40 Under 40: Class of 2014


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Daymon “Daym” Patterson, 36, New Britain
YouTube food critic, TV show host
What’s up B? This member of our Connecticut ‘fam’ used to be a manager at chains such as Walmart, and then the six-foot-five-inch fellow with an even bigger, magnetic personality became a YouTube sensation and digital-age entrepreneur based on the everyman appeal of his dash-cam food reviews of fast food staples. That led to the debut last summer of his own branded show on the Travel Channel, where “Best Daym Takeout” took viewers to iconic food cities like Chicago and New Orleans. Become part of his “fam” via Facebook at www.facebook.com/DaymDrops. Word.

Joshua Borenstein, 38, North Haven
Managing director, Long Wharf Theatre
Now in his third season as Long Wharf’s MD—where he’s just overseen a $4 million renovation of the Claire Tow Stage—Borenstein has spent his entire career meshing his love of the arts with his passion for community education. While working as a project manager with the arts consulting firm AMS Planning and Research, he spearheaded CultureTrack 2011, one of the largest national studies of audience participation in the arts. A former employee of Boston’s Huntington Theatre Co. and New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre, Borenstein has guest-lectured at Yale, Boston University and SCSU, and serves on the boards of the National Corporate Theatre Fund and Connecticut Arts Alliance.

Craig Baker, 37 Stamford
Chief education officer, Domus
In the span of 15 years, Baker has risen from being a first-year social studies teacher to leading educational programs for Domus, which oversees three charter schools that educate more than 350 high-need and at-risk youth in Stamford and New Haven. In addition to supervising 80 staff members, he’s provided training in de-escalation techniques for New Haven public school personnel, helped to coordinate the summer enrichment program inside a juvenile detention center and even coached the football teams at the two Stamford Domus schools. He was also recently honored by his alma mater, Sacred Heart University, with an alumni leadership award.

Amanda K. Ruisi, 31, Fairfield
Founder, AKR Public Relations
Connecticut native Ruisi cut her teeth as a college intern at NBCUniversal Television, where she went on to become the youngest East Coast Senior Press and Talent Relations Manager, handling publicity for shows such as “The Apprentice” and “Law & Order.” In 2010, she established Westport’s AKR, a celebrity, entertainment and lifestyle public relations firm that’s represented some cultural heavy-hitters: Coty Prestige, 495 Productions, Jennifer Lopez, Balenciaga, Leighton Meester & Vera Wang. Now that AKR has satellite offices in New York and Los Angeles, Ruisi has more clout with which to support favorite charities like the ASPCA and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Mates of State - Jason Hammell, 37, & Kori Gardner, 39, Trumbull 
Indie pop band
Happily married hipsters Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner Hammel make beautiful indie-pop music together as Mates of State while raising their two children in the burbs of Trumbull, Kori’s hometown. Jason plays drums and Kori plays keyboards and sings vocals and they write songs. With multiple albums, a busy touring schedule, fans around the world and a new movie, they’re rising stars in our book.

Megan McConville, 27, Manchester
President and owner, Offshore Construction Inc.
In an industry dominated by men, McConville’s ownership of a full-service commercial and industrial roofing contracting company may seem like an accomplishment in itself, but she’s also grown the business—which handles new roof construction and re-roofing projects as well as specializing in solar and green roofing. In the past three years, Offshore has gone from five employees to nearly 20 while profits have increased by more than 400 percent. As with any construction-related effort, it helps that she started with a solid foundation: Her father and grandfather also ran their own roofing businesses. Recent clients have included ESPN, Mystic Seaport, Riverview Hospital and Yale Divinity School.

Kimberly Dulka, 39, Seymour
Owner, Red Clover Farms/All-American Valley General Store
It took a bolt of lightning for Dulka to open All-American Valley, a downtown Seymour oasis of local produce, crafts and other hand-sewn, homegrown goodness. After she was struck during a summer storm in 2011, this fourth-generation family farmer decided to stop selling to farm markets all over the state and develop her own outpost close to home. Now two years old, the general store hosts delectable weekly farm-to-table “feasts” in its gourmet Red Clover Café and a Wednesday night open mic that draws 100 fans at a time. Regulars come to hear Kim—a onetime Nashville country performer—yodel (check her out on YouTube).

Thea Montanez, 34, Hartford
Founder and managing director, Montanez Consulting LLC
For Montanez, philanthropy is her life’s work. As she says, “Had it not been for the generosity of others, I’d never been able to return to college and complete my degree.” Formerly the manager of philanthropy for The Hartford Financial Services group, she now runs her own philanthropy design and management firm. She is also the president of the Hartford Public Library, and serves on the boards of directors of Grace Academy and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network. In addition to jumping out of a plane once for charity and traveling to Haiti to volunteer at a women’s sexual assault clinic, she was personally recruited by Arianna Huffington to blog about her experiences for The Huffington Post, and also curates content at SociallyConstructed.com.

Margaret Middleton, 34, West Haven
Executive director and co-founder, CT Veterans Legal Center
Inspired by the plight of veterans trying to deal with the aftermath of combat trauma, Margaret Middleton connected with fellow attorney Howard Udell to found the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) in 2009, the first organization in the country to integrate legal services into the Veterans Administration mental health care. Working with attorneys from across the state who volunteer their time, CVLC has been able to help more than 900 veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness overcome barriers to housing, health care and income. In addition, Middleton is a clinical visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and has also testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs regarding military sexual trauma and the VA’s disability compensation benefits process.

Click here for a Q & A with Margaret Middleton.


40 Under 40: Class of 2014

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