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The pain, uncertainty and immense amount of loss thus far wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic has, in many cases, resulted in a call to action.

The efforts of this year’s class of 40 Under 40 represent the many ways people came together, found new opportunities to make a difference and unearthed creativity they may not have otherwise.

Leighann Bacher started a Facebook group that resulted in thousands getting access to vaccines; Kacy McGill and Taylor Stessney started a Facebook group for restaurant workers aid that’s now a certified nonprofit. Carlos Carmona left his corporate job to become the disaster program manager at the American Red Cross.

Then there were members of this year’s class whose work, by definition, already focused on helping the most vulnerable: doctors such as Maya Ragavan or food rescuers like Mel Cronin; for them, the pandemic brought new challenges to their chosen industries.

But no matter if the pandemic directly or indirectly influenced them, they all have one thing in common: a work ethic that has only become stronger in the face of adversity.

This is the 2021 Class of 40 Under 40.

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Ray Nell Jones

“When you’re passionate about [a nonprofit] and you show people you’re passionate about it, you’ve had that experience, things can happen more quickly than you can expect.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Summer Lee

“This is a very, very urgent moment ...  Helping people to identify their place in this system, and their power in this system, is what we need right now.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Cue Perry

“Racial tension had been at a crazy high. I wanted to do my part and came up with an ice cream flavor with proceeds given back to a nonprofit.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Dr. Utibe Essien

“I think more attention has been paid to some of those disparities because of the pandemic, and I think it’ll really benefit our community as we pay more attention to it.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Danielle Filip

“I think it’s wonderful that I’m able to accommodate a larger group of the population. My work now is focused on ensuring that there are standards in place.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Dr. Taylor Abel

“Forty percent of children have epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medications. And all of those should be considered for the highest level of care and potential surgery.”

2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Leighann Bacher

“I was seeing all these nurses and doctors on the front lines and I kind of felt helpless, 'What can little me do?’ And looking back, this was kind of my [way] to contribute.”
Categories: 40 Under 40