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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Community

The past seven months have truly been a journey, and powerfully transitional. If you have read any of the other posts on this blog, perhaps that goes without saying. Emerging Leaders isn’t any old professional development experience – beyond participating in a program that assists me in developing core competencies and furthering my managerial skills, I exit each session feeling inspired to do and be more.

Each Fellow is so special, driven and inspiring in ways I wouldn’t realize without the skillful facilitation of each gathering. We’re each drawn outside of ourselves to see the bigger picture even as we look inward to explore the value we bring to our respective organizations. The peer coaching, distinguished panels and group discussions strengthen us. The curriculum alone has helped me to cultivate my own professional growth but for me it is in analyzing and sharing our experiences that the real learning happens. Yael, our facilitator, poses the right questions at the right time to foster a space where curiosity is encouraged, and exploration leads to results. 

Over the past few months, my core competencies have evolved for the better, and I feel my organization has already begun to benefit. Furthermore, I better understand myself and my role as part of a broader community committed to social justice. 

We rarely have the opportunity to liaise with others outside of our respective fields, and there is so much learning and skills sharing that we can clearly benefit from. My only regret (aside from the fact that as with all good things, this program must come to an end) is that I didn’t experience such a program earlier in my budding career. Little did I realize on day one of Emerging Leaders that these strangers around the table were to become my strongest community of peers; sounding blocks for ideas, champions of my professional development.

I was struck by a statement from a fellow Fellow (couldn’t resist) who remarked that it was exciting to feel this much professional growth within such a rapid timeline. Without a doubt I can attribute much of my continued evolution to Emerging Leaders – not only due to the valuable content of our curriculum, but even more so due to the relationships fostered around the table between Yael and each Fellow. It’s a community I’ve come to count on and am thrilled to be part of.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Filling a Need in Non-Profit

Last night Marie-Jouvelle Aubourg and I represented the Emerging Leaders Program at the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network (YNPN) Professional Development Fair.  That is a mouthful, but what it basically means is that we spoke with a variety of people working in and around the non-profit world (or hoping to) about Emerging Leaders and why they should apply.  We met a range of people from government agencies to community micro-lending orgs; recent grads to not so recent grads.  Regardless of where they were coming from, there was a striking commonality among them: many had been in their fields for several years, wanted to find a way to progress professionally, but didn't have access to any programs or internal support to help them do that.

Over the course off the evening, it became really clear that Emerging Leaders, with its emphasis on training early to mid-career non-profit professionals, is filling a huge need in the field.  People just lit up at the idea that they could step away from the crazy crush of their normal day and take some time to learn about leadership and growth.  They all bemoaned feeling stuck at their desks or in the field, and found it hard to even think about next steps, let alone talk to anyone or explore other opportunities.  The positive response to Emerging Leaders really demonstrated how much people are hungering for a program like this.

Talking about Emerging Leaders also reinforced to me the value I have been getting out of it, and was a great reminder to squeeze as much out of these last two months as possible.  I certainly hope some of those we spoke to will apply, and will in turn benefit the program with their ideas and different perspectives.