Future Leaders Conference aims to inspire young professionals

The Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals aims to help young professionals connect and impact their community.

With that goal in mind, the group is hosting its second annual Future Leaders Conference on Feb. 15 from 11:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. at the Holland Civic Center.
Graci Harkema
The keynote presentation will be delivered by Graci Harkema, international diversity, equity, and inclusion speaker and best-selling author of the memoir “Rising: From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom—and Back Again.”
“Having Graci Harkema as this year’s keynote speaker is a big deal to us,” says Gavin Steenwyk, president of Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals. “It’s easy to feel like we need to change ourselves to fit into certain professional roles, and Graci’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and authenticity speaks to the purpose of the Future Leaders Conference – creating a space for people of all backgrounds to share their stories and distinct career paths.”

Harkema will speak about her time growing up as an adoptee from the Congo in Grand Rapids, tracing her professional path and claiming her story while encouraging others to do the same.

More than 150 guests are expected to attend the day-long event, where speakers will talk about combining impact and passion with profession through a series of panel discussions and presentations.

Breakout session speakers include 
  • Johnny Rodriguez, the executive director of Latin Americans United for Progress
  • Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage
  • Keith Van Beek, city manager of Holland
  • Tracy Bolo, executive director of Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance
  • A panel of professionals from the Zeeland firm, Disher, including Rebekah Bakker, Hannah Rumsey, Casey McKellar, Brett Lowe, and Ben Zuiderveen
“Each speaker offers a different career path and perspective, meaning every guest will leave having learned something new about themselves, their profession, or their hometown,” Steenwyk says.

Lunch and a happy hour are part of the conference. The event is open to the public. More information on the event can be found here. 

Photos courtesy of the Holland/Zeeland Young Professionals and Graci Harkema.
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