The Breakthrough Young Professionals Board welcomed scores of emerging leaders to the “Aspire: Finding Meaning In Work” panel discussion and networking reception at Jenner & Block in downtown Chicago last week. The largest Aspire crowd to date was guided through a conversation of how to balance a busy work-life schedule with the value of staying involved in our communities through advocacy and volunteering.

The panel discussion featured CEOs and executive leaders from industries in tech, advocacy, marketing, and education. The speakers delved into conversations that ranged from recruitment and talent development strategies to exploring why nonprofits can provide viable career opportunities.

Illinois Action for Children Vice President of Organizational Advancement Sandy Matthews stressed the importance of living in one’s purpose. “Every day for the past 12 years I’ve woken up and lived my mission. And I encourage all of you to think about mission-driven organizations as a career.”

Frank M. Clark, president of the Chicago Board of Education, echoed her sentiments about using your passion to fuel the success of your career. “I guarantee you that if you’re actively involved in non-profits on your resume, it will set you apart from others.”

The candor and honesty of the speakers portrayed in the discussion helped drive its conversational tone. Members of the audience were even asked to participate in the discussion by announcing their social concerns when the mic was turned to them. Some of the responses included youth development, refugee rights and equal pay for minorities in the workplace.

Young Professionals Board President Jamie Lavigueur said she was pleased to see the progression of the Aspire event thanks to the help of great panelists and attendees.

“Aspire is really what the YP Board is all about. It’s a time when we can come together as young professionals, support Breakthrough, and learn how to grow in our careers with the help of those who paved the way before us,” she said. “I am so grateful for the authenticity of our panelists and their willingness to share, and all the people who help make this one of the best nights of the year for us.”