“Helping people is what has given my life purpose,” says Emily Happy, newly named to “40 Under Forty” in the South Sound for 2016. 

“It all comes down to this: I got to help people. I got to wipe away the tears of a mourning senior. I got to write poetry therapy with kids in juvenile detention. I got to look in the eyes of a mom in line at the food bank and know her children were fed. That is what is most important to me,” Happy says.

The memories she recalls come from prior work with Tacoma’s Franke Tobey Jones retirement center and FISH Food Banks, where during her three years, Happy secured a major national grant from Bank of America. This also brought her personal recognition as an “Emerging Leader.”

Today, she functions as a consultant for higher education (Central Washington University) and local nonprofits (Alchemy Skateboarding) and others. High performing Emily Happy is again being recognized by “40 Under Forty.”

Ben Warner, another member of the 2016 class of “40” and UWT “Martin Luther King Dream” award recipient, is spearheading important programs to serve at-risk youth in Tacoma. 

Before earning a graduate degree in nonprofit management and focus on conflict between diverse sub-cultures and the dominant culture in an urban environment, Warner road his longboard (skateboard) 3,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic raising awareness of youth programs and adding $20,000 to local Boys and Girls Club programs. He came back to create the Go Skate Tacoma festival in downtown’s Tollefson Plaza and helped the City Council understand skateboarding as an alternative transportation, so it would decriminalize the skaters’ use downtown.

Warner founded Alchemy Skateboarding in 2014 as a nonprofit that helps youth find engagement opportunities in academics, athletics, leadership and civic engagement. It also has a drop-in center for young persons in the downtown/Broadway neighborhood, along with classes, summer camps and so much more.

It should be clear that, “Youth in the city of Tacoma” is what Ben Warner is most passionate about. And for all that, he is a natural addition to 2016 “40 Under Forty.”

Meet all of this year’s distinguished leaders at “Club 40” a recognition celebration on Wednesday, August 17, at 5:30 p.m. Ticket information is at this link.