YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

Kicking off the YNPN Book Club: Everyone Leads

This month we're trying something new for YNPN: a national book club. We have so many smart and thoughtful people across our network, and we thought a book club would be a great way to connect around issues that challenge and inspire us all.

We chose "Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up" by Paul Schmitz because it discusses many questions near and dear to our YNPN mission: How do we bring the idea that everyone leads into our work? How can we create social change that is sustainable? And how do we take diversity from idea to practice?

Throughout the month we'll be discussing these questions and other themes related to the book on our blog and on social media. We'll also be hosting a few live, virtual events to create spaces for discussion.

Twitter Chat: On Friday, April 18 at 2 pm CT/12 pm PT we'll be hosting a Twitter chat to hear your thoughts on the book and begin collecting questions for our second virtual event (details below). During this chat and throughout the month we'll be using the hashtag #ev1leads to make it easy to follow along.

Author Event with Paul Schmitz: We're also excited to announce that on Tuesday, April 29 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT, we'll be hosting a live event with Paul Schmitz, the the outgoing CEO of Public Allies and a longtime friend of YNPN. You'll have the opportunity to ask Paul questions and hear him speak about the book in more depth. Paul has invited our members to feel free to reach out to him on Twitter before the event: you can find him at @PaulSchmitz1. Registration info for the event will be posted soon.

Several of our local chapters are planning book club events in their communities as well. If you're interested in hosting a book club for your local chapter, reach out to your chapter leaders or our Chapter Resources Coordinator Ebony Harley for support.
We look forward to diving into "Everyone Leads" with all of you!


Announcing Employee #2

It is my absolute privilege to announce that today YNPN will be bringing on its second-ever staff member, Jamie Smith, to serve as our national Communications Manager.

Many of you have already had the chance to get to know Jamie via social media over the past few months in her role as our YNPN National LaunchPad Fellow for Communications.  When we established the Fellows program two years ago, we saw it as a way to cultivate and channel top talent from our network into the wider sector.  And we cannot be more proud that some of the best of that talent has been channeled right back into our own organization.

Reflecting on the significance of this moment for YNPN and about Jamie in particular got me thinking about a conversation I had a few months while I was flying across the country.  I was working on the slide deck for some presentation and the guy flying next to me leaned over to ask what I did.  We got to talking and at some point in the conversation he mentioned that he worked for a REALLY well-known online marketplace that shall remain nameless.  (Although I kind of want to give them a shout-out for having their people fly economy.)  Anyway, he also casually but pointedly mentioned that he’d been employee #2 at said company and handed me his card.  Which actually listed that he was employee #2.

Then he paused and waited for me to react.  I didn’t. Because at the time I had no idea that I was supposed to be impressed with this fact.

Later as I relayed this story to friends, especially those who’ve worked in startups, and I’ve been able to gain a little more perspective on the weight of being “employee #2.”

As a friend of mine who was around during the early days of YouTube put it, “Everyone on the outside knows the name of the founder.  But if you’re on the inside, every single person there knows that the company would’ve just remained a cool idea without employee #2.  Everyone.”

YNPN has been around as a network for 15 years, incorporated as a national org 10 years ago, but only became a staffed organization in 2011.  So in many ways, especially in terms of our day to day functioning, it feels like we’re in startup mode.  During our national board retreat in February, we called this out.  As we were laying out our strategic priorities for the year, most of them were extremely concrete: 1) Build out a robust data system; 2) Clarify our messaging, 3) Strengthen chapter knowledge sharing platforms...

But our final priority--create space for visionary leadership--was more of a vague recognition that we are in a dynamic, evolving time as an organization, working within an environment that is even more dynamic and evolving.  We knew that in order to have the most realistic chance for significant impact, we needed to be intentional about making space to not only be responsive to obvious opportunities but to consistently scan the horizon for what might be coming down the road.

Creating that space for visionary leadership has meant that we prioritize learning and reflection and brainstorming during our meetings. It also meant that we had to increase our staff capacity so the day to day functions did not continue to be all we had space for.  But we knew we didn’t just need another employee, we needed employee #2.

Jamie Smith is that employee #2.

While her official title will be Communications Manager and her focus will be on the critical work of helping to strengthen and streamline our internal and national voice, her value is that she will add to our capacity for visionary leadership.  Jamie is learner, a tester, a strategic thinker, a problem-solver, and someone who is as deeply passionate about the work, the members, and the potential of YNPN as I am, our board is, and our chapter leaders are.  She is absolutely the sort of person that is necessary at this stage of growth to make sure our dreams become reality.

It’s an exciting time for all of us here at YNPN and what we hope will lead to a stronger, more engaged network and stronger communities propelled this network.

Another new addition: YNPN Tucson!

We're thrilled to welcome our latest startup chapter, YNPN Tucson!

Tucson is home to saguaro cacti, the University of Arizona, and now the newest local chapter of YNPN. We're not only thrilled to welcome these YNPs to the network, we're also excited to have another local chapter in the Sun Belt. Winter retreat anyone?

If you’re a young nonprofit professional in Tucson who wants to get involved with your up-and-coming local chapter, get in touch with info@ynpn.org!

Meet the newest additions to the YNPN Board!

Earlier this year we welcomed three new members to the YNPN National Board. We wanted to take a brief moment to introduce you to some of the people who will be helping guide YNPN for the next two years. Please help us welcome Karl, Amber, and Ivan!

Karl Shaddock


Karl Shaddock

What do you do?

I’m Development Coordinator for Nebraska Community Foundation’s southwest region. I work with 24 communities across a 17,000 square mile region of the state to organize, train and provide technical assistance to local volunteers who are interested in forming and growing community foundations in their hometowns. Nebraska Community Foundation employs a unique, grass-roots based model that uses philanthropy as a tool for community development. NCF empowers local leaders to raise their own funds and make their own grants based on their local community development priorities.

Are you affiliated with a local chapter?

No. Unfortunately, I’ve never lived in a city that has a local chapter – this is due mainly to my passion for living and working in rural communities.

Why did you apply for the YNPN National Board?

I believe strongly in YNPN’s mission and vision - YNPN works to advance a diverse and powerful social sector by activating emerging leaders led by the belief that stronger communities are built by a network of inspired and engaged leaders. YNPN approaches its work through an optimistic, asset-based development framework that I find inspiring.

Serving on the YNPN National board member allows me to network and learn among a group of diverse, engaged young leaders from across the country who work for a host of prominent social service, fundraising and philanthropic organizations across the country.

I serve on the YNPN National board to expand my network and engage with other emerging thought leaders. My work with NCF is challenging and fulfilling, but I am excited by the opportunity to engage with a network of peers that I can learn from and with. YNPN will challenge me to make an impact as I get to know other young people who are passionate and engaged with the issues that motivate me.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Greek yogurt – breakfast, lunch or dinner it doesn’t matter.

What is your spirit animal?

I was once told I had the hair of a golden retriever dog, so I’ll go with that.

If you could describe yourself with a gif, what would it be?



Amber Cruz

Amber Cruz Headshot 2

Amber Cruz

What do you do?

I am the Strategy Officer for Convening at Lumina Foundation; a private, independent foundation with a goal to increase postsecondary educational attainment in the U.S. to 60% by 2025. In my role I design, plan and implement convenings in support of Lumina's strategic plan. Lumina has an outcomes-based approach focused on helping to design and build an accessible higher education system and mobilize action at the local, state and national level to reach Goal 2025.

Are you affiliated with a local chapter?

I recently relocated from Washington DC to Indianapolis. Over the last couple years I have been involved in the DC Chapter by attending and speaking at their events. I will also be playing an advisory role with the Indy Chapter.

Why did you apply for the YNPN National Board?  

I'm passionate about the next generation of nonprofit leaders who want to change the world. I believe YNPN plays an important role in the sector by connecting emerging leaders with opportunities to develop their leadership skills, build their network and make an impact in their community.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

As a baker, I have quite the sweet tooth. I somehow always find room for dessert! So I could probably live on chocolate for the rest of my life.

What is your spirit animal?  

According to my Myers Brigg personality, my ENFJ = a dog: social butterflies who are cheerleaders and supporters...the living embodiment of a "team player."

If you could describe yourself with a gif, what would it be?

I wish I was this:


but most days I'm this:


Ivan Canada

Ivan Canada

Ivan Canada

What do you do?

I work for an organization that seeks to build compassionate and just communities free of bias, bigotry and racism. My role within The National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad, Inc (NCCJ) is Senior Director of Development, Communications and Strategic Partnerships.

Why did you apply for the YNPN National Board?

I wanted to be a part of a larger movement of young professionals dedicated to advancing their skills, experiences and ultimately their careers while doing amazing work within the sector that makes communities better across the country. And I wanted help the organization expand its reach to provide more opportunities for young adults working in the social sector.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Indian food!

What is your spirit animal? 

A bunny--people that know me say I'm like the Energizer Bunny because I'm always doing something and seem to make time for everything.

If you could describe yourself with a gif, what would it be?

Because I like making connections, building relationships and connecting people:


Not Just for Wonks: Four tech policy issues that could impact your nonprofit #ynpengage

In his March 17 New Republic article, “Our Naive ‘Innovation’ Fetish: Left, right, and center—everyone loves the buzzword of modern America,” Senior Editor Evgeny Morozov explores our collective obsession with innovation and argues that there is a danger in rallying around innovation to the exclusion of other values, such as equity.

Friends, that’s where we step in. In this Era of Innovation, the nonprofit sector can play an important role in ensuring that new technologies are designed and used in socially responsible ways.

Tech policy is about more than the Internet and data. The regulations we make determine our privacy, what information we have access to and how we exercise our voting rights. We young nonprofit professionals are often the default web and social media gurus at our organizations, and that makes us natural advocates for responsible tech policy. Whether you work in outreach, advocacy or organizing, on human rights, education or health, tech policy is relevant to the work you do and the people and causes you serve.

Still, tech policy is a huge field; how do you get started? I suggest bookmarking a news site on tech policy that is relevant to your work, such as The Center for Democracy & Technology for civic engagement, government openness and privacy, THE Journal for K-12 education and CNET for tech in politics. You can also check out TechTank, Brookings’ new blog about improving technology policy.

In my opinion, there are four tech policy issues that should be on every nonprofit professional’s radar because they could greatly impact our work generally as well as the communities with whom we work. These are the issues we should be talking about and advocating for:

1. Net Neutrality

This is the big one. In January, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order, ruling against net neutrality. “Net neutrality” is the principle upon which the Internet was built. It means a free and open Internet, where all data is treated equally and there is no differential charge or speed by user type, content, site, platform or attached equipment.

In essence, the appeals court ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce common-carrier regulations, like no-blocking and nondiscrimination, because the agency had previously classified Internet service as an “information service” and not a “telecommunications” one — meaning they fall outside the FCC’s purview. It’s a little complicated, but for more easily digestible information about net neutrality, visit The Internet You Need, a project of Media Alliance.

ZeroDivide has applauded FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his vocal support of net neutrality and underscored what underserved communities stand to lose if this decision is not reversed. We are confident that with the FCC’s support and ardent advocacy by nonprofits and journalists, we can get net neutrality back. Visit Free Press’ Save the Internet to see how you can take action.

2. Online Privacy

In light of the recent disclosures of widespread NSA surveillance, online privacy has become a critical issue. There are several policies being debated that fall under this broad category: online privacy and data security, mobile phone tracking and warrantless tapping, and of course, NSA reform.

On February 11, a massive, global online/offline protest against mass surveillance dubbed The Day We Fight Back and led by organizations including the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace, reached more than 37 million. As you may have heard, Google just announced new encryption standards to foil the NSA’s spying. You can take action and follow the various legislative efforts on the ACLU’s dotRights website.

3. Online Voter Registration

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 15 states currently offer online voter registration, with another four states having supportive laws on the books that have not yet been implemented. Does your state offer online voter registration? You can use this chart to tell. What’s so great about online registration, you ask? It  lowers costs, increases the accuracy of voter rolls, attracts younger voters and, importantly, it allows people to register without the risk of discrimination and voter intimidation that have marred our nation’s recent elections and disenfranchised many low-income voters and voters of color. To learn more, Project Vote has a good primer.

4. E-Rate Reform

Earlier this month, the FCC asked for public comment on its plans to modernize its E-Rate program, one of four Universal Service programs that are designed to ensure all Americans have access to communications services. E-Rate is the program that provides schools and libraries with affordable telecommunications, broadband service and internal network connections. According to a recent survey, 72 percent of American schools have inadequate Internet infrastructure, which means students are missing out on educational opportunities. Any organization that works with schools or libraries should support this reform and consider filing comments, which are due by April 7.

The organization I work for, ZeroDivide, is a mission-driven consulting organization focused on the transformative uses of technology. Tech policy has always been part of our work. We were created as a community technology foundation in 1998 as the result of groundbreaking advocacy work by 134 community organizations during the telecom merger of Pacific Bell and SBC Communications. As the policy issues discussed above loom large above our impact areas, we are looking to deepen our engagement in tech policy over the next year. You can follow our work at our blog, http://www.zerodivide.org/learning/blog.


jess profesh newestJessica Rothschuh is the business development manager at ZeroDivide. Connect with her on Twitter at @JessieRothschuh and on LinkedIn.

The first YNPN National Book Club: Everyone Leads!

We've heard feedback that you'd like more opportunities connect and engage with other members across the network.
So we're giving a YNPN National Book Club a test drive to bring emerging leaders from around the country together to discuss issues that challenge and inspire us all.

The Book

During the month of April we'll be discussing "Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up" by Paul Schmitz. Paul is the outgoing CEO of Public Allies and a longtime friend of YNPN. Drawing on more than two decades of Public Allies' work and real examples from communities across the country, "Everyone Leads" discusses how we can develop leaders and organizational models that will help us solve the problems of the 21st century in an inclusive and community-focused way.

The Discount

We've partnered with Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, to offer our members a 40% discount on "Everyone Leads." To receive the discount, purchase the book through Wiley.com and use promo code YNBC4. They have both hardcover and e-book versions available for purchase.

Jossey-Bass logo


The Author Event

We're working with Paul Schmitz to set up a virtual author event where YNPN members can engage with Paul and ask questions about the book and its themes. The date is still TBD, but we'll be announcing it on social media soon.

Other Opportunities to Engage

Next month our blog content will be focused on the book and its themes. In addition to our author event, we'll also be hosting a few Twitter chats to give members an opportunity to connect and discuss virtually.

If you're interested in hosting an in-person book club meeting with your local chapter, reach out to your chapter leaders. We hope that in addition to the virtual meetings we'll be hosting, local YNPs will meet to in person to discuss the book and its transformational ideas on leadership.

If you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions, please don't hesitate to reach out to Jamie Smith, our Communications Fellow, at communications@ynpn.org. We hope you'll share this with your friends and professional networks and that you'll join us for "Everyone Leads!"

Civic Engagement: What awakened you? #ynpengage

At a recent board retreat for a social justice foundation, on whose board I serve, we were asked to think about a political event or experience  that “awakened” us and caused us to act.

For me there wasn’t just one moment. There was a series, a sequence. I remember as a very young child noticing what I would later come to call injustice. I didn’t have a word for it then, but I do remember the feeling of wrong and a sensation not quite describable, but similar to a chill or shudder through my body. I would literally have a visceral response to injustice. I still do.

While trying to remember my “awakening” and listening to other colleagues describe their life experiences I realized a common theme: many of us when we had this “awakening experience” felt powerless, unsure how to solve the injustice and in some cases unsure how to come to terms with it.

The point of the exercise for me:  all of us matter and everyone who wants to see change in the world has to be a part of the solution.

I have always loved the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This quote has been attributed to Ghandi, and I find it a guiding principle, a central value for me.

I find it is often easy to complain about what isn’t going well, not only in my life but in society, politically, globally. Sometimes, if I dwell too much on the negative parts of the world, it feels paralyzing. This is why I have learned that showing up, being a part of the change I want to see, not just complaining, is vitally important, not only for me but for my community.

How do you begin?

When I started my “civic engagement,” I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I was working at an organization that educated people on voter engagement, not who to vote for, but the mechanics of voting itself. It suddenly occurred to me that not everyone knew their rights, there was a lot of misinformation about voting in certain communities and that I could make a difference simply by being well informed and sharing my knowledge with others.

From there, I realized that showing up to caucuses, rallies, signing petitions  and voting actually did make a difference. I remember when my Congresswoman wrote back to me, I was stunned. That however, encouraged me to speak a little louder the next time.
What are other ways to get involved? Vote, join community groups or nonprofit committees working on issues that are important to you. Door-knock, phone bank. Tell your friends, your colleagues your family what issues matter to you and how they can make a difference. Respectfully listen to others with differing ideas and above all, never give up!
Dania Toscana Miwa
Dania Toscano Miwa is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Toscano Advisors, a three-year old consulting firm specializing in strategy, fundraising, executive recruiting and leadership development for nonprofit organizations.

She has more than ten years of experience working with/for nonprofits as diverse as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, OTA-Pollen, The Northside Achievement Zone, The International Wolf Center, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Animal Humane Society, the American Indian Cancer Foundation and the Regional Parks Foundation. She is co-author and editor of the Toscano Advisors blog.

Dania is a member of the Boards of Directors of Azul, the Minnesota Zoo’s young professional board and chair of the governance committee, and on the board of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, where she is the co-chair of the development and outreach committee. She was formerly on the board of directors of her local YNPN chapter from 2009-10.

#ynpengage: Get out the vote!

Many nonprofits are advocates for their communities, but relatively few undertake what is one of the most important advocacy efforts of all: getting out the vote.

Nonprofit VOTE is an organization dedicated to providing support and resources for nonprofit organizations to help the people they serve vote and participate in government. We spoke with George Pillsbury, the Founder and Executive Director of Nonprofit VOTE, about what nonprofit organizations can do to help their constituents register and vote.

Why should nonprofits without a specific policy focus undertake voter engagement?

The people that nonprofits serve are voting at lower rates than the general population, and the issues that your organization cares about are not going to be served unless they’re voting. Politicians are not going to be paying attention to constituencies that don’t vote.

Advocacy on your issue year-round is important, but not encouraging voter turnout sort of undercuts the effectiveness of your advocacy. It’s a question of having clout on your issue and having the ability to mobilize voters.

It’s also another service that nonprofits can provide and it’s essential in helping people become active citizens. Registered voters are much more likely to engage with neighbors, talk to elected officials and be civically engaged in other ways. Nonvoters, on the other hand, are more likely to be disconnected from their communities.

Check out Nonprofit VOTE's research on how nonprofits can increase voting among their clients, constituents, and staff.

There’s been an alarming trend toward restrictions on voting like ID laws and other policies that make it more difficult to vote. What can nonprofits do to expand access to voting and voting rights?

People sometimes say “Voting’s not important” or “It’s what happens after election day that’s more important.” But what happens after election day is affected by the elections and it’s affected by where people campaign and who politicians believe they’re accountable to.

There are powerful forces that want to shrink the electorate and not have people that are marginalized vote: they want to limit younger voters, low-income voters, newer citizens. We want to expand who votes and not contract it. There’s a special opportunity for nonprofits to reach these populations who are new to the voting process and that have traditionally faced higher barriers. These are people that campaigns by and large don’t reach--more than half of eligible voters are never contacted by a campaign. Nonprofits can be a bridge to those communities because it’s reverse door-knocking for us. They are knocking on our door for services and we naturally have that in-person opportunity to talk to people about voting.

What are some specific actions nonprofits can take in this area?

We have to still encourage people to register and encourage people to vote. We have to encourage positive policies like same-day registration and online voter registration.

In general, the three biggest things you can do to increase voter participation are: 1) Increase election day registration, which has proven to be the most effective. 2) Offer online registration, which engages young voters and 3) Offer early voting. The decision to vote on Tuesday was made in 1848 for the convenience of rural voters who had to travel for a day just to get to the polls! The best voting process is to combine traditional voting on Tuesday with voting before the election.

If nonprofits can help people make sure people are eligible to vote, that’s a high priority. We’ve seen in states that have increased the requirements that nonprofits have responded by helping people get IDs, as well as supporting efforts to have sensible voter ID laws.

Nonprofits should make sure that people know that there’s a registration deadline coming up and that there’s an election happening. Any kind of communication with our communities in the two to three months leading up to the election can be used to raise awareness about the upcoming election.

We're also encouraging organizations to mark their calendars for National Registration Day on September 23. It’s like Earth Day for democracy. It’s a day that we make sure that everyone is registered and has the opportunity to vote. 300,000 people registered to vote last year. We’d like to see 500,000 registered this year!

At the end of the day, the most important thing that’s going to help people vote is personal engagement. Most people are never asked in person about registering to vote or voting. Having that in-person contact--not TV ads, not impersonal robo-calls--but having a peer asking you to participate is most critical.

The Nonprofit VOTE site is full of resources for voter registration and engagement, including making sure your activities are permissible under the 501(c)(3) guidelines. Check out the Nonprofit VOTE resource page for other tips and tools.

Meet the YNPN Pilot Coaches

Earlier this month we announced the launch of the very first YNPN coaching pilots! We're excited to partner with Karen Ramsey of Lead for Good and Alicia Jay with RabbleUp to offer these special group coaching opportunities at a discounted rate for young nonprofit professionals.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce Karen and Alicia so you can get to know the coaches supporting these pilots. Read on to learn more about why Karen and Alicia are so passionate about their work developing emerging leaders!

Karen Ramsey, Lead for Good

Karen Ramsey, President of Lead for Good

Karen Ramsey, President & CEO of Lead for Good

Why are you passionate about coaching?

I worked as a human resources executive in the private sector for several years and was lucky enough to have a coach.   With the help of my coach, I made the decision to change careers and work in the nonprofit sector.  That was 13 years ago!  Now as a credentialed coach myself, I find great satisfaction in offering coaching to nonprofit professionals who are looking to grow and explore  their personal and professional hopes and dreams.  My passion is around leadership development and there is nothing more rewarding than having someone I’ve worked with get promoted or land their dream job.

How long have you been coaching?

I’ve been coaching for nine years.  One of my most rewarding activities is serving as the Chair of the Nonprofit Community of Practice for the International Coach Federation.  Through this work, I get to interact with coaches from all over the world!

What's one of your favorite coaching success stories?

There have been many, many success stories as a result of Lead for Good’s peer-networking team coaching cohorts.  In one recent group I coached, a participant worked on becoming clear about what type of position would be most enjoyable for her, and she ended up leaving fundraising and pursuing (and getting!)  a job as a marketing professional.  She said because she invested in self-reflection and participated in a visualization exercise we did during the group coaching, she was able to very clearly articulate why she was the right candidate when she interviewed for a marketing position. She credited her new-found confidence and conviction for landing the job.

What are three words that describe you?

Caring, compassionate, open.

What do you do when you're not coaching?

I am an avid exerciser including weightlifting and water sports.  I love to travel and explore different lands and cultures and I really enjoy playing games, especially cards.  I also do quite a bit of volunteer work supporting both the South Sudanese Community and serving on the Board of Directors of the von Hippel-Lindau Alliance.

Sign up for coaching and peer networking with Karen!

Alicia Jay, RabbleUp

Alicia Jay, Founder & Principal of RabbleUp Alicia Jay, Founder & Principal of RabbleUp

Why are you passionate about coaching?

I have found that coaching is one of the most effective tools to make change in your life. It's personalized, deeply compassionate, and action-oriented. You have someone metaphorically holding your hand for an hour, helping you to make decisions, understand yourself more completely, and ultimately feel true alignment with the direction your life is moving in. For me, it is an absolutely spiritual experience to work with someone through that journey. It is, what I would call, my capital "P" Purpose. We all need that kind of reflection and support sometimes. It's not about turning the light on, it's about making the light shine brighter.

How long have you been coaching?

I started coaching about 6 years ago when I worked for a leadership development organization called Young People For. I launched Rabble Up in March 2013 after years of seeing a large gap in the field of training for emerging progressive leaders. After working as a practitioner, and then as a funder to the leadership development field, it became clear that there was a lack of holistic, transformative, and individualized resources for those folks looking to build a career in the social change movement. The resources that do exist, are primarily for very-seasoned leaders and are usually extremely cost prohibitive. At the same time, non-profit and social change organizations are somewhat out-of-sync these days with the values that we purport to live by-- the hours are too long, the pay is too low, and the cultures of our organizations are lacking in inspiration. I've personally experienced this for years myself. Rabble Up is designed to provide coaching and training for a very specific audience-- emerging social justice leaders interested in both their internal and external worlds, who want to pave a different path towards personal sustainability and happiness.

What's one of your favorite coaching success stories?

I was working with someone about a year ago who was having a rough time on the job search trail, a common story. He had already been searching for about 4 months, and was reaching his financial breaking point. I asked him to put aside the specifics of the resume, cover letter, and networking for the first three sessions. He obliged, with skepticism. We worked to uncover the underlying forces: How this job search was bringing up his own fear of rejection, the deeply ingrained beliefs that he didn't deserve his dream job, and the fact that networking as an introvert is extremely draining. These elements are what I call the "real work."

After we started peeling back these layers, we then got really clear about why a new job would better align him with his deepest values. We set realistic goals, and a few weeks later he had lined up several interviews. I like this story because it's not just about getting a new job. It's about the willingness to look inward, acknowledge and send love to what you find there, and move forward in better touch with that innate wisdom. Those are the real tools that serve us every day.

What are three words that describe you?

Old-soul, alive, loving.

What do you do when you're not coaching?

My happy place is on a hiking trail with my partner and our dog. Aside from that, you'll find me cooking, reading furiously, taking a stab at painting, and maybe some Scandal and solo dance parties in my living room, here and there. I'm also working to co-found an amazing new national campaign on women's economic justice, called Make It Work (stay tuned, we're launching in the Spring!).

Sign up for Tuesday group coaching with Alicia! or Sign up for Saturday group coaching with Alicia!

#ynpengage: Diversity and Inclusion

YNPN Portland recently collaborated with the Urban League of Portland and several other community partners to host a day of service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As part of the event, YNPNers and other members of the community put together personal hygiene, dental care, and school supply kits for children and homeless youth. The event was an effort to reach across boundaries, groups, and neighborhoods to reflect King's vision of the Beloved Community.

This event is just one part of YNPN Portland's efforts to bring social equity to the front and center and make diversity and inclusion a core part of its work. We spoke to YNPN Portland Board Chair Kate Elliott about the event and how their chapter is pursuing "a diverse and powerful social sector" in Portland.

It looks like the MLK Day of Service was a big success! Can you tell us more about the partnership and how it came about?

As a new and growing group, YNPN Portland has made it a priority to meet with other organizations and groups supporting young professionals, especially those associated with social sector organizations.  We also want to prioritize being inclusive, so although Urban League Young Professionals doesn't have a nonprofit focus, Urban League is a well-respected civil rights organization and we knew we wanted to be connected to the dynamic young professionals involved with their young professionals group.  Once we met, we realized they bring incredible experience and perspective to facilitating dialogue on racism and social justice, and that we had experience planning and hosting professional development events that might help their work to bring those opportunities to their membership.  When we found out both groups were planning to do something for MLK Jr. Day of Service, we figured it made sense to start there.

It sounds like the Day of Service was a first step in what will hopefully be many more projects. Is there anything else currently in the pipeline that you're working on?

The MLK Jr. Day of Service project was a great success, and we do hope it is the start of an ongoing partnership between our chapter and the other groups who worked to host the event.  We don't have any other events in the works, but we have committed to supporting one another's programs by spreading the word, helping to brainstorm and secure space, presenters, etc.  In that regard, although our programs sometimes have different audiences, we know we can share our networks and advice with one another to help each other be successful.

How have the principles of diversity and inclusion been integrated into your other programming and chapter activities?

To be honest, this is still something we struggle with.  Our chapter's board and committees are decidedly not a very diverse group, and we're still learning how to make our group one that makes diversity and inclusion intentional.  We know that partnering with other organizations simply isn't enough.  We need to work to make YNPN Portland a group that makes diversity and inclusion a priority, and that takes time and hard work.  We're open to suggestions from other folks from the broader YNPN community who have figured some of this out, and will certainly share our progress as we move forward.

YNPN Portland member Liza Jacobson with a few of the kits

YNPN Portland member Liza Jacobson with the kits


Do you have any strategies or advice for starting conversations around diversity and inclusion? I think many people and organizations in the sector support these principles, but aren't comfortable or sure how to talk about them. Is this something you've encountered and have you gained any insight into how to start these important conversations?

Well, I think the point is that they are often not comfortable conversations, and you have to be OK with that.  Working collaboratively in itself is tough, but working collaboratively with people who haven't worked together is even tougher.  It isn't easy, so it takes humility and commitment.  You have to be willing to be embarrassed, or wrong, question your assumptions and the way you approach things, apologize, call yourself out, call other people out, and all the other less-than-thrilling parts of forging new relationships that are complicated by social diseases like racism & classism.  But if you want your group to be representative of the community you have to be willing to put the work in.  If you look around and your membership looks, talks and thinks the same, that is because it's designed to be welcoming to those people, and you have to get out of your comfort zone to make being inclusive a reality.

How do you think an organization like YNPN (both at the national and local chapter level) can and should be working to make our sector more diverse?

There are so many things we could be doing.  I'm hopeful each local chapter looks at the history and current state of their community and thinks critically about how their chapter fit into some of the social dynamics at play.  So many of us work in nonprofit organizations that seek to address looming social problems, and YNPN can be a place where we think about the systemic issues that help, hinder or cause that work to be necessary.  For example: how does racism impact the environmental issues your organization works on, or the hunger another YNPN member is trying to alleviate, and the access to education someone else is passionate about?

These are important conversations that a multi-organization network like YNPN is perfectly poised to have.  There was a speaker presentation portion of the MLK Jr. Day of Service project, and several speakers offered their thoughts on how historical racial inequities like redlining have played out and continue to have an effect on the Portland we live and work in today.  It was so important to have that conversation as part of our day of service, and I am hopeful we'll be able to generate conversations on systemic issues like that through future YNPN programs.  That's one thing I think continued partnership could do - help us connect up with the leaders who know those stories and will graciously share them with us to give context to our passion and work.  We just have to make sure we're really listening!

Do you have any advice for local chapters and individuals who might be considering starting a project/partnership like this that crosses sectors?

I think I alluded to some of this above, but collaboration is tough work.  It means you don't always get your way and have complete control, and that can be a really hard feeling.  It can take more time and compromise, but if you're committed to being inclusive you don't get there by planning programs and events with a bunch of people who have the same lived experiences and agree on all but the finest of points.  It is important to listen, and offer your time and partnership with true and genuine intentions.

We want to thank Kate for taking the time to talk with us about her chapter's work. And we want to hear from you:

How does your organization or local YNPN chapter make diversity and inclusion part of your work?