5 Questions with Hillary Parkhurst, chair of Tulsa's Young Professionals
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2013
2/15/13 at 5:17 AM
Hillary Parkhurst is director of development at the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center. The lifelong Tulsan formerly worked for Mayor Dewey Bartlett and former Mayor Kathy Taylor as a mayoral aide for authorities, boards and commissions, and international affairs. She now serves as the 2013 chairwoman of Tulsa's Young Professionals, or TYPros.
1: What is the purpose and mission of Tulsa's Young Professionals, or TYPros?
The mission of TYPros is to attract and retain young talent in the Tulsa region and also establish Tulsa's next generation of business and community leaders.
We're working toward that mission through eight work crews that focus on specific areas of interest for young professionals. For example, our Government Relations Crew's purpose is to identify and address issues that affect YPs and the future growth of Tulsa. The crew hosts Leadership Through Legislation, a series that informs members about the legislative process and how to affect change. The crew also takes an annual trip to the state Capitol to lobby for priorities that affect Tulsa's young professionals.
2: TYPros is said to be one of the largest groups of its kind in the country. What do you attribute its growth to?
I believe it's the flexibility within the organization, its leadership and volunteers. Over the past eight years the organization has stretched to the needs of its members and the needs of the city. Another attribute for strong membership is that there is no rule for involvement - each member can be as active as he or she is able. This is especially important for young professionals because the early years of a career, as a general rule, aren't very flexible.
3: Recently, TYPros initiated a grass-roots campaign to attract Trader Joe's to Tulsa by taking online orders from the high-end grocery retailer, with the items set to be distributed Saturday at a one-day pop-up shop. What other new and innovative ideas or plans does the group have for 2013?
We have more than 80 events each year, including networking events, professional development series, community volunteer opportunities and an arts initiative.
The event I'm most excited about this year is Street CReD: North Star, which will be held at 36th Street North and Peoria Avenue. The Street CReD motto is, "When no area of Tulsa is neglected, the entire city benefits," and currently the North Star neighborhood is being neglected.
Improvements in transit options and fresh groceries would make a huge impact.
The North Star community is classified as a "food desert" because it is two miles from any grocery store. Our third annual Street CReD will hopefully entice a grocer to open a location close to the neighborhood by having an open-air farmer's market and showing the neighborhood's needs.
We'll also have a trolley running a convenient route for attendees. Currently, there's only one main bus route to North Star, and it makes travel inconvenient to downtown and other places in Tulsa.
4: Why is it important to have young professionals involved in supporting and promoting their community?
I find that people who are involved are more invested in their community. My involvement in TYPros has opened my eyes to T-Town traditions, events, people and history that make me proud to call Tulsa home.
We want to keep - and attract - the best and the brightest in Tulsa, so it's imperative that we're loud and proud about all that Tulsa has to offer.
5: What initially prompted you to join TYPros? What have you enjoyed most about membership?
I was away from the Tulsa scene during college and was looking to find a way to reconnect and meet new people. I also was looking for an opportunity to get plugged into a group of individuals who had the same passion for the city I love.
I've truly enjoyed the friends whom I've made along the way. I've made strong connections by working with TYPros' members on creative initiatives and attending multiple events that this organization has to offer.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH/Tulsa World