By Kimberly Rupe
Rutland Young Professionals’ mission statement, in part, highlights our work to “build a Rutland Region that attracts and retains young professionals.” We continue to do exactly this through new and creative ways to engage young professionals in our community. However, we know that engaging with young professionals goes far beyond providing our signature networking opportunities.
The Rutland Region continues to build its demographics of young professionals, and each of them is doing amazing things for this community. Far too often, they go unrecognized for their hard work and dedication. The young professionals in this community chose this region as a place to call home, a place to build their career, and chose this community as the one to make their mark. Businesses chose this region to break ground in, invest their savings, and to hire our pool of talented individuals — including many young professionals.
Since 2017 when we held our first annual gala — and each year since — we’ve honored individuals and businesses for their accomplishments within this community, either as a young professional or as a business actively supporting RYP and/or their own internal young professionals.
Due to the pandemic, we changed up our timeline for selecting the Young Professional of the Year and Business of the Year, but I promise you, it was worth the wait. Our board of directors is proud to announce GE Aviation as our Business of the Year and Janelle Howard as our Young Professional of the Year.
It came as no surprise when our board of directors unanimously agreed to select GE Aviation as Rutland Young Professionals’ Business of the Year. GE Aviation continues to be an incredible economic driver for the Rutland Region as one of our largest employers. The company actively engages with our community in a variety of different ways. GE Aviation also has its own internal young professionals group to inspire and encourage growth within the business and to provide networking opportunities. GE Aviation is an RYP sponsor, and we’ve been fortunate to have it host several mixes in the past, bringing in new energy, professional networking, and passion each time.
Our Young Professional of the Year award is determined through open nominations with a final vote from our board of directors. This year, we received several nominations with one nominee standing out. That person is Janelle Howard. Janelle owns Amber Sprott Boutique in Downtown Rutland, serves on the board of directors for Downtown Rutland Partnership, is a pageant consultant for women across New England, and is an active member of RYP. When Janelle opened her boutique in 2018, she dove headfirst into community involvement and began partnering with RYP for our annual fashion show, as well as offering discounts for dresses for our gala.
Recognizing young professionals and businesses that promote their young professionals within their day-to-day operations doesn’t happen nearly enough. We as a community need to continue to lift one another up, share each other’s successes, and encourage others to become more involved. Giving back to your community and doing good is contagious. I know this because it happened to me when I was working towards my bachelor’s degree at College of St. Joseph and was encouraged to join RYP. Five years later, I’ve grown both personally and professionally in ways I have a hard time describing. It’s all thanks to a nudge of encouragement by a former RYP board member and finding myself in awe of other young professionals in our community who are sharing their passion, drive, and commitment to help make the Rutland Region an even better place to live, work, and play.
I hope you’ll join me in celebrating young professionals and the local businesses who so frequently give back to their communities by recognizing the value of young professionals and their dedication to our community, their careers, and their drive to give back.
Congratulations to Janelle Howard of Amber Sprott Boutique and GE Aviation! We see you. We value you. We need you.
Kimberley Rupe is president of Rutland Young Professionals and the communications and community engagement director at Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region.