Young Leaders in Kenosha to hold installation breakfast

What do bowling for charity, a cocktail party featuring a young entrepreneur’s talk and a business executive breakfast series have in common?

In May alone, it’s Y-Link, which stands for “Young Leaders in Kenosha.” The burgeoning non-profit group has grown to about 125 professionals, including emerging leaders and relative newcomers to Kenosha.

The group was formed in 2009 as a partnership between the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Kenosha County. One of the group’s overarching goals, in alignment with KABA’s strategic plan, is to attract, retain and engage young talent.

Already, it has built a strongly positive presence in the community, even as it has provided an environment for professionals to create connections personally and professionally and to develop their leadership skills.

KABA President Todd Battle said Y-Link is establishing a foundation for the next generation of the community’s leaders in a variety of sectors, including the business, civic and philanthropic arenas.

“I have been most struck by the initiative that Y-Link’s leadership has displayed,” Battle said. “It’s one thing to cast a vision for what an organization like Y-Link can become, but the energy and commitment that its membership has displayed in carrying out that vision has been impressive.”

One of its next events is the latest installment of the Y-Link Breakfast Series: from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, Frank Unick, Chief Financial Officer of Uline, will share a presentation, “Career Alignment: Matching Your Objectives to Company Priorities & Economic Realities.”

The event, at 12575 Uline Drive in Pleasant Prairie, is open to guests, said Randy Troutman, Y-Link’s president.

“Any young professional or any emerging or influential leader interested in Y-Link is welcome to attend,” Troutman said. While most of the group’s membership is comprised of those who are recent college graduates to those about 40 years old, there is no age limitation—hence the inclusion of those who are “young at heart.”

For Tracy Erickson, Y-Link’s secretary and events committee chairperson, the organization has offered an excellent opportunity to expand her personal and professional connections. Though she has lived in Kenosha for about 12 years, the 34-year-old began working in the city only two years ago.

“It’s been a great way for me to meet people,” said Erickson, an employee benefits account executive with Johnson Bank. “I’ve become more involved than I initially expected, and I have learned so much about Kenosha that I’d never have learned otherwise.”

Along with Autumn Anderson, Erickson edits and distributes Y-Link’s monthly newsletter, another process that has helped her discover various facets of the community.

Kim Lishamer, a 29-year-old business analyst with LMI Packaging Solutions, chairs Y-Link’s Community Engagement Committee. At first, when Troutman, a co-worker, approached her about joining, Lishamer’s primary motivation “was more to find out what’s going on in our community and how can I bring that back to LMI and our employees.”

“A lot of people want to give back,” said Lishamer, a Kenosha native, “but they don’t know what’s out there and where to start looking.”

One of her first events was “Leaders are Readers,” in which 15 of LMI Packaging Solutions’ employees read to first- and second-grade pupils. Inspired by that and other experiences, Lishamer has worked to get other co-workers involved and become more confident in taking on a leadership role.

“Before I had a lot of ideas, but I would sit back and let other people’s ideas unfold,” Lishamer said. “Now I definitely voice my ideas more and take a leadership role of implementing my thoughts. This has really pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

On average, 75 professionals turn out for professional development meetings and almost as many devote time giving back to the community.

On May 7, Lishamer was part of a team of bowlers and other volunteers who gathered at Surfside Lanes in support of the Second Annual Women & Children’s Horizon’s Bowl-A-Thon.

The fee for membership in Y-Link is $60 for one year and $100 for two years. Among the benefits of membership are discounts at more than 100 area businesses.

Y-Link’s membership consists of individuals as well as those who are employed by the organization’s 14 corporate members. For more information, visit, e-mail or call 262-654-1234, ext. 116.

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