Organization launching in Missouri aims to keep young professionals invested in state

Program recognizes ‘next generation of leaders’ under 30
A new non-profit is hoping to keep the next generation of leaders invested in the state of Missouri
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 4:32 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 9:32 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - A non-profit organization was registered in Missouri Wednesday, which aims to help the state retain young, accomplished professionals in its workforce.

NextGen Under 30 is a leadership development and awards recognition program that launched in Oklahoma in 2011. The program’s self-described mission is, “to identify and honor these very talented young Oklahomans, to encouraging them to follow their lifetime family and career goals in Oklahoma.”

Don Swift is the founder and CEO of the program and has registered the Missouri to begin investing in its next generation by starting a relationship with individuals who have demonstrated acumen in one of several different professional categories.

“Recognition equals retention, and that’s real basic, it’s fundamental,” Swift said.

NextGen was granted non-profit status in Oklahoma in 2015, and also expanded to Kansas.

The program allows citizens to nominated young professionals for work in 21 different categories such as public service, finance, education, the arts, hospitality and many others.

Emily Gise is a program director for Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services.

She’s been recognized as a winner by NextGen for her work in public service

“It really made me fall in love with Oklahoma even more, exposing me to all these incredible people I could learn from – and they were the same age as I am, some even younger,” Gise said. “It really energized me and made me realize that we are in good hands.”

The CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Dan Mehan, said this type of endeavor is important to investing in the future workforce and economy of the state.

“Efforts like that are critical,” Mehan said. “We have to make sure that people understand the opportunities that exist in Missouri, …to make sure that the next generation knows that they are welcome here.”

Swift noted that part of his larger mission for NextGen is focussing on the areas of the country, particularly midwestern states, that may be overlooked by young, up-and-coming professionals who would otherwise flock to larger urban centers.

No date has yet been announced for the non-profit organization’s official launch in Missouri.