By Kimberley Rupe
This time of year, it seems as though many organizations take a look back at the past year and all they have accomplished. Reflecting on the past year probably brings up similar themes for many organizations across our region, given the various challenges the world has presented us this past year and a half.
Prior to the start of my venture as president for Rutland Young Professionals, I would have never guessed that 10 out of my 12 board meetings would have been conducted over Zoom, along with all other aspects of our programming.
While this past year wasn’t at all how I envisioned it, I am so incredibly proud of the nine other leaders that represent our organization on our board of directors. This group led this organization through a year like no other, but most importantly, continued to be there for one another and other members of their communities across Rutland County.
Since the start of the pandemic, RYP has continued to provide professional development and networking opportunities for young professionals throughout our region in a virtual setting with topics and activities including financial planning, career advice, and one of my personal favorites, an online cooking class hosted by RYP member Candice Britt. Across all demographics, we’ve seen the struggles individuals have faced physically and emotionally by not being able to see one another. While our programs certainly looked a little different this year, it was heartwarming to be able to offer even a small sense of networking to our young professionals during what was probably one of the most difficult years any of us ever experienced.
Most recently, RYP was also able to offer the first ever RYP Futures Scholarship, awarded to two local high school seniors who are pursuing their post-secondary education within Vermont. RYP fully recognizes the need to engage with our local students who are the future leaders of our community and reassure them that opportunities exist here and that they can build a life they love right here. Our board of directors was honored to be able to support these students in their pursuit of higher education and look forward to continuing this scholarship in the years to come.
I was proud of our organization for altering our programming to adapt to the current needs. I was proud of our new Futures Scholarship. I was incredibly proud of our board of directors for guiding us through a challenging year. However, as president, what I was most proud of was our statement and the actions that followed regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
This past September, our board of directors made the decision to share our thoughts on these issues with our broader community. RYP focuses on creating a vibrant Rutland Region, engaging with our community, creating social and professional networking opportunities, and working to build a region that attracts and retains young professionals – young professionals of different races, ethnicities, genders, religions, sexual orientations, political affiliations, and more.
Since our founding in 2013, we’ve stood tall on the foundation our founding members laid for us and were proud to take actionable steps to make our community a more welcoming place for all young professionals. Specifically, we have formed a diversity committee to explore future initiatives and events, and I’m looking forward to seeing the amazing work this committee will bring to life in the coming months.
RYP has been an instrumental part of my life for the past several years. Throughout this time, I’ve met some wonderful friends, grown my career, and felt as though our organization was making a positive change in our community.
Stepping into this role as board president, I knew I had some big shoes to fill from our past presidents: Laura Galster, Steve Peters, Will Gormly, Sara Gilbert, and Katye Munger. I will be forever grateful for their hard work and dedication which allowed us to accomplish all that we have this past year, despite the pandemic.
While my time as president of RYP is coming to an end, I’m looking forward to seeing the work that this amazing group will continue to do. The board of directors for the coming year is filled with individuals who have diverse backgrounds and amazing work ethics, and a president who will lead them to continued greatness. Rutland County is incredibly lucky to have such a strong network of young professionals helping lead to positive change throughout the region.
I share my thanks to all who have made this past year (and all the years prior) so amazing and memorable.
As I finish up my time as what started as a committee volunteer and ended in a presidency role and prepare to and pass over the reins to a dear friend and incoming president, Elicia Pinsonault, I can’t help but wonder where my career might have ended up without RYP. Luckily, I never had to find out.
Kimberley Rupe is the communications & community engagement director at Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region and also the outgoing president for Rutland Young Professionals.