When Chelann Gienger graduated from high school, she could have joined others her age and left the Yakima Valley for college and a career path elsewhere.
Gienger decided to take a different approach. While others attended college classes, Gienger started NUYU Juice Bar with her siblings, launched a podcast aimed at entrepreneurs and business owners under 25, wrote a book titled "Dear Millennial," and took on speaking engagements to encourage people her age to pursue their dreams and ambitions.
Now 22, Gienger is executive director of Fulcrum, a multiyear effort to build a community that will cultivate and develop new innovations and business ideas. Long-term, the organization wants to provide resources - everything from funding to incubator space - to make those business ideas and innovations happen.
"I've never been so passionate about a venture in my life," Gienger said. "This is truly going to impact so many lives. The first step in transforming the world is transforming the community."
And Gienger has ample support for her passion. With Fulcrum, she is working alongside several family members, including her father, Lonnie Gienger, CEO of Wilkinson Corp., a Yakima-based real estate firm.
"I get to work with some of my favorite people, I get to develop meaningful community with people in Yakima and all of these awesome people are coming out of the woodwork because they see a vision," she said.
The buy-in with the Fulcrum vision is best seen in the monthly fireside chats Fulcrum has been having with key business figures in the Yakima Valley. The most recent fireside chat attracted more than 130 attendees.
"It's a magnet for people with one common value: They believe in Yakima and want to turn it into a better place,'" she said.
While Fulcrum is her focus right now, Gienger continues to put in work in her other ventures. NUYU Juice Bar recently launched a new menu of healthy food items. She also plans to travel across the country for speaking engagements in the coming months.
Through her work, she hopes she can show others, especially young people, that they can achieve their goals and have an impact on not only their community, but their world.
"I am hoping ... that people observing will truly be able to understand they are truly capable of much more then they think they are," she said. "We're the biggest roadblock. We are the individuals that believe in ourselves the least."