The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership 2025 conference was my third attempt at live-tweeting an event. This means I have only sent 95 tweets out into the world (does that disqualify me as a millennial?). I’m often still confused on this particular social media platform and sometimes unsure if I’m doing “The Twitter” right. Thus, one of the big conference highlights for me was when The Theater of Public Policy used one of my tweets in a short sketch during their lunch performance.
My phone, in fact, couldn’t handle all the tweeting and died before the lunch performance. This was really a bummer because, if it had been working, I could have tweeted about The Theater of Public Policy using my tweet, and it would have all been very inception.
This particular tweet was especially important — it captured the two main reasons I was attending the conference:
- I am new to nonprofit work (hailing from land o’ corporations), and
- I want/need to gain knowledge and connections with other organizations that will help me to effectively enact the Weavers Guild of Minnesota mission.
In her keynote, Dr. MayKao Hang of The Amherst H. Wilder Foundationreferred to folks like me as "cross-sector athletes" — meaning people who have switched between for-profit and nonprofit work. Maybe this creates more competition, in general, between organizations and sectors to hire high-quality employees, but, for me, there’s no competition. I am so happy to be working in a place where I see the benefits of our work and impact on individual artists/community members every day. But, as joyous as it is to see our successes and how my various skills and connections benefit the organization, it is also starkly apparent when I lack certain important skills and experiences. As Dr. Hang went onto explain:
The learning curve is high. You have to take responsibility for your own engagement, learning, & development. #nplead2015— Shandi DiCosimo (@sdicosimo) June 24, 2015
This is why opportunities to attend events like the MCN Leadership conference are so important. So, before I go any further, I want to again say THANK YOU to the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota for their financial support to attend Leadership 2025. It was a day full of learning and making connections, and my head is still processing a lot of information from the sessions I attended. But, here are the top three tidbits I took away from the conference.
1. Sometimes, Mission Drift Is Okay
In my previous job, project ‘scope creep’ was a dreaded, and almost inevitable, occurrence. The corollary in the nonprofit world is mission drift, when suddenly you find your most time-consuming programs aren’t actually fulfilling your mission. However, Armando Camacho ofNeighborhood House made the excellent point that we shouldn’t let avoiding “mission drift” prevent “mission growth.” What we perceive as mission drift might actually be our communities directing us toward more relevant and meaningful work that SHOULD be reflected in our mission.
2. Conjunctions Are Important
A recent SCOTUS case reminded us all of the importance of prepositions and sentence structure. The equally important distinction between the conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but’ was highlighted at the conference by Rita Boersma and Andy Zimney, of Youth Frontiers and also improv performers. Using improv activities and examples, they demonstrated that when envisioning our work, how we respond to opportunities and ideas makes a big difference.
“Yes, and…..” opens all the possibilities and ideas to build on each other, whereas “Yes, but....” closes off further idea development and limits our dreams too much.
I know I’ll be using “Yes, and” now, at work and in my personal life. It’s a much happier way of being!
3. Totally Radical
Finally, I loved the advice and powerful call to action from Michele Anderson (of Springboard for the Arts) during her nonprofit leadership award acceptance speech.
The quote speaks for itself:
“We can all strive for small acts of experimentation with radical intention.”
In that light, those 94 tweets are not just evidence of a millennial catching up with the times — rather, they’re the small act of a non profit arts organization with the radical intention to open weaving, spinning, and dyeing support and community to a whole new generation of artists.