Past Events

Whatcom Business Alliance launches Youth Engagement Initiative

“The key to success is showing up –
you have got to show up!”

On February 7, 2018 the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) launched the Youth Engagement Initiative at a kickoff event attended by five area high schools with over 250 students in attendance.


Speakers from Right to Left: Anne-Marie Faiola (Brambleberry), Erin Baker (Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods), Kevin Menard (Transition Bicycle Company), Mike Andes (Augusta Lawn Care Services).

Community Business leaders including Alcoa, Lynden Door, Saturna Capital, Bellingham Cold Storage, and Key Bank were on hand to demonstrate their interest and support. Students heard first hand from four local entrepreneurs (Mike Andes – Augusta Lawn Care Services, Erin Baker – Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods, Anne-Marie Faiola – Brambleberry, and Kevin Menard – Transition Bicycle Company) about their diverse paths to business ownership. Speakers passed valuable advice to students as they plan for their future after high school.

The Youth Engagement Initiative began as the WBA Board of Directors effort to connect with young people in Whatcom County.  The mission is to make youth aware of employment opportunities, provide mentorship, and to reinforce the message that business success drives community prosperity.  With this mission in mind, the Youth Engagement Committee was formed co-chaired by Laura McKinney, NW Government Affairs and Public Relations Director for Alcoa, and Tom Kenney, Regional President for Washington Federal.  The Committee is comprised of business and community leaders and educators with the support of a newly created 501c3 sister organization to the WBA.

Junior Achievement Job Shadow Program begins now.“We are excited to be a part of this initiative for the positive outcomes for the students, our business, and the whole community.  We want our young people to feel excited about their future after high school, and to be aware of opportunities available right here in Whatcom County,” said Laura McKinney.

WBA President, Tony Larson, welcomes students and introduces guest speakers.

Community Partnerships:
Junior Achievement

Connected with the launch of the initiative is a partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) that will bring JA Job Shadow curriculum into the area high schools. This curriculum includes discussions about job hunting, resume writing and interview skills.  The key element of the partnership is to give students an onsite visit to a local business to see first-hand job opportunities and to interact with human resources departments. Planning is underway for additional activities that will compliment efforts to bridge the business community with educators, students, and parents. For more information on the Youth Engagement Initiative visit

YEI Kick Off Event Press Release download