Celebrating 20 Years! Ingram's 2018 Class of 40 Under Forty: Congrats Nia Webster-Richardson
If you ever meet someone who claims to have been a member of Ingram’s 40 Under Forty Class of 1999, congratulate him or her—then quickly move along.
We’re going to be honest here: When 40 Under Forty debuted with that first class in 1998, that group was so larded with talent, and on trajectories that so clearly labeled virtually all of them “Future Leader” … well, we figured it couldn’t be sustained for a second year.
So there was no Class of 1999.
Looking back, perhaps there should have been. A number of conversations with area business leaders that year convinced us that not only was there strong appetite for this particular recognition, but that with 2 million residents, the Kansas City region was bursting with highly qualified candidates who would uphold the value proposition of being labeled among the 40 Under Forty.
So let’s stop right there, because a quick discussion of standards is warranted. Why do we consider it important to identify and spotlight rising talent in the region’s executive ranks? The reasons are implicit in the nomination criteria we established for this program from the outset. We ask for candidates who:
- Reflect the highest levels of ethics and integrity.
- Have shown a commitment to entrepreneurial thinking and a clear record of achievement in business.
- Have attained executive-level managerial status and demonstrated strong leadership skills.
- Have earned positions with professional affiliations and associations that reflect the respect others have for their contributions.
- Have earned appointments to boards and commissions, both civic and philanthropic, to demonstrate a commitment to community service.
A region with enough people who exhibit those traits is one that will succeed economically and socially. And that, friends, is why 40 Under Forty exists: To showcase young leaders who in many cases will be setting civic agendas for decades to come, and driving this broader community forward.
Those characteristics are hard things to measure up to across the board. Lots of thirtysomethings excel in one or two areas, but comparatively few are knocking it out of the park on all of them. The ones that effectively hit most of those markers, then, have always had the best chances of being selected for this recognition.
Whether they are or aren’t chosen, though, consider this: Members of that age cohort are in their prime family-raising stage of life. Relative to the rest of the population and work force, a hugely disproportionate number of them are parents managing both the demands of executive leadership and of raising children. And not just children but quite often very young children, who demand the most attention.
These candidates invariably are managing both work and family, diving into board service with non-profits, volunteering at churches and schools, jumping into professional association leadership and mentoring roles, coaching youth sports, and sometimes, even starting their own organizations to address gaps they perceive in the social safety nets.
DuBois Consultants is no stranger to Ingram’s; they were named one of Kansas City’s Fastest Growing Companies last year. Just as its director of business development and marketing, Nia Richardson, is no stranger to recognition. In her nearly 13 years with DuBois, the 36-year-old has made an impact inside and outside the company and has made herself into a highly-sought community leader. Her first mayoral appointment was in 2013-14 as part of the blue-ribbon panel in the Airport Terminal Advisory Group. She now serves as a commissioner on the Municipal Arts Board, appointed by Mayor Sly James. Beyond that, she works with Blue Hills Community Services as the chair of that board, is active on the Urban Summit of Greater Kansas City’s ‘One City’ sales-tax campaign, and has been part of Big Brother Big Sisters Most Wanted. Her civic-centric mentality has extended into her work with DuBois, as well. After guiding the company through its first strategic rebranding of its logo, media, website and services, she has shouldered the task of increasing the company’s social footprint. “In preparation for 2018, I am looking to increase our social impact to local and international communities in West Africa by ingraining pro bono engineering in the way we do business,” she says. “We are currently building an innovation lab in our office to research new products and designs to address the issues around the ever-growing water crisis.” Richardson is also the proud mom to three children ages 13, 6 and 3.