First, I wanted to bring you all up to speed on the haps of my first few weeks. Here are some highlights:
- September 13 - turned the YNPN Board Chair reigns over to the capable hands of interim Board Chair, Kim Caldwell
- September 19 - began transitioning into the YNPN Director position as I wrapped up my former position at the Building Movement Project.
- September 22 - got to spend some QT with the dynamic board of YNPN Phoenix chapter while I was out in Arizona for the National Conference on Citizenship. (ps - Have you heard about YNPN Pheonix's annual Tour de Phoenix? It's dope. Check it out!)
- October 1 - on my first official, official day as YNPN Director, I had the good fortune of being at the root of YNPN civilization - San Francisco Bay Area - and met with the YNPN SFBA board. Here's what I came away with: YNPN SFBA is a powerhouse. The 2012 YNPN National Conference that they are hosting is not to be missed. You should be there. More to come.
- October 6 - YNPN got a shoutout in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Gladys Tchume got something to put on the fridge next to my 8th grade soccer certificate. Big day on many levels.
- October 7-8 - spent two days in Baltimore visioning, reflecting, workplanning, storming, norming, performing, transforming and all other manner of gerund with the YNPN National Board at our biannual board meeting (graciously hosted for the 4th year in a row by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.) Exciting and inspiring. Big things to come, friends.
- The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network has always played a critical role in developing and retaining talent in the sector. As the challenges facing society deepen, more and more people both within our membership and outside of our membership are looking to YNPN to play an even greater role in these areas.
- As we move forward, we not only want to continue to provide the professional development and networking opportunities that have been our hallmark for the past 15 years, but we want to start shaping a deeper common narrative for our network and the impact that we want to have in the world - What will it take to move towards the more just and equitable society we all hope to acheive? What skills, values, relationships and practices do we need to develop as young professionals in this sector to be able to work towards this more equitable world AND sustain ourselves for the long haul? How can we leverage the strength of our network to influence broader conversations about what the sector can do to achieve it's social mission?
- We'll be applying our best thinking and strategizing to the issue of network infrastructure! As recently as last week, lively discussions about revisiting our tax status were bubbling on this list about revisiting our tax status - c3 v. c6. This question is part of an exciting, much larger conversation that will be a central focus for the coming year. The current YNPN network model works and, for the most part, works well. But we have the power to be so much more nimble, connected and impactful as a network once we have greater clarity about the relationship between national and chapters, once have a better sense of when, how and how often we communicate, and once we have the infrastructure both in terms of technology and in terms of process to support a stronger model. Over the next 12 months, our chief goal will be to gather input from each of you through various channels (including in-person forums held in cities across the network!) in order to shape the best model for our network infrastructure moving forward. I'm couldn't be more excited to see what we'll come up with together!
- YNPN will have a stronger voice in sector-wide conversations! In just a couple of weeks, we will be releasing our second-ever National Voice report based on data provided by all of you and your members. Over the next year, I will be carrying the message of this report (and the message that YNPN can and should be at the table for sector-wide conversations) to conferences, panels, online chats and one-on-one meetings with stakeholders. As you heard in last Friday's email from our National Voice committee, YNPN National will also be providing YOU and YOUR CHAPTERS with the materials and training necessary for you to be able to advocate at the local level for stronger leadership development across the sector.
We will be able to provide stronger support for chapters! We'll be continuing with the webinars, chapter level calls and the chapter engagement plan that connects you directly with reps from the National board. But this year, you'll see added benefits like:
- new and improved features of the annual conference
- deeper, direct engagement with affiliate chapters
- a new chapter levels guide, enhanced based on your feedback
- better data collection and dissemination to help you understand the network and your chapter's place in it
- as well as increased offerings on the web platform (like the new intranet and a revival of the best practices resource center)
YNPN members are invited to take advantage of discounts and scholarships for Independent Sector's Annual Conference and the NGen Pre-Conference program. NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now strengthens the capacity of the sector's young leaders to contribute to addressing our society's most significant challenges now and over time. Over the last three years, more than 400 emerging leaders have participated and their passion, insight, and commitment to the future of the nonprofit and philanthropic community have made this one of the premier events for under-40 leaders.
Scholarship opportunities are available for leaders age 40 to attend both the main conference and the NGEN programs. For an application, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By attending NGen you will receive 1.5 days of programming including:
- Access to a high-energy speed networking event
- Free entry to the NGen Dinner featuring the founder and CEO of Change.org, Ben Rattray
- Leadership coaching and professional development workshops
- A seat at the top-rated Ambassadors Luncheon that pairs emerging leaders with seasoned nonprofit and foundation executives for a meal and mentoring.
Independent Sector’s NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now pre-conference program, October 29-October 30 at the Swissôtel in Chicago!
Registration for the pre-conference is $90 if you sign up before September 16.
NGen compliments the programming of the 2011 Independent Sector Annual Conference, and YNPN Chicago/National members receive special partner rates to the main conference- use code YNPNCH (for YNPN Chicago members) OR YNPNNAT (for other YNPN members around the country) when you register.
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.
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.
YNPN leaders from around the country are gathering today here in Grand Rapids, Michigan to share ideas, connect with other chapters, and engage one another in dialogue about the future of our sector.
The conference theme selected this year 'Evolve' will highlight individual, organizational, and sector-wide evolution and innovation. Workshops will include flash presentations with speakers discussing how they've created change within and through their organizations, as well as sessions focusing on sharing best practices among chapters across the country. During one of this morning's sessions we heard from nonprofit blogger and author Rosetta Thurman. She provided her perspective and ideas about how young professionals can be more strategic with our professional development and personal branding within the sector- rock on Rosetta and thanks for joining us!
As a local chapter leader, and now national board member, this will be my fifth YNPN National Leaders Conference. Without fail, I always leave feeling inspired by potential and power of this movement. Every year, I gain ideas for how to strengthen and focus my career path. Discussions with other YNPN chapter leaders here have opened up opportunities for peer mentoring that I have come to rely on as a young professional.
Last night, at our welcome happy hour, a local board member shared with me- “coming here I find all these people that I share values with- these are my people.” Sometimes that’s hard to find in critical mass- peers that share our passion, energy and excitement. As I have continued on my career path in the nonprofit sector, YNPN has really provided me with that - a connection to people I can count on, people I learn from, people I feel inspired by, and people that share my values.
This is a national movement of young leaders and this conference is the place that chapters gather to push the momentum forward. From a national YNPN board member to all of you- WELCOME to Grand Rapids!
If you aren’t here in person- be sure to follow the dialogue, ideas and resources here on the blog- we’ll be joined by several conference guest bloggers that will share their perspective with all of you - Kelly Cleaver, Jessica Journey, Yesenia Sotelo, Lydia McCoy, Samuel Richard.
You can also follow the conversation at http://bit.ly/Twitterynpn11