Our Leadership

YPAL is a membership-based organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. It is through volunteer committee involvement and leadership opportunities that YPAL members can make the most of their experience and develop themselves professionally. Because YPAL is mostly volunteer, the organization also relies on strategic partnerships with the business community.

YPAL Board of Directors

Woo Smith

Woo Smith

President

Organization that actually pays you:  Terracon Consultants, Inc.

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Emerging Leaders Program!

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Exploring new restaurants while traveling!

One thing you love about Louisville: It feels like a very welcoming city for immigrants and transplants

#WhyIYPAL:  To empower and elevate other YPs in the community 

Something interesting about you:  I am a competitive powerlifter!

Ask me about: Environmental regulations, working in the engineering industry, being a powerlifter, serving on a board and other volunteering opportunities within the community!

Tanelle Sawyer

Tanelle Sawyer

President-Elect

Organization that actually pays you:  Kentucky Community & Technical College System

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YPAL 101

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Some of my favorite things: international travel, reading a good book, listening to podcasts, brunch on a patio, working out, and loving on my sweet fam.

One thing you love about Louisville: I love the professional opportunities and community connectivity within the city. I am also a huge fan of the local foodie scene!

#WhyIYPAL:  I was immediately drawn to YPAL because of the like minded, passionate leaders within the community. Being a non-native to Louisville, it was important for me to find an organization with individuals who were engaging in impactful work. I truly believe it is so important to be surrounded people who recognize the good and do greater – YPAL made perfect sense for me!

Something interesting about you:  I’m low key addicted to Chinese food. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Ask me about: Fitness + The Foodie Scene in Lou, Education Industry, Travel

 

John Weber

John Weber

Immediate Past President

Organization that actually pays you:  Waller Law

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YP Day at the Capitol

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Watch UofL Sports, play music (percussion and piano), travel or try a new restaurant. Well, those used to be my answers. Now it’s just play with my baby girl. 

One thing you love about Louisville: The opportunities. As an attorney, I can work for Fortune 500 companies, the most influential elected officials in the country, or law firms with nationwide practices.

#WhyIYPAL:  I want to represent the voices of others in my generation, as we seek to make Louisville an even greater place – and let others in on the secret!

Something interesting about you:  I’ve met multiple presidents and introduced a presidential candidate.

Ask me about: Churches and communities of faith, getting involved civically, connecting people.

Sam Draut

Sam Draut

VP of Public Relations

Organization that actually pays you:  Block Communications Inc., (WDRB)

YPAL event you can’t miss:  If you attend all the events, you won’t miss any.

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Reading and writing

One thing you love about Louisville: The commitment and passion of the community to help Louisville improve as a city in a multitude of ways. The citizens in Louisville have so much pride and loyalty to the city.

#WhyIYPAL:  To improve the lives of the people in the Louisville. I believe YPAL is an organization that not only benefits young professionals but also works to help people around the entire community.

Something interesting about you:  I published my first novel in 2019 titled “The Destruction of a Psychopath by an American Beauty”. The printed version and the eBook edition is available online.

Ask me about: Local News

 

Sean Southard

Sean Southard

VP of Engagement

Organization that actually pays you:  Republican Party of Kentucky

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Frankfort 101

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Hang out with friends at new places around Louisville

One thing you love about Louisville: The diversity of neighborhoods and the different vibes in each one

#WhyIYPAL:  to connect make new connections with people driving the city.

Ask me about: Kentucky political history, or a good book recommendation

Emory Williamson

Emory Williamson

VP of Development

Organization that actually pays you: 

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Emerging Leaders Program (not really an event though)

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Travel, write, read, and hang out with my family, friends, and Floyd (my cat)

One thing you love about Louisville: I love the people of Louisville.

#WhyIYPAL:  I want to help cultivate and sustain a massive network of young professionals eager toward fostering a community that is centered on equity, vibrancy, progress, and inclusion.

Something interesting about you:  My senior year of high school I was the newspaper editor, captain of the golf team, and school mascot (basically, I was really cool).

Ask me about: Hmm.. maybe about stuff to do in Louisville

Gabrielle Stone

Gabrielle Stone

VP of Connection

Organization that actually pays you:  Bamboo Health/ Appriss

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Behind the Scenes

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Being a foodie

One thing you love about Louisville: The food scene in Louisville is incredible! It is a foodie paradise to live here and enjoy the delicious dishes from a variety of cultures that make up our city. Having one favorite restaurant is impossible.

#WhyIYPAL:  Joining YPAL is an amazing opportunity to pay it forward to other professionals seeking to expand their network, grow professionally and personally. When I first joined YPAL, I did not expect the relationships and opportunities I would soon gain. YPAL provides impactful resources and amazing support from members and leaders who are committed to serving the community of Louisville.

Something interesting about you:  I’m bitter about being allergic to sage & paprika …which is kind of a barrier in my pursuit to become a professional foodie.

Ask me about: Marvel

Matt Bowman

Matt Bowman

Treasurer

Organization that actually pays you:  MCM CPAs & Advisors

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YPAL family tailgates. They are a great way to take in a sporting event and to bring family members out as well.

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Sand Volleyball

One thing you love about Louisville: The Food – I love that there are all types of food

#WhyIYPAL: I YPAL to build my network and to meet people from different types of industries. 

Ask me about: Anything Sports

Sarah Pennington Richards

Sarah Pennington Richards

Secretary

Organization that actually pays you: Dentons Bingham Greenebaum

YPAL event you can’t miss:  This is my first year with YPAL, but I’m looking forward to figuring out my favorite events! 

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Spend time with my husband, stepdaughter, and our pup. We are always on the go!

One thing you love about Louisville: There is always somewhere to go/something to do in Louisville – a new shop or restaurant, a sports game, an outdoor market or concert, the list goes on and on.

#WhyIYPAL:  To give back to my community and support other young professionals as they develop their careers. 

Something interesting about you:  I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan! In college, I traveled to New Zealand to see the LOTR film sites.

Ask me about: the Louisville legal community – we have a wonderful law school and network of attorneys here in Louisville. It is a great place to begin or further your legal career.

 

Charlie Todd

Charlie Todd

Director of Membership

Organization that actually pays you:  Stored Value Solutions

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YP Day at the Capitol! To hear from elected officials about the issues that directly impact KY is an awesome opportunity. 

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Explore the city! There is always some new hiking trail, festival, volunteer opportunity or restaurant to explore! Never a dull moment and always something new to do.  

One thing you love about Louisville: The fact that anything you could ever want can be found here! Busy Downtown, Beautiful “countryside”, Sporting Events, Festivals, Outdoor experiences, and so much more. There truly is something for everyone in the city.

#WhyIYPAL:  YPAL has been a source of so many opportunities. It has helped me grow in my involvement within the city, other orgs, volunteer options or just connecting with amazing YPs. If you’re looking to find something new in Louisville, joining YPAL would be the best first step!

Something interesting about you: I worked in the Boundary Waters in Northern MN for 2 years as a outdoor guide

Ask me about: Ask me about new restaurants, parks, breweries or stores to visit. Chances are we can exchange knowledge and both learn something new about Louisville.

Paris Parada

Paris Parada

Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Organization that actually pays you:  Galen College of Nursing

YPAL event you can’t miss:  5:48 networking

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Salsa dance

One thing you love about Louisville: The diversity

#WhyIYPAL:  A fantastic opportunity to meet and help other professionals in the area in a relaxed and fun setting.

Something interesting about you:  I’m a combat veteran

Ask me about: Career progression & nonprofit

Bansari Mehta

Bansari Mehta

Director of Recruitment

Organization that actually pays you:  Eye Associates of Southern Indiana

YPAL event you can’t miss:  It’s hard to pick one but I thoroughly enjoy the Behind the Scenes series where we get to explore the commonly uncharted territories of Louisville.

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Work with community non-profits to positively impact our world!

One thing you love about Louisville: NOT the allergies!

#WhyIYPAL:  To invest in the community, my network and my professional growth is #WhyIYPAL

Something interesting about you:  I have chased a tornado and lived to share one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I am a Ceraunophile.

Ask me about: Mentorship, serving on a board, how to travel on a low budget, what is the universe made up of and keeping up with politics and world views. I love to learn and talk about everything under the sun.

Alexus Richardson

Alexus Richardson

Director of Community Outreach

Organization that actually pays you:  Dare to Care Food Bank

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Any event at Lynn Family Stadium!

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Meet new people 

One thing you love about Louisville: Food! 

#WhyIYPAL:  Gain new relationships with other young professionals from different backgrounds. 

Something interesting about you:  I don’t eat chocolate! 

Ask me about: The Real Housewives (any franchise, I love them all)!

Aaron DuVall

Aaron DuVall

Director of Public Issues

Organization that actually pays you:  FORVIS

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Behind the Scenes tours!

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Explore new cities & go on outdoor adventures

One thing you love about Louisville: How easy it is to get involved and help make the city a better place!

#WhyIYPAL:  YPAL offers so many fun networking and engagement events plus chances to learn and develop skills. Most of all, YPAL gives me the opportunity to really feel connected to our community.

Ask me about: Restaurants & bars, Churchill Downs, best outdoor adventures around the state

Miriam Nally

Miriam Nally

Director of Leadership

Organization that actually pays you:  Greater Louisville Inc.

YPAL event you can’t miss:  ELP!

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Catch up with friends over brunch, dinner, or drinks! Friendships fuel my soul 🙂

One thing you love about Louisville: There is always something new to try or checkout around the city and something for everyone! Music festivals, flea markets, art shows, rock climbing, breweries…the list keeps going! 

#WhyIYPAL:  YPAL provides great connections, resources to grow professionally, and opportunities to get involved with our community in a variety of ways. It’s great to be surrounded by other young professionals eager to learn and grow! 

Something interesting about you:  I’m not outdoorsy but I love a drinks on a patio! 

Ask me about: Southern Indiana! There are so many hidden gems across the river!

Ben Donlon

Ben Donlon

Director of Technology

Organization that actually pays you:  Metro United Way

YPAL event you can’t miss:  Any cool tours that aren’t open to the public!

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Travel! One thing you love about Louisville: The diversity of things you can do!

#WhyIYPAL:  Young professionals are the pipeline for a vibrant city. YPAL creates an environment of attraction to keep people here and I want to be a part of that.

Something interesting about you:  I travelled to 30 countries before 30 with my first international trip being at age 24.

Ask me about: Where you should travel to next.

Jameson Gay

Jameson Gay

Director of Professional Development

Organization that actually pays you:  Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YP Day at the Capitol

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Travelling, running, reading, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on the Cats

One thing you love about Louisville: The great food!

#WhyIYPAL:  To meet talented young professionals that are motivated to make a difference in the community and to help create a supportive network where we can grow personally and professionally together. 

Something interesting about you:  I was in the Navy for 8 years. I had tours in Hawaii and at the Pentagon. I also deployed to Djibouti and Sigonella, Sicily.

Ben Barberie

Ben Barberie

Director of Communications

Organization that actually pays you:  Frost Brown Todd

YPAL event you can’t miss: Frankfort 101

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): Any UofL, LouCity, or Racing Louisville game

One thing you love about Louisville: The food and drink scene. So many great places to try!

#WhyIYPAL:  I YPAL because I think it’s immensely important that young professionals in Louisville network, exchange ideas, and channel passions toward solving issues in our community.

Something interesting about you:  In addition to my day job, I bartend part-time at West Sixth NuLu!

Ask me about: Sports, economics, and urban development

Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson

Director of Social Media

Organization that actually pays you:  University of Louisville

YPAL event you can’t miss:  YPAL Networking series

Favorite thing to do (other than YPAL): gym, spend time with friends/family, watch sports, be outdoors enjoying nice weather, fooooood, sippin’ a nice beer or wine, travel (anywhere!), laying in my hammock 

One thing you love about Louisville: All the small businesses! I’m a huge advocate for small business– whether it’s a service or a good, I love supporting them! I’m an active YELP Elite, so I try to go to as many places as possible. 

#WhyIYPAL: It’s the best of both worlds: it’s professional and personal development packaged all into one. You simply can’t beat that!

Something interesting about you:  I DJ! Hit me up for your next DJ  gig 🙂 

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