December 9, 2016


A Seat at the Table

Charlotte Crane | 9/1/2007
Ashley Hodge, a member of the Pensacola Young Professionals, rather likes the way a newspaper reporter last year characterized the group: “Rotary on Red Bull.’’ Since its March 2006 startup, the organization for 20- to 39-year-olds has grown to more than 200 members and immersed itself in community and political issues. Top among its goals is to help the area attract and retain young professionals and create better job opportunities.

“We’re not the silver bullet. We’re still learning. We don’t have all the answers; we have enough humility to ask,’’ says Ashley Hodge, a Pensacola Young Professionals member. [Photo: Ray Stanyard]

“We’re bringing new blood to the table,’’ says founding Chairman John Hosman, 29, a mortgage consultant with O’Sullivan Creel Mortgage Solutions.

The seeds for forming PYP began germinating two years ago when the Independent News weekly and the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce decided to assemble a 10-member focus group. This summer, PYP teamed with the University of West Florida to launch an internship program. It marked a UWF first in incorporating a professional development seminar. “We went with their momentum,’’ says Nathan Ford, assistant director of UWF Office of Career Services.

PYP members volunteered last spring with United Way’s Financial Literacy initiative, helping 35 low-income residents retrieve $73,811 in income tax refunds. The group also campaigned in favor of the Community Maritime Park in last fall’s referendum, with some observers saying a sizable uptick of voters ages 18 to 40 contributed to approval.

“We’re finding out what the community needs are,’’ says Hodge, 27, a public relations specialist for Baptist Health Care. “Lots of times it takes years to be asked to have a seat at the table. We don’t want to wait.’’

Tags: Northwest

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