Global Shapers Norfolk inspires millennials to create new jobs in sustainability

Global Shapers Norfolk is hosting an event to inspire millennials to create jobs in Virginia’s growing sustainability industry.

“Green with a Purpose” will feature local millennials who have already launched innovative sustainable companies, along with experts in sustainability. Global Shapers Norfolk is proud to host the event this Thursday January 26 at 7 p.m. at the new ODU Innovation Center in downtown Norfolk.

“With Norfolk ranking second only to New Orleans for the threat of sea level rise, we see an opportunity for innovation. The mission of Global Shapers Norfolk is to activate millennials in the 757 to drive creative change. We believe investing in sustainability can help keep millennials in Hampton Roads, as studies show nearly 75 percent of millennials value working for businesses that have a positive impact on society, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016,” Shaper Nisha Witt said.

Witt, a veteran and millennial, took the lead to organize “Green With a Purpose.” She has been recognized nationally for creating Aesop Technologies, which develops renewable methods to recharge cell phones. After winning $50,000 in business competitions to launch her company in Norfolk, the city has ordered Aesop’s newest product: benches outfitted with solar panels that can charge your cell phone.

Local millennial and ODU graduate Hamilton Perkins is also a featured speaker at Thursday’s “Green with a Purpose” event. Perkins will share his story about creating a company that turns trash into fashion. After learning that billions of plastic bottles are thrown away each year and it takes up to 1,000 years for plastic to degrade, Perkins wanted to make a difference. His Norfolk-based company recycles plastic bottles to make affordable, designer bags that look good, perform well, and reduce pollution.

In addition to Witt and Perkins, Jeff Staples of the Sierra Club Chesapeake Bay Group will speak about Virginia’s vast resources of clean, renewable energy and opportunities to expand solar and wind use.

“Green with a Purpose” is a free event that is open to the public. Global Shapers Norfolk chose to host the forum at the Old Dominion University Innovation Center to showcase the newest hotspot to launch and incubate startups in downtown Norfolk.

“We are impressed by the partnership between ODU and the City of Norfolk to promote innovation and diversify our economy by investing in start-ups of all shapes and sizes. ODU provides excellent resources to help individuals in our community launch startups - just like us,” Global Shapers Norfolk Curator Claire Wulf Winiarek said.

As a social start-up itself, Global Shapers Norfolk recently received a grant to help grow its hub from ODU’s Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI). “We want to ensure that local millennials are aware of these sorts of opportunities to create new ventures. The challenge our region faces with sea-level rise is an opportunity for community engagement and entrepreneurial innovation, and we believe millennials can help lead the way,” Winiarek stressed.

Global Shapers Norfolk is a hub of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community developed and led by distinguished, diverse young men and women under 30, driven by a shared responsibility to make a difference in their community. We are apolitical, not-for-profit, and committed to creating a better world by activating millennials in Hampton Roads.

The Hub will be organizing its 2017 community impact projects to align with the four primary themes that emerged from the 2016 #WeAre757Millennials report: sustainability, regionalism, economic development and growth, and arts and culture.



Hub-ernation for the Holidays and a Shaper Spotlight

As we enter the busiest and merriest time of year, our Norfolk Global Shapers Hub is taking a short hiatus. A hibernation. A HUB-ernation, if you will. We aspire to great things as a Global Shapers and we believe that we are doing important work in Hampton Roads; however, people are the building blocks of our regional community and this is the time of year that should be spent in celebration and relaxation with the family and friends that support us and our efforts. Do not despair - we will return in full force on January 9, 2017!

With our final post before a temporary social media silence, we want to leave you with a recap of our last week and some final thoughts and questions to carry you into the new year.


Last week, our very own Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, the founder of Pitchblack, an initiative to build technology solutions for organizations that serve diverse communities, was a panelist for "Millennial Muscle: Making Their Mark on Business in Hampton Roads," a breakfast panel assembled as a part of the Cox Business Executive Discussion Series.

Aaz joined three other millennials in business: Hamilton Perkins, the founder and president of Hamilton Perkins Collection, a certified B Corporation that offers designer travel bags at an affordable price, Chelsea Mandello, the founder and CEO of Troopster, a website that provides care packages to military members on deployment, and Brad Hunter, a vice president in commercial lending at TowneBank.

The panelists superbly articulated the collective millennial voice. Here are a few of our favorite quotes:

"We aren't going to be a New York or an Atlanta, but we can leverage the strong industrial products available in Hampton Roads to build a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that is particular to our region." 
- Aazia Mickens-Dessaso
"It is not uncommon to live in one city, work in another, and go to church or visit friends in yet another. Regional transportation supports this, as well as business productivity. I support public transportation and believe it attracts millennials." 
- Brad Garrett
"We are such a naturally information now generation. I don't have my phone on me at work - I'm not allowed - and I think that actually decreases my productivity. With my phone, I can find the answer to my question, plus ten others, in a second. Then I can move on with my day."
- Chelsea Mandello
"At the end of the day, networking is never going to go away. I might know someone in my network that I can introduce to someone else and they might know someone that I should meet. I don't think social media has replaced traditional networking, it has just changed how networking takes place." 
- Hamilton Perkins

As millennials have become "the largest share of the American workforce," we can guarantee that formal and informal conversations about how to attract, engage, and retain millennials in Hampton Roads will increasingly take place, because the future of the regional economy depends on it. Less than two weeks ago, Larry Filer, an economist at Old Dominion University, touched on this topic at the Virginia Economic Summit. He stated that we need to "get away from the idea that a Wegmans and a craft brewery” will bring millennials to Virginia. Last week, the 'Millennial Muscle' panelists had an opportunity to address these comments within the overarching discussion of millennials and economic development in Hampton Roads. These quotes probably summarize the conversation best:

"There is a 'there-there' - an energy and excitement - in so many successful communities that encourages entrepreneurship and millennial retention. There are things to grow a community around."
- Aazia Mickens-Dessaso
"Guess what - if Amazon popped up in Hampton Roads, you're not going to have to worry about whether there is a craft brewery. It's naturally going to be there."
- Brad Garrett

So, what do you think? Do communities attract millennials with amenities, so that millennials will bring jobs, or do they attract millennials with jobs, so that millennials will bring amenities? What do you think that Hampton Roads should be doing to stay ahead of the curve?

ODU Center for Enterprise Innovation Recognizes Two Hampton Roads Organizations with Grants

NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion University is taking more steps to drive innovation, economic development and millennial retention for the region by awarding two grants.

A $3,000 grant was awarded to the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative (HRIC) to help advance HRIC’s mission of expanding innovation, business success and regional economic competitiveness.

A $1,000 grant was awarded to Global Shapers Norfolk to help the millennial leadership group fund innovative projects to catalyze creative change in our region. 

Marty Kaszubowski, executive director of Old Dominion's Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI) stated: “Old Dominion University is dedicated to creating a culture of innovation to diversify our economy and fuel economic growth in Hampton Roads. HRIC’s new leadership, new ideas and actionable programs are all intended to optimize area business success and job creation.  Additionally, attracting and retaining millennials to combat brain drain in our region is a challenge. We believe that Global Shapers Norfolk is a millennial organization focused on taking action through leading projects and we are proud to support their efforts.”

Dan Bell, president of HRIC stated; “We are very happy to collaborate with ODU and for their assistance in supporting our collective efforts.  We have worked together on cyber security, are launching a Women’s Forum of Coastal Virginia with ODU’s Women’s Business Center.  We are also working on a new co-branded series of technology forecasting to commercialization programs intended to start in early 2017.

In addition to ODU, the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative has also invested in Global Shapers Norfolk by serving as a program host for the organization. Speaking on the relationship, Dan Bell said: “We promote innovation of all forms, including social entrepreneurialism, within our region while building regional economic strength. We welcome and are honored to provide program hosting support for Global Shapers Norfolk. This group of millennial leaders is a tremendous addition to our regional fabric.”

“We are proud to have the support of Old Dominion University’s Center for Enterprise Innovation and the Hampton Roads Innovative Collaborative to help us continue to drive new projects to engage millennials. We believe in the tremendous potential of our region as a whole and that it is essential for millennial leaders to step up to help shape our future,” said Global Shapers Norfolk Curator Claire Winiarek.

The Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative is the former Technology Council, formed in the late 1990s as a 510c6 established to support technology advancement in the region.  HRIC has historically been an early developer of business incubation programs, annual Tech Night awards to honor best in class technology business in the region and Critical Mass, a periodic gathering of tech companies to share ideas and network.  Learn more about HRIC HERE.

Global Shapers Norfolk, which was established in 2015 by millennials ages 20 to 29, is dedicated to leading projects to drive creative change in Hampton Roads. The Hub’s first project, the #WeAre757Millennials social media campaign, led to a report detailing the diverse perspectives of millennials and ways to attract and retain them in our region. The Global Shapers Community is a network of Hubs supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF); there are now Global Shapers Hubs in over 400 cities around the world, and the Norfolk hub is the first in Virginia.  Learn more about Global Shapers Norfolk HERE.

Recognizing the HRIC and Global Shapers Norfolk is one of many initiatives ODU is leading to promote entrepreneurialism. The University’s Center for Enterprise Innovation offers resources to help local businesses grow, and the new ODU Innovation Center — Norfolk acts as an incubator to expand the downtown startup community. On campus, the Strome Entrepreneurial Center guides students as they launch businesses and the Entsminger Fellows program educates faculty members about entrepreneurship. Learn more about The Center for Enterprise Innovation HERE.

Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, Va., is Virginia's entrepreneurial-minded doctoral research university with 25,000 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, and initiatives that contribute $2.1 billion annually to Virginia's economy. Old Dominion is a hub of innovative teaching and research. Under President John R. Broderick's leadership, the University has emerged as an international leader in sea level rise and flooding resiliency, bio electrics, and modeling and simulation-tying into Coastal Virginia's regional strengths and promoting job creation and retention.

Honorary Shaper of the Week: Sam Pressler

Tomorrow, we co-host an event with the Town Point Club to benefit a worthy organization: Armed Service Arts Partnership, a nonprofit that encourages art expression to engage veterans in the community.

Sam Pressler founded ASAP while he was still an undergrad and it is prospering today!

Sam has qualities that we value at Global Shapers Norfolk: Focus, Determination, Passion and Compassion. He strives to make a difference and, for that, we recognize him as an Honorary Shaper this week! Keep reading to learn more about Sam and ASAP.

Name: Sam Pressler

Age: 24

Hometown: Wayne, NJ

Alma Mater: College of William & Mary, '15

GS: What is the number one inspiration that drove you to begin ASAP and work to keep it growing?

SP: There is a quote from legendary comedian, Bob Hope that goes, "I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."

When I was in high school, we lost a close family member to suicide. My family and I used comedy, laughter, and humor to cope, overcome, and even grow following the trauma. Through my research in college, I learned about some of the challenges that veterans and their families face upon leaving the military. I understood first-hand what comedy could do - not only for mental health, but also for building connections and community - and decided to start the first stand-up comedy class for veterans and their families. 

GS: What is your biggest win to date? What are you most proud of?

SP: In October, eight of ASAP's Comedy Bootcamp alumni delivered the first ever Veterans Comedy Show at The White House. Part of our mission is to empower our veterans and their families with a platform for their stories to be heard. On that day, they were given one of the world's biggest platforms. Check out the highlights here!

GS: What is your vision for ASAP's future?

SP: To ensure that every veteran and military family member across the United States can come home, find a voice, and thrive through the arts. If you want to learn more about ASAP and their mission, click here!

GS: Bonus Question! You have a rare day off, you want to relax, so you pull out the best movie of all time - what is it?

SP: Anchorman, of course.

Cocktails with a Cause: ASAP

Global Shapers Norfolk is excited to announce our next endeavor: a collaboration with Town Point Club to raise funds and awareness for ASAP - Armed Services Arts Partnership.

ASAP is a non-profit organization that uses art performance to help military members, veterans, and their families become more engaged with their communities.

Want to know more? Click Here or click their image to the left!

We here are Global Shapers love ASAP's mission because it aligns so closely with our own desire to positively impact the 757 and beyond. Please join us on November 10 from 5-7pm at Town Point Club for some fun and mingling in honor of a great cause!

Global Shapers at the Young Leaders Roundtable


Building a more connected region through professional and personal relationships, along with enhanced transportation and technology links, are some of the first initiatives to emerge from the Young Leaders Roundtable.

Representatives from 18 Southside and Peninsula organizations attended the recently formed group’s inaugural meeting Sept. 21. The organizations embrace and advance issues that are important to millennials. In addition to business, those issues include culture and the arts, the environment and social justice.

“I think the the biggest impression that I was left with was just the amount of the things that were going on that I was kind of unaware of,” Jemal Harris said after inaugural meeting. He is director of economic advancement for the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

Although the Young Leaders Roundtable may look and feel somewhat like a meta organization, “what’s unique about the roundtable is that’s it’s really intended to be a regional collaborative,” said Claire Winiarek, one of the group’s founders. “So we’re not going to take on the individual values or missions of any one of our participant organizations but really come together to elevate and amplify millennial voices and millennial interests and to participate in regional collaboration.”

Organizations in attendance at the Sept. 21 inaugural meeting at Virginia Beach Town Center included the Beach Ambassadors, CBDX, Creative Union, Downtown100, Jaycees-Peninsula, tHRive and the Young Adult Division of the Tidewater Jewish Federation.

Joash Schulman, a Virginia Beach-based lawyer, led the roundtable’s formation. He said all of the groups are converging around the common goal of embracing “young people as an asset to the region.”

Schulman said one of the key messages he wants to convey is “we’re not competing with one another at an organizational level, just like we shouldn’t be competing against one another as localities. Sure, each locality is going to have their individual interest in mind and the citizens that they serve, but we shouldn’t be competing against one another to the other’s detriment. We should be finding ways to work together.”

“We can’t be behind or in front of every issue,” Schulman said. “We have to be deliberate and thoughtful about the best way to cooperate and be engaged, and if that means some of our constituents acting together or the group as a whole finding ways to communicate that message of inclusivity and connectivity, then we’ll do that.”

Harris echoed that sentiment, saying laying a solid, long-term foundation that will sustain the new group and its mission is the present focus.

“We’ve really been focusing on building it right and not necessarily building it quick,” Harris said. “We don’t want to pander and just kind of wade in the water, but we want to take the time to do it right, so it’s not an organizational blip.”

“My personal interest,” said Winiarek, who is involved with Global Shapers Norfolk and is senior director of public policy with Magellan Health, “is to keep the dialogue going in a very positive and collaborative way. I think if we do that consistently, that’s going to be the biggest achievement of this group. There’s just nothing like this in the region right now.”

Learn more about the Young Leaders Roundtable by contacting Schulman at

Read our Report on local Millennial Perspectives & Ways to Attract and Retain Millennials in HRVA

Click here to download our full report.

Thanks to the Virginian Pilot for writing this story, which highlights the findings of our report:

Article by Amir Vera, The Virginian Pilot

Millennials in Hampton Roads want to keep investing in the arts. They want more support for local businesses. They want collaboration between communities and local universities and colleges. 

These are just some of the things found in a newly released report by Global Shapers Norfolk, a local hub of a worldwide organization looking to give young, local leaders a voice. The insights are from the shapers' local social media campaign, #WeAre757Millennials. The campaign ran from June 23 to July 26 and saw more than 53,000 impressions on social media about what that group of young adults wants in southeastern Virginia. Millennials are typically defined as anyone born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.

“The insights shared in our report provide a starting point for understanding the nuanced mindset of millennials in Hampton Roads,”  said Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, Global Shapers Norfolk Hub Infrastructure lead. "We encourage policymakers to harness these insights to build real, lasting engagement with the young adult community."

Some of the major findings in the final report show that millennials want to advance economic development, specifically on economic policy that promotes retention of adults between the age of 18 and 29. Highlighting a shared regional personality in Hampton Roads was also very important to this group. 

The report also detailed what millennials loved about Hampton Roads, one of which being the local businesses, craft breweries and restaurants. They also valued neighborhoods like West Ghent and Chelsea where young professionals and their families can live and walk to local restaurants, shops and areas like downtown Norfolk or Virginia Beach Town Center. The cost of living in Hampton Roads also attracted millennials. 

Young people also valued the diverse people in Hampton Roads and promoting that using digital storytelling, according to the report. 

Although the report has been released, Global Shapers officials said it will continue the #WeAre757Millennials campaign to promote positive change can be brought to Hampton Roads. 

Meet the Newest Norfolk Shapers

Global Shapers Norfolk is proud to announce the newest members of our team.

Joy Yoo, Marketing Manager | WHRO

Joy Yoo currently serves as Marketing Manager at WHRO Public Media; in this capacity, she develops and executes compelling communications strategies for programs and initiatives dedicated to educating and enriching the Hampton Roads community. Outside of business hours, she also teaches Taekwondo to local youth.

As a new member of this community, Joy is most excited to give voice to the vibrant Hampton Roads community and empower the next generation of leaders.

Nichelle Stone, Paralegal | Decker Law Firm

I am a paralegal at the Decker Law Firm, where I contribute to the firm's goal of "helping people" in the personal injury department. I am married with two energetic children and I am the President of the Northside Civic League. When I have a moment to myself, I enjoy running and I am often training for the next half marathon.

I am excited to be with the Global Shapers, because they are an impressive network of young people, working together to have a bigger voice in the community. I really appreciate how they focus on small projects to address big problems, one manageable piece at a time, and I am eager to do my part to help.

NiSHA Witt, CEO | Aesop Technologies

Nisha Witt is a Solar Tech entrepreneur and environmentalist working to change the way how people use energy through an assortment of solar powered products.

She is excited to be part of a global community of game-changers and innovators. By being part Global Shapers Norfolk, she feels that she is associated with a social cause that is bigger than herself.

Alex SnyderAlternative Learning Facilitator | Hampton City Schools

Alex Snyder works directly under Hampton City Schools' Director of Alternative Education to provide social studies instruction to students who were not successful in the traditional high school setting. She creates individualized curriculum for student preparation to pass the GED exam and facilitate online social science courses. Since moving to VA, she has enjoyed visiting many of the beautiful historic sites and wineries in the area.

Are you interested in becoming a Norfolk Shaper? We're starting another selection process now. Please read our new application directions.

Take 10 Minutes to help Shape #HRVA

Are you a millennial? Do you want to help shape the future… to make the world more reflective of your values?

You have a chance to voice your opinion now by taking this survey sponsored by the World Economic Forum. Only millennials in select cities in the world have the chance to participate - and here’s how Hampton Roads made the cut.

As you may have read on Alt Daily, the millennial leadership group Global Shapers Norfolk launched the social media campaign  #WeAre757Millennials, sharing what millennials love and don’t love about #HRVA.

The news about the campaign caught the attention of staffers at the Global Shapers Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. After reading the story online, they asked Hampton Roads Millennials to participate in the annual World Economic Forum survey on how millennials see the world and what they want to do about it.

Here’s the catch - the survey will take you 10 minutes - yes, 10 minutes - to complete. And… if at least 200 Hampton Roads Millennials finish the survey, Global Shapers Norfolk will get access to the results from millennials worldwide.

This means local #HRVA leaders would have fresh data on the millennial perspective and maybe they’d use it to better create a region where millennials want to work, live and play.

It starts here with you - will you take 10 minutes to share your voice?

As a bonus, we’re giving away $25 to O’Connors to two respondents from our region. Simply email us at to let us know that you’ve submitted the survey, and you’re entered to win!

Join our #WeAre757Millennials Social Media Campaign

Global Shapers Norfolk is calling on Hampton Roads' Millennials to participate in its #WeAre757Millennials social media campaign June 23 - July 26, 2016.

Global Shapers Norfolk is launching its #WeAre757Millennials social media campaign on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Reflecting Global Shapers Norfolk’s Mission (“To activate 757 millennials to drive creative change locally and share ideas globally”), the one-month social media movement will showcase the diversity of voice, experience, and perspective of Hampton Roads' millennials via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts. Together with photos, videos, and stories from you and others, we'll demonstrate millennial diversity, our generation's many contributions to our region, and our interest on issues impacting the future of the 757.

As part of the campaign, millennial leaders have signed up to use our Instagram for one day, showing a day in their life and telling their perspectives on issues facing millennials. At the same time, we’re also encouraging all millennials in the 757 to use the hashtag #WeAre757Millennials when making posts about what makes our region great and what we need to improve in order to attract and retain millennials in HRVA.

The campaign will conclude with Norfolk Shapers live tweeting the "international perspective on the 757" from "Shape North America" in Minneapolis: a conference with Shapers from Hubs around the world.

These are the goals of the #WeAre757Millennials Campaign:

  • Increase thought-leadership opportunities for Hampton Roads' millennials
  • Elevate millennial voices on issues impacting the future of the region
  • Encourage activation on issues of personal interest
  • Contribute ideas to improve the 757 region to retain and attract millennials
  • Show regional collaboration between 757 millennials 

Here are the discussion themes for each week:

  • June 23: Weekly Theme -- “Economic Development in the Region”
  • June 30: Weekly Theme -- “Reinventing Civic Engagement in the Region”
  • July 7: Weekly Theme -- “The 757 Identity: Region of Change or Stasis”
  • July 14: Weekly Theme -- “Shaping the Future of the Region”
  • July 21: Weekly Theme -- ShapeNA16 -- “International Perspective on the 757”

At the end of the campaign, we look forward to sharing the results from our discussions and key insights on the millennial perspective to city councils in each city in Hampton Roads.

The social campaign launches on June 23, 2016 and ends on July 26, 2016.

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Daily Press features Global Shapers Norfolk & HRIC partnership

A group of millennials ages 20-29 wants to drive change on the Peninsula and throughout Hampton Roads.

Global Shapers Norfolk, a local young leadership affiliate of the World Economic Forum, landed a partnership with the Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative that will enable the social startup to get started on projects, said Global Shapers Norfolk's public relations lead Karen Hopkins.

Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative — a revamped 501(c)6 nonprofit stemming from the Hampton Roads Technology Council — has been looking for new ways to foster regional entrepreneurism and business innovation. HRIC President Dan Bell said the Collaborative plans to act as a program host to give the fledgling group a financial infrastructure until it can become its own nonprofit organization.

"We love it to see millennials organize around good projects in the region," Bell said. "We're happy to help."

It's important that young adults share their experiences so it's not only the older generations making the decisions, Bell said. And perhaps, he said, they'll come up with an innovative approach.

Two members of the Collaborative will also be on the local Global Shapers' advisory committee, Bell added.

Global Shapers Norfolk has six members since starting last year and is interviewing seven more applicants after its last recruiting drive, Hopkins said. The idea is to get to 20 members, although non-members will be able to participate in projects, too.

Aaz Mickens-Dessaso, 28, of Newport News is helping the organization get started. She has been recognized as an emerging global entrepreneur by the White House for co-founding Free Ping and while that startup didn't work out, she's already working on her next venture.

She'd like Global Shapers to amplify the millennial voice in the region by engaging all millennials rather than disparate groups. Mickens-Dessaso also preferred the group's action-oriented approach.

The group's first project will be a social media campaign in June for millennials to share their stories and what they think is important. For instance, Mickens-Dessaso said local business and public leaders should take more risks in diversifying the industry in the region.

"I think that this region is fairly complacent having such industries as military and defense and public contracting," she said. "I don't think millennials are racing to Hampton Roads to occupy positions in those fields."

Global Shapers isn't the only group looking to hear from Peninsula millennials. Bridge, a new young professionals program of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, is looking for feedback from the area's young adults on how they really feel about issues like transportation, entertainment, careers, education and housing.

Young professionals can email what they think local leaders should hear to Bridge coordinator Jemal Harris at

Global Shapers Norfolk forms partnership with HRIC

CHESAPEAKE, Va. –There’s a new partnership to invest in millennial leaders to bring positive, regional change to Hampton Roads. The Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative (HRIC) is proud to announce their agreement to act as a program host to Global Shapers Norfolk, a new social start-up serving the Hampton Roads region.

Global Shapers Norfolk was established in 2015 by millennials ages 20-29 seeking to drive creative change in Hampton Roads.

On the relationship, HRIC President Dan Bell stated: “We promote innovation of all forms, including social entrepreneurialism, within our region while building regional economic strength.  We welcome and are honored to provide program hosting support for Global Shapers Norfolk.  This group of millennial leaders is a tremendous addition to our regional fabric.”

“We are honored to have HRIC as our sponsor. This new partnership will help Global Shapers Norfolk build a necessary financial infrastructure in support of our Mission to activate 757 millennials to drive creative change locally and share ideas globally. Attracting and retaining millennials in Hampton Roads requires innovative solutions, and we’re committed to sustaining an inclusive and diverse community for all generations,” said Global Shapers Norfolk Curator Bo Ram Yi.

“Regionalism is one of the biggest challenges facing Hampton Roads. We’re proud Global Shapers Norfolk is composed of millennial leaders from the Southside to the Peninsula. We believe in the potential of the region, and are excited to extend a larger platform to millennials to help shape that future,” Incoming Curator Claire Wulf Winiarek said.

Global Shapers Norfolk is part of an international community backed by the World Economic Forum, consisting of 453 city-based hubs led by young leaders ages 20-29. Each year, Global Shaper Hubs take on a local impact project that betters the state of theirs and the global community. Global Shapers Norfolk’s first local impact project, “Millennial Faces of Hampton Roads,” will kick off this summer. The social media campaign will focus on sharing the diverse perspectives and stories of 757 millennials.

One of those stories is attracting and retaining millennials in Hampton Roads. Norfolk Shaper Aazia Mickens-Dessaso knows the challenge firsthand. Mickens-Dessaso is an entrepreneur who co-founded Free Ping and was honored by the White House as an Emerging Global Entrepreneur. Now she’s ready to move onto the next venture but is finding opportunities in Hampton Roads more limited than those of larger metropolitan communities. Nevertheless, Mickens-Dessaso is committed to contributing to our region by sharing her experience and expertise.

It’s these type of millennial leaders who will drive change in Hampton Roads--regional change and social entrepreneurialism HRIC is excited to support.


About Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative

HRIC is the new iteration of the Hampton Roads Technology Council, a 501(c)6 nonprofit established in 1997.  HRIC has expanded its mission beyond technology alone, promoting all forms of innovation, entrepreneurism and regional economic growth.

About Global Shapers Norfolk

Global Shapers Norfolk is the first Global Shapers Hub in Virginia, and we’re dedicated to serving the Hampton Roads region. We have a unique Hub that serves the region’s seven coastal cities and surrounding community. Our mission is to activate 757 Millennials to drive creative change locally and share ideas globally. We choose bold projects, and have fun doing it.

About Global Shapers

In 2011, with more than 50 percent of the world’s population under the age of 27, the World Economic Forum took an important step and established the Global Shapers Community. It is a dedicated foundation focused on ensuring young leaders play an active role in shaping the agenda globally, regionally and locally. Structured as a network of self-organizing city-based Hubs, the Community brings together young leaders—known as Global Shapers—in their twenties, united by a commitment to contribute to resolving challenges within their communities. The Global Shapers Community now numbers 453 Hubs worldwide.

Daily Press features Global Shapers Norfolk Launch

In response to negative perceptions of the millennial generation, a group of Hampton Roads 20-somethings is launching a social media campaign to encourage local millennials to drive change in the region.

Global Shapers Norfolk is the first Global Shapers Hub in Virginia, according to a news release. The World Economic Forum established the Global Shapers Community to ensure young leaders will play an active role in shaping the global, regional and local agenda.

“We’d like to respond with an encouraging message. Millennials are proud to live in the 757 and we love our community,” Hub Vice Curator Claire Wulf Winiarek said. “We believe there is a meaningful role for young leaders in advancing a vibrant and inclusive region that works together.”

The 757 social media campaign will include Facebook, Instagram and testimonials from local millennials. The idea is for the campaign to become a platform to help the region become aware of the economic and social diversity of young folks in the region and what concerns and interests them.

AltDaily features Global Shapers Norfolk

Thanks to AltDaily for helping us spread the word about joining Global Shapers Norfolk!

Click here or read the article below by Shaper Elizabeth Rubi.

As a member of the millennial generation, I have to admit it feels nice to have grown up while the internet and its successor tools broke down so many social and geographic barriers, pushing us into an era where it’s possible to build engaging and impactful communities online. (Where’s my trophy, am I right?)

However, while online tools made community building more accessible, they also lulled us into accepting screen-time as equal to actual-time-with-people time.

Too often, our positive, democratic community building starts and stops online. It’s the bane of our existence as a generation – birthed in AOL chat rooms, text overages, and MySpace accounts.

I ran into this exchange a few weeks ago and had one of those reality-check laughs because my husband has deployed twice and I understand sustaining on “dog cuddles”:


We’re over-connected yet disengaged from each other. And we know it.

This gap between the vast potential of online communities and our basic human need for positive face-to-face time fascinates me. It’s one of the main reasons I love the impact project we chose for this spring. It’s a HONY-inspired, grass-roots approach to creating a platform for the voices of millennials and centennials living in Hampton Roads.

We’ll be meeting Gen Y and Z-ers face-to-face, hearing their perspectives, and sharing their stories via social media. Along with bringing light to millennial issues, I hope our project will also create a small bridge between the utility of online sharing and our need for real-life connection.

The opportunity to do a project like this is what motivated me to apply to Global Shapers Norfolk back in October, and being a part of this IRL community (don’t worry, first and last time the acronym will be used in sentence) has put me in contact with people who inspire me to think bigger every day.

In the spirit of real-life community building, our hub is hosting a tableside chat at Mango Mangeaux in Hampton this Thursday, April 14th, at 6 PM and we’d like to invite you, 20 to 29 year olds of HR, to join us. We’ll be talking about Global Shapers Norfolk, what motivated each of us to join the hub, and asking for your perspectives on our region.

And of course, you can find more info on our 4/14 event and RSVP for it at our online community:


Global Shapers Norfolk on 13News Now

Many thanks to Janet Roach at 13News Now for taking the time to interview Global Shapers Norfolk.  The people at 13 are very genuine, and really care about the issues affecting our region. We look forward to another visit at ABC 13 as we launch our "Millennials of Hampton Roads" social media campaign. Check out their Town Hall with Gov. McAuliffe and this  great article from 13 on leading Hampton Roads into the 21st Century.