40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Ned Leutz

Ned Leutz

Age 25: Account Executive, Webber & Grinnell Insurance Agency

Ned Leutz is not a good secretary. His administrative skills are lacking, and he doesn’t know how to operate a fax machine. But in his case, that turned out to be a good thing.

When Leutz arrived in Northampton fresh out of college, he pictured himself working for a nonprofit organization. “It turned out, I wasn’t qualified because the only positions available were administrative,” he said. “When I got to an office, I really didn’t know how to run a fax machine or the copier.”

He opted for plan B, a temporary job at the YMCA, where he bumped into Bill Grinnell, a principal with Webber & Grinnell Insurance Agency, which hired him to sell. Eager to seek out his first sales prospects, Leutz joined the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. At the first meeting, however, Leutz stood at the bar feeling awkward. “I thought, ‘oh my god, all these people are gray-haired, and they all know each other already,’” he said.

It was clear the chamber suffered from a dearth of younger members.

“It seemed like there was this whole group of young people out there who didn’t know about the chamber,” said Leutz. “And yet, they constitute the future of our community.”

His solution was to help form the Northampton Area Young Professionals (NAYP). The group was a huge success from the get-go and today boasts 160 dues-paying members.

NAYP not only funnels young blood into the chamber, it hosts an annual golf tournament to raise money for Safe Passage to support victims of domestic violence. And last year NAYP orchestrated a coat drive with the United Way of Hampshire County, an organization that recently asked Leutz to join its allocations committee.

It looks like Leutz is serving the nonprofits after all, only not in the way he originally intended — which is a good thing.

—Amy Castor