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Empower. Advocate. Transform.

Forge, the young professionals group in Topeka, is committed to being a catalyst for positive change. Forge takes on various advocacy initiatives to voice concerns, champion causes, and contribute to the betterment of Topeka. Through their advocacy efforts, Forge not only empowers young professionals but also plays a vital role in shaping Topeka into a more inclusive, equitable, and vibrant community for all. 

Explore some of our wins from the past year, and stay tuned as we set our advocacy agenda for 2024, continuing our commitment to making a meaningful impact in our city.

Our Recent Wins

Wheatfield Village

Forge supported the development of Wheatfield Village by hosting a podcast, talking about the development and how it would positively impact the young professional community. Forge also activated our young professional network to show up to city council meetings to show our support of the project.

Entertainment District

In 2023, Forge alongside the Greater Topeka Partnership and other organizations lobbied on behalf of young professionals across the state to pass a bill to allow communities to establish their own common consumption areas also known as entertainment districts.

Forge on Boards

In an effort to increase young professional representation, Forge has launched a new program called Forge on Boards which aims to connect community boards with passionate young professionals ready to contribute to organizations and the wider community.
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YP Day at the Capital

As a leader of Young Professionals in the state of Kansas, Forge took the lead in starting the Young Professionals Day at the Capitol. This event invites young professionals from across the state to engage with their elected officials to advocate for issues important to young professionals and their communities.

History & Accomplishments of Forge

1999 Fast Forward

  • The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce launched the young professionals group called Fast Forward in 1999 to provide a forum for young professionals in Topeka and to develop the next generation of leadership. Joe Pennington was the first chair of the organization.

2011 Expand Benefits & Programming

  • First full year of the insider series, which gave professionals in the community an inside look at the local chamber member businesses and organizations. It allowed these organizations to educate and present themselves to the community from an insiders perspectives.

2012 Fast Forward Hires Manager

  • Jennifer Owen became a full time staff member at the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce by becoming the first Fast Forward Manger in 2012.

2012 Kansas YP Summit

  • Competed on a highly competitive bid to host the 2012 Kansas YP Summit and Conference, and won.

2014 Golf Tournament & Fundraiser

  • Hosted the first ever Golf Tournament and Fundraiser. Allowed Fast Forward to offer scholarships to young professionals for educational purposes.

2016 Mobbed

  • Fast Forward hosted it’s first flash mob type event called Mobbed. The goal was to give retail and restaurant establishments a shot in the arm economically.

2016 Fresh Name

  • In 2016, Fast Forward became Forge to address challenges facing Topeka in attracting and retaining young talents.

2016 Forge Hires Executive Director

  • Gabriel O’Shea became the first executive director of Forge in May of 2016

2017 Forge Your Future

  • In May of 2017, Forge introduced a new initiative called “Forge Your Future” with the goal of bringing young professionals to the voting polls.

TopCity Interns Program Begins Development

  • The TopCity Interns program gathers over 200 interns from local Topeka and Shawnee County businesses, presenting them with the best internship experience possible and maximizing attraction and retention of young professionals to the community.

2018 Forge Moves Under GO Topeka

  • In 2018, Forge moved from under the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce to GO Topeka within the Greater Topeka Partnership.

Forge Day of Service

  • In April of 2018, Forge hosted it’s first Day of Service. This event provided a fun opportunity for corporate and local non-profit agencies to work together on special projects.

New Executive Director Selected

  • On November 2, 2018, Lindsay Lebahn was selected as the new executive director of Forge.

Washburn University Internship

  • Forge continued to help bridge the gap and engage a range of young talnet to help mold and form the future of Topeka and Shawnee County. In it’s first year, the Washburn/Forge internship focused specifically on the relationship with campus and downtown Topeka.

2019 Topeka Youth Commission Formed

  • The Topeka Youth Commission came under Forge because of their aligned missions. The TYC was formed with the intent of elevating the voices of young people in Topeka & Shawnee County by providing 14-21 year old’s the opportunity to become an informed, involved and engaged member of the community.

Topeka Flag

  • The flag initiative lasted over a year and included everyone from elementary school students to congressmen/women, all with the mission to create a new flag for the city of Topeka. More than just a flag, Forge belived the 3’x5′ piece of fabric was a visual representation of the cultural shift that is happening in Topeka. The city of Topeka officially adopted the flag on 11.12.19.

2020 New Executive Director Selected

  • On August 10, 2020, Kelli Maydew was selected as the new executive director of Forge.

2021 New Executive Director Selected

  • August 2021, Rhett Flood was selected as the new executive director of Forge.