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NEK CHAMBER YOUNG PROFESSIONALS NETWORK
|The Young Professionals Group was first established by Hannah Manley in 2011 when she served as president of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber to have better collaboration between young professionals in the Northeast Kingdom and to be sure their voices are being heard.” While that mission still remains, there are new initiatives on the horizon as Peacham resident Geoffrey Sewake takes on the chair of the committee, vowing to reach all corners of the region with the group.|
Sewake works as a community and economic development field specialist for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and has an extensive background in community outreach. “Sewake’s experience not only gives him a unique perspective on looking at the challenges that affect young professionals,” said NEK Chamber Executive Director Darcie McCann, “but also to examine the resources required to solve these concerns.” One of the first changes Sewake made was to change the name of the committee to the Young Professionals Network from the Young Professionals Group to more accurately represent its purpose.
“The NEK has a lot to offer young people,” said Sewake. “My hope is that we can help young people grow and cultivate their professional and personal networks so they can be more successful and more content living, working and playing here in the NEK.”
While networking is a critical part of the YPN’s efforts going forward, the group will also look at ways to change the economic landscape of the region and state so that it better supports young professionals. The NEK Chamber sponsors monthly legislative breakfasts throughout the legislative session and expects the YPN to have a strong voice at those gatherings, said McCann.
“The Northeast Kingdom not only needs to retain, nurture and encourage the young professionals we have already, we also need to make a very concerted effort to attract burgeoning professionals to the area as well,” said McCann. “The needs of the young professional are different, and we as a chamber and region need to stay relevant to technology, up-and-coming business practices and methodologies to strengthen and sustain this very important population.”
Sewake stresses that one does not need to be a member of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber to be involved in the YPN and notes that collaboration among other partner organizations and outreach to all corners of the region, on both sides of the Connecticut River, is essential, stating the issues that affect young professionals have no borders and that the challenge of revitalizing our younger population, and by that same token, workforce, will take a collaborative community effort. The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network is designed for individuals between the ages of 21 and 40.
Sewake noted that when he and his young family first moved to the region a few years ago from Brooklyn, New York, the couple had a difficult time finding young professionals, such as themselves, to connect with, professionally and personally.
“I’m excited to help reboot the young professionals group in the NEK. I think it’s an important organization for young people to have, especially in a rural region,” said Sewake. “My hope is that the NEK Young Professionals Network can be a catalyst for folks like myself and my wife, and the friends and colleagues we’ve built over the past three years, to provide new opportunities for young people to get together, have fun and grow professionally.”
The NEK YPN will meet regularly to discuss the challenges of doing business in the Northeast Kingdom, identifying technologies needed to prosper, share ideas and success stories to support one another and, as needed, review what the chamber can do to support and strengthen their efforts. The YPN already has some very dedicated supporters from the original group and hopes to grow significantly from those efforts.
“The Northeast Kingdom Chamber believes this group provides an important avenue to cultivate leaders for the Northeast Kingdom, something that is critically needed to ensure a sound economic future for our region,” said McCann. “We are so pleased that Geoffrey has taken on this committee and look forward to supporting its efforts going forward.”