The Young Professionals of Color Conference (YPCC) grows diversity and inclusion efforts in the business community by creating a space for young professionals of color to gather and engage with peers and leaders in the Grand Rapids community.

YPCC‘s annual conference engages young professionals, offering career-changing and inspirational business advice. Leaders from the community as well as nationally-known speakers share their insight, knowledge, and expertise, helping future leaders navigate their way through their professional careers.

For this year’s conference on June 30, 2022, the Keynote speaker was Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who is NPR’s first Latina host of a news program that brings the perspective of years in the field in Latin America, joining it with current events of the Hispanic community in the US. Her years of reporting in Mexico and covering immigration gives her a valuable perspective on what drives immigrants to come to the United States, and the aspirations of the diverse (and growing) Latinx community who are already here.

Lulu offered valuable insight on prioritizing mental health as a person of color and discussed approaches to finding an intersection between protecting ourselves while also being a “force of good” in our community.

As a strong advocate for mental health, Lulu discussed different ways she prioritizes it:

Find things that makes you feel better; creating less pressure on your mind and body.

Think about what you can and can’t change in your environment.

Tell the truth and ask for help.

Encourage yourself to have a positive internal dialogue (“I’m worth it,” “What I have to say is of value”)

Give yourself time and space to heal and be heard/seen.

Find a valuable mentor. What do you need and what do you give?

So, what is that intersection? Lulu provided two perspectives:

  1. During difficult moments, you need to acknowledge and realize people’s pain. In other words, “I see you and I’m sorry.”
  2. To the people that are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to take a step back and protect yourself. What can you do to take care of yourself in these moments?

Brandon Davis and Jourdan Eatman of the Grand Rapids community were also speakers during the conference. They discussed social justice in West Michigan.

Brandon Davis of Grand Rapids, speaking at YPCC 2022

Brandon and Jourdan discussed how social justice has many different definitions, but encompasses equal rights, equitable opportunity, and equal treatment.

They also spoke about overcoming the “POC tax” in the fight for justice. The people of color tax refers to the mental, physical, spiritual, and financial labor that uniquely becomes difficult for individuals to face. This concept is not well-known; though POC face these major barriers every day.

They also discussed disrupting systems from the inside out, which is helpful for those who want to make a positive change in the community and society:

Disrupt how you disrupt.

Identify your people.

Add value and build trust.

Shift the culture – policies matter.

Plan your work and work your plan.

Know your limits.

There were additional speakers who discussed more about mental health for young people of color and even information on financial advisors with content on managing finances and planning for life ahead.

As a person of color, it was insightful to learn and discuss different perspectives on managing mental health and diving deeper into social justice in West Michigan. It was comforting to know I am not alone in my struggles and there are valuable approaches to combatting them from a personal to a business level.

Marissa Acevedo joined Kennari as an Intern in January 2022 and was later onboarded as a Coordinator in May of 2022. In her role, Marissa provides support for the Kennari Consulting team and our clients by working in various stages of campaign, project, and programs development; scheduling and coordination of meetings; and assisting with administrative support such as agendas and meeting materials. She is grateful to be a part of a team that values client relationships and provides organizations with the guidance and resources they need to make the most impact.