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Life on leave: Lessons learned as a new parent

tummytime.jpgTwenty-sixteen has been an incredible year for the Winegar household. In April, my husband and I celebrated a major milestone: We became parents. Our son, Garrett, is pretty awesome (#MomBrag) and he's definitely schooled us when it comes to parenting. There is undoubtedly a steep learning curve as any new parent will tell you, but while on maternity leave, I found there were four lessons I could aptly apply to my professional life, too.

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Time to leave your comfort zone: Change requires uncomfortable conversations

hands.jpgWhat was the last obstacle you faced, and how did you conquer it?

We overcome challenges every day and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Any time we are faced with a situation in which we don’t know the answer, it is often helpful to seek knowledge and resources from others.

I consider myself a resourceful person who does exactly that. When I don’t know a fact, my first response is “Oh, I’ll Google it.” If I don’t know how to complete a technical task, I watch tutorials on YouTube. If I can’t pinpoint the right word, I research synonyms at thesaurus.com.

And admittedly, when someone asks a seemingly easy question, my first thought is: “Have you looked it up?” In other words, I wonder if this person has tried to figure out the answer on their own prior to asking me. In fact, I even grow a bit impatient and annoyed if they haven’t.

But what happens when a solution cannot be readily met? What happens when the problem is bigger and more complex than a Google search or YouTube tutorial video? What happens when the problem is deeply rooted in a culture of privilege, hurt, or hate?

What then?

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YNPN Twin Cities Statement on Philando Castile

YNPN Twin Cities mourns the death of Philando Castile and stands in solidarity with Diamond Reynolds, their family, friends and our community. We mourn Alton Sterling. We mourn Delrawn Small. We mourn Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith and Michael Krol - five Dallas police officers. We mourn for those whose lives were cut short because of racism. Our inability to name everyone impacted by the magnitude of hate is horrifying.

The events of the past few weeks have been dark and traumatizing for many in our communities and specifically people of color. We’re afraid. We’re afraid for our friends, for our families, and for our own lives. We’re heartbroken, afraid, angry, and outraged. People have felt a wide spectrum of emotions, demanding justice and wanting to do better for our community. We encourage you to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like. This includes self-care for people of color experiencing psychological trauma.

YNPN Twin Cities is committed to valuing inclusion, creating access, and honoring diversity. Our vision is a world where young nonprofit professionals connect through purpose, challenge to change, and lead together. Our values center on respect and inclusiveness, collaboration, and responding to the evolving needs of our community. As a community-first, community-led organization, we vow to actively support and promote leaders who are passionate about dismantling systemic racism.

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Member Spotlight | Mallory Mitchell

mallorymitchell.jpgYNPN Twin Cities is full of incredible people doing incredible things. As a member, you have the opportunity to network and know people you may never otherwise had the chance to connect with. Our Member Spotlight series gives center stage to one of our own and the rest of us a chance to congratulate ourselves on joining a group with such talent. As always, if you have someone you’d like to nominate, let us know!

This month’s spotlight shines on Mallory Mitchell, development and events manager at the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Their mission is to create a world where every girl has the chance to live her dream and reach her full potential. They provide grants to girls ages 5 through high school graduation to realize a dream, encourage and support programs with girls’ organizations, and form strategic partnerships with corporations to meet these goals.  

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An introvert’s game plan for a purposeful conference experience

introvert.jpgAs a self-described introvert, I’ve looked forward to conferences with great anticipation and a little bit of dread. Ranging from packed all-day affairs to week-long marathons, nonprofit conferences are a great way to learn and share dialogue with a group of people from diverse backgrounds and strengths who are passionate about the sector and their communities.

From my time as an AmeriCorps VISTA (yay PSO!) beginning my nonprofit career to positions with more leadership potential, I have attended a wide variety of conferences. When I register, I’m super excited to look at sessions, speakers, and hear which of my colleagues will be attending. But just a few days out, I inevitably think, “Gosh, I know there’s going to be so much to learn and so many people to talk to, but how am I ever going to be ‘on’ for this long?”

At the beginning of my career, I decided to attend conferences with a “play it by ear” attitude, and often left them at the end of the day with introverts’ guilt of feeling left out or that I wasted some really good opportunities to learn and make connections with new colleagues, mentors, potential future employers, and all around super cool people.

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Sustaining the future

25_WT_EU_CAMPAIGN_BEST_OF_web_900px.jpg“Foundations are really nothing without nonprofits," said John Fetzer from the Northwest Area Foundation at Pollen’s Sustain-A-What event. It was a good line to open with when speaking to a room full of nonprofit practitioners because who doesn’t want to feel like they matter? It definitely got tweeted out on the #sustainawhat hashtag, and set the tone for the rest of the talk – we were not gathered to be yelled at about earned income strategies or that we needed to act “more like a business.”

Because let’s face it, when people talk about nonprofit sustainability, that’s often what they are referring to – how are you going to make money that’s not a grant or donation? What is your clever strategy for monetizing your content or the populations you serve? How are you going to work in ways that make business people and lawyers feel comfortable about it? 

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What are you waiting for?

main.jpgI quit my job today.

It wasn’t a bad job. It didn’t have a horrible boss or nightmare coworkers. In fact, I should have been loving it. I had my own desk with a window, flexible hours and a salary with benefits. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a job in my field guaranteed the day I walked across the stage and was handed my diploma. It was the epitome of a successful college career. What more could I ask for? 

But, after classes ceased and the mundane work days all too rapidly began to blend into a depressing spiral with an unforseeable end, I panicked. What had I done? How did I get to this point? Was this going to be my life for the next 20 years?

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Confessions of a bullet journal junkie

main.jpgHello, my name is Erica, and I have a Type A personality. To say that I can be obsessive is an understatement. It’s why I always volunteer as note-taker in meetings. It’s why I had memorized every lyric of Hamilton a week after buying the soundtrack. It’s why I frequently dive into new creative hobbies…most of which only last for about a week of intense investment. But one obsession that has stuck with me has been a desire to put my life down on paper. 

Like many adolescent girls my journaling began with a penchant for the dramatic. The middle school diary was a place for dissecting crucial issues like where to sit during lunch, what crushes had spurned my imaginary advances, and the reasons that Orlando Bloom should be worshiped. I wish I had these manifestos to look back on today, but with my embarrassed page-ripping and need to cleanse any lapses by tossing the previous failed attempt, nothing remains today but memories like smeared jelly roll pen. 

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You, among the universal

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Quotations enthrall me. The pithiness of the statements. The motivational, instructive, and validating natures of the strings of words. The sense that the somebody quoted is somehow larger than life, made infinite by their sustaining message that was gloriously earned the hard way. There is a timelessness to this stated wisdom, and we are reminded that our human experience isn’t quite so different from what others before us saw, learned, and shared in the course of their journeys around the sun. 

What endlessly fascinates me is how quotes are, in precisely the same moment, universal (in that they evoke a sense of shared resonance for myriad people across time and space) and unique (they spark something entirely different and specific to each person based on their life experiences and circumstances). Much like a river, I’d wager that no one experiences a quote in exactly the same way.

To test out my theory, I’ll share a couple of quotes about leadership below from which I have drawn inspiration and insight, and you let me know in the comments how you experienced the quote and the particulars of how it resembles your life. Here goes!

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Embarking on social good: Questions to ask and legal structures defined

main2.jpgAt some point during our lives, we may come up with a great idea to improve our society. These ideas often emerge when we identify an unmet need or gap in service. But then what?  Coming up with the idea can seem like the easy part. Figuring out what to do next, how to turn your passion into a reality, can be the daunting part.

Years ago, there was a go-to option for someone who wanted to pursue social good – becoming a 501c3. You had to fill out the 30-page application, pay a fee to the IRS, wait, then wait some more – sometimes upwards of a year — to finally get the go ahead to accept donations for your project.

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