2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Elgin Young Professionals Network but before we look ahead, let’s look back upon what was a very positive and productive year of programming and progress for our young professionals:
- EYPN launched its official website, www.ElginYoungProfessionals.com, on January 10. The site features EYPN news, event listings, article links, and job and volunteer opportunities for area young professionals. The site averages 253 visitors and 511 views per month. Our network’s reach is also amplified to over 400 followers and subscribers thru the EYPN Facebook, Twitter and e-mail blast. Kudos to board members Krisilee Murphy and Jason Pawlowski for so diligently managing EYPN’s marketing and communications.
- In the spirit of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, our New Member Mix-and-Meet: Let the Games Begin event in January at Nick’s Pizza & Pub brought in over 20 new and current EYPN members to compete in a series of fun and engaging Minute-to-Win-It style games, such as Stapler Luge and Speed Tweeting, to see who would bring home the Gold. Congratulations to Krisilee Murphy, Aaron Cosentino and Christina Pearson for taking the gold, silver and bronze respectively and shout out to Andersen’s Trophies for providing our EYPN Let the Games Begin medals.
- This past year EYPN launched a new series of professional development seminars to help young professionals build skills and experience. The first seminar titled “Marketing Yourself Thru LinkedIn” was lead by Sam Madan, Director of Special Events and External Relations for Pillars. Held at Judson University in March and attended by almost 20 individuals, the seminar focused on tips for building a strong LinkedIn profile and creating and cultivating a new professional network to aid in job search and career development. At the seminar, local photographer James Harvey also provided free headshots for attendees to use as their new LinkedIn profile picture.
- Our Hula for Moola Scholarship Fundraiser in April at Chooch’s Pizza in downtown Elgin helped raise more than $1,500 for EYPN’s scholarship program supporting Elgin High School’s Clumsy Chefs culinary students entering Elgin Community College’s culinary arts program. The Clumsy Chefs program is spearheaded by U-46 teacher and EYPN member Ann Leider. EYPN members also supported the Clumsy Chefs at their annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at Elgin High School.
- In May, EYPN Board President Becky Hardekopf was awarded the Young Professional Friend of Tourism Award by the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at their annual Mayor’s Luncheon. EYPN member Kari Christensen was awarded the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin‘s Volunteer of the Year Award at their annual Awards Gala in October. Hardekopf, Christensen and EYPN member Ann Leider were also nominated by their peers for YWCA Elgin Leader Luncheon Awards. Board Vice President Krisilee Murphy was honored by her alma mater Western Illinois University as a distinguished alumni. She was also nominated for an Elgin Image Award earlier this year.
- In June, EYPN conducted its second professional development series entitled “The Benefits of Being Part of a Board” at Al’s Café. The seminar featured a panel discussion and Q&A with Kimberly Bless, CEO/President – Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Karin Jones, Board President – Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin, and Sharon Bush, Elgin Program Director and Senior Program Officer – Grand Victoria Foundation, and concluded with a dynamic presentation about developing board leadership and chemistry by Denise Baretto – Managing Partner of Relationships Matter Now.
- For the third straight year, EYPN organized a series of Cash Mobs to support Elgin area businesses and promote buying local. Much like a Flash Mob, a Cash Mob is where shoppers are invited to show up all at once to “mob” a local business on a set date and time to shop, socialize and spend a minimum of $20 per person. Participants are also encouraged beforehand to spread the word to their spheres of influence thru their social media channels and word-of-mouth to effectively deliver one huge day of sales to these local businesses. This year more than 60 cash mobsters shopped Herb’s Bakery in June and the Tinsel Holiday Pop-Up Shop in downtown Elgin in December.
- As part of EYPN’s community service mantra, several EYPN members worked with the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin to serve as volunteer judges at events such as the City of Elgin 4th of July Parade and Downtown Elgin Window Wonderland.
- In July, EYPN painted the town “RAW” with rhythms, art and wine at our first ever RAW Night at Ola la Ijorere. More than 20 EYPN members came out to enjoy an evening of painting, networking and good times while supporting a burgeoning local arts business in downtown Elgin.
- In November, EYPN members participated in and served as an event sponsor of the Annual Elgin Youth Scholarship Challenge at The Centre of Elgin. After a competitive series of physical and mental challenges and events Team EYPN took Second Place overall. Thanks to participants Kari Christensen, Mary Kay Frankel, Becky Hardekopf, Barb Keselica, Elissa Kojzarek, Elaina McCalmont, Chad Meyers, Krisilee Murphy, Mike Murphy, Jason Pawlowski, Christina Pearson and Shalina Wozny.
- For the second straight year, EYPN members helped organize the Elgin Home for the Holidays program. This year’s initiative united 23 Elgin area not-for-profit organizations in collaborative promotion of nearly 50 of our non-profit community’s holiday events to help brand Elgin as a destination for holiday tourism. The Home for the Holidays Kick-Off event at Gail Borden Public Library on November 8 drew more than 2,300 people and featured horse-drawn carriage rides, non-profit expo, bi-lingual reading activity with Mrs. Claus sponsored by United Way of Elgin, holiday photo booth manned by the Elgin 360 Photography Club, and musical performances by Elgin Children’s Chorus, Elgin Master Chorale, Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra and Heartland Voices. A huge thank you goes out to our Elgin Home for the Holidays co-chairs, Elaina McCalmont and Brittany Mitchell, as well as our Kick-Off Chair and board member liaison Stacy Michel for all of their efforts in pulling together this year’s program.
How can we top 2014? Join EYPN in 2015 to find out.