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2015 Young Memphis: Airika Wallace Gigas, LEO Events

The following is a feature from the previous issue of Memphis Crossroads Magazine. Click here to view the full issue.

Young professionals see a future in Memphis – their future. They believe in what Memphis is and what it is becoming. They want to be a part of what others are doing and to offer their talents, energies and dreams to make the city an even better place to live. They talk of loving Memphis, and the ways this city draws them are as diverse as Memphis’ population. Perhaps, in a word, they picked Memphis because of opportunity. Career opportunities. Opportunities to play and relax. Opportunities to connect with family and peers. Opportunities to make a difference.

And making a difference is key, as this generation prioritizes following their passions and leaving the world a better place. Memphis offers plenty of ways to connect with their peers and create transformational change in their community. There’s SoundCheck, the Young Professionals Council of the Greater Memphis Chamber, which connects these YPs with experienced business leaders and involves them in critical issues facing Memphis. There’s also leadership programs like Embark by New Memphis Institute and the FastTrack Program by Leadership Memphis. And that’s only the beginning.

The 10 featured work as entrepreneurs, professionals, nonprofit employees and creative types. But their jobs aren’t the only way they put their mark on the city. They put energy into causes like homelessness, education and civil rights. While sometimes their jobs and what’s dear to their hearts overlap, volunteerism is strong among these young professionals. They look outside of themselves and reach out to help others. While they are making lives for themselves, they are making life better for others. Memphis is in good hands with these young leaders on deck.

Airika Wallace Gigas may be best equipped to sell Memphis to visitors because she once was one and “fell in love” with the city. Memphis left such an indelible impression that when the time for a career move came, she unhitched her life in Dallas and bolted for the Bluff City. As director of sales and events at the destination management company LEO Events, 29-year-old Gigas sells the city as a site for corporate events. She creates itineraries to expose visitors to the “authentic nature” of Memphis. “We’re different than any other destination,” said Gigas, an advertising and public relations graduate of Oklahoma State University. “We’re somewhere no one has ever been.”

What sold Gigas on Memphis during her multiple visits was the trolley experience, the local restaurants and the outdoor concerts. She also appreciated the grassroots approach to problem solving. Once a resident, she plunged into learning more through Embark, New Memphis Institute’s leadership program for people under 30 that’s designed to empower the next generation to shape the city’s future. “I wanted to become more invested in this city that I now call home,” she said.

Story by: Toni Lepeska
Photo by: Troy Glasgow
Posted: 9/29/2015 1:35:10 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: 2015, airika, events, gigas, LEO, memphians, memphis, professionals, wallace, young

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (