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Weekend edition October 22, 2021 | Kailyn Lamb

Endeavor Summit highlights local business and a growing young professional community

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

The Knoxville Chamber hosted a virtual summit for young professionals earlier this week, featuring conversations on diversity, makers, and life outside of work. The theme of the day was “Why Knoxville,” which was also the title of the keynote address with Dick’s Sporting Goods. Read more in this article from today’s newsletter

To see the full agenda for Endeavor Summit, including a list of speakers, go to this story.

Endeavor Summit kicked off on Thursday with a panel on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Panelists discussed their own journeys as well as what the Knoxville community can be doing to better support its increasingly diverse population.

Cristina Cáceres, Director of Community Resources at Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, said “diversity is not only a buzz word,” and that it is important for people to follow their words with action. This sentiment was echoed by many of the panelists throughout the discussion. For businesses in particular, Josh Loebner, Director of Strategy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Designsensory, said company goals should be tied to performance metrics, and making sure minority communities are actually being engaged. He also said that he redefined diversity, equity and inclusion as IDEAS, or Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Success.

After the keynote address with representatives from Dick’s Sporting Goods, a “Made for Knoxville” panel focused on the entrepreneurial journey and how the three maker panelists launched their own business. Femeika Elliott, Founder of Meik Meals, talked about finding other Black female entrepreneurs to help give her advice. Mentorship was a theme throughout the panel. Growth and capital were other topics discussed by panelists with Mal Alder, Founder of Alder & Co., talking about the isolation of having your own business, but also having the vision to grow, yet not quite being ready. Tying back to the mentor theme, Alex Abell, Founder of Lunchpool, said there are a lot of resources available in Knoxville as well as people willing to help new founders.

The final panel of the day, “Knoxville: Life Redefined,” was focused more on out-of-work-activities. Panelists discussed their favorite recreation spaces in Knoxville and important events for nonprofits. Cierra Bussard with Fun with Friends Knoxville talked about the importance of community and building relationships outside of work. Amelea Everett spoke about volunteering for the personal benefit, but also how it benefits professional development. The focus of the panel was on creating work-life balance.

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