Monday, April 15, 2024

Here’s a local merger that might shape the future of business in the area

Members of the groups Young Emerging Professionals and ASCEND, will merge starting in March to form the new group, ASPIRE. (WYDaily/Courtesy Carter Johnson)
Members of the groups Young Emerging Professionals and ASCEND, will merge starting in March to form the new group, ASPIRE. (WYDaily/Courtesy Carter Johnson)

Young professionals in Williamsburg now have even more opportunity to expand networks and skills with a new merger between two groups in the area.

Starting on March 1, ASCEND and Young Emerging Professionals will come together to form ASPIRE, according to a news release from the city.

“I have been a part of YEP for five years and I know I can speak for the rest of the board when I say supporting and bringing together young professionals is a paramount and a true passion for everyone involved,” said former YEP President Elisa Hernandez.

Previously the 80 members of YEP and the 180 members of ASCEND participated in separate events and operated independently.

While both groups were aimed at the advancement of career-minded emerging adults in Greater Williamsburg, Carter Johnson, social media and web design manager for Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, said the biggest difference between the groups was that YEP was able to hold networking events for profit, while ASCEND was a 501c3 nonprofit.

The new group, ASPIRE, will be a nonprofit and will host a number of philanthropy and networking events.

Johnson said ASCEND was started about a year ago by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance as a way to reach a major demographic of young people. Now, by merging the two groups, the umbrella of young professionals has expanded to create even more opportunities.

“We want our membership to be actively involved with us,” Johnson said. “They’ll be the future of businesses in Greater Williamsburg, and we want to do our part in helping connect them with the resources to be successful.”

The goal of the new group is to offer:

  • Leadership training
  • Educational opportunities
  • Networking and socials
  • Volunteer opportunities

Additionally, the merger will allow the new group to become an official committee of the Greater Williamsburg Business Council.

Johnson said some of the participants had already been members of the council prior to the merger but this next step will help the group go even further.

The purpose of the new position, according to the City of Williamsburg’s website, is to allow members of the group to have access to community leaders who make daily decisions.

In addition, members will be represented when making decisions on the Chamber’s legislative agenda.

“We wanted to give young professionals a voice in the landscape of Greater Williamsburg business,” Johnson said. “To connect them with the power players in the area so they can grow professionally and have an influence in the community they live and work in.”

To join the group, applications can be submitted online. Applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 39 to join.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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