Author: Stephanie Harper, Chair, NEXTNiagara
The end of a year can be bittersweet…reflection of the year that has passed (not wanting it to be over just yet) and excitement about the year ahead (anticipation for all that it will bring). As Chair of NEXTNiagara this year I had the privilege of working with some amazing members of the emerging generation and supporting a number of awesome initiatives that were led by the NEXTNiagara council.
True to form, our annual Priceless Art Auction, hosted this year at Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Winery, saw nearly 200 guests who bid on 14 art pieces created by local artists, all in support of volunteerism for Niagara not-for-profit organizations. This year we raised an astounding 1295 volunteer hours!
Get on Board
NEXTNiagara was also thrilled to pilot a new event in late fall for members of the emerging generation who were exploring ways to get involved on a board of directors. The casual, interactive session engaged 40 participants in a conversation about how boards generally work, the types of boards that exist, how board members contribute to a board, the benefits of being on a board and ways young professionals can find board opportunities. The facilitated discussion led by Jeff Chesebrough, CEO for Innovate Niagara, was extremely well-received and has prompted discussion about expanding the topic in 2017.
Our social gatherings continued to be a popular venue for young professionals to meet, network and socialize at some great local venues. Our thanks go out to both The Armoury at Niagara College and Durward, Jones, Barkwell & Company LLP for hosting us this year.
Niagara Economic Summit
I was honoured to participate in this year’s summit as part of the “Millennials” panel where we discussed trends, realities and expectations while addressing some known facts and misconceptions. I think we were able to shed some light on the perceptions that exist and provide some practical strategies for employers to attract, engage, and retain millennial talent.
In addition to our structured programming, this year the NEXTNiagara council introduced 3 council seats for post-secondary students (representing both Brock University and Niagara College). We look forward to hearing the student voice at our regular meetings and improving opportunities for post-secondary students to engage with us.
The Year Ahead
As we look ahead to the new year I am excited to see plans already coming together for programming that will engage and support members of the emerging generation in ways that are both new and relevant. Incoming Chair, Rachel Crane has a great vision for 2017 which will challenge the council to think more creatively and will undoubtedly strengthen NEXTNiagara’s impact within the community and among the emerging generation.
It has been a true privilege to lead the council in 2016 and I look forward to seeing the progress that is made in the upcoming year.