Erie's 2018 '40 Under 40'

by Erie Reader Staff June 20, 2018 at 3:15 PM

A cross cultures and across religions, 40 is a number steeped in symbolic significance. It is the number of years Moses and the Hebrew people wandered the desert before finding the Promised Land. It was the prophet Muhammad's age when he received his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Forty days is a standard period of fasting in Christianity and Hinduism. Secularly, it is the number of spaces on a Monopoly board, the amount of ounces separating Sublime from freedom, and the highest number ever counted to on Sesame Street.

And since 2013, 40 has been a figure that has figured heavily into the Erie Reader's annual calendar, as the "40 Under 40" feature celebrates the young adults making an impact in the community and keeping Erie's arrow pointed consistently upward. If the multitude of nominations we received is any indication, these are not lean times in terms of our city's longterm outlook. Hundreds of nominations were received, with the finalists carefully selected. From this we've assembled an impressive list of young professionals, entrepreneurs, and activists across an array of disciplines — from lawyers to musicians, from school teachers to head chefs, from hair stylists to gallery owners and more.

There is a saying that "life begins at 40," but these folks are off to one heck of a head start — and as long as they stay on that trajectory, our city and our future stand to be the major beneficiaries.

Breanna Adams
Breanna Adams, 28
Environmental Protection Specialist, Erie County Department of Health

If you have visited a tattoo parlor and found it clean and safe, you might have Breanna Adams to thank. Her current position as an environmental protection specialist with the Erie County Department of Health has her inspecting everything from restaurants, to pools, to campgrounds, and yes, even body art establishments, and her work has been recognized by the National Network of Public Health Institutes, who awarded her their "Rising Star" honor this past May.

But when she is not "on the job," she is still hard at work for the community, ensuring that everyone maintains their right to basic human dignity with access to good-quality clothing and household items, as the coordinator of the Erie Free Store.

"I want to get people energized and engaged about their community," Adams said.

And with her volunteer role as the culture district coordinator for this year's Celebrate Erie, which aims to broaden our community's exposure to the many vibrant multicultural presences in the area through a marketplace of artisans, merchants and food, close "inspection" reveals Adams is undeniably doing just what she set out to achieve.