New group targets young professionals
Young Professionals of Leavenworth County has its share of younger members, but age doesn't matter when it comes to membership in the newly formed group.
Some members are older, including one man who is in his 70s.
But as Phil Parsons, one of the group's founders, pointed out, anyone can join and it's more important to be "young-minded."
The group was founded in June, when Parsons started working at MidAmerican Bank and Trust in Leavenworth. Parsons, who is 28, had discussions with bank colleague Aladdin Ashkar, who is 27. Ashkar told Parsons that it was thought Lawrence and Atchison had young professionals groups, but not Leavenworth County.
Ashkar envisioned a group of people aged 20 to 40 who could gather to network and become more educated by having speakers address the group.
The group had its first monthly meeting in September. Last month, the group had its largest crowd when nearly 50 people attended.
"We really expected it to be pretty successful, but not quite this soon," Ashkar said. "We found something that people were looking for in our community and so far it's been very, very, very good."
Membership is free and anyone is considered a member by attending a meeting.
For each month's meeting, a different business is considered the "sponsor" for that meeting, and if possible, another speaker gives and educational discussion.
Parsons said meetings are informal. Last month, the group went bowling, while the December meeting is at 5:30 p.m. today at High Noon Saloon, 206 Chocktaw in Leavenworth.
According to Parsons, an Omaha, Neb., native and an Oklahoma State University graduate, the group has grown by word of mouth.
He and Ashkar made a list of young professionals in the county of whom they were aware and informed them of the group through e-mails, which they continue to do.
Typically, the group meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. So far, the group has met at establishments in Leavenworth and Lansing, but hopes to have meetings in southern Leavenworth County, such as in Basehor and Tonganoxie.
Ashkar, an Immaculata High School graduate who attended Kansas University and later graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said he hopes the group will continue to grow.
"It's all about getting to know young people, network with others and hopefully one day get the baton passed from us in the Leavenworth County community to the next level," Ashkar said, referring to the next generation of young professionals in the area.