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The Future of Columbia

I am so excited to bring you this issue! The team has worked extremely hard on it . . . even more than our normal workload. We had to change our schedule and resources for just about everything. We rescheduled 27 people for a massive, multi-day photoshoot due to unavoidable conflicts. We brought in our very own Charles Bruce to take on a larger load of photography resulting in his first ever cover. We came in way late on some deadlines, but the result is one of my favorite issues ever. 

If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you likely know that the 20 under 40 process is my favorite thing I get to do every year. I have worked to delegate many things, especially in light of my city council candidacy, but it’s been heard more than once that this brand will be pried from my cold, dead hands. Why do I feel so strongly about it? Because it’s just so much fun! It aligns directly with my passion for Columbia, for mentorship, and for telling stories of those in our community doing amazing things. While I lead the process, I don’t do it alone. Nominations are sent in from the community, and selections are made using our advisory board and our 20 under 40 alumni. But, I get to be the interviewer and producer. I meet cool new people every year. In a town where it often feels like I know everyone, this is very refreshing. Sitting with these people during their interviews will give you a large dose of optimism for the future of our city. 

Lastly, we structure it so that each person is individually celebrated through social media releases, the magazine article, and the gala. The feeling of watching them be loved on by their friends and family feels amazing . . . especially since we make them keep it a secret for two months ahead of time. It’s like watching your kids open the best Christmas present about 20 times over as they get to bask in the verbal affirmation from their community. So often people do amazing things and it gets overlooked or becomes expected. During this process, we get to use our platform to lift them up and show people greatness in all creeds, races, genders, and professions. Ultimately, this is why we do what we do every day. 

Then, to top it all off, I was able to sit with Desiree Reed-Francois and interview her myself! After seeing her talk to the community at the September Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Membership Breakfast, I was fangirling hard! I toiled over which questions to ask so that it wasn’t a repeat of every other athletics interview she’s done. My goal was for people to get to know her past the headlines, and I feel we accomplished that. 

I hope you love this issue as much as I do. Go to The Toasty Goat and flip through it over a cup of coffee. And, as always, if you have questions or feedback for me, please feel free to email me at erica@comocompanies.com. 

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