From the Editor's Desk: Young leaders needed for Best Under 40

We need help from readers to identify talented young people who are making a difference in McHenry County.

Each year, the Northwest Herald recognizes some of the area's top professionals under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to their profession, company and community.

This is one of my favorite events the Northwest Herald puts on each year, mostly because it gives me the opportunity to get to know and learn from a lot of young leaders in a short period of time.

Shaw Media has been presenting these awards for the past 12 years. During that time, the company has honored more than 100 people with the Best Under 40 distinction.

Many Best Under 40 alumni continue to do great things here, including entrepreneur Mike Domek and local government leaders such as Erik Morimoto and Derik Morefield. Other alumni include nonprofit leaders and business executives from throughout McHenry County. There are too many to note here.

During the time I've been involved with the program, I've tried to learn as much as possible from these people.

Class of 2014 winner Rik Fregia, of Courtesy Buick GMC in Crystal Lake, taught me an essential lesson about the importance of names and reputations. He also displayed great humility in accepting his award that year. That's something I haven't forgotten.

Class of 2012 winner Emily Smith taught me about the importance of giving back – and about how much one determined person can accomplish.

Applications for this year's Best Under 40 program are available online at The nomination deadline is July 14. Nominees must be younger than 40 as of Sept. 14. The form must be filled out completely.

Candidates should have achieved levels of excellence in professional and personal development. They should have a record of involvement as a volunteer and/or board of director level in civic organizations and nonprofits.

Strong candidates will be demonstrative servant leaders and have solid leadership skills both professionally and personally. Preference will go to those who both live and work in McHenry County.

In October, a Best Under 40 reception, dinner and awards presentation will be held in honor of award winners.

The 2017 winners will be chosen by a panel of last year's winners.

So take a look around and nominate someone in your office who is making McHenry County a better place to live and work.

• Brett Rowland is news editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4630 or

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