The Power of YPs unleashed: Hamilton HIVE’s 2015 exec team

The potential of Hamilton has been unleashed and the first to realize it are the city’s young professionals.

There are more than 270,000 young professionals between 18-40 in Hamilton, according to the 2011 census, and many of them have begun work for the future.

Some see the world as it is but many YPs see the world as what it can be.

Hamilton HIVE, the umbrella organization for young leaders, professionals, and their groups, is on the vanguard of this movement.

The group’s mission is to provide an all-in-one, up-to-date resource for young professionals from across the economic landscape who are looking to start or advance their career and life in Hamilton and to assist in building young professional networks in the city. Hamilton HIVE is a partnership between the City of Hamilton, the Chambers of Commerce, the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative and institutional and private sector partners. It emerged in 2009.

Hamilton HIVE has a huge social media presence with 4,921 Twitter followers, 1,700 subscribers to its weekly newsletter and 605 Likes on Facebook. Incoming chair Abigail Santos, who was responsible for growing the numbers online, said FB Likes grew by 75 per cent, Twitter followers increased by 41 per cent, and LinkedIn members grew by 94.7 per cent.

HIVE has 22 member groups such as GenNext, Hamilton Media Guild, AGH’s CLiC, Young Entrepreneurs & Professionals (YEP), and many more. Six of the groups started in the past year.

As the chair of Hamilton Media Guild, one of the new HIVE groups, I was asked by the Hamilton Spectator about the emergence of a number of professional networking groups aimed at advancing careers in Hamilton.

I said it’s contagious.

You need to surround yourself with the doers and dreamers and you will soon find yourself fostering positive conversation among the people who are helping to shape the city.

And before you know it, you wake up as a doer who has changed your cant’s into cans and your dreams into plans.

To plan effectively for 2015, Hamilton HIVE has chosen their doers for their executive team.

Welcome and congratulations to:
Vice-Chair (Chair Elect 2016) – Alyssa Lai
Secretary – Abir Abdulla
Treasurer – John Bojeski

On January 1, they will join Abigail Santos, HIVE Chair; Andreana Hudson, Past-Chair; as well as the Board, in working with and for Hamilton YPs! Click on their names to learn more about the exec members.

Abigail Santos
Abigail Santos - HIVE Chair

1. Tell me about yourself.

Abigail is a graduate of McMaster University, with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies and a Minor in Anthropology. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Seneca College.

Her work experiences range from on-air community reporter with Cable 14, columnist for to marketing and admissions coordinator of the Ontario Dental Education Institute. Abigail’s impressive career experiences contributed to her recognition as a Top 40 Under 40 Business Achievement Award Winner by the Hamilton-Halton Business Link Media Group in 2013.

Abigail is also actively involved with a non-profit organization, the Philippine Canadian Association. She sits on the group’s board as press relations officer and events and project coordinator.

2. What experiences and skills do you hope to bring to HIVE?
As Vice-Chair for Hamilton HIVE this past year, I had the opportunity to work closely alongside three great individuals; Andreana, current HIVE Chair; Melissa, Secretary; and Cecilia, Treasurer. From them I learned so many things: how to be a better team member, a leader for the community, and a voice for our YPs. With them, I sat in on the HIVE Board meetings every month, listening and learning from representatives of our 22 member groups, our sub-committee chairs, and various individuals from the community.

This time was invaluable as I come to the Chair position with a better understanding of who our members truly are and what they really want out of HIVE.
This past year, I was also able to focus on the fine details of the organization. I learned the inner workings of our member groups while keeping the communication lines open between new group inquiries, present members, and all those in between. In addition, as a team (HIVE Exec and our Board) we implemented new initiatives, and partnered with other amazing organizations in the city for new events/projects and a new mentorship program.

All these things have strengthened me as a person, and solidified what I already knew, that our YPs are an enthusiastic and ambitious bunch that I can’t wait to work with and for in my role as HIVE Chair!

To truly know Hamilton HIVE is to know its members and the inner workings of the organization, and I believe I know both and I believe that it makes me a competent and confident incoming HIVE Chair.

3. What are you most excited about in your position?
I’m excited to continue working with and for Hamilton’s Young Professionals!

As Vice-Chair this year, I had the opportunity to meet new people, saw new member group’s form, present to various organizations about HIVE, attend various meetings and events that were new to our organization, and had the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of people to plan and organize HIVE’s largest and cornerstone event, HIVEX.

I’m excited to continue building relationships for HIVE, to promote our amazing YPs, and to provide exposure of our group and our members. I’m looking forward to my year as Chair and working with Alyssa, Abir, John, and our ambitious board members to make our Hamilton YPs experience in the city, one that they won’t forget and one that they won’t want to leave!
4. What is your vision for HIVE?

My vision for Hamilton HIVE in 2015 is to bring it back to the basics; to bring it back to our mandate; to Attract AND Retain youth in our city!

To do this I want to connect our YPs to our 22 (and growing!) member groups, I want HIVE to inspire the next wave of leaders in the city through the program/initiatives/events we have, and I want HIVE to help with Hamilton’s community development.

HIVE is here to enhance our YPs experience in Hamilton and to provide them with resources, networks, and opportunities no other city can offer them! I want to encourage young professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the city to use HIVE as a platform to not only make Hamilton a city they want to live, work, and play in, but also use it to make their time here unforgettable.

The saying, “You can do anything in Hamilton!” is true and I want to find ways to live up to that saying to attract and retain our YPs to our city!

5. If you could sum up HIVE in one word, what would that be?

Passionate! Passionate for our city’s growth and for providing experiences and networks to aid in the development of our YPs.








Alyssa Lai - Vice Chair (Chair-Elect 2016)
1. Tell me about yourself.

I came to Hamilton in 2008 as an international student from Malaysia to pursue my degree at McMaster. In one of my communication studies courses at McMaster, a prof talked about building a “toolkit.” He said every communicator should have a toolkit of skills and experiences that could contribute to their role as a communications professional.

After graduating in 2012, I started thinking carefully about my own “career toolkit” and what I wanted to do to enhance myself as a professional and individual. That led to a list of things that I have always wanted to learn and try, such as photography, graphic design, video, website development and more.

I sought out avenues that allowed me to learn and practice those skills. That led me to different volunteer and freelance roles in journalism, stage-managing, photography and more. Through those roles, I also got to know Hamilton and its people better. The community consists of passionate and talented individuals from various backgrounds, many with the desire to share knowledge and help one another. I have benefitted from their friendships and mentorships. The connections built and the many volunteer and freelance roles that I have taken on landed me jobs and a career in public relations within the nonprofit sector.

Six years and two months after I set foot in the city, I am proud to say that I am still living, working and playing in the Hammer, a city that I now call home.

2. What experiences and skills do you hope to bring to HIVE?
That would be a combination of my lived and professional experiences; lived experiences as a newcomer in the city and my professional background and relationships through my roles in public relations and communications.

The role of the vice chair involves building brand awareness of HIVE and relationships with other communities and groups in Hamilton. Being a communications professional means being a good messenger and connector – you bring together different parties and individuals to a common understanding and achieve a shared goal. That means being adept in a variety of different communications channels, online and offline. My professional roles as an outreach coordinator, marketing and development coordinator and community relations coordinator require me to integrate traditional and new media to communicate effectively with different stakeholders and audiences. As a former international student, I understand the challenges in meeting new people and settling in a new city.

As I apply my knowledge and experiences in public relations in the role of the vice chair, that perspective as a newcomer will be a guiding tool for me when strategizing different ways to broaden the reach of Hamilton HIVE, ensuring that we always think critically about who we are excluding albeit unintentionally and what we can do to connect better with different communities.

3. What are you most excited about in your position?
It will be the opportunity to work closer with member groups and learn from them.

Currently, there are 22 member groups. Each has unique ways of engaging with young professionals, promoting their work and giving back to the community. And there really is something for everyone, whether you are a freelancer, media enthusiast, newcomer, art aficionado, entrepreneur, alumni of Mohawk or McMaster and so on.

I look forward to deepening the connection between HIVE and its member group, because together, we can do better.

4. What is your vision for HIVE?
To be the go-to organization for young professionals looking for support, connections, professional development and social opportunities.

5. If you could sum up HIVE in one word, what would that be?

Possibilities – because all things are made possible when you have a strong group of talented young professionals committed to making the city a better place to be. That’ is, to me, the essence of HIVE.







Abir Abdulla
Abir Abdulla - Secretary

1. Tell me about yourself.

I just graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour.

Through my honours thesis on youth civic engagement, I developed an interest in understanding the attitudes that people have towards their communities.

I hope to one day use this understanding to increase both civic and social engagement in our community, especially among youth. I’m currently a student in the Executive Office Administration at Mohawk College, and I hope to pursue a career in public policy research.

2. What experiences and skills to you hope to bring to HIVE?
I’m excited to bring my passion for this city to HIVE. As a life-long Hamiltonian and member of the Hamilton Engagement Committee, I value giving the people in this city a voice. As a McMaster graduate and an avid volunteer in the McMaster community, I value education and keeping up to date with the issues that matter most to the people in this city.

3. What are you most excited about in your position?

I look forward to being part of an organization that is connected to so many others in the city! I hope to meet a variety of passionate people from different professional backgrounds. I enjoy talking to people about how they ended up where they are today and what inspires them.

4. What is your vision for HIVE?
I hope that HIVE can continue growing as an accessible resource for all young people looking for professional advice and mentorship.

5. If you could sum up HIVE in one word, what would that be?







JB Headshot
John Bojeski - Treasurer

1. Tell me about yourself. What experiences and skills do you hope to bring to HIVE?

I am ambitious and looking to become a young leader in the community.

I was born and raised in Hamilton and am a graduate of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, with a Bachelor of Commerce. I held prominent roles in student leadership at DeGroote, including organizing and planning the Welcome Week program for the faculty, and being the student council representative for my graduating class. I developed strong management, organization, and communications skills that I used to execute tasks and lead with authority.

I have the experience and credentials required for Treasurer and a passion for achievement. I was heavily involved at McMaster, and am now seeking to get involved and embed myself in the Hamilton community. My current work experience in sales for a large CPG company has given me the interpersonal skills required to succeed in any environment, and allowed me to further develop my work ethic, time management, and teamwork skills.

I am an avid sports player. I have played sports my whole life, and continue to play soccer year round. I want to take on an impactful role with an organization that contributes to the development of the city.

I want to positively contribute to this ever-changing city and play a role in its evolving communities. I take pride in where I come from and am looking for an opportunity to build on this passion. I current life, play, and my goal is to hopefully one day work in Hamilton.

2. What are you most excited about in your position?
I am most excited about being a contributing member to the executive team. I look forward to overseeing all of HIVE’s finances and working with the Executive and Board, to ensure that all financial needs are handled responsibly and expectations exceeded.

3. What is your vision for HIVE?
My vision for HIVE is to start a movement, not only within the city, but in Ontario to make Hamilton a desired place to live, raise a family, and work.

I want to see HIVE’s efforts attract and retain young talented individuals in the city, and make Hamilton a place to grow professionally. Hamilton is full of potential and it only requires a few people to take action, before others will take notice.

4. If you could sum up HIVE in one word, what would that be?


Sherry Mousavi

Sherry Mousavi is a business and media professional who lives, works and plays in the city of Hamilton. The McMaster Commerce graduate has been a professional writer for Torstar, a financial analyst at Hamilton Health Sciences and spearheaded the launch of a real estate brokerage. Sherry is very involved in the community as the co-founder and chair of Hamilton Media Guild, board member of Hamilton HIVE, member of YEP, committee member of Hamilton Media Advisory Council, correspondent on a new arts and entertainment show for Cable 14, as well as a volunteer for the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Empowerment Squared.

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