Nov. 2, 2018

More than 100 people gathered in a Northern Jet Management hangar at Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids, MI last month, but they weren’t there for a company meeting or safety seminar. Attendees ranged in age from high schoolers to seasoned aviation professionals, but the many young adults at the event – which featured refreshments, exhibits and even a static aircraft display – made it clear that this was a Young Professionals (YoPro) networking reception.

One of four similar functions held in the past six months, the events are co-sponsored by NBAA’s YoPro Council, the leadership arm of YoPro, whose mission is to build relationships between emerging leaders across the industry, especially via networking receptions and events at key business aviation industry gatherings.

“These meet-ups are a great way for young professionals in the business aviation industry to network with their peers, as well as meet more seasoned industry experts,” said Brian Koester, NBAA’s senior manager, flight operations and regulation.

Students from the local aviation high school, as well as those from nearby colleges with aviation programs, were invited to the Grand Rapids function, according to organizer Jennifer Drolema, a member of the YoPro Council.


“One high schooler, who thought she was losing interest in pursuing aviation as a career, had such positive interactions with several pilots at the reception that she is now re-energized and certain that she wants a career in aviation,” said Drolema. Other attendees were able to speak with representatives of a number of sponsoring organizations and companies, including the Michigan Business Aviation Association the Western Michigan Business Aviation Association, Bombardier, Signature Flight Support, and many more.

“The receptions are so great because we often don’t reach new people in the industry at more typical meetings and conferences,” said Drolema, adding that attendees came from as far away as Indiana.

Other networking receptions were hosted earlier this year by the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, the Westchester (NY) Aviation Association and the North Texas Business Aviation Association (NTBAA).

“Based on feedback from our members, we will definitely be hosting another event like this in 2019,” said NTBAA event organizer Kellie Roby, business manager at Business Jet Access. “Our regular NTBAA attendees were able to network with a different group than they are used to seeing. We were also able to grow our NTBAA membership through this event by connecting with the YoPros in attendance that maybe had the belief that NTBAA was just an organization for their supervisors and managers.”

For more information on YoPro, or to learn more about hosting a YoPro networking reception, contact