Wednesday, November 12, 2008

IS Conference Wrap Up: Using our voice effectively

I appreciated the opportunity voice my opinions and perspectives of the nonprofit sector during each of the IS conference sessions, however as I reflect back on these voice opportunities I am questioning if I utilized my voice in the most effective matter.

Several of the sessions I attended had so many people raising their hands that not everyone could ask their questions which caused my anxiety level to rise to the point that when the session was over I immediately went up to the speaker and blurted out what I wanted to say. This provided for some awkwardness between the speaker and I because of the intensity of the passion in which I speak about sector issues. As I discussed this passion and intensity with other next gen conference attendees, some of us wondered if the seasoned leaders were ready for what we had to say.

I know I don't have to comment on every session but I'm so passionate I'm struggling with when to speak and when I need to just shut up and listen. I know I am not alone in this, often next geners have this passion that makes us really good at what we do but at times we are difficult to work with because we don't know when to back down.

A good example of this is at one of the sessions the president of National Council de La Raza was on a panel with a particularly enthusiastic millennial Maya Enista, CEO of and said wouldn't you like a millennial like Maya work for you -- she'll certainly keep you on your toes. Yes we do keep our colleagues and bosses on their toes but the question is -- how can next geners best utilize our voice in an effective manner for change in the sector while still showing respect and appreciation for the elders that have gone before us?

During one of the next gen sessions Carolyn McAndrews of the Building Movement Project had something important to say but she was unable to be heard because the session got so wrapped up in the passionate pleas of millennial and gen xers frustrations of working with one another. Carolyn told me afterwords she wanted to say (parapharasing) that we are never going to solve the next gen issues if we continue to rant and rave about our own individual issues with one another. We must come together to address next gen issues at the sector level.

Then at a later session Trish Tchume, also of the Building Movement Project said, as next geners we often get too wrapped up in explaining next gen issues and we need to take a different approach. Let's come together as next geners and take a stance about issues that are important to the entire sector. And I'll add -- present our stance on these issues in a language and manner that seasoned leaders and the general public will understand.

I really like this solution of next geners taking a stance on sector-wide issues. I truly believe organizations like the Independent Sector's Ngen program, NP2020, YNPN, EPIP, FLIP, Council on Foundations Generational Leadership Program and other national organizations that serve the next generation should start and advocacy arm and take a stance, write opeds, present on a panels about the next generations stances on: the financial crisis, organizational and funder accountability, racial diversity, general operating support, promoting nonprofit careers, the image of nonprofits and much more.

If we do this, our cohesive next gen voices will be heard and better received than just our individual voice advocating for something in our organization. And as a result, we will improve our individual next gen issues!

Shall we start? I'd like to take a collective stance on the financial crisis, what would you like to take a stand on?

1 comment:

Tera said...

Thank you for putting this into a post. We do need to take a stance and move past the griping. I know I for one am sick of hearing about how much Gen Xers or Boomers can't work with us. We have to take a more professional look at things, and all though we may hate it we have to prove our selves.

I like the collective stance on the financial crisis, maybe we can each write a blog about it, or do it like a wiki, you start I add on my blog, etc.