The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce will recognize its first class of Outstanding Young Professionals at a member luncheon later this month.
The luncheon will take place Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the lower level of the Washington Knights of Columbus Hall.
“Thirteen young professionals, nominated by their business, another professional or volunteer organization, will be honored,” said Jennifer Giesike, Chamber president.
The Outstanding Young Professional Award is being sponsored in cooperation with The Missourian.
“The award and the luncheon are both new for the Chamber,” Giesike said. “It’s a program we hope to build on and next year we plan to award four additional business awards which we will talk more about at this year’s luncheon.”
The Chamber will continue to hold its annual breakfast business meeting in November and the dinner banquet in March.
“We’ve talked about doing something new for our members for a while, but we didn’t want to take anything away from the other two events,” Giesike said. “It’s through my involvement with International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), where I served on the board and chaired a young professionals group for the organization, that I came up with the idea to recognize our young professionals.”
Prior to being named Chamber president this past December, Giesike had served as Washington Fair coordinator since 2000 and continues in that role today. The Fair is a division of the Chamber.
A total of 13 professionals were nominated for the Outstanding Young Professional Award and Giesike said the committee decided to recognize all 13 to tie in with the year 2013.
“Going forward we may do it a little differently, but will keep it a class of professionals, not just one,” she said.
This year’s honorees are as follows:
Class of 2013
Becky Buhr — Bank of Franklin County.
Becky Cox — Four Rivers Family YMCA.
Bridgette Epple — Downtown Washington Inc.
Danielle Grotewiel — Downtown Washington Inc.
Jamie James — Exceptional Equestrians.
Michelle Leesmann — Cornerstone Mortgage.
Jay Nowak — Bank of Washington.
Kelly O’Connell — Cornerstone Mortgage.
Kevin A. Richardson — Zick, Voss, Politte, & Richardson, P.C.
Anne Schneider — Four Rivers Family YMCA.
Dr. Melissa Smith — Washington Square Dental.
Jason Unnerstall — Edward Jones.
Ben Ziglin — Ziglin Signs.
The award recipients will be featured in a special insert in the Wednesday, Sept. 25, issue of The Missourian.
New Generation Of Leaders
Gieiske said she learned the value of networking as a young professional first-hand while attending the IAFE conventions, but also the difficulty of meeting the more experienced professionals. She hopes this new award program will be a first step in bridging that gap and also get more younger professionals involved with the Chamber and its many programs and events.
“The IAFE presented a rising star for those under 40 and I was the first recipient,” she said. “I was so honored and it was really neat to be recognized for my professional efforts. When I became Chamber president it was something I wanted to start here.
“We have so many young professionals doing great things right here and we want to make sure the community knows that — we’re excited to recognize this up-and-coming generation of area leaders,” she added.
Giesike said about half of this year’s honorees are members of the Chamber’s newly formed Young Professionals Group and she hopes the others being recognized will join as well. The group currently has about 40 members.
Nominees for the award had to be an employee of a company or organization which holds a membership with the Washington Chamber and 40 years or younger as of Jan. 1, 2013.
Businesses, groups or individuals who nominate someone were required to fill out a form explaining how the nominee has gone above and beyond the call of duty for his or her employment position and what sets the nominee apart from other young professionals.
Examples of how the nominee has made a positive impact in their employment position were required, as well as what participation, involvement or leadership roles has the nominee held in their community.
The nomination applications were judged by a committee with three Chamber members and two from The Missourian.
Tickets are on sale for the luncheon. The cost is $12 per person. Reservations are due by this Friday and can be made by calling 636-239-2715, extension 106, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.