A Positive Experience through YNPN
"Reflective leadership is instilled through YNPN. It makes you think about what you are doing in your job now, where you see yourself, what do you want to do and where the gap is. I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out for myself without YNPN." - Andy Felder, YNPN Alumnus
This blog is part of our Where are they now? Series featuring YNPN alumni from across the country. Check out the #YNPNstory campaign to learn more and share your story!
An Interview with Andy Felder, YNPN Alumnus
Q: Who is your current employer and what is your position there?
A: I work for Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, New York and I am currently the Administrative Director of the AIDS Center.
Q: What exactly does your position entail?
A: I run a small outpatient specialty department in The Bronx and Westchester County in New York. I manage the operations of a large HIV unit with about 3100 HIV positive patients in the academic research hospital we have.
We offer a lot of services to our patients. We have a pharmacy, we offer screenings for hepatitis, and LGBT sexual healthcare. I am responsible for overseeing all non clinical aspects of department. I oversee all managers, nursing, social work, pharmacy, data, recruitment, anything that falls under the overall operations of the unit.
Q: So let’s go back to when you first got involved with YNPN. What was your experience when you initially got involved?
A: So it’s kind of a long story. I was fairly new to New York. I’m from Philly originally. I knew I wanted to be in the nonprofit sector and was trying to get plugged in somewhere. I was sleeping on my brother's couch working at coffee shops and restaurants but my number one priority was finding a good job.
I found out about YNPN in the process of finding a job. I initially got involved as a member and went to events and started to meet some people. After 6 months or so a position opened up on the board and I applied and was accepted! I heard about YNPN because I was searching online for networking opportunities through Idealist and I also signed up for the listserv at the time.
Now at that time, there wasn’t really a truly organized national entity like there is now. We actually had the first national meetings here in New York when I was on the board and there were people that came from all around the country.
Q: It sounds like you really needed an outlet to grow professionally at the time. Why did YNPN fit so well for you?
A: To put it simply, it was a really positive experience! You know when you are in your early to mid 20s, finding your way in the job market and developing your career, opportunities for stepping forward as a leader are really limited. My first job was a development assistant, then a projects coordinator. In those positions you are just taking orders from people and doing things your boss is just telling you to do. There was no room to develop your own ideas and have your own initiatives. YNPN was cool because it gave me the opportunity to be sitting at the leadership table among peers.
So often you aren’t among peers professionally and YNPN gave me the opportunity to be around people and work on projects and initiatives and own them.
Q: What were the things you valued most out of your experience?
A: I think it was an early opportunity to really develop leadership skills and experience. You always hear about how important networking is in your career. I think I have a real appreciation for that. All of my jobs have come through my networks. I’ve only ever gotten one job from submitting an application through a website. Networking takes practice, it doesn’t come naturally to most people and definitely not for me. You get better at it as you do more and you learn to see what opportunities might lead from your relationships. YNPN taught me the importance of networking and how to get better at it.
Q: So the relationships were really valuable to you?
A: I still have relationships with people that were on the board when I was involved. I still see people at professional events and in a professional capacity sometimes. I think in whole, the experience and in general the relationships, really gave me what I needed in the nonprofit world. They led me on the path to where I am today.
Q: Are there any tangible aspects of your professional growth you attribute to your experience at YNPN?
A: Through YNPN I learned about a fellowship at NYU - The Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service - a 6 month fellowship for professional development at the NYU undergraduate school of public service. After this program, I established a 5 year plan that involved going to NYU for grad school and that plan lead me to where I am today.
Now there was a theme we talked about in grad school a lot -
When you get involved in something like YNPN, or the fellowship I did, or grad school - when you are surrounded by people interested in public service, it forces you to be very mindful and thoughtful about your professional development and encourages you to be very deliberate. It forces you to think about what you are doing all the time. What are the steps you are taking? It forces you to be very reflective. Reflective leadership is instilled through YNPN. It makes you think about what you are doing in your job now, where you see yourself, what do you want to do and where the gap is. I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out for myself without YNPN.
Q: Since you had such a positive experience with YNPN, if there was advice you were able to give to someone just getting involved, what would it be?
A: That’s easy. What you give is what you get. If you invest yourself seriously and put yourself out there, you will be rewarded. If you just do something superficially or just to have a line on your resume you won’t gain anything from it. Let YNPN lift you up to your greatest potential. It definitely can if you let it.
Donate today to support nonprofit professionals like Andy on their leadership journeys! You can become a part of our #YNPNstory campaign celebrating the stories of many leaders who have discovered their voice and their place as social changemakers through their experiences with YNPN.