Alumni Stories

Amelia Rodriguez I Stoll's Woodworking

Like a lot of kids her age, 2016 Daviess County CEO student, Amelia Rodriguez, always assumed that she’d have to leave her small, home community to do what she wanted to do - be an interior designer. But CEO opened her eyes to the community…and showed her how she could create the perfect job right where she lived. Inspired by what she learned in CEO, she created her dream job at Stoll's Woodworking, located right in her home community of Daviess County.


Shelby Hinterscher I Vayda Jane Bridal

2013 Effingham County CEO Alum, Shelby Hinterscher, thought that growing up and getting a corporate job was the only path for her…until CEO. Her time in the Effingham CEO Program showed her that she was capable of so much more - and then it gave her the tools to go do it.


Abby Lashmett | Farmers States Bank

Abby Lashmett, Morgan-Scott CEO Alumni of 2015, always planned to move away from her rural western Illinois hometown, attend the University of Illinois, and then move to a "big city" to start her career. As you saw in her story, her year in the Morgan-Scott IL CEO Program helped change her post-college destination.


Michael Brummer | The XCHNG

Michael Brummer, Effingham County IL CEO Alum 2010, was away from his home town for several years. Bringing back ideas he saw in the cities he's lived in, he bought a downtown building to redevelop into the XCHNG. More than just a co-working space, Michael sees "The Exchange" as a place to develop the ideas to keep propelling his community into the future.

Karis Hortin l Jars of Hope

Karis Hortin is tackling a worldwide problem in a very tasteful way, with a smile just as big as her heart. With Jars of Hope, the 2018 Mount Carmel CEO Alumnus creates convenient pre-made, jar-preserved meals that will help make a difference in orphan’s lives by donating 100% of her profit to the very orphanage in Ethiopia that she once called home. An obvious leader among a generation of philanthropy-minded young people, Karis aims to support kids in need just like herself.

Adam Walters | Ghost Simulator

2019 Edwardsville CEO Alumnus, Adam Walters, has been fascinated with the world of video games since he was a kid. With his business creation, “BloxByte Games,” this self-proclaimed shy kid took his passion for gaming and stepped outside his box to create a whole new world for himself – and millions of others. With his video game “Ghost Simulator,” Adam managed a team of four other people to create a gaming experience that exploded in popularity– staying #1 on the Roblox platform for a week and generating more than $50,000 in the first week. It’s clear that this is just the beginning for Adam as he continues to build new worlds for curious gamers all over the world just like himself.

Abigail Gerig l Dragonwood

2017 Kokomo CEO Alumnus, Abigail Gerig, savors selling premium products. Her business, Dragonwood, focuses on tapping trees and raising bees to create a line of pure and natural products that include maple syrups, sugars, candies, and both creamed and raw honey. Nature nurturers with a bit of biologist, at Dragonwood, they craft and cultivate exceptional product that satisfies the sweet tooth of their customers near and far.