This year, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2016 national YNPN conference in Portland, Oregon. While we are working hard to create new, exciting, inclusive, and thoughtful programming and spaces for our Triangle members, it is sometimes hard to remember that there are hundreds of YNPN leaders doing the exact same things (and similar, but different things too) all over the country, from Las Vegas to Boston, Des Moines to Charleston. My first national conference was the best way to see this in action and to connect and learn from the brightest young nonprofit professionals committed to improving the sector.
YNPN Triangle NC has recently launched a specific programming component around the discussion and exploration of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the nonprofit sector, and this focus is shared by YNPN National. I’ve been involved with the team focused on ensuring that EDI is encompassed in our work as a chapter and have recently committed myself to seeking out a myriad of resources to further inform the work. I was impressed that the conference provided multiple opportunities and different platforms to engage in dialogue about EDI and where we’ve been and where we need to go moving forward. This included a full day “deep dive” session that pushed us to practice confronting racial microaggressions in the workplace and several other breakout sessions focused on cementing our commitment to diversity in our boards, our events, and our greater network.
As the Triangle chapter and many other chapters engage in moving our work forward through an EDI lens, it was a neat experience to come together with other chapter leaders and share our success and struggles. For me, the best part of the national conference was the collective brainstorming that occurred around EDI and everything else, hopefully paving the way for improved outcomes for the entire network.
After two and a half days of learning and sharing, the national YNPN conference really reinforced to me that as the young nonprofit leaders, we truly have endless opportunities to make sure our voices are heard and our mark is made. Often, we face numerous challenges and barriers to progress in achieving our goals, but I was reminded of how robust and strong the community of YNPN leaders is throughout our state, region, and nation. As a result, I know I’ve come away from our weekend in Portland with a renewed energy for the future of the sector.
Elizabeth Byrum is YNPN Triangle NC's Outreach Chair. Read more about her here.