As CBN celebrates our 14th year of honoring young business leaders in Central Oregon, we — along with our sponsor, U.S. Bank — thought it would be fun to take a look at some of our past award winners and ask…
We continue this series with Stephanie Senner, marketing director at Suterra, who received this award in 2014.
- What advice would you give to your former self at the time you received the Accomplished Under 40 Award?
Make a point to meet the other award recipients one-on-one. Personal relationships will make the difference between Central Oregon becoming a larger community or losing that community feel all together. I’d also tell my former self to have a milkshake at Pilot Butte Drive-In while she still can!
- What has changed the most about Central Oregon since you received the award?
One discouraging change is increasing skepticism about growth. The community was emerging from a traumatic recession back then, so people were hungry for economic development. Now that we’re on the other end of a growth curve, people seem reluctant to invest in smart growth like event infrastructure or subsidized childcare.
One awesome change is increasing emphasis on equity and inclusion. We have a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see community leaders at least acknowledge the systemic problems and try to build a future with others instead of for others.
- How has your career and community involvement changed since then?
I left the technology industry to join Suterra and be part of a movement toward a more sustainable food supply. It’s exciting to work for a company displacing conventional pesticides in agriculture around the world. July will end my second term on the City of Bend Economic Development Advisory Board. With more time available, I’m looking forward to helping Bend emerge as a more connected community post-pandemic.
- What did it mean to you when you were selected?
It was an incredible honor to receive my certificate from Pamela Hulse Andrews. She was a remarkable role model who inspired everyone around her to a higher level of civility and passion. It was also flattering that Jamie Christman took the time to write a nomination because our community has so many accomplished young professionals.
Anyone considering submitting a nomination should absolutely do it. It’s the greatest gift you can give someone: to encourage them and validate their efforts with this honor.
- What are some of your proudest accomplishments that led to your nomination?
When we first moved to Bend, it was tempting to become a perma-tourist and kayak and Nordic ski and hang out at Deschutes. Learning the history of the town through Leadership Bend helped me realize that Central Oregon is not here by accident. It was built through purposeful stewardship that makes the privilege of being a local more meaningful. The “accomplishment” I’m proud of in my 30s is just waking up to the price of admission: volunteerism and civic engagement.
- What advice would you give this year’s award nominees?
We need accomplished people like you to rise above chaotic national divisions and connect our local community through leadership, volunteerism or endless daily kindnesses. There is an ecosystem of existing organizations able to help, but they need your involvement to thrive in the future. The economic and educational fall-out from COVID-19 is already catastrophic in Central Oregon. Our community’s willingness to get involved means the difference between kids eating and not eating; teens graduating or dropping out; senior citizens literally living or dying. Those terrible stakes bring focus to the work ahead of us all.
- Additional comments?
I appreciate Wendy McGrane and the team at U.S. Bank for their consistent support of this program. The nomination experience encourages recipients and nominators alike. Thanks also to Cascade Business News for bringing the program to the community year after year so we can all be inspired by the honorees’ stories.