It’s no wonder Pecina, 38, gets her kicks from helping the Kauffman Foundation serve the educational community. As an immigrant to the United States from Mexico at age 2, she and her siblings were taught to value education by their parents, “because that was going to open doors for us in the future.” Currently Kauffman Foundation’s Director of Education, she joined the Foundation in 1991 as a program assistant in Project Choice, a program to help students graduate from college and pursue post-secondary education. She also serves on the boards of the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City, the Mattie Rhodes Counseling & Art Center, and the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund. She and her husband, Uzziel, have three children: Ximena (9), Uziel (6) and Alejandra (2). “Realizing that I benefited from many social programs as an immigrant, inner-city youth, I now find it an honor and a privilege to provide personal financial support and volunteer my time and talents to the boards of agencies that increase the quality of our inner-city youth,” she said.
Few of this year’s class for 40 Under Forty has had to overcome greater odds than Peter, President of the Phenix Label Company. After completing two years of college, Peter, now 38, was asked to take over the family business that was on the brink of insolvency. The customer base had dwindled by 90 percent, leaving Phenix with double-digit losses on $2 million in sales. It took drastic measures, but Peter was able to help Phenix rise from the ashes. Today, Phenix Label has more than $20 million in projected sales. It has appeared in Ingram’s Top 100 list of fastest growing companies five times in the last 10 years, and he was selected as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1995. Peter has served on the board of directors for the Olathe Chamber of Commerce and currently serves the American Cancer Society’s “Relay For Life” annual fundraising campaign. He and his wife, Susan, have three children: Katelyn (12), Hayley (10) and young Charlie (8).
As Senior Vice President in charge of the Surety Division of Lockton Companies, Pribyl, 38, is the one of the youngest executives to lead a national practice group at Lockton (second to Mark Moreland, who was a member of the 2002 class of 40 Under Forty). In that role, he oversees one of the nation’s largest bonding operations. The Kansas City office will manage more than $40 million of annualized surety premiums, which easily places Lockton’s Kansas City Surety operation in elite company. Pribyl leads a team of 17 professionals. Pribyl is the past co-Chair of the Kansas City Businessmen’s Club. He and his wife, Jamie Sehi-Pribyl, have two sons: Thomas (6) and Hayden (5). The couple is heavily involved in the Joshua Child & Family Development Center, a local agency that helps individuals with Tourette Syndrome by counseling, mentoring, tutoring and social-skills training.
Wimes, 38, a Partner with Spencer Fane Britt & Brown, majored in communications studies and Spanish language and literature at UMKC, which came in handy during her year of postgraduate study at the University of Seville in Seville, Spain. There she learned how to communicate with people who didn’t understand her completely, a tool she has used well to persuade judges, juries, demanding clients and opposing counsel. She began her legal career at Blackwell Sanders Pepper Martin LLP. After five years as an immigration, labor and employment, and school law attorney, she moved to Shook, Hardy & Bacon, largely because of her language skills—she speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese. She spent five years with that firm, specializing in product liability suits filed in Latin America and/or dealing with counsel in several Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. She joined her current firm in 2004. She is President of the Board of Gifted Hands Program. She and her husband, Brian, have three daughters: Sydney (7), Gabrielle (5) and Saige (1)