Cascade Engineering hosted a one-day professional development conference for young professionals of color in West Michigan on Wednesday August 2, 2017. Last year, the conference convened over 150 young professionals of color at Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This year, we were happy to have Spectrum Health as the Platinum Sponsor and BL²END (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions), returning as the Exclusive Young Professionals Partner whose mission directly aligns with the purpose and intent of this conference.
The 2017 conference theme was Shifting the Norm: Using Your Talents and Innovation. We focused on how young professionals of color can innovate personally and professionally to leverage their talents and claim their space in the shifting culture of work. Kathryn Finney, a tech entrepreneur, social media visionary, “women in” advocate, investor, writer and television correspondent, keynoted the conference inspiring young professionals to use their talents and innovation to break through barriers for personal and professional impact.
Participants in this session will hear about Sammy's experience of turning his passion into a business model for equity and understanding in organizations. Sammy will discuss how to use asset based communications and listening to ensure you are differentiated leader in your workplace or community.
Participants in this session will hear from Daniel, an experienced leader in Information Systems at Spectrum Health, discuss how tech continues to change the way we work based on his lived experiences. The session will also focus on how young professionals of color can leverage tech as part of their career path even if not a tech professional.
Participants in this session will hear from experienced economic development leaders about their work co-building a system that breaks from historical disparities in entrepreneurship and supports all business owners. Darel and Jorge will also cover the physical, social, financial and intellectual infrastructure it takes to successfully launch a business.
Mentorship is critical to success in any career field. Kisha will discuss how to maximize mentoring relationships and also discuss the differences between mentors, coaches, and sponsors.
Quantitative data alone can’t tell the story of conditions in our community nor their root causes. Data does not break the cycle of inequity, and data is not the solution; it is a means through which we can accurately diagnose and develop solutions. Garnering qualitative data from women of color must be used to inform conversations, agendas, solutions, and movements towards racial equity and inclusion in West Michigan. This interactive session will engage men and women in dialogue, storytelling, and connected conversation using recent scholarship from the ‘Invisible Walls, Ceilings, and Floors’ study.
Joe Jones - President/CEO, Grand Rapids Urban League & 2nd Ward City Commisioner, City of Grand Rapids
Arelis Diaz - Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Alvin Hills & Jonathan Jelks - Co-Founders, Midwest Tech Project
Megan Sall - Moderator - Assistant City Manager, City of Wyoming
During this panel discussion, participants will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of community leaders and experts in education, philanthropy, business and civil service about the importance of giving back, building talent and the benefits of networking within the community.