LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 24, 2024) — One of the founders of the Young Professionals Association of Louisville and the nonprofit’s current president recently met to discuss the organization’s past, present and future.

Cynthia Knapek, now the president at Leadership Louisville Center, helped to found YPAL 25 years ago.

“We wanted to give young professionals a path,” Knapek said. “25 years is a delightful surprise.”


Tanelle Sawyer, YPAL’s president for the 2023-24 board term, discussed the impact YPAL has had on greater Louisville with Knapek.

“YPAL is the sales function of the awesomeness of being a young professional,” Knapek said.

“No matter what, 25 years from now, young professionals will still be relevant,” Sawyer said. “Young professionals themselves are always going to be relevant in every conversation because they are the future of everything.”

“The leadership experience you get from YPAL at an early point in your career, by and large, most human beings would have to wait an extra 10 years to get that level of leadership experience,” Knapek said. “The professional development, the workshops, those are the things that catapult people into that next leadership role.”

“YPAL is a leader leading other people in the community and that has been really special when I think about long-term impact,” Sawyer said.

“Have we solved things we set out to do 25 years ago? No, however, I don’t think the role of YPAL is to solve it because for me the strength in the asset of YPAL is the social fabric of this community,” Knapek said. “It is always about the connection, and that is what makes community. Connection makes community.”

Knapek asked Sawyer what are the accomplishments and challenges currently for YPAL.

“For me it’s redefining what it means to be a young professional,” Sawyer said. “There are a lot of identities that young professionals hold. I know we lead in a different than young professionals were even able to lead in what was socially acceptable at that time. So when you hear the word ‘young professional’ that image in your brain is going to look different for you than it is for me, or whoever is in this organization 25 years from now.”

“I think all the people who were involved in the early days are extremely proud, it’s not just proud, it’s part of our legacy.”

This summer, YPAL will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the inaugural YPAL Homecoming presented by Deloitte on June 26 at Louisville Slugger Field. During the event, founders and alumni of YPAL will be honored for their instrumental influence on the organization.

To purchase tickets for the event, click here.


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