Rod Garvin, director of member engagement of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, says the talent among young professionals is the key to the citys future.
This year we are planning to expand our engagement of young professionals as a voice for business in the chambers public policy initiatives as well, he said. We do consider the Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals to be a pipeline for future leadership in the chamber.
According to Garvin, nearly 60 percent of Mecklenburg Countys population is younger than 40 and almost 30 percent of that population is between 25 and 40 years old.
Were one of the top cities when it comes to recruiting young, educated workers, but we want to sustain and improve upon that track record, he said. Quality talent is essential for a vibrant economy Charlotte was recently ranked fourth of 20 cities by Forbes and CareerBliss and ranks in the top 10 of Great Cities for New Graduates by Kiplinger.
For the first time, The Young Professionals, formerly known as Engage until the name was changed this year, held awards in February to honor professionals within the chamber ages 21 to 39. Awards were in the categories: young professional newcomer, entrepreneur, nonprofit leader, business leader and overall winner. More than 250 YPs as the chamber is calling them attended. The group has more than 2,500 members within the chamber.
Garvin said the awards were developed by a group of past YP board members called the Wisdom Council.
They thought it was time for the Young Professionals to have their own signature event, something that is consistent with our chamber chapters, our seven geographic-based programs in the Charlotte area, he said.
Our inaugural Young Professional Awards The YPs was a tremendous success, he said. The (group) has consistently evolved in terms of program delivery, outreach, and audience participation. The Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals mission is to work with city leaders, the business community and other young professional organizations to attract and retain young professionals in our community.
Andrea Andi Stevenson earned her recent Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals award in the nick of time.
Im five months away from turning 40 so it was a lovely cap to what the community considers young, said Lee. I feel especially delighted in receiving the award before I reached the age.
Stevenson, executive director of the Lee Institute in Charlotte, captured the award in the nonprofit leader category.
I was as startled as anyone could be, she said. I was genuinely startled. I really had no clue.
Stevenson, formerly the president and executive director of Community School of the Arts for six years until November, is no stranger to awards. The Myers Park resident and Texas native was named one of the 40 Under 40 by the Philadelphia (Pa.) Business Journal when she worked as vice president of sales and client service for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in that city.
During her tenure at Community School of Arts in Charlotte, the school increased enrollment by 63 percent and saw in increase in the operating budget by 22 percent.
She was also responsible for introducing more than 12 new programs, doubling the schools summer camp programming and expanding faculty by 25 percent.
Stevenson holds a masters degree in business from the McColl School of Business at Queens University and an undergraduate degrees in English and political science from Texas A&M University.
I have had 20 years of almost always being involved in the arts, and its been wonderful, said Stevenson. The Lee Institute is a nonprofit organization that offers consulting, leadership training and civic engagement to other nonprofits as well as government and community groups across Charlotte. Stevenson said she thinks mentoring is an area that should receive more attention from the Queen Citys younger crowd. One of the most pressing issues for YPs today is that it is remarkably difficult in for those in their 20s to see people who provide a model path. The path is changing so much. Do you want to raise a family? Be a consultant? Have flexible hours? Work from home?
It used to be that you were the company man: go to IBM, work for 30 years and retire, Stevenson said. I think the next generation has even more fluidity. How do you adapt to that? My generation had to stumble through it. They are being asked to create their careers from scratch without a template and that can be overwhelming.
Stevenson said she does mentor a few young professionals. Other 2013 YP award winners included Young Professional Newcomer, Johnelle Causwell of International House; Young Professional Entrepreneur, Ben Harrison of DealCloud; Young Professional Business Leader, Ashley Hedgecock of Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson; and Young Professional of the Year, Stacey B. Randall of HF Financial.
Conroy: 704-358-5353; Twitter: @ConroyKathleen
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