Monday, January 28, 2008

Young Professionals Thrive In Miami

Success South Florida Magazine
by Te-Erika Patterson

As the number of Young black professionals looking for a place to thrive and grow continues to rise, South Florida is fast becoming the leading destination of choice.

The Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a newly created organization comprised of the area’s brightest young black professionals. The YPN is on a mission to attract and retain the nation’s finest young leaders by allowing them access to corporate leaders and decision makers while promoting professional and personal development through networking and social activities.

“This organization will fill a void that a lot of people within this age range needs,” says Deanna Pierce, a 28-year-old Miami native. “It will not only allow us to gain mentors, but also have support in our everyday lives. The biggest concern that I noticed was the matter of retention, trying to keep young professionals in South Florida. We have the resources, it’s just a matter of pooling them together.”

After graduating from law school at Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University, Pierce considered moving to other cities to begin her career but ultimately decided to return to her hometown to explore career opportunities. “I have no regrets about my decision,” Pierce says.

She now serves as the Fraud Director for City National Bank, a position which utilizes her strong analytical skills. “My job is fast paced and always changing, just like Miami,” Pierce says with a smile.

Pierce is excited about becoming a founding member of the blossoming Young Professionals Network.

The YPN operates under the umbrella of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and offers access to mentorship, social development and networking opportunities with other young influencers in this city’s melting pot of business and culture.

Bill Diggs, President and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce began piecing together the idea for the Young Professionals Network a year ago when he recognized that young Black professionals were leaving Miami after being dissatisfied with the opportunities the city had to offer in the areas of civic, social and business development.

“Having lived in Atlanta for quite some time, I noticed there always seemed to be a movement of young professionals who were adamant about networking and creating a strong professional community,” Diggs says. “I wanted to help create that same experience here in South Florida.”

Diggs hopes that the YPN will flourish as its members utilize the same leadership skills and tenacity that they have developed as professionals in order to transform the city of Miami into the premiere destination for young black professionals.

“These are our next generation of leaders in Miami,” Diggs says. “Not leaders ten years from now, but right now!”

Environmental Attorney N. Patrick Range knows firsthand the impact that a strong leadership has on this city. Range’s grandmother, M. Athalie Range was heralded as an icon for community activism and leadership in Miami before she passed last year.

The 30-year-old graduate of Morehouse College now practices law as an associate at Greenburg, Traurig, PA. Although his days are filled with filing applications for developments across the city, he strikes a delicate balance of work and play by enjoying golf and exploring the many restaurants in Miami.

Range holds a distinct vision for the impact an organization like YPN could have on the city of Miami. “The business community as a whole will benefit from this organization,” Range says. “Corporate America is looking for us. They recognize the value we bring to the table, the uniqueness we provide by allowing access to all parts of the business world through our multi-ethnic background.”

Thamiah Tutt, Sr. Development Officer for The United Way of Miami is grateful to Bill Diggs for moving forward with organizing the YPN.

“I want to be a part of an organization with other like-minded individuals. People who are focused on making a difference in the community and are career minded,” Tutt says. “A lot of people need to know that they are not alone. There are opportunities to develop themselves as professionals and on a personal level and YPN will be a part of that.”

Originally from Seattle, the 28-year-old graduate of Clark Atlanta University has enjoyed sparring as an amateur boxer for the past four years. Tutt plans to use her aggressiveness outside of the ring in an effort to help other young professionals become acclimated to life in the magic city.

Philip Lay knows what it is like to start from scratch and build a firm foundation for his career in a new city. He decided to give South Florida a try after completing his education at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He packed up his car and wished for the best as he tackled the many obstacles that life after college presents.

Embracing those risks proved to be a success for Lay although he has faced his fair share of trials.

“It’s been a journey being here in South Florida,” 27-year-old Lay admits. “It’s not easy to move up in the corporate world because there are not that many people who look like us in upper management. In my line of work, I’m at an advantage because I work around people who look like me and are making great money in South Florida.”

Lay manages and develops advertising accounts for Hot 105, an urban radio station that prides itself on being the home of the number one rated Tom Joyner Morning Show as well as broadcasting the best mix of oldies and R&B.

“I see the YPN being an effective tool to help people who are already here who need help and people who are coming here from somewhere else,” Lay says. “Being able to make a difference for another person of color who may come down here is an important goal that we hope to accomplish.”

For more information about becoming a member of YPN please contact Debbie Pearson at

Young Black Professionals (YBP’s)

To explore and properly evaluate the need to nurture and mentor young Black professionals in South Florida, the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce organized a series of 4 focus groups, where 39 young Black South Florida professionals discussed the YPN concept and completed an in-depth survey.

Focus group attendees are representative of South Florida’s YBP community. They are without a doubt the “cream of the crop”, representing a variety of industries including Advertising/Marketing (9), Government/Public Policy (5), Consulting Services (4), Legal (3), and Health Care (3). Other industries included arts and entertainment, accounting, banking, entrepreneurial, information technology, media, pharmaceautical, sales and sports. This professionally diverse group hailed from cities like Atlanta, New York, Boston, New Orleans, Washington, Seattle and Miami, to name a few. The Caribbean Islands represented Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

As a result of the focus group the YPN has gauged that the majority of its core target group are:

Age Range
Between the ages of 31-35

Marital Status

Annual Income
Earn between $75 and $150K annually

Gender Indentification
61% female and 39% male

Cultural Affiliation
66% consider themselves to be African American

31% consider themselves to be Caribbean American

3% chose Other as their response to cultural affiliation

71% have 0 children
21% have 1 child
5% have 2 children
3% have 3 or more children

County of Residence
55% reside in Miami-Dade County
42% reside in Broward County
3% reside in other counties

Key Findings

Over 90% of focus group participants are either thinking of leaving South Florida or has a friend who is thinking of leaving within the next 12 months. This supports the “Brain Drain” phenomenon noted by a recent report published by Florida International University where 40% of Blacks earning between $60,000-$80,000 expressed a desire to leave.

The YPN focus group discussed this challenge and reported the following:

Top Reasons For Wanting to Leave

Lack of access to better paying jobs.
High cost of living
Lack of affordable housing
Low dating pool
Language barrier

Top Strategies to Attract & Retain Young Black Professionals

Provide access to high paying jobs
Offer membership and professional growth opportunities with corporate leaders.
Serve as a resource to connect YBP’s socially, professionally and civically.
Bridge the cultural divide between Hispanics and Blacks.
Advocate for and provide access to initiatives designed to build wealth, lower the cost of living and make housing more affordable.

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