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Bridging the gap

Too often I get asked who are the next group of leaders in Des Moines? Who is working to make sure Des Moines stays at the top of Forbes rankings?

There are countless networking events and conferences around the city and state. However, what there aren’t enough of are cross-generational opportunities. To be honest I think there are a lot of young professionals in Des Moines trying to step up and take the reins. But how often are they put in front of the current leadership?

I have had the opportunities to attend various events and sit on leadership boards. By now I can just about tell you what the demographic will be for most events. And it isn’t a wide range. Too often I am in a room where 90 percent of the attendees might be mistaken for my parents. Too often I am in a room where 90 percent of the people are within a few years of my age.

Did you know that Iowa has a statewide YPIowa Conference every year to help YPs stay on the path to success through leadership, professional development and social skill building? Each year a different YP organization from around our great state gets to host the conference as an opportunity to showcase their region and organization as well as to gain the experience in putting on such an event.

This Friday the Sioux City Growth Organization (SCGO) will host the 2011 YPIowa Conference in an effort to help put young professionals on the “Fast Tract to Success!”

For those needing more of a background, YPIowa is an organization focused on helping young professionals around the state grow their communities to help ensure long-term success in Iowa. There is no organizational structure. For example the SCGO is not a “chapter” of YPIowa. However, YPIowa does host events to help the YP organizations from around the state come together to share ideas and opportunities.

Our neighbors to the West in Omaha host an annual Omaha YP Summit, which is one of the largest YP conferences in the country. Now the YPIowa Conference is not on that level yet, but it continues to grow across the state and attract more attention every September.

So why is this conference important to the state of Iowa and what makes it deserving of more attention?

Because the YPIowa Conference is about finding the next group of young leaders. This week attendees of the Sioux City hosted event will attend breakout sessions focused around professional development, personal growth and young professionals. Teachers and mentors from those already considered a thought leader on their particular topic will educate and converse with professionals to help advance them towards their career and life goals.

If you live in Iowa and are still looking for those breakthrough opportunities, are you attending? Current leaders wondering who is going to keep Iowa on top, are you attending?

In Iowa let’s do more to put the next generation of leaders in front of the current mentors. Let’s rid ourselves of the perception that young professionals aren’t ready to look for a chance to step up or that leaders don’t have time to share with the next generation.

The opportunities are available. It’s what we do with them that counts.

- Jason Wells

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