Published Author Category Community, Events


Editor’s note: The Durham Young Professionals Network will be hosting Research Triangle Foundation President and CEO Bob Geolas at their inaugural Speaker Series event this coming February 9th. Read on for more information.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lisa Jemison, Programs Director at The Research Triangle Foundation and Advisory Board Member of the recently revived Durham Young Professionals Network (YPN). The Durham YPN is a non-profit organization which maintains strategic partnerships with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and the Research Triangle Park Foundation to provide events, workshops and community service opportunities that cater specifically to the needs and interests of young professionals (ages 21-39). As Lisa and I discussed Durham YPN, I quickly realized what a benefit the organization will be to young professionals in the area.

Nicole Taylor: What is your role with the Durham YPN?

Lisa Jemison: I am on the advisory board which basically means that I represent the Research Triangle Foundation as a partner and sponsor of the group. I act as a liaison to keep the Research Triangle Foundation connected to the happenings of Durham YPN.

NT: How did the idea to revive the Durham YPN come about?

LJ: Justin Burleson of the Raleigh YPN and Leslie Beckman of the Chapel Hill YPN both independently had the idea to revive the Durham YPN. Once they were introduced, they began working together and the idea started moving forward.

NT: So how did you and the Research Triangle Foundation get involved with the Durham YPN?

LJ: Having committed partnerships with the Research Triangle Foundation and the Durham Chamber of Commerce already in place serves to substantiate the effort and provide a bridge between the Durham YPN and our organizations. We agreed to partner because our missions are very much in alignment. At the Research Triangle Foundation we are working to build communities within the Research Triangle Park–communities that reach a variety of people with a variety of interests. In 2015, the Research Triangle Foundation identified young professionals as a target market to enrich. Partnering with Durham YPN has proven to be a great outlet to do just that.

NT: What are some of the benefits of joining the Durham YPN?

LJ: The networking and professional development opportunities are invaluable. It’s also exciting to be a part of a group of people who are going to be the future leaders of the Research Triangle Park.

NT: What makes the Durham YPN stand out among other business associations?

LJ: Being a part of a local business association really helps to build local community. By becoming a member of the Durham YPN, young professionals are joining a local network of individuals who take their careers seriously. Every company in the Research Triangle Park is thinking about millennials and young professionals, and there is a lot of competition to acquire that talent. The connections you make as a member of the Durham YPN can prove to be instrumental in career advancement.

NT: Tell us about your upcoming Speaker Series event.

LJ: Bob Geolas, President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, will be our first speaker of 2016. He was chosen because he is truly a visionary for the region. Bob will be discussing the role of young professionals in the future of the Research Triangle Park. Additionally, other Research Triangle Foundation staff will be providing updates on the Park Center redevelopment that was announced at the end of last year. We chose to have the event at The Frontier, an innovative co-working community space in RTP, because it is a very physical representation of the Durham YPN, in that it is a place for everyone.

For more information on becoming a member of the Durham Young Professionals Network, please visit

To register for the upcoming Speaker Series event on February 9, please visit This event is free but space is limited, so sign up early!

Special thanks to Lisa Jemison and the Durham YPN for their commitment to grow the community of young professionals in the area.