New chamber of commerce division growing fast
by: CLIFF NEWELL Leslie Blair Graham, co-chairman of the Young Professionals of Lake Oswego, moved to town just a year ago, working as a real estate agent.

When you want a job done, give it to a busy person.

Leslie Blair Graham proves that old saying in spades with Young Professionals of Lake Oswego.

Graham is still adjusting to Lake Oswego after being here only a year. She is beginning work as a real estate agent for Premiere Property Group and has just started her own business as a jewelry maker.

But when YPLO founder Brooke Gracey came calling for a co-chairman, Graham came running.

'When I came here I really wanted to establish myself quickly,' Graham said.

As soon as she went to her first YPLO meeting Graham knew she had found the 'vibe' she wanted, thanks largely to Gracey.

'I saw Brooke, and her energy really appealed to me,' Graham said. 'Her energy, her face and her presence really impressed me. When she asked me to be co-chairman in June I was thrilled.

'We're a really good team. We're good at spreading the word. But I was nervous about meeting a lot of people at first.'

For that reason Graham thinks YPLO is important to up-and-coming business people in Lake Oswego. In just a few months of existence the organization has made excellent progress, consistently attracting 50 to 60 people to its events.

YPLO makes an offer you can't refuse.

'It's a free event. There's free food. We welcome everybody,' Graham said. 'You don't even have to be young. You can be young at heart or young in business. We find the wallflowers in the room and meet them and introduce them to others.'

The YPLO has largely stressed social activity so far. Its last big event of the year is scheduled for Oct. 27 at Oswego Lake House on State Street in downtown Lake Oswego.

However, Graham, Gracey and their friends will enter a new phase in 2012.

Graham said, 'We want to set our business plan and bylaws and focus on education. We don't want our activities to turn into drinking events, like some clubs for young business professionals. We want longevity, and we want to stay around as long as the Chamber of Commerce stays around.

'We want to be a showcase because we need injections of young people into this community, for our real estate and schools.'

Graham is well-prepared for her new task. She grew up in Ohio, where she earned a degree in public relations from Ohio University. After becoming a real estate agent, she married a native of Salem. The couple moved to Oregon last year.

Just recently Graham began her jewelry design business called 8 Legged Arts. She is happy about recently gaining Grapevine, located in Lake View Village, as a customer for her work. On the side she teams up with a friend to write a real estate blog on Facebook.

'There's always something to be done,' Graham said.

And she likes it that way.

Graham said the best way to find out more about Young Professionals of Lake Oswego is to go on Facebook and Linkedin. There will also be a YPLO information page on the new website for the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

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