Hillary Parkhurst is the 2013 Chair of Tulsa’s Young Professionals.
Hillary Parkhurst, photographed in Hodges Bend, is the 2013 Chair of TYPros.
Photo by Natalie Green.
Can you talk a little bit about the overall mission of Tulsa’s Young Professionals?
The mission of Tulsa’s Young Professionals is to attract and retain young talent in the Tulsa region while also establishing Tulsa’s next generation of business and community leaders. We see continual progress in Tulsa, and it’s important to have young professionals within our community to be ready to take on the big leadership rolls and continue the growth.
As a young professional yourself, how has that mission been relevant in your life?
When I left for college, I really didn't plan to move back to Tulsa. There were not many opportunities for young professionals at that time, and the city hadn't seen this new revitalization that it has now. Not only is the city experiencing a vast regrowth, but there are many opportunities for young professionals to get involved on a much deeper level, which is not common in cities of our size and larger. I want to help make our demographic aware of those opportunities so they will see the value in staying in or moving to our city.
What are some of the biggest struggles you think young professionals living in the Tulsa area face?
In Tulsa, like elsewhere, young professionals struggle to make a name for themselves personally and professionally. TYPros is a perfect outlet to remedy this natural step in a career. Networking with people in the same situations as seasoned business leaders is a great way to grow professionally. Becoming more active in the community from a volunteer aspect is a great way to grow personally, and I feel we offer many of these opportunities as an organization.
What would you say to an individual unsure of whether or not he or she should get involved in TYPros?
First of all, membership is free, and the impact is limitless. The organization is very flexible, allowing members to participate in things that interest them the most. Events and Work Crews have specific areas of interest so that members can become involved in a variety of activities. There are many reasons to join, including networking with other young professionals, becoming an advocate for legislative issues, continuing professional development learning from business leaders at a variety of events, including LED and The Forge Ahead series, volunteer opportunities and knowing what’s going on around Tulsa and getting involved!
How has your organization grown and evolved since its creation in 2003?
In 2003 the Tulsa Regional Chamber began plans to respond to the “brain drain” of new graduates moving to other states. TYPros launched in 2005 and has grown exponentially. We continue to gain an average three to four members daily. The key to our growth has been flexibility. Our crews have been added and adjusted over the years, and events have been created and adjusted based on member feedback
Moving forward, what are some of the long-term and short-term goals of TYPros throughout the community?
The long-term goal is simply to continue building and highlighting a community where young professionals want to live, work and play. Our biggest short-term goals are to host a successful Street CReD event on May 11 at 36th Street North and North Peoria, which will highlight the existing food desert and transit issues. We also want to continue to work with community members to raise a significant amount of money for our community partner, the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa. One of the greatest aspects of Tulsa is the philanthropy of the people. TYPros members are extremely generous with their time and always dedicate thousands of volunteer hours working for the annual community partner. We have had a very successful fundraiser, CharityOkie, which will be held two more times this year. CharityOkie is karaoke for a cause. You can sing for free, but you can also pay to gong a friend off the stage.
What are your thoughts on age in the workforce?
I’m a firm believer that diversity of all aspects will create a better outcome; when you have more ideas at the table, you’ll inherently come to a better solution. Age is an aspect of diversity that should be leveraged within the workforce; we can all learn from another’s experience and not just from the top-down. Mentorship is not just from old to young, but (it goes) in both directions.
What are some activities you like to do to remind yourself of your youth?
I like to enjoy my free time when I get it! I love brunch with my friends, seeing concerts around town, visiting new exhibits in our amazing museums and reminding myself that even though I'm an adult now, I can still be young at heart!
Do you find yourself thinking down the line to when you’re no longer a “young” professional?
I suppose that is something you have to do, whether you are ready for it or not. I can definitely see myself still being an active member of our community through many volunteer roles and board positions. I can only hope that the work I am contributing now to our organization and to this community will help pave the way for future young professional leaders to take the reigns and keep us moving forward.