Royal Oak entrepreneur is youngest winner of Oakland County Executive’s 2017 Elite 40 Under 40 class

Brooke Wilson Vitale, the owner of specialty bakeries in Royal Oak and Birmingham, was selected by a public online vote as the winner of the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2017.

The announcement was made at Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s State of the County address held at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint. As the winner, Vitale was given the honor of introducing Patterson to the crowd of more than 600 people.

“It’s a really big honor,” Vitale said. “I was really surprised and very flattered.”

At 29, Vitale is the youngest winner in the six years of the contest. She is the owner of Love & Buttercream, a bakery she opened in 2012 after turning a hobby into her passion. An Oakland County native and Michigan State University graduate, she worked for a time in Chicago but the allure of returning home was too strong to ignore.

“There’s something about this area that I can’t quite put into words,” she said. “It’s a set of values, a culture, a feeling of support and a feeling of home. It’s something magical and unique that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the nation. It was the perfect place to let my dreams fly.”

Patterson was effusive in his praise for Vitale.

“Brooke is an excellent choice,” Patterson said. “She is creative, thoughtful, has an incredible business sense and is precisely the kind of young leader we want to keep in Oakland County.”

The bakery idea was hatched in a kitchen in her parent’s basement and took flight. Her business, which began with three employees, has expanded to 29 women – all under age 35. She credits her team with her success.

“They’re the ones that make me look good,” said Vitale, who is married and has a 1-year-old son. “They are the ones committed to this business. I’ve been lucky beyond what I can comprehend.”

The bakery’s cookies were named HOUR Detroit’s “Best Cookie” in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Love & Buttercream was also named Eater’s “Top 5 Bakeries in Metro Detroit.” The bakery provided wedding cakes and desserts for 600 couples in 2016 and is the exclusive provider for wedding cakes for the Infinity and Ovation Yacht Charters on the Detroit River.

Nearly 400 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 candidates who scored the highest are placed before the public vote to determine a 2017 winner. This is the sixth year of the Elite 40 program.

“I am continually amazed at the caliber of young leaders we have,” Patterson said. “We think the whole class is superb and the top three are outstanding. The future of our county is very bright.”

More than 2,900 votes were cast for the three finalists. The other finalists were:

  • Richard J. Chalmers, D.O., 36, Director of Family Medicine Residency, McLaren Macomb Hospital
    Chalmers, of Rochester Hills, began his family practice in 2010 with the McLaren Medical Group and was named director of the family medicine residence program at McLaren Macomb Hospital in 2015. He is an assistant clinical professor at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is director of the hospital’s Medical Outreach Clinic, which treats uninsured patients at no cost. Chalmers has been to Guatemala three times as part of a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers through DOCARE International, providing care to more than 3,000 patients. Chalmers is married and has two sons.
  • Carrie Schochet, 37, CEO/Founder, Purple Squirrel Advisors
    Schochet, of Rochester Hills, heads a Troy-based boutique executive search firm that connects unique C-level and senior executives with leadership positions. She is also founder of CFO Next, a group she launched in 2013 when she discovered a lack of resources and networking opportunities for transitioning or unemployed senior financial executives. The group placed 60 people into new career opportunities in the first two years and assisting another 20. She is a passionate philanthropist, raising funds for a number of non-profits, including ALS research, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Power Company Kids Club. In 2016, she co-founded 100 Businesses Who Care to connect executives who want to make an impact in metropolitan Detroit. The group is set to give a $50,000 donation to a local non-profit twice a year starting in 2017. Schochet is married and has three children.

The remaining members of the 2017 Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 class are:

  • Hallie Armstrong, 37, Senior Naturopathic Doctor, Beaumont Health
  • Matthew Baumgarten, 32, Berkley City Manager
  • Andrea Carollo, 37, Realtor, Max Broock Realtors
  • Alicia Chandler, 37, General Counsel – Continuing Care, Trinity Health
  • Nathan Clinton-Barnett, 32, Vice President of Clinical Services, Safe Balance LLC
  • Alex Delavan, 34, Director of Sponsored Programs, Oakland University
  • David DeLind, 30, Marketing Program Manager, 1986
  • Derek Dickow, 37, Founder, Steward Media
  • Matt Einheuser, 31, Watershed Ecologist, Clinton River Watershed Council
  • Joanne Forbes, 34, Department Chair of Art, Design/Humanities, Oakland Community College
  • Sean Forbes, 35, Co-Founder, DPAN.TV The Sign Language Channel
  • Kristin Griffith, 30, 2nd Grade Teacher & Elementary Technology Educator, Auburn Hills Christian School
  • Anthony Grupido, 21, CEO, Handsleight LLC
  • Sherikia Hawkins, 35, City Clerk, City of Pontiac
  • Michael Hohf, 31, Sr. Vice President & Financial Advisor, Advance Capital Management
  • Adam Jahnke, 33, Principal and Co-Founder, Vault Equity Partners
  • Yasser Khan, 37, Executive Vice President & Chief Sales Officer, IBM Miraclesoft
  • Jessica Knapik, 38, Program Analyst, Walsh College
  • Anjan Kumar, 38, Assistant Director of Medical ICU, Pulmonary & Critical Care Associates – St. John Hospital & Medical Center
  • Andrew Kurecka, 29, Manager of Outcomes Research, MedNetOne Health Solutions
  • Samantha Mariuz, 25, Director of Authorities, City of Auburn Hills
  • Sam Marzban, 34, Detective Sergeant, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tylar Masters, 37, President, Tylar & Company
  • Dustin McClellan, 26, Pontiac Director, The Power Company Kids Club
  • Maureen McGinnis, 38, Judge, 52-4 District Court
  • Shaun Moore, 38, Director of e-Learning, Oakland University
  • Tany Nagy, 37, Owner, Pulse Design Studio
  • Jeena Patel, 37, Partner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
  • Emily Paula, 26, Human Resources Business Partner, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Katya Pruett, 37, Manager Public Relations and Communications, BorgWarner Inc.
  • Katheryn Rohrhoff, 34, Staff Nurse, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital
  • Pratheep Sevanthinathan, 36, Owner, Seva Law Firm
  • Kayla Smith, Executive Director, 26, Hazel Park Promise Zone Authority
  • David Tessler, 34, VP & Co-Owner, Rain Marketing Inc.
  • Leyanna Torres, 32, Principal Product Engineer NAOSS Packaging Manager, ZF TRW
  • Kathryn Tuck, 37, Director of Foundation Giving, Leader Dogs for the Blind
  • Danielle Zuccaro, 34, Director Human Resources, Common Ground