Reflections from the 2016 YNPN National Conference

Blog Contributor: Rebecca Buffington, President

Last month, myself and two other YNPN St. Louis board of directors attended the YNPN National Activate! Summit, which brought together over 150 emerging nonprofit leaders together in Portland, Oregon. On day one of the conference, local young nonprofit professionals were invited to join YNPN chapter leaders for a day full of engaging sessions and discussions on a variety of professional development and nonprofit leadership topics. Vu Le of Nonprofit With Balls kicked off the morning with his keynote “What the Bleep is Social Good.” His sharp comparisons of the nonprofit sector to pop culture references like The Hunger Games and Battlestar Galactica, kept the audience laughing and nodding their heads. We’ve all experienced the highs and lows of our sector and  continually strive to make it better - not only for the missions of the organizations we work for but for the people who work in them as well.

Days two and three were reserved for chapter leaders to discuss topics that impacted our local chapters from budgeting to event planning to board development to preserving institutional knowledge and more. Chapter Roll call highlight 42 chapters across the United States, (and  a chapter in Ottawa, Canada - we’re international!). It was an amazing testament to the power of the YNPN network. We connected with leaders from the national network as well as our fellow chapter leaders that are supporting 50,000+ members throughout 42 cities that are ultimately passionate about the core of each chapter’s mission, to build a diverse and powerful social sector.

In addition to these thought-provoking topics and engaging session-filled days the evenings also provided attendees with a chance to explore the city and have some fun – whether it was competing in an Olympic-themed trivia night (btw, the St. Louis Chapter was on the second place team!), checking out a local restaurant or brewery, to playing miniature golf, to competing in a lip-sync battle, to busting a move at a 90’s dance party our hosts - YNPN National and YNPN Portland made sure attendees left the conference inspired, entertained, energized and ready for new challenges ahead.

Here are our final thoughts and reflections on the 2016 YNPN National Conference:

“This year’s conference provided me with the space to learn and gain professional development skills, be immersed in the work of the St. Louis chapter as well as focused on how each individual chapter can work together to create a stronger national network. It also provided me with the chance to spend time with chapter leader friends I already knew from the previous year’s conference and of course meet new, fellow chapter leaders to discuss topics and share similar experiences based upon our roles in leading our specific chapters. I left Portland with not only a renewed vision and passion for our own chapter’s mission and goals but also re-energized and comforted by the fact that there are hundreds of other chapter leaders that are all pursuing this idea that we are a part of something bigger, a movement that is constantly pushing the boundaries to activate, engage and develop emerging leaders in our sector while also providing them with the skills and opportunities to become effective changemakers in our communities and beyond.” – Rebecca Buffington, President

“This was the second year that I was fortunate enough to spend time with 150 other young nonprofit leaders from across the country, engaging in dialogue, laughing and learning about what it takes to be a leader in this sector. I have always worked for nonprofits so to be in a room with other people who are committed to making the world a better place through our organizations' mission is quite inspiring. Not only did we learn how to do our work a bit better, easier, and with more focus, we also took the time to work on our nonprofit - our local YNPN chapter. There was discussion about what membership really should be about, about how to connect with our other chapters on a grander scale as well as time to just talk with other dedicated young professionals. Doing all of this in Portland in a weekend in August was just about perfect. I can't wait to bring some of the ideas we came up with to life here in our St. Louis region.” - Jessica La Bozzetta, Vice President

“The conference provided a space to connect with like-minded peers. (Like-minded in that we all volunteer to run a YNPN chapter on top of our day-time gigs!) It was helpful to be able to connect around professional challenges and also the unique challenges that come from being a young professional in the nonprofit sector (i.e. limited upward mobility, large generational gaps, limited investment in technology, etc.). I now have a country-wide network of support that can serve as a sounding board and also as encouragement around the value of being a nonprofit professional! “ - Kristen Mueller, Marketing Chair

Still want to know more about the conference, our chapter and the national chapter?! You can learn more about YNPN National Network here. If you aren’t a member of YNPN St. Louis then you can learn more about the chapter and membership here. Do you want to see and read even more from the conference? Search #ynpn16 on Twitter or click here to see more coverage through storify.

Additional questions about the conference or getting involved with YNPN St. Louis? Then contact us today, we would love to hear from you!

Kristen Mueller, Jessica LaBozzetta and Rebecca Buffington at the 2016 YNPN National Conference.

Kristen Mueller, Jessica LaBozzetta and Rebecca Buffington at the 2016 YNPN National Conference.