ESTEEM alumnus James Lutaaya named a recipient of the 2023 Michiana Forty Under 40 class

James Lutaaya, a 2022 alumnus of the University of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Graduate Program, has been named a recipient of the 2023 Michiana Forty under 40 class. The program, created by The South Bend Regional Chambers, recognizes young adults, professionals, executives, and leaders under the age of 40, achieving outstanding professional success while engaging in their community through charitable and civic involvement. James was among the 40 recipients selected from 190 young leaders nominated for this award. 

The program is brought to the region by the South Bend Regional Chamber and its YPN South Bend program in collaboration with other partners and chambers of commerce in Michiana. Program presenting sponsors include the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, First State Bank, and Jordan Lexus of Mishawaka; supporting sponsors Gibson, The South Bend Clinic, and the South Bend Tribune.

After his father’s early and untimely death, 14-year-old James was left to care for his siblings. As a result, he grew up with a sense of responsibility and a desire to lead and serve his community. “Being the eldest child in the family gave me a unique perspective on emotional intelligence, interpersonal dynamics, problem-solving, and communication, which are key skills for effective leadership.”

Before arriving at the University of Notre Dame, James actively participated in entrepreneurial and civic engagement in his hometown of Kampala, Uganda. During medical school, he recognized patients’ difficulty locating quality care providers and specialists due to location, cost, and infrastructure in his community. In response to this reality, he established MedicalShed, a solution linking patients to doctors and caregivers in Uganda and beyond. James faced several obstacles like any other Founder, including securing funding for his new venture. Nevertheless, he persevered and took the initiative to share his ideas and innovations with others. “The more I met and shared my idea with people, the more I received referrals and resources,” he said. 

James’ leadership is evident in his current work, where he utilizes his skills and wide-ranging industry experiences to assist businesses in establishing robust and people-centered connections that improve organizational outcomes and individual experiences. His ultimate aim is to facilitate the development of mechanisms at the convergence of innovation and entrepreneurship, benefiting individuals and companies.

As an honoree, James views the Michiana Forty under 40 class honor as a market validation. “As an entrepreneur, I believe there is always a method to the madness. Now the responsibility that rests upon each recipient is to share what they are doing with others and ask them to replicate it across institutions, industries, regions, and borders. When this mentorship creates a ripple effect, we will see the changes we desire to see in our communities. The real work just got started.”

James and all the 2023 honorees, as part of the Michiana Forty under 40 program, will join a group of celebrated young adults, professionals, executives, and leaders who have achieved outstanding professional success while engaging in the community. The Chamber will also continue highlighting the recipients and their work through The South Bend Tribune, featuring a special issue dedicated to the Michiana Forty under 40 in June. Furthermore, on August 30 at Four Winds South Bend's Ribbon Town Conference & Event Center, an alum bash will commemorate the 2023 class and the program's previous 16 years.


Originally published by Olivia Poole at on May 16, 2023.