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Keweenaw Young Professionals

Katelyn Waara
Words: 697

Community networking in the Keweenaw

Young people in the Keweenaw, particularly those who come to Michigan Tech to get their education and meet new people, will find that growing as a person as well as a professional is important to their career development and the opportunities they face after graduation. By becoming a part of a new community organization, these students, as well as others, can do just that.

Keweenaw Young Professionals, or KYP, began as only an idea. Jessica Brassard, co-founder of the organization, began “ping-ponging ideas” back and forth with Lynn Makela, former Marketing and Communications Director in the School of Business and Economics at Michigan Tech. After Makela left the area to pursue other opportunities, Brassard continued the development and implementation of the idea of KYP.

The group offers multiple “hubs of opportunity,” Brassard said. For everyone involved, KYP is able to give them a resource for community outreach and action, volunteering, networking and personal and professional development, all in an energetic, inclusive and sociable atmosphere. With so many pockets of interest, KYP has begun with a number of “small successes” by meeting the needs and ideas of those in the organization. Whatever you’re interested in, KYP can help you to meet the people involved in that already and get you talking.

Even though KYP is still in its beginning stages, membership has grown. Each week, Brassard sends an email update to those who are on the membership list. Between the Facebook page’s “likes” and the email list, there are approximately 200 people who receive news and other information about the meetups and KYP events.

Although the name “Keweenaw Young Professionals” seems to imply the “youth” of the Keweenaw, all ages are welcome. Brassard said a number of regular members are in their 50s, an encouraging sentiment for those members of the community who have a lot of experience to share, but are unsure of the appropriate outlet to do so. The first meetup, held in March of 2013, was a success with 60 people in attendance. Most recently, an average of 40 people have been attending the meetups and events.

The most recent KYP event, its first ever recreational meetup, meant to showcase the beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula, was held this past Saturday, Sept. 21 with a hike amongst the Estivant Pines in Copper Harbor. Lunch and a view of Lake Superior followed the hike at Fitzgerald’s in Eagle River. Approximately 25 people, Brassard said, had signed up to attend prior to the event.

Unlike similar organizations such as Marquette’s 40 Below, another community networking group for young professionals, KYP was not formed under a parent organization. 40 Below, for example, was formed in 2010 under the Lake Superior Community Partnership, the “leading resource for economic development, providing a wide variety of affordable and effective development services” in Marquette county. Without a board calling the shots, KYP is able to conduct their own events and do what they feel is best for the organization without a hierarchical structure. Without that structure, though, comes a lack of funds, which is why Brassard and others involved in KYP’s development are looking into becoming a non-profit organization.

Brassard described KYP as flat; although they do have a steering committee looking out for the organization, KYP is kept “as flat as possible [allowing] as many to feel included and engaged,” said Brassard.

By making the Keweenaw a better place through the youth and younger generation’s engagement, Brassard adds that the end goal of KYP is for its members to live a fulfilling life; a happy work life and personal life.

This month’s meetup, “Meet the Makers of the Keweenaw”, will be held at the Michigan House in Calumet on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $5. Next month’s KYP meeting will be held on Oct. 17, although the location has not yet been decided. If you are looking to learn more about KYP or would like to be added to their email list, please contact Jessica Brassard by emailing her at  (

KYP will also have a table outside of the gyms at the Career Fair today, so go and check them out!

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