ENID, Okla. – Several years ago, Ali Kirtley was looking for a way to connect with people in the Enid community and make new friends.
Kirtley, marketing manager at PT, begged her brother Braxton to come with her to an Enid Young Professionals event because she was “so scared to meet new people”.
As soon as they walked in, Kirtley said he felt like almost everyone knew Braxton, and that it was “the perfect icebreaker” for her.
Soon enough, Kirtley connected with the other EYP members.
“It was nice to be around other young professionals who really strive to do their best in their jobs…and who want to grow,” said Kirtley, who is now chairman of the board of directors of the EYP, Communications Chair and Co-Chair of 10
try new things
EYP is an organization founded in 2010 with a mission to attract and retain young professionals to Enid and foster the next generation of leaders for the community.
Since then, Kirtley said EYP has grown into an organization that continues to offer advice and support to young professionals and officially recognize Enid’s “young and innovative talent”.
The biggest goal, Kirtley said, is retention.
“We believe that if you connect with the community you’re in, you’ll stay there longer and do more things in the long run,” Kirtley said.
Including Kirtley, there are nine EYP board members who meet once a month and are required to attend all of the various EYP events, all of which are open to the public.
Six “Lunch and Learn” events take place on the fourth Thursday of February, March, April, September, October and December. Local speakers present a variety of topics to those in attendance. The next one is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. on April 28, 2022, at the Autry Technology Center, and the guest speaker will be Tony Zakuti, owner of LandRun Steakhouse and Italian restaurant in Napoli. To RSVP, send an email to [email protected]
Kirtley said these events focus on leadership, business and personal growth.
“Really, anything that gets people out of their comfort zone and makes them want to try new things,” she said.
Another monthly event organized by EYP is “Network @ Nite”. These “casual networking” events with other young professionals and community members usually take place on the third Thursday of each month. No RSVP is required.
“I think my favorite part of ‘Network @ Nite’ events is when I see someone make a connection and hear about a new job, a new position or even a new committee looking for another board member,” Kirtley said.
The EYP holds an annual ceremony, awarding two sets of awards: 10
“These awards are probably the most official way EYP gives back to the community,” Kirtley said.
Kirtley said the 2022 awards ceremony is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 30. For more information on the awards, go to www.enidyp.com/annual-awards.html.
Last year, EYP tested the waters on its first volunteer project with former president and nominating committee chair Andersen Hubbard. EYP partnered with the Community Development Support Association’s YouthBuild program, and EYP board members pitched their chosen topics to students over a 10-week period.
“It was really, really exciting to be in front of a group of students who were excited to see where they could take their lives,” Kirtley said. “We really liked the ‘personal development’ aspect of this partnership.”
All of these events, especially the ‘Lunch and Learn’ and ‘[email protected]’, provide informal and nonchalant ways to connect with the Enid community and connect with other young professionals and are ‘great icebreakers to learn more about the quality of life at Enid, Kirtley said.
Often people think the EYP is only for young adults, Kirtley said.
“There’s this misconception that if you’re not 22 you can’t come to our events,” she said. “That’s not true at all.”
Anyone under 40 looking to make a new connection and get involved in the Enid community is EYP’s target market, Kirtley said.
Another objective of the EYP is to grow its membership base. Kirtley said some of the key benefits of being an EYP member include employment opportunities, mentoring opportunities, professional development, networking, making friends and increasing participation in community service.
There is no cost to become a member of EYP, and anyone who attends an EYP event is considered a member. There is also no attendance policy for any of the events.
“We really do offer a lot of free community resources and just a lot of these door-to-door opportunities,” Kirtley said. “If I could promote and push Enid Young Professionals to that person who wants to meet someone new but doesn’t know how, we’re perfect for you.”
For more information about EYP, visit www.enidyp.com, follow EYP on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn or email [email protected] Kirtley said all of the board members are also good sources of information.