A Q&A with new Emerging Leaders chair Josh Wally Addie

Date: March 5, 2024

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On March 8, 2023, more than 75 young professionals from around the area packed Golf Lounge 18 for the first event of the North Shore Chamber’s new initiative – the Emerging Leaders program.

The highly successful kickoff event came after nearly a year of planning and preparation by a steering committee and Chamber staff, who saw a need for a young professionals’ group on the North Shore and sought to make it a reality.

In the year since that first event, the Emerging Leaders initiative has grown to include nearly 100 members. Crowds of young professionals regularly gather for After Hours networking events and training workshops and seminars designed to build skillsets.

As  its second year gets underway, M&T Bank vice-president Josh Wally Addie has taken over as the chair of the Emerging Leaders from former chair Chris Pellegrini, who worked tirelessly to get the initiative started. As a member of the steering committee, Josh worked closely with Chris to create the group and says it felt like a natural move to take the helm.

Josh recently sat down for a Q&A to discuss his goals for the group and the importance of programs for workers starting out in their careers.

Why did you want to take the position of chair of the Emerging Leaders?
I have experienced other chambers outside of the North Shore, and have actually attended some Emerging Leaders events elsewhere. I have seen first-hand what an active Emerging Leaders group can do not only for a chamber, but the community as a whole. I was elated to take the position of Chair as it allows me to further engrain myself within the North Shore community and be a part of the change that I wish to see in the world.

I also believe it is imperative to create a conducive environment for young professionals to get involved with a chamber. I remember very vividly my first experiences with other chambers, and being a young professional can be a hard barrier to overcome as many of the individuals involved are more experienced and seasoned within the community.

What are your main goals for the upcoming year?
My main goals are to continue to expand and grow the membership base, increase the amount of community activism, and provide an expanded series of educational workshops and “fireside chats” to the Emerging Leader community. As part of the Emerging Leader’s mission, giving back to the communities that we serve here on the North Shore is of paramount important.

I would love to be able to provide both manpower and monetary support to local non-profits and community organizations through a series of fundraising efforts in 2024. In addition, I want to further tap into the esteemed network of business leaders that are currently supporting the North Shore Chamber. The more we can leverage our seasoned leaders, the better. I believe that professional development is just as important as community activism as Emerging Leaders have a responsibility to elevate all of our communities for future generations.

The Emerging Leaders group is really flourishing. How do you hope to continue to grow the membership?
Now that Emerging Leaders has taken off, we plan to collect feedback from our existing members to understand what is important to them. Our board is currently made up of five individuals which we are actively interviewing to expand, however, we will be activating our existing membership to understand not only how we can improve, but what they would like to see going forward. Feedback is a gift – we need to leverage the dozens of Emerging Leaders that have attended our events.

What sort of reaction do you hear from young professionals as they attend events and programs?
Young professionals have relished the opportunity to connect with like-minded Emerging Leaders. They love that we are a community-driven group that is looking to “grow” with each other in the community that we all live in. Emerging Leaders has created a “safe space” for individuals that want to get involved in the Chamber as a whole, but may not feel that have enough to add to a more seasoned group of members.

Where do you see the Emerging Leaders program in 5 years?
Emerging Leaders will be an integral community-driven professional organization here on the North Shore. The goal is to drive membership for the North Shore Chamber as a whole. Creating collaborative partnerships with other community organizations will be a huge part of this. Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit within our Emerging Leaders, combined with community activism, will allow us to foster in the next-generation of seasoned business leaders and create a cycle that fosters the growth of the overall chamber.

The Emerging Leaders program is possible due to the financial support of its platinum sponsor, M&T Bank.