30 Years of Leaving Our Mark

“It’s where I play, it’s where I live. It’s where I will leave my mark.” — Young Leadership Council


Young professionals’ organizations abound in major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C. But did you know that the concept of a YPO started right here in New Orleans?

Founded in 1986, the Young Leadership Council was the country’s very first organization for young professionals, generating a nationwide evolution of similar groups in the 30 years since it started. Throughout YLC’s three decades of service, we have raised more than $25 million dedicated to developing leadership and spearheading community projects in the Greater New Orleans area.

It’s been 30 years of making our mark: take a look at where we came from and where we’re headed below as we continue our commitment to the Crescent City.


Earnest Beginnings

In the mid-1980s when YLC began, parts of New Orleans experienced diminished investment alongside increased urban decay. With an understanding of the need for a new kind of civic leadership, a group of young New Orleanians created the Young Leadership Council as a way to address hardships facing the city and its community firsthand.

Beyond tackling community issues, the YLC had an underlying mission: to develop and retain young leadership that in turn would support the city for years to come. Today, 30 years later, YLC upholds its tradition through the hard work of more than 1,300 members working on a variety of community projects. These young professionals – already pillars in the community – contribute to the YLC in tandem with their own jobs as a way to give back to the people of New Orleans for generations to come.

Powerful Projects

At the core of YLC are its dedicated projects, spanning a range of interests from education to community development to health and fitness and more. Over the course of 30 years, YLC has spearheaded several important community development efforts, many of which are easily recognizable in the city of New Orleans. A few examples of past and ongoing YLC projects include:

  • Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation: What began as a YLC project is now a dedicated nonprofit with a mission to attract major sporting events to the city. Through NBA All-Star Weekends, Super Bowls and more, GNOSF has created an economic impact of more than $2 billion since 1998.
  • Lights on the Crescent City Connection Bridge: The twin cantilever bridges that connect New Orleans to the Westbank got a major facelift in 1991 thanks to YLC. The twinkling lights that dot the bridge are a result of YLC’s successful fundraiser of more than $500,000 to illuminate the bridge.
  • Wednesdays at the Square: Chances are you’ve gotten through Hump Day with the live music and friendly environment at Wednesdays at the Square in Lafayette Square. In 2006, YLC took over production and management of this spring concert series, creating an estimated economic impact of more than $1 million each year.

YLC in Bloom

YLC’s success is due in part to its persistence. With the realization of projects like Wednesdays at the Square and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, YLC has continued to initiate powerful, impactful programs. Here are just a few of YLC’s many current projects:

  • RECreate: This youth recreation program offers accessible recreation for youth ages 5-14 who live in Central City. With two 10-week sessions in fall and spring, RECreate lets kids participate in clinics for soccer, tennis, horseback riding, basketball and more while providing breakfast and lunch to boot.
  • YLC Kicks: This program offers mentoring and coaching in soccer for kids across New Orleans – and it’s completely free. All participants (boys and girls ages 5-13) receive a soccer ball, t-shirt, and equipment as they learn athletic and character-building skills through one practice session and game per week.
  • Power Ties: Fostering career awareness, this program works with at-risk 8th grade students to teach them business etiquette and career preparedness from a formative age.

Looking Ahead

We are excited to work with our members and the greater New Orleans community to identify and tackle new challenges facing our city and build projects. As we have done throughout our history, our leaders will continue to rise to the challenge and build impactful projects that improve the quality of life for all New Orleanians.

Though we’re proud to reflect on 30 years of accomplishments, we most look forward to welcoming new members to the YLC. Please feel free to join us for a JumpStart meeting at 1840 Euterpe St. on the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. It’s a great way to learn about YLC and speak with existing members about how you can make your mark. Hope to see you there!