First published in the Dec. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank Young Professionals really are young … as in only 3 years old.
And to celebrate their third birthday, the organization and its supporters recently gathered for a festive poolside party at Downtown Burbank’s Hilton Garden Inn.
Staged as a “Three-esta,” the event was hosted by Romik Hacobian, the owner of Media City Design and Consulting, who founded the Burbank Young Professionals committee and serves as its chairman.
Hacobian came up with the idea for the program based on a model created by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.
“When I came on as a member and then an ambassador for the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, I noticed there were no young people at any of their mixers or networking events,” Hacobian said.
“I brought that up to then-Chamber CEO Tom Flavin who explained that since the Burbank Junior Chamber of Commerce was dissolved, they rarely got many young people to attend their events. I asked him if I could spearhead an idea I had to start a chamber sub-committee of young professionals and he was very encouraging of the idea. From there, a friend of mine who has been involved with the Glendale Chamber, Bill Graham, helped me get it off the ground.”
Hacobian and Graham sought out young people who were working in Burbank by means of social media, flyers placed in the Magnolia Park and Downton Burbank business districts, and by literally knocking on doors of businesses and introducing themselves.
“We told them what we were doing and invited them to a meeting. We even made an offer they couldn’t refuse, that we would be serving complimentary adult beverages,” Hacobian added with a laugh. “We then had our first event in October of 2018, and over 90 people attended.”
From the outset, Hacobian decided that the Burbank Young Professionals would not just be a business networking organization.
“We wanted to incorporate charity work and make the heart and soul of our group one based on community service,” he explained. “We wanted it to be bigger than us, something to give young people the opportunity to be involved with something they cared about.”
Over the past three years the BYP have participated in numerous acts of community service. They sponsored a candidate forum and town hall meeting during the last city council campaign, and have corroborated with Woodbury University and Family Promise of the Verdugos on various projects.
Along with their community outreach, another positive thing that has come out of BYP is how it has impacted the lives of young people who have been involved. One in particular is Max Lopez, whose work in stop-motion animation was spotlighted at the mayor’s State of the City Address this past month.
“Max is one of our many success stories,” Hacobian said. “He was having a hard time making it, and even lived in someone’s garage for a while. When he first got involved with BYP, he wanted to create a way for young people working in the city to have more of a voice, in both the business community at large, and with local government.”
According to Hacobian, through Lopez’s involvement with BYP, he met people from the city of Burbank, including Mayor Bob Frutos and representatives from Nickelodeon and other media-related business.
“He now has a company that does stop-motion animation for huge companies like the Pleasant Company, who manufactures the American Girl doll and for iconic Mattel products such as Barbie and Hot Wheels,” Hacobian said. “Today he has a 1,000-foot facility and over 35 employees working for him.”
During BYP’s recent celebration, Burbank Chamber of Commerce CEO Jamie Keyser Thomas lauded the vision and work of Hacobian.
“What we have seen with BYP over the past three years is nothing short of amazing,” said Keyser Thomas. “That has been because of Romik, who has brought us all together. He constantly warms my heart with all he does, and the chamber is proud to be a part of BYP’s journey to bring a new generation of leaders to our city.”
Calling Keyser Thomas “the soul of Burbank’s Chamber of Commerce,” Romik presented her with an honorary membership in the youth organization.
“She challenges me and inspires me in so many ways, and I love how we work together, united in purpose,” he added.
The evening, which included a buffet dinner and an honoring of BYP members, also saw Frutos made an honorary member of the organization.
“This is really a special evening honoring a very important group of people in our city,” Frutos said as he accepted his membership. “This is about young people getting involved and having their voices heard. It is about their becoming a valuable part of our community and its future.”
For more information on Burbank Young Professionals, visit burbankyp.com.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.