Dayton Area Chamber reaches out to young professionals with ‘Gen D Ignite’

New cohort program an evolution of Leadership Dayton and Empower

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has had decades of experience with cohort programs uniting business professionals and leaders.

Now it’s “Gen D’s” turn.

The chamber is launching “Gen D Ignite,” aimed at younger Dayton-area professionals, complementing the chamber’s well established “Leadership Dayton” and “Empower” programs.

The seven-month program starts this year and those interested are invited to a free 9 a.m. informational session Tuesday at the Dayton Metro Library, 300 Abbey Ave.

The program is based on feedback from members of a younger generation who might be weathering burnout and isolation, exacerbated by the recent pandemic, said Stephanie Keinath, the chamber’s vice president of strategic initiatives.

“Young people want a pathway, they want to see a future for themselves,” Keinath said.

Credit: Caroline Williams

Credit: Caroline Williams

It’s an evolution of the chamber’s well known Leadership Dayton program, which is close to 50 years old and offers a who’s who of local graduates. Each year, that program offers participants chances to network, access to development workshops, guest speakers, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, volunteering opportunities and more.

Similarly, Empower was created about six years ago for female leaders.

“What we realized is that, times are changing,” Keinath said. “We see cultures changing, we see our workplaces changing now. What we’re hearing, from both employees and employers, is that we really need to step up and provide a different type of experience.”

The chamber has heard from young professionals whose employers, and many of their colleagues, are based in other cities and even states.

“They see less opportunity to advance in workplaces,” Keinath said. “Oftentimes, they see less opportunity to build some of those peer-support networks. How can we come alongside these folks and really create an experience to help bridge some of those gaps?”

The chamber envisions a three-part curriculum focusing on networking, leadership skills and public service.

The first class will be capped at 20 members for a more intimate experience, Keinath said. She’s confident the chamber will get more applicants than available spots.

Tuition will be $2,000 for chamber members, with non-members being able to take part at a higher cost.

Applications for membership in the first class are due March 10 and can be found at

Selected members will gather for a welcome mixer April 21, and the program kick offs in earnest with an overnight opening retreat May 18 and May 19. A closing retreat is slated for Oct. 26.

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