In 2001, a group of emerging leaders came together to address the absence of resources for young professionals in the nonprofit sector. They recognized that they and their peers were at pivotal points in the careers where opportunities for personal and professional development made all the difference. They craved community and inspiration, but a space to explore these did not exist. These ambitious individuals resolved to carve out this space for themselves, and through grassroots efforts, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Chicago (YNPN Chicago) was born.
The nonprofit landscape has changed tremendously over the last fifteen years. Most organizations now recognize that their future success is dependent on the cultivation and retention of young leaders. Today, there are a myriad of programs dedicated to providing young professionals with leadership development, skill training, mentoring, and the opportunities necessary to be successful stewards of their missions. There are over a hundred nonprofit degree programs in the country, and Chicago is now home to several. Now more than ever, young professionals have their choice of learning opportunities, and YNPN Chicago serves as a premier provider. Our accessible programs and networking events serve over 1,000 professionals each year, and over 6,000 individuals engage with us online through our newsletter, blog, jobs board, and social media.
While we have continued to come together to address the challenges young people face as emerging nonprofit professionals, the strength of this network is in the personal and professional connections that take place between members. We remain committed to providing a space that fosters connections and the training of members to handle the ongoing challenges of working in this critically important community.
Each year, we recognize and celebrate the contributions of young professionals to Chicago’s nonprofit community at our Annual Celebration. We are using this opportunity to kick-off the celebration of our 15th birthday. It will be a special evening that includes networking and meeting talented nonprofit professionals, delicious hors d’oeuvres, complimentary beer and wine, birthday cake, and our annual awards. This is our signature event, and we hope you will celebrate with us on May 4th at 1st Ward Events at Chop Shop. Tickets are available on our website.
We’re excited about reaching this milestone. It took many leaders to get to where we are today, and we honor the time members have spent together to develop this community of young professionals. In recognition of this accomplishment, and the work that our members have done across the sector, we will feature a recurring spotlight over the next few months that highlights moments in both YNPN Chicago history and in the greater nonprofit history of our city and community. Please assist us in celebrating the many years of connections and successes by sending in your photos or memories to be shared out to the YNPN Chicago network.
Here’s to many more years of strengthening Chicago’s nonprofit community!
Carlos A. Trejo & Katie Pieper