An Unforgettable Gala
It was the hottest ticket in town. The who’s who of Madison celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals. Held at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in December, the sold-out, formal affair featured Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell as the night’s keynote.
The Young Professionals are at the heart of the charge towards civil rights and economic justice. Nationally, there are more than 60 chapters and 10,000 members focused on activism, advocacy and service.
The Madison chapter launched in 2012. Its purpose is to support the Urban League movement through volunteerism, philanthropy and membership development. Its executive team includes President Kurt Rose, Vice President Chassitti Clark, Secretary Kristin Lansdown, and Treasurer April Kumapayi.
In the spirit of their slogan, “Invest, Inspire, Impact,” the organization supports BIPOC and other community members through education and empowerment.
Rose, who once said, “the YPs are a torch in our community that lights the path to a brighter future.” Now he discusses how Madison’s brilliant, emerging leaders, are growing as they work to move the mission of the Urban League forward.
UMOJA: What is the mission of the Urban League’s Young Professionals?
ROSE: The Urban League Young Professionals is a volunteer auxiliary of community leaders ages 21-40 who work to empower communities and change lives through the Urban League Movement. The Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals chapter officially launched in 2012. Its purpose is to support the Urban League Movement through volunteerism, philanthropy and membership development.
UMOJA: What persuaded you to become a member and then take the helm as president?
ROSE: I had been interested in joining the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals since the early years of development. I always saw the great work that was happening in the Madison community, but had a number of competing commitments so delayed joining. I was approached by Dr. Ruben Anthony, CEO of the Urban League and told that I was needed in the organization. In the spring of 2019, I joined the chapter and shortly after there was a vacancy for President. I was appointed to my first term and ran unopposed for my second term. When I joined the chapter, we had 19 members. We have since grown to 81 at the close of 2022. I often wish I would have joined sooner. The leadership and professional development I have experienced from both my local chapter and the national organization is unmatched.
UMOJA: Can you share any favorite memories?
ROSE: There’s way too many to count. I’d have to say, though during the pandemic we were really struggling to find our space in the community since everything was held virtually. One of my favorite events that we hosted was our Virtual DJ Battle to promote Voter Awareness. This took place during the fall of 2020 on Zoom. We recruited four local DJs and had them compete on a Friday night, elimination style. It gave our local DJs a place to spin their records. It gave the community something fun to do while also learning about the upcoming elections and the necessity to vote and it gave us the opportunity to plug in to the community, the way we always have. It was a WIN, WIN, WIN. It was also cool to have so many people attend from across the country. We had attendees as far as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Olive Branch and as close as Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. It hadn’t been done before and was a great way to build community in such trying times.
UMOJA: How has the YP’s role changed or improved in the last decade?
ROSE: We are still the forward thinking, civically engaged, trailblazers that the charter members were in 2012. Our core principles are still the same. The organization overall has grown to include a space of home for transplants that move to the Madison area. The majority of our members are here for employment from other places, and this has been seen as a space of connection and networking in the community. Oftentimes, people without Wisconsin roots have difficulty tapping into the Black community in Madison. We have served as a hub to get to know the city and other young black professionals.
UMOJA: Where do you see the group’s role and commitment to the community be in the next 10 years?
ROSE: In 10 years, I hope to see even more representation on boards and legislatively within the community. Additionally, as the Black Business Hub and Black Cultural Center are coming to fruition now, I hope to see the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals being key partners in keeping these spaces alive. Lastly, I hope to see double the members we have now, actively engaged in new and exciting community partnerships.
UMOJA: This is such a great community organization. What is the age requirement to be a member? Or, can you be a professional that is young at heart?
ROSE: Our national age requirement is 21-40. We love professionals who are young at heart and invite them to attend our public events and partner with us in aiding the community. There are so many organizations in the area that don’t have as restrictive of an age range, so ULGMYP is a space that our voices are heard, and we are able to develop, manage and implement programming from a young professional’s lens. We reserve membership to the age range that is intended to ensure we are providing a space for growth, leadership and community for our peer group.
The Urban League Young Professionals began with people looking for an opportunity to make a difference. Ready to make a difference, contribute to the progress of achieving equality, develop as a person, professional and leader? A membership drive is underway. To learn more, visit the Young Professionals’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ULGMYP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.