Celebrating 20 Years of 40 Under Forty

I hope the legacy we leave as it relates to 40 Under Forty is an alliance of the best and brightest, one that serves as a conduit to help energize honorees and their careers and build

By Joe Sweeney

Michelle and I were 38 that first year of the program in 1998, and nearly all of the candidates were within a year or two of our own age. I recall some discomfort serving on the selection committee reviewing candidates that year. I can, with tongue in cheek, honestly report: That’ was a long time ago.
Those who know us may recognize that when we commit to a project, we’re all-in. There are similar 40/40 programs in other cities and within industry sectors, but we feel we have something pretty special here in Kansas City. Fortunately, so do many of our alumni and patrons.
Before I reminisce about the great memories of the 40 Under Forty program, I’d like to take a moment to recognize three special friends. Hoddy Potter, Craig Citron and my high school buddy, Kevin Gray. Kevin had a short and unsuccessful bout with cancer in 2011. He was the first alum from our program to pass away. A group that today includes 797 members.
You can read more about them on the opposite page, but I’d like to share a personal story about Kevin. A few months before his diagnosis, he was among a sizeable number of fans cheering for a group of us in a charity bicycle ride from Atchison, Kan., to the Rockhurst University campus here.
This may shock those who know me, but I was not among the first to arrive. I did, however, make it, and for the next six days, our group peddled to Downtown St. Louis by way of the Katy Trail. I didn’t realize it until I’d arrived on that 100-degree July day that Kevin and my wife, Michelle, had a bet that I wouldn’t make it. I don’t recall which one thought I would simply drop out and which one bet on my dying along the way. What I clearly remember, however, is the belly laughs and cheering as I passed the finish line that day. It was one of my favorite memories of Kevin. Little did we know then that he would be diagnosed with cancer and be gone in a few months.
We miss him, Craig and Hoddy, and wish they were here with their families to celebrate this year’s 20th anniversary milestone. To these good friends, we dedicate this edition of Ingram’s.
The 30th anniversary in 2028 will, inevitably and regrettably, bring more losses. That’s the hand we’re all dealt. But we hope our honorees’ engagement in the community and their experiences with 40 Under Forty have been good ones.
I know my own has. It’s been a little bit humbling to see how much this program has meant to so very many influential and successful people over the past two decades—honorees, nominators, employers, family and friends.
That dawned on me a few years ago, when I realized that we were consistently able to gather nearly every member of each year’s class for the traditional front cover photo. As it takes place in March, that shoot often falls during spring break, and these are 40 busy executives in prime family-raising years, with young schoolchildren. Many have made sacrifices to be a part of that event (as you can see in the photos, on page 40). It says something about how important this program has been to them.
So to all who have been touched by the 40 Under Forty experience over the years, we have assembled a 20th-anniversary edition that reflects on the program’s origins, recognizes past honorees who have made extraordinary contributions to the KC area, and elicited thought leadership from influential alumni with guest commentaries. We’re happy to introduce our 2018 Class and to announce Greg Maday, our 2018 Alumnus of the Year.
Ingram’s administers several unique recognition programs, but I’m most proud of two. Forty Under Forty and Heroes in Healthcare. For those who have not attended a Heroes in Healthcare awards breakfast, I’d suggest you add it to your bucket list. The stories of these unsung heroes are remarkable and the energy and pride at this event is, too. Read about this year’s breakfast on Pages 78-79.
We’re proud to serve as a steward of these two programs and we feel, in our own little way, that we’re bringing extraordinary people together and helping them to advance their careers, friendships and business relationships. We’re proud to call Kansas City home and feel blessed to be a part of this great city. We may not retire with a seven-digit 401(k) but I can honestly say that, like George Bailey, we’re the richest people in town. We wouldn’t trade the experience of publishing Ingram’s and managing these programs for anything in the world.
Celebrate with us, if you will, as we recognize and honor this year’s class of 40 Under Forty and reminisce about the memories associated with members of this group of fine citizens.

We’re proud to serve as a steward of the 40 Under Forty program and feel we’re bringing extraordinary people together.

About the author


Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher


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