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. 

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.