Meet YPK Membership Chair and Co-Chair

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Kelsey Paris, Membership Chair

Kelsey is a Nashville native but came to Knoxville in 2010 to attend The University of Tennessee. Kelsey is an HR Professional with 5 years of experience in talent management and employee development. Due to the nature of her role, she has lived in 4 states in 4 years but definitely calls Knoxville home.  During her free time you can find her trying out new restaurants, playing tennis and cheering on the Vols!

What do you love about Knoxville

I love that Knoxville is continuing to grow and that it is easy to get plugged into organizations and connect with local leaders. Knoxville is not too big and not too small.  It is just big enough that you have everything you need without it being overwhelming, but small enough to where you will more times than not see a familiar face when you are out and about. 

What are you passionate about?

I have always struggled with truly understanding what my passion was.  I always thought it had to be a specific function or activity like fashion, cooking or horseback riding.   It actually wasn’t until about a year after participating in the YPK Leadership Certificate Program that I realized my passion was INCLUSION.  You can invite anyone to the party, but you must also ensure that you are creating a welcoming environment for them to feel engaged and included.  This may stem from the HR side of me, but in everything I do, I try to ensure that those I am surrounded with feel comfortable and accepted.  Part of why I wanted to become membership chair is because I want to help implement ways for members to feel comfortable coming to events. A lot of our members do not know many people in Knoxville, so often times they are coming to their first event alone.  If we can make them feel welcomed and appreciated, then that makes me happy. 

What is your favorite quote and why?

I once had a professor in college say to me “get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” and that has really resonated with me not only through my professional life, but personal as well.  You have to get out there.  Go to that event. Reach out to that contact.  Apply to that job. Go to that concert!  I wasn’t comfortable going to my first YPK meeting by myself and now here I am!  These experiences will truly mold you into a better person, give you confidence and opportunities, and connect you with people that you may not have met otherwise.

Katie Martin, Membership Co-Chair

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Katie Bolt Martin has lived in Knoxville since the 3rd grade, graduated from Farragut High School and stayed in Knoxville to graduate from the University of Tennessee. Katie is the Executive Director of the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation, where she manages all aspects of the foundation as a “one-woman shop.” Katie lives in west Knoxville with her husband, Lanny, two daughters, Zoe and Charlotte, and German Shephard, Claire. Katie loves to travel; while at UTK she spent one semester studying abroad at Swansea University, Wales, United Kingdom. Some of Katie’s favorite travel destinations include Ireland, Switzerland, Austria & Hawaii.

How do you think Young Professionals of Knoxville contributes to our community? 

I like the community service aspect of Young Professionals of Knoxville (YPK); in a way I see it as the most important component of YPK. I see a group of leaders whom have great talent and fresh outlooks on ways to advance Knoxville and the lives of its residents. I see current members of YPK developing into the future leaders of our city, perhaps through service on nonprofit boards of directors or leading multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns for the betterment of the community. YPK provides avenues to expand members’ personal development in addition to professional development through its commitment to service; in my opinion that is one of the most impactful contributions of YPK.

What are you passionate about?

I absolutely adore children! I love love love them. Each and every child is so precious. If I could, I would protect them all from the harm that befalls too many children in our world. There are so many children who just need more love, more attention, more kindness, more praise, more protection from the bad things in life over which they have no control.

I have been surrounded by children almost my whole life, and find myself drawn to situations where I feel I can make even the tiniest bit of positive impact in a child’s life. Much of my career has been dedicated to working with children in a variety of roles: children & youth case manager, therapeutic preschool counselor, middle school teacher, high school teacher, Sunday school teacher, and yes, even substitute teacher! If there’s an event with children, then most likely you will find me playing with them, not socializing with the other adults, nor acting my age at all, and frankly having quite a fun time while at it!

What is your favorite quote and why?

 “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” – Ron Ulysses Swanson 

First of all, Ron Swanson is awesome and if you don’t know to whom I’m referring then you seriously must binge watch “Parks & Rec.” This should be a priority.

Secondly, we all get caught up in multitasking and trying to juggle way too many responsibilities and commitments at work and at home. When I get overwhelmed I think of Ron Swanson’s words of wisdom. It is almost impossible not to smile, and I instantly feel better. 😁