2015 Ones to Watch
Story by Suzanne Gibson | Apr 29, 2015
Photography by Anthony Jinson
A message from Trey Cunningham, Community Bank President, UMB Bank, n.a.
It has been 7 years since Jefferson City Magazine launched its Ones to Watch program as a way to recognize up-and-coming leaders who are making a difference in our community. Looking over the past winners, I am amazed at the great things this group has done for our city, both from a professional and personal standpoint.
It is because of these accomplishments that I am honored to congratulate the 2015 Ones to Watch class and represent UMB as a sponsor of this year’s event. To be recognized by your peers for making our community a better place to live and work is a great accomplishment and one of which you should be proud.
Throughout our history, UMB Bank has been adamant about supporting the communities in which we do business. We believe in helping businesses grow while also giving back through volunteer and community efforts. We believe doing the right thing makes a difference and leads us in the right direction. I believe these are the same principles that guide all of the Ones to Watch leaders who are being recognized this year for their personal and professional contributions. They have clearly embraced their roles as business leaders, diligently working to ensure a better future for our community and its citizens. And for that, we sincerely thank each one of you.
On behalf of UMB and the Jefferson City business community, I would like to congratulate the Ones to Watch winners. I look forward to your continued success and am already anticipating all of the good you will continue to bring to our community.
Thank you for your dedication and hard work,
Ones to Watch 2015
Ones to Watch represent the next generation of outstanding leaders who are passionate about their professions and our community. As our seventh annual group, they will surely continue to up the bar. Brief stories about them are below.
Willie Jude II
Special Assistant to the President for Fundraising at Lincoln University and Executive Director of the Lincoln University Foundation Inc.
Willie Jude exudes out-of-the-box excitement about his role to help strengthen and expand Lincoln University as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.
“The history of Lincoln University is simply riveting,” Jude says. “Our university is the only one founded by veterans, men of the 62nd and 65th colored infantries. As they retired their weapons from the Civil War, they wanted to arm themselves, their families and friends with something even more powerful — knowledge. How can you not be proud and motivated by this notion?”
Jude works tirelessly alongside Lincoln University President Dr. Kevin D. Rome, the board of curators, the foundation board and the school’s national alumni association with fundraising efforts and more.
“I am excited for the opportunity to assist our overall institution to greater fundraising success,” Jude says. “If we want our students to grow and prosper, we will provide needed support to our academics and athletics programs while supporting the university in fulfilling its mission, goals and master plan.”
As someone who wears a lot of hats, Jude is accountable for leading the university’s fund development efforts including major gifts, corporate and foundation giving, annual giving and planned giving. He also has oversight responsibilities for several departments, including marketing, communications and public relations and alumni affairs.
Laura Bennett-Smith, a co-worker who nominated Jude, speaks of his involvement and ability to effectively bridge the gap between the campus and community.
“He cultivates learning and professional development opportunities within his team at Lincoln University to inspire others to be the best,” Bennett-Smith says. “Willie is an extraordinarily loyal, dedicated and positive person who brings great energy to everyone he meets.”
Without a doubt, Jude’s favorite aspect of his career revolves around service where he can support students, employees and alumni in a variety of ways.
“I have a passion to impact lives,” Jude says. “I have found that this field is a definite vehicle to reach out to those around you, directly and indirectly, in a valuable manner. This position is more than a job to me; it is lifework.”
Family: Wife, Joi N. Jude
Charity of choice: Lincoln University Foundation Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs, United Way of Central Missouri
“My parents instilled the importance of giving back to the community,” Jude says. “These organizations provide in-service learning, mentorship and coaching for diverse populations. These organizations foster environments that promote hope, healthy lives, positive thought and inspiration for education.”
Community involvement: Jude is an ambassador for the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce and involved with the United Way of Central Missouri Board of Governing, Downtown Rotary Club, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, Downtown Jefferson City Association, Eastside Business Association and Boy Scouts.
Event Manager at Canterbury Hill Winery and Restaurant
For the eight or so months before she was chosen for Ones to Watch, Hannah Snitker wasn’t able to enjoy the obvious perks of working at a winery: Her third baby is due in early May. Fortunately her position as event manager at Canterbury Hill Winery offers Snitker plenty of satisfaction, as does her adopted home of Jefferson City.
“I often get asked if I grew up here,” Snitker says. “The people I’ve met and built relationships with in a short time here is absolutely amazing.”
Snitker was raised in the small town of Owensville in Gasconade County. She left home to attend Lincoln University, where she graduated with a degree in business education, earned the business department’s outstanding academic award and came to know the city as her new home.
Snitker was hired at Canterbury Hill after spending time teaching, when she fostered the multitasking and communication skills that she now utilizes for event planning.
DJ Drury, owner of Canterbury Hill and Snitker’s nominator for the 2015 Ones to Watch, says Snitker has been instrumental in the winery’s growth over the past two years.
“Her leadership shines through her personality,” Drury says. “She is the real deal, from her smile to her top-notch organizational skills. She will tell you that her goal in life is just to make someone smile.”
Snitker’s husband, Shawn, serves full time in the Missouri National Guard. With two daughters — Jillian, 4, and Berkley, 2 — and a third baby on the way, Snitker strives to maintain a healthy balance between work, family and community.
“My motto is always, ‘Make a memory,’” she says. “Since we do live the Army life, my girls are raised knowing just how precious family time is.”
When she was a young girl herself, Snitker dreamed of a job that would make people smile. With dedication and tireless commitment, she makes every occasion at Canterbury Hill feel like a dream event.
“At the end of the day, when my client is completely satisfied, and they leave with a smile and great memories, I know my job is complete,” she says.
Family: Husband, Shawn; daughters, Jillian and Berkley; baby due in May 2015
Charity of choice: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital City
“This charity holds a special place in my heart because of my passion for kids,” Snitker says. “Since I am no longer in the classroom, I feel this is one group I can still give to that gives me the satisfaction of helping and making a difference in a child’s life. We live in a world with great diversity and situations that are not always suitable for young kids. This is a great place for kids to maintain a normal lifestyle and get an equal opportunity in life in a safe place.”
Community involvement: Snitker is active in the Chamber of Commerce and loves being involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs. She helped Canterbury Hill become a vendor in Fork, Cork & Brews, a Boys & Girls Clubs event that helps raise money for scholarships. “Hannah is the backbone of our business donations, where they go and whom they can help,” Drury says.
Commercial Banking Representative at Jefferson Bank of Missouri
TJ Ralston seems to be genetically engineered for numbers, a skill that comes in handy as a commercial banking representative at the Jefferson Bank of Missouri. He has relatives in banking and business, and those early and ongoing role models set the stage for his current career path. Additionally, his degree in business administration from Lincoln University, where he attended on a golf scholarship, also helped solidify this choice.
“Conversations with my uncle, who is CEO of a bank in a different state, helped to pique my interest to eventually pursue a career in banking,” Ralston says.
His grandfather Leonard Ralston, who ran his own business and had a passion for helping others in the community, was Ralston’s greatest influence.
“Not only was my grandfather a role model as a business owner, he was also an active volunteer in the community,” Ralston says. “His example led me into coaching and working with kids with the hope that they would develop into better athletes and also become more driven individuals as a result of lessons learned while playing athletics.”
Ralston’s favorite part about working at the bank, which he says truly feels like home, is the daily interaction he has with customers and being able to help them meet their banking needs.
“With the rapidly changing world of technology, TJ keeps up with the current trends and passes along his expertise to our customers,” says Ken Theroff, Ralston’s nominator and president of Jefferson Bank. “We are fortunate to have his enthusiasm on our team.”
Family: Wife, Lacy; sons, Brenden and Brock; baby due in April 2015
Charity of choice: Capital Projects provides a place of employment for young adults with disabilities for as long as they are able to work. Once an adult with disabilities exits the school system, after receiving a graduation certificate, he or she can be an important part of society in the workforce thanks to sheltered workshops such as Capital Projects. “My 27-year-old brother-in-law has Downs syndrome and has worked for Capital Projects for several years,” Ralston says. “He has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand what this provides for young adults with special needs.”
Community involvement: Ralston coaches the boys junior varsity basketball team at Helias High School and is an assistant coach for the varsity team. He has also coached Knights basketball (ages fifth through eighth grades) and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a Flamin’ Fellas participant for a Special Olympics fundraiser. Theroff says Ralston is a great role model for kids in the community. “His passion is infectious with regards to coaching,” he says. “Role models like TJ are hugely important in our community, and we know that the Helias basketball boys are blessed to have him.”
Government Accounts Officer at Central Bank
State government is always at the center of Jefferson City, and Emily Kampeter is always at the center of state government. Before taking over as government accounts officer at Central Bank, Kampeter did communications work for the state, handling legislative affairs for insurance and finance. Since crossing over to the private sector, the lifelong Jefferson City resident has been able to expand her influence in the Capital City.
“My primary customer base is associations and nonprofits,” Kampeter says. “I use my government experience to navigate bid opportunities and understand the challenges those customers face.”
Kampeter relishes the opportunity to contribute to the community that she grew up in. Her husband, Joshua, is also a city native, and Kampeter’s children, Sophie and Eli, spend regular time with their grandparents. Kampeter graduated from Helias Catholic High School and volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital during the summers. She considered becoming a nurse but then decided another career might be a better fit.
“I quickly learned I can’t stand the sight of blood,” she says. “I spent most of my time in the hospital gift shop.”
Kampeter was nominated as a 2015 One to Watch by Central Bank coworker Twilla Duvall, who praises Kampeter’s humility and grace. “Emily’s contribution to the community goes hand in hand with her professional achievements,” Duvall says. “She treats each and every customer with respect and demonstrates outstanding attention to detail.”
Duvall says Kampeter was instrumental in securing funding for Missouri’s participation in the Own Your Future long-term care insurance program, which is designed to help people plan for the costs of long-term health care in old age. Kampeter has also served in leadership positions at the United Way and the Jefferson City Council for Drug Free Youth.
Kampeter hopes to ramp up her community involvement even further in the years to come, hopefully sparing some time for travel with her family and furthering her education. “I don’t ever want to stop learning and challenging myself,” she says. “I want to be remembered for my passion for my family, my work and my community.”
Family: Husband, Joshua, and children, Sophie and Eli
Charity of choice: Young Life Jefferson City
“This organization helped shape who I am today,” Kampeter says. “During high school, some amazing Mizzou students traveled to Jefferson City to hang out with my friends and me. They attended our school events, took us to summer camp and taught us about God’s love. Young Life impacted the choices I made as a young person and the decisions I make today.”
Community involvement: Kampeter is a committee member of Jefferson City Young Life, a campaign coordinator for the United Way of Central Missouri and a former president of the Council for Drug Free Youth. She is an active member of Immaculate Conception Church and a volunteer in the Samaritan Center’s Adopt-a-Family program.
Sales, Service and Installer at EcoWater Systems
EcoWater is all in the family as Adam Mietzner followed in his father’s footsteps by coming on board. Before that, his father worked for his grandfather.
“My father played a big role in my decision,” Mietzner says. “Looking back, I would have to say his drive to run a great business and to be successful is what attracted me to EcoWater. One day I would like to take over the business and continue on as the third generation to run an EcoWater dealership.”
Performing a variety of roles including sales, service, installations, deliveries and office work has kept Mietzner busy during the decade he has been with the company.
“I try to be as involved as I can in every aspect of the business,” Mietzner says. “I love being able to get out and be with our customers. It’s always fun to catch up with them.”
Joel Mietzner, Adam’s father and employer, says his son’s excellent work ethic, passion, hard work and commitment are what make him a leader and a role model in the community.
“Adam is willing and ready to help in any way that he can,” Joel says. “Any time he sees a need, he’s quick to lend his time, money and, most of all, his positive attitude and contagious smile. He is a great example of love, commitment, honesty, passion and respect.”
Family is foremost for Mietzner. He says he’s grateful to his father, who encouraged him to become the best he can in every aspect of his life; his wife, Lydia, who strengthens him day after day with words of encouragement; and his kids, who inspire him to be a better father and husband.
“It is my family, my church and Christ who give me the drive to get up every day to do the very best I can,” he says.
Family: Wife, Lydia; daughter, Mariah; and son, Micah
Charity of choice: Operation Bugle Boy
“My charity of choice is OBB because I believe in what they stand for,” Mietzner says. “OBB celebrates and honors Gold Star families. It’s important that we remember those people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I also love to be around veterans and do whatever I can for them.”
Community involvement: Mietzner says he loves to “give back time to a community that has given my family and me so much.” He’s a member of the Home Builders Association of Central Missouri board, works as chair of the 2015 HBA Home Show and is on the HBA golf and Christmas party committee. He’s also an Operation Bugle Boy Advisory Board member. He sings in his church’s choir and teaches a bible fellowship class with his wife.
Sales and Leasing Consultant at Jefferson City Autoplex, formerly Corwin Auto Group
Jefferson City native Nathan Hays uses his sense of humor when he explains how he got into the car business. As a new member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals group, he stood up and shared that he was unemployed with a college degree during a meeting with 70 of his peers. He says people he knew let out a chuckle, and his current boss approached him.
“He told me, ‘If you have the stones to tell a room that you’re unemployed and laugh about it, you should sell cars,’” Hays says. “My grandfather owned multiple automotive dealerships in mid-Missouri before I was born, and he encouraged me to look into it more seriously. I interviewed a few weeks later, and the rest is history. Hays, who works as a sales and leasing consultant at Corwin Automotive Group, has a Bachelor of Science in wellness from Lincoln University with a minor in recreation from Missouri State University.
Devin Fischer, who nominated Hays, says Hays has quickly become one of the most well-known and respected car salespeople in town.
“He works hard to excel every day and exceeds expectations for all his customers,” Fischer says. “Everyone else’s needs come first, and Nathan is constantly looking for ways to help others.”
Hays says his favorite part about his job is trying to turn a process that is typically seen as bad or stressful into something that’s fun and enjoyable.
“I have tons of repeat customers, and many people call me weekly and ask, ‘Hey, do you still sell cars?’” Hays says. “When I say yes, I always hear a sigh of relief. That means a lot to me. I love to network, and I just enjoy helping people make buying a car fun.”
Family: Wife, Amanda, and daughters, Emily and Sophia
Charity of choice: The United Way of Central Missouri
The United Way provides assistance to seniors, children and the underprivileged in the community by promoting education, health and financial stability.
“I’m involved with so many organizations,” Hays says. “Recently, I’ve tried to become more involved with the United Way as a whole because they cover a lot of ground.”
Community involvement: Hays is part of the Leadership Jefferson City Class of 2014, Jefferson City Day Care Center Board of Directors, Special Olympics of Missouri Flamin’ Fellas, Boys & Girls Clubs: Men of the Club, Boy Scouts of America Great Rivers Council Executive Nomination Committee and Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals. He is president of the Mid-Missouri Referral Alliance and is involved with Capital City Connections, Friends of the Parks, Partners in Education, State DECA judge, Cole County Mr. Relay for Life, Jefferson City Jaycee and Trunk or Treat participant, Special Learning Center Golf Tournament, Youth Sports coach, West Main Pizza Fan Club, Lincoln University Alumni Association,
Missouri State University Alumni Association, Helias Alumni Association, Jefferson City Salute to America, State Employee Recognition Day, Child’s Play Gaming Fundraisers and Hope on Wheels.
Certified Insurance Counselor at Naught-Naught Insurance Agency
Naught-Naught Agency opened its first insurance office in 1972, before Jeff Naught was even born. Naught grew up watching his father and uncles establish their business in Jefferson City and build connections in the community. Now, he is doing the same thing himself.
“I had so much respect for my dad and my uncles,” Naught says. “I loved the idea of having a career that allowed me to be an active member in this community.”
Naught began working at his family’s agency part time while he was attending the University of Missouri. His time at MU is marked by two significant documents: a degree in business management and his pilot’s license. When asked for three words to describe himself, Naught says “avid aviation fan.” He dreamed of being a pilot before he dreamed of being a certified insurance counselor.
That’s not to say Naught doesn’t love his job; he had passed the requirements for his insurance license by his sophomore year of college, at which point he already knew his calling.
“Navigating the insurance world alone can be very frustrating for our clients,” Naught says. “Sometimes claims happen, and if they do, then it’s motivating to know that I’m helping someone who’s having a bad day. I hate not being able to help everybody who walks into my office.”
Naught-Naught has expanded since 1972 and now has 12 locations throughout mid-Missouri. Naught, however, still loves being deeply in touch with his hometown.
“I love meeting with business owners to talk about their business,” Naught says. “They are so passionate about their businesses, and I like being able to help protect them.”
Naught and his wife, Kristi, have one daughter and another child due in August. Kristi says her husband is patient and a good listener, things that go a long way when listening to clients.
Naught was nominated for the 2015 Ones to Watch by his friend Bill Plank, who says Naught is “involved with pretty much every charitable organization in Jefferson City.”
Family: Wife, Kristi; daughter, Keller; baby due in August 2015
Charity of choice: American Cancer Society and Boost BBQ
Naught-Naught Insurance Agency has hosted the Boost BBQ, benefitting cancer patients, for 22 years. Naught-Naught employees grill food and raffle off items to raise money. Jeff Naught is proud of the event and motivated by the cause, saying it provides “much-needed nutritional supplements for those battling cancer.”
Community involvement: Naught is an enthusiastic member of the Jefferson City Airport Advisory Committee and volunteers with the United Way, the American Cancer Society and the Goldschmidt Cancer Center. He is a current member of the West Side Business Association and a former board member of the Downtown Jefferson City Association.