YPT Atlanta’s initial vision came when the national organization (based in DC) held a networking event at TRB in 2011. James Wong, formerly active in the initial DC-based YPT had reconnected with Brittney Kohler, who had been cultivating the growth of different chapters around the country. At the time, San Francisco, Boston and New York were the only other chapters but the idea of new chapters was spreading quickly to the south. Brittney connected James with Melody Butler, another Georgia Tech graduate student, who had first inquired about starting a YPT chapter in Atlanta. The two of them saw the need for an organization that brought together not just engineers and planners, but also software, technology, political assistants, lawyers, salespeople, researchers, academics, municipalities, students, and everyone else involved in transportation in Atlanta, in one organization, to collaborate, learn from each other and network with each other. They spent time cultivating the idea and recruiting others for leadership positions when they found Chris Rome, another colleague from Georgia Tech who would quickly become the chair of YPT Atlanta. In the months following, they worked towards the inaugural YPT Atlanta event while growing an e-mail list of interested students and professionals.
YPT Atlanta’s launch event was held April 4, 2012 at Barrelhouse Tavern in Midtown Atlanta. MARTA CEO Dr. Beverly Scott and Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Executive Director Doug Hooker spoke to a crowd of over 60 young professionals in transportation about their careers and what YPT’s can do to prosper at The Barrelhouse in Midtown Atlanta.
In the remainder of 2012, YPT operated with a volunteer-based board of directors and hosted three more events: a happy hour at Taco Mac (Lindbergh), a Distinguished Speaker Series event with Ryan Gravel (Atlanta BeltLine visionary) in conjunction with ITE International for the ITE 2012 Annual Meeting, and a Distinguished Speaker Series with Dr. Michael Meyer, nationally-renowned transit and climate change specialist. In less than eight months, YPT Atlanta grew to over 100 friends. The rest is history!