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  • 24 Oct 2016 1:56 PM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)

    Member Spotlight on Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys, HYP's 2016 Equity Matters Award Winner

    Name:  Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys

    Job Title: Director of Development at the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Aliiance

    What brought you to the Holland/Zeeland area? My husband.  He grew up in Zeeland.  We got engaged in 2012 while I was attending grad school in New York.  We thought about living in NYC, but decided on West Michigan for a number of reasons that included cost of living, opportunities for career advancement, and family.  Of course having several beaches 10 to 15 minutes away didn’t hurt one bit! (I’m an island girl!)  We found an apartment in Holland during the summer of 2013, and that’s where we’ve been ever since!  

    How did you discover HYP? After about one year in the community, we started searching online for professional groups.  I came across HYP, signed up, but did not attend an event until last year.  While I intended to get involved right away, I was still at grad school and working a couple jobs.  The first event I attended was at Butch’s, and while I had a great time, it wasn’t until I met a HYP board member at a Chamber event that I felt inspired to become more involved.

    How did you become involved with Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance? While at GVSU, I took a grant writing class.  The professor connected me with LEDA.  I wrote a grant and fell in love with the organization.  I was offered an internship, and upon graduating, I was offered a full-time position as the Director of Development.

    Did you find your transition from intern to staff member to be difficult? Not really.  As an intern, I was treated like an employee in that I attended meetings, represented LEDA at events, provided input that the team considered and helped influence decisions.  I think the hardest part was recognizing that I would no longer be in school and that I’d be working as a full-time staff member, something I hadn’t done in about 7 years. I was afraid of getting bored, but thought that I’d have all the time in the world to volunteer and become more active in my community.  The shocker came when I realized I didn’t have all the time in the world.  It took me few months to catch my footing and find a rhythm.  Once I did, I was able to have a clearer perspective of my role and all that I could accomplish.

    What is the best part about working for LEDA? All the amazing people I get to work with—LEDA staff, community members, business leaders, activists, etc— who are committed to this community and to racial equity.  It’s amazing some of the stories I hear regarding the changes that have taken place over the years and LEDA’s role in helping advance those changes.  I am so inspired by the Holland/Zeeland area’s commitment to seeing that everyone has an opportunity to thrive here!

     As the HYP Equity Matters Award winner would you mind sharing what equity means to you? Equity, to me, means a society where my (future) children will not be forced to convince people who they are not before they have a chance to define who they are.  I am a part of a beautiful multi-racial multi-cultural family—every day I discover new things about myself and others.  Diversity is beautiful; inclusion is breathtaking.  I love the Holland/Zeeland area, and this is where I intend to grow my family. This is my home, and I am passionate about seeing how much more vibrant we can become.

    What advice can you give young professionals who would like to make their work environments more diverse and inclusive? The first thing I would say is, “What you do matters!” - I know inclusion can seem like this huge task and that nothing we do, as individuals, can advance change. But we all have the ability to influence change.

    • Start by becoming aware of your biases (we all have them) and how they might play out in interpersonal communication—do you make assumptions about your colleague’s abilities, interests, and/or personality based on race?  If you have, maybe it’s time to start thinking about where these notions came from and work through them intentionally.  Seek out opportunities to learn more about implicit bias.  And as you learn, be willing to share with others.
    • Build meaningful relationships with peers who might not look like you, and be intentional—it’s easy to find excuses such as “there aren’t any Black people around where I work”. 
    • Speak up if there is an apparent injustice taking place. Whether it’s at your grocery store or on Facebook, your voice matters!
    • And finally, if you are at a point in your career where you have hiring, firing and delegating power, try as hard as you can to widen your pool of candidates, use data, and have clear (and as objective as possible) guidelines for decision making.
  • 18 Oct 2016 1:57 PM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)
    Name: Alex Corbin

    School/year: Hope College / Senior

    Position Title: Asset Protection Intern

    Organization Name: Meijer

    What brought you to the Holland/Zeeland area? I originally came to the area because I found the perfect fit at Hope College but since I have found many reasons to stay. There is a culture here that embodies the growth of the individual and the path to success. In this area, there is a small town feel with big town opportunities and an endless number of business leaders that want to help you get there. This community is not one that wants to see someone succeed at the expense of others but rather it is one that wants to see everyone succeed in a way that moves the entire community forward.

    How did you discover Holland Young Professionals (HYP)? In my previous internship with Lakeshore Advantage, I had the chance to work closely with Holland Young Professionals as well as attend many of their events. This opportunity brought me the chance to meet and know many of the young professionals in the area and helped me to become more connected.

    Outside of HYP, are you involved in any organizations locally or nationally? Outside of school, I have worked for the Tulip Time Operations for three years. In school, I also worked as a Resident Assistant for two years and coordinated events for my living community.

    What would you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) in your internships in the Holland/Zeeland area? In each of my internships, I have achieved personal and professional goals that I have set for myself, however, I would consider receiving the Holland Young Professionals “Development Matters” award as my greatest achievement. It was an honor to be recognized by the Holland Young Professionals as someone who shows great potential for future leadership in our community.

    How would you define leadership? How can interns and early career professionals become stronger and more effective leaders? When an organization reaches a crest in their progression, there needs to be someone that is able to take the reins and guide the team into whatever may be coming next. This may be a point of maturity for a company. It also may come at a point of crisis where the company or organization meets failure face-to-face. The leader must stand up and guide the team through the darkness. There are many ways that a leader becomes recognized as such but there are only a few things a leader must do; empower, motivate and support.

    When I look at a leader, I see these traits lived out in their everyday. Empowerment, motivation and support are recognizable through not only the actions of the leaders but through how closely the team follows. When it comes time to grab the reins, a leader can only make changes if he or she has a team that will follow behind. I fully believe that with the proper execution of these three behaviors, leadership will be recognized. When defining leadership, it often becomes a conversation about someone that has the ability to make decisions. Instead, leadership should be a conversation about someone who allows those around them to make rational decisions, create passionate objectives and an environment that fosters growth and support of the individual through it all.

    What are two ways interns can make the most of a summer internship? The first thing an intern needs to do is make connections. This may sound simple and I’m sure we’ve all heard it before but it is critical. Connections lead to relationships and relationships lead to knowledge and opportunity. It doesn’t matter whether it is fellow interns or organization leadership, connections are critical.

    The second way to make the most of an internship is to take the “final” version of each of your projects and make it one step better. This may seem unrealistic but I’ve learned that with the proper time and concentration on any single project, there is always room to make it a little better. Never over commit or under perform. Each project has an expectation and this will make sure you never fall short of it. 

  • 23 Jun 2016 1:55 PM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)

    HYP Member Feature - Ashley VandeWege from Outdoor Discovery Center

    It all started with a hospitality course at Central Michigan University. Originally a business major, Ashley realized after taking a few courses she wasn't finding her major particularly fulfilling. Upon a friend's recommendation she took a recreation course, Introduction to Recreation. Soon after enrolling she discovered her passion for recreation and community building.

    Ashley volunteered regularly for a summer at the Outdoor Discovery Center, to complete field work experience hours, during her time at Central. When time came for Ashley to find an internship, the Outdoor Discovery Center was a natural fit. 

    During her internship, the tasks varied from event staffing to educational programs, but she went above and beyond showing her commitment to Outdoor Discovery Center and her volunteer work. Integrating herself into the work environment, being flexible and asking questions were her key steps to embedding herself at Outdoor Discovery Center.

    Just before her internship was about to end, the ODC offer her a job and she hasn't looked back since. Her integration from intern to staff member was an easy one because the ODC made her feel like a staff member throughout her internship.

     Ashley's advice for new interns and new hires, "Work as hard as you can, don't act like an intern. Integrate into the staff, ask questions, be flexible and, most importantly, do NOT be afraid to fail."

     Ashley is currently working on beginning a Women in Nature program at the Outdoor Discovery Center. Women in Nature is a program series intended to create opportunities for women to try new things, de-stress and get outdoors. Many of the programs will be held at the Outdoor Discovery Center, others will be help at nearby parks. Each session will highlight a different outdoor activity ranging from biking to archery. The best part? All programs are free! The catch, registration required.

    If you are interested in learning more about the Outdoor Discovery Center or the Women in Nature program please visit

  • 18 Mar 2016 9:18 AM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)

     Spotlight on Lindsey Peterson, new HYP member in 2016, recently moved to Holland/Zeeland from the Pittsburgh Area (New Castle, PA).

    Company: Herrick District Library Job Title: Graphic Designer

    What brought you to the Holland area? Honestly, just life. I was looking to go somewhere new if an opportunity was provided, and here I am! This is a beautiful area that has a great art community, which was attractive to me as a designer. In addition, I have a few really close friends that live here, which made moving to a new place even more appealing.

    How did you get involved in your current work?  I had heard of the opportunity at Herrick District Library through a friend before I moved to the area. It's a great place to be a part of and I am really enjoying it!

    What is the best piece of career advice you've been given?  "The no's are just as important as the yes's. Both are necessary in achieving success."

    Tell us about your side business: I have a small greeting card company called Colorfly Creative. It is a quirky, fun, illustrative card line that allows me to create and do something I enjoy! 

    What are some projects you are working on that you are looking forward to? I am in the middle of designing a new collection for Colorfly Creative and am re-branding a little...I am excited for the direction that my company is heading!

    Are you involved in any other organizations in the area? If so which organizations? Not yet since I'm so new, but I do hope to get more involved as I continue to settle in and learn more about different opportunities!

  • 17 Feb 2016 3:33 PM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)

     Spotlight on Nate Volkema, member since 2006, and former board/committee member! Company: VantagePointe Financial Group-Lakeshore Firm Job Title: Financial Advisor

    What brought you to the Holland area? I was born and raised in Holland.  I moved back to Holland after attending Hillsdale College.

    How did you discover HYP? What kept you involved with HYP?  I had heard of HYP when it was first organized as a great organization for Young Professionals.  A client of mine was involved and he encouraged me to get involved, this was back in 2006ish.  I have been involved ever since for a variety of reasons, but I really enjoy meeting new people from a wide range of professions, who are the next up and comers in our community.

    In your opinion what makes HYP an asset to the Holland/Zeeland area?  HYP is a great way for Young Professionals to build their network in a comfortable environment.  It is also a great way to begin getting involved with the community by serving on a committee or getting involved at a board level.  These are great stepping stones to further your impact on the local community.

    How did you become involved with your current work/place of employment? I joined our firm after having my own insurance agency for a year after college. I originally worked out of our Grand Rapids office.  I open up my office in Holland back in 2007 because the majority of the clients and businesses I work with are along the lakeshore. 

    What are some projects you are working on that you are looking forward to? I am currently working with several small businesses and helping them start and/or upgrade the retirement plans for their employees.  For a majority of individuals, their group retirement plan is the foundation for their retirement savings, and I really enjoy helping people get off to a strong start.

    Are you involved in any other organizations in the area? If so which organizations? I am involved in a variety of nonprofits in the area. I am a member of the local Masonic Lodge and Shriner’s organizations, where I serve in various capacities.  I have also been asked to serve on the advisory board for Kids Food Basket here in Holland.

    What are some of your interests outside of work and HYP? We have a 2 year old daughter, which keeps us busy and entertained.  We enjoy traveling as well as sailing and spending time on the water during the summer.

  • 10 Feb 2015 7:30 AM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)
    The Michigan West Coast Chamber is featuring a young professional speaker at their February Early Bird Breakfast and is encouraging HYP members to attend! You can register for this event at the $15 rate, even if you are not a Chamber member!

    Early Bird Breakfast

    7:30 AM to 8:30 AM

    Event Description - -


    Early Bird Breakfast - Understanding Millennials

    At only 25 years old, Kristen Hadeed possesses the business savvy and experience of leaders twice her age.  Her business began as a part-time cleaning gig with a couple of her friends and has blossomed into a company with more than 400 college student employees.  However, Kristen's journey as a young entrepreneur hasn't been a walk in the park.  Kristen will discuss how millennials think, act, get motivated, and inspired.  She will share the obstacles they face while stepping into leadership roles and how it affects your business strategy.


    Don't know where to park?  Click here for a map of Hope College parking facilities.


    Tuesday, February 10  ~  7:00 am Pre-Coffee / 7:30 am Breakfast
    Haworth Inn & Conference Center (225 College Ave, Holland)  
    ~  $15 per Chamber member ($20 if registered after Feb 8) / $25 per non-member


    Cancellations not received 48 hours prior to event will be charged.


    Speaker Sponsor:  Inno-Versity LLC
    Pre-Coffee Sponsor:  Metro Health
    Early Bird Sponsor:  Zeeland Christian Schools


    Registration - -
    Register Here

    Online registration open until 2/10/2015

    Location - -
    Haworth Inn & Conference Center
    225 College Ave
    Holland MI 49423
    Map to Event
  • 29 Jan 2015 11:32 AM | Nicole Paquette (Administrator)

    The HYP Board recently announced $6,500 in grant funding to four local nonprofits from the HYP Fund in 2014.

    Grants were made to the following organizations:

    Kids' Food Basket - Holland location - Internship program

    Award amount: $2,500

    Hope College Center for Faithful Leadership - Leadership Apprentice Program

    Award amount: $1,500

    Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) - Adelante! Youth Leadership Development program: college campus visits

    Award amount: $1,500

    WET Feet/ACTS - technology upgrade for student job applications/GED completions

    Award amount: $1,000


    The HYP Board of Directors looks forward to seeing the lasting, positive impact that these program will have on providing and encouraging leadership development throughout the greater Holland Area.

    Note: The HYP Fund is an endowed fund held at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

  • 03 Sep 2014 4:37 PM | Bob Flavin

    HYP Community Foundation Dinner

    When: Thursday September 18, 2014

    Where: Yacht Basin Marina, 1866 Ottawa Beach Road

    Time: 5:45pm-9:30pm

    The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area is celebrating our community’s generosity and HYP wants to celebrate with them! 

    HYP has partnered with the Community Foundation to offer HYP Members discounted ticket prices to their upcoming celebration on Thursday, September 18. The event is at Yacht Basin Marina’s boat house and will feature food and drinks from fifteen of the Holland area's best restaurants. 

    Tickets are just $50 for HYP Members! The Community Foundation houses our HYP Fund and is the central philanthropic organization in our community. This event is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the good work that they do and meet other philanthropists and community leaders from the Holland/Zeeland area. 

    Cocktails will be served beginning at 5:45pm, with dinner at 6:45pm. Please register by September 12.

    All of the event details can be found at

    Contact Nicole Paquette, Communications Manager at the Community Foundation for more info or to sign up: or 616-994-8854

  • 12 Jun 2014 10:45 AM | Bob Flavin

    The Lakeshore Young Professional Leadership Award is a new award that will be presented annually to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession, provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and clearly serve as a role model for young women personally and professionally.  In order to be eligible, the nominee must be 40 years old or younger. 

    To nominate someone click here

  • 26 Aug 2013 2:34 PM | Bob Flavin
    When: Thursday September 19, 2013
    Where: Windmill Island Gardens
    Time: 6:00pm-10:00pm

    The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area is celebrating our community’s generosity and HYP wants to celebrate with them! 

    HYP has partnered with the Community Foundation to offer HYP Members discounted ticket prices to their upcoming celebration on Thursday, September 19. The event is at Windmill Island Gardens and will feature food and drinks from fifteen of Holland's best restaurants. 

    Tickets are just $50 for HYP Members! The Community Foundation houses our HYP Fund and is the central philanthropic organization in our community. This event is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the good work that they do and meet other philanthropists from the Holland/Zeeland area. 

    Cocktails will be served beginning at 6pm, with dinner at 6:45pm. Please register by September 13.

    Contact Nicole Paquette, Communications Associate at the Community Foundation for more info or to sign up: or 616-994-8854

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