Last week, the advocacy organization dedicated to the attraction and retention of young talent, Updayton, announced the hiring Yvette Kelly-Fields as Executive Director. This is a big step for the (previously) all-volunteer initiative that grew out of DaytonCREATE and hosts the annual Young Creatives Summit. (Yvette is also a contributing writer here on DaytonMostMetro.com)
Updayton is grateful for support from numerous businesses and organizations that place high value on young talent retention. This new position of an Executive Director was made possible by the Southwest Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE).
I used this opportunity to speak to Scott Murphy (one of the original DaytonCREATE catalysts who formed Updayton) and Kelly-Fields. These Q&As give us a little insight to the group as well as some fun facts from the woman who will be stepping in to help lead the charge.
First – a little background from Scott Murphy:
What inspired the creation of Updayton?
There was a model that was presented to us during the DaytonCREATE launch that highlighted a group in Syracuse that had worked to get young people engaged in their city and give them a greater voice in things that were happening in the Syracuse area. Over the past several years they’ve hosted an annual Summit to do that. We liked their model, but we really liked the attitude they took with the community: “young people are important, we care about our community too, so you better listen to us.” But more so, we saw the talent potential here, the economic opportunity that local universities offer, and we saw that too many folks were leaving the region coming out of college. We were missing an opportunity to grow economically. That more than anything spurred the development of updayton.
Are the needs of these young creatives really different than the needs of anyone else?
First of all, we focus on a younger demographic because looking at census data from communities across the country, it’s young people that are making the decisions about moving. In their 20s people are more likely to make a major move than any other time in their life – they don’t have roots yet; so we have to be working harder to keep them here. However, to answer your question, to a certain extent, of course needs change with age. Someone who already has a graduate degree isn’t as likely to be looking for opportunities to continue their education. Similarly, a good school system is probably going to be much more important to someone who has a child. That said, certain things are going to be important to everyone regardless of age: a vibrant city, strong communities, good job opportunities and a city that is welcoming of diversity.
How are you different from the other young professional organizations in the region?
Well, we’re not a young professional organization. We don’t have membership. Additionally, what we do is very project based. We look for ways to get young people engaged in the region through implementing initiatives that will help address their needs. We also continuously solicit feedback – through surveys, through focus groups, through the annual Summit – to make sure that we understand what things are really important to this young, talented demographic and then advocate for those things to local leadership.
What activities have you done to foster that connection between young people and the region?
A few different ways. Through our periodic email blasts, through our various social media outlets, we try to make our demographic aware of the many things that are going on in the region. It can be a little difficult to find stuff at times, even for folks who know a lot about the region… but it’s there and you just have to look a little harder – so we try to make it easier. Second, just through the action plan process – through implementing initiatives based around topics that young people care about, you’re going to learn more about assets and amenities in the region. Personally, I know that’s been the case with me – getting involved with updayton, I’m much more aware of things that are here than I was when I started a few years ago. Finally, if young, creative people see their input is being heard and valued by local leaders, then young people are going to appreciate the Dayton region that much more.
What do you hope to achieve by hiring an Executive Director?
We want to grow the organization – that’s why we hired an Executive Director, and we think Yvette is going to do a great job. We want to get involved in more things and have an impact in more areas of the region. There are decisions that are being made every day here in the community that impact issues that young people care about, and we want to play a greater role in influencing those decisions. We want to do more in implementing the recommendations we’ve made for the community over the past couple years – specifically, promoting acceptance of diversity, connecting job seekers to employers, growing urban vibrancy, and strengthening our neighborhoods. We think having an Executive Director is going to enable us to do that.
And now to learn a little more about the vision of Kelly-Fields as the new Executive Director:
Why did you want to a part of Updayton?
For the last few years, I have had serious concerns about where the next generation of leaders was going to come from for the Dayton area. … (Updayton) already provides the platform and opportunity for young professionals to become meaningfully involved in solving problems in the community. (Young people) are learning how take an idea from concept to realization. They are gaining invaluable skills that they can build upon to tackle many of the problems facing this city. I believe those are the individuals who will be running this region in the near future and I wanted to be a part of that dynamic.
What do you think you can offer as an Executive Director?
Over the last twelve years, I have had the good fortune of working for a number of stellar nonprofits and with some great nonprofit leaders. As a result, I have a gained a great deal of experience in fund raising, project and volunteer management, community and public relations and relationship building.
My goal is to bring all of those skill sets to the table to move Updayton towards the vision the steering committee has established. This includes increasing community partnerships, raising the visibility of the organization in the community and securing cash and noncash resources to support Updayton projects.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle for the region in attracting and retaining young talent?
The biggest obstacle is being able to show and demonstrate to young talent that they can build a full and satisfying life for themselves and their future families in Dayton. When they look at Dayton, do they see access to employment with upward mobility or the viable option of entrepreneurism? Do they see sufficient, affordable choices to live? What about opportunities to socialize in diverse settings in varied parts of the community? Is there ample opportunity for civic and community engagement?
I have found that in this community, and I believe that the key for young talent finding it is through exposure to what Dayton has to offer through work by initiatives and organizations like Updayton.
What do you look forward to most as you start this new position?
The thing that immediately impressed me about Updayton is the tremendous community support it has. Everyone I talk to thinks is a great organization. I look forward to expanding its visibility and reach into the community.
And now for a little insight on Kelly-Fields as a Daytonian.
What’s your favorite place to go or thing to do in Dayton?
My family and I love going to the festivals. Last year we went to the Greek Festival, the City Folk Festival, the Black Cultural Festival, Oktoberfest and to the Chocolate Festival. We also enjoy Urban Nights. We always go to Wright Dunbar for ribs by Smokin Joe. These events are always so much fun for my family.
What’s the best advice your parents gave you?
The best advice I got was to treat everybody right. You never know who you are going to need for help. It is important to maintain good relations with as many people as possible so when I need assistance with something I do not have to pause when I pick up the phone to call them or stop short of saying hello when out in public. Conversely, if someone who has not treated me so well, I still maintain friendly relations. I have found this advice has served me well.
Favorite restaurant or hidden gem?
I have several but my true favorite is Evan’s Café on North Main Street. I am addicted to the Baked Potato Soup, the Mandarin Orange Salad and the Jamaican Chicken Salad. When I cannot go there, I make a beeline to Coco’s. I love the grilled cheese sandwich with Tomato Bisque topped off with the Crème Brule.
Who inspires you?
It may sound corny, but my mom and dad inspire me. They told me that whatever I set my mind to I could achieve it. So far, it has worked.
What phrase do you hear coming out of your mouth too often?
I once went to an event, where after a very unusual performance, the emcee said, “That’s something different.” Whenever I come across a person or a situation that I cannot describe, I say, “Well, that was something different.”
Learn more and get involved with UpDayton:
Web site: http://updayton.com
Take the Updayton Survey: http://updayton.com/survey/
Disclaimer: I am involved on the updayton steering committee as the communication chair. Also, the current version of DaytonMostMetro.com was created in part by a volunteer group formed from the first Updayton Young Creatives Summit in April 2009.