Vail Symposium reaching out to new audience |

Vail Symposium reaching out to new audience

The Vail Symposium was started by Vail’s first young professionals more than 30 years ago. The now-venerable local group is now reaching out to another group of young professionals.

The Symposium is launching “Ideas at Altitude,” a new project intended to grab a new audience, with a June 24 launch party at E-Town in Edwards. The standard audience-grabbers are in place – food, drinks and company. But there’s a guest speaker, too: Tom Spire of Bear Naked, which makes all-natural granola and other projects.

Spire will talk about finding opportunities in today’s economy. With the valley’s current unemployment rate above 9 percent, he could find an attentive audience. It’s also a good way to launch the Ideas at Altitude summer theme: “Re-think.”

There’s been quite a bit of re-thinking happening with Symposium board members, too, especially those still on the younger side of 40.

“We’ve thought it would be fun to gear a program toward younger professionals,” board member Paulina Proper said. “We want to talk about issues facing folks our age.”

A lot of younger professionals are asking themselves if their current career path is one they want to stay on, Proper added. Bringing in speakers such as Spire might prompt some of that introspection.

“Life-long learning” has been the cornerstone of the Symposium since its creation. That’s what brought board member Allison Krausen to the group shortly after she came to the valley straight out of college in 2005. After participating in a few programs, she volunteered to join the group’s board.

“There’s this stereotype about our demographics,” Krausen said. “But the Symposium has many programs of interest to younger people. Our outdoor speaker series and film series have been quite successful.”

Ideas at Altitude is another way to reach a younger crowd, she said.

While socializing and networking will be part of Ideas at Altitude, Proper said the main idea is bigger.

“We’d like to be different than other groups,” Proper said. “It’s not necessarily about networking. It’s about being intellectually stimulating and socially interesting.”

And Krausen said, the issues Ideas at Altitude will hash out apply beyond the Vail Valley.

“We’d like to create a community around ideas,” she said. “And we want to have conversations that extend beyond the community.”

While the Ideas at Altitude launch party is the brainchild of Symposium board members, Krausen said participants will shape the direction of the program.

“We want people to be more engaged,” she said. “We want to get feedback about demand for programs.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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