On Oct. 13, the Detroit Young Professionals held its 6th annual Vanguard Awards: Leaders in Motion at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. The class of 2016 recipients is comprised of emerging leaders in the metro Detroit area. These leaders impact the community in a positive way, are dedicated, pave ways for other entrepreneurs and professionals, and are passionate about their careers as well as revitalizing the city.
The Awards opened with a panel discussion from former Vanguard recipients. Serving as mistress of ceremonies was Tati Amare, co-host of WDIV-TV’s “Live in the D.” The panel included Jesse Cory, CEO of 1xRun, LLC and partner at Inner State Gallery; Marlowe Stoudemire, owner and chief engagement strategist of the Butterfly Effect Detroit, and founder of Mash Detroit; Rian English Barnhill, executive director of communications at the Educational Achievement Authority of Michigan; and Stephanie Chang, state representative for House District 6. The panelists discussed the progression of their careers over the years, the importance of leadership, and how to put leadership in motion. Dinner was served with the musical accompaniment of Jukeboxx, a local band that has been making their mark on the city of Detroit. Fifteen individuals received an award that night and the night ended with a sincere speech from the DYP president, Karissa Holmes as she passed the baton to the incoming president, Whitney Griffin.
Rolling out was able to sit and chat with the organization’s president, Karissa Holmes.
What is the Detroit Young Professionals?
The DYP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission of helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in metro Detroit grow professionally, network with each other, and give back to the community.
How did you become a part of the DYP?
I became a part of the organization when my good friend Eddie Lee founded the organization back in 2007 and he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He saw someone who had the ability to lead and with his guidance I came into the organization and ultimately became the president and the chair and I’ve been leading for the past three years.
What types of events does the DYP have in Detroit?
Our events are focused around our three main goals which are growing, connecting, and giving back. For our grow events we do book clubs and public speaking events where we try to pull in experts to teach us how to live better ways. For our connect events, we throw events like tonight to connect and network. At DYP the relationships become more organic and it’s not intimidating. People are really learning about each other. We have open houses two times a year and we also have small networking opportunities for members only. Lastly, we give back to the community. Detroit is an awesome place, but we have so many issues and we have the skills and resources to help affect change for those. So this year we ran a month long campaign around homelessness and we collect bags, purses, and toiletries, and we will be donating those to Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
How do you find the recipients for the Vanguard Awards?
We send out an APB early in the year that’s open for about two months. We reach out to our past Vanguard Awardees and partners to see if they know any young professionals who aren’t only excelling in their career, but making an impact on the Metro-Detroit community; we want you to nominate them for the award. We receive hundreds of nominations and we have to condense those down. We argue and we have people we’re passionate about and it makes for a good time, but ultimately we come up with 15 people we’re going to recognize. The awardees aren’t necessarily all DYP members, but people in the community that have been nominated for the work that they are doing.
How many hours do you work a day wearing all the hats that you do?
My work meter is off the chain. I am an attorney, I lead DYP and I have a small business called Out of D Box. I’m a part of many other organizations as well. I also am in school getting my MBA so I spend a lot of time working and this is my season. This is my season to grow and even though I might not get to sleep as much or hang out or even feel overwhelmed at times, I know it’s going to pay off.
What are your long-term career goals?
My long-term career goal is in philanthropy. I get excited about helping organizations help others. I want to help other businesses like I helped the DYP; help optimize their processes, help exploit their strengths, help get rid of programming that may not be working the best so they can be the most effective. I would love to do that for corporation and non-profits.
What advice do you have for the woman who works hard and sometimes wants to quit because it gets overwhelming?
Go find a corner, cry about it for five minutes, and get back to it. Time moves so fast regardless of what you’re doing to either you’re making the most of your time or you’re wasting your time. It’s hard but it’s okay; it’s okay to feel overwhelmed but you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and know your angle. For me being able to see what I’m doing in the end helps me move in the right direction. Persevere because your future self will thank you.
Photo credit: Alana Walker