Crain's Cleveland Forty Under 40 Awards

Crain's 40At Engage! Cleveland, we value opportunities that help young professionals grow both professionally and personally. Tonight, forty of Cleveland’s rising business leaders will be honored for their professional success and civic contributions at the 25th anniversary of Crain's Forty Under 40 Awards Program. The class of 2016 will join a prestigious group of over 900 individuals who have been recognized in previous years.

We caught up with Elizabeth McIntyre, Publisher and Editor for Crain’s Cleveland Business, to discuss why and when the program was established, the program’s importance to Cleveland, and how a young professional, like yourself, can become one of the forty under 40.

1) Can you give us some background on Crain's Forty under 40 Awards Program?

“Crain’s Forty Under 40 Awards program started in 1991, so this is the 25th anniversary of the recognition. Every fall for the past quarter century, we’ve profiled our region’s rising business stars across a variety of industries and economic sections. It really started as a way to recognize the best and brightest in our region.

Brian Tucker was the publisher of Crain’s Cleveland Business when the program started back in 1991, and he’s explained that when they started the program back then, they never imagined it would take off to the extent it has. Because of its popularity, Crain’s eventually added a recognition event to the program, which traditionally takes place during the week of Thanksgiving.”

2) How are the forty individuals selected each year? What do you look for in regards to professional success and civic contributions?

“I’m happy to explain what we look for in general terms for awards like Women of Note and Forty Under 40:

  • Professional accomplishments, specifically, what did the person do above and beyond his or her job description. The more details, the better, especially those that show quantifiable results.
  • Civic and community involvement, which goes beyond a work requirement.
  • The intangible: something unique that sets them apart. Did they overcome an obstacle professionally or personally? Are they a female in a male-dominated field? Are they breaking new ground professionally? Etc.

Finally, we strive to create a diverse class for each of the awards so that the group is a reflection of professional people working in Northeast Ohio. We try for a mix that shows the range of business and industries in our area (from small businesses to large corporations; from nonprofits to for-profits; from start-ups to established companies, etc.)

We also are cognizant of diversity as it relates to geography, age, race, culture, gender and experience.

Each year’s class is then selected by a group of Crain’s editors, who strive to find the right mix, as I’ve described above.”

3) Why is Crain's Forty under 40 program important for Cleveland?

“Forty Under 40 is important because it’s an opportunity to remind us of the depth of talent and energy we have in Northeast Ohio. It’s a reminder that the future of our region is in good hands. These are the young business leaders who are taking on increasing levels of responsibility. They are the young professionals who will ensure the continued success of Northeast Ohio. I can think of no better idea, and no better way, to celebrate that than honoring 40 people who’ve committed themselves at a young age to the growth of our community and the people in it.

4) What will the 2016 awards reception entail?

“This year’s reception will include lots of opportunities for the honorees to mix and mingle and network with each other and other attendees. (It wouldn’t be a Crain’s event without that aspect.) We’ll also take some time to look back at 25 years of Forty Under 40 and, of course, to honor each individual in the 2016 class.”

5) How can a young professional become a part of future Forty under 40 classes or nominate someone for the honor?

“It’s easy to nominate yourself or anyone else for a Crain’s award program. Starting Jan. 1, we’ll accept nominations for all 2017 award programs – including Forty Under 40 and Twenty in Their 20s. Just visit after Jan. 1, 2017.”

6) Any other insights or comments you would like to share?

“My advice when nominating someone is to be as detailed as possible. Don’t just say someone grew revenue at their company; give us the specifics of how much they grew revenue and over what time period. The more information the better.

We receive hundreds of nominations for these awards, so quantifiable information is best. We also look for something that really sets the person apart. Finally, don’t get discouraged if you’re not selected the first time you submit a nomination. A lot depends on who the other applicants are. You might stand out the following year, so do try again if you’re not selected the first year or so.”


For those looking for some opportunities to get engaged and possibly be a part of Crain’s Forty Under 40, Engage! Cleveland offers some great involvement opportunities that could help make your application stand out in 2017.

  • Join the Engage! Cleveland Leadership Council. This council of talented young professionals serve as advocates for the YP community by assisting in the planning and execution of EC programs and events and by promoting a positive YP experience in Cleveland.
  • Attend E!C events and expand your network. By attending events such as the Holiday MIX, you can meet other young professionals and learn from their experiences and discover other growth opportunities in Cleveland.
  • Volunteer your time. Volunteer during Cleveland Young Professionals Week, and visit the YP Fair to learn about other involvement opportunities with Young Professional Organizations, nonprofits, and employers.
  • Looking to get involved? Visit our calendar to learn about our upcoming events or check out the YPO directory to get involved with one of Cleveland’s YPOs.


It’s not too late to attend this year’s award program. Enjoy an evening of networking, food and fun TONIGHT, November 21, from 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM at the Cleveland Public Auditorium. Purchase your tickets here.

Engage! Cleveland is a supporting sponsor of the Crain’s Forty Under 40 Awards and Crain’s Cleveland was a Silver Sponsor of Cleveland Young Professionals Week.