The Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance is attempting to cater to young professionals with its Ascend of Williamsburg initiative.
“We hear from businesses all the time about wanting to keep young professionals in the area,” said Tiffany Phillips, the chamber’s director of membership. “Every organization is looking for the future of their business. Our chamber is getting older, it’s our 80th year and we want to get our younger professionals involved and other businesses need to as well.”
Joanna Skrabala, the chamber’s associate director of digital marketing and Kayla Kearse, the chamber’s public relations specialist, spearhead the Ascend of Williamsburg program, which has already hosted three meetups.
“Apparently there’s a need, a want and a desire for young people to participate,” Skrabala said. “We just want to engage people, there isn’t a fee.”
Kearse said attendance for the meetups range from 60 to over 100 people. Ascend of Williamsburg is targeted toward 21 year olds to 39 year olds.
Skrabala and Phillips were both born and raised in Williamsburg and want to dispel the notion that the city is only the home to William and Mary and various retirement communities.
“These are going to be your committee chairs, your city council members, your board of supervisors, people actively involved in nonprofits and people that run your community.”
The group’s mission is to connect, develop, and empower young professionals by providing them a voice in the community and opportunities for networking as well as personal and professional growth, according to the Ascend of Williamsburg webpage.
Young professionals will take a behind the scenes tour of the brewery and then have a chance to meet with the plant manager and brewmaster.
Ascend of Williamsburg not only has educational opportunities, but also provides leadership training, volunteer opportunities and networking through monthly socials.
Organizers of the program say they hope it will serve as a breeding ground for tomorrow’s leaders.
“These our our future business leaders, these are going to be your committee chairs, your city council members, your board of supervisors, people actively involved in nonprofits and people that run your community,” Phillips said.
City councilman Benny Zhang, who himself is a young professional and is currently in law school at William and Mary, sees Ascend of Williamsburg as much needed.
“I commend the Chamber for their leadership in providing a working group for young professionals to contribute their ideas to enhancing the vibrancy of our city and region,” Zhang said.