This featured blog post originally appeared on YNPN Chicago's Blog and was written by YNPN Chicago board member Aaron House.
Serving on an ALL-VOLUNTEER board means something very different than serving on a traditional board. It means you’re accountable. It means you’re the workhorse. It means the big ideas you share during monthly discussions might just end up right back in your lap.
“That’s a wonderful suggestion… I’ll write that down as an action item for you this month.”
This is really what happens; they show up in the board meeting minutes in red- your name next to them.
The first time it happens you’re often not sure what to make of it.
“Um.. well, I was just saying that was something we should consider.”
“No no. We think it’s just a smashing great idea. Fan-Tas-Tic. We can’t wait to see what you put together to present next month”
“I’m sorry, to present?
And then it happens- you find yourself talking in italics. Not sure how to get out of it.
Wanting to say, “I’m really busy this month, I don’t have time to do all the prerequisite research required to pull this off, to put together a proper presentation, to make this idea into an actual, well actual reality. I was just talking about it in an abstract sense, as something our organization should do eventually, once we have some additional resources and capacity (maybe if you just keep talking and using board code words like “capacity” you’ll get out of it… you’re thinking of working the word “silo” into your next sentence). This isn’t something we want to have a false start with, you know, it’s something we want to do right from the get-go, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m, well, where we’re… taking on… challenge… board responsibility… um… mentality… Silo!”
You think this all through in your two-second pause, including the rebuttal.
“So you want somebody else to run with this one, huh? You think their time isn’t as valuable, do you? You think they should be your little worker bees, huh huh? You want to just come here and talk and talk and not have any responsibilities outside of the board room?”
You keep beating yourself up, including other random things that generally make you feel guilty; like that second hot dog you ate at lunch today (extra ketchup).
You hear the response in your head, it’s a bit silly and dramatic, but you don’t want to let your fellow board members think you aren’t up to the challenge. That maybe you’re just hear to round out an already pretty impressive resume, that you’re trying to skate by without doing any heavily lifting.
SO instead you say...
(read on at YNPN Chicago's Blog)
About the author: Aaron is a long time resident of Chicago, currently working as the Training Manager at the University of Chicago's central office URA (University Research Administration). He believes in the power of words and clear communication.
Maybe you’ve moved from a city with a vibrant YNPN chapter to an area where there is no YNPN presence. Maybe you were bemoaning the lack of networking opportunities for young nonprofit professionals where you live and a Google search lead you to the YNPN website. Whatever the reason, we are delighted that so many talented, energetic young nonprofit professionals around the country have been inspired to establish new YNPN chapters.
YNPN receives several requests a month from individuals wanting to either join a local YNPN chapter or start one. In our conversations with them over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to start a local chapter, and most importantly, what it takes to keep that chapter alive.
We’ve also found that these lessons can be applied broadly to starting any new initiative or movement in your community and we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned. Time, patience, and an unlimited amount of energy and passion are key things you must have in abundance before you begin.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about starting a local YNPN chapter. The biggest of these should be a strong need and desire in the local community for an organization like YNPN. Is there a need for young people in the nonprofit sector to gather to discuss issues that affect their professional lives and the desire to share knowledge, skills, and resources? The path each chapter takes in the YNPN network is different, but all share key benchmarks, struggles, and successes along the way. The overall success of a chapter ultimately lies within the individuals that make up the chapter – their energy, vision, and passion help build the foundation of a strong chapter within YNPN.
Based on our experiences of working with new chapters, here are some key ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that might prove helpful to those of you considering getting involved in developing a new chapter and for that matter- those of you looking to start up a new initiative, movement or start-up nonprofit!
- When thinking about starting a chapter, do contact YNPN National at firstname.lastname@example.org at an early stage of your planning. Not only can we provide you with a guide to starting a new chapter, IT help and ongoing support, we can also let you know if others have already expressed an interest in starting a chapter in that area.
- Do investigate what resources are currently available in your community. Sometimes this has lead to great partnerships; in other cases it has demonstrated that there really isn’t the need for another organization in that particular area. Individuals have therefore worked to increase the relevance of current offerings, rather than try and develop a ‘rival’ organization.
- Do spend time reaching out to others prior to reaching out to YNPN. Successful chapters are those who have a strong pool of leaders and no one person can do everything for long! Gather similar energetic people around you who share your passion for providing professional development opportunities for young people.
- Do have realistic expectations. You won’t have 100s of members in two weeks or an up-and-running robust website on day one! It takes time to grow a network and consistency and persistence really pay off.
Start small, with simple, easy to replicate events that begin to establish your standing in your community.
- Offer one networking opportunity at least once a month/once every quarter in your first year of operation.
- Be clear on the types of services your chapter will offer. Have a mission, a vision, and a set of action plans ready.
- Do use the power of your network! With over 30 chapters to bounce ideas off, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. YNPN provides regular professional development webinars and conference calls for chapters, and supports the sharing of best practices in the network. These resources can really help a new chapter thrive.
- Don’t think you have to have everything sorted and fully mapped out before starting. Growing a chapter is an organic process and although it is important to have a vision for the chapter, as members join, often new needs are identified. Be flexible.
- Don’t forget to think about succession planning right from the start. Probably one of the biggest challenges our chapters face is turnover of leadership. Unexpected life changes or changes in job role, for example, can mean an individual can no longer commit time to the chapter. Unless there is someone ready to take that place, the chapter can quickly die.
Don’t underestimate the time and commitment required of working boards. Not only do you need to plan for the future and set strategic objectives, etc; if that networking event is going to be a success, it will require your physical presence too!
- Spread the work load across the board to avoid burn-out issues.
- When recruiting new board members, be up front about the amount of time it requires.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience! Developing a chapter can provide you with opportunities you would never get in your day job (for instance, you could learn a new professional skill) and enables you to be part of an ever growing community of emerging leaders. As we’ve learned from working with chapters around the country, starting a nonprofit is difficult but also can be an incredibly rewarding leadership development experience. As a young person, starting your own initiative like a YNPN chapter is a great opportunity to grow and find your place within the nonprofit sector.
Ese Emerhi Chair, Chapters Committee, YNPN National Caroline Bolas, YNPN Consultant
A note about our contributors
Ese Emerhi is a human rights activist and organizer. She is currently a consultant with the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) of The World Bank where she provides support to GDLN affiliates in fostering global knowledge sharing within the network. She is also the legislative coordinator for Maryland for Amnesty International where she educates local activists on pressing human rights abuses around the world, as well as work closely with Maryland state delegates and Congressmen to push forward progressive legislative bills.
Caroline Bolas is a consultant for the national YNPN organization. She is the President/Senior Consultant: Organizational Management at LEVELheaded, Inc. She is an experienced and enthusiastic consultant and trainer with international expertise in program evaluation, organizational development and designing and delivering innovative management development learning interventions.
Networking (verb)- to meet professional contacts to increase your understanding of an area, build contacts in that area, or advance your career.
Informational Interview (noun)- networking in an interview-like style. Informational interviews are advantageous over traditional networking, because you demonstrate interest and they have time to get to know you. It can be particularly helpful if you apply to their organization or they may be aware of organizations or people who are hiring or might align better with your interests.
So how do you do set up an informational interview if you don’t know anyone? Well you can’t really. I’ve tried calling organizations outright. When you’re routed through a secretary they are very hesitant to set up an appointment for you with “anyone.”
You can find peoples’ names on the internet. If you’re crafty, you can figure out what their email address scheme is, like email@example.com, and contact them directly. I’ve met a few CEOs and VPs this way, because they are the people who might actually be listed on the website.
Otherwise, make friends. Join professional networks like YNPN; get involved on a volunteer basis with an organization you’re interested in; see what people you know are doing through LinkedIn; check alumni networks from college; and go out to parties where you can actually hear what other people are saying.
When you do meet someone in your desired area or career ask them what networks they are involved in or email list-serves they subscribe to. To that effect, let me make a few other recommendations about how to initiate, conduct, and conclude an informational interview with a contact you’ve acquired.
Prior to an interview:
- Clearly state your goals (i.e. find out about a field or learn more about how to get into their specific occupation) and what you hope they can do for you.
Read the rest of Lauren's tips at YNPN Chicago's Blog
About the contributor:
Lauren recently completed her masters in Health Management at Columbia University in New York. Her previous experiences include developing marketing strategy for a Health Information Exchange in Michigan and conducting policy analysis for the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.Upon taking her current position as the Development Manager working on the ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety she moved to Chicago and got connected, through an informational interview, to YNPN Chicago in January 2011.
According to a recent New York Times article, Millennials are increasingly seeking employment with the nonprofit sector. Applications for AmeriCorps positions have almost tripled (91,399 in 2008 to 258,829 in 2010), and the number of applicants for Teach for America climbed 32% last year to a record 46,359. This is certainly exciting news for the sector and speaks to the potential of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network – both nationally and here in Detroit – to start a movement advancing social change.
There is a challenge inherent to this groundswell of interest by Millennials, though: Are nonprofits ready for them? I’m sure that every YNPN Detroit member has run across instances where the generation gap has posed a significant challenge. After all, many Boomers view Millennials to be lazy, disrespectful and self-absorbed. Meanwhile, Millennials seem to become easily frustrated with the close-mindedness of the seniors of the field. For example, Millennials often seek to incorporate technology and social media into the daily workings of an organization, though many Boomers find such efforts unnecessary and a waste of time. This can lead to frustration on both sides. If we in the nonprofit sector don’t take steps to mitigate this generational gap, will we risk losing Millennials to other sectors?
Continue reading at YNPN Detroit's blog.
About the author:
Tammie Jones, Co-Chair of YNPN Detroit Tammie Jones is a Council of Michigan Foundations Public Policy Fellow with The Skillman Foundation. There, she works on policy and advocacy issues impacting the Foundation’s Good Schools work, with a particular focus on assisting in the development of the citywide education infrastructure and ensuring access to high-quality schools within the Foundation’s target neighborhoods.
Prior to this position, Tammie worked for more than ten years with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Virginia, helping to establish two new locations serving a combined 400 youth members. In May 2009, Tammie completed her MBA at the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business, where she was selected by her peers to receive the Frank S. Moran Leadership Award. Tammie currently serves as an Advisory Board member for the Salvation Army, Eastern Michigan Division.
Image from todaymade.com.
At our anniversary celebration last week our key note speaker Steve Mariotti Founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and JJ Ramberg our nonprofiteer of the year and Co-Founder of GoodSearch.com spent time sharing their experiences and paths that led them to careers in social change. Even though they work in different causes and have different backgrounds, they both shared one powerful piece of advice to changemakers: learn how to tell a story.
The importance of story telling comes up quite a bit in the nonprofit sector, especially when it comes to more externally facing professions like communications and fundraising. However this is an important skill in all aspects of nonprofit work. As we seek to grow and engage our supporters, employees, and communities we serve, we must learn how to present our experiences and our work in a compelling way that draws our audience in and makes them feel connected and invested in the work we are doing. Story telling is one of the most powerful tools changemakers have, yet it’s a hard skill to master. What does it mean to tell a good story? How do I get others to tell their stories in support of our cause? How do we go from story telling to taking action?
Luckily there are resources to help you get started....
The YNPN journey is now 14 years old, and though we have evolved, we have remained true to that first initial goal - to provide professional development for young people in the nonprofit sector. From a group of young professionals gathering in a San Francisco coffee shop in 1997, YNPN now boasts a staggering 34 chapters across the nation with over 30,000 members. Additionally, we also have 13 start-up chapters working to develop into full-fledged chapters within our network.
Over the past two years, I have had the unique opportunity of working closely with YNPN chapters, monitoring their growth and providing resources and tools to enable their success. I’ve heard their tales of struggles to find board members that can be the champions to continue the work of the chapter once the first crop of founding board members move on; debating the merits of 501c3 vs. fiscal sponsorship; navigating the waters of paid membership; and building programming that addresses the needs and interests of members.
I’d like to share with you a few recent highlights from the network of YNPN chapters around the country:
• In Fall 2010, YNPNdc kicked of Voices of the Sector (VOTS). This was a new program that created a unique space to discuss a variety of subjects from the economic downturn and intergenerational power-sharing to nonprofit accountability, cross-sector collaboration, and nonprofit workforce diversity. To date, they have had several VOTS events with key constituents in the community.
• In January 2011, YNPN Houston partnered with Volunteers of America and Reach to Achieve Mentoring to raise awareness for National Mentoring Month (January). They hosted several podcast interviews with young professionals to discuss the impact mentoring has had on their professional growth; hear one of the podcasts that had YNPN leaders discuss mentoring in their lives
• A signature event for YNPN Triad (North Carolina) is the “State of the Nonprofit Sector in the Triad” event that draws a large crowd of professionals to discuss trends, challenges, and brainstorm solutions to problems occurring in the community. The next such event will be in May 2011; take a look at the last presentation given.
• One of our newest chapters to the network, YNPN Little Rock appears to be off to a great start already. YNPN Little Rock officially kicked-off with their first event last October and already they have an impressive slate of professional development events scheduled for the coming months including speed networking, an advocacy event, and roundtable networking with nonprofit leaders from the community.
• A chapter that is less than 2 years old, YNPN Detroit has already cemented itself as a leader in the Detroit nonprofit community by hosting several professional development events and connecting people to the numerous resources available in the city. Their Twitter feed is a must-read- full of the amazing discussion the chapter drives such as how to engage your board on development and sponsorships to tools on how to negotiate salary and benefits at your job. Their twitter handle is @ynpndetroit.
Coordinating the work of start-up chapters has been another fulfilling area of work I have supported in my time on the YNPN National board. Every month, YNPN receives notices from people across the nation (and across the globe) interested in starting a YNPN chapter in their community. Assessing their readiness to start a chapter, discussing resources individuals might use to spread the word about that start-up chapter, and helping to coordinate the first, second, or perhaps third events for that start-up chapter is a steady, slow process that can take 9 months. The process is intentional to ensure the full success of the start-up once they become full-fledged chapters.
I am constantly amazed at the speed at which YNPN is growing and all of the amazing things our chapters are doing. We may still have a long way to go before all young nonprofit professionals have a YNPN chapter to count on, but the road ahead is full of inspiring work and energetic young people leading the way.
Ese Emerhi Chair, Chapters Committee YNPN National
A note about our contributor
Ese Emerhi is a human rights activist and organizer. She is currently a consultant with the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) of The World Bank where she provides support to GDLN affiliates in fostering global knowledge sharing within the network. She is also the legislative coordinator for Maryland for Amnesty International where she educates local activists on pressing human rights abuses around the world, as well as work closely with Maryland state delegates and Congressmen to push forward progressive legislative bills. Ese currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Each year, YNPN asks a local chapter to host the National Leaders Conference, which is an opportunity for chapter leaders around the country to learn from one another. As the YNPN network grows, we have more and more opportunities to showcase local chapters and the innovations happening in the local nonprofit sector in regions around the country.
We've asked this year's host YNPN Grand Rapids to reflect on their experience this year as host to the YNPN network.
In September 2010, ynpnGR found out we would be hosting the YNPN National Conference in Spring 2011. The anticipation to start planning was great and many of us had more fears about the process than we were excited about hosting. Our planning launched in November 2011 when we formed the Super Squad and excitement began to overcome our fears for how the conference would come together. We had many brown bag lunches to discuss the conference, and our Super Squad began digging into details. The dedication of the Super Squad was amazing, and although there were a few “scary” bumps in the road, they all worked together to pull the conference off in the end.
March 25 came very quickly, and before we knew it, we were all sitting around the table Saturday night saying, “Wow the conference is really over!” All of it was worth it. ynpnGR made some new friends with local organizations, and built up a new base of members and dedicated committee members to help support successful programming throughout the year.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, we were able to see all our efforts come together, with great breakout sessions and headliners, including the amazing Innovation Series. The highlight for many of us on the Super Squad was seeing the nonprofit community and members of YNPN from across the country come together for the Nonprofit Smackdown on Friday night. The energy and excitement in the room truly proved the conference we had created was a success.
Our amazing network of YNPNers across the country supported all that the Super Squad accomplished. The energy and excitement all our chapters bring to the network is phenomenal, and bringing that energy to Grand Rapids was proof that we are not in this alone. The issues and successes our local YNPN members have been experiencing are shared with other members across the country.
Bringing the network together in our hometown has made a significant impact on our board and the programming we are going to be able to provide throughout the coming years. The support of the network has supported new energy and growth in all of our board and committee members. For that, we are truly thankful for all that hosting the YNPN National Conference was able to do for our chapter. Even though the stress and fear about the day was high, it was well worth it in the end!! Thank you for participating in the YNPN National Conference this year, you helped make it a success!!!
If you haven’t seen them yet, we have some pictures from the conference on our Facebook page.
Thank you!! ynpnGR Board
Any "a-ha" moments you haven't yet shared with the network? Having attended the conference- did you learn things about the local nonprofit sector in Grand Rapids that you took home to assist your own local work?
In case you missed any of the coverage of the learning at #ynpn11- here's a recap of the blog posts that were shared with the network:
- From the YNPN Blog:Grabbing a Fistful of Salt: ignore the advice to “learn the ropes”
- From the YNPN Blog:YNPN Twin Cities' Blog: a model for implementing a good idea
- From the YNPN Blog: The Language of Leadership
- From the YNPN Blog: Beyond Enthusiastic
- YNPN GGR: And the Crowd Goes Wild: Recap of the Nonprofit Smackdown
- YNPN Twin Cities: 20+ face and 20 takeaways from #ynpn11
- YNPN Detroit: Six Ways to Rock Your Nonprofit Career
- YNPN NYC: Four Presentation Techniques that Rocked #ynpn11
- Allison Jones: Are Young Nonprofit Professionals Ready to Lead?
- Jessica Journey: How To Be a Great #YNPN11 Presenter
- Jessica Journey: What a 29-Year-Old Executive Director Can Teach You
- Jessica Journey: Knowledge Networks
- Rosetta Thurman: The Inevitable Evolution of the Nonprofit Sector
- Scott Spicer: Keeping the Post Conference Momentum Going
- Nathan Hand: Lead Your Own Development
- Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why it's always smart to act as if you're looking for a job
- Sam Davidson: If you don't give us a seat at the table, we'll build a chair
- Jennifer Trigger Marzullo: Young Detroiters Working to Retain Talent
Once again, I left the YNPN National Conference inspired and encouraged by the energy, passion, and commitment of YNPNers to make a difference in our communities. At its core, YNPN is about creating the kind of change we want to see in the world, whether it’s a particular mission or the concept of giving back in general that motivates us. This theme appeared several times during the conference, and caused me to wonder: are we really the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, or would it be more accurate to call us the Young Social Change Movement? Is it important to us that we work for a 501(c)3 organization, or simply that we make a difference?
During the Innovation Series on Friday I was struck by the organizations that talked about how they purposefully set their business up as a for-profit venture in order to best support the nonprofit sector. Tommy Allen, who kicked off the series, is a community activist and editor of Rapid Growth Media, but his paid job is in the for profit sector. Elemental Media, who promotes online stories of the good work accomplished by nonprofits, stated they chose a for-profit model because they didn’t want to be competing for funding with those they serve. Cool People Care also chose the for-profit path because they wanted to be, as he stated it, “collaborative, not competitive”.
I see this trend in other capacity-building organizations and support services for the sector. I’m wondering if this is simply a case of for-profit entrepreneurs getting involved in cause work or whether it’s telling us something bigger about our sector’s capacity to support and promote itself. I’m not suggesting that all missions and causes can be better served in a for-profit model; the nonprofit sector serves some of the most vulnerable populations whose best interests should not be determined by for-profit shareholders. However, when it comes to serving ourselves, should the nonprofit business model be our first choice, or even second?
One highlight of the preliminary results of the YNPN National Survey tells us that although only 34% of us are committed to working in the nonprofit sector, 56% of us must have a social mission to what we do, regardless of the sector. Another 29% were unsure whether they would need a social mission, but only 15% stated that it was not an important factor in where they work. In these results, YNPNers have prioritized mission over tax code, the end results achieved over the means by which they were achieved.
In the not so distant past, I have been quick to reject the idea that the nonprofit model doesn’t serve us well. It’s the funding dynamics, I can hear myself say, or it’s the leadership structures, and the restrictions that people have interpreted too conservatively on nonprofits’ right to advocate and lobby. I firmly believe these issues present barriers, and struggle with how we can address the inequities in the system. However, I’m starting to also struggle with how we are defining nonprofit work. It seems the similarities between a small grassroots nonprofit and the design platform business that allows them to tell their stories are much greater than that grassroots nonprofit and St. Anthony’s Hospital, Tulane University, or the National Football League.
So I’d love to hear your thoughts, YNPNers: when it comes to the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, how central does the nonprofit element remain for you as the lines blur between sectors?
A note about our contributor: As Executive Director, Lydia McCoy has led the Colorado Children's Immunization Coalition’s efforts to promote vaccination through education and advocacy since 2007. Lydia previously worked as Capital Campaign Coordinator for The Gathering Place- a homeless women’s shelter in Denver- and has experience working in fund development and program management for art education, public radio, and child welfare nonprofits in New Orleans and Denver. Lydia has a BA in Political Science from Tulane University and Master of Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Recently, she has served on the Strategic Planning Committee for Regis University’s MNM program, the Leadership Advisory Council for the Colorado Nonprofit Association, was a Fellow with Social Venture Partners Denver, and participated in the El Pomar Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program. She currently sits on the YNPN National Board, Governor’s Vaccine Advisory Committee for Colorado, on the Board of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and is past President of YNPN Denver. She also enjoys the occasional onomatopoeia. Pow!
To my fellow young nonprofit professionals…
Has someone ever complimented you on your enthusiasm, fresh perspective, or energy? It’s happened to me – a lot.
Did it seem like that person was really just commenting on your age – speaking in code that you are young? I think that’s the case – a lot.
So, when colleagues asked me about the 2011 Conference of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, I was slow to speak. I didn’t want to talk about the event as exciting or youthful (even though that would be true).
Instead, I described the conference as bursting with resources!
And, that’s why I love young nonprofit professionals. We are so resourceful!
The 2011 conference demonstrates that we know how to:
- Transform a theatre into a convention center
- Develop a stellar program, busting at the seams with young leaders
- Leverage community partnerships for smart sponsorships
- Create real value with free tools, like social networking and blogging
- Host a warm, engaging event in a cold city
I’m grateful to the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network leadership and the 2011 conference organizers. They’ve reminded me that the best thing about being a talented young professional is not my enthusiasm but my resourcefulness.
Want to continue to cultivate your own resourcefulness? Check out my three live blog posts from the conference:
- How To Be a Great #YNPN11 Presenter
- What a 29-Year-Old Executive Director Can Teach You
- Knowledge Networks
JESSICA JOURNEY is a nonprofit professional, thriving in the Indianapolis community. She has more than five years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and philanthropy in the fields of higher education, health, and human services. Jessica’s background includes annual fund, communications, constituent management, and grants.
Next Wednesday marks the 71st anniversary of the Dandi March. On April 6th, 1930, Mohandas K. Gandhi completed a 24-day, 250-mile journey from Sabarmati to Dandi, India, raised a fistful of salty mud into the air and pronounced, "With this I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire."
The Salt March is remembered as an act of great civil disobedience - which it definitely was - but I'd like to argue that the Salt March was also a great reminder for the people of India. A reminder that an essential building block of daily life, largely inaccessible, was actually well within reach. A reminder that a staple of sustainability, taxed beyond the affordability of most, didn't have to be. It was a reminder that the salt was already there, on Indian shores.
For nearly 15 years, YNPN has shared a similar story with a certain force, born of truth and love. Yes, at a local level, our individual chapters represent a place to connect, learn and grow with your colleagues working for community benefit organizations. But at a macro-level, YNPN has always been about equipping and empowering young people to lead and succeed - work that is grounded in the belief that everyone has something to offer wherever they find themselves in their career. In other words, at its core, YNPN's mission is about reminding folks that the salt is already embedded in their shores.
This past weekend was an amazing experience for me and the 200 other young people that converged upon the Furniture City to listen, share and celebrate. Inspirational sessions, innovative speakers and plenty of, ahem, informal networking solidified my belief that our generation is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. I am confident of this fact because the fire that fueled Gandhi's 250-mile march is the same fire that fuels our national board, your local chapter's board and every single one of the 30,000 YNPN members across the country.
The raw passion, energy and vision required to lead our communities through this decade and well beyond is limitless among and across our network. So, let us begin boiling the mud down to salt - ignoring the advice to "learn the ropes" or "wait our turn." Let us continue to hone our skill sets so we can lead, manage and grow our organizations with excellence. Let us shake the foundations of outdated 20th Century Empire thinking.
And let this be a reminder that the salt is already ours.
"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."