keep busy with year-round events
is on civic involvement,
For adults in their 20s and 30s, living in a small town
can feel isolated, lonely and detached from others in their peer group.
It can be difficult to find friends or meaningful activities.
How can a young person find his or her niche and become engaged in community
In Madison, Ind., the answer is the Madison Future: Young Professionals
Network. In 2009, the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce recognized the
need for young business people to network with each other. David Collier,
who was then executive vice president of the chamber, called together
a group of young people that included Trevor Crafton, Stephan DeLorenzo,
Jenny Eggenspiller, Abbe Ernstes, Casey Goode, Corey Murphy and Steve
May 19: Golf & Grill, 5:30 p.m., Cozy Acres Golf Complex
June 16: Heritage Trail Walk, 5:30 p.m.
July 21: Membership Meeting & Networking, 5:30
p.m., location TBA
August: Professional Development Event, date and
Sept. 15: FoodStock Event for Girls Inc., details
Oct. 15: Booth for Soup Stew Chili & Brew
Nov. 23: Turkeys for the Salvation Army, details
Dec. 3: Christmas Crawl, 6 p.m., details TBA
They met several times over the summer and organized a
kickoff meeting for the new organization on Oct. 26, 2009. More than
50 people attended that first meeting at the Livery Stable, which was
open to people ages 18-42. Most of those who attended became members.
During 2010 the organization grew to more than 40 paid members.
Weve gotten such a big response, said Crafton. Its
reassuring to know there are young professionals out there. There will
be a new wave of educated, tactful, entrepreneurial-minded YPs out there,
The governing council currently includes co-chairmen Ernstes and Jake
Stuart; Crafton, who is vice chairman; Goode, as secretary; and Ben
Foley, Eggenspiller and Murphy.
The young professionals program covers three key areas: civic involvement,
economic development, and social and professional networking.
Members of the group have volunteered their time to help at community
events such as the River City Music Festival, Soup Stew Chili &
Brew and the chambers Santa train ride.
This year they initiated a new award program for young adults called
5 under 40. On Jan. 24, they recognized Shannon Dattilo,
Molly Dodge, Joe Jenner, Andy Lytle and Carl Risk II as outstanding
young professionals who are doing great things in the community.
The group has offered several professional development seminars, with
topics such as business etiquette and marketing during tough financial
And some of the groups events are purely social such as
their Thirsty Thursday gatherings, where members gather
after work. Despite the event name, Ive been very adamant
that this is not a drinking club, said co-president Stuart. Were
very pro-family. He said the events are almost always at a venue
that welcomes children. For example, on May 19 the group will gather
for a golf and grill event at Cozy Acres Golf Complex, which
is owned by Crafton and his wife.
Crafton said networking is the main benefit hes gotten from the
organization. I have been able to identify the many young professionals
in this area. I was unaware of the younger generation. A few of them
are affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Partners,
Main Street Program and so on, but not many.
Ernstes, who is director of leadership giving at Hanover College, agrees.
The people in the council and others in the organization are people
I wouldnt have met otherwise. When I was new to Madison, I didnt
have a place to go to meet new people. Ive moved a lot in my life
and Im sensitive to new people.
She added, Its been fun because we get to see different
walks of life.
Stuart, who is laboratory manager at Madison Optical Co., said he wants
to facilitate a seamless motion between the younger and
older generations. Were not professing to be coming out
of college and knowing it all. Were trying to learn from the people
above us, and to mentor people down below. It will benefit Madison not
to have a disparity between the young people and the older people.
Murphy, who is executive director of the Economic Development Partners
as well as an early proponent of the young professional group, linked
the group to Madisons overall economic development.
Murphy said, Communities that retain and attract talent have a
advantage. Local businesses compete for maintenance technicians,
marketing professionals, engineers, doctors, etc. The YP seeks to
nurture that effort.
He also quoted from Richard Florida, an urban studies theorist: Jobs
are clearly important. Gen Y members ranked the availability of jobs
second when asked what would keep them in their current location and
fourth in terms of their overall satisfaction with their community.
In both cases, the highest-ranked factor was the ability to meet people
and make friends. Makes perfect sense, since Gen Y intuitively understands
what economic sociologists have documented: Vibrant social networks
are key to landing jobs, moving forward in your career, and ones
broader personal happiness.
Organization members are community-minded as well as career-minded,
The group is currently working out plans to form a mentoring relationship
with area high school students. There is also a volunteer fair in the
works, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College and the Jefferson
County Clearinghouse. They expect this to be a flagship event for the
Madison Future: Young Professional Network is open to those 18-42 years
old, although older members are accepted if they feel at home in the
group. Residents of surrounding communities are also welcome to join.
Dues are $45 per year, payable to the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce,
301 E. Main St.
To contact the YP officers, use the email
Back to April 2011 Articles.