Community Development Funds: BVU Nonprofit Leadership Summit

Several YNPN Cleveland members had the opportunity to attend BVU's Nonprofit Leadership Summit through our Community Professional Development Funds.

This year, we're so excited to offer our members the chance to attend engaging and career-strengthening professional development events in the area, free of charge! YNPN Cleveland will pay the admission price of attending select professional development programming for accepted applicants. Cleveland has many incredible opportunities for young professionals to engage with their peers as well as with seasoned veterans in a variety of fields, and we're excited to offer this opportunity to our members. 

Five of our members attended the BVU Nonprofit Leadership Summit on October 29, and a few individuals shared their thoughts on the experience with us!

"The BVU Summit was an eye-opening learning opportunity. The day was filled with speakers from nonprofits from all over Northeast Ohio. One of the most poignant messages I learned was when Todd Morgano of Falls Communication spoke. He spoke of storytelling, which as a non-profit professional is one of the biggest things we do for our missions with potential partners and funders. While we always try to have a point to every story we share but I’ve never really thought of the story itself. I never thought to tell my story as a journey which is how we grow and learn. 

Which brought me full circle of why I wanted to attend the summit and I asked myself what are we trying to accomplish as YPNPs?  Many times we feel like we are constantly behind, always rushing our professional life, racing to network more, climb the corporate ladder quicker, hit that pay bump faster. We never really stop to think and enjoy the journey it takes to get there.   The Summit not only provided me an opportunity to slow down and evaluate my career, but it also gave me the chance to enhance some skills I already have as well as ideas on ways plan for those I wish to develop." - Alessandra Crish, Development Manager, American Lung Association in Ohio

"Thanks to YNPN Cleveland’s Community Development Funds I had the opportunity to attend Business Volunteers Unlimited’s Nonprofit Leadership Summit. This was a full day with a packed agenda focusing primarily on governance, finance, communications, technology, and human resources topics for the nonprofit sector. The schedule included several keynotes as well as a wide variety of breakout sessions, allowing attendees to curate their own experiences for the day. I attended several enlightening sessions focusing on nonprofit board diversity, using events to cultivate donors, and creating a culture of learning with nonprofit employees.

For me, the highlight of the day was the breakout session on board diversity with Randell McShepard (Vice President of Public Affairs, RPM and Chair and Co-Founder, Policy Bridge) and Greg Brown (Executive Director, Policy Bridge). There are over 1.5 million tax-exempt nonprofit organizations across the United States that provide valuable and deeply needed services to their communities. However, there is a disconnect between the demographics of nonprofit trustees and the demographics of the communities they serve. Nonprofit trustees across the United States are only 14% people of color, while people of color make up 37% of the overall population. Multiple studies have shown a strong correlation between inclusive board practices and mission achievement and fundraising success.

The overarching takeaway from Mr. McShepard and Mr. Brown’s remarks was the importance of making new and diverse members of the board actively engaged in the work of the board. Mr. McShepard shared the analogy: diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and equity is getting to help plan the next party. They emphasized the importance of engaging diverse members as participants rather than recipients of the service the organization provides. According to a report from the Brookings Institution, the United States will be a majority people of color by 2045. As our communities grow more diverse, there will only be more to gain by better representing diverse people in the decision makers of nonprofit organizations.

This topic has been a deep interest of mine for some time, as I recently completed my Master of Public Administration capstone project on nonprofit board diversity at the Levin College at Cleveland State. If you are interested in discussing nonprofit board diversity further, please feel free to contact me at I would love to hear your thoughts." - Jeff Ryder, Foundation & Major Gifts Director, Cleveland Play House


"I enjoyed the BVUNonprofit Leadership Summit! This was my first time attending and I am thankful for the opportunity. There were many dynamic speakers and an array of thought-provoking topics discussed. I learned many things but two specifically stand out. The first is a quote from Kyra Schneider from Ratliff & Taylor: "empathy and optimism are what separates the great leaders from the good ones." Empathy is viewed as a soft skill and is difficult to master. However, it is a powerful connective force that is critical to effective leadership and when combined with optimism is a recipe for excellence. My second takeaway came from a panel discussion on diverse boards. In this session one of the panelists, Greg Brown, said "If you want difference (change), you must seek difference." This was impactful for me because I hope to serve on a nonprofit board one day and hope that it is diverse, inclusive, and equitable. It was encouraging to hear from others who share similar aspirations and are currently sitting on boards seeking to create these changes." - Donovan Young, Graduate Student, Case Western Reserve University 

Alessandra, Jeff & Donovan are members of YNPN Cleveland and applied for our Community Professional Development Funds program. To learn more about the program, or to discover future opportunities to apply, follow YNPN Cleveland on social media or sign up for our email newsletter

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  • Annette Fetter
    published this page in Blog 2019-12-13 10:34:44 -0500