David LeVan
Photography by Daphne Vermeulen

Second-Prize Winner

David LeVan
OCCUPATION: CEO, Advantax Group
HOME BASE: St. Charles, Illinois

AW: For most people, mentioning the words property tax incites fear and dread, but you’re quite passionate about your job. Why?
DAVID LEVAN: My job is CEO of a corporate property-­tax consulting firm. We help corporations­ wade through the regulations of thousands of local jurisdictions and stay in compliance, as well as identify tax-savings opportunities. My job involves creating a thriving culture — finding ways to grow our organization, building relationships, visiting customers and partners around the country, and training and developing others. I also manage our charitable foundation, and a really fun part of that is visiting with charitable organizations locally and globally to identify and scope out projects for Advantax.
AW: How does that work?

BEST MEAL I'VE HAD ON THE ROAD: Sushi at Uchi in Austin, Texas
LAST BOOK I READ: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
WORST JOB I'VE EVER HAD: Cat herding. Though I’ve never actually been a cat herder, it seems like a job I wouldn’t like.
BEST AIRPORT: Toss up between Miami (Cuban coffee and empanadas) and Washington Reagan (architecture and historical feel). Probably have to go with the coffee.
I JUST RETURNED FROM: Odessa, Ukraine; Chattanooga, Tenn.
LAST THING I BOUGHT: A swimsuit and toothbrush from the hotel gift store. Doesn’t everyone shop there?

"Being a true Road Warrior involves more than just traveling extensively. It requires a desire to experience the world, an explorer mentality and an excitement every time you get on plane."

DL: A percentage of our bottom line goes to ­helping children in need through our foundation, Harriette’s Song. We practice open-book management, and as a part of our weekly huddles, there’s an emphasis not only on how we create success for our organization and everyone connected to it but also on how we can create a legacy by making a difference in the lives of children.
AW: What are some of the charitable projects you’ve participated in that you find the most exciting?
DL: It’s such a privilege to meet and work with great organizations, and every time I visit one, it’s an adventure. One very exciting trip took place this past year to a remote part of Nigeria. I had the opportunity to visit Gembu Centre for HIV/AIDS Advocacy Nigeria (GECHAAN). The organization was started 11 years ago by a couple from my church, and today they have almost 15,000 orphans in foster care, treat 3,000 patients monthly and run numerous programs to increase awareness and education on AIDS. Another exciting trip was to Cambodia to help get a school started and funded. It was a thrill to return a few years later to participate in the dedication of the school and visit with the students.
AW: With your church, you’re also involved in service projects worldwide. Is there a synergy between the work you do for the two charities?
DL: I have the opportunity to spend three to four weeks a year with “Serve the World,” an initiative my church established to identify local and global partners and connect resources with those partners. Much of that time is spent overseas gaining an understanding of what the charitable organization is trying to accomplish and how we can best support them. It’s really cool when I’m able to identify an organization with whom both my church and Advantax can partner. This worked in both Cambodia and Nigeria. My church is involved with GECHAAN, and when we were in Nigeria, we identified a project for “Serve the World.”
AW: You have set the goal of “50 by 50 by 50.” What does that mean?
DL: It’s my plan to visit 50 countries and all 50 states by the time I’m 50. I’ve been to 49 states, but North Dakota has eluded me. Hopefully that will change this summer with a weekend trip to Fargo. International travel started for me about 12 years ago, and so far I’ve had the opportunity to visit 44 countries.