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Member Spotlight – Ken Feldkamp

Ken Feldkamp

Welcome to the Young Emerging Professional’s Member Spotlight, where YEP sits down with one of our members and sees what they’re up to.

This month we’re proud to present YEP’s Ken Feldkamp (2016 Board Member):

YEP: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
KF: My name is Ken Feldkamp. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay with a Bachelors in Business Administration in May 2014 and began working as a Customer Service Representative at Paper Transport Inc. In July 2015, I moved up to the role of Account Manager for a dedicated fleet of CNG trucks running for Unilever. I moved to Ansonia, CT in August to work in Unilever’s office in Shelton. On a day to day basis, it is my job to make sure the fleet is running to make on time deliveries for Unilever while meeting Paper Transport’s expectations for efficiency and performance. In my free time, I enjoy shooting pool, watching Netflix, playing ultimate Frisbee and reading John Grisham or Stephen King.
YEP: How did you find out about YEP and why did you want to get involved?
KF: After I graduated and while I worked in Green Bay, I was very involved in volunteer organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. I was also involved with 2 different young professionals groups, Current and Tap Your Potential. When I moved to Ansonia, I was looking for ways to become involved in the community and after doing some research, I found information about YEP. I want to become involved because I enjoy volunteering and want to make an impact in my community, while developing professional skills and growing as an individual.
YEP: Which YEP event has been your favorite so far?
KF: A group of us went to Escape New Haven on a Saturday. It an unique building set as event space with individual rooms and different scenarios in each. Our team was trapped in a “space station” and using our collective knowledge and skills we had to solve the puzzles in each room eventually leading us to freedom. It was pretty sweet.
YEP: Any fun facts or most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?
KF: I am a big Green Bay Packers football fan and for the 2014 NFL season, I worked home game security at Lambeau field. I only was able to watch bits and pieces of the game, but being there and being part of the atmosphere was amazing. I was able to get out on Lambeau Field once as well.

Lessons From The First CEO Speaks of 2015


On April 14, 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the YEP CEO Speaks event hosted by Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan. The speaker was the CEO of the bank, William Calderara. Right from the start I knew it was going to be an interesting talk and I was not let down.


What is CEO Speaks?

Before I go any further, I want to describe what a CEO Speaks event is. The Young Emerging Professionals hold a variety of events throughout the year. The most well known is the monthly after hours networking events called YEPresents. These events really allow local young professionals to connect with each other. YEP regularly participates in a wide variety of volunteer activities to support the community. These include holding the annual Pinktoberfest during Valley Goes Pink, and Bowl-2-Benefit for BHCare. CEO Speaks and other developmental events are held, on average, once a quarter.


CEO Speaks, in particular, are lunch and learn type events where YEP members get the chance to listen to and have discussions with a CEO or other local business leader. They share how they got to where they are and what lessons they learned along the way. Leadership skills develop over time through practice, learning, and mentorship. Being able to be in a room with a local business leader provides a great opportunity to young professionals to ask a question or two and receive answers straight from a live and in person leader.


Mr. Calderara Speaks

The CEO Speaks lunch and learn was only one hour and that included time for food, which was kindly provided by NVSL. In just this short period of time, Mr. Calderara spoke clearly and concisely on a variety of topics. In the interest of time, I am only going to write about four of them here.


Point 1

CEO_placement_trianglesOne of the first talking points that William Calderara made was the way on the way he described his place in the company. He drew two triangles on the board and labeled them as seen in the image above. His point was that he sees himself at the bottom and it is his job to support everyone above him. This also puts the customer at the top as the most important part of the business. With this as a starting point, it started to become easier to see how he was able to help transform his company into the much more successful one it is today.


Point 2

The second point Mr. Calderara made was something that I have already been trying to do. It was great to hear that I was on the right track and that it will hopefully help me and everyone else that was in the room. Basically, he said learn everyday and learn all you can. Try out different jobs when possible and step outside your comfort zone. Not only will learning a variety of skills help with general professional development, it will also help to prepare you for a position in leadership.Besides actually working in different roles, Mr. Calderara suggested volunteering for different projects. Sit on different committees and work with others gain as much experience as possible.


Point 3

Towards the end of the hour, I heard a phrase that I have heard a thousand times, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” The second half was new to me, “It’s cheaper than a Harvard MBA.” How true is that? Failing and learning from the mistake is, to a degree, very much cheaper than a Master’s degree from an Ivy league school. This is not saying all mistakes or failures won’t cost you or your company a lot of money, but day to day, this holds true.


Point 4

One last point I wanted to make sure to include is the following. Mr. Calderara has made a point of talking to people. This includes employees and customers. He said he likes to hear about the “stupid stuff,” the seemingly trivial day to day items that many employees would usually not want to bother management with. By hearing what is really on the minds of the employees and customers, a manager can see and respond to the little things that usually matter the most. He encouraged everyone who steps into a leadership position to talk to people. Get out of the office and onto the floor or out with the customers.


If you have read this far, thank you and I hope it was worth your time. As mentioned above, CEO Speaks and other events are held by YEP on a regular basis. If you would like to stay up to date on upcoming events, Like YEP on Facebook, follow @CTYEP on twitter, visit CTYEP.com, or send your email address to YEP@GreaterValleyChamber.com to be added to the email distribution list. I look forward to seeing you at the next event.

Member Spotlight – Elizabeth Potenza

Elizabeth Potenza

Welcome to the Young Emerging Professional’s Member Spotlight, where each month YEP will sit down with one of our members and see what they’re up to.

This month we’re proud to present YEP’s Elizabeth (Libby) Potenza (YEP’s Marketing Committee Chair):

Employer: Sacred Heart University

Title: Program Assistant, SHU Online and Cohort Programs

YEP: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do:
EP: I am a graduate of Shelton High and Uconn. I work in the School of Nursing at Sacred  Heart University. I primarily work with RNs who want to obtain their Bachelors and/or Masters Degree(s). Most of our students take their classes in an online format. We also have several cohorts of students in area hospitals — they learn in a hybrid format (online and onsite in their places of employment). I truly enjoy working at Sacred Heart because of its emphasis on social justice and bettering the community.

YEP: How did you find out about YEP and why did you want to get involved?
EP: I noticed that some of my Facebook friends were involved with YEP, so I decided to check out a YEPresent event last year. I had been looking for a way to be more involved with the local community and YEP was a perfect fit! It has opened up many volunteering opportunities for me.

YEP: Which YEP event has been your favorite so far?
EP: Shakespeare in the Bar at Porky’s last March has been my favorite event so far. It was so fun to be in an open space with the play unfolding right in front of us. Some of the audience members were even asked to participate. I’m looking forward to this event again this year.

YEP: Tell us more about you. What are your future aspirations?
EP: I worked in human resources and non-fiction publishing before I got into higher education. I want to continue in higher ed and eventually get a Masters in Applied Psychology or Business. Besides YEP, I’m also involved with the SHU-ERC (Emergency Reserve Corps) through work. We help to keep SHU and the surrounding area safe in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. My interests include movies (especially independent ones), dancing (Nia and Zumba), and food (especially organic and locally grown). I also love spoiling my rescue cat named Tabitha (Tabby for short).

YEP: Any fun facts or most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?
EP: I’ve gotten to meet several famous authors in person including David Sedaris, Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Gilbert, Wally Lamb, and Ann Leary. My favorite recent read is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

Member Spotlight – Fernando Solis

Fernando Head ShotWelcome to the Young Emerging Professional’s Member Spotlight, where we sit down with one of our members and see what they’re up to.

Employer: Hampton Inn Shelton Managed by New Castle Hotels and Resorts

Title: General Manager

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do: I have been in the hospitality Industry for about 14 years now I have worked for many of the popular hotel chains and brands like Marriott, Starwood, and I am currently working for the best brand, Hampton Inn. In my position as General Manager, I lead a team of 30 employees and I focus on four man objectives: revenue growth, bottom line profit, guest satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.  I love this industry because every day there is something new and challenging.  I have been blessed with a great staff and a wonderful hotel. In the three years since it opened, we have received many awards from Hilton.  In 2012, we won the Lighthouse award that is given to the top 5% of Hampton Inn for Service and Quality, and in 2013, we received the Circle of Excellence award for being in the top 10% for Service and Quality.

How did you find out about YEP and why did you want to get involved? Not being from the Valley, I wanted to find out more of what was going on in the community.  I started attending more and more Chamber functions, where I met Thomas and Sue Steeves.  They invited me to a YEPresent, and I have been going ever since.  New Castle Hotels and Resorts believe in giving back to the community and lending a helping hand.  I always tell people we might not be able to give much money but I can always give you my time …and the occasional gift certificate for a free night.

Which YEP event has been your favorite so far?  I do have to say Pinktoberfest is a blast. Being a cancer survivor, I love giving to any organization that would help cure this horrible disease.

Tell us more about you. What are your future aspirations? I am originally from a small town in Texas, but I have been in Connecticut for about 21 years now.  I like to say I am on a really long vacation in Connecticut because Texas will always be home. I have many hobbies. I love to golf, hike, and being from Texas, I love to BBQ.  I am a cancer survivor from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I have learned to live life with a positive attitude and face difficulties head on.

I love the hospitality industry and one day I would love a full service hotel, but my dream job would be to open and operate a BBQ place.

Any fun facts or most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you? In my 14 years in the hotel industry I have seen and witnessed many interesting things.  I have met and hung out with many celebrities like Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block, Alice Cooper,112 (had birthday cake with them), Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Carrot Top, Terry Bradshaw, BB King, and Ray Charles.

My favorite person I have ever met was just last week.  I met an eleven year old little girl who had beaten leukemia.  This tiny person went through years of Chemo and treatments and is now in remission. She was full of life and so happy it melted my heart. Every time I think I am having a bad day I think of her and how happy she was when we met.  This was a great reminder that no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. Live a positive life and positive things will happen.This was a great reminder that no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. Live a positive life and positive things will happen.

YEPOlympics This August

The Annual YEPOlympics are right around the corner. Grab some friends and head down to the Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton on August 14 starting at 5:30PM. Compete in Mini Golf and Fun Bowl for the top overall prize. 

Here’s how it works: Teams of 3 or 4 play a round of Mini Golf and a game of Fun Bowl. While the scores are being calculated, there is networking and food upstairs in one of the event rooms. Finally, winners are announced. Easy and fun!

Teams: Ask your friends and coworkers to form a team with you. If you do not have a team of 4, no problem. Teams will be assembled before the games begin that night. To register as a team, email each player’s name, your team’s name, and your company to YEP@GreaterValleyChamber.com. 

Connect. Develop. Support.: YEPOlympics connects local young professionals, develops team building and networking skills, and supports the community since we will still be collecting for the Back-2-School backpack program.

Were you there last year? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and reactions below.

This event will be $10 per person to cover the costs of the facility and food. 

Back-2-School Backpack Drive

Each year for the last several years, YEP has collected money and supplies to fill a backpack (or two) for a local child.

Allison and Alexis reflect on their experiences with this program in previous posts.

This year we have collected over $70 during two YEPresents to help fill the backpacks. The YEPOlympics in August will be the last opportunity to donate either money or items to help with this cause. Our goal is to raise $200 in money and items.

If you would like to donate, please attend the YEPOlympics on August 14th, or email YEP@GreaterValleyChamber.com to schedule a pickup with a Board Member.

Here is a list of items that we need to include in each backpack:

Back-2-School Backpack 2014

So go shopping and let us know what you will be putting in our student’s backpacks. Comment below, on Facebook, or send an email to YEP@GreaterValleyChamber.com



The YEP mission states: YEP’s mission is to connect and engage emerging leaders in their 20’s & 30’s in activities that support our community and the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce while making the Lower Naugatuck Valley region and its surrounding communities a more energetic, exciting, and active place to work and live.

We accomplish this mission by focusing on three pillars: Connect. Develop. Support. This post focuses on the Support portion.

When we talk about support, we are really focusing on supporting the community. YEP members team up and do good in the Valley throughout the year.

Some of our annual volunteer events include:

Fundraising is an important way to help support our local organizations and neighbors, but we also provide support by volunteering our time.

For example, each year we have 3-5 teams of 4 or 5 members who participate in the Bowl-2-Benefit event. We also put together a committee of about 10 people to work on the annual Pinktoberfest event. They work on the event details for 4+ months.

We are also always looking for small but useful ways to help out. A few YEP members have, from time to time, been known to get together on a Saturday to paint a classroom or conference room.

We can mobilize quickly during a need. When smoke damage from a fire caused a large percentage of the inventory at My Sister’s Place to be rendered unusable, YEP rallied and was able to collect over 700 pounds in clothing and household item donations.

Being involved in the local community is something we take pride in. This is our community. Whether you spend a few hours or all week in Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, Beacon Falls, and/or Oxford, you are a part of this community and should feel good about it.

Getting involved not only makes you feel good, it also gets you in front of some important community leaders. The United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council is an organization we work closely with. There are a number of corporate volunteers that work in key positions of local companies that you might be interested in working with or working for.

That leads us back to connect. YEP can connect you to the people you want to get to know. In addition, you will be learning new skills and things you never knew you needed to know. That is develop. So by volunteering with you and getting involved in the community, you can connect, develop, and support.


(425 words by Kayleigh Apicerno)


The YEP mission states: YEP’s mission is to connect and engage emerging leaders in their 20’s & 30’s in activities that support our community and the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce while making the Lower Naugatuck Valley region and its surrounding communities a more energetic, exciting and active place to work and live.

We accomplish this mission by focusing on three pillars: Connect. Develop. Support. This post focuses on the Connect portion.

YEP connects young professionals who live, work, and/or play in the area to each other during monthly after hour networking events (YEPresents), volunteering activities, and professional development events.

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. It is important for young professionals to connect with each other and with their local community, especially when they are looking for a job, to advance their career, to change careers, or to get involved.

Sales professionals are always looking for new prospects and consumers are more comfortable working with someone they know. Leads on new clients and recommendations on where to buy are inevitably exchanged at networking events such as the monthly YEPresents.

CEO Speaks is a members only series of events that puts 15-20 YEP members in a room with local business leaders. The speakers make a short presentation and then take questions from the audience. This is an invaluable opportunity to learn from successful leaders and develop stronger leadership skills.

Getting involved with the community makes you feel good. People volunteer because it makes them feel good. YEP connects people who want to get involved with opportunities to do so. The Community Outreach Committee works closely with The Valley United Way and their CVC (Corporate Volunteer Council),  and other local organizations to find ways we can get involved.

Annually, YEP takes part in a variety of community events, including but not limited to: Bowl-2-Benefit, The Valley Goes Pink, Toys 4 Kids, and The Back-2-School Backpack Program.

It is all connected. In the next few posts, we will dig deeper into the other two pillars, Develop and Support, and as you read, you will notice some aspects will be repeated. While each pillar is specific, it would be almost impossible to focus solely on one without the other two.

Is it your time to emerge? If you are not a YEP member but would like to be, head on over to the Join YEP section or The Greater Valley Chamber website to sign up. Membership is only $40 a year, or $30 if you are a Chamber member.


(428 words by Kayleigh Apicerno)