26. Jack Kessler Owner, John W. Kessler Co.; chairman, The New Albany Co. (30)
Kessler’s development companies have pumped life into many of the region’s communities. His New Albany Co. co-founder is Wexner, so his connections are great. Kessler serves on the boards of the New Albany Surgical Hospital Foundation and Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
27. Boyce Safford III Director, Columbus Department of Development (new)
Former deputy chief of staff for Coleman, Safford last February replaced long-time director Mark Barbash to head this 400-person department. Safford arrived well-pedigreed with background in economic development and planning. An urban development expert, he should flourish in this role.
28. Russell Gertmenian Managing partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (new)
After 18 years on the firm’s executive committee and four years after he was tapped as successor to long-term chief Robert Werth, Gertmenian took over the reins at the city’s largest law firm last January. He serves on the boards of Abercrombie & Fitch, AirNet Systems and Desco Corp.
29. Ted Strickland Governor, state of Ohio (34)
After a year as governor, Strickland has proven himself a powerful player, and rumors of him being tapped for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in the 2008 election strengthens his position.
30. Larry Hilsheimer Executive vice president and CFO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (10)
Hilsheimer left his post as managing partner of Deloitte & Touche USA’s Columbus office last summer to join Nationwide after its CFO retired. Hilsheimer is past chairman of the chamber and current treasurer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s board. His tighter focus with just one company rather than a roster of clients caused his drop.
31. Curt Moody President and CEO, Moody/Nolan (32)
As founder and principal of the largest African-American-owned architecture firm in the U.S., Moody garners national awards and promotes what he calls “diversity by design.” His firm has served as principal architect on recent projects, such as East Columbus Elementary, Time Warner Cable Mid-Ohio Division’s five-story office building and OSU’s Office of Legal Affairs.
32. Rich Langdale Founder, NCT Ventures (31)
Langdale’s venture capital firm continues to find technology investments worth pursuing. He is actively involved with The Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU where he helped develop the entrepreneurship curriculum. He also serves on the boards of the chamber and the research division of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Langdale’s passion, however, is to seek out and fund the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.
33. Melissa Ingwersen President, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Central Ohio (40)
Ingwersen leads the bank’s Central Ohio operations and is well known in Columbus business circles through her activity on several area boards. Her company also recently made a $1 million donation to OSU.
34. Lewis Smoot Sr. President and CEO, The Smoot Corp. (41)
Smoot is making an impact in the city through several high-profile projects around town. He’s also a member of Downtown Development Corp. and was nominated for the 2008 Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Governor’s Humanitarian Award.
35. Kurt Tunnell Partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP (36)
After taking a small hit last year on the list, Tunnell moves up a spot for ’08. He chairs his firm’s government relations practice and is also general counsel for the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association.
36. Roger Geiger Vice president, Midwest region, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio (37)
Geiger manages the public policy, political, member activism and communication programs in the state as well as representing NFIB with national policy organizations.
37. Curt Steiner Senior vice president for university relations, The Ohio State University (38)
Given the people he’s worked with and what he’s accomplished in the past, Steiner continues to make his mark on the city and have a strong presence.
38. John P. McConnell Chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries (39)
McConnell’s $3 billion company, which employs 8,000 people, continues to grow and thrive, maintaining its position as an influential company and McConnell’s as an influential leader.
39. Jack Ruscilli CEO, Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. (42)
Ruscilli’s company continues to leave its imprint on the city and across the country, with high-profile projects and more than 40 million square feet of erected pre-engineered steel nationwide.
40. John B. Gerlach Jr. Chairman, president and CEO Lancaster Colony Corp. (45)
Gerlach remains a powerful voice around town through his flourishing company and as a member of the Columbus Partnership and as a trustee for the Columbus Foundation.
41. Doug Kridler President and CEO The Columbus Foundation (48)
The Columbus Foundation is a major voice in the community. People look to Kridler and listen to what he has to say.
42. David Milenthal CEO, The Milenthal Group (50)
Milenthal ran Strickland’s campaign and now benefits from a Democrat-controlled Statehouse. He has also served on a number of high-profile community boards including OhioHealth Hospital System Foundation and Capital University.
43. Michael Gonsiorowski President and CEO National City Bank Central Region (51)
Gonsiorowski leads one of the city’s largest financial institutions and was the 2006 Campaign Chair for United Way of Central Ohio. His voice is getting stronger, so look for more to come from him.
44. M. Valeriana Moeller President and CEO Columbus State Community College (47)
Columbus State Community College is strong under Moeller’s leadership, and she serves on the boards of Downtown Development Corp. and COSI.
45. Tami Longaberger CEO, The Longaberger Co. (44)
Longaberger’s one-spot drop can be attributed to both the company’s president leaving after just 18 months on the job and the cutting of 113 jobs this past July. Despite these setbacks, the company is now offering online sales for the first time.
46. Blane Walter President inVentiv Health Inc. (46)
Walter grew and sold his company in 2005, and that move has proved beneficial as he’s moved into a new position and continues to be successful in it.
47. Dwight Smith President and CEO Sophisticated Systems (49)
Smith is a mover and shaker around town and in the regional tech community. His firm boasts an impressive list of clients, including Nationwide, Limited Brands, the state of Ohio and the Columbus Chamber.
48. Bob Weiler Sr. Chairman The Robert Weiler Co. (52)
Weiler is past president of the Columbus Board of Realtors and a strong voice around town. He’s a board member of the Ohio Capital Corp. and chairman of his real estate company.
49. Jordan Miller President Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio (new)
Miller returned to his hometown and springboards onto the list through his new position as regional bank president. He previously worked as senior vice president and manager of Fifth Third Investment Advisors for the bank’s Cincinnati affiliate.
50. Abigail Wexner Founder and chair Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence (53)
Wexner chairs the Center for Child and Family Advocacy board and is past chair of the Governing Committee of The Columbus Foundation. She serves on the board of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and founded the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence and KidsOhio.org. Her efforts make her much more than Les Wexner’s wife.