YNPN Board of Directors Speak!
YNPN Chicago recently had a huge showing at the YNPN National Conference that took place in the Bay Area August 3rd – 5th. The YNPN Network got its start in San Francisco and being the 15 year anniversary it was only fitting to return to its roots. This year 17 chapters were represented, from our friends in Washington DC, Austin, and North Carolina, to the ever-so-entertaining Phoenix rock stars. As expected YNPN Chicago proudly represented with the most out-of-town attendees, something we have been hanging our hat on for two years straight.
In traditional YNPN fashion a happy hour was planned at the first office bar that housed a meeting. It provided a great opportunity to meet board members from chapters around the country before the formalities of the conference.
The first day of this year’s conference was built from a partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, fittingly themed “Generations of Change”. This portion was open to the general public and YNPN Chicago made sure to have members in attendance. Having Northern California nonprofit leaders alongside YNPN chapter leaders from across the country made for some very diverse conversations!
I attended three sessions on the first day. One of the sessions that really stuck with me was on the topic of “Networking Leadership”. Personally, I have built a very large network in the Chicago and national nonprofit world, but this session helped me understand the importance of knowing your network and recognizing your gaps. The presenter, Marissa Tirona showed a tool called bubbl.us, which I am going to use to map my networks. She really helped me understand how to look at my personal network and identify gaps to fill, rather than spend time trying to aimlessly grow areas that are already established! Lunch time speaker Chip Heath also challenged us to look at decision biases in ourselves and those around us in order to make better personal and professional choices.
The second day was the “official” start of the YNPN Leaders Conference. We began with the YNPN Roll Call, which is a quick way to hear news and updates from chapters around the country. It is hard to put into words the joy that the chapters get from meeting and learning each year from each other, and this day showed just that.
The YNPN Leaders Conference is based around the idea of Chapters helping Chapters. This is done through presentations from leaders all across the country. The takeaways are best practices, new ideas, infrastructure changes, and conversations on improvements YNPN can make. This year Chicago had two groups present, Dan Gould and Marissa Fillipo presented on the Leadership Institute, and I presented with YNPN Boston and YNPN SFba on Strategic Planning. YNPN Chicago’s Leadership Institute is a unique program for the YNPN network, which hopefully can be emulated around the country, particularly as it is an excellent way to help develop the future nonprofit leaders in our community.
One of the highlights of the trip was the event Saturday night, a 15 year celebration dinner sponsored by the Chronicles of Philanthropy. Included in this evening was a “Story Time”, where fellow YNPN’ers told tales about their engagement and fun-times within YNPN. Some original board members, including Nelson Layag, spoke about YNPN’s founding and reminded us to “break the rules”. I also got to tell a funny tale about pranks played between YNPN Chicago Board Members at a previous YNPN Leaders Conference. This was a fun event where we could laugh and relax with fellow leaders from all around the country.
The YNPN Leaders Conference concluded Sunday morning after the chapters broke up into some smaller groups for discussion, and then had a final wrap-up from the National Director Trish and Board Chair Lydia. YNPN National did a great job working with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter to throw another great conference. I know I am already looking forward to next year!
From the outside worlds view, this may just sound like another conference, but it is anything but that. YNPN was recognized this year as a Top 10 Nonprofit to Watch, and it is very evident when you are around “The Pipeline” why we were chosen. While it has built a personal network for me around the country, YNPN also gives me a great deal of hope that our nonprofit organizations and voice are going to continue to grow. If you get a chance become a member or join the board (YNPN Chicago board recruitment has started), you will not regret the opportunity — find your chapter and join the movement!
Steve Strang currently works at Donors Forum, after working with fellow board member Aaron House at The University of Chicago. His previous work history also includes working for the American Red Cross in both Chicago and Denver. He grew up in a small town in mid-Michigan and attended Grand Valley State University. Additionally, he recently received his M.P.A. at Roosevelt University with a Nonprofit Administration emphasis. In his free time he enjoys keeping his handicap down in golf, and you can always find Steve out enjoying the Lincoln Square neighborhood.