YNPN Triangle NC Board members, having a blast at this years #ynpn17 conference!
Katie Todd is the current chair of the YNPN Triangle NC Board of Directors.
Spending three full days in Atlanta in August can be a daunting proposal. But, swimming through the Southern humidity was a small price to pay for attending the national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) conference August 11 - 14. This year’s theme, “Leading Through Change,” resonated strongly with me as I prepare to step down as chair of YNPN Triangle NC in December. Transition presents great opportunity and can invoke fear -- what happens when people leave, taking their institutional knowledge and relationships with them?
#ynpn17 isn’t just about learning how the other 43 chapters from around the country prepare for leadership transitions, host events, raise money, or define membership: it’s about also building relationships with fellow dedicated, passionate, and fierce emerging leaders. I feel so lucky to work alongside our 15 other Triangle board members; they are smart, savvy professionals who put in the work each day to make our communities stronger, healthier, and more equitable. Now, imagine two hundred more of these leaders in one space. And that doesn’t even begin to capture the more than 50,000 YNPN members from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine.
We are not alone in building a more powerful, just and diverse social sector. Our fellow nonprofiteers, public servants, and for-profit friends in the YNPN network are tackling the same social issues in Phoenix, in the Twin Cities, and in Boston. They feel the same constraints, we do: there isn’t enough financial investment in our organizations and in our people. We navigate organizations without clear direction on where we can go and how we get the training to advance. We struggle with the social pressures of whether we should attend graduate school; how we identify ourselves; and how we improve our own self-advocacy and be seen as a real voice within our workplaces.
As the news of #Charlottesville began to filter its way into the conference, it made the urgency of our work even more apparent. Social justice is part of who we are and what we do. If we believe that social justice is a person’s ability to determine their own destiny, then YNPN and each affiliate chapter must lean into this identity and the responsibility it brings. I believe that we are the organization to ensure emerging leaders have the language, confidence, and skills to walk into their organizations, churches, volunteer roles, families, and communities and put the values of equity and inclusivity into practice. We envision a social sector that is powerful and diverse. The only way we will turn that vision into a reality is if we continue to give our members what they need to be change-agents. Small changes have ripple effects.
During the conference, we had the chance to see a clear example of how this has worked ever by visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Here exist the stories of defiance in the face of danger; of individuals who took actions that didn’t make national headlines but chipped away at oppression. Each of us has the capacity to learn from these individuals and carry the work forward. At YNPN Triangle, we commit to each of you that we will be in your corner, whether you are new to the work or have been in the space for years. Whether we tackle transparency around nonprofit employee compensation, eliminating barriers in our hiring practices, or adding a racial justice lens to our issues, we know this work is necessary, now more than ever.
I would encourage you to hop onto Twitter, @YNPNTriangleNC and type in #ynpn17 to see what fellow emerging leaders learned, shared, and took away from Atlanta this past August. Moving forward, consider joining us at #ynpn18 in Indianapolis next summer. It’s never too early to get those professional development priorities on the calendar.