ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation's Annual Nonprofit Conference on Sustainability Strategies

By Tenneille Choi, Board Member, YNPN Phoenix

When I heard the Lodestar Center was hosting an annual conference, I was so on board! The ASU Lodestar Center of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation is a powerhouse of social impact in Arizona and internationally. It advances leaders and philanthropists through research, education, outreach, and the Annual Nonprofit Conference on Sustainability Strategies.

YNPN Phoenix was invited to not only host a table in the exhibitor hall but to also be represented by YNPN Phoenix board member and communications committee chair Julie Euber on the lunchtime panel How We Took Charge of Our Future: An Inspiring Conversation with the Region's Top Leadership Programs.

For the first-time, the 26th year of the Conference featured an around-the-world fair of leading nonprofits like Be A Leader Foundation, Public Allies, Feeding Matters, and so many more (Check out the list here). Among attendees were participants from two of Lodestar’s key programs, Public Allies and the American Express Leadership Academy. Workshops included compelling topics such as data, fundraising, and strategic planning. The Conference also presented a dynamic duo of speakers during the welcome.

Dr. Robert Ashcraft, Executive Director of the Lodestar Center, kicked off with opening remarks about leadership. Trust is essential for any good leader, but even the best intentions can go awry (as Dr. Ashcraft beautifully illustrated with this video). While not everyone is a “born leader,” everyone can learn how to lead, and it’s a skill we develop over time. Most importantly, you can be a leader from any position, not just senior roles.

After warming up the audience with some inspiration, Dr. Ashcraft moderated a thoughtful conversation with Gloria Feldt, the co-founder and president of Take The Lead, an initiative to propel women to leadership positions across all sectors. It was surprising to learn that while women make up the majority of the nonprofit field, the wage gap is still the same as for-profit industries. When asked what should happen next after the #MeToo movement, Feldt recognized that #MeToo created an amazing opportunity for women to find their voices but stressed that men needed to be included in the conversation. “You can’t sue everybody.” Being adversarial won’t lead to progress, and it’s important to understand that men and women have been socialized to speak differently. Put frankly, “groups with less power have to be able to speak the language of groups with more power.” It takes communication and cooperation. Finally, Feldt encouraged the room to be fearless, to not be afraid of getting fired when you know you’re doing the right thing. That’s how you truly “take the lead.”


Participating with YNPN Phoenix means you are plugging into an already large and ever-growing network of young professionals in Metro Phoenix. Become a member today and join the movement.

Beers and Ballots: YNPN Phoenix Starts a Non-Partisan Discussion about Propositions on the AZ Ballot

By Julie Euber, Board Member and Communications Committee Chair, YNPN Phoenix

Ballot propositions can be confusing. What are we REALLY voting on - are they actually talking around the issue in the description of the proposition? What will a "yes" or "no" even mean for our state? Why do some organizations/individuals support and why are others against? YNPN Phoenix tackled these big questions at Beers & Ballots on October 23 at SunUp Brewing Company with the help of Penny Alle Taylor, Chief Public Policy Officer at Valley of the Sun United Way. The audience played an active role in the conversation asking hard questions and providing further information based on their own expertise.

If you missed the event and are still looking for information and advice, check out our live twitter coverage of the event under the hashtag #BeersandBallots as well as YNPN Phoenix's top 10 voting tips and resources (Click here for a downloadable pdf of the graphic below with live links):

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU created detailed non-partisan guides for each state-wide ballot proposition, and Charlie Levy, owner of Crescent Ballroom, The Van Buren, and Valley Bar worked with a few political junkies to put together an easy, straightforward non-partisan voter guide on state-wide ballot props as well. With all the great resources available this year, voters can fill out their ballots with more confidence than ever before.



A special thank you to Penny Alle Taylor for providing a balanced overview of AZ propositions. Her efforts to provide a non-partisan review of not only the propositions but the history behind them were thoughtful and thorough.
Ready for the next YNPN Phoenix event? Join us November 13 for State of the Sector, our annual in-depth look at the state of the nonprofit sector in Arizona. This year, State of the Sector will include two keynotes: Part 1 will be Dr. Robert Ashcraft, Executive Director of the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation and Part 2 will be Jaclyn Pederson, MHI, YNPN Phoenix Board President.
Additionally, you’ll hear from organizations foundational to the growing social sector in Phoenix, including:

A National Movement: One Member’s Cross-Country Exploration of the YNPN Network

By Drew Adams, Board Member and Fund Development Committee Chair, YNPN Phoenix

Drew Adams (Second from the left) attends one of our monthly coffee chats.

When I discovered YNPN Phoenix, I’d been trying to figure out my relationship with the social sector. The first event I attended was an early morning coffee chat at Sip Coffee & Beer Garage (every second Wednesday and free for all attendees – come check it out!).

I didn’t know anyone, but it was important I try and connect with these strangers who’d committed their careers to making a difference. They would teach me lessons I needed to learn while exposing me to the needs of the Greater Phoenix area.

Fast forward one year. I’m now a proud member of YNPN Phoenix, chair of the fund development committee, and an incoming board director. I’ve met some of nicest, friendliest, silliest people since moving to the Valley in 2013. Our chapter’s drive for social change is inspiring, which got me thinking: what about other YNPN chapters? What were they doing in their communities? How were they the same or different?

Sometimes our involvement with individual chapters isolates us. It’s easy to feel so encompassed by the work we do in our local communities that we forget we’re part of a national network of like-minded peers. With that in mind, I decided to reach out to chapter leaders during some recent traveling and learn more about what YNPN is accomplishing across the U.S.

YNPN Milwaukee

Despite leading a full-day staff retreat, YNPN Greater Milwaukee President Holly McCoy was still able to carve out time to sit down with me at the offices of Literacy Services of Wisconsin. I love collecting ideas from other YNPNers, and Holly was happy to share a thorough and informative overview of the chapter’s 2017 impact.

Greater Milwaukee emphasizes the mission of YNPN to provide much-needed professional development opportunities while supporting the professional pipeline for nonprofit leaders. It works closely with chapters in Madison, Chicago, and the newly established Sheboygan to ensure the Midwest is prepared to advocate on behalf of the region’s social needs.

This collaborative focus has led to some innovative programming, including a trivia night that fosters friendly competition and connections between area nonprofit teams and member-exclusive events with local CEOs and other community influencers. Funding support has allowed the chapter to offer not one but two leadership awards as well as the Ilona Nicole Memorial Graduate Scholarship, which reflects an intentional investment into its membership.

YNPN Greater Milwaukee is all-in on the network’s potential to truly elevate nonprofit professionals with the talent, determination, and passion for social change.

(Side note: Literacy Services of Wisconsin is a finalist for the BizTimes Media 2018 Nonprofit Excellence Awards’ Small Nonprofit Organization of the Year. Congratulations Holly, and we’re rooting for your team on November 2!)

YNPN Portland

I met with YNPN Portland Chair Katie Frederick and Secretary Erin Carver at The Bye and Bye in Northeast Portland. I’ve spent most of my time west of the Willamette – I have family in Beaverton – so it was nice to explore a different part of town. Katie and Erin were forthcoming about what their chapter’s been accomplishing, and it was a pleasure to sit down and chat more about the Northwest social sector.

The Portland chapter is doing incredible work with equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The incorporation of EDI in strategic planning has recently “gone viral” throughout the nonprofit world, yet it’s crucial to maintain the sincerity of its application. EDI cannot be a trend, but rather the foundational structure for the future of the sector. That’s why EDI is so intrinsically bound to YNPN’s guiding Theory of Change.

YNPN Portland understands that achieving EDI starts by looking inward. They’ve taken great effort to evaluate how their board, as leaders of the chapter, embody and reflect the culture of EDI in ways that matter to both their membership and the communities within which they serve. It’s a purposed approach to understanding that’s admirable, and certainly replicable. I left Stumptown energized.

YNPN National

YNPN National Executive Director Jamie Smith also happens to call Portland home and was gracious enough to take a break from her packed schedule to meet up at Shift Drinks.

I knew my conversation with Jamie would be different from those I’d have with Holly or Katie and Erin. After all, she doesn’t represent one YNPN chapter; she represents 44. I hoped to glean insight into what YNPN, as a national network, could do with its singular voice.

Jamie shared her thoughts on how to pitch YNPN to funders, the importance of EDI to a changing social landscape, and the power of the network to support, inspire, and encourage fellow leaders throughout the country. YNPN is meant to galvanize a new generation of social progressives and is uniquely positioned to direct a sector that’s often balanced, sometimes precariously, between the tried and true and the shiny and new.

When she's having difficult days – and we all do in this line of work – Jamie continues to watch video of YNPN Phoenix board members Jaclyn, Alana, Julie, and Ben lip-synch Gloria Gaynor’s "I Will Survive" at July’s National Conference to remind her why the work of YNPN is so important to its members. We too believe in the mission of activating emerging leaders by connecting them with resources, people, and ideas.

(We’re the two-time reigning lip-synch champs, btw.)

Building a Diverse and Powerful Social Sector

As someone fascinated by questions of sustainability, I always ask about fundraising. How did each chapter approach funders? What was the pitch? How do you sell YNPN?

We’re the only national network dedicated to the growth and career development of young nonprofit professionals. Whether in Phoenix, Milwaukee, or Portland, the excitement for change embodied by our members proves the concept not only works, but is in high demand.

It can be difficult for funders to see the intrinsic value something like YNPN provides, and that’s frustrating. But if the chapters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so far are any indication, we’re well on our way to seeing a dramatic shift in the sector nationwide. I, for one, look forward to it.

Thanks again to Holly McCoy, Katie Frederick, Erin Carver, and Jamie Smith for taking the time to indulge my curiosity and talk shop.

As for my next stop? YNPN Chicago! See you in the Windy City.

Interested in networking with the Phoenix nonprofit sector? Consider becoming a member of YNPN Phoenix! Contact for more information. To contact Drew Adams, please email

YNPN Phoenix represented at Avenir Talent Summit

YNPN Phoenix was invited to represent emerging leaders at Avenir's first Talent Summit.  This gathering of many of Phoenix's top social sector leaders was a great opportunity to network and take the time out of all of our busy schedules to contemplate the leadership needs of our sector.  The reason for the summit? The social sector loses 1/3 of our leaders each year.  In Arizona, that means we are losing 5,168 leaders in Arizona 501c3s...each year! And by 2020, 70% of the workforce will be under 40.  These are important statistics for us to consider.  Who loses out as leadership transitions aren't done well? The constituents that each Greater Phoenix nonprofit serves in this community.  Avenir brought together these stakeholders to have an optimistic and honest conversation about the leadership transition, or as I like to refer to it: the Silver Tsunami, that is currently underway.  I was fortunate enough to share some of my thoughts on behalf of the YNPN Phoenix membership.  We did a Q&A style session, where I shared thoughts and feelings about the talent crisis and the direction that the sector is heading as I've heard it expressed by our board members and others in our membership.  I shared about concerns of bias against "millennials", about culture issues, and about sustainable compensation.  
I also shared YNPN National's 3 priorities: 
Result 1: Emerging leaders are empowered and equipped with the skills and competencies to realize YNPN's vision of stronger communities supported and strengthened by a diverse and powerful social sector. 
Result 2: Staff and leadership in the nonprofits sector represent the diversity of our communities.
Result 3: Careers in the nonprofit sector are individually, organizationally, and economically sustainable.  
Here are some other highlights from our conversations at the summit: 
-A commitment to cultivate and mentor future leaders: "Only 30% of vacancies are filled with internal candidates, yet, external candidates can have up to 80% failure rate their first year" There was a lot of discussion about what mentorship or working collaboratives look like and how we must evolve the way we develop leaders.  Peer Networks, Executive Coaching, and Leadership Development programs all ranked fairly high in their effectiveness as a professional development activity.  
-Culture is everything: how an individual participates in their office culture is a huge piece to their success and happiness in their employment.  Open feedback, honest communication, and authentic leadership is imperative to transition leadership and support the social sector of the future.   
-Talent is in charge: in a world where everything is accessible at all times and knowledge is researched rather than memorized, the traditional models of employment may not be working for all.  Employment needs move from a contractual relationship to a relationship contract.  
-The time is now: I was not the only "young" leader in the room, I was just the one invited to speak on that platform.  At the close of the summit, most of the attendees were hopeful for the future of our sector and I think had more confidence in the next generation of leaders than they did previously.  
But, I've always had hope in our next generation. I know we have emerging leaders who are equipped and ready to lead and just needed to be invited to the table.  Now, we have a seat at the table.  There is a commitment from all that were at the summit to work in partnership with emerging leaders who are ready to learn.  It is our turn to be open to co-creating the future of the nonprofit sector.  I'm excited that we can work towards greater collaboration with our veteran leaders to learn and grow as leaders, because...our sector depends on it.  
Have thoughts on the talent crisis or the direction of the Greater Phoenix Social Sector? We'd love to hear from you! 
(reference: Tiffanie Dillard, 2018 Talent Summit, Avenir consulting)

Phoenix Professionals Network and Discuss the Non-Profit Sector

By Julie Euber, Board Member and Communications Committee Chair, YNPN Phoenix

Professionals Discuss Key Topics in the Non-Profit Sector

On September 25, YNPN Phoenix hosted a Speed Chat Networking Happy Hour at San Tan Brewing Company. Guests chose a table at random, then pulled a set of questions from an envelope and chose one question to discuss. After an 8-minute discussion, everyone switched tables and looked through a new set of questions.

Here are a few takeaways from our September Speed Chat Happy Hour:

You’re not the only one coming from a long day of work, so don’t stress if you’re feeling a little off your “A” game at a networking event.

Nearly everyone walked in the door with the same feeling…what a day. Events, deadlines, meetings and writings were still whirling through the heads of many guests until they started connecting with others allowing them to be more present.

When you’re unsure if you can be your best self at a networking event, keep in mind that you won’t be the only one recovering from a long day. Give yourself a break and know that people will want to meet your authentic self over a “perfect” version of you any day.

You never know who you’ll meet and what you might learn from them.

At one point, a table of speed chat participants introduced themselves and realized that they all worked at for-profit organizations that support the non-profit sector. Some work in architecture and others in tech, but they were all excited to meet other young professionals like themselves who are passionate about the impact of the social sector.

Keep an open mind about who attends networking events and which events might be a good fit for you. Don’t assume you know everyone’s background based on the theme of the event, but instead listen to people’s stories and ask questions. It’s one of the best ways to gain new perspectives.

Feel awkward talking about yourself with strangers? You can still be a great networker.

There’s a myth floating around professional communities that networking is all about talking about yourself and convincing others that you’re the coolest kid on the block. Not only is that a lot of pressure – it can make you behave in ways that are not true to yourself.

Instead, consider networking as an opportunity to build relationships and discuss key topics in your community. Not sure what to talk about? Here are a few of the topics covered in our Speed Chat to give you a few ideas:

  • -Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the non-profit sector (Read YNPN National’s stance on EDI for more food for thought) 
  • -Effective board service
  • -Barriers to effective collaboration and how we can do better
  • -Best ways to work as a team in the workplace
  • -Leadership development for non-profit professionals and how to encourage professional development in the workplace
  • -How to avoid burnout and support work-life balance

Thank you to YNPN Phoenix’s Programs Committee for organizing the event and to our guests who thoughtfully engaged in important conversations and made the program a success! At our next program on October 23, Beers & Ballots, we will have a nonpartisan discussion about the many items on the ballot for AZ's November 6th election and how they could impact the nonprofit sector. You won’t want to miss it!

Interested in networking with the Phoenix nonprofit sector? Consider becoming a member of YNPN Phoenix! Contact for more information.