Abilene Young Professionals Announce 2023 Top 20 Under 40

January 30, 2023

The Abilene Young Professionals (AYP), a program of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, is thrilled to announce 2023’s Top 20 Under 40 recipients.

Jessica Ambrose, Eide Bailly, LLP; Samantha Baker, First Financial Bank; Holly Cox, Hendrick Home for Children; Kimberly Eickholt, Wisteria Place Retirement Living; Brent Hill, First Financial Trust; Kaden Kimberlin, Community Broadcast Partners; Chris Mabry, Betty Hardwick Center; Dr. Stuart Martin, Hendrick Health; Heather Ray, Hendrick Health; Reagan Berry, Wylie Independent School District; Luis A Alayón, City of Abilene; Benjamin Hudman, Hudman Investment Group LLC, 325 Guys Construction, Doc’s Bar & Grill; Colden Rich, Enprotec / Hibbs & Todd, Inc.; Melanie Unger, Diamondback Painting; John Willey, Edward Jones; Benjamin Young, Brightway Insurance, The Young Agency/ Young Tumbleweed, LLC; Dr. Garrett Turner, Stan Turner, DDS, PC Cosmetic & Family Dentistry; Marcus Dunn, Abilene Christian Sports Properties – LEARFIELD; Ethan Kunkel, County Waste Service; Kyle Swearingen, Funeral Directors Life.

The program recognizes 20 young professionals who are outstanding in their field and are making a difference in the Abilene community. This year’s class will be recognized at a reception this Thursday for close family and friends.

About the Recipients

Jessica Ambrose attributes lists, coffee, and making time for her family as three daily habits that have helped her become successful. She loves math which led her to the accounting profession at Eide Bailly, LLP. In 10 years, Jessica hopes to still be helping businesses thrive and succeed in her company and that she has helped startups become strong pillars in their industry.

Regional marketing director for First Financial Bank, Samantha Baker, describes herself as driven. If she were to give one piece of advice to someone starting out in her field it would be to work hard, listen, challenge yourself, seek opportunities, network and not to be afraid to ask questions. Samantha is incredibly active in the community having served as a board member or a member of over 10 different organizations including Noah Project, Taylor County Expo Center, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene Young Professionals and more.

Holly Cox serves the Big Country as Administrator of Programs & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Hendrick Home for Children. She describes herself as intentional and claims the best advice she’s ever received is, “the best leaders are far more concerned with learning and getting it right, than they are with knowing and being right.” You can find her enjoying her hard-earned time off with friends or family enjoying good food.

Kimberly Eickholt is the executive director for Wisteria Place Retirement Living and her number one goal for working in this industry is to make a difference for all the people she encounters. She attributes her ability to overcome her personal fear of taking risks as an accomplishment that helped shape her career, and you’ll find her enjoying her hard-earned time off cooking or baking.

Senior Vice President and Trust Officer for First Financial Trust, Brent Hill, credits daily physical exercise, active organization of email, and getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night as three daily habits for his success. If he were to give someone advice for starting out in his field, he would say to never hesitate to ask questions – diversity of thought optimizes decision making.

Kaden Kimberlin describes himself as engaging which is a great fit for his role of VP of Programming and morning show host on 95.1 The Wolf for Community Broadcast Partners. He attributes Kidd Kraddick to someone who has most influenced him in business and the best advice he’s ever received is “if it’s important, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.”

Chief Financial Officer for Betty Hardwick Center, Chris Mabry, describes himself as steady. Chris loves working for an organization that is addressing our community’s needs in a meaningful way. His three daily habits for success are starting the day with a win – make up the bed, treat being home for dinner as the most important meeting on your calendar, and express gratitude.

Dr. Stuart Martin is an attending physician in obstetrics and gynecology at Hendrick Health. He’s personally connected to the field through his family history and that gives him daily motivation to provide optimal care in the field of women’s health. Dr. Martin describes himself as charismatic and hopes in 10 years to be doing the exact same thing, with a larger clinical team and an emphasis on offering a greater variety of birthing and robotic surgery services.

Assistant vice president and assistant chief nursing officer for Hendrick Health, Heather Ray, credits Tam Luedtke with some of the best advice for her profession “you will never go wrong if you always keep the patient at the center of everything you do.” She describes herself as deliberate and attributes taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and develop, listening with the intent to understand and remembering to see and enjoy life through the eyes of her four-year-old as her three daily habits of success.

Principal for Wylie High School, Reagan Berry, is a 3rd generation educator who attributes her career as something that is never full, brings her joy each day, and allows her to use her gifts and talents in a fruitful way. Her advice for someone starting out in her field is to figure out a way to find joy in your day to day. Stress should never outweigh joy in a career. You’ll find Reagan enjoying her hard-earned time off at home reading a book, watching her kids play and hoping for a steak on the grill.

Luis A Alayón, assistant director of human resources for the City of Abilene, describes himself as patient. As a Certified Public Accountant and with his experience (Accountant, Payroll Manager, and Deputy CFO) in the Public Sector, Luis likes to ensure that public funds are being used accurately and in compliance with all policies and regulations. You’ll find him enjoying his hard-earned time off looking for great food or anywhere near a body of water.

Ben Hudman is a serial entrepreneur serving as the CEO of Hudman Investment Group LLC, 325 Guys Construction and Doc’s Bar & Grill. He loves being an entrepreneur because it allows him to have a flexible schedule while still providing for a growing family. He attributes his grandmother, Sara Graham, as the person who most influenced him in business and hopes in 10 years to still be doing what he loves while helping grow business in Abilene.

Associate Vice President and Senior Project Manager for Enprotec / Hibbs & Todd, Inc., Colden Rich enjoys working with communities to identify solutions to the issues they face. He attributes three daily habits of purposeful communication, prioritizing tasks and finding an outlet to relieve stress to his success. His first summer job was a farm hand and he describes himself as consistent.

Melanie Unger is the marketing and public relations manager for Diamondback Painting. Melanie describes herself as charismatic and if she could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in her field it would be to make friends, get to know the people in your community, and to not be afraid of networking. When Melanie is not working, you can find her enjoying her hard-earned time off dabbling in Abilene’s musical theatre or art scene.

The best advice John Willey, Financial Planner for Edward Jones, has ever received is “actions speak louder than words.” He enjoys being a financial planner because he feels he has a greater sense of purpose working with families and small businesses by adding value in educating people through their financial lives. His three daily habits for success include exercising daily, getting enough sleep, and spending today preparing for tomorrow as much as possible.

Benjamin Young is the owner/managing partner of Brightway Insurance, The Young Agency. His first summer job was mowing lawns to save up enough money to buy a drum set. He describes himself as loyal and the best advice he ever received was “if you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic. You choose your own attitude.”

Associate and dental director for Stan Turner, DDS, PC Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, Dr. Garrett Turner’s accomplishment that helped shape his career was earning the  Bronze Palm Eagle Scout and being the Senior Patrol Leader to the 2001 National Jamboree. He credits the leadership that he learned in his scouting career as playing a major role in shaping how he tries to uplift the team around him. The best advice he’s ever received is from his dad, “I’ll only ask you to give me your best.” When not working, you can find Dr. Turner summiting Longs Peak and other mountains.

Marcus Dunn is the general manager for Abilene Christian Sports Properties – LEARFIELD. He chose this industry because he truly enjoys learning about a wide range of businesses on a strategic level and assisting them in reaching their marketing objectives through the passion, excitement, and traditions of college athletics. He describes himself as genuine and the best advice he’s ever received is, “people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

President of County Waste Service, Ethan Kunkel’s three daily habits for success are prayer, calling or meeting vs texting/emailing, and choosing to serve his team and customers daily. He attributes Alan Broxson as the person who most influenced him in business, even giving Ethan the best advice he ever received, “first things first, second things never.” Ethan is proud to be active in the community serving as a member and donor for over 18 organizations.

Kyle Swearingen is the vice president of development for Funeral Directors Life. Kyle didn’t initially envision himself working in the funeral industry, but stayed because he’s witnessed firsthand the value of the software his team is able to deliver to funeral homes. He describes himself as driven and the piece of advice he would give to someone starting out in his field is “fail fast, and fail forward.”

For more information on this year’s recipients, visit abileneyp.org.

If you would like to nominate someone for next year’s 20 Under 40, they:

  • Must work in Abilene
  • Must be under the age of 40 as of Jan. 1, 2024
  • Must not have been a previous 20 Under 40 honoree

Abilene Young Professionals (AYP) is a program of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce targeted towards young professionals in the 22-40 age range looking to get involved in Abilene. Their mission is to attract, retain and engage young professionals in Abilene. For more information on Abilene Young Professionals program, please visit www.abileneyp.org


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