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


Breakfast of Champions with Damon Runnals
Friday, August 22nd
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis


The Care and Feeding of Your Professional Image
Saturday, August 23rd
Dunn Brothers Coffee Lab, St. Paul



* 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.



Invite the World to Dinner

By Jamie Millard
Follow me on Twitter: @jjmillard 

A few weeks ago, strangers invited me into their home for dinner, and it completely changed how I understand community building.

In the nonprofit sector, we spend a lot of time discussing community building. We discuss everything from how to do it, to best practices, authenticity, intentionality, network-mapping, and lots of other jargon. 

A new experience made me see a special side to how we can approach community building—professionally and personally. I was in Fargo, North Dakota (along with 800 other people to attend TEDxFargo) and I signed up for DinnerTies—a Fargo organization that is committed to connecting travelers with Fargo locals for a dinner in their home. Translation: when visiting Fargo, you can sign up to have strangers invite you into their lives and make you a home-cooked dinner. 

Here’s me and my co-traveler Meghan Murphy eating a delicious dinner with our hosts, initially complete strangers, but now friends, Hannah & Evan Balko:

On the drive back home to Minneapolis, and completely inspired by Fargo’s hospitality, a few thoughts came to mind about how I’d like to change my own community building practices: 

  • The dinner party. I’m going to start challenging myself to invite friends, colleagues, and acquaintances from across different networks to dinner. Yes, this is the main theory and foundation behind the dinner party, but why don’t we weave this traditionally pure social experience into how we do our work? What if your organization gave you a stipend to host a bi-monthly dinner party for partners, community members, volunteers, etc.? That $50 investment could really start to build an engaged and connected community.  
  • Food. There is power in breaking bread together. I’d like to challenge myself to see what it would look like to plot out each of my daily meals to make sure I’m being intentional and thoughtful about whom I’m eating with. This isn’t anything revolutionary, but even though I read “Never Eat Alone” six years ago, it’s still something that could use regular mindfulness.
  • The importance of home. What would it look like for us to be more personal? Would we have meetings in our home? On our backyard patios? Sure, we probably do a good enough job inviting friends over, but what about better blurring those professional and personal lines? My first worry is that if I invited a professional acquaintance over for a meeting in my living room or on my patio, they might get the wrong idea. If that’s not okay, something seems broken. How do we make that more okay? 

The next time your organization discusses how to better do “community building,” how can you take inspiration from the traditional dinner party and start thinking beyond social media, webinars, events, town hall meetings, coffee dates, networking meetings, and all the other professional-focused engagement tactics that have us all bored to death?

Thank you Fargo and DinnerTies for reminding me of the importance personalness should play in our professional work.

Okay, so who wants to come over for dinner?

Photo Credit


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.

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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.

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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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