A Note Before The Conference

A Note Before The Conference

This article is from of our #ynpn18 LinkedIn series, which highlights the importance of young professionals attending conferences like the YNPN National Conference and Leaders Institute in order to further develop their skillsets and career prospects. Join us as we introduce YNPN Board Member, Robert Nelson!

A Note Before The Conference


“The old world is dying, but a new world is being born. It generates inspiration from the chaos that beats upon us all.”  — Carlos Bulosan


            As #ynpn18 approaches, I’m reminded of a conversation with a friend about belonging.  We were talking about being a “hyphenated identity,” as we live in a sort of middle ground between Asian and American, one that can’t be quantified with percentages, or on grant proposals.  It’s one I still struggle with today as a Filipino American, as I’m considered an incomplete Filipino, one who’s unaware of the history of my homeland, my language, or even spent considerable time with other Filipinos.  Conversely, I’m also not considered completely American, because, well, racism. 

            It is a challenge many Asian Americans face every day.  Growing up, I learned a very specific narrative on American history. In college, I learned about very different narratives — colonization, the Philippine-American War, the genocide of 3 million Filipinos in that war, and Asian Invisibility. Needless to say, I couldn’t look away from the injustice my country (and many others) suffered at the hands of white supremacy and colonization.  It sounds cliche, but it’s what we learn from the past that informs our future. In having these shared and similar conversations with other Asian Americans, we have created a counter narrative that has become our own, one that is inherently Asian and American, not a binary, or subject to percentages and colonialism.  The counter narrative is one that has happened historically and is happening right now in all of our communities, not just in Asian American communities. It’s how we how we disrupt white supremacy in America and how we #Resist. And not just that, it’s how we #persist as well. 

            By building these narratives, we center the voices of leaders of color in our communities. We’ve all read Building Movement’s Race to Lead study from last year. We know the racial leadership gap is real in the nonprofit sector and extends to other sectors as well.  We know that there are already leaders of color ready to lead nonprofits, initiatives, and communities from that study.  We are truly the leaders we’ve been waiting for.           

            As we edge closer and closer to Indianapolis, I remember the events of Charlottesville while we were all in Atlanta last year. I remember all of us who grieved together after we watched the event unfold. I remember those conversations, that raw emotion, and the space we created together. That space became a narrative that sought equity, and it’s one we will not easily forget. And as we left Atlanta, our narrative grew on social media, bound to and for our communities, to change our country for the better. And I’m reminded of why I belong with YNPN and all of you.

Looking forward to seeing you July 29-30 for #ynpn18! 


Robert Nelson




Robert Nelson is a Program Manager for the Grants Collective, the nonprofit arm of the Grant Plant, Inc.  He has worked in nonprofit for the last 10 years.  Previously, he worked for Heading Home, helping house Albuquerque’s most vulnerable homeless people and Rio Grande Food Project, serving hungry New Mexicans. Currently, he works on racial equity issues in Albuquerque as a board member of the Asian American Association of New Mexico, and as an organizer of the Historic Neighborhoods Alliance.  He has been involved with Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) New Mexico for the last 6 years, serving on their board and working to activate emerging leaders in nonprofit to build a diverse and equitable social sector.  He also serves on YNPN’s National Board, serving on their Network Engagement and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committees.  In his spare time, Robert is an avid swimmer and enjoys mobile video games, cooking and playing guitar. 


You can connect with Robert via LinkedIn or Twitter and access the YNPN LinkedIn page here.

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