Since Rochester Young Professionals’ inception in 2003, the organization has connected thousands of YPs in the area.
RYP hosts local events for members centered on relaying information, socializing and/or volunteering. Through social events, professional development, community development, volunteering and sports and outdoor recreation, RYP serves to help young adults network and strengthen their leadership skills as they embark on their budding careers.
The nonprofit recently underwent a shift in leadership with Andrew Brady, president and CEO of XLR8 Team Inc., stepping into the role of president. Brady takes over the presidency from former co-presidents Erin Burd and Pauleen Vacca. Brady has set his sights on expanding RYP’s breadth to reach even more young professionals in the region, as well as conveying to the community how YPs are making a difference and shaping Rochester’s future.
Brady recently spoke with the Rochester Business Journal about RYP and his goals as president.
Rochester Business Journal: Tell me about the recent presidential transition at Rochester Young Professionals.
Andrew Brady: Based on the nature of the many life transitions for the young professional demographic, it can be tough to keep consistency on the RYP board. Job relocations, grad school, promotions, marriages, parenthood and other life circumstances can create turnover even among the most passionate and committed board members. Last summer, our co-presidents (Erin Burd and Pauleen Vacca) found themselves in these types of situations. They felt that in my then-role as RYP’s VP of marketing & partnerships and with involvement in other organizations, that I had been building the types of relationships in the community that made me well-positioned to become the next president.
How long have you been a member of RYP? What positions did you hold in the organization previously?
I joined RYP when I moved back to Rochester in 2012. Then when the organization started expanding the scope of their mission to include more volunteering, community development and professional development events, I was inspired to get more involved and joined the board. I started as the co-chair of professional development from 2014-2015, then as VP of marketing & partnerships from 2015-2017 and now as president.
How many members does RYP have currently?
RYP has over 7,000 members with varying degrees of involvement. Each of our divisions (volunteering, community development, professional development, social, outdoor recreation) typically holds one event each month plus a larger annual event like our annual Entrepreneurs Expo, Board & Volunteering Expo and Gala.
What are your short-term and long-term goals as president of RYP?
Our short-term goals are all about being more member-focused: both to attract new members and to find new ways to engage our current members. We created a VP of membership position (held by Maryellen Dance) and have started conducting periodic membership events to introduce new members to everything that RYP has to offer and also to get feedback on what types of new events and initiatives members would like to see from us moving forward. Additionally, we’re trying to find ways to use our platform to tell more stories about young professionals doing great work in the community.
The longer-term aspiration is to be the catalyst for meaningful, lasting connections among our members that will be beneficial both to them individually and to Rochester as a whole. Although many of our members may first experience RYP at a Social, we also aim to create opportunities that encourage them to find ways to get involved in having a positive impact on the community. Both through the connections that they make and the ways that they get involved, we seek to strengthen their ties to Rochester and make them as passionate about it as we are. Years from now, we hope that the influential community members shaping the future of Rochester will have built the foundations of their careers with connections made and passions discovered through RYP.
Do you have any examples of events or initiatives you hope to implement?
In addition to our new member events, we’re working on finding ways to tell stories of the young professionals having a positive impact on our community. We’ve started posting interviews to our blog and are exploring a podcast as well.
To help our members get more involved, we partnered with the RocCity Coalition, the United Way’s Emerging Leaders and the Community Foundation’s NextGen Giving Circle to put on a #Work4Roc Expo for nonprofit organizations looking for young professional board members and/or volunteers. There are typically more than 100 organizations in attendance and several hundred young professionals attend that are eager to find ways to get involved in the community. Too often we hear members say that they’d like to get involved but that they aren’t sure where to start. You’ll never find a better opportunity to connect with so many organizations in a single night and all under one roof. This fall will be our third annual Expo and it continues to grow, so the question is “How will YOU #Work4ROC?!?”
What are some areas where you think RYP can improve?
If we’re truly going to be a catalyst for the connections that will help to shape the future of Rochester, we need to make sure that everyone in Rochester is involved. Having events that are more inclusive to all of Rochester starts with having a board that reflects the diversity of Rochester. So as we fill board seats now and in the future, we’re being intentional about what viewpoints aren’t currently at the table. We’re also hoping to partner on more events with other groups around the city so that members can meet more YPs outside their typical circles.
What sort of insight did you gain from observing Erin and Pauleen’s co-presidency? In other words, what valuable lessons did you learn from them that will help you as you navigate the presidency?
Pauleen and Erin focused on building camaraderie among the board members. Moving forward, I hope to build on the great foundation that they set. Especially as we bring on new board members, it will be important not only to onboard them but to help them get integrated with other board members so that we can continue to be a high performing team.
Tell me about your leadership style and what will make you a successful leader.
With so much development going on downtown, Rochester is evolving before our eyes. Decisions are being made right now that will echo for generations to come. By being collaborative and focusing on building partnerships, I hope that I can create opportunities for members to participate in co-authoring that future. It’s inspiring to have the chance to meet young, passionate Rochesterians every single day. I hope that RYP can help them to thrive and harness their energy to help create a thriving city.a