Creating opportunities for young professionals in North Fulton

Developing a ‘crazy idea’ into networking opportunities

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Last year, I had a crazy idea to get a bunch of recent college graduates and young professionals in a room and network. 

I had two incredible people to support me in my effort, my wife, Kristina, and good friend Zach Mullins. Without them, the crazy idea would have not been developed into the North Fulton Alliance of Young Professionals (NFAYP).

For months, the three of us met to come up with ideas to better our community and learn more about businesses. At some point, one of us (not me) said, “We need to take this to the next level. Let’s pick a date and try to get one of these ideas off the ground. If we don’t start giving ourselves deadlines, we will never get anywhere.”

So, we settled on a date that was two months away. We met at Olde Blind Dog in Milton to hold our first networking event. Surely that would be enough time to prepare, we thought.

When the day finally arrived, I was terrified. I knew we had made huge strides, and worked so hard; but if no one showed up — would this be the end of just another “crazy idea?”

Sure enough, we had 12 people (about 12 more than I dreamed) and had a wonderful time. NFAYP had begun.

Over the next few months, we continued to hold a monthly event, grow in numbers and even created a board of directors to help steer the organization.

What a blessing that has been.

Volunteering and committing an immense amount of time to NFAYP in their role as directors are Kristin Rome, North Fulton Community Improvement District; Peter Tokar, city of Alpharetta; Kellie Jureka, Appen Newspapers; Zee Jennings, Gardens of Roswell; Zach Mullins, Cox Media Group, and Kristina Appen, RaceTrac Petroleum.

These are six of the finest individuals I have come to know.

Each and every one of them has it within them to be bona fide innovators, contributors and leaders in North Fulton.

Some of them already are.

I am writing this for two reasons.

One is that I want to brag on my fellow board members, and share with you the progress of NFAYP. After just six networking events, we have about 50 members, have written and adopted a set of bylaws, and applied for our 501(c)(6) status.

We are also currently planning events this year to focus on identifying and connecting with new members, engaging in community service and developing our professional skills.

The second reason is that over the last few years, and quite noticeably over the last few weeks, America has watched in disgust a divided congress fail to execute basic concepts of civility, compromise and compassion.

And yet, despite it all, I believe the future is quite bright.

I believe this because I know six young people in North Fulton, a microcosm of a generation, that have never failed to impress. They have a 100 percent approval rating in my book.

So, while others may despair at an abysmal representation of our values and beliefs in Washington, I rest assured knowing it is only a matter of time before we are out with the old, and in with the new.

For more on the North Fulton Alliance of Young Professionals, visit www.NFAYP.com.