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Young Talent

WANTED: Next generation leaders—40 and under—who want to impact the community and work together to contribute to the growth of Greater Omaha.

So far, 3,500 young professionals have officially answered the call (thousands more if you count those connected via social media). They are part of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals, a fast-growing program of the Greater Omaha Chamber aimed at retaining and attracting young talent through engagement, opportunity and advocacy.

“Although our work is focused on a young professional demographic, we’re most interested in Omaha as a community and how it can be a great place for all people. We know if we can help improve something like public transportation, we’re going to make it better for everyone. And that’s really exciting,“ said Jay Palu, an architect with DLR Group and chair of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Council.

Programs central to the Young Professionals include community outreach, networking events, an annual Young Professionals Summit and Ready2ServeOmaha.org, a virtual posting board that matches nonprofit organizations with those seeking volunteer leadership opportunities.

At the heart of the Young Professionals’ mission lies the question: How can we help foster a dynamic, inclusive and integrated community where diverse young professionals want to live, work and play? To aid in the search for answers, the group now has a roadmap. It is called Your Omaha 2020, a unified vision for the community that emerged during a roundtable gathering of more than 300 young professionals last fall.

“We’ve spent years talking about what’s important to us as young professionals. This is really moving it from talking to action. Now, there is a plan,“ said Katie Neddenriep, associate engineer at Olsson Associates and the Council’s secretary.

Your Omaha 2020 focuses on five actionable areas: arts and culture, community development, inclusive communities, public engagement and public transportation.

“It’s nice to be able to focus on the action aspect – what any young professional can do from where they sit in the community,“ said Sarah Johnson, manager of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals.

Your Omaha 2020 results were shared with community leaders and stakeholders and incorporated into the 2010 Young Professionals Summit last March. It should continue to spark dialogue and create change for years to come.

PROFESSIONALS SUMMIT: Your Seat at the Table

It is a one-day “splash,“ but organizers see the ripples leading to engagement and action all year long. Hundreds of young professionals and community and business leaders gathered in Omaha last March for the fifth annual Young Professionals Summit, a daylong mix of networking events, breakout sessions and speakers.

The summit is a marquee project of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals, a program of the Greater Omaha Chamber dedicated to retaining and attracting young talent. This year’s event carried the theme “Your Seat at the Table“ and incorporated ideas from “Your Omaha 2020,“ a unified vision for Omaha’s growth and development crafted by young professionals last fall.

Breakout session topics included engaging in politics, building your resumé through social media and eliminating poverty and homelessness in Omaha. The summit also featured a top-notch speaker roster: Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver at TOMS Shoes; Patricia Martin, CEO and founder, LitLamp Communications and author of “Renaissance Generation“; and William Taylor, entrepreneur and founding editor of “Fast Company.“

Also at the summit, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) received the annual Young Professionals Choice Award, recognizing its efforts to attract, retain and develop young professionals.

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