Leila Haas has been learning – and teaching – since her mid-teens, first as Youth of the Year at her local Boys & Girls Club, then while an employee there as she finished high school and between terms at Washington State University. Her major was Human Development, which she supplemented with teaching credential and led back to her hometown Inglemoor High School, where she created and implemented an IB (International Baccalaureate) elective in Psychology.

Challenging herself during her last two years as a classroom teacher, Leila completed a Masters Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology – a foundation for her career shift into business as a training specialist for the regional Sprague Pest Solutions at its Tacoma headquarters. Five years later – again, after formulating and putting in place a training and development program for employees – she was promoted to director of human resources, also earning her professional certification in that field.

“The most satisfying part for me is mentoring, training and teaching others,” Haas says. “I find myself learning as much as I am teaching, which is truly inspiring.”

Her achievements to this point in her career, as well as continued commitment to Boys & Girls Club, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society inspired judges to name Leila Haas to the 2017 “40 Under Forty” honor roll.

If anyone in the Yelm area is thinking about plants and horticulture, they probably look for Jason Witherow, owner of Jason’s Greenhouse and its predecessors for the past 16 years. It will give away his age to note that he began working in a garden center just as he was starting high school and within two years owned his own wholesale nursery.

Today, Jason employs more than three dozen residents to grow much of the greenery that beautifies many developments in eastern Thurston County and beyond. He describes success as “being able to employ over 40 local people and being able to donate back to the community that so lovingly supports me and my company.”

His nomination outlines a number of Jason’s ways to helping others: Yelm Dollars for Scholars, Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce and Young Life. He adds being a supporter of Cub Scouts to the incomplete list, noting “It (too often) is forgotten that it takes a community to be successful.”

Jason Witherow’s growing success definitely earns his place on the list of 2017 “40 Under Forty.”

Meet Leila and Jason, plus 38 other remarkable members of 2017’s 40 Under Forty cohort at the celebration of their honors on Wednesday, October 11, at Foss Waterway Seaport in downtown Tacoma. It begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program will conclude before 8 o’clock.  Tickets are available at this link.