In July, YNPN Twin Cities board chair Nathan Magel will be leaving the Twin Cities to pursue a graduate program in New York City. Jamie Millard, current YNPN-TC vice-chair, was appointed interim board chair to finish out Nathan's 2013 term. Board member Brian Gioielli was elected YNPN-TC’s interim vice chair for the remainder of 2013. Read on, as Nathan reflects on his experience with YNPN Twin Cities.
The first time I heard about YNPN Twin Cities was in November, 2007.
After a couple years of post-college adventure, ennui, and misguided self-education I had submitted myself to service in AmeriCorps VISTA. The thought was to take my fledgling nonprofit career and punt it out of the nest. The first step to getting anywhere is deciding you're no longer willing to stay where you are. "Make it or break it. A few years of service should test my mettle."
A fellow AmeriCorps member, Nick Cross, said he was going to a YNPN speed networking happy hour at The Hexagon. "It's for nonprofit people," he said. I had no idea what speed networking was. My experiences at The Hexagon included loud music, romantic paralysis, noxious strangers, and the steady oblivion-seeking guzzle. I was not looking forward to the evening. But I wanted to be nonprofit people. So I got there early on a cold Thursday evening, threw a ballast of Heggie's pizza in my belly, soothed my jangled nerves with a PBR, and stepped into the room. (See picture) That was 5 1/2 years ago. It is with this same idiot angst anchored in a deep old confidence that, in one week, I will be leaving Minneapolis and YNPN Twin Cities for graduate school in New York City.
I wouldn't say that I'm bad at goodbyes. Mostly because I don't think anyone would say they are "good" at them. But I will say that rarely, if ever, am I satisfied with how they go. This is a hard letter to write.
It would be easier to take myself out of it at this point. It would be appropriate to tell the story of all that YNPN has been, is, and doubtlessly will become. Maybe discuss what makes YNPN-TC great: the mission, the heartfelt intention with a laser eye for impact, the highlight reel of accomplishments, the amazing leaders it attracts and creates, etc. I am also very close to humbly charging you, kind reader, with what I think should happen next. As the outgoing Board Chair, I should probably speak to all of this. But that's not going to happen. Ultimately, simply, personally, I need to just say thanks.
When I punted my career into the wild blue it didn't exactly take wing. It/I fell into YNPN. Despite a family ethos of self-reliance and a history of bouts with back in the shell shyness, I was suddenly a piece of this bouyant, brilliant and passionate network. I wasn't sure what was happening those first few months, at times suspecting I'd been bamboozled, at times suspecting I'd be found out. But I kept showing up to events, volunteering here and there. As time went on I recognized that I was finding was something I had always needed, I was doing something I might become good at, and (wanting to be nonprofit people) I might be able to use all of this to help others. So I applied to join the board. Since then I have continued to explore and develop these themes, stretching myself to grow, listening hard, working on work worth doing, and doing it among people I admire more than anyone.
YNPN Twin Cities has done more than any professional experience of my career in shaping how I understand myself, my value, and my responsibility to the world. Yes, I know that's laying it on thick. But it's true. And while I couldn't be more proud of all we've accomplished as an organization through our vision, strategy, capacity and logistics, it is our network, it is Us, it is You that I most appreciate. Whether you're a partner, a supporter, a member, a stalwart volunteer, or all of the above, Thank You! Thank you for your part in all that YNPN Twin Cities is and does, thank you for continuing to support and engage with YNPN-TC as we ramp up for our biggest year yet in 2014, and thank you deeply and truly for the privilege to serve.
Lastly, for members who may feel a bit like I did on that cold night back at The Hexagon, remember that YNPN Twin Cities is here for you and because of you; to catch you, support you, connect you, and perhaps before you think you're ready, fling you back into the sky. It, you all, have done this time and again for me. And I will never forget it.
Thanks All, and stay in touch.