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Ignite520 Unites Tucson's Young Professionals

by Kai Parmenter

The Old Pueblo has always fostered diversity and innovation, a fact the Tucson Young Professionals Alliance is keenly aware of.

The Alliance, a division of the nonprofit organization Tucson Young Professionals, will host its second annual ignite520 summit in Downtown on October 21st and 22nd, bringing professionals from the younger generation together to connect, plan for the future of Tucson, and showcase the many wonderful things already taking place here.

Spanning a day and a half, ignite520 will have something for everyone. The event will feature a number of breakout sessions, with speakers from Fed By Threads, the Center for Community Dialogue, Steven Romo of Romo Tonight Live, and Mayor Rothschild himself. Topics of discussion will include everything from business and entrepreneurship to sustainability and the arts. In addition to these personal and professional development courses, there will be volunteer opportunities and mixer events. Networking opportunities abound!

Which isn’t to say it will be all work and no play. The second morning will include a yoga hour and coffee with creatives, and a sampling of Tucson’s many food trucks on offer for lunch. In the afternoon attendees can either volunteer with Beads of Courage, or partake in a scavenger hunt (because nothing brings people together like teamwork, and a bit of friendly competition). The summit will close out with a final gathering, where everyone can reconnect and share their experiences.

Vanessa Santucci, who organized ignite520, says the event was a brainchild of the Tucson Young Professionals Alliance, which meets to discuss their overarching goals for each year. Following on the heels of the successful #ThisIsTucson movement on social media, the Alliance sought to continue the trend of highlighting the many things that draw people to our city, and set Tucson apart.

“Ignite520 was born out of that,” says Santucci. “The concept of having a young professional conference in Tucson that wasn’t industry-specific, that was for people in all fields to come together to network, but to also learn about Tucson, learn about Downtown…there’s a whole bunch of different factors there.”

Santucci, who also organized last year’s conference, says the Alliance received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees of the first ignite520. Like the previous event, this year’s ignite520 will be held in Downtown, and includes a walking tour, so attendees can get the full Downtown experience.

Yet you don’t have to be a business type or a “young” person to get something from the event, notes Santucci—ignite520 is open to all. Attendees from last year’s summit included everyone from currently enrolled students and recent grads to individuals in their fifties and sixties.

“I think everyone really got some benefit from it,” says Santucci. This year’s lineup will include a more diverse array of presenters and speakers. The event also offers a discounted rate for members of all professional groups associated with the Tucson Young Professionals Alliance.

As their name implies, the mission of Tucson Young Professionals is to promote, attract and retain young leaders and thinkers in Tucson, giving them a platform to engage with the community while developing the city as a destination for entertainment, modernization and economic growth. The Alliance connects young professional groups from across Tucson to leverage their talent and resources in pursuit of this goal.

“We want Tucson to grow, we want it to be a diverse community,” says Santucci. “Our concept has always been to promote Tucson and [help] the people here see the value in staying here, and investing in the community.” A native of Tucson, Santucci has served on the board of Tucson Young Professionals for three years, and can’t wait to share this year’s summit with everyone.

To learn more about this year’s ignite520 summit, or register for the event, visit their website here.