Renika J. Smiley, Founder & CEO
Renika developed the idea of hosting happy hour networking events at local bars throughout the city. As registration lists began to grow, these events found their home primarily on the second floor of Igby's. It was, at this time, when Renika formulated the idea to showcase a diverse speaking panel, dedicated to a diverse YP audience. At these events, guest attendance usually ranged from 40-75 people, and at times maxed room capacity. In just three short but incredible years, this event has grown from being hosted at a local bar to being hosted in Fortune 500 Company event spaces with an attendance of over 200 people. This program created over $30,000 in funding investment opportunities for programming for YPs through grants, event donations, ticket sales and corporate sponsorship. Renika moved up from this phase to hosting the local networking events titled "LinkedIn Networking Happy Hour Event." This program ran for four years.
Renika's tenacity proves that it is not about how you start, but it is about how you finish! The diverse group of YPs produced by Generation NOW, are now the leaders of Generation Now Cincinnati Network, now a local 501(c)(3) organization. This group of young professionals recognized that there was a need for professional development to be made available for themselves and their peers. From there, they decided to take matters into their own hands to solve this problem by coordinating a seasonal 6- to 8-month professional development series. The success of this program has allowed loyal followers to obtain job opportunities, increased business clientele for many entrepreneurs, enhanced professional development, and has been the catalyst for turning panelists into dynamic speakers. Not to mention, the promotion of inclusion has brought a wealth of growth to our community.