Trivia Night Meet-Up
Monday, July 14th
Bar Abilene, hosted by Jon Berry

Mission Statement Mixer
Wednesday, July 16th
Fulton Brewery

Emerging Leaders Network lunch: Fundraising 305
Friday, July 18th
12:00-1:00 pm
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 

Disc (Frisbee) Golf Meet-Up
Wednesday, July 23rd
Minnehaha Park, hosted by Elissa Schaufman

YNPN-TC & YEP-TC Night at the Guthrie
Tuesday, July 29th
7:30pm show, drinks afterwards
$15 = tix to "Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike" plus a drink
Please Come 30 minutes before the show
Call Guthrie BO (612-377-2224) and ask for "YNPN" offer

Board Game Night Meet-Up
Thursday, August 14th
Chatterbox Pub, hosted by Elissa Schaufman



* Notes from Creating Leader-full Spaces presentation at 2012 Nonprofit Leadership Conference.

* Facilitation resources on topics such as Open Space Technology and World Cafe, and groups such as the Public Conversations Project and the international Art of Hosting network.






We provide and promote opportunities for the development of young nonprofit professionals.

We envision a world where young nonprofit professionals:

• connect through purpose
• challenge to change
• lead together

Our values:

● We strive for respect and inclusiveness
● We seek opportunities to collaborate
● We respond to the evolving needs of our community

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The Twin Cities chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is a community of nonprofit staff, volunteers, supporters, and allies: current and future leaders who want to connect with others in the social sector.



Could You Be a Superhero in Disguise?

By Maria Ward

Like many of you, I came to work in the non-profit sector because of my passion for social justice. Fresh from college and student-led advocacy groups, my head was filled with facts about inequality and injustice and my laptop plastered with bumper stickers.

When it came time to find a job aligned with my beliefs, however, I was at a loss. You can’t make a career out of just believing really, really hard in a cause, unfortunately. You have to gain some tangible skills to support the cause, skills which sometimes don’t feel all that connected to that passion that led you to nonprofits in the first place.

I tested out the nonprofit career paths that felt most connected to the passion I felt, dipping my toes in community organizing and direct service, areas where I could talk about the issues as a public figure. Much as I wanted to be the hero on the front lines, I found these jobs to be a mismatch to my personality. What kind of career could I build when I wasn’t a natural with a bullhorn or an extrovert with the energy to interact with people all day?

As I entered the nonprofit world, it seemed to me that there were the people who served the mission (program staff, social workers, policy advocates), and the people who just handled the paperwork (accountants, financial officers, administrative and development staff). With all that passion for rectifying injustice, of course I initially gravitated towards the obviously mission-related work. It took some time to recognize that the paperwork handlers are just as essential to the mission as the program staff, and that the financial side of the organization underlies everyone’s ability to achieve the mission. Could there be room for me on the less sexy side of the nonprofit world?

Hoping to gain a better grasp on the numbers-and-laws side of things, I attended the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Nonprofit Essentials Conference with a scholarship from YNPN. The Conference covered all the basics of running a nonprofit, from what you’re required to report to the IRS, to whether you need to comply with various employment laws, to how to be an effective supervisor (and much more).

This is all the stuff that keeps an organization running smoothly, so that we can focus on ending hunger or preventing domestic violence instead of worrying about lawsuits or a budget deficit. If you don’t keep on top of your paperwork, you can lose your tax-exempt status and leave yourself open to attacks from watchdog groups, among many other headache-inducing consequences. When one nonprofit mismanages its donations or violates employment laws, we all lose credibility. So now, far from dismissing the financial staff as paper pushers, I’m starting to think of them as superheroes disguised as office workers huddling behind Excel spreadsheets and calculators.

Even if your work puts you out in the community everyday or advocating at the capitol, consider and appreciate all of the infrastructure that allows you to do your job effectively, and be an active financial leader in your organization. And if you find you’re more comfortable processing the payroll than leading the rally, never fear! Your job is mission critical, too.

Maria received a scholarship for the MCN Nonprofit Essentials Conference as a member benefit of YNPN-TC. Thanks to Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for their partnership in providing discounted membership and scholarship tickets to YNPN-TC members.

Photo Credit


Bite-Sized Leadership Lessons

By Leah Lundquist
Follow me on Twitter: @leahlundquist 

Ever since hearing the inspiring words of Bush Foundation CEO Jen Ford Reedy and Humphrey School Associate Dean Laura Bloomberg at the 2014 YNPN National Conference, I’ve been thinking about how impactful it is to hear an individual speak about his or her perspective on leadership.

After all, what really is leadership? You can’t put it in a box or a clear-cut definition. Everyone lives leadership in his or her own way, and it is something entirely different and powerful when it emerges from a team of individuals. 

But, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that leadership takes inspiration. It takes seeing behavior or hearing an approach that you feel moved by enough to integrate it into your way of being in the world.  I thought I would provide a little fresh fodder for you to reflect on today in the words of four incredible leaders here in Minnesota’s civic sector.

All these video clips come from digital case studies that are a part of the Hubert Project, a collection of open educational materials for individuals working in the nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sectors. Tip (from a Proud Project Director – full disclosure here): Bookmark it as a great and ever-growing resource for free professional development!

Grab your lunch, sit back and have a watch: 

Gloria Perez, President & CEO of the Jeremiah Program on Values & Passion (1:55)

Food for Thought: What are your interests? What are the deep-seated values and experiences driving those interests? Where do those values show up in the work you’re doing in the world? If they don’t, how can you realign your work to pay attention to what fuels you?


Danette Buskovick, Director, Training, Research & Communications at MN Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs on the Importance of Relationships (1:25)

In this clip, Danette is talking about the work that was done to bring together the cross-sector Safe Harbor Taskforce to design the policy that is now actively addressing the sex trafficking of minors in Minnesota.

Food for Thought: Where have you seen the key importance of relationships show up in your work? Is there an area of your work where you might be neglecting the importance of reaching out to partners, new and old? Are you asking that key question, “Who isn’t at the table who should be?”


Trista Harris, President of the Minnesota Council on Foundations on the Value of Co-Leadership, Mentorship, Sponsorship (2:03)

In this clip, Trista is referring to the work of the African American Leadership Forum, “a movement of African American leaders and stewards across five metropolitan areas,” including the Twin Cities.

Food for Thought: What’s your “sphere of influence” and how are you creating positive change in that space? Who are those who have modeled mentorship or sponsorship with you and how are you paying this forward?  


Dr. H. Yvonne Cheek, President of Millennium Consulting Group and Consultant for the African American Leadership Forum on being a “pivot point” as a leader – being able to engage in “both/and thinking” in order to lead in complex, adaptive social change efforts.  (2:02)

Food for Thought: What could benefit a better balance of “both/and” in your work? Is what you’re dealing with a “problem to be solved” or a “polarity to be managed?”

Hope you enjoyed these words of wisdom. What would you offer as something you’ve learned about “leadership” by living it?  

Photo Credit


Moving On

By Sarah Townsend Morris
Follow me on Twitter: @morrissaraht

“HelloGoodbyeHelloGoodbye… I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”
The Beatles, Hello, Goodbye

These lyrics come from what feels like my theme song of late: Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles. Since graduating college in 2007, my now husband and I have moved four times, never staying anywhere longer than three years. Perhaps we’re not so different from you or many others in our generation, who chase job opportunities wherever they lead.

Here’s my story:

I arrived in Minneapolis in mid-June of 2012 with a shiny new MPA degree, eager to dig into the civic fabric of the city, grow strong community connections, and land the best possible job. We were pursuing an excellent career opportunity for my husband, and I felt confident that the Twin Cities’ booming nonprofit sector would make the town a great fit for my career, as well. Putting my heart and soul into my networking efforts was the only way to find and secure the “right” job, I thought, so I joined any and every group I could find, attending all the events I could afford. I ran myself ragged for a few months, but by all measures, my efforts quickly worked. I was firmly established in the nonprofit community and had a full-time job consulting to nonprofits by September of that year.

Fast-forward to mid-April 2014:

After close to two years in Minneapolis, my husband’s career aspirations and the difficulties of living thousands of miles from our nuclear families led us to search for new opportunities. When we got the news that he had been offered a position in South Florida, I was, on a personal level, thrilled. He would work more normal hours, we would be able to spend more time together, and we would be within driving distance of his family. South Florida would be warm and beautiful, and we would say goodbye to Minnesota winters. The Southeast is truly home to us. We were so happy.

On a professional level, however, I was filled with dread and sadness. I felt like I had just hit my stride with work, excelling in my job and even bringing in several new clients. I had spent an immense amount of effort really learning the local nonprofit landscape and had deepened and expanded my personal network. Additionally, I was in the middle of my board term for YNPN-TC, and I had just taken on the role of Governance Committee Chair. With fellow committee members, I was gearing up to develop our next strategic plan, and I was eager to pitch in to make the YNPN National conference a huge success. It hurt my heart to think about walking away from all that I had worked so hard to build here. It was even more difficult thinking about how to break the news to my boss, clients, and fellow YNPN-TC board members.

Fast-forward to today:

Even though it hurt, I did it. We’ve all made it through to the other side of my goodbye, and now I’m down in South Florida in Week Two of my job hunt. With the heartache of goodbye still quite fresh, I have been wondering: is it worth it to put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this next chapter? Who knows what the future holds… How will I feel if I invest in this community the way I invested in the Twin Cities, only to have to turn around and say goodbye again? Will it be harder to say goodbye another time? Does it get any easier the more frequently you say goodbye? Is it really worth it to get invested?

Those questions are coming from a logical place in my mind. But I have to tell my mind and my ego to be quiet right now. This work–this charitable and philanthropic drive we all feel–has to be governed by the heart at times like this. The mind, the ego, they aren’t the ones that push us to this work. If we were driven purely by logic and the need to (materially) succeed, we wouldn’t be in this sector. We nonprofiteers all, on some level, feel driven in our hearts to this work.

So, right now I must listen to my heart, and my heart always tells me to go all-in:

Push yourself to understand this community’s needs. Push yourself to find a place where your talents can help make positive change. Push yourself to get to know people, to get connected, to understand how you can help them and they can help you. It will be hard if you have to say goodbye again. But maybe you won’t have to say goodbye again. Then, it will have been worth the effort ten times over. And what if you do have to say goodbye again? Then at least you will know you’ve made a mark on others’ lives, a mark on the community that leaves it a better place—in however small a way—than when you came.

My hope is that, in my two years in town, I have left a positive mark on the Twin Cities and on your life, no matter how small. And please know that you have made a mark on me. I’ve never before seen civic engagement like I witnessed and partook of in the Twin Cities. I’ve never before seen such a passionate effort to create inclusive and responsive systems that work to eliminate inequity and inequality for all marginalized groups. I’ve never before seen such sophisticated and authentic community engagement in nonprofit work. I’ve never before had the opportunity for self-examination that comes with being a cultural foreigner. You’ve knocked me down a few times, but you’ve also picked me back up and inspired me. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your community. Thank you for challenging me and changing me for the better. Thank you. 

Photo Credit



A more “Beautiful day in the neighborhood”

By Angie Keeton

Click “Like” if Fred Rogers is your hero?

“Rodgie”—as I called him as a child—was and is one of my heroes, and I know that I’m not alone in this sentiment. I can say that nearly every morning as a young child, I turned on PBS, and watched, listened, and learned with my favorite TV neighbor.

Now, 30 years later, watching Mr. Rogers with my own kid, I am happily swept back to a beautiful time when and I learned about feelings, making crayons, Yo-Yo Ma, cooperation, friendship, and caring for animals—especially the fish. For his talent, persistence, patience, humility, I am grateful to have experienced it all first hand, while he was still with us.

Pam Costain, president and CEO of Achieve Mpls and guest speaker at June’s Breakfast of Champions, spoke to us with conviction and candor and posed the question “Who influences us? Who mentors us? Who are we drawn to as leaders to learn from?”

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Forever young

By Adam Yust
Follow me on Twitter: @mplstp

Have you ever felt like the youngest person in the room? Growing up in a civically-engaged family, I constantly found myself the youngest person at neighborhood meetings. 

In 2000, at age 13, I went on the record at a Saint Paul community meeting to oppose a project that would have destroyed aspects of my neighborhood. A bus-way from downtown Saint Paul to Mall of America was proposed to travel down the center of West 7th Street. This transit project would have cut service levels, divided the neighborhood in half, and taken away boulevard trees. Because of my young age, people at the meeting asked me, "Why are you here?" I answered, "I'm here because I care."

Fast forward to 2014.

I currently sit on the board of my Saint Paul neighborhood district council. This board doubles as a nonprofit and a community development corporation. Saint Paul is lucky to have a local form of governance like the Neighborhood District Council System. It is relatively easy to become civically engaged in your community by participating in your neighborhood district council.     

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