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Topeka, KS — Forge Young Talent, Topeka’s premier young professional’s group, is pleased to honor the four inaugural recipients of its Forge YP Awards. The awardees were recognized on Saturday, Jan. 13 at Forge’s 25th Anniversary Gala held at the Topeka Zoo’s Kay McFarland Japanese Garden and Venue. The gala, a first-time event that saw more than 100 attendees, served as a celebration of Forge turning 25 and allowed young professionals from across Topeka to come together for an evening of connection, recognition, and fun.

“I believe Topeka is home to some of the hardest working, most innovative, and supportive young professionals—not only in Kansas, but in the region and the U.S.—and we want to keep them here in our community,” said Rhett Flood, Forge executive director. “It’s important to Forge that we recognize those individuals and businesses who are making our community a better place for young professionals to live and work, raise a family, start businesses, and contribute to a thriving economy. That’s who these award winners are. They have made an indelible mark on our YP community, and we are proud to recognize them and their achievements.”

The inaugural Forge YP Awards included four categories: Community Impact Award, Service Award, Legacy Award, and Community Partner of the Year Award. The first three categories honor young professionals making their mark, while the final category recognizes a local business that has consistently been a strong partner and supporter of young professionals in the greater Topeka area.

This year’s Forge YP Awards go to the following individuals and partners:

  • Danielle J. Martin– 2024 Forge Community Impact Award
  • Fatima Perez-Luthi– 2024 Forge Service Award
  • Richard Kelly– 2024 Forge Legacy Award
  • The Celtic Fox– 2024 Forge Community Partner of the Year

“Young professionals are not just the future of our community; we are today’s voices for positive change,” said Zac Surritt, Forge chair. “As we were deciding on the best way to celebrate 25 years of Forge, we thought a gala highlighting the impact young professionals continue to make in Topeka, and around Kansas, would be the perfect fit. The mission of Forge is to ensure Topeka/Shawnee County is a place where young people want to live, work, play, and belong. Our inaugural gala and awards ceremony was another step in the right direction.”