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The Network for Young Professionals prides itself on being one of the area’s premier organizations for YPs to advance their careers, fill leadership roles in the community and build relationships.
So when the idea was put forward to hold a half-day forum to help members find new ways to develop their skills and to help their community, enthusiasm was high – and the theme was readily apparent.
The first SGForum, held June 7 at The Veridian in downtown Springfield, was a rousing success. The theme of the day was getting empowered, and nearly 275 YPs gathered to hear from a variety of presenters about ways they can do just that.
Opening keynote Peter Kageyama brought his insights into how people show love for their community, and how individuals can be empowered to make a difference at the civic level even if they’re not in leadership or government. He presented his look at how designing a city strictly for utility needs to be balanced with showing love for the community, through efforts to build a place people actually want to live.
The closing keynote presentation came from Kyle Scheele, an artist and Springfield native who spent a decade traveling around the world before deciding that Springfield was where he belonged – and the community he wanted to help grow.
In between, attendees heard about ongoing placemaking efforts around the community and how they can get involved, the importance of emotional intelligence in their work and personal lives, got quick tips on having critical conversations in the workplace, and even learned how improvisation skills can make you more effective in your job.
Viviana Writer, vice president of brokerage services with Prosperiti Brokers, said she took a lot away from the day’s activities, including the importance of emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate.
“The quote that stuck with me was from [emotional intelligence speaker] Dan Shaffer: ‘If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you,’” she said. “It reminded me that no matter what approach we take to better our community, we all have a part to play.”
The response from the event was overwhelmingly positive – so much so that Talent Retention Coordinator for the Chamber Katie Jones says plans are already underway for the 2020 event.
“The whole focus of this event is to help YPs learn how to be the best version of themselves,” she said. “If we take the information we’ve learned at this event and make our voices heard, we know that we can make our community the best it can be. That’s the goal of this event, and this organization.”
The feeling was summed up well by Dee King, corporate services development officer for Guaranty Bank. "My biggest takeaway from the day was to make something where you are!" she said. "Springfield is brimming with opportunities if you take advantage of them, and as young professionals we have the opportunity to make a difference and impact our city if we get involved."