Skagit Young Professionals – Encouraging professional development in the next generation of business leaders

Skagit Young Professionals – Encouraging professional development in the next generation of business leaders Main Photo

7 Mar 2024

Professional Development

A group of young business professionals has revived Skagit Young Professionals, a networking group started in the 2000s. Just as before, the Skagit Young Professionals aims to create business connections with peers, but the new leaders of the group aim to broaden its scope through encouraging civic engagement and growing lasting relationships that help to encourage young professionals to stay in the county.

“Instead of just networking, we see it as building relationships and friendships with people,” said Emma Oates, community engagement manager for the Mount Vernon Downtown Association.

Oates got the idea from the Whatcom Young Professionals, which she participated in when she was employed in Bellingham. After coming to work in Mount Vernon, she saw a need here for a similar group. 

Along with Oates, Cecily Gubitosi, a professional photographer, and Joel Pasek, sales and marketing manager for ServPro, have helped to get the fledgling group off the ground. Skagit YP meets for its weekly Monday Morning Jump Start at Calico Cupboard’s Mount Vernon location. Monthly evening socials provide the opportunity for a more casual chance to build relationships and network.

The three say they hope to encourage employers to invest in their young employees by allowing them the time to attend meetings. 

“The highest-value item that we're offering is getting your employees plugged in to the local professional scene,” Oates said. 

While being an opportunity for networking, the meetings also offer professional development.

“We always bring a discussion question, usually related to some sort of professional development, and we all talk about it and learn from each other,” Oates said.

Pasek says there is an aspect of mentoring as well, especially for those brand-new to the county or just entering the workforce.

“For people who are new, we can make those introductions,” he said.

Skagit YP is also making it a point to attend local government meetings, civic events and chamber of commerce meetings as a group in order to take away the “scary factor” of going into an unfamiliar situation. 

“When you have that team with you it’s just a lot less daunting and you feel a lot more confidence to get involved,” Gubitosi said.

The group also hopes that getting involved on a civic level will encourage young people to take ownership in the community and encourage them to stay in Skagit. 

“We want to show people that there is a place for them,” Oates said. “You can stay [in Skagit] – or come here –because there's this really vibrant community for young people.” 

To learn more about the group, contact