Ali Woerner, an assistant dance professor at Oakland University and one-time Radio City Music Hall Rockette, was selected by a public online vote as winner of the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2016.
The announcement was made Wednesday night at Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s State of the County address held at the Marriott Auburn Hills Pontiac at Centerpoint. As the winner, Woerner was given the honor of introducing Patterson to the crowd of about 600 people.
“I’m humbled and honored,” Woerner said. “Being part of the group on its own is very special but being chosen as the leader is humbling and amazing. This group can really make a concrete difference in the community, making the community better. This is not about me, it’s about the community and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”
Woerner, 38, is a Birmingham resident who is married and the mother of 4-year-old twins. At age 21, she was hired as a Rockette, spending six years touring with the famous dance troupe. She is codirector/co-founder of a professional modern dance company, Take Root, which has performed and taught master dance classes all over the world. Her current mission is teaching dance to Parkinson’s disease patients, which can offer unique challenges for dance instruction.
“Sometimes the patients can’t stand so we do the movements in a chair and have the instructor seated too,” she said. “It’s important that no one feels left out.”
The classes have been expanding in size and she is hopeful more classes will be added when additional instructors are trained. Patterson applauded Woerner’s efforts and said he was anxious for people to meet her.
“Ali is a dynamic and thoughtful person who is making a difference in the community,” Patterson said. “She is a leader and innovator, and it’s my job as county executive is to keep her here.”
Nearly 450 applications and nominations were reviewed by a panel of judges, looking for the top 40 young professionals and thought leaders who live or work in Oakland County. The 40 honorees have achieved excellence in their field and contributed to the quality of life in their communities. Of that group, the three highest scoring candidates were placed before the public for consideration. This is the fifth year of the Elite 40 program.
More than 4,000 votes were cast for the three finalists. The other finalists were:
- Jeanette “Jenny” M. Brown, 31, Co-Founder and COO, Dutton Farm Brown is a former collegiate basketball player and an Oakland University graduate who was studying for a law degree when she shifted gears and decided to help people with special needs transition into society. Dutton Farm is a Rochester-based non-profit that serves more than 100 tri-county residents a month. It employs 17 adults with severe impairments at competitive wages – a first-of-its-kind business model for people with disabilities. The program has been featured in various media reports. It aims to provide independence, meaningful work and socialization for its clients and partners with multiple school districts and also with Oakland Community College in its mental health programming to help train future mental health professionals. It has been awarded grants from the Autism Society of Oakland County and various service organizations and retailers. She is a licensed foster parent and has been a foster parent to seven children. She and her husband adopted two of the children.
- Nick Moroz, 32, CTO and founding member, Detroit Materials, Inc. Moroz is a manufacturing and advanced materials innovator and entrepreneur. His company, Wixombased Detroit Materials, commercializes the highest strength low-alloy castable steel in the world. Moroz was key in investing in the lightweight steel, which is used in defense, automotive, heavy truck and agriculture. He has helped acquire grants totaling more than $450,000 and are projected to create 130 jobs in Oakland County in the next five years. Moroz co-patented a manufacturing technology and helped raise $5 million in capital at a company he co-founded. He has won numerous awards and was honored by the University of Michigan College of Engineering for entrepreneurial leadership in 2014. He is a graduate of Albion College and the University of Michigan where he is expected to receive his Ph.D. this year. Moroz also mentored high school students in Northville and Southfield in the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Program.
“This is our fifth Elite 40 class and every year seems to get stronger,” Patterson said. “Jenny and Nick were both worthy candidates. The future of Oakland County and the region is extremely bright if we can retain the talented young minds we have in this class.”
The remaining members of the 2016 Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 class are:
- Andrew Androff, Co-owner and Director of Marketing, Professional Movers.com, 37
- Ethan Baker, Attorney/Owner, Law Offices of Ethan D. Baker, 36
- Brian Birney, President & CMO, The Birney Directive, 35
- Kathleen Borschke, Senior Account Director, The Fulkerson Group, 35
- Christopher Brower, Director, Marketing and Strategic Planning, Aluminum Blanking Co., 35
- Amelia Brown, Leadership Development Consultant, Consumers Energy, 32
- Jeffrey Campbell, Assistant City Manager, City of Hazel Park, 37
- Laura Casai, Director of Interior Design, TMP Architecture, Inc., 32
- Nathan Conway, CEO Fortis Energy Services, Inc., 38
- Clarence Dass, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, 30
- Kelli Dobner, Chief Development Officer, Judson Center, 36
- Florence Doo, Founder/CEO Surgerati, LLC, 26
- Daniel Dumas, Lieutenant, Waterford Regional Fire Dept., 35
- Michelle Elder, Business Development Manager, Michigan Economic Development Corp., 36
- Christopher Fitzmaurice, President, Teddy’s Ts and Buttons, 32
- Napoleon Harrington, Founder/Therapist, Ambassador Counseling & Resource Group, 36
- Kathryn Katz, Partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, 32
- Erin Klug, Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, 31
- Kathleen Logan, Regional Coordinator, Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency, 33
- Andrew Magnus, President, Bright Side Markets, 33
- Christopher Martella, Attorney, Kemp Klein Law Firm, 37
- Erik Meier, Founder/CEO, EAM Consulting Group/Sandler Training, 33
- Talisa Norton, Co-Owner/ COO, All Pro Color, 36
- Alison Orlans, President and CEO, Orlans Group, 36
- Suzanne Perreault, DDA Executive Director, Village of Lake Orion, 33
- Phillip Pittman, Principal, Keith Elementary, Walled Lake Consolidated School District, 38
- Robert Ray, Senior Wealth Strategy Associate, UBS Financial Services Inc., 36
- Jonathan Schwartz, Attorney, Seyburn Kahn, P.C., 33
- Reese Serra, Attorney and Counselor, Serra Legal, PC, 31
- Rachel Smith, Patent Attorney, Brooks Kushman, 32
- DeAnte Thompkins, Workforce Development Technician, Michigan Dept. of Transportation, 27
- Doug Tietz, Senior Advisor, Congressman Dave Trott, 35
- Theresa Tran, Executive Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan, 31
- Jordan Twardy, Executive Director, Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA), 29
- Sachin Varma, Director, Health Alliance Plan, 37
- Andrea Walker-Leidy, Community Relations Coordinator, Crittenton Home Care, 33
- Linda Williams, Economic & Community Engagement Supervisor, City of Madison Heights, 38 ?