Two business people in Shelton named to ‘40 Under 40’ list

Two business people with Shelton connections have received Fairfield County “40 Under 40” awards this year for being up-and-coming leaders in their fields.

The recipients are Maria Conlon of Shelton-based Barnum Financial Group and Brandon Dufour of All-Star Driver, which just opened a Shelton facility.

The “40 Under 40” selections from the business and civic communities are awarded annually through the primary sponsorship of the Fairfield County Business Journal in partnership with area chambers of commerce.

Conlon: Focus and accountability

At 30, Maria Conlon is an agency sales director at Barnum Financial Group in Shelton, an office of MetLife.

As a member of the UConn’s women’s basketball team that won three Division I national championships, Conlon learned many lessons about the importance of focus, commitment, character, teamwork and accountability, according to publicity material.

After realizing her dreams as a player, she coached the Southern Connecticut State University women’s basketball team to a national championship in 2005.

At Barnum Financial Group, Conlon leads a team of financial services representatives dedicated to serving the investment and protection needs of individuals and corporations. She also is involved with Barnum’s direct distribution and auto and home businesses.

Her community involvement includes being president and founder of the Maria Conlon Humanitarian Donor Advised Fund at the Valley Community Foundation, and a board member for the nonprofit Foundation for Life.

Dufour: Employee-centered initiatives

Brandon Dufour is general manager of All-Star Driver, Connecticut’s largest driving school. The company now has more than 60 locations and recently opened a branch at the Connecticut Sports Center in Shelton.

Dufour said he is proud to have been selected, and equally proud of his staff. According to publicity material, he has promoted employee-centered initiatives and community involvement at the company.

He has purchased new cars and increased instructor wages at the company, and supported civic involvement by partnering with local schools and charitable organizations.

“At All-Star Driver we’re perfectly happy thinking outside the box and trying new things,” Dufour said. “We’ve found a successful balance between high-quality training and a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.”