Forward under 40

Paula Bonner MS'78, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

It’s a real joy to introduce you to our 2015 Forward under 40 Award winners. This award honors alumni under forty who are doing an exceptional job of living out the Wisconsin Idea — the concept that the University of Wisconsin-Madison can benefit the world around it through the influence of its alumni and faculty.

Commitment to serving the community is a common thread among all of this year’s nine honorees. When Jonny Hunter opens a restaurant, he sees beyond a mere business opportunity — he sees a way to promote the sustainable-food movement. Jay Blasi’s golf course designs aren’t just award-winning in caliber — his vision to reclaim a degraded landscape led to recognition as the number two eco-friendly course in America.

In some cases, community service is integral to the contributions of these young Badgers. Jill Carey designed a program inspired by yoga that empowers young girls, and Heidi Allstop started a social-networking site that provides help to students undergoing emotional distress when they need it most.

Omai Garner and Trevon Logan are creating paths for more students of color to become scholars in their respective fields of science and economics, and they are inspiring their local communities through a host of organizations. Troy Vosseller and Joe Kirgues are helping to build Wisconsin’s economy by nurturing business startups, and Gabriel Stulman’s critically acclaimed restaurants bring flavor and jobs to New York City — not to mention Wisconsin warmth and hospitality.

I know you’ll enjoy the stories of these nine alumni in this magazine, and you’ll find more at If you know an inspiring young Badger, please consider a nomination for next year’s award. We see every day how today’s generation of graduates continue the legacy of their Wisconsin education, making the world a better place through their dedication, ingenuity, and spirit.

On, Wisconsin!

Paula Bonner MS’78
WAA President and CEO

2015 Honorees


Badger Business Generators: Joe Kirgues & Troy Vosseller

Troy Vosseller and Joe Kirgues achieved early success in their own careers: Vosseller turned Sconnie Nation, the apparel company he co-founded in his freshman dorm room, into a bustling storefront on Madison’s State Street and a recently launched beer line; and Kirgues worked at the prestigious law firm Quarles & Brady before joining 94labs, an angel investment and seed incubator.

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Culinary Warrior: Jonny Hunter ’05, ’11

It’s hard to believe that Jonny Hunter, who has made a career out of meat, was actually a vegetarian for five years. But as an undergrad, Hunter worked at what was then the Catacombs Coffeehouse, under the Pres House on the Library Mall, and turned it into a lunchtime haven for Madison’s vegetarians. And those years have seasoned Hunter’s approach to his life and work as an omnivore.

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Forward Under 40: Trevon Logan ’99

It’s no wonder that Trevon Logan was unanimously selected as co-chair of his Chancellor’s Scholars class at UW-Madison for three years in a row. His classmates knew even then: Logan was the sort of leader who inspired everyone to do their best.

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Foodie Empire: Gabriel Stulman ’03

Faced with a crabby customer who was throwing a tantrum over the wait for a table in one of Gabriel Stulman’s New York City restaurants, Stulman spontaneously hugged her. Not only did the gesture succeed in soothing the impatient woman, but it also inspired Stulman’s staff to start a contest to see who could offer the most hugs.

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Omai Garner ’01

As a scientist, Omai Garner specializes in medical microbiology, but what he’d really like to see go viral is academic success.

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