2018 40 Under 40: Kelly Noel, 38
Associate Vice President, Henderson Engineers, Lenexa, Kan.
BS architectural engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence
An associate vice president and the first African-American woman to achieve ownership status in firm history, Noel serves as the principal in charge of a team of 32. She has been a driving force behind Henderson’s rapid growth thanks to her work with the company’s largest clients, which includes serving as project or program manager on numerous big-box retail operations. Noel joined Henderson in 2003 immediately after earning her degree from the University of Kansas. Now, she directs a team that is responsible for providing services to one of the nation’s largest retailers. She has worked her way up from design engineer to associate to principal in charge, showing incredible dedication to the company. Her favorite part of her current position is that she is able to mentor other engineers, a passion she developed after growing in her career under the direction of incredible mentors that took an interest in her development. Away from the office, Noel’s free time is largely spent mentoring the underprivileged youth in the community. It is her greatest passion in life. Providing a positive influence as a mentor to inner-city kids is greatly important to her because she overcame the odds in that setting as one of five children raised by a single mother and grandmother in Kansas City, Kan. In true Noel fashion, she loves to host others and likes to throw theme parties at her house. She and her husband are sports fans and often visit Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals.