YNPN: A Network and a Movement by Lauren King

National Photo

As is true for many young professionals, my workday does not end when I leave the office. Instead it continues as I go to meetings for various volunteer commitments. Between volunteering and serving on boards, many of us juggle multiple responsibilities as we try to broaden our impact in the field. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of the purpose as deadlines, meetings and conference calls start to eat away at your free time. However, I recently attended the YNPN National Conference in Minneapolis and gained some much needed perspective.

At the annual three-day conference, I found myself surrounded by nearly 100 leaders representing chapters throughout the nation and could not help but be inspired. This was a group of highly motivated and highly achieving individuals who put in tremendous hours of work in an effort to understand the needs of the nonprofit sector and create opportunities for growth that prepare emerging leaders for success.

So often I read commentary alluding to the fact that our generation has a sense of entitlement and naive notion of what a career entails. Yet the conference and the YNPN network show otherwise. As groups sat together sharing ideas and resources freely, I was moved by the fact that so many people saw an unmet need in the sector (i.e.-professional development opportunities for young professionals), but instead of complaining, they work to improve it. Equally important, this is all done on top of other responsibilities such as working a full time job, being a student, and/or raising a family.

As a national network, YNPN is tackling important issues such as meaningful ways to actualize inclusion policies and effective ways to capture data and use it to inform and enhance our work. These initiatives reinforce the notion, that YNPN is not just a network; its a movement. Chapters across the nation, along with the national team, are focused not only on helping members develop as emerging leaders, but also on shaping the landscape of the nonprofit sector.’

I think YNPN very much understands that we dont have all the answers and indeed lack the valuable experience of more senior leaders in the field. However, I am moved by the fact that thousands of members are taking action. While they work to enhance their own capability in the field, they are simultaneously sharing the skills, knowledge and insight they do possess. All of this results in a powerful, effective and inspiring movement.

Recent news reflects the ongoing need for leadership to help overcome pressing social issues such as race relations, healthcare, and human rights, just to name a few. YNPN obviously cant solve these issues as an organization, but I do believe they can help develop the leaders that will. Overall, if there is one key message I can share from my experience at the conference, its this: Being a part of YNPN is so much more than a professional affiliation or resume booster. Its an opportunity to simultaneously invest in yourself and the nonprofit sector as a whole.

For local resources and events, please check YNPN Chicagos local website ynpnchicago.org. In addition, the following national resources may also be of interest:

Lauren King has served on the YNPN Chicago Executive Board for two years as the Celebration Co-Chair. She has worked as the Research Administrator at Children’s Research Triangle for over six years. Previously she taught Diversity and Community Engagement to graduate students at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where she earned her Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. She earned her Bachelors degree in psychology and criminal justice from Bradley University. Lauren was part of the 2012 Class of the ESC/YNPN Chicago Leadership Institute. She was also the Co-Founder for the Childrens Research Triangle Associate Board and currently sits on the steering committees for the Chicago Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) and the All A-Board Alliance.