YNPN Outgoing Board: Passing the Leadership Torch
As 2016 comes to a close, we sat down with three of our outgoing National Board Members Kate Capossela, Lindsay Jensen and Qyana Stewart to help us reflect on our progress as a network. We discussed what YNPN has contributed to the sector and their professional growth as well as what we can look forward to in YNPN’s future.
It started with Howard Magazine. “In the back, there’s a section for alumni to share personal and professional updates. He [YNPN National Board Member, Dan Blakemore], had submitted an update when he was elected onto the Board of Directors,” recalls outgoing Board member Qyana Stewart. She wondered why she hadn’t heard of YNPN, immediately joined the DC chapter, and shortly after, joined the National Board. As they say, the rest is history.
For Kate Capossela, her involvement took off in San Francisco. After moving back to the Bay Area in the early 2000’s, she was sure to check out the local chapter of YNPN after a positive experience with the DC chapter. Shortly after joining as a member, she assumed a Board position, launched a peer networking program, and attended the first YNPN National Conference. Since then, a lot has changed according to Kate: “Back then, we were sitting around in a small room with a white board. We had a dream of being a national organization with paid staff. Ten years later, that dream and so much more has come true.”
Having met the first National Director, Trish Tchume, in Boston and serving on the Board of YNPN Boston, a strong belief in the network led outgoing Board Chair, Lindsay Jensen, to apply for the National Board: “I wasn’t ready to part ways with YNPN yet.”
Since committing to the board, each board member has contributed a lot to the network. When asked about what she enjoyed most about her work with the board, Lindsay highlighted: “YNPN let me flex a lot of leadership muscles that I didn’t get to flex in my day job.” For her, this included playing a vital role in the development of YNPN’s Theory of Change, managing the Board of Directors, and embedding the importance of emotional intelligence into the culture of YNPN (it’s one of our five pillars of leadership!).
With a background in governance from her roles in the private and nonprofit sector, Qyana enjoyed collaborating with the board in the creation of what is now Chapter Congress: “We had to define the scope, determine what it needed to be for chapter leaders, members, and the National Board. I wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page.”
Kate also enjoyed creating a dialogue between chapters and National and is proud of implementing and formalizing best practices in board recruitment and training. To her, the vision of YNPN unites the entire network and can take down all barriers: “The mission is as urgent as ever.”
“Joining YNPN is the most important thing that you can do for your career while working for a nonprofit organization.” - Lindsay Jensen
While they have clearly given a lot to YNPN chapters and the National Board, each was sure to mention what YNPN has given to them. For Qyana, it was a network of like-minded peers and countless friendships that will last a lifetime: “YNPN promotes a culture of fun, passion, creativity, thought-leadership, and innovation.”
Reflecting on her years in various roles at YNPN and all of the strong, vibrant, and connected people that she has met, Kate shared a similar sentiment: “It’s hard to put into words the gratitude I have for the network. Not being a part of YNPN on a day to daybasis will be a huge change in my life.”
Sharing words for anyone thinking about becoming a member of YNPN or considering a leadership role within the organization, Lindsay commented: “Joining YNPN is the most important thing that you can do for your career while working for a nonprofit organization.”
“At YNPN, no one is excluded. Everyone is welcome, so there is always a person or people to jump in and help you and the organization as a whole.” - Qyana Stewart
Looking forward, each board member is excited about what the future holds for YNPN and its members. For Qyana, YNPN’s work in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will be crucial to its future success: “At YNPN, no one is excluded. Everyone is welcome, so there is always a person or people to jump in and help you and the organization as a whole.” She looks forward to a broader membership base with a seat at the table for all nonprofit professionals regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other identities.
Lindsay looks forward to YNPN continuing to “do shit differently.” According to her, what makes YNPN different than other associations and organizations is that the network never conformed to traditional practices and always valued autonomy within the chapters. As that autonomy continues and YNPN’s capacity continues to grow, she hopes that young people continue to see themselves as influencers in their communities.
“I really do expect to be an advocate for this network for the rest of my life. Soon, we’ll be at the doors of the White House.” - Kate Capossela
Wondering what’s next for our outgoing board members? Well, it depends. Lindsay will be spending time with her 18-month-old, Emerson. With her, she will take every lesson she learned and every interaction she had. She couldn’t be more excited for YNPN’s growth and looks forward to continuing to support the network and its new Executive Director, Jamie Smith, who recently joined her in Portland.
While Qyana is exiting the Board, she doesn’t plan on being too far away, “I can honestly say that no matter how many years pass, I’ll be involved with YNPN. It sticks with you. You find ways to add value because it’s done so much for you.”
As she looks to the future, Kate sees herself continuing to be an advocate for those that don’t have a voice. She will continue to support YNPN work in elevating their voices to a national audience: “I really do expect to be an advocate for this network for the rest of my life. Soon, we’ll be at the doors of the White House.”
A huge thank you to these outgoing board members for their service and for sharing their insights. Their stories demonstrate that no one member comes upon the network the same way, but every member has the opportunity to make an impact on making the sector more diverse and powerful.
Thanks to their leadership, YNPN will continue to be a place for young nonprofit professionals to access the resources, people, and ideas they need to be effective leaders for change.
*Funds will directly support members across the nation who are coming #allTUEgether for the #ynpn17 National Conference and Leaders Institute.