40 Under 40: Local luminaries guiding Vegas back

Last year, on the day we published our 40 Under 40 list, we received the news of a mandatory two-week stay at home order. It was a time of uncertainty for so many of us. Now a year later, we share our 2021 Vegas Inc 40 Under 40 honorees as our community climbs above the impact of the pandemic—rising to once again stand as the entertainment capital of the world and the place we so proudly call home.

Much like the true spirit of Las Vegas, this year’s list is incredibly diverse and dynamic. The men and women on this list are helping to solidify our city as a leader in community and industry.  

With a record-breaking number of nominations, this year also brought new faces and industries to the forefront—those who have withstood the perils of the pandemic and stand strong to ensure our economic recovery. Our judges reviewed each submission, looking for exceptional leaders in their chosen career, charitable giving and passion for improving Southern Nevada.

This 2021 cohort is resilient and optimistic. They bring a fresh energy so needed as we emerge from the hardest of times. It is this positive perspective that will ensure Vegas returns stronger than ever.  

The 2021 40 Under 40 Awards originally appeared in a special issue of Vegas Inc found inside of Las Vegas Weekly. Sign up to get each of Vegas Inc’s special publications delivered to your inbox on the day of their release.

Alex Acuna - Vice President of Public Relations, Station Casinos

Age: 38

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Lifeguard at Bellagio

After graduating college, Alex Acuna moved back to his hometown of Las Vegas to prepare for law school admittance. A chance application for a public relations coordinator position with MGM Mirage resulted in a complete mindset change. Acuna was instantly drawn to the excitement of the role and soon became firmly rooted in the world of communications.

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Michael Adams - Franchise Owner & Field Consultant, Port of Subs

Michael Adams

Michael Adams

Age: 33

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Mowing lawns & washing cars

Michael Adams loves Las Vegas. And he combines this love with his passion for food—in a big way.

Adams started as a sandwich master at Port of Subs 10 years ago, progressing into management, then being recruited to work with the corporate team as a field consultant and serving as president of the Las Vegas co-op, which manages the marketing strategy for all 34 Port of Subs stores in the Southern Nevada region.

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Chris Bitonti - Director of Marketing, Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas

Chris Bitonti

Chris Bitonti

Age: 35

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

First Job: Helping dad put on events for Jeep

Growing up, Chris Bitonti always had a guitar in his hand. He lived in record shops and played in bands through high school and college. With a stint as a fulltime musician, Bitonti has now hit his perfect note in the music industry—bringing live music to Las Vegas.

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Andrea Blue - General Manager, Galleria at Sunset/Brookfield Properties

Andrea Blue

Andrea Blue

Age: 39

Hometown: St. Catherine, Jamaica

First Job: Cashier at Target

The first African American woman serving as general manager of the 1.1 million-square-foot shopping center Galleria at Sunset, Andrea Blue seamlessly cultivates tenant relationships that lead to high-occupancy rates, minimal turnover and renewal of long-term leases.

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Linda Bridges - Chief Communications Officer, Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada

Linda Bridges

Linda Bridges

Age: 39

Hometown: Granite City, Illinois

First Job: Cashier at movie theater

Since joining Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada in 2015, Linda Bridges has worked to increase its brand recognition across Southern Nevada—even turning the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign Girl Scout green for the first time.

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Erin Calhoun - Executive Director of Booking — Entertainment & Sports, MGM Resorts International

Erin Calhoun

Erin Calhoun

Age: 34

Hometown: Fords, New Jersey

First Job: Bakery

It’s not every day you meet a classically trained opera singer who puts on some of the world’s largest boxing events for a living. Enter Erin Calhoun.

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Angela Ciciriello - Director of Advertising & Public Relations, Circa Resort & Casino

Angela Ciciriello

Angela Ciciriello

Age: 34

Hometown: Upstate New York

First Job: Marketing Coordinator

From LA to NYC and landing in Las Vegas in 2012, Angela Ciciriello has worked with some of the country’s foremost hospitality and entertainment brands—leading to her current role with one of Las Vegas’ newest destinations.

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Chris Clifford - Senior Vice President, Colliers International Las Vegas

Chris Clifford

Chris Clifford

Age: 38

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Barista at Jitters Gourmet Coffee

As a kid, Chris Clifford remembers staring at the expansion of the Boulevard Mall and asking his mom if she thought he would ever own a mall. From that moment, Clifford aspired to breathe new life into areas throughout his hometown of Las Vegas.

Clifford has facilitated more than $250 million in buy/sell/lease transactions over the course of his career, including what he considers his most significant business accomplishment: The Village of Centennial Springs.

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Anna Cohen - Director of Retail Marketing, Green Thumb Industries

Age: 36

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

First Job: Retail at Victoria’s Secret

Her mother’s battle with cancer and an interest in alternative forms of medicine led Anna Cohen to the cannabis industry. Working with people equally passionate about helping others and seeing the positive affect the product has on patients and customers has kept her there.

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Sebern Coleman Jr., Ph.D. - Director of Educator Preparation for the College of Education, UNLV

Sebern Coleman

Sebern Coleman

Age: 38

Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana

First Job: Designing and printing church programs

Dr. Sebern Coleman Jr. has been a proponent of higher education in Nevada since 2007. He provides pathways for students to achieve their goals—ensuring that our schools have the best educators for our children.

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Zach Conine - Nevada State Treasurer, Nevada State Treasurer’s Office

Zach Conine

Zach Conine

Age: 39

Hometown: Coxsackie, New York

First Job: Busser

As Nevada’s 23rd state treasurer, Zach Conine serves as the chief investment officer for the state, managing more than $30 billion.

In his first two years as treasurer, the state received two bond rating increases, the first since 2006; generated the highest investment returns since the 2008 recession; and returned the largest amount of unclaimed property back to Nevadans since the inception of the state’s Unclaimed Property program.

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Kristen Corral - Co-founder, Tacotarian

Kristen Corral

Kristen Corral

Age:39

Hometown:Orlando, Florida

First Job: Chip and Dale characters at Disney World

A serial entrepreneur and small-business advocate, Kristen Corral taught herself everything she knows, learning and growing—in more ways than one—along the way.

Corral founded Little White Dog Co. in 2011 and quickly scaled it to six figures. Then, she fell into the restaurant industry with the opening of Tacotarian.

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Melisa Eichbauer - General Manager, Findlay Volkswagen Henderson

Melisa Eichbauer

Melisa Eichbauer

Age: 39

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Bussing tables at the Orleans

What began as a “gap year” job for Melisa Eichbauer turned into a 16-year career. Eichbauer may have never imagined a future in car sales, but once she started, she continued to rise through the ranks, eventually managing her own dealership. She’s the first and only woman general manager in the entire Findlay Automotive Group—which also happens to be the same company she got her start in.

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Bryan Ercolano - Founder & CEO, REDEMPTION Fitness

Bryan Ercolano

Bryan Ercolano

Age: 33

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

First Job: McDonald’s

Bryan Ercolano became hooked on fitness after his own personal weight-loss journey. He also always loved the energy found only in Vegas—so he set out to combine the two to create a fitness nightclub franchise focusing on HIIT group classes.

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DeAndre Esteen - Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, Barclays

Deandre Esteen

Deandre Esteen

Age: 37

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Helping graduate students gather research at UNLV

After working in nonprofits, DeAndre Esteen turned his passion for helping others into a career where he mobilizes more than 1,100 Barclays team members to give back to the community. His efforts have resulted in 90% of his colleagues volunteering throughout the year. Empowering them to find their voices and assume leadership roles in the community is his greatest joy.

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David Farris - Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Planet 13

David Farris

David Farris

Age: 26

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Marketing Supervisor

In 2016, David Farris joined Planet 13 as employee No. 8. The company has since grown to over 500 employees, launched its own branded products that are sold in 45 retail stores and posted nearly $70 million in revenue in 2020—pivoting their previous tourist model to cater to locals with a fleet of 30 delivery vehicles. Farris has been a constant driving force through it all.

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Brian Formisano - Region Bank President, Wells Fargo Bank

Brian Formisano

Brian Formisano

Age: 39

Hometown: Long Island, New York

First Job: Bank teller

Brian Formisano has discovered the formula to successful leadership: always put people first. He does so with his team of nearly 1,000 employees, as well as with every client that walks through the door at Wells Fargo.

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Joshua Goldman, M.D. - Plastic & Reconstructive Microsurgeon and Assistant Professor, UNLV School of Medicine

Josh Goldman

Josh Goldman

Age:35

Hometown:San Antonio, Texas

First Job: Gymnastics coach

Dr. Joshua Goldman committed to becoming a physician at just 7 years old. Having an artistic slant to a deeply scientific mind, he found his calling in plastic and reconstructive surgery—going a step further and obtaining unique subspecialty training in advanced reconstructive techniques. He wanted to serve patients who had lost hope for successful reconstruction.

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Blakeley Griffith - Partner, Snell & Wilmer

Blakeley Griffith

Blakeley Griffith

Age: 36

Hometown: Middleburg, Virginia

First Job: Tennis instructor

Once a collegiate All-American tennis player, Blakeley Griffith uses the same grit and determination today in her bankruptcy and commercial litigation practice at Snell & Wilmer.

Griffith has always loved advocating for others, so a career as a lawyer was a natural fit. She enjoys the daily grind of solving difficult, contested and high-stakes problems for her clients—taking the stress off them so they can focus on their work.

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Dan Hooper - General Manager, Lee Canyon

Age: 39

Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand

First Job: Kids ski instructor

After working in mountain towns in New Zealand, California, Montana and Colorado, Dan Hooper landed in the not-so-known ski town of Las Vegas. He immediately went to work, removing the barriers for outdoor recreation in the Spring Mountains and repositioning Lee Canyon as more than a ski resort.

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James Hsu - Co-founder, CEO & Executive Producer, VRLU

James Hsu

James Hsu

Age: 38

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Working at family’s motel, Towne & Country Motel

A born-and-raised Las Vegan, James Hsu has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. A successful motivational speaker and author, Hsu hopped at the opportunity to partner with his longtime mentor to launch VRLU. The innovative streaming platform provides educational, entertaining content using groundbreaking virtual reality.

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Cheli Kroupp - Vice President of Interactive Operations, AGS

Cheli Kroupp

Cheli Kroupp

Age: 38

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel

First Job: Developer with Tel Aviv City Hall

Cheli Kroupp is a trailblazer in interactive gaming. She serves as the vice president of interactive operations at Las Vegas-based global gaming equipment supplier AGS, where she loves managing and inspiring her team. Her commitment gets results: AGS interactive business has grown 203% year-over-year.

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TaShika Lawson - Co-founder/Managing Director, Historic Westside Revitalization Group

TaShika Lawson

TaShika Lawson

Age: 37

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Sonic Drive-In

TaShika Lawson is a busy woman. While she spends her workday bookkeeping and guiding small businesses toward better financial practices, she uses her off-time to fight for the revitalization of the Historic Westside of Las Vegas. 

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Jen (Seul Gee) Lee-Mitchell - Vice President and Financial Advisor, UBS Wealth Management USA

Jen Lee-Mitchell

Jen Lee-Mitchell

Age: 36

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

First Job: Event designer at MGM Mirage

Jen Lee-Mitchell established herself as a leader in the financial industry at a young age and continues to break barriers. Prior to joining the team at UBS Wealth Management USA, Lee-Mitchell was awarded the “Bull of the Year” at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management because of her exceptional performance, making her the youngest woman ever chosen for the honor.

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Alana Litavis - Vice President of Marketing, Resorts World Las Vegas

Alana Litavis

Alana Litavis

Age: 38

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, California

First Job: Marketing manager at Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce

Alana Litavis has spent the last 16 years marketing some of the most innovative, dynamic properties in the tourism corridor, and now she’s living one of her biggest career highlights yet: helping launch Resorts World Las Vegas. With an understanding and appreciation for marketing strategy, Litavis takes pride in being creative, pushing the boundaries and bringing new ideas and perspectives to the table.

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Marc Marrone - Chef & Owner, Graffiti Hospitality/SkinnyFATS

Marc Marrone

Marc Marrone

Age: 35

Hometown: New York

First Job: Dishwasher/busboy

Chef Marc Marrone creates hospitality concepts that bring joy to the community. After nearly a decade with TAO Group, during which he oversaw global development and expansion, Marrone launched Graffiti Hospitality in 2018 with Todd Lunger. They quickly opened several successful restaurants before merging with Reed Slobusky and SkinnyFATS to form a group focused on expanding their restaurant portfolio.

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Erin McMullen Midby - Vice President of Government Affairs, Boyd Gaming Corporation

Erin McMullen Midby

Erin McMullen Midby

Age: 39

Hometown: Reno, Nevada

First Job: Coordinator of new student orientation at Georgetown University

Politics comes naturally to Erin McMullen Midby. A proud fifth-generation Nevadan, Midby hails from a line of policymakers and lobbyists. As vice president of government affairs at Boyd Gaming, she is responsible for state and local policy that impacts the company in Nevada, California and Hawaii.

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Meghan Mossler - Co-founder and CEO, Ross & Snow

Meghan Mossler

Meghan Mossler

Age: 39

Hometown: Albany, Georgia

First Job: Youth soccer official

With a lifelong interest in art, fashion and design, Meghan Mossler launched luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow with her husband in 2017. Mossler is focused on customer experience and obsessed with design, quality and comfort. She splits her time between the Ross & Snow headquarters in Las Vegas and its Italian factories in Tuscany, overseeing all of the brand’s design and marketing.

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Alexis Mussi - Chief Executive Officer, Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center

Alexis Mussi

Alexis Mussi

Age: 37

Hometown: Stockton, California

First Job: Physician relations at Sunrise Children’s Hospital

Alexis Mussi is the first woman serving as CEO of Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center and one of the youngest CEOs in the HCA Healthcare system. Mussi had only been in her position for six months when the pandemic hit and presented unprecedented challenges to the health care industry. Today, Mussi says that there’s nothing that makes her prouder than how she and her team responded to those challenges.

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Jonathan Nelson - Principal Attorney, JK Nelson Law

Jonathan Nelson

Jonathan Nelson

Age: 39

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

First Job: Credit analyst

Exhibiting a fascination with law from an early age, Jonathan Nelson initially began a career in banking while earning his law degree at nights and on weekends. Eventually, he made the jump to private practice where he discovered his favorite part of the job: the genuine opportunity to help others.

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Sean Parker - Executive Director, Teach for America Las Vegas

Sean Parker

Sean Parker

Age: 33

Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama

First Job: High school teacher

Sean Parker has a mission: In 10 years, Las Vegas will be globally known as the equity-centered education innovation capital of the world. It may seem like a lofty goal, but Parker will prove it can be done.

Parker is an advocate for education and believes that it’s a moral, social and economic imperative that our education system serves all students.

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Emily Paulsen - Executive Director, Nevada Homeless Alliance

Emily Paulsen

Emily Paulsen

Age: 34

Hometown:Stockton, California

First Job: Lifeguard

Emily Paulsen believes that housing is a human right and is determined to build a community where everyone has a safe place to call home. She has served as the executive director of the Nevada Homeless Alliance since 2016 and is currently an instructor at the UNLV School of Social Work, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of social workers and advocates.

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Ryan Reaves - Athlete, Vegas Golden Knights & CEO, 7Five Brewing Co.

Ryan Reaves

Ryan Reaves

Age: 33

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

First Job: Air conditioner factory worker

Vegas Golden Knights’ enforcer and beloved fan favorite Ryan Reaves has put down roots in Las Vegas in many ways—including with his craft beer company, 7Five Brewing Co.

Named after Reaves’ NHL number, 7Five was founded in 2018 with business partner Adam Coates. The vision was to create a brewing company with a narrative that speaks to Reaves’ journey as a hockey player—that of the underdog, working hard and challenging the odds. 

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Paul Sallach - President, All in Aviation

Paul Sallach

Paul Sallach

Age: 39

Hometown: Alberta and Vancouver, Canada

First Job: Bagger/shopping cart collector

Paul Sallach lives and breathes airplanes. As president and founder of All In Aviation, a full-service aviation company offering rental, sales and flight training, Sallach is constantly expanding his business to best serve his customers.

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Omar Saucedo - Director of External Affairs, AT&T

Omar Saucedo

Omar Saucedo

Age: 36

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Taco Bell

The foundation of Omar Saucedo’s career is built on serving and improving the lives of Southern Nevadans. As an attorney, he’s focused on some of the most critical sectors for Nevada: education, water and technology.

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Mike Tabeek - Managing Director, Newmark

Mike Tabeek

Mike Tabeek

Age: 39

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Chinois

Mike Tabeek was guided into commercial real estate nearly 20 years ago and today, it’s an industry where he thrives—outpacing competitors, contributing to Las Vegas’ development and selling really, really large spaces.

A humble and confident leader, Tabeek is one of only nine individuals in Southern Nevada to hold both the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and Certified Commercial Investment designations.

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Elizabeth Thorn - Founder & President, Change We Create

Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth Thorn

Age: 31

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

First Job: Delivering newspapers

Elizabeth Thorn strives to live intentionally and spends more energy finding solutions than making excuses.

Driven toward charitable work throughout her life, Thorn volunteered at local theaters, political campaigns and archaeological digs before founding Change We Create, a nonprofit dedicated to educating and empowering others to create positive change in their communities.

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Chris Walker - VDC Project Manager, The PENTA Building Group

Chris Walker

Chris Walker

Age: 33

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

First Job: Movie theater usher

Chris Walker is an integral member of the Virtual Design and Construction Department at The PENTA Building Group. Walker helps support every aspect of the firm’s functions, from preconstruction services to operations.

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Howard Weiss - Head of Sales & Entertainment Strategy, AREA15

Howard Weiss

Howard Weiss

Age: 38

Hometown: Long Island, New York

First Job: Cabana boy

Howard Weiss is an architect of unforgettable experiences. A longtime veteran of the hospitality and entertainment industry, Weiss has more than 20 years of experience in bookings, ticketing, promotions, marketing, food and beverage, nightlife strategy and operations and more.

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Alana Wise - CEO, Bio Logical, LLC

Alana Wise

Alana Wise

Age: 35

Hometown: Henderson, Nevada

First Job: Bussing tables at Johnny Mac’s

Alana Wise runs one of the fastest-growing wildlife consulting firms in the region. With a degree in biology and background in construction implementation, Wise founded Bio Logical, a firm dedicated to providing authorized biologists and full-service consulting for wildlife and plant resources on construction projects. The company recently won the Small Business Administration’s Microenterprise of the Year award in Nevada. 

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