In 2014, Cascade Engineering hosted and presented the third annual Young Professionals of Color Conference on August 7 at Amway. Special thanks and acknowledgement goes to our Exclusive Platinum Sponsor, Amway and our Exclusive Young Professionals Partner BL²END, Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions for their commitment to this conference and their commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive community.
Over 100 young professionals of color from the West Michigan area participated in the conference under the theme, “Bridging the gap: Understanding Yourself, Your Company and Your Community." The conference kicked-off with Maggie Anderson, CEO and Founder of The Empowerment Experiment and author of Our Black Year chronicling her family’s year-long struggle to use their buying power to counter the social and economic crises that disproportionately damage communities of color. Anderson discussed how this generation of young professionals of color are game changers. She inspired young professionals to bridge the gaps in their company, community and their own self to shape the world they live in. She charged each individual to be the change agent and encouraged young professionals to connect their passion and talents with community to create a diverse and inclusive city where they could be successful.
Attendees then participated in breakout sessions of their choice with local community leaders including:
Tracey Brame - Dean of Students, Cooley Law School
Kenyatta Brame - Executive Vice President, Cascade Engineering
Senita Lenear - Third Ward Commissioner, City of Grand Rapids
Andre Perry - Founding Dean of Urban Education, Davenport University
These dynamic leaders shared their perspectives and led discussions in the areas of bringing about effective community change, navigating company culture, and how awareness of the differences between us can enable us to support each other in achieving our personal and professional goals.
Break-out 1: You Are the Catalyst for Change- Grand Rapids Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear
The objective of this session is to help YPCs understand that their voice in arenas of change are necessary. The importance of having a stake in our community can dynamically change the environment and impact the careers of young professionals.
Break-out 2: Know Your Role: Gender and Race in the Workplace- Kenyatta and Tracey Brame- Executive Vice President, Cascade Engineering; Dean of Students, Cooley Law School
The objective of this session is to understand and discuss the role gender plays in the personal and professional lives of people of color. This unique conversation will touch on how gender and race intersect and impact the decisions young professionals make in their careers.
Break-out 3: Corporate Culture: The Rules You Aren’t Told in Orientation- Dr. Andre Perry, Founder and Dean of Urban Education, Davenport University
The objective of this session is to help YPCs understand how to successfully engage in their company culture. Topics will include, the art of negotiation, understanding your value to your company and understanding and acknowledging institutionalized racism.