HYP conference highlights local powerhouses

Joe Matthews, the VP of DEI at Gentex addresses attendees at the 2023 HYP Future Leaders Conference.

A Lakeshore-based nonprofit organization has announced a day-long event during which guests will learn from local powerhouses about combining passion with profession.

Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals (HYP) will host its second annual Future Leaders Conference, a series of panel discussions and presentations, on Feb. 15 at the Holland Civic Center, with more than 150 guests expected to attend. Celebrated author Graci Harkema will present the keynote address. Her unique background as an adoptee from Republic of the Congo who grew up in suburban Grand Rapids serves as the backdrop for her message of growth on her personal and professional path. (Suggested reading: Grand Rapids Magazine’s recent Q&A with Harkema). 

Graci Harkema courtesy photo.

“Having Graci Harkema as this year’s keynote speaker is a big deal to us,” said Gavin Steenwyk, president of Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals. “It’s easy to feel like we need to change ourselves to fit into certain professional roles, and Graci’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and authenticity speaks to the purpose of the Future Leaders Conference – creating a space for people of all backgrounds to share their stories and distinct career paths,” Steenwyk said.

Other speakers include Johnny Rodriguez, the executive director of Latin Americans United for Progress; Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage; Keith Van Beek, city manager of Holland; Tracy Bolo, executive director of Lakeshore Non-Profit Alliance; and a panel of Disher professionals, including Rebekah Bakker, Hannah Rumsey, Casey McKellar, Brett Lowe, and Ben Zuiderveen.

“Each speaker offers a different career path and perspective, meaning every guest will leave having learned something new about themselves, their profession, or their hometown,” added Steenwyk.

The symposium includes lunch and takes place from 11:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. with the last hour being a “happy hour” for attendees.

This event is open to the public. For more information, visit the HYP Future Leaders website.

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