Lia Pontarelli is the founder of Empowered Professionals of the Iowa City Area, or EPIC.
She moved to Iowa City from Davenport four years ago. About a year after moving to town, Pontarelli and a friend presented a proposal for a young professionals group to the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce. They wanted a better way for young professionals to get engaged in the community.
"How we could help businesses attract young professionals to their companies to the area, and how we can keep the ones that are already here, here," said Lia Pontarelli.
Pontarelli was the chair of EPIC for about a year and half. She's currently on EPIC's Leadership Council.
While EPIC is geared toward people in their 20s and 30s, anyone can join who lives, works or even just plays in the Iowa City area.
"Anybody's able to attend any of our events. When we say young professionals we simply mean our programming is going to be geared to people in 20s-30s," said Pontarelli.
EPIC has three main components: professional, social and civic.
"The purpose of the three of those things is so not just to give something to do that but so they're getting connections with people, with businesses and organizations so they stay connected to the community and they're not gonna leave this area," said Lia Pontarelli.
For the professional component, EPIC holds a monthly luncheon. January's luncheon was at Blackstone in Iowa City. The idea behind the luncheons is to offer professional development advice to young people.
The social side includes a "Pub Club." The civic component asks for volunteers on an as needed basis. In 2012, EPIC members gave 600 hours of volunteer service to the Iowa City area.
Lia Pontarelli said being part of EPIC has gotten her more involved and invested in Iowa City.
"For me personally, it's one of the best things you can do. We all want to succeed. We're all at similar stages in our life," she said.
Pontarelli said despite being a college town, there are many young, working professionals in Iowa City and she hopes EPIC gives them an added incentive to continue living and working in this area.
For more information on EPIC, click here.