If you followed along with the 12 Days of YNPN in 2013, you know that we were already pumped for this year's conference last December. And it didn't disappoint.
The YNPN National Conference & Leaders Institute is our annual gathering of YNPN chapter leaders. Here are the highlights of #ynpn14, held June 26-28, 2014 in the Twin Cities and co-hosted by YNPN & YNPN Twin Cities.
Over the next few weeks you may see us talking, tweeting, and posting about #ynpn14. That's because on June 26-28 we'll be hosting our National Conference and Leaders Institute in the Twin Cities. (Official hashtag #ynpn14, of course.)
For the past 7 years, YNPN chapter leaders from across the country have gathered to collaborate, connect, and help shape the future of the network. Each year the conference is co-hosted by a local chapter, with YNPN Twin Cities stepping up to help organize this year's event.
Our leaders at last year's conference in Phoenix
Our National Conference is an opportunity for professional growth and personal connection among our chapter leaders. It's also an opportunity to share best practices and get connected to resources that can help them in their work leading their local chapters.
And we definitely have a good time:
This year we have more chapters represented than ever before. For a snapshot of who's coming to the conference, check out this infographic.
During our recent book club Twitter chat, our ED Trish Tchume encapsulated YNPN's approach to leadership in 140 characters: "The YNPN model relies on the idea that everyone leads. Our chapter leaders start, build up, and run the network. We are because they are."
One of the best examples of this is our National Conference and Leaders Institute, which brings YNPN chapter leaders from across the country together to connect, share best practices, and collaboratively develop the future of the network. Since 2007, these national gatherings have been hosted by one of our local chapters with support from the national organization. Our local chapter leaders plan the conference from start to finish, including developing and presenting the conference sessions.
This year's conference will be hosted by YNPN Twin Cities in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. We spoke to Leah Lundquist, National Conference Committe Chair, and Jamie Millard, Board Chair of YNPN Twin Cities, to hear about what it's been like serving as a YNPN chapter leader and planning a conference for hundreds of their peers.
Jamie Millard, Board Chair of YNPN Twin Cities, leading an event
So, tell us a little about yourselves. What do you do outside of YNPN and what's your role in YNPN TC? How long have you been involved with YNPN, and how long have you been part of YNPN Twin Cities' chapter leadership?
Leah: I'm in my 5th year (final term) of serving with YNPN Twin Cities. In that time I've served as Programming Chair, National Liaison and now National Conference Local Host Lead. Outside of YNPN Twin Cities, I am currently helping develop the Hubert Project, an OpenEd initiative encouraging the creation and sharing of free, multimedia materials to be used in training, teaching and self-directed professional development for nonprofit and civic leaders.
Jamie: Outside of YNPN TC, I'm a co-executive director for Pollen and co-founder of the literary arts magazine Paper Darts. I'm the board chair of YNPN TC and have been involved for more than four years.
What have you enjoyed most about being a YNPN chapter leader?
Jamie: Seeing other YNPN board members and volunteers find opportunity to take ownership over projects and dedicate vision to creating the community they want to work and live in.
Leah: When I moved to Minnesota 7 years ago, the network provided me an incredible support system and team of colleagues outside of the small nonprofits I have worked in. I've learned so much from serving on the board that I bring to my work. I love passing that forward, providing opportunities for other YNPs across the Twin Cities to connect, try bold things and build the relationships that will sustain all of us through our careers.
Leah Lundquist and Jamie Millard at YNPN TC's Ugly Sweater Party last December
In addition to those connections, how has chapter leadership been valuable for you professionally outside of your work with YNPN?
Leah: Leading a chapter has helped me get up close and personal with the life stages a start up nonprofit goes through and the many important governance discussions that take place at each of those stages. It's provided a safe space for me to speak up, experiment and push my own creativity. Though we have traditional chapter leadership roles, we function highly horizontally as a chapter, so I've also learned a ton about effective teamwork and being always cognizant of organizational culture.
Hosting a national conference is a big task. What motivated your chapter to step up and apply?
Leah: It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the idea was first floated, but I have a hunch that it was after a whole cohort of our board members returned from their road trip to the Grand Rapids conference. Both the travel time and experience of the conference itself was such a bonding experience for them and a perspective-widening opportunity to get to know the national network that we've asked ourselves since then if we might be conference host at some point. Finally the stars aligned with the right people and capacity for us to help make this happen. We are all proud and appreciative to be living in a metropolitan area with such a robust nonprofit and philanthropic sector and are excited to invite others from the network to get a taste of this.
Jamie: We knew this would be a unique opportunity to infuse energy into our local YNP community by bringing chapter leaders across the country to highlight what makes the MSP community thrive.
Do you have a favorite memory from past conferences?
Jamie: I do! I attended Grand Rapids (2011) and San Francisco (2012) recently. My favorite moments were when I got to experience something local and specific to that community. It reminded me that being a member of YNPN Twin Cities is truly about being part of a national movement.
YNPN TC members engaged in developing their chapter's strategic plan
What's been the most challenging aspect of planning an event for hundreds of your peers from across the country?
Leah: The nail biting suspense as you wait for people to register. It's the whole middle school party syndrome: "I planned this huge party... I hope everyone shows up!!" (Save me from the suspense: Chapter leaders, register today!)
And what's been the most fun?
Leah: Coming up with creative, meaningful networking ideas for the evenings and during the day. We definitely want you to leave feeling like you have relationships across the network that will be sustained and that you saw at least a slice of the Twin Cities! It's also been great working alongside National to push ourselves to go beyond what has happened in past years to bring in new partners like Echoing Green and the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue.
What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
Leah: I'm really looking forward to hearing Linda Nguyen's keynote on Thursday! It's so neat to have someone speak who is both an early YNPN founder and an incredible leader on civic engagement! I'm also looking forward to the deep learning and discussions I see happening Friday through the 2 deep dive opportunities with Echoing Green and IISD alongside the Chapter Leaders Institute.
What can our leaders look forward to doing in the Twin Cities this June?
YNPN TC members talking about the gender wage gap at local watering hole The Nicollet
Jamie: Hands down spending time outside along the river or lakes. A walk down St. Anthony Main eating gelato from Wilde Roast — that'd be a pretty perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Leah: There's no limit to the things I love about the Twin Cities in the summer. There's always great music at the Cedar Cultural Center and the iconic First Avenue. From the Humphrey School (where the conference is being held), I like to rent a Nice Ride bike and pedal downtown along the bike trail that runs along the Mississippi River. One of the great things attendees might want to stick around for the weekend of the conference is the Twin Cities PRIDE festival--TC Pride is the third largest Pride festival in the country and largest free Pride in the U.S.
Why do you think it's important for chapter leaders to come together in person?
Leah: When chapter leaders come together in person, we can all question our limiting beliefs and assumptions about what it means to be a YNPN chapter. This sparks new ideas and relationships that can make us more effective--not only in our work on our YNPN boards, but also in each of our professional roles.
For those who aren't YNPN chapter leaders (yet!), we'll be sharing insights from the conference on social media during the event on June 26-28.
Today we're excited to share this interview with Linda Nguyen, who will be the keynote speaker for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Conference and Day 1 of the YNPN National Conference on June 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
As the Director of Civic Engagement for the Alliance for Children and Families, Linda built and currently manages a national initiative that has enabled thousands of community residents across the U.S. to become advocates, leaders and activists. She has worked with the Alliance network to encourage nonprofit staff and board members to embrace civic engagement strategies in their organizations and neighborhoods and to work in concert with community to address key issues in health, education and economic security. Linda is responsible for identifying and nurturing talent, coaching human service organization staff, conducting research and serving as a national advocate for constituent voice.
In addition to her outstanding work with the Alliance for Children and Families, Linda is also one of the early founders of YNPNdc and YNPN National. We spoke with Linda about her experience helping to found YNPN, how organizations can elevate diverse voices, and a few of her favorite spots in the Twin Cities.
You're one of the early founders of YNPN. What drew you to the idea for a network of young nonprofit professionals? How did you go from idea to reality?
I was looking for a job in the nonprofit sector when I first moved to DC in 2003. I knew very few people in the field. I searched for help online, and came across the YNPN (then only in San Francisco) website and saw that people just like me were looking to network with one another for job opportunities and professional development and networking. I connected with a few of those peers in DC, and after a few meetings, we launched YNPNdc. I think our first event attracted 10 people.
I think the lesson is Jump In. Don't be afraid or embarrassed. So what, 10 people came to our first "event." We cared about something and so we created an entity to address the needs we and others had. I then became involved in helping to build the national organization. The national board at that time was made up of local people starting up their own YNPN chapters and we knew we would be stronger if we built together.
What were some of the network’s values back then? Has the network changed in your view, particularly from a values perspective?
Our values "back then" (ha ha, the good 'ol days) were focused around voice (giving young nonprofit professionals a forum and support) and local autonomy (YNPN chapters were self-starting and proud of it). I imagine these values are still present today, and I would think that engaging diverse voices would be a particular focus for the network.
The YNPN National Board meeting for the first time in Denver in 2005. You can see Linda second from the left.
Why has the idea of “exploring diverse voices” surfaced as such a timely topic?
We are standing in that moment of change where there will be as many young people as old people, as many white people as people of color, as many people with a decent standard of living as those without.
What do we do? We have to make sure that we are hearing from everyone, engaging everyone, and getting as many voices to the table as we are able. When you see these vast differences, you may feel daunted and even fearful. But it is within our ability, and especially for us in the nonprofit and social sectors, it is our collective responsibility that we are listening and attending to everyone.
As Minnesotan Paul Wellstone said, we all do better when we all do better.
How do you think nonprofits are doing at addressing diversity and including members of the communities they work in?
Hmmm, results are mixed. Overall, I think there is more attention being paid to diversity, looking for diverse staff and partners, and including community members. I do think, however, that we have a ways to go in creating meaningful roles for community members to play in our organizations. Are they making decisions? Are they considered equals? Or are they tokens or checkbox fulfillments?
And what is the thinking behind diversity and including community members? Are we doing it just to do it, because it looks good? Or do we see that it actually enhances our work, our programming, our decision making?
Do you have any tips or advice as to how nonprofit leaders could do this better?
Try it. Seek out other leaders who seem to do this well. Talk to them; figure out how their approaches could translate to your work/organization.
LIFT. Check them out.
And finally, what's the best experience you've ever had in the Twin Cities? Do you have any favorite spots to recommend to conference attendees?
Tough one! A lot of ties -- from a ruckus late night karaokeing at The Saloon to exploring the Cedar Riverside neighborhood (near Pillsbury United Communities' Bryan Coyle Center) for its friendly neighbors and enlightening murals painted by youth.
But I think my best experience was walking through Loring Park, above the highway on the Loring Greenway to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry. I did that walk last year with my mom and son and we had such a fun time!
To hear Linda speak on the theme of Exploring Diverse Voices and see a few of her favorite Twin Cities spots for yourself, register for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Conference on June 26 in Minneapolis.
The second in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
Pedro Trujillo is 23 years old and has been organizing around immigration reform for 4 years, currently at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles(CHIRLA). He tells an important story of unintended consequences—of unintentionally pitting generations against one another in the national movement to pass the Dream Act.
Instead, he says, he would like people who were pushed out of high school and did not obtain their diplomas to take ownership of the fact that they too are Dreamers. "I want immigrant grandparents and families to step out and say, 'We are Dreamers too!'"
With what he calls "the small but important victory of the Obama Administration’sdeferred action policy," multigenerational leadership was essential. "The whole reason we won 'deferred action' is that all parts of the immigration reform movement started saying the same thing, not just the youth."
|Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume||In co-designing our joint conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference, YNPN and CompassPoint were committed to moving the generational differences conversation forward to how the generations can and are working together for progressive social change. One of our panelists was especially provocative on the topic.|
|The mainstream often expressed acceptance of the Dream Act because eligible young people were "not at fault" and were "brought here against their will." He says this messaging came about in part through immigrant-youth-led discussions on what language would work best and be viable with mainstream America.||Youth activists from CHIRLA’s, Wise UP! program in Los Angeles|
|"Once young immigrant leaders began to incorporate these talking points into their story of self, many other students adopted it without question. Naturally, politicos jumped on this messaging too, as well as the media and everyone else. I say naturally because it is easier to stand next to and demand for an undocumented student to be considered 'American' if they are on their way to a degree, than to do the same for someone who is a household worker or fast-food restaurant employee and is also undocumented.|
We agree with Pedro that activists across the generations have more that unites them than distinguishes them; our work together is the only path to meaningful victories in the work for social equity.
By Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
We thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund for their investment in our collaborative national convening and this blog series it inspired.
Those of you who were with me at the joint YNPN/CompassPoint Nonprofit Day back in August probably came out of the day feeling energized by all of the discussions about innovations that will help to create a more effective and impactful sector – everything from new models of multigenerational leadership to rethinking the way that we make decisions on the personal and organizational levels.
However, one of the most exciting innovations that struck me was the announcement of the pending launch of the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union (ANFCU) - a federal credit union specifically for the non-profit sector. So I made a note to follow up on this initiative and learn more about what it would look like, what it would mean for the sector, and what it might mean for YNPNers in particular.
So I recently had the chance to talk with Pamela Davis, the President of American Nonprofits, and Charlie Wilcox, the organizer of the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union. Here’s what they had to say about this new effort:
Dan Blakemore (YNPN National Board): Okay, first things first - how does a credit union work?
Charlie Wilcox: A credit union is a cooperative business equally owned by the members, 1 share per member and each member is able to vote on the organization’s activities. The members elect a board of directors who have fiduciary responsibility for the organization. The credit union is able to offer lower cost financial services for the membership. Any profits are either distributed back to the members as dividends or used to support additional growth.
DB: So what will ANFCU mean specifically for the non-profit sector?
Pamela Davis: The credit union will provide a more efficient banking model for the sector, as it is typically more difficult for non-profit organizations to secure credit due to a lack of understanding of how these groups function. ANFCU will also seek to raise awareness about our sector and how our financial models function.
DB: I’m sure lots of folks will be excited to hear that. So what’s the timeline for the credit union’s development?
PD: By the end of 2013, we expect to have ANFCU up and running and serving members.
DB: Great! In the meantime, how can YNPN members and their employers support this effort?
CW: YNPN members can complete this survey that is the next step in the process to make the credit union a reality.
PD: We’re also looking for volunteers who have skills in data analysis and communications. Additionally, we are in the process of raising $10.5 million in seed funding and are always interested in making connections with prospective funders.
DB: Those sound like really great opportunities for input and engagement. Anything else YNPN members know about this effort?
CW: We see the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group as a successful model that proves the viability of non-profit groups creating their own financial institutions. Pamela has been a big part of NIA Group’s success over the last 23 years, so it is great to have her taking part in the ANFCU project.
PD: ANFCU will provide the means for the non-profit sector to support itself in a substantive and strategic way by leveraging our cumulative financial resources.
YNPN is proud to support the ongoing effort to create a federal credit union specifically for the non-profit sector, the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union (ANFCU). For more information on this effort, click here and feel free to leave any comments or questions for Charlie or Pamela in the section below. They’d love to hear from you!
The first in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
Multigenerational leadership is an organizational, network, and movement stance in which leaders of all ages prioritize their shared values and leverage the perspectives and capacities of all generations to achieve progressive social change together.
Does this definition resonate for you?
|That’s why we were concerned by the results of a survey we took at our August 2012 co-designed conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference. More than 500 YNPN and CompassPoint stakeholders from across the country attended. As we kicked the day off, we asked attendees to participate in flash research—a quick pulse-taking of their knowledge and beliefs about multigenerational leadership.||Generations of Change Conference cartoon by Lloyd Dangle|
|Twenty-six percent of respondents said they felt no explicit effort in their corner of the nonprofit sector to embrace and leverage multigenerational leadership. Another 31% weren’t sure if they did—suggesting uncertainty about what we mean by the term and what conscious leveraging of leadership across generations could look like. While it’s a start that 43% did see evidence of these efforts, given the decade-plus we have all been at work on this, we hoped to be further along.|
By Trish Tchume of YNPN and Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint
- Building Movement Project Report: What Works: Developing Successful Multigenerational Leadership
|Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume||The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) and CompassPoint share a deep commitment to nurturing a powerful and diverse leadership pipeline for the nonprofit sector. In our own ways, we have helped to shape the dialogue about who "next generation" leaders are; about what it takes to develop and sustain leaders in social equity work especially; and about what healthy leadership transitions entail as veteran leaders move from executive director seats into other sector leadership capacities.
This guest post from the YNPN National Leaders Conference comes to us from Sarah Kinser, founding co-chair of YNPN Little Rock and communications director for Arkansas Community Foundation. You can find her on Twitter @sarahkinser.
How can you build a movement to create meaningful change?
That's the question underlying Marissa Tirona's presentation on network leadership at this year''s CompassPoint Nonprofit Day conference. Tirona, senior project director for CompassPoint offered a primer on this emerging leadership model, which emphasizes creating change through open collaboration, experimentation and shared leadership.
The practical takeaways for YNPN members?
1. Map your network. How connected are you, really? Take a snapshot of your network by plotting out connections with individuals and organizations on a web. You'll be able to visualize trends and patterns in the way people connect, and you'll be able to identify key partners who can help you extend your network's reach.
Set a goal to reach out to less-connected members of your web to help them establish more relationships, or target a few new organizations to add to your web.
2. Identify "network weavers". Help your network thrive by recruiting leaders who will build and nurture connections. Every team needs:
- Weavers/Connectors who excel in meeting new contacts (people) and matching people with others who share overlapping interests.
- Project Coordinators who manage tasks, keep ideas moving forward, and maintain contact with team members.
- Network Facilitators who convene people and help focus the network.
- Network Guardians who nurture the network by establishing systems, communications processes, and resources.
That means everyone has to be in the know! Rather than holding key institutional knowledge within a central insider group, network leadership advocates throwing open the doors to create transparency and share knowledge. Within your organization, you can institutionalize communication practices that keep the entire network informed via social media, wikis, blogs, open meetings or member summits.
4. Position yourself (or your organization) to be a collaborator.Tirona says that one of the best ways to build your network is to start by listening. For YNPN chapters, that might mean taking a tour of nonprofits to hear about their work and to ask what services the YNPN chapter could offer that would be beneficial to their employees, or conducting a survey of other key organizations working to build the local nonprofit sector to learn about how their services overlap with, or are distinct from, YNPN's. Starting the conversation by listening creates an open space where natural partnerships can form.
How is your chapter working to expand its network and share leadership?
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.