Recent meeting of the Chamber Young Professionals Group

As an organization dedicated to providing platforms for local small business, the OPRF Chamber of Commerce encourages subsets of local business people with similar challenges to form “affinity groups.” These teams create peer-led safe spaces for business people with similar experiences and concerns to gather and explore issues, educational topics, and opportunities.  Members learn from each other but as a group create sufficient scale to bring in speakers, invite panel discussions and organize events of mutual interest.

Affinity Groups are formed whenever leaders identify a need and a level of interest among Chamber members.  The “Young Professionals Group” recently formed to create a platform for people cultivating their new-ish careers.  With goals of fellowship as well as development, emerging leaders in our business community built an affinity group that is welcoming, fun and, yes, professional.  

True to favorable stereotypes, these local young professionals look for ways to give back and make a difference outside of work, often by contributing to meaningful social justice causes or discreet projects with measurable results.  And, while Young Professional gatherings include the inevitable evening craft beer events and morning meet-ups to discuss work-life balance strategies, fundraisers for and outreach to nonprofits have been a consistent theme.  Opportunity Knocks, Wonderworks Children’s Museum and Friends fo the Oak Park Conservatory are recent beneficiaries of this Chamber Affinity Group.

The Young Professionals are casting a wide net this week, reaching out to even more charitable organizations.  In a twist on the Japanese speed presentation format “PechaKucha,” our Young Professionals invited local nonprofits to give hyper-short (225 second) presentations highlighting mission and current needs.  Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the wonderful work being done by over a dozen local nonprofits – as well as information on how to get more involved.

This week’s nonprofit showcase will be held at Wild Onion’s Tied House and is open to the public ($20 members / $25 nonmembers and latecomers). Ticket price includes appetizers and beer tastings.   Visit to register online.

Our Young Professionals group welcome “young-identifying” business people of all ages in the community, whether you live or work here.  Learn more at  

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...