Young Professionals in Infrastructure Demand Drives Organizational Growth

As infrastructure needs across the US grow in urgency, so does the need for a talented pool of young leaders to help support and drive the infrastructure industry. In this environment, the importance of organizations like the Young Professionals in Infrastructure that support and foster new talent continues to rise.

What began a few years back as a collection of individuals involved in public-private partnerships on the East Coast, has seen growth across the United States in the wide range of sectors across the infrastructure space.

Young Professionals in Infrastructure (YPI) was founded in late 2015 by representatives of several institutions that are active in the infrastructure industry, and the alternative delivery space specifically. Since then, the organization has grown significantly.

The organization now has over 30 organizational members across the public and private sectors. 2019 has seen a large growth in the organization’s public sector membership in particular:  YPI now has seven public sector organizations that are active members, including the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.  YPI has begun to focus increasingly on bringing together the public and private sector, and knowledge sharing between both sectors of employees regarding difficult issues related to increasingly more complex infrastructure transactions. Since its beginning, YPI has maintained a focus on alternative delivery methods and innovative ways of thinking about infrastructure delivery, and despite the organization’s expansion, this core focus hasn’t changed.

Promoting Diversity from Various Perspectives

Part of YPI’s efforts to foster a new generation of successful, inspiring leaders has been driven by its increasingly active Diversity, Inclusion & Workforce Committee. This Committee, and YPI generally, remain committed to driving increased diversity and inclusion among those working in the infrastructure space, across all industries. The Committee is in its second year and is now headed by Leslie Jacomino of Winston & Strawn. “The Committee and YPI are committed to promoting the future generation of leaders in infrastructure and cultivating an inclusive industry culture that recognizes and appreciates talented contributors of all backgrounds. It is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake – diverse and inclusive teams are critically important to the delivery of successful projects,” maintains Jacomo.

Other members of the Committee have also shown their commitment to diversity, both through YPI events and initiatives, and through their work outside of YPI.

“September 15th kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US.  It’s a great time to gain a deeper appreciation for the ongoing contributions of Latinos in the US. Diversity is essential to creating a collaborative environment that nurtures and promotes solutions for future business and societal challenges.  Every leader should be committed to advancing the critical conversation about creating more inclusive environments,” said Wilson Vega-
Ortiz of Marsh, a member of the Committee and co-chair of YPI’s Membership Committee.

Jackson Murley of Shearman & Stearling, also an active member of the Committee, added: “It’s been an honor to serve as co-chair of Sterling Pride (Shearman & Sterling’s LGBTQ inclusion network) over the past five years and be a member of YPI’s diversity committee.  Promoting all kinds of diversity and creating an inclusive community in the legal services and infrastructure sectors has been a passion of mine throughout my career.  Given the fundamental importance of infrastructure in everyone’s daily life, we need to ensure that professionals in the infrastructure sector, whether in legal, engineering, finance, insurance or otherwise, appreciate and reflect the diversity of the communities we work in and serve.”

Through bringing together emerging leaders who are actively promoting diversity and inclusion from a variety of different perspectives, YPI promotes vibrant discussion of related topics through monthly calls and organizing events in partnership with other industry organizations focused on diversity. Discussions within the Committee have turned to how best to translate these discussions into tangible actions in the coming months and years.

A New Focus On Workforce

In 2019, the YPI membership also made the clear the necessity to make workforce issues front and center.  Sarah Bennett, who serves as Program Manager for Economic Development & Opportunity for the City of Denver, and also is a member of the YPI Diversity, Inclusion & Workforce Committee, emphasized this, stating: “More and more cities across the nation are recognizing the need to ensure infrastructure projects economically benefit the communities in which they are built. Simultaneously, firms are confronting a tight labor market and are looking at ways to creatively attract and retain the next great hire. To that end, YPI’s Diversity, Inclusion & Workforce Committee is focused on looking at ways to partner with local community workforce development efforts to augment our work and support greater diversity and inclusion within our sectors.”

Moving Forward

YPI’s Diversity, Inclusion & Workforce Committee is collaborating with various other organizations within the industry to produce webinars and other informative presentations regarding diversity and workforce issues. Additionally, the Committee is consulting with YPI’s membership regarding diversity initiatives across organizations and is focused on recognizing and promoting individuals within YPI’s membership for outstanding contributions to diversity within their fields.

For information about YPI, visit: