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October 2010 YP Connections: YP Profile

Katie Underwood

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Name: Katie Underwood

Company: Olsson Associates

Title: Civil Engineer


Being a civil engineer in land development, I have a unique opportunity to work with professionals from fields such as real estate, architecture, site planning, and various City departments on development projects. This gives me a perspective on the planning and improvement process as it occurs in the City of Omaha, which is where my volunteer interest lies as well.

I chose to get involved with the Greater Omaha Young Professionals board because, similar to my arena of work, our projects and events have a very real and immediate impact on the city I live in. With the Omaha Chamber’s backing, the YP group hosts an amazing annual Summit, organizes advocacy subgroups around topics such as Public Engagement and Transportation, recognizes companies for their efforts in attracting young professionals, and the list goes on.

An example of our impact is the YP Bus Challenge. The Transportation subcommittee ran this project, which was held in the spring of 2009. The project was created as a “challenge” between teams of a few people and was scored based on average number of bus trips per person. Although competition between the teams is fun, our focus was primarily on feedback we received from participants. We wanted to know what they liked, disliked, where they thought the system could easily (and perhaps not so easily) be improved, and so on.

We used these comments to create a report that was presented to Metro Area Transit, City Council members, the Mayor, and other public officials. MAT worked with us throughout the entire process, has taken the report seriously, and has already implemented certain ideas, such as posting route maps in bus shelters. I use this example, because it is a very concrete case of taking something young professionals are interested in (public transit), looking at the existing structure in place (MAT’s bus system), bringing in many YP’s to evaluate it (via the Challenge) and giving feedback to stakeholders (the report).

I also enjoy my involvement with the YP Board because of the way I’ve been able to expand my network. Although engineering is a very interesting world with very interesting people, it also quite specialized, which sometimes makes for a small world. The Young Professionals organization has introduced me to individuals across a spectrum of careers and backgrounds that I would have otherwise never met.

I love being able to examine Omaha YP issues through different points of view; perspectives I have gained through conversations and interactions with a varied group of young professionals.

-end- metroMAGAZINE





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