Home News Local News Diverse Professionals to Highlight Urban League Young Professionals’ “Real Talk” Panel

Diverse Professionals to Highlight Urban League Young Professionals’ “Real Talk” Panel


The Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals will host a diverse professional development panel – “YP Real Talk: My Path thru My Lenz” – where Madison community leaders will talk about their experiences confronting bias to achieve success on Thursday, Aug. 29, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Urban League of Greater Madison.  

“What we’re really doing is taking time to have transparent conversations, whether that be through panel discussions or group forums and maybe even some workshops, and talk about what things come about that young professionals feel that they just want to have some frank conversations around,” Melissa A. Herriges, membership board chair of the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals, tells Madison365. “We thought it would be great to kick things off with a panel discussion and really talk about workplace diversity, biases, and prejudices that some people have faced as they’ve grown in their careers.”

The diverse panel features community leaders that come from the African-American, Asian, Latinx and LGBT+ communities including Anthony Cooper Sr., vice president of strategic partnerships and reentry services at Nehemiah; Saran Ouk, CEO of CoNEXTions; Jessica Ramirez Torres, Senior Student Success Coach at UW Extention; and Tyler Dovenbarger, Administrative Coordinator at Chazen Museum of Art.

“We’re bringing these four people together to kind of talk about – through their respective lenses –  what have been some of the challenges that they’ve had to go through,” Herriges says. “As everyone knows, those challenges look different. But one thing I’ve noticed in my time in Madison is that the different segments of the minority community do not understand each other’s challenges.

“So that’s the main purpose of this panel – to have four people from four different segments of the minority community talk about what some of the challenges are in a transparent way,” she adds.

Melissa Herriges

The event is open to everybody. Urban League Young Professionals are especially encouraging people who are part of the four communities on the panel to come on out.

“The YP Real Talk series is a new thing. Another reason why the young professionals want to do this is because the Urban League is starting a new career advancement program called RAMP (Retaining, Advancing & Mentoring young Professionals),” Herriges says. “This will probably be something that is ongoing for young professionals overall but also for people participating in the RAMP program.”

 The Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals (ULGMYP) chapter officially launched in 2012 with the purpose of supporting the Urban League movement through volunteerism, philanthropy and membership development. ULGMYP is a volunteer auxiliary of community leaders ages 21-40 who work to empower communities and change lives through the Urban League movement.

Throughout the year, ULGMYP hosts interesting events with stimulating guests that serve as a great chance to network with other young professionals and to learn from a community member with expertise in a certain area.

“Everything is going great with ULGMYP. Right now, we’re at the point where we are revamping the chapter so we’re having some strategic meetings to help the current membership feel like they are part of what we are developing and moving towards,” Herriges says. “As the holidays get a little bit closer, aside from having meetings and doing community service work, we’re looking into doing some really fun things, too, around socializing and networking.”

“YP Real Talk: My Path thru My Lenz” will be a great chance to meet other young professionals, network and learn more about the Urban Leauge Young Professionals. There will be light food and beverages provided. Childcare will be available during the event.

“The event is open to anybody who is interested in being part of the discussion – whether it’s people who want to just come and listen and learn or if it’s a person who might not be a young professional but want to be a part of the conversation, they are definitely welcome to come,” Herriges says.

“It should be a really interesting event,” she adds. “We are hoping to see a great attendance.”