Honoring the Talented Difference-Makers

The Sheboygan Press. May 9, 2010, page D4

If you don't recognize these faces, you will remember them now.

These bright, young professionals are the future of Sheboygan County and are already making an impact both at their jobs and in the community.

On Wednesday, May 11, these 10 finalists will be honored at the Making Their Mark: Top Young Professionals Awards, sponsored by Sargento Foods, at Coastal Connections' annual all-member meeting at Town & Country Golf Course.

Coastal Connections, the young professionals network of Sheboygan County, is an organization that provides networking and leadership opportunities for young professionals, and acts as an attraction and retention tool for local businesses.

This is the second year Coastal Connections is presenting these awards. Of the Top 10, two will be chosen as the Top Young Professional of the Year (sponsored by Lakeshore Technical College) and the Top Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Mark J. Miller, CPA).

"Yet again, we are showing that Sheboygan County is brimming with young people who are not only talented at their chosen professions, but are truly making a difference by giving back to their communities," said Kari Cox, president of Coastal Connections.

This night is also the organization's annual meeting, where members and potential members alike will come together to rehash the past year's successes, learn about getting involved deeper in the organization and what's in store for the future.

The Core Team will present its Advocate of the Year (sponsored by Better Life Chiropractic and Wellness) and its first Member of the Year.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the free event, which includes a buffet of hors d'oeuvres, compliments of Town & Country Golf Course, and cash bar.

Please RSVP at CoastalConnectionsYPN.com, or call Lisa Hartman at the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce at (920)457-9491, Ext. 2-303, by Monday, May 10.

Jennifer Lehrke

Senior Architect and Historic Preservation & Green Building Consultant

Community Service

AIA-Wisconsin Northeast Chapter Learning Lunch Site Coordinator, City of Sheboygan Sustainable Sheboygan Task Force, Sustainable Living Group, Sheboygan County Historical Research Center

What has been your biggest obstacle to your success?

Architecture is a male dominated field. While nearly 50 percent of architectural students are women, only 15 percent continue to become licensed architects; so I'm a rarity. Once they got to know me, the men in the local construction industry began to treat me with the respect they would give to anyone else.

How has your community involvement enhanced your career and/or your life?

First, I should explain that volunteerism has been a driving force in my life since I was a student at Plymouth High School. I think it is every citizen's duty to be active in their communities. Think of all the good that could be done if everyone gave an hour of their time each month to a charity or organization. Personally, I enjoy the people I get to meet. If my unique background and experience make me a valuable asset to an organization, then it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be able to share that with them.