Who We Are:
Forge is an organization within The Greater Topeka Partnership, that offers opportunities for YP’s ages 18-40 to participate in educational, philanthropic, networking, and social programs.
The name “Forge” conjures instant imagery; molten steel being molded and crafted into something greater. The imagery draws great parallels to the mission of Forge, young professionals drawn together to become a part of something greater than themselves. In Topeka, young professionals are a force to be reckoned with, they are not sitting by, idly waiting their turn. When they move together -with central focus- people notice.
The imagery for Forge combines these two-story arcs. An anvil is a tool used to shape raw materials and transform them for their maximum potential. The North American bison is the largest land mammal in the US, impossible to ignore. The animal as an individual is striking and impressive, but as a part of the larger group, they are unstoppable, forging forward and changing the landscape of their environment.
To make Topeka a place where all young talent will live, work, play, connect and lead.
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 & PROGRAMING
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 Manager 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.
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.
In 2016, Fast Forward became Forge to address challenges facing Topeka in attracting and retaining young talents.
FORGE HIRES EXECUTIVE DIRECOR
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, providing 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.
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-olds the opportunity to become an informed, involved and engaged member of the community.
WASHBURN UNIVERSITY INTERNSHIP
Forge continued to help bridge the gap and engage a range of young talent 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.
The flag initiative lasted over a year, 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 believed 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.