Young Professionals Gather ‘Round

Generation Dayton Collaborates, Celebrates GenD Day

By Maha Kashani

You may have heard of Generation Dayton (GenD) and wondered what exactly it is. The answer: it’s our community’s premier association for young professionals who live, work and play in the Dayton region. Let’s take a step back to better understand what this organization is all about.

Almost a decade ago, a handful of innovative young Daytonians noticed that most networking organizations were made up of tenured professionals twice their age. They identified a void for young professionals in the business community who wanted to network with their peers in a social or community service-oriented environment. Their efforts came to fruition with their concept for the Dayton Young Professionals Association, known as “DYPA.” Word spread that there was a new organization in town providing young professionals the opportunity to engage with each other outside of the traditional bar scene, and the group exploded.

DYPA quickly grew to a capacity that the founding officers, Matt Schmitz, Patrick Koons, Matt Byrd, Jeff Stickel and Nick Ruszkowski, could no longer manage on their own. Around the same time, Dayton identified the difficult challenge of brain drain, and its effect on the area. The region was producing top-notch talent, yet these bright and promising young professionals were leaving for what they thought were greener pastures. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce realized the need for an organization to assist with attracting and retaining future leaders of the region, which was exactly what DYPA was beginning to accomplish. The organizations were a perfect match for each other.

On May 4, 2006, Generation Dayton officially launched itself at Therapy Cafe. I remember that day so clearly … wow … how time flies.

This new and improved organization was formed, under the leadership of a volunteer Steering Committee and the Chamber, to create programs for professionals between the ages of 21 and 40 to meet new friends, network, learn about the region, grow personally and establish themselves amongst others who wanted to become an integral component in the future success of the Dayton region.

Keeping to the founding principles of giving young talent an opportunity to interact in a social and community service-oriented fashion, GenD Day was created to celebrate the organization’s anniversary. The official title of GenD Day: Get Out, Give Back Dayton!

Each year, on the afternoon of the first Friday in May, Dayton’s young professionals “get out” and “give back” to our community. 2011 marked GenD’s five-year anniversary, with over 130 young professional volunteers around the city sporting t-shirts that read “Dayton Rocks.” Collectively, 500 hours of time and talent benefited more than twenty non-profit agencies. The hours donated translated to a $10,000 impact on the community. Talk about a feel-good Friday afternoon!

In 2012, GenD Day is anticipated to be even bigger and better. Kicking off with a free lunch provided by Chick-fil-a, City of Dayton Mayor Leitzell will join the crowd and present a proclamation officially declaring May 4th as Generation Dayton Day in the city, and then volunteers will head out to their respective assignments. Scores of non-profit organizations around town are eagerly anticipating an afternoon spent with young, enthusiastic volunteers. There are a slew of projects available to work on, including but not limited to:

— Catholic Social Services: Planting flowers and bushes
— Crayons to Classrooms: Sorting/organizing school supplies
— Dayton Visual Arts Center (led by yours truly!): Painting, reorganizing, hanging art
— Downtown Dayton Partnership: Promoting Urban Nights
— Habitat for Humanity: Indoor and outdoor building projects
— Hannah’s Treasure Chest: Assisting with garage sale
— Humane Society: Walking dogs, socializing with cats, Furry Scurry assistance
— Garden Station: Building and filling garden beds, planting flowers
— Ronald McDonald House: Cooking hot meals and baking cookies
— United Rehabilitation Services: Working with adult and youth clients
— We Care Arts: Potting plants and yard work.

GenD Day is all about getting young professionals out into our community, but we also know it is important to reward our volunteers by giving them an opportunity to get down after an afternoon of giving back. What better reward than an after-party to enjoy some free food and drinks while sharing experiences and accomplishments from the day?

The official after-hours celebration will be held at The Vault from 5:30p.m. – 8p.m. Not everyone will be able to participate in the service portion of GenD Day, but all young professionals are still invited to attend the after-party for an opportunity to meet new friends and celebrate the 6th anniversary Generation Dayton!

(The 6th Annual “Get out, Give Back Dayton” Generation Dayton Day is on Friday May 4th.  From noon – 1p.m., check-in and have lunch at the Excelsior Building at 207 E. 6th St. From 1 – 5p.m. there will be volunteer opportunities, and the after-hours celebration is at The Vault, 20 North Jefferson Street, from 5:30 – 8p.m. To sign up forGet Out, Give Back Dayton!” on Generation Dayton Day or for more information contact LaDonna Wulfeck at or call (937) 226-8264.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at

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