A vital component of retaining talent is creating opportunities for young professionals to meaningfully engage with their community. We want opportunities to build our leadership skills, tap into our potential, and network with other enthusiastic young adults. Recently, I enjoyed such an experience at the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) National Conference, held in Grand Rapids, MI. YNPN boasts 47 chapters and over 20,000 members from around the country – many of whom were represented at the conference in Grand Rapids. Members flew (or drove) in from Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and New York City, among others. In addition to numerous networking opportunities, the conference covered a wide range of topics. Rosetta Thurman gave an inspirational talk on how to be successful in your non-profit career and Detroit’s stand out, Tammie Jones, led a discussion on how to use data to further your organization’s mission. The discussions were sincere and thought provoking and all the talks provided suggestions for immediate actions we can take to further our careers and exercise our leadership skills.
Michigan’s young adults are responsible for positive palpable changes in our communities. As the host, YNPN Grand Rapids showcased the role non-profits and young adults have played in revitalizing the city. Evidenced by the impressive representation of Michiganders at this national conference, the talent, commitment and drive to effect positive change is alive and well. Kelly Cleaver, 26, of Gleaners Food Bank, took the initiative to start the YNPN Detroit chapter; one year later, it already boasts more than 100 members! Our generation recognizes the importance of making Michigan a desirable place to live and work- too many of our classmates have left the state. We have the energy, ability and desire to tackle the brain drain.
I’m looking forward to when YNPN Detroit will host the national conference, so we can showcase Detroit’s impressive array of talent, leaders and organizations. As stakeholders in the future (and present), invite us into the space where critical decisions are made. We are the emerging leaders and thinkers – get us before we decide to leave.