Why young nonprofit leaders should attend professional conferences

YNPN Detroit Board member La’Leatha Spillers recently shared her thoughts on profossional development for young nonprofit professionals in May’s Boardsource online newsletter. She wrote…


As a 2011 BoardSource Judith O’Connor Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders recipient and a member of what some describe as the next generation of nonprofit and board leaders, I am amazed at the number of my peers who complain about not having the opportunity to attend professional conferences or their employer’s lack of willingness to send them or allow them work time to attend. While we still have a ways to go before  organization leaders fully see the added benefit in allowing their employees, especially emerging leaders,  work time to attend professional conferences; my question in the meantime is – Why are you waiting for someone else to create an opportunity for you? Create it for yourself.

In 2010 I took the advice of a fellow emerging leader and decided to create a professional development plan for myself. Part of that plan included developing expertise and building strong networks. I began to research opportunities and discovered several conferences but two in particular, were the Young Nonprofit Professionals National conference and the BoardSource Leadership Forum.

Professional conferences allow you to develop leadership skills, gain knowledge on trends in the field and allow you to build your networks all while bringing added value back to your organization. Attending the 2011 BoardSource Leadership Forum allowed me to meet others in the field from all around the world. It also allowed me to meet others who shared my passion for mission-driven work and reenergized me to come back to my organization and do more for our program.

If you are an emerging leader create opportunities for yourself to attend professional conferences; Even if you have to take a vacation day or two it’s worth it and if you’re in a position to send an emerging leader to a conference support their request and do so. (/span>

For more information on BoardSource and the Judith O’Connor Scholarship visit http://www.boardsource.org/blf/competition.htm. 

 Read the rest of May’s Boardsource newseletter here.


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