Local alumni named to Hickory’s Top 10 Under 40 list


Recognized by the Hickory Young Professionals, two Lenoir-Rhyne alumni, Rachel Heck ’11 and Brandon Pope ’08, have been named to this year’s Top 10 Under 40 list. Recipients of the award are selected based on their involvement in the community and leadership in community activities in addition to excelling in their career.

Rachel Heck
With eight years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Heck currently serves as the executive director of Family Care Center of Catawba Valley – a homeless shelter housing families with dependent children. In her role she manages all programs, develops and maintains successful partnerships, conducts outreach activities and secures funding.

Rachel Heck

During her time as executive director, she has facilitated a large donation of $190,000 from the Brian Long Foundation to support six new additional apartments on their main campus in Hickory. Set to be completed in late 2024, these apartments will allow the center to serve 24 additional families annually, helping them move towards permanent housing.

“First and foremost, the best place to demonstrate leadership in my community is by starting in my home. I am a mother of two young children, ages 7 and 4, and my husband and I instill the qualities of a leader into our children so that we can make generational impacts in our community and the world,” said Heck, a Newton-Conover High School graduate. “My children see me stepping up in leadership roles at church, in their schools, and in my community. I want to show up and be active in their lives and the lives of their friends. When appropriate I bring my children alongside me to volunteer and serve others, leading by example.”

Brandon Pope
Pope is the owner and creative director of BPope Productions, a full-service media production business specializing in business films, live event streaming, wedding films, and aerial drone media.

Brandon Pope

Previously, Pope was the TV studio manager for LR, freelanced for Davidson College Athletics for eight years as a part of their multimedia streaming team and was a multimedia specialist contractor for Corning Optical Communications. He has had partnerships with the Hickory Crawdads as their official aerial drone media provider and the new Appalachian State University campus to create ongoing aerial imagery of their new campus in Hickory.

In 2019, he won the UNC-TV calendar contest with one of his aerial drone photos of downtown Newton. The photo was later featured in February that year in their yearly printed calendar. He recently obtained his first feature film credit for his cinematography work on a feature film titled “Journey Home.”

Some of Pope’s volunteer service includes being a member of The Chamber of Catawba County’s Leadership Catawba (class of 2022), serving on the Leadership Catawba board, was a previous board member for the University City Commission Board with the City of Hickory, on the Hickory Young Professionals Leadership Council, and he is now on the Photographic Technology Advisory Board at Catawba Valley Community College.

“I prioritize fostering a collaborative and creative work environment, where each team member feels valued and empowered,” Pope said. “Leading by example, I actively engage in the video production process, ensuring a hands-on approach that instills dedication and commitment within the team. Effective communication, both with my talented crew and our clients, is a cornerstone of my leadership style. Moreover, I’ve embraced challenges as opportunities for growth, consistently guiding the team to overcome obstacles and achieve remarkable results.”

Award recipients will be recognized at a dinner on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m.

Joshua Mackey

From LR to New York, Joshua Mackey '13 gives his all as a creative voice and community advocate.

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Rachel Tenny

Counseling alumna uses empathy and art to help her clients find value outside of their appearance and achievements.

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