OU professor, alum among finalists for Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40
More than one-fourth of the individuals named to the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2016 have ties to Oakland University. Two of those individuals are among three finalists vying to become this year’s overall winner.
Ali Woerner, assistant professor of dance at OU, and alumna Jeanette (Smither) Brown, co-founder and chief operating officer at Dutton Farm, were named finalists in this year’s class, which recognizes outstanding professionals under the age of 40 who live or work in Oakland County and have made a positive difference in their field and community. A public vote is now underway to determine the overall winner.
Votes can be cast online, once every 24 hours, through 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29. The winner will be announced on Feb. 10, at the State of the County address and will receive prizes, including invitations to attend Oakland County events and meet with County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and other leaders.
Woerner, 38, has taught at Oakland for the past six years and is co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit professional modern dance company, Take Root. Since its inception in 2013, the troupe has been invited to teach master classes and perform in South Korea, Germany, Costa Rica and throughout the United States. Woerner, a former Radio City Musical Hall Rockette, has drawn praise for offering a dance class for people with Parkinson’s disease. The class has more than 40 participants, who come from Oakland County and surrounding areas. Woerner has also led demonstration classes at Oakland County hospitals and at the Rochester Older Persons’ Commission.
OU alumna Jeanette (Smither) Brown, CAS '09, co-founder of Rochester-based Dutton Farm, is also among this year's 40 Under 40 finalists.
Jeanette Brown, 31, earned a degree in sociology from OU and co-founded Dutton Farm, a Rochester-based non-profit that serves individuals with mental, physical and emotional impairments in Oakland County. The organization employs 17 adults with severe impairments at competitive wages – a first-of-its-kind business model for people with disabilities.
In addition to Woerner and Brown, this year’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class features current OUWB student Florence Doo, founder and CEO of Surgerati, LLC, along with eight other OU alumni:
- Andrew Androff, Co-owner and Director of Marketing, ProfessionalMovers.com (SBA '02)
- Napoleon Harrington, Founder/Therapist, Ambassador Counseling & Resource Group (SEHS '02, '04)
- Robert Ray, Senior Wealth Strategy Associate, UBS Financial Services (SBA '05)
- Jordan Twardy, Executive Director, Eight Mile Boulevard Association (CAS '09)
- Laura Casai, Director of Interior Design, TMP Architecture Inc. (SBA '15)
- Kelli Dobner, Chief Development Officer, Judson Center (CAS '01)
- Reese Serra, Attorney and Counselor, Serra Legal, PC (CAS '07)
- Linda Williams, Economic and Community Engagement Supervisor, City of Madison Heights (CAS '00)
For more on this year’s 40 Under 40 class, visit the website.