By Alta LeCompte
Las Cruces Bulletin
With nothing but eblasts and Facebook to herald a social event, 80 of the community’s next generation of movers and shakers got the word and showed up to mix and mingle Sept. 6 in the courtyard of M FIVE.
The occasion was the initial get-together of the Las Cruces Young Professionals (LCYP), a group coming together as a result of the organizing efforts of Troy Tudor of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, with George Vescovo of Vescovo Toyota.
An unexpected shower sent attendees running for cover inside the trendy venue, leaving behind only a banner that announced their reason for gathering: “Connect. Develop. Impact.”
For some, including board member Kayla Jones, the LCYP offers a new experience.
“I’m super excited,” said Jones, the office manager for the Hester Group, an Allstate Agency. “I’ve never been involved in anything like this.”
For Vescovo, the group is reminiscent of organizations where he made a mark in Arizona.
When Vescovo approached Tudor, vice president of the Greater Chamber, he learned Tudor was making plans to launch a networking and mentoring group for up-and-coming Las Cruces business and professional leaders.
Tudor said 40 to 50 similar groups havebeen established across the country.
“All organizations are on the decline, and one of the things we were looking at was where we would get the next generation of civic and business leaders,” Tudor said. “Part of our goal is to encourage those professionals to stay here and grow businesses in our community, tomake it less of a draw to leave.
“Young Professionals recognizes a lot of them are working with limited resources as they begin their careers, so we are offering a two for one chamber and Young Professionals membership,” he said.
LCYP, chaired by Vescovo and Marci Dickerson of the Dickerson Group, will combine business learning with pleasure.
“I interviewed about 50 young people in our community,” Tudor said. “Many wanted career development.”
Learning from leaders
Outreach chair Hilda Brenegar said starting Friday, Oct. 4, each meeting will feature a mixand- mingle time and a talk by a successful, more senior Las Crucen. Rick Nesser, marketing director for Sisbarro Dealerships, kicked off the series with a presentation about the New Mexico State Aggies Are Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign he helps orchestrate.
“We hope to deliver access to mentors in an informal mix-and-mingle setting to people who have success stories to share with us,” Brenegar said.
She said she joined the chamber in January when she started a new job with a private company, Marron & Associates, for which she opened a Las Cruces office as strategic development manager.
“The name of the game in this community and others is building relationships,” she said.
“When I first started, I was blown away by the number of helpful individuals I met in the businesses community in Las Cruces.”
Starting with the chamber
Jones, who is secretary of LCYP, said she became a Conquistadore with the Greater Chamber in January because another Allstate agent told her she needed to get involved. Through her participation, Jones said she met great people who connected her with moreexperienced business leaders.
“I’m only 22 and I’m running a $2 million a year company,” she said, noting she is eager to learn from the experiences of others.
“Young Professionals is connecting us with powerful people. The chamber already has done so much for me and my business. I know this will be good.”
Another board member, Citizens Bank Marketing Officer Grant Buck, said the concept for LCYP resonates with him.
“I really like learning from people who have gone down the same path I’m on or want to godown,” he said.
The strongest link
Vescovo said when he returned to Las Cruces to take over the family dealership, he reached out to Tucson’s Young Professionals for advice on starting a group in the City of the Crosses.
“They told me the group has to be linked to a parent organization, which gives you a group to draw from,” he said. “Employers want their young professionals to be more connected with the community. The connection also will give access to mentors who will help grow their employees.”
The overarching goal of the group is to connect young professionals and develop their careers by providing mentors, putting them in touch with potential employers and current movers and shakers as well as educational institutions, he said. The group aims to make an impact on the community, he added, and give back by working on other organizations’ philanthropic projects as well as its own.
“I think we’re going to attract a lot of attention from businesses,” he said. “We also are going to help Las Cruces project an image of having a competent talent pool in the community.”
Josef Abraham and Tim McNuccio of Carillo Law Firm talk shop at the inaugural Las Cruces Young Professionals get together in September at M FIVE.
Las Cruces Bulletin photo by Alta LeCompte