By Chris L. Gilrath II
What do Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Stevie Wonder have in common? They all made an impact on our society sealing their legacies in this world and they all did it before the age of 40.
There are a number of ways young adults influence society and their local communities. The Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals and its outgoing President Alberlynne “Abby” knows all about making an impact in the city of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals (LAULYP) is an auxiliary of the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL). The organization is comprised of professionals, ages 21 to 40, committed to corporate, social, and community activism as well as improving L.A.’s African American business climate through networking and business development. The LAULYP is one of more than 50 chapters of the National Urban League Young Professionals that support the National Urban League’s five-pronged agenda: Education and Youth, Economic Empowerment, Health and Quality of Life Empowerment, Civic Engagement and Leadership Empowerment, Civil Rights and Racial Justice Empowerment.
“We run this city!” That is a quote that you can often hear Harris saying at the LAULYP’s many community service, social events with a purpose, or the monthly General Body Meetings. Impacting the city of Los Angeles and the young professionals it encompasses is not an easy task for any organization, yet Harris feels like the LAULYP has done that and more. “I’ve found that our impact is really felt with how we make people feel. The original purpose of the LAUL was designed to help African Americans relocating from the south and rural parts of the US to get acclimated to the urban/industrialized cities.” This powerful organization offers young urban professionals relocating to this overwhelmingly large city the chance to make connections in many different areas. This is key for anyone not knowing where to begin or may find it challenging in a city as large as Los Angeles. “The LAULYP, more than any other program of the LAUL still does this today by being a sort of concierge for young people relocating to or residing in LA. The individual members and people who attend our professional development seminars, community service programs, or even our social events get the opportunity to meet new friends and business associates who they may not necessarily meet at church, at school, or at their place of work. By focusing on and impacting individual members, we are able to spread a message of empowerment and professionalism that we hope inspires others to embrace the best elements of what is truly means to be a community. “, Harris said.
With approximately 200 members, the LAULYP encourages their members by engaging them to participate in several diverse committees within the organization. The impact of these committees helps to engage young adults into diverse areas of interest. If you have a desire to give back to the community members can join the Community Service
Committee. LAULYP members can engage, challenge, and connect with local and national political figures and have a voice in the policies and programs that affect them daily through the Civic Engagement and Political Awareness Committee. Young professionals looking for a job, looking to hire or seeking ways to advance towards a truly successful career can link up with the Professional Development committee. Social media and advertising is another great choice within the LAULYP through the Marketing Committee that reaches over 3,500 people with a weekly newsletter and growing social media following. Even President Barack Obama is a follower of the LAULYP social media.
The Fund Development Committee provides much needed fuel to the organization. Fund Development reaches out to corporations, private organizations, and individual contributors for sponsorships, donations, and funding that are vital to keep the organization functional.
Looking for a direct connection to some of Los Angeles’s premiere nightlife and social events? Well look no further then this organization. On July 8th, The LAULYP held its 3rd annual L.A In A Day Fashion Show at the Hollywood Supper Club featuring some of the best up and coming designers of Los Angeles such as Nikki Kouture which as a result gave young African-American designers a platform to shine, Back in April, the LAULYP hosted their Annual To The Nines event, the official after party for the LAUL Whitney M. Young Dinner. That event honored young professionals who have made a great impact on Los Angeles including actor Jay Ellis (The Game), writer Issa Raye (Awkward Black Girl), and Hawthorne Mayor Chris Isaac Brown. These are just a few of the events the LAULYP hosts throughout the year that set the pace for black professionals in Los Angeles.
It has been a very rewarding, challenging, engaging, and electrifying two years for Harris. She credits her predecessor former LAULYP President, Michelle Merriweather as a reason she got involved and as an inspiration for her. “I truly admire the commitment and dedication of my predecessor, past LAULYP President, Michelle Merriweather. She is still very involved with the movement as Communications Chair of the NULYP.” Now just as Merriweather passed the torch to Harris, Harris is now paying it forward to the next leader, along with her wisdom, expertise and most of all support. Harris’s time as captain of a very powerful vessel has come to a close. The LAULYP has just installed its 2014-2016 Executive Board that includes Michael Ferrera (President), Chanelle Brown, (Vice President), Chris Gilrath II, (Secretary), Faye Tillery, (Treasurer), and Gerreka Gilliam, (Parliamentarian). When asked what advice she has for incoming President Ferrera, Harris had this to say, “Remember that you are a part of a 100+ year history. There is a legacy of greatness and an entire city depending on you to be smart, caring, and capable of carrying the torch of leadership in spite of the many challenges you will face.”
As Harris’s tenure as President ends, she is reflective of a movement that she has given so much to yet has given her so much in return. “The opportunity to lead a people is often met with great adversity. Being able to build up and help others to aspire to and see
themselves as current and future leaders in their community has been the greatest achievement of my term as LAULYP President. I am really proud of the young soldiers on fire to blaze the trail just a little bit wider. “ President Harris also feels that she has empowered other people who started as just general members to become leaders and now have the opportunity to shine within this powerful group of movers and shakers. “True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. In addition to carrying on great traditions, I believe I imprinted a true desire for LAULYP members to become friends, go above expectations, and have a good time, but also to be adamant about strategically placing ourselves in positions of power so that we can genuinely help and empower all people.”
No matter what your interests there is definitely something for everyone. Harris believes its important for all African-American adults ages 21-40 to get involved in the movement. “The personal and professional development you learn while being a part of this movement is not anything that can be learned from a book or a class. The civil rights we enjoy today are a direct result of the young people of previous generations, but the struggle continues. We need young minds, bodies, and more progressive thought leadership to make sure the efforts of our legends is never forgotten.”
Are you a young professional looking to get connected within a city that has so much to offer? Looking to roll up your sleeves. Then look no further than the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals