To connect and develop Salem's next generation of leaders - that's our mission.
As the job market became increasingly competitive in the early 2000s, cities in Oregon and across the country experienced challenges attracting and retaining young talent. In Salem, many college graduates and other young professionals spoke of larger cities, such as Portland or Seattle, as superior to Salem because as larger markets, they offer more things for young people to do. In turn, many employers were left to wonder who would lead their businesses in the years to come. Salem leaders came together to address these issues, setting the foundation for the Salem Young Professionals program.
The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce established Salem Young Professionals, (also called Salem Young Pros) in 2006 to attract and retain young people in their 20s and 30s to the Salem area. Upon learning that young people felt disconnected from leadership and professional development opportunities, SYP became a vehicle for young people to be seen, heard and connected.
In 2009, the Salem Chamber added the Outstanding Young Professional award to the annual First Citizen Awards Banquet to recognize the leadership and service of young professionals in the community. The Chamber recognized Alex Casebeer, general manager of Capitol Subaru, with this award at the banquet in March 2018 in honor of his strong leadership at Capitol Auto Group and his volunteerism in nonprofits such as Young Life, the Boys & Girls Club, Salem Leadership Foundation and Salem Health Foundation.
In 2013, when the Chamber launched its 501(c)(3), The Inspire Foundation, to house the Chamber’s leadership, education and workforce development programs, it was clear match for Salem Young Pros to be included under The Inspire Foundation programming.
“We strongly believe in the leadership potential of our young professionals and take great pride in providing connection and development opportunities for them,” said Kathy Moore, CEO of The Inspire Foundation. Moore went on to say that the success of the SYP program would not be possible without investors like Salem Health and Corban University.
Over the last 12 years, Salem Young Pros has grown into a network of hundreds of young professionals who are living, working and connecting to the Salem community. Through SYP, young professionals are given the opportunity to expand their networks and gain access to unique development opportunities.
One of the sponsors that has contributed to the success of SYP is Corban University.
“Salem Young Pros provides programs that illustrate professional characteristics for their ‘under 40-year-old’ members,” said P. Griffith Lindell, dean of Corban’s Hoff School of Business. “Two words that describe Corban students are character and competence. Our organizations share the commitment to help young people develop the skills to yield those core traits. That’s why we support SYP.”
Investing in Salem’s Future
The Salem Chamber and The Inspire Foundation continue to invest in the future of Salem through investing in the development of its young professionals.
One such young professional is Rian Rasubala. A Salem native and 2012 McKay grad, Rasubala participated in The Inspire Foundation’s Leadership Youth program, serving on the Salem Leadership Foundation’s board of directors. It was through his Leadership Youth experience that he gained a passion for Salem. While attending the University of Oregon, Rasubala spent several summers interning at both the Salem Chamber and the Salem Leadership Foundation. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2017, he was excited to be hired by The Inspire Foundation to work with Salem’s young workforce.
“During my time working with and getting to know young pros in and around Salem, I have been inspired by the innovation and creativity of this group,” said Rasubala. “Our task with the SYP program is to harness that creative talent and energy and equip our young pros with the tools and connections to prepare them to lead Salem to be a thriving and prosperous city.”