Young Leaders Society (YLS) was inaugurated 6 years ago as an effort to galvanize the young professionals in Santa Barbara County toward leadership and engagement in the local community. Societies and cities are strongest when leadership is being continuously renewed. When a city lacks a strong emergent group of leaders, it eventually suffers from a “leadership vacuum” that slows and stifles the momentum put towards solving community issues and civic growth. In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam explores the diminishing and rebirth of community life and civic engagement. He highlights the idea of social capital - the relationships we have with one another – as the cornerstone of strong community.
YLS exists to ensure that the importance of social capital is not lost on this next generation of leaders. When we look back at our history, the relationships formed in the bowling allies, church meeting rooms, morning breakfast shops, and community meetings have sustained our society. Many of those historic places do not have the same influence on current young leaders, which means it is more important than ever that YLS creates opportunities for our emerging leaders in Santa Barbara to strengthen their social capital in order to ultimately serve the common good.
YLS galvanizes young leaders in three ways: volunteerism/philanthropy, professional development, and networking. Currently YLS has more than 100 active members ages 21 to 40 years old.
- Volunteerism/Philanthropy: Collectively serving local needs within the community by giving our time and financial resources (e.g. Day of Caring, Fun in the Sun, Read Across America, Meals at Casa Esperanza, United We Bowl)
- Professional Development: Opportunities to learn about local resources, refine professional skills, and learn best practices for the work place and at home (e.g. StrengthsFinder training, Marketing-Branding, Budgeting Investment, and Conflict Management)
- Networking: Times to meet other professionals and spend time with others who want to contribute to the civic growth of our community (e.g. YLS Anniversary, United We Bowl)