Saturday, February 20, 2010

Independent Sector's Annual Conference & NGen Fellowship Opportunity

I am excited to announce I will be serving on the Advisory Committee for the NGen portion of Independent Sector's annual conference October 20-22nd in Atlanta, GA. We are planning many exciting things for this year's next gen participants!

Also, below is information about how to apply to be an NGen Fellow.

From the Independent Sector:
We are pleased to announce the second year of the American Express NGen Fellows Program, which builds the capacity of 12 under-40 professionals from IS member organizations to shape the future of the nonprofit community. The IS website provides details about the fellows program, including how to apply. Completed applications are due March 29.

NGen fellows will enjoy a series of exceptional opportunities over the course of nine months, including collaborating with other under-40 leaders, interacting with established mentors, and contributing to IS’s work on nonprofit impact and leadership. Independent Sector will host the 12 fellows at our D.C. offices for a kick-off event in late August, and they will receive complementary registration and lodging to take part in the IS Annual Conference in Atlanta, October 20-22. These experiences will culminate in a six-month group project that advances their leadership skills and contributes to the ability of emerging leaders to collaborate on sector-wide issues.

The American Express NGen Fellows Program is just one part of IS’s NGen initiative, which is designed to deepen the nonprofit talent pool by developing the leadership opportunities and professional networks of emerging leaders. We have already begun planning for this year’s NGen program at the IS Annual Conference in Atlanta; mark your calendars now for targeted NGen events open to all under-40 leaders October 19-20.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day! A snapshot into my life

I rarely write personal posts about my life but I think its fitting on Valentines day to give a snap shot of the other side of my life--my personal life.

I've been married for 8 years to a wonderful man. My marriage is not your average marriage. I see my husband 3 days of the week and for the majority of our marriage, he has worked in another city or state then where we live.

I must have a lot of flexibility in my personal life and that is probably why I seek structure in my work life. My husband gets his schedule a week before the new month starts and I never know in advance which three days of the week he'll have off. He works almost every holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July etc). I try to be as flexible as I can and spent at least one full day a week at home with him, but that is challenging sometimes due to being a student and the fact I have classes many nights a week. I would love to see my husband all the time, sleep in the same bed with him every night of the week, but that is just not possible. I made this choice and I have no regrets. I love my husband deeply. He is caring, patient, and ALWAYS meets me where I'm at.

My husband was in the military when we first met. We started dating while I was going to college in Missouri and he was stationed in San Diego. When I transferred to San Diego State University, he was subsequently transferred to Chicago. After we got married I moved to Chicago and we had two wonderful years living in the same town. Then when he got out of the military we moved back to the Bay Area. My husband started flight school and got a job instructing in the central valley of California. He would work/live in the central valley during the week and come home on the weekends. Then he got a job flying for an airline in Houston, TX and I got accepted into the PhD program in San Diego. He's been commuting from San Diego to Houston ever since. In case you are wondering, even if I lived in Houston I would only see him 3 days a week because he flies all over the country and stays in a different city every night.

Our relationship has been through 2 six month deployments when he was in the military and countless days apart, it hasn't been easy--we miss each other a lot--but one thing remains true, we trust each other, we love each other, and God is our anchor. The statement "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is certainly true in our relationship. I'm thankful this Valentines day because my husband is coming home and that is the best Valentines Day gift I could ever receive!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Confessions of a Third-Year Doctoral Student: Interpersonal Skils Matter the Most

An interesting exchange happened on the ARNOVA listserv a couple of days ago. A heated discussion started after someone asked what was appropriate to post on the listserv. Then there were a series pleas and replies where all sorts of emotions run rampant. This was not the first time this has happened on the listserv. This actually happens quite frequently.

I read each reply and started to wonder, do I really want to pursue a career in a place where these types of heated discussions are the norm rather than the exception? Where at certain times egos and credentials are more important that compassion and context? Then I thought to myself, who am I kidding? My ego is what got me here in the first place. I decided to pursue my PhD so I could stand on my soap box and share my expertise with the nonprofit world! So my impassioned pleas about nonprofit operations, technology, education etc would be heard!


After I enrolled in the program I quickly learned its not about the soap box, its about the collective knowledge that's in the room. Its about finding that balance where the information gets across but differing opinions are being heard. This is where teaching becomes an art, an interpersonal dance of when to speak up and when to shut up. Before I began this PhD journey, would react if things didn't go my way or if I disagreed with my boss or co-worker. Now I recognize its not just about the work, its about the interpersonal skills behind it. I now make the effort to pause and reflect in the moment and wonder, should I react in the moment? What will be the consequences? I can still get my point across and be heard without getting offended or upset in the process.

If you're reading this and interpersonal skills come easily to you, that's awesome! But for those of us that are task oriented or methodical, stopping to reflect is challenging! I've learned that developing interpersonal skills is a life long journey for me and I'm still an infant in that regard. Someone recently asked me what I was planning to do after my PhD and I responded by saying "Try to pursue a tenure track nonprofit faculty position or try to work for a nonprofit infrastructure organization like the Independent Sector." This person was surprised by my response and said, "I don't know why you are pursuing your PhD if you are not going to go into academia." I responded and explained that whatever decision I make I know one thing is for sure, that my PhD has been one of the best decisions of my life. I've developed my teaching skills (off the soap box), I've learned how to do methodologically sound research, and most of all I've developed my interpersonal skills.

So whether I end up in academia, the nonprofit sector, or both, my PhD has given me the interpersonal skills to handle anything and anyone as blazing as they might be.