Congratulations to the 2018 Leadership Certificate Program Graduates!

The Young Professionals of Knoxville would like to congratulate the graduates of the 2018 Leadership Certificate program. These young professionals completed an 8-week intensive course, learning how to set and achieve personal and professional goals, discussing leadership and the qualities of a good leader, and discovering their own strengths and how to apply them at work and in the community.


Mal Alder

Mal Alder is the Social Media Manager at FMB Advertising with a focus on helping companies increase their revenue while expanding their online brand. In addition to her membership with YPK, Mal also serves on the Communication Committee for Zoo Knoxville's Circle of Friends Council. When not at work or helping others in her community, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, spending time with her dogs.

To me, a leader is someone who understands their strengths, but focuses on building up the strengths of those around them. Whether you are working on a group project, a community committee, or in a corporate setting, a true leader knows the values of growing the group collectively rather than focusing on their own self-interest. 

I found a lot of value during the Leadership Certificate program, especially with the guest speakers. Not only were their talks individually informative, the collective of the experience helped me discover where my true passion lies with being an effective service member in our community. 



Julia Beuck

Julia is the Visitor Services Coordinator at the Muse Knoxville. She enjoys volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee and Community Coalition Against Human Trafficing. She is excited to bring back what she has learned in this program to her office and continue to develop new leaders!

The Leadership Certificate Program taught me how to find my strengths and focus on their growth rather than looking at my weaknesses. Having this foundation has allowed me to layer each class we've had to not only find my leadership style, but also how to learn from other types of leaders in the community. 


Kelsie Crittendon

Kelsie is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She is passionate about working with non-profits to help better her community. Kelsie and her fiance enjoy trying new things and have three dogs and two cats.





Christiana Goode

Christiana works in Human Resources at Provision Healthcare. She is also a Youth Leader at her church and enjoys yoga and rock climbing. She is passionate about developing the next generation of leaders in her community.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned where my passions stem from and how I can use my strengths and resources to further fuel those passions to be a more effective leader in my community. I am excited to see where these next steps take me! Thank you to everyone who gave me the opportunity to be a part of the Leadership program, and to the speakers and my classmates for making it worthwhile!


Kelsey Paris

Kelsey has been an HR Business Analyst at Arconic Inc. (formerly Alcoa) since she graduated from UTK in 2014. She enjoys volunteering with YPK, the Junior League of Knoxville and United Way of Blount County. During her free time, you can find her playing tennis, spending time with friends, and cheering on the Tennessee Vols!




Ashley Brooke Sams

Ashley is a member of the Graduate Business Programs Admissions team within the Haslam College of Business. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Higher Education. She enjoys giving back to the community through her involvement in YPK, Junior League of Knoxville, and the Zeta Tau Alpha Alumnae group. She loves spending time with her friends and family and traveling to new cities.

The YPK Leadership Certificate Program gave me an opportunity to meet future leaders who share my common goal to better the Knoxville community. The Influential leaders who spoke to our class about passions, fears, and strengths inspired me. It was interesting to learn of other’s journey to and through leadership, and I am excited to continue my own. My biggest takeaway was, “Your success in leadership is self-leadership.” Be sure to take care of yourself and not spread yourself too thin so you can continue to help those around you. Starting with simple tasks such as staying hydrated, eating, and getting enough rest.


Katy Wawrzyniec

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Katy currently serves as the Executive Assistant at Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville. She is finishing up her Master’s Degree in Arts Administration and is passionate about the arts, animals, and non-profits. Outside of school and work, she can often be found making music, traveling, or with her dog Dixie.





Ellie Gunn

Ellie Gunn left her home state of Texas to serve as an officer in the United States Coast Guard in Portland, Maine for 3 years. She later worked with nonprofits while living in Anchorage, Alaska and Seattle, Washington before settling in Knoxville late last year. Ellie currently serves as Director of Operations for Century Harvest Farms Foundation, a 350 acre organic, sustainable farm providing workforce development opportunities to limited resource individuals.

A leader has the ability to meet each person they are leading where that person currently exists, to build upon that person's innate strengths and support that person in their vulnerability, as they lead them to success.





Kendra Lane

Kendra is a Business Management Analyst with Knoxville Utilities Board where she serves as an accounting subject matter expert.  She holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) license and has a Master of Accountancy from UT. In her spare time she enjoys concerts, hiking and photography.