The Vitals: Name, Current City, Age
Fred Onyancha, Apple Valley, 33
Where do you work and what’s your position?
I am an IT Analyst at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, and I’ve been there for seven years.
Seven years with one organization is rare–what has made you stick around Fairview for so long?
Fairview has a great vision, mission and values all centered on providing the best patient care. My passion lies in helping others and, while I’m not a medical or direct care professional, my work still affects a patient’s inevitable outcomes. I work with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals on using technology to help them do their work more effectively and efficiently. I earned my MBA from Hamline University almost two years ago, and that’s helping me learn and grow into other roles at work.
What brought you to Minnesota and the nonprofit world?
I came to America for school–to expose myself to different ideas and cultures while growing and expanding my life experiences. I grew up in Kenya and my nonprofit exposure there was with the tons of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that built wells, established orphanages, built refugee camps and started schools. While they all did noble work, it seemed that they would wind up creating a system of dependence with locals becoming more reliant on the organizations than being self-sufficient. I’ve found that the members of YNPN and the organizations they work with are more effective than the NGOs I knew, with the focus being on sustainability–what the clients and the communities really need to move beyond the current need.
But why Minnesota, of all places, from Kenya?
I didn’t know anything about winter when I accepted a partial scholarship to Bemidji State. I simply applied to a handful of good schools all across the map. I only lasted a few months up north before moving to the Cities to finish my computer science degree at Metropolitan State. Looking back, the Minnesota choice has been a great one for school, standard of living and career. But the winters are still tough.
Why did you get involved with YNPN and what’s the experience been like?
I joined in late 2009 after colleagues at the Fairview Foundation recommended the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits (MCN) and YNPN to expand my networking opportunities. YNPN has opened my eyes to all kinds of other organizations, activities and networks in the Twin Cities compared to the tech industry groups I had known about. I have met a lot of great people at YNPN happy hours and other events and have also been introduced to organizations such as Students Today Leaders Forever, AEON Connect, Citizens League, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way and more. I now volunteer more of my time and resources thanks to YNPN.
What’s one tangible tip you’ve gained from your membership with YNPN?
Hearing from Lars Leafblad at the May 2011 YNPN event has caused me to be more prepared, stay connected and stay curious before the next steps in careers, relationships and other life challenges get here.
So what’s next with your YNPN involvement?
YNPN seems too concentrated in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In general, I think nonprofit voices are not loud enough in advocacy and lobbying. I want my next step to be about educating my neighbors, students and legislators on what I like about YNPN and what nonprofits do for our communities.