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The Network hosts the sixth annual SGForum event for Springfield’s young professionals


On June 21, The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals hosted the sixth annual, SGForum event with the focus of inspiring, empowering and engaging young professionals (YPs) through meaningful opportunities for professional development and community engagement. More than 375 gathered for the half-day summit at Hill City Church to hear inspirational stories and leadership advice from a range of presenters. 

Emily Denniston, director of community engagement and operations for the Missouri State University efactory, opened the program by sharing her own professional development experiences and digging into the meaning of authentically and passionately serving your community.  

In a session about resolving conflict, Ashley Norgard, labor and employment legal counsel for O’Reilly Auto Parts, spoke on how conflict can be tackled both in the workplace and in personal lives, providing YPs with applicable resources to grow personally and professionally through conflict. This was followed by an interactive activity led by Aaron Solari, sales trainer for TrustPoint – Sandler Training, who walked YPs through the importance of goal setting and how it can be used as a tool to resolve conflict.    

Steve Prange, senior vice president and director of strategy and business development for Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, guided YPs through the reimagination of Lake Springfield by sharing renderings of future improvements that could be made in the region.  

In a discussion on mental health, participants Caleb Scott, Ozarks Lunkers Arena Football League, Ryan Savage, Beyond Healing Center, Katie Towns, Springfield-Greene County Health Department and Elizabeth Wente, SRC Holdings Corp. spoke on the texture and nuance of mental health in the workplace and empowered YPs to prioritize their own mental health. This discussion was followed by a “Be Well Moment” led by Nia Howard, program and engagement leader for Be Well Initiatives, which focused on teaching YPs how to advocate for intentional self-care.  

The program concluded with Keynote Session Speaker, Devon Harris, a founding member of the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Harris encouraged YPs to “Keep On Pushing” with resilience and perseverance through whatever obstacles we may encounter. Harris showed clips of the Disney movie Cool Runnings inspired by his team’s exploits and shared his personal experience to empower and motivate YPs to follow their dreams.  

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