Photos of the 2019 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty were taken by Kelli Drake at DRAKEphoto, 3316 NE Adams St.
Another November rolls around… and for me, that can mean only one thing (besides my birthday!). It’s 40 Leaders Under Forty season! Now in its 26th year—and with 1,040 alumni—the program has remained remarkably consistent over the years. One thing that has changed, however, is the steady increase in nominations.
Where we once averaged around 100 annual nominations, recent years have seen that number rise to more than 150. This year, we received a total of 156 qualified nominations. Needless to say, it’s a very difficult task for our judges to narrow down that list to just 40 individuals. It’s certainly a great “problem” to have—and a testament to the depth and breadth of talent here in Greater Peoria.
Several years ago, we began to shoot photos onsite at various sponsor locations, which worked out really well… except for the unpredictability of the weather! While we haven’t experienced major rainouts (or snowstorms), we have had days with very high winds, which can pose quite a challenge for the photographer. Last year, more than one image was touched up in post-production to eliminate stray, windblown hairs. This year, we chose to retreat to the comfort of an indoor studio.
For the second year in a row, Kelli Drake of DRAKEphoto was our photographer—and she has once again done a fantastic job! She’s a great person, easy to work with, and comes highly recommended for anyone in need of a family portrait, senior portrait, business headshot or anything else. (Visit drakephoto.com for more information.) Kelli was also a member of last year’s class of 40 Leaders Under Forty, which found her in the unusual situation of being both a recognized leader and the official photographer! In this case, her assistant Aryk stepped in to take her photo.
It was unseasonably warm on September 30 and October 1, when all 40 members of the 2019 class visited Drake’s studio at 3316 NE Adams St. We mingled in small groups, enjoyed beverages and got to know each other a little better. Congratulations to this year’s class—I’m looking forward to the award ceremony on November 4! PS
—Jonathan Wright, Editor-In-Chief