40 Under Forty: Four strangers at Hanover Theatre

BY Brad Kane

Photo | Erika Sidor
Photo | Erika Sidor
Winners of the WBJ 2018 40 Under Forty award and members of photo Team Hanover (from left) Victor M. Archila, Lilian Radke, Madeline Mendoza and Che Anderson

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest obstacles in trying to get members of the WBJ 40 Under Forty together to take great photos on location is they are almost always complete strangers.
This year’s photo shoot at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester was no different.

Included among the four members of photo Team Hanover was Che Anderson, who is probably the most recognizable of the 40 winners in the entire class. He had previously won Worcester Magazine’s Person of the Year award and been honored in a similar way on a magazine cover for the College of the Holy Cross alumni. He is a mini Instagram celebrity locally and is known for taking creative photos in front of street art around the country.
I knew I had an opportunity with Anderson. If I put him on the cover of the 40 Under Forty magazine, people would recognize him and become more engaged with our already most popular print edition of the year. But, I needed him to take a great photo with the rest of his photo team, emblematic of the entire tone we were trying to set with the publication.
I was a bit surprised when Anderson chose Hanover Theatre as his No. 1 preferred photo location, since we were planning another photo shoot in front of the graffiti murals at Worcester Arts Magnet School (his No. 3 preferred location). Turns out, he didn’t want his street art fame to overshadow the other 40 Under Forty winners at that photo shoot, and he thought he could generate some great shots at Hanover Theatre.

Joining Anderson on Team Hanover was another mini celebrity, Lilian Radke. This year, she won the U.S. Small Business Administration award as the Massachusetts Woman Small Business Owner of the Year. Over the last eight years, she has grown her cleaning company from $350,000 in annual revenues to $5 million. Because of this, she was featured in an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Victor M. Archila, the third winner on Team Hanover, was also a celebrity, but just in my mind, after he became the most notorious of the 2018 WBJ 40 Under Forty awardees. Each year, before we actually tell the nominees with the top combined judges scores they are winners, I narrow the list down to about 60 finalists. We do this because I have to verify their eligibility, as all winners must work in Central Massachusetts, live in Massachusetts and be under 40 years old on the day of the awards ceremony. Inevitably, a couple of the top-scoring nominees are found to be ineligible, so I have the list of 60 finalists to make sure we have verified winners to take their place.
For Archila, it wasn’t that he was ineligible, it was I couldn’t get ahold of him to confirm any information. Multiple calls and emails when unreturned for several days as the other 39 winners all verified. I decided if I didn’t hear from him after a week, that probably meant he wasn’t interested in receiving the 40 Under Forty award. I gave him a hard deadline of 11 a.m. on May 29 to get his eligibility verification to me before I moved to the next finalist on the list. That deadline came and went without my hearing from him, but I got called into an unrelated meeting right at 11 a.m., so I didn’t have time to notify the next person down. After that meeting ended, I still hadn’t heard from Archila, so I went to pick up the phone to notify his replacement. As I literally had my hand on the phone, dialing the number, Archila called to apologize for the delay (he was swamped at work and unaware he had been nominated for the award) and verified his eligibility. Since that first week, he has been a pleasure to deal with, but it always makes me laugh how he was mere seconds away from being passed over for the award.

The fourth member of Team Hanover, Madeline Mendoza, had been right on time in getting in her verification information and very sweet to work with from the moment I reached out back in May. She hadn’t yet received the public recognition Anderson and Radke had, but she has been doing wonderful works at NewVue Communities in Fitchburg for the last 18 years. Along with the rest of her photo team, she seemed genuinely interested in taking a great photo and competing to be on the cover of the magazine. The four of them even planned to meet beforehand to come up with their ideas for the photo shoot.
They had great ideas (using visually stunning spaces inside Hanover Theatre, holding up fun signs, heading into the main auditorium), but for more than an hour, nothing was quite clicking. They were fun, but I put undue pressure on this photo shoot in the hopes we would get the cover shot here. We ended up on the Hanover Theatre stage with Anderson, Radke, Archila and Mendoza jumping up and down repeatedly, in what I thought would be a shot in the running for the cover photo.

Turns out, it is near impossible to time a jumping photo shoot just right so all the winners look both exhilarated and professional, against a strong background, with positive expressions on their faces. We did end up using one of the photos in this series as the main Team Hanover group photo, but it is not what ended up on the cover.
However, one member of Team Hanover did end up on the cover of the magazine, sort of. National Grid had brought a cover wrapper advertisement for the magazine; and in order to make up for the fact that our most-read topic of the year was being covered by an ad, we put a small teaser in the top corner of the National Grid ad to let people know the 40 Under Forty edition was inside. In that teaser, we put a photo of Anderson leaping in the air.

Michael Alden - Ascentria Care Alliance
Che Anderson - City of Worcester
Victor M. Archila - VMA Electric Inc.
Allison Beckler, DO - YOU, Inc.
Sam Bitar - Webster Five
Mark A. Borenstein - Seder & Chandler LLP
Kate D. Campanale - Massachusetts House of Representatives
Derek Canton - paerpay
Ryan Canuel - Petricore, Inc.
Jennifer Caron - Body Therapeutics
Danielle J. Clark - Clark Career Coaching
Heidi Cooper - Cooper’s Hilltop Farm
Matthew M. Copeland, P.E. - Copeland Building Envelope Consulting
Pat Davis - The DAVIS Cos.
Efua T. Dufu, MSW, LCSW - Ellite Event Planning
Grace Elton - Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Ursula Furi-Perry, J.D. - Becker College
Jared E. Gentilucci - Nitsch Engineering
David Gilchrist, MD, MBA - UMass Memorial Health Care
Alvara Gjylapi - Santander Bank
Erica Grinkis - The GazBar Sports Grill
Meredith Harris - Marlborough Economic Development Corp.
Erin Jansky - Worcester Housing Authority
Ben Jones - Boston Scientific Corp
Alexis Kelleher - Crust Bakeshop; North Main Provisions
Bert LaValley - Sustainable Comfort, Inc.; deadhorse hill & simjang restaurants
Jennifer Leger - Fidelity Bank
Brian Lemerise - Quiet Logistics, Inc.
Tom Lubelczyk - The Worcester Jazz Collective
Laura Marotta - Creative Hub Worcester
Ryan Matson - Small Business Insurance Agency
Michael P. McDonough, CPA - McDonough, McDonough & Corsini, LLP
Madeline Mendoza - NewVue Communities
Jessica Morris - MCPHS University
Nathan Oriol - Oakdale Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center (Oriol Health Care)
Nicholas Pelletier - Pelletier Properties at Keller Williams North Central
Courtney E. Pelley - Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
Lilian Radke - Unic Pro Inc.
Blaine Schnare - Harrington HealthCare System
Bonnie J. Walker - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Learn how the winners were picked on our judges' page.