Partners producing Young Professionals of Color Conference

Candace Matthews. Courtesy Young Professionals of Color Conference

A local manufacturer is partnering with several organizations to host a conference on helping young professionals of color leverage their experience for greater impact.

Cascade Township-based Cascade Engineering will host its eighth-annual Young Professionals of Color Conference from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 22 at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, at 1001 E. Beltline Ave. NE.

Cascade is producing the event in partnership with platinum sponsor Spectrum Health and exclusive young professionals partner Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions or BL2END.

A number of others are sponsoring the event: Lake Michigan Credit Union and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (gold); Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, TEK Systems, Warner Norcross + Judd and West Michigan Works! (silver); the city of Grand Rapids and Watkins Ross (bronze); and Milinda Ysasi (scholarship sponsor).

The 2019 event’s theme is “Making Change: Local and Global Impact.” Sessions will focus on how young professionals of color can “create, identify and change their path for individual and organizational success.”

Keynote speaker

Candace Matthews, regional president of the Americas and Europe for Amway, will be the keynote speaker.

Matthews serves on the boards of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Fifth Third Bank Western Michigan and the Spectrum Health Foundation. She is a past board member of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and U.S. Dream Academy.

She earned a B.S. degree in metallurgical engineering and administrative and management science from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as an M.B.A. degree from Stanford University.

Her message in the keynote will be to “inspire young professionals to design a path for personal and professional growth, empowered with the knowledge that change is constant and brings many opportunities for making impact.”


Participants will have the opportunity to select two 75-minute breakout sessions led by local leaders focusing on building skill sets, networks and pathways to making the change they seek.

At 4 p.m., there will be a panel discussion. The day will end with a learning dialogue in the university’s Christ Chapel.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.


Tickets to the conference, $75, can be purchased online. Space is limited, and registration will close when capacity has been reached.

A limited number of scholarships will be offered. People can apply here.

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