvy and more self-sufficient.” She wrote that Small “worked tirelessly to bring the Lighthouse Resource Center and its educational programs to life.”
Small’s volunteer involvement includes the SW Washington Chapter of Credit Unions, board member; Clark County Food Bank, fundraiser committee member; Walk & Knock, treasurer from 2018-2019; Leadership Clark County; Vancouver Rotary – Festival of Trees; and Share – Hoops on the River.
“I feel this sense of responsibility to give back to the community I live and work in, and I volunteer with organizations who help support the efforts to lift up the community,” Small said. “To be recognized for this effort by individuals who have done so much more than I have is humbling and it motivates me to continue to give back.”
Mybite Vitamins, LLC
According to a letter of recommendation written by Martin Rifkin, senior managing director at Coremix Capital, LLC, Jordan Farley is a valued asset to the organization.
“She has excellent written and verbal communication skills, is very organized, can work independently and is able to effectively multi-task,” Rifkin wrote. “Her vast knowledge stems from her law degree along with her realter and broker license. These accomplishments were driven by her passion for the law and the ability to help her community.”
Farley is currently involved with working for a variety of companies, including working as Legal Regulatory Affairs Manager for Mybite Vitamins, LLC; Pac 1 Property Management, LLC; and Coremix Capital, LLC, as well as working as compliance director for KMR Group Foundation and as a designated broker for Pac 1 Property Management.
Farley’s volunteer involvement includes working with many different programs within the KMR Foundation, including the Winter Essential Packs/Summer Essential Parks program, Scholarship program and scholarships for higher learning through Legacy Hospital. For the essential packs program, Farley helps pack more than 1,000 bags that Share distributes to their clients in the summer and at Christmas.
“It’s an honor to be nominated by my colleagues and recognized by the VBJ among other amazing, talented and accomplished people who are doing such great things in and for the community,” Farley said. “I look forward to continued professional growth and success in the years to come.”
Having stepped into the role of marketing director at LSW Architects in July 2019, Meg Harvey has since “proven to be a selfless team player and natural leader,” according to a letter of recommendation from Esther Liu, principal with LSW Architects.
“Meg Harvey embodies the term community service; she is one of the most committed and active volunteers at the Vancouver’s Downtown Association,” wrote VDA Executive Director Michael Walker in his letter of recommendation. “Meg works tirelessly to identify and implement creative solutions to support our downtown community and small businesses.”
Aside from her involvement with the VDA, Harvey also volunteers her time with the Ronald McDonald House, Clark County Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.
“Anything I have ever accomplished in my career is due to the amazingly talented people I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with as well as the mentors that have guided me along the way,” Harvey said. “I’d like to extend my appreciation to Casey Wyckoff for the nomination. His leadership has been an inspiration to so many people in our community (and beyond). It has been a privilege to work alongside the incredible team he has helped shape at LSW Architects and Riff_Creative. I am honored to be part of the VBJ Accomplished and Under 40 Class of 2020, especially amidst this most challenging year. Thank you to the VBJ panel for the special recognition. And to the rest of the class, congratulations!”
As the Director of Volunteers & Community Resources at Share, Molly Evjen is responsible for overseeing the development, management and implementation of Share’s volunteer department. She is also committed to empowering youth through her involvement with the Portland/Vancouver Rowing Association and the Rose City Rowing Club.
In a letter of recommendation from Jessica Lightheart, community relations director for Share, Lightheart wrote that Evjen has always been a leader – “from her days as coxswain for her high school rowing team to today where she manages more than 2,600 volunteers each year, who provide 26,650 hours of service, equal in financial value to $677,650 to Share. She is a great leader because she is intelligent, compassionate, dedicated, conscientious and forwarding-thinking.”
Evjen is the operations manager and business manager for the Portland/Vancouver Rowing Association and is also head novice coach for the Rose City Rowing Club.
Diane McWithey, executive director at Share, wrote in her letter of