A Board Member’s Perspective: YNPN Chapter Network Engagement – Better Together

A Board Member’s Perspective: YNPN Chapter Network Engagement – Better Together

This blog is a part of our monthly Board Member series.

It is the distributed, grassroots nature of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network that got me interested in the first place. Living in Durham, North Carolina, I really loved that the YNPN Triangle chapter was a natural and easy home for the many young professionals who understood themselves as “transplants” to the region, as well as long-time native Tar Heels.  

I know that I got acquainted with people from New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and, yes, North Carolina too… all good for a person who had arrived in North Carolina from New York by way of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Being mobile requires being connected in a new way, and the YNPN Triangle chapter made me feel at home, welcome and engaged.  

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The next step for me personally and professionally took me to Indiana… a place where I knew very few people.  But I quickly learned that YNPN Indianapolis would create some of those connections, and that’s when I got involved with the National Board too… because I’d experienced first-hand the value of a grassroots organization that’s connected and identified city-to-city and person-to-person, across different contexts, backgrounds, and identities.  By serving on the Network Engagement committee of the National Board, and seeing the full capacity of YNPN’s impact through getting to know more leaders through Chapter Congress and by attending my first YNPN conference last year in Little Rock, I really have come to appreciate how much more we can do by being connected to one another.    

"The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network really is more than the sum of its parts – together we are more diverse, more creative, more powerful than we can be alone."

The most valuable asset of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is the network itself.  It was the result of an ongoing process that wasn't without its growing pains, but by being connected chapter-to-chapter, across the country, YNPN members now benefit from the full range of creativity that shapes in chapter activity, resource exchange, and idea generation.  If YNPN Boston is trying something new, and shares it with the network, they can simultaneously benefit from YNPN Grand Rapid’s previous experience trying something similar and also encourage YNPN Pittsburgh to think about how they are approaching the same challenges, just by sharing with others in the network.  This is what I’m most excited for about the upcoming conference in Portland, and it’s what energizes me in talking with others about affiliation, the network model of shared decision-making, and using technology to keep us more closely engaged with and learning from one another.  

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network really is more than the sum of its parts – together we are more diverse, more creative, more powerful than we can be alone.  And collectively, we can model for the sector how 21st Century networks can set themselves up for success.

 

Melissa_Spas_Photo.jpgMelissa’s vocation is sustained by thinking about how we live our lives together for the common good, and her work as a professional and volunteer in the nonprofit sector reflects that commitment.  Melissa began her career working with marginalized families, first with refugee resettlement in Boston, Massachusetts, and then on a faith-based initiative grant to provide mentoring to children of incarcerated parents in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 2016 she was named the Managing Director of Education and Engagement at the Lake Institute of Faith and Giving at the Lilly Family of Philanthropy.  Hailing from Chautauqua, New York, Melissa is a graduate of Allegheny College and Harvard Divinity School.  Read more about Melissa here.

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