YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

12 Days of YNPN: Looking Ahead to Little Rock

2014 was a wonderful year for YNPN, and we thank you for walking down memory lane with us during the 12 Days of YNPN. We're excited for all that 2015 has in store for our members, including the 2015 Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Here are three reasons you won't want to miss #ynpn15:

  1. A Nonprofit Center of the South. Little Rock has a vast and growing nonprofit sector as well as a world class nonprofit management program at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.
  2. Wide Open Spaces. The conference will get you out of the hotel and get your moving through Little Rock.  Experience the food, fun, and locales of a booming young professional city.
  3. Did we mention FOOD? Little Rock is filled with some of the greatest food you could ask for, and we can't wait to try it out. With over 550 choices for local cuisine, grab a YNPNer and network over something we all love -- FOOD.


If you're attending the conference, don't forget to use #ynpn15 on social media to connect with other attendees! See you there!

12 Days of YNPN: Happy Birthday, Local Chapters!


Earlier in our 12 Days of YNPN series, we celebrated adding three new chapters to the network in 2014. In the same year that we added so many new chapters, we also had many of our established chapters celebrate milestone anniversaries.



Today we want to celebrate the “birthdays” of our local chapters and recognize them for their longevity.

17 Years


YNPNsfba, the chapter that started it all


13 Years

YNPN Chicago


12 Years

 YNPN Denver, YNPN Los Angeles, and YNPN NYC


11 Years


9 Years

YNPN Orlando

8 Years

YNPN Twin Cities,YNPN Austin, YNPN Boston, YNPN Grand Rapids, YNPN Milwaukee, and YNPN Kansas City.

6 Years
YNPN Phoenix and YNPN San Diego

YNPN Triangle NC, YNPN Cincinnati, YNPN Detroit, YNPN Central New Mexico, YNPN Cleveland, YNPN Pittsburgh, and YNPN St. Louis

4 Years

YNPN Kalamazoo, YNPN Little Rock, andYNPN Southern Nevada.


3 Years

YNPN Indianapolis and YNPN Atlanta

1 Year

Greater Buffalo, YNPN Richmond, VA, YNPN Des Moines, YNPN Baltimore, YNPN Portland, YNPN Greater Seattle, YNPN Madison.

Congratulations to all of our local chapters on your years of service working to strengthen and connect the nonprofit sector in your city!

12 Days of YNPN: Local Chapter Service Projects

By building strong networks of young nonprofit professionals, we hope to build even stronger communities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the results of the many Local Chapter Service Projects our members did this year. We loved hearing about how YNPNers are giving back to their communities and affecting positive change.

The Millennial Impact Report taught us that more millennials than ever look forward to group days of service. If your local chapter hasn't planned a service project for 2015 yet, it's never too late to start brainstorming! Here are just a few of the awesome examples of service projects we saw from our YNPN local chapters.

YNPN Austin has hosted a neighborhood litter clean up volunteer opportunity for members for the past four years. YNPN Chapter President Sarah Forbes wrote: "Members meet at a local cafe/bar, have a drink, then pick up trash in the neighborhood in partnership with local nonprofit org Keep Austin Beautiful. We make our way, cleaning up trash, to another restaurant/bar where we give out a prize to the member who cleaned up the "weirdest" piece of trash. The local bars provide us with drink discounts and we're working on ways to get the community more involved. The event is held during an art studio tour weekend called EAST so there are many people out and about, stopping to chat with us - it's a fun time to be providing a service like this. The drinking is optional of course!"

We love this tradition, and YNPN Austin has thought of some great ways to build relationships with local community and raise visibility.
YNPN San Diego hosted a blanket-making party. They supported a local organization, You Are Not Alone (YANA), by tying fleece blankets for comfort care packages for people living with cancer. You Are Not Alone (YANA) sends care packages all over the US to bring comfort, love, encouragement and warmth to people living with cancer, particularly while they are going through treatment.

Did your chapter host a service event this year?

We'd love to hear about it!

12 Days of YNPN: Thank You, Funders

Each year YNPN supports the growth and learning of over 50,000 young professionals across the country. Our work, like many other nonprofit organizations, is made possible thanks to our funding partners whose contributions help to advance our efforts to create a more diverse and powerful sector.

This year we began working with two new funding partners: the Kresge Foundation & the Whitman Institute. We are so excited to begin our partnerships with Kresge and Whitman and to welcome them to the YNPN movement. We also deepened our relationships with the American Express Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, two long-term supporters of YNPN, and maintained close relationship with more recent additions to our list of supporters, Newman's Own Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Crosswicks Foundation.

twi_logo_lg kresge-logo-stacked-white AECF_Logo_Stacked_2-4 american_express Newmans_Own_Foundation_Logo_Large packard-stacked-logo-green-PMS-3305
To celebrate YNPN’s tenth anniversary, we launched an online fundraising campaign earlier this year. We are so thankful to all of our alumni, members, and friends who supported the campaign and helped us more than double our goal. The campaign and other outreach helped us increase the number of individual donors to YNPN to complement our foundation support.

As we reflect on 2014, we are so thankful for all of our funding partners. We appreciate the resources their support provides and we are honored by their commitment to helping advance our efforts to support the development of the next generation of leaders and the YNPN movement. Thank you all for believing in YNPN!

12 Days of YNPN: YNPN Turns 10

This year we celebrated our 10th anniversary as a network, and we can't wait to see what the next decade brings. To celebrate, we threw a huge campaign (#ynpn10), surpassed our fundraising goal (by double) and ate some cake!


Photographic proof that within every small child is a budding YNPN leader! Or at least we think so...

Check out our #ynpn10 campaign follow-up posts:

Part One: Results Summary

Part Two: Lessons Learned

12 Days of YNPN: And then there were three.

One of our major moments from 2014 was the hiring of our second and third staff members.

A bit of history: even though YNPN National was established in 2004, we didn't become a staffed organization until 2011 with the hiring of our National Director Trish Tchume. For two and a half years, Trish held down the fort, raising money to increase our capacity and leading the network through tremendous growth.

Then in April 2014 we hired Jamie Smith, our second staff person. Then in December we hired Elana Needle, our third staff person.

We are so excited to welcome Elana and Jamie to the team. Increasing our staff from one person to three people has opened up new possibilities for YNPN and set us up for major success and growth in 2015!

Meet Elana Needle - Our N of 1

L to R: Jamie, Trish, and ELANA!  (To answer your question: Yes. Yes she is rockin’ a Roots Christmas sweater)
People usually use the term “N of 1” to call themselves out when they know they’re making a gross generalization based on a small body of evidence.

“By the way, you have to make sure you repeat your extra pickles order at this place.  They always, always forget.”

“Always always?”

“Well they forgot last time I was here so...well...N of 1.”

Now, I’m a fan of sound data as much as the next person, but every once in awhile an N of 1 can do a pretty solid job of giving you all the evidence you need.  For example, we’re choosing to believe that Elana Needle, our new Data Systems Director, is what the entire nonprofit sector workforce will look like in 15 years.  Okay, well maybe it won’t look like her, specifically, but I do believe that what now feels like the incredibly unique (and fortuitous!) combination of skills, experiences, and interests that she brings will become more and more common.  And it’s exciting to think about all the ways this will transform the way we work for change.

Early in 2014, YNPN went through an intensive Theory of Change process that made clear to us,  if we had any chance of achieving our audacious goal building a diverse and powerful social sector, we needed dynamic data and communications systems. So in the posting for our newly-developed Data Systems Manager position, we explained that we were looking for someone who could help YNPN:

  • Become the representative voice of young nonprofit professionals (YNPs) across the country
  • Develop a data platform that provides robust space for member-to-member connections, chapter-to-chapter connections, and network-to-sector connections.
  • Create a data-positive culture – which means respect, skill, and enthusiasm for data-backed decision making – amongst our chapter leaders and members that will improve the way our whole sector thinks about and uses data.

Almost immediately after posting we started to hear from the naysayers - folks explaining to us that the person we were searching for didn’t exist.  You might be able to find someone who can set up and manage a database, they said.  But there’s no way you can find someone who has a mind for all that AND can rally an entire network to be engaged and excited about the possibilities of data.  

That person just doesn’t exist, they said.

But then we also started to hear from these people who supposedly didn’t exist, so many of them from right within our network - people with the unique combination of skills we were looking for who came by these in equally unique and interesting ways.  They were library scientists and policy analysts and computer game developers.  Many of them had been working in the private sector or were working in the nonprofit sector and thought that their interest in data meant that they would spend their careers relegated to dark corners of the social sector.

So in their letters to us and in their interviews, many of these same folks talked about how surprised and encouraged they were to see a position like this prioritized for an organization as small as ours.  We, in turn, were thrilled to find that there actually were people out there with the right set of skills we were looking for - not a deluge but enough to make us hopeful.

When we saw Elana’s resume, however, and finally had the chance to interact with her in person, we knew we’d found the one.  Her education ranged from a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies to a PhD in Social Welfare (did you even know that was a thing?  We didn’t, but how cool is that?)  She’d spent the last six years building, training folks on, and evaluating the U.S. pilot of a very technical British program aimed at reducing childhood obesity.  And in her spare time, she was researching and writing on topics like, “Race, Space, and the Urban South.”

We assumed from her resume that she had a mind for data and analysis but did she have the personality to engage our network and to fit our organizational culture?  Within moments of our first in-person interview, there was no question.  Elana immediately dispelled all the myths we’d been hearing from the naysayers about who can be a data jock.  First: she is a she (apparently the ladies can do numbers too!  Who knew??)  Second, she’s a border crosser - able to navigate between the wonk world and the world that the rest of us occupy with ease.  Most importantly, she so obviously gets that data is meant to be in service of greater goals - like understanding the impacts of race and space - it is not a goal in and of itself.

Given all this, we naturally feel incredibly lucky and proud to have Elana join YNPN as our Data Systems Director and third staffer.

We know that she is the right person at the right time to help us achieve our audacious goals.  But we’re also excited for what the fact that someone like Elana signals for the future of the sector in general.  We’re willing to use our N of 1 to point to an exciting trend in the diversity of fields, majors, and backgrounds that are making their way to the sector.  Or stories of how those currently in the sector are building their knowledge base in areas that go beyond traditional nonprofit management to strengthen the field - everything from organizational development to somatics.

There is a growing realization that the complex work of building a just society requires an equally complex combination of talents.  We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Elana as both an example and as a new partner in building the sort of network that we believe is necessary to support these emerging leaders.  Here’s to the future of YNPN!

12 Days of YNPN: YNPN Members Rock

This year, we are especially thankful for you. Yes, you. Our YNPN members inspire us every day with their passion, energy and innovative ideas on how we can build a more powerful and diverse social sector. From planning leadership awards to networking power hours to panel discussions, you stepped up and took YNPN to new heights this year.

How has YNPN impacted your life this year?
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Special thanks to YNPN Grand Rapids, YNPN Triangle NC, YNPN Chicago, YNPN San Diego, and YNPN Austin for the photos!

12 Days of YNPN: Thank you, YNPN National Board!

On the 5th day of #12daysofYNPN, we are thankful for our five, extraordinary board members who rolled off this year. This year, five of our stellar board members rolled off to continue tackling their ambitions and transforming the social sector with their own talents and skillsets. We are so grateful for the time they spent serving YNPN in these critical, formative years: helping us establish a sense of identity, direction and purpose that will truly enable us to build a diverse and empowered social sector. They have brainstromed with us, fundrasied with us and encouraged us throughout the way.
When we think of you leaving, we look like this:


Because we'll miss you so, so much... but we're also Lorde-esque proud of you and know you're about to go create awesome change in the sector and keep serving!

Thank you, Lydia McCoy, Justin Keller, Darrell Scott, Cat Beltmann, and Stephanie Lin Miller!

YNPN Board_group shot

Guest Blog: Results in Action from American Express Leadership Academy

The following guest blog was written by YNPN National Board Member, Jessie Bustamante. Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your lessons learned from the American Express Leadership Academy and how you're utilizing them months after the Academy wrapped up! 

How often do you get to spend nearly 5 days solely focused on your own leadership development? Hmmm… probably never, right?

I was extremely honored to be one of eight YNPN Chapter Leaders across the country selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy at the end of October, 2014. If I tell you it was life-changing it’d be a lie because it was so much more than that and it’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for having this opportunity because of the YNPN network and the value that our partners, such as American Express, can see.

We spent one full week diving into various assessments, tons of lessons about feedback, team-building, conflict resolution, the list goes on & on!

Leadership assessments we completed:

  • 360-degree assessment - a method of systematically collecting opinions about an individual's performance from a wide range of coworkers. This could include peers, direct reports, the boss, the boss's peers — along with people outside the organization.
  • FIRO-B - a unique instrument that doesn’t actually “measure” anything. Instead, it provides a score that is used to estimate how comfortable an individual is with a specific behavior which includes Inclusion, Control & Affection(expressed vs. wanted behavior) 

To give you an idea of my takeaways, here is the recap I sent my team:

“… I spent 5 days last week diving deep into my strengths and potential areas of “derailment” in my career.
The biggest take away I have is the self-awareness of how I can be the best leader possible and ensuring that I am effectively working with all of you to support your individual endeavors.
An area that I hope to make some changes are around incorporating regular feedback in meetings, conversations, etc. and providing more opportunities for growth for those in our office.
I am hoping you can help me by being open and honest when I ask for feedback so that I can be a more effective leader. This process will be ongoing and you will receive another brief survey in the next few months to see if you have seen any changes in my leadership behaviors.”

Just as I mentioned above, the goal after all of these assessments were layered on top of one another were to be self-aware. Self-aware of the fact that we all have strengths, but we all have “opportunities for derailment” as well. The only way we can be the best leader possible is to be aware of these & find ways that will help us navigate through the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.

From here it’s up to us to put our new knowledge into practice be being aware of who we are and ensuring that we are leading environments that are effective, positive and supportive for all. For myself I learned that building and supporting my team was very important to my position and could use more of my time.

Therefore I have started using more solution-based questions and coaching questions to ensure that I am asking for the feedback I need from my team members and ensuring that they are given the chance to truly express themselves. I have been very open with those around me to let them know that I am listening to the feedback I received (specifically from the 360-degree assessment) and trying some new things to continue improving myself and how our team functions.

The Leadership Academy was just a continuation of my leadership journey, but definitely one of the highest points of my career. So next year when you see this opportunity come across your e-mail, be sure to take advantage of this and you’ll understand why I am on such a “high” right now.

Thank you, American Express & YNPN, for making this a reality for me.

JesseBustamanteHeadshotJessie Bustamante is the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in California – San Diego. She is an active YNPN National and YNPN San Diego Board Member because she knows the value of the YNPN movement and has enjoyed watching its growth over the past four years, but is more excited to see what the next 44 bring! Jessie is originally from Chicago before moved to Arizona where she completed her undergraduate and graduate studies and now resides in San Diego where she’s been for two years with her husband, Luis, and their Australian Shepherd, Cujo. If you’re looking for Jessie beware that she is training for a full marathon in May 2015 so you may be running to catch up with her… literally.
Connect with Jessie: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / LinkedIn