4 Under 40 Finalists Announced

Posted By: David Jackson Chamber News,

Sixteen members of the High Country community have been selected as category finalists for the 8th-annual Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 4 Under 40 Awards. This showcase of emerging leaders is presented by Appalachian Commercial Real Estate.

Winners will be announced at the annual awards ceremony, set for Wednesday, April 24 2024, from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Appalachian Theatre in Boone.

4 Under 40 Event Details & Registration


Kacy Goff
Sew Bee It Custom Designs & Bedding

Kacy Goff is the owner and operator of Sew Bee It, a design workroom for custom made window treatments, bedding and embroidery.

After graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in Organizational Communication/Public Relations she began providing customer service for Sew Bee It.During the start of her career the industry was booming but things quickly changed with the recession of 2008. Kacy was instrumental in keeping the business alive by forming new relationships with designers and helping navigate a new business model.  Under the leadership of Kacy, Sew Bee It has continued to be the industry standard for quality and customer service.

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Rowen Todd
Mountain Vista Window Washing

Rowen Todd started Mountain Vista Window Washing out of the back of a Subaru Forester at the age of 16 with dreams of a quality work environment for his family. During the year of 2018 Rowen joined the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and started cleaning commercial storefronts while also attending high school and dual enrolling at CCCTI. In 2020 covid struck, with most storefronts closing and no longer desiring window cleaning Mtn Vista lost 80% of its clients. In this void Rowen pivoted to providing residential services including but not limited to window cleaning, gutter cleaning, and pressure washing. During this year Mtn Vista was picking up traction as a finalist in the 4 Under 40 awards, and was awarded Start Up Of The Year from the Boone Chamber. In 2020 on top of growing his business Rowen graduated from WHS and CCCTI with an associates degree in addition to his High School Diploma. 

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Tiffany Weitzen
Wonder Pelvic Therapy & Wellness

After graduating from Appalachian State with a degree in education, I knew that I was destined for a lifetime of teaching and learning that extended well beyond the classroom. Physical therapy allows me the opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and share in rewarding ways. Upon becoming a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in 2013, I soon found work at a skilled nursing facility in Greensboro, NC where I spent five years helping patients recover from a variety of diagnoses.

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James Wheeler
Elk River Recruiting Company

James, along with his business partner Austin Cockerham, saw a need for a reliable, honest, and fair solution to help Boone area businesses locate and secure top-tier talent. Thus, Elk River Recruiting Company was born, and it started with the most humble beginnings by helping restaurants and other small businesses in Boone navigate the post-COVID-19 labor market. Today, Elk River Recruiting Company has helped many local institutions, including Appalachian State and countless others, locate quality employees. James and his business partner Austin are committed to providing a quality recruitment solution to the great Boone community for years to come.

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Jessica Dale
Appalachian State University - Upward Bound

Jessica Dale started her career in the nonprofit sector as an advocate for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. After realizing her passion was working with
youth, she spent a decade educating middle grade and college age students about healthy relationships, consent and active bystander intervention skills in the hope of
creating a community free of violence.

In 2019, Jessica made a career shift to the Upward Bound program at Appalachian State as an Academic Coordinator. Throughout her time with the program, she has been committed to providing support and guidance to rural students as they navigate their High School careers and prepare for their futures as first generation college students. 

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Travis Gillespie
Hardin Park Elementary School

I began my career at Parkway School in 2007, as a 8th grade math and science teacher.  I immediately made it my goal to make a positive impact on every student I served. During my time at Parkway, I had the opportunity to work with amazing educators that inspired and supported me.  I was able to take on some teacher leadership roles in the school, including School Improvement Team Chair and Professional Learning Community Facilitator. These experiences led me to pursue a Master’s degree in School Administration from Appalachian State University in 2012. After completing my degree, I was eager to move into an Administrator role to make a greater impact. 

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Dr. Katie Wall
Lees-McRae College

Dr. Katie Wall began her career at Lees-McRae College in 2016 after finishing her doctorate and working with Outdoor Programs at Appalachian State University.  Dr. Wall was brought to Lees-McRae to design their first outdoor recreation-related academic program.  Since her time at the College, she has created three programs:  Outdoor Recreation Management, Ski Industry Business & Instruction, and Wilderness Medicine & Rescue.  The Outdoor Recreation Management program is the only outdoor recreation program in a school of business in the country. 

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Jenny Webb
CCC&TI - Watauga Campus

In 2012, Jenny began focusing more on case management and educational services in the high country for youth and young adults. Jenny worked for a program funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to assist young adults in pursuing educational and work-based learning opportunities. This experience would later lead her to the community college system. Jenny began working for Wilkes Community College in 2014 where she worked in the continuing education department, student services, and TRIO (serving first-generation college students). During her time at WCC, Jenny coordinated a one-day simulation event for 80 Alleghany High School students titled “The Real World.” 

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Jenn Bass
Hunger & Health Coalition

Bass began her tenure at Hunger & Health Coalition in 2019, serving as an assistant to Executive Director Elizabeth Young. After just a few months she became Program Director of A Simple Gesture, a program that encourages residents and businesses to fill reusable shopping bags with a non-perishable food items which are then collected by Hunger and Health Coalition staff for distribution in their food pantry.

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Elena Dalton
F.A.R.M. Café

Elena Dalton became the Executive Director at FARM Cafe in November of 2022.  She first came to FARM as a Program Coordinator in January of 2018, when she began the research and development of what is now the FARM Full Circle food recovery and redistribution program.  She has also served as the cafe's Program Director and Operations Director between 2019 and 2022. Her food system career includes edible schoolyard management, service with the Hospitality House as a Garden Coordinator, and an administrative internship with FEAST Asheville.  She graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Sustainable Development in 2012 and later completed a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Elena was the Healthy Food System Award recipient in 2018 and has served as the Chair of the Watauga Food Council.  Outside of the cafe, she enjoys spending time outdoors, gardening, and cooking with her family and friends.

Ethan Flynn
Hospitality House of Northwest N.C.

Ethan is a 2015 graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology. Near the end of his senior year internship at Hospitality House he accepted a post-graduate position as NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA and project manager of Welcome Home Thriftique. In August 2018, at the end of his two-year VISTA term, Ethan was hired by Hospitality House as a full time Supportive Services Specialist and then promoted to Service Coordinator of the Emergency Shelter program. In April 2022 he was promoted to his current position as Director of Grant Funding.

Nathan Godwin
Watauga Habitat for Humanity

My name is Nathan Godwin and I'm thrilled to work in Watauga County as the Director of Development for Watauga County Habitat for Humanity.  I have always enjoyed working in an environment that fosters a sense of belonging and community for all.  At Watauga Habitat, it's an honor to work alongside our homeowners, donors and volunteers to build homes, communities and hope with those in need.  Before I found myself at Watauga Habitat, I worked at The Mountain Times Publications with local business leaders in our communities and I thoroughly enjoyed helping people find the right advertising solution for their organization.  When I'm not at Watauga Habitat, you can find me teaching skateboarding through Appalachian State University's Physical Education Department.


Moss Brennan
Watauga Democrat

Moss graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in journalism in May 2021. He started at the Watauga Democrat while he was still in school and became editor in September of that same year. He has led the paper to two straight NC Press Association General Excellence awards, one of the most prestigious newspaper awards in the state. Outside of work, Moss is a member of the Deep Gap Volunteer Fire Department and the Watauga County Rescue Squad. He also enjoys reading and going on hikes with his partner, Lindy.

Mariana Greene
Appalachian State's New River
Light & Power

Mariana Greene is the Public Communication Specialist for Appalachian State University’s New River Light and Power (NRLP). With a passion for empowering communities through effective outreach and strategic advocacy, she is committed to NRLP's mission of educating and engaging consumers while providing safe and reliable energy. Drawing on her extensive background in public outreach and advocacy as a communications liaison, Mariana serves as NRLP's "one-stop shop" for all communications — from marketing campaigns to fostering meaningful relationships with key stakeholders. As a first-generation American, she brings a layered perspective to her role with compassion and inclusivity always at the forefront.

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Juliet Rath
Lazarus Design Team

Juliet Rath started her career in nonprofit marketing and has since held multiple communication roles such as Account Management, Sales, and Influencer Marketing. When she’s not posting things to do in the area on social media or building tiny houses with her husband, she is most likely sleeping as she grows her first human, due July 25.

She works alongside an incredible marketing and website design team founded out of the Center for Entrepreneurship at App State called Lazarus Design Team. They focus on bringing real results to businesses hungry to grow. Outside of agency work, she promotes several local businesses through free marketing consultations and influencer marketing. You can follow her adventures on social media as she highlights the best nonprofits and businesses the High Country has to offer.

Hannah Woodburn
Mountain True/Watauga Riverkeeper

Hannah serves as both a staff scientist and community organizer at MountainTrue. In this role, she is responsible for managing all of the active water quality programs, volunteer coordination, and educational outreach in the High Country. She graduated from Appalachian State University in December 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science. After serving as an AmeriCorps member with MountainTrue, Hannah became full-time in July 2022. She recently received her Master’s in Biology from App State in December 2023, with a focus on the health of freshwater systems in the Southern Blue Ridge. Hannah is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the streams, lakes, and rivers that make the High Country so special.

Be sure to follow us on social media as we share the stories of these emerging leaders in the coming weeks!

This year, 67 nominations were received across four categories: Business Owner, Education Professional, Non-Profit Professional, and Rising Star. Nominees were acknowledged for their business achievements, community and civic involvement, and other related activities.

All finalists will be recognized as part of the 8th Annual 4 Under 40 Awards ceremony. The Chamber will also present the annual Respect Your Elder Award recipient, which goes to a community member who serves as a strong mentor for the next generation of leaders.

"The common thread among this year's honorees is their commitment to community," said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. "Whether its through their professional activities or time spent volunteering with local organizations, this year's class personifies what it means to serve a community. Leaders often make sacrifices for the betterment of others, and that trait shows up throughout this list of finalists along with many of this year's nominees. The High Country is in a good place with these emerging leaders gearing up to join some great community-focused minds in our area."

The pre-awards reception begins at 5:30pm and the awards ceremony will begin at approximately 6:15pm. Tickets are $39 and include heavy hors d'oeuvres and two drink tickets for each attendee.