When people think of YP groups, I think it’s organizations like DULYP, GenD, and HYPE that come to mind. Groups of young people – whatever jobs or interests – in a certain region working together to advance professional development, volunteerism, and fun. There are many YP groups that specialize in serving specific professions or interests, but the Dayton region is the proud home to a few of these comprehensive and more traditional YP organizations as well. I spoke to Demarus Crawford-White (chair of the Dayton Urban League Young Professionals) and Shanon Potts (chair of Generation Dayton) to get their take on the YP situation in the region – and they had a lot to share.
Crawford-White is Dayton born and bred, and will tell you that she was “tricked” into becoming the chair of the DULYPs. A friend invited her to a couple of events, asked for help with some event coordination, and before she knew it – she was the marketing chair andthings have grown from there. Although she didn’t know what she was getting into, Crawford-White will tell you that the “trick” was one of the best things her friend ever did for her. Potts moved to Dayton for work from a small Ohio town after a stay in Columbus for college and law school. She was referred to the Dayton Young Professionals Association (a group founded in 2004 when many YPs determined there weren’t enough networking opportunities) right before a merge with Generation Dayton created the current program affiliated with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. Potts has been an active member of GenD since May 2006.
and the value of being connected to something larger than the self. Potts shared that her involvement with Generation Dayton opened the door for her to serve as the young professional representative on the Executive Committee for the successful Five Rivers MetroParks levy campaign in 2009. Also, the chair of GenD holds a seat on the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees. Those external leadership opportunities have proved invaluable to Potts as she continues to expand her network and meet new people. Crawford-White also spoke about the value the YP organizations provide for people looking to grow professionally; being a member provides an opportunity to showcase skills in leadership, management, relationship-building, andso many more traits that employers look for. Beyond that, membership demonstrates a commitment to community, and that drive based on passion and not the paycheck is important to employers. Crawford-White has seen many DULYP members receive promotions due in part to the skills they’ve demonstrated through community involvement.
And it’s so easy to get involved – many events for GenD, the DULYPs, and HYPE are open to both members and non-members. And if you’re not really a “joiner,” the ladies have some advice for you as well. Potts explains that the benefits received by membership in GenD far outweigh the individual investment. But if you don’t want to lose that valuable “friend time,” bring your friends along, too! Crawford-White knows that time is an issue for all of us, but she refers back to the old adage: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” The DULYPs provide an easy way to stand with other YPs in the region and bring voices together to make a difference in the community.
Although their missions differ, members of both these organizations are working toward a better Dayton region for young professionals. I asked both women why Dayton has such a negative stigma in the view of YPs. Crawford-White knows there are valuable events happening in the region, but says it can be tough for YPs to filter- even though she has been here her whole life, she still is amazed by the great opportunities she learns about every few months. Crawford-White believes it only takes visiting a couple YP groups and getting on some email lists until you find a group that you “click” with. Potts agrees with the wide selection of YP opportunities in the region. A downtown resident and frequent visitor around all parts of the region, Potts explains that Dayton is a very easy community to navigate once you are willing to become actively involved and engaged in an organization like Generation Dayton. She expresses a specific gratitude to the many businesses and community leaders who are working to open doors to better involve and engage YPs.
Although the passion these ladies demonstrate for their YP organizations are clear, they both demonstrate a similar passion for the region. Potts picks Downtown Dayton as her favorite place to hang out, explore and experience. She most enjoys walking to and from restaurants, Dragons games, the theater, art galleries as well as being at epicenter of the region’s growing system of bike paths with easy access to Yellow Springs, Xenia and Miamisburg. Crawford-White highlights the MetroParks as her favorite Dayton spot(s) – from Riverscape to the 2nd Street Market, Cox Arboretum and Wegerzyn Gardens – she appreciates that the “the whole system is really a neat and wallet-friendly place to spend the day.”
Hopefully, this expanded highlight of a couple of the region’s most comprehensive YP organizations – and the women who are currently at the helm – has demonstrated the ease and important value of getting engaged in the opportunities our region offers. Whatever you’re looking for – social activities, new friends, professional development, volunteering, education or more – could be found with the programs sponsored by Generation Dayton and the Dayton Urban League Young Professionals. For a final thought – Crawford-White reminds us that Dayton was made famous by individuals who thought outside of the box. The Wright Brothers, Charles Kettering, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Erma Bombeck all started their fantastic careers here in Dayton while they were “young professionals.” She asks, “What potential does yet another Dayton YP have to make and impact?”
NOTE: Schedules didn’t work out and I was unable to speak with a representative to HYPE, but if you’re a YP in the Northern Miami Valley area and want to stay a little closer to home – check out this org that provides great opportunities. HYPE will be featured in the future.
Generation Dayton (YPs ages 21-40) is dedicated to connecting young professionals with one another and to the community so that together YPs can become integral components in the future of the success of the region. GenD offers many unique opportunities – popular ones include Generation Dayton Day (a community-wide volunteering opportunity), volunteer speed matching, an annual holiday party, and regular “Thirsty Thursdays” for business and social networking.
The Dayton Urban League Young Professionals (YPs ages 21-44) are the auxiliary association of the Dayton Urban League; the DULYPs work to further the five empowerment points of the League. The DULYPs are affiliated with the National Urban League, and that partnerhsip provides great national experiences for members. Popular local activities include the professional development series, the Next Level Entrepreneurship Conference, the monthly YP @ Play evenings, and opportunities to volunteer in the community.