In a few short weeks, scores of nonprofit professionals will be headed to Atlanta from across the country for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) National Conference. Atlanta has a once in a lifetime opportunity of playing host and highlighting the interworkings of the city’s robust nonprofit sector. It’s also an opportunity for young professionals in Atlanta – whether they’re a YNPN member or not – to meet peers from all over the country and share experiences on how to move up in their professional careers.
We recently caught up with three leaders of YNPN Atlanta, Lauren Kline Jeong, Rachel Ciprotti, and Kate Stanton, to talk shop about the need for professional growth opportunities for emerging leadership, how YNPN fills that gap, and the highly-anticipated conference (which is currently totting killer today-only deals on ticket sales btw).
Give us a quick overview of YNPN.
Lauren: YNPN connects young professionals to the people and resources they need to be successful in the nonprofit sector. It’s easy to get burned out, to get overwhelmed, to be hyper-focused on building the mission and to forget things like self-care and the need to connect with other people in the sector. YNPN is a resource for people to connect, vent if they need it, and to meet new people and leaders of the sector to reach their next career goal.
Rachel: I’m really inspired by one of the vision statements for YNPN National which is, ‘we are a movement that is building a diverse and powerful social sector.‘ I think that’s the high-level goal; that we are trying to create a network of young people who will continue the work of the sector in a way that is more aligned with the ideals of young people in society today. That’s very powerful to me.
Talk about the National Conference. It is really opportune chance for Atlanta to play host and for other chapters to see how grown up the city has become.
Kate: The National Conference is an opportunity for people locally in the sector, and also for members and leaders of YNPN across the nation, to get professional development that most of us don’t have access to in our jobs or don’t have a budget to be able to pursue. There’s broad professional development but then there’s also networking with people who are in similar parts of their career. It’s also an opportunity for leaders to talk to each other about what they’re doing well or what they’re struggling with as a chapter which helps strengthen YNPN as a network across the country; sharing the things that work well and the things that didn’t.
Rachel: As far as Atlanta goes, this is an exceptional opportunity to show off some of the amazing things about our city. There continue to be stereotypes about the deep south that include people in the nonprofit sector. People can come here and see a lot of the innovation that’s taking place and the entrepreneurship that’s happening. Seeing massive projects like the BeltLine and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, while grasping the history of Atlanta as the birthplace of the Civil RIghts Movement, can be powerful for the city and the people attending.
Lauren: Young people, in general, get characterized for job hopping, for not doing their time, for being overly eager to get to the next level of their career. Personally, I think a lot of it is a disconnect with the skill sets that are needed to get to the next level. You see the things listed on a job description but there’s so much more that isn’t listed on the that you need to reach the next level professionally. I think YNPN helps you see what those skills are and help build what you need to get to the next level.
The YNPN Conference is a place where you get to connect with other leaders, learn what they do, and talk about the challenges you’re going through, especially as you’re trying to reach the next level. I also think it is an opportunity for us to leverage our voices in a more collective sense to say, “Hey, we aren’t just some silly young people. We are here to make a difference that’s not phony.” We are about impact and banding together. The conference gives us a platform to do that.
Kate: There are a lot of chapters in the YNPN Southeast Region that are within reasonable travel distance of one another. We don’t really get together a whole lot outside of the conference. This offers that opportunity since we are opening it up a little bit broader this year. For those nearby chapters, they can encourage their broader membership to attend and learn more.
Rachel: It’s unusually accessible. It’ll be an opportunity for people in Atlanta to meet people in Charleston and Birmingham and Orlando who are not so far away that deal with the same challenges and working in the same sector.
One of the things I love about the National Conference is getting to meet other young leaders who are not CEO’s. A lot of other conferences represent the top leadership or it’s really specific towards fundraising or digital marketing. This conference allows you to meet and explore conversations with people who work in other sectors, in other job functions, at every level of the field. People who are CEOs to interns. What we have in common is that we are all relatively young and passionate about working for good. That’s very inspirational to me.
What can people expect?
Lauren: This year’s theme is Leading Through Change and it deals with thinking about our current landscape. We have a lot of work to do. There is a lot of divide in our communities and we are failing to be active listeners and to be responsive to the various needs within our communities. This conference is really about building facilitation and emotional intelligence skills to help people become better leaders. To think about different ways to address problems in their respective fields.
Rachel: If you come to this conference you can expect to be super inspired. To meet so many amazing people and to learn practical, useful skills, helps you be a change agent in your community or in your organization. Learning how to manage up, learning how to make your voice heard, learning how to make sure that your impact is as big as it can be and that you’re able to create that change needed nationwide and sector-wide.
Kate: Plus learning how to become not just an effective leader or change agent, but to do so responsibly. To do so with an eye towards people and giving them a hand up. You learn these lessons and then you can keep an eye out for people who may not have the same opportunities as you; how you can help them out or provide resources you didn’t have once you get those resources.
Photos are property of YNPN and YNPN Atlanta.