For the past 15 years, the Phoenix Business Journal has honored up-and-coming business leaders who inspire, motivate and instigate change for their annual “40 Under 40” award program. Honorees serve the community professionally and in their philanthropic efforts and have backgrounds in a variety of industries, including sports, non-profits, real estate, law, banking, medical and more.

This year, more than 400 highly qualified professionals were nominated for only 40 coveted spots, which is just one reason we’re so proud that West Valley Market President Kevin Classen is among those being honored. In celebration of Kevin’s achievement, here are three things we thought you should know about him:

1. Kevin grew up on a farm in the rural mid-west

Kevin learned how to work at an early age on the family farm in central Nebraska, with chores to complete before and after school.  His first job when he reached middle school was working on a neighbor’s ranch, where he fixed fences and tended crops and livestock for only $1 an hour.  This humble Midwest upbringing instilled in him work ethic, discipline, respect and love of community, which led him to become the successful and philanthropic business leader he is today.

2. He helped FirstBank enter the Arizona market in 2007

Kevin joined FirstBank in 1998 after graduating from the University of Nebraska and quickly climbed the corporate ladder, rising from junior officer to executive vice president to West Valley market president in 2013. One of his greatest professional accomplishments during this time was leading FirstBank’s expansion into Arizona. Despite tightening regulation and many banks turning to government funds for bailouts, Kevin helped FirstBank strategically expand and gain a strong financial footing in the state.

3. He’s passionate about being part of the Arizona community

Kevin has played a pivotal role in the success of Arizona Gives Day, one of the state’s largest and most ambitious fundraising efforts, raising more than $4.5 million for the state’s nonprofit organizations. He also serves several non-profit organizations in a variety of roles, including:

Kevin will be honored at the Phoenix Business Journal’s award ceremony event on Thursday, September 10 at Livewire in Scottsdale. Click here to see the complete list of winners for 2015 and learn more about the “40 Under 40” program.

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