Speaking Up and Speaking out with two Cleveland pros

The YNPN Cleveland October event was all about advocacy - tackling the question of how we, as young professionals, are constantly working on the balance between how to speak out on what we believe in while considering the views of of organization, donors and even co-workers. 

The YNPN Cleveland October event was all about advocacy - tackling the question of how we, as young professionals, are constantly working on the balance between how to speak out on what we believe in while considering the views of of organization, donors and even co-workers. 

Attendees heard from Stephanie Jansky, Director of Programming for the City Club, and longtime Cleveland resident and nonprofit professional Paula Kampf, on how to navigate advocating for your personal beliefs while working for a non-profit. 



Stephanie has been in her role with the City Club since 2014. Prior to joining the City Club, she spent 12 years working in public relations and development for healthcare-related nonprofit organizations including Cleveland Clinic, MedWish International, the American Liver Foundation - Ohio Chapter, and Lifebanc, Northeast Ohio's organ and tissue recovery agency. She also serves as a part-time faculty member at the School of Communication at Cleveland State University and in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.

Paula Kampf, a longtime resident of the Near West Side of Cleveland, has been affiliated and engaged with a wide range of nonprofit organizations in Northeast Ohio and across the country for the past 20+ years. She currently works fulltime for a private, nonprofit institution providing funding to non-profits working in the fields of the environment, education, health and human services, the arts and economic development in the Cleveland area. On a part-time basis, she coordinates mutual, sustainable relationships with eight local nonprofits and the yearlong volunteer program that brings young adults to Cleveland each year to work and live in solidarity with the poor.

What did these wonderful women teach us?

  • Working in the non-profit sector can sometimes cause a blur between your personal and professional life. 
    • As with any job, the public can at times not be able to differentiate you as an employee from your employer. Both Stephanie and Paula have struggled with this truth and have taken different approaches to the issue. Stephanie has chosen to no longer share personal or political views or beliefs on social media, whereas Paula has decided to put a disclaimer on her profiles - stating that "opinions here are both strong & my own" on her Facebook profile. 
    • There is a cost to Stephanie's method, though. She did admit that, to an extent, you are giving up a piece of yourself by not sharing the things that make you... you. However, for Stephanie, that makes her life at work easier because she doesn't feel as though she's blurring any lines or combating those who disagree during her life at work. 

      “In being involved, your life becomes sort of public. Everything that you do or post can be brought up or criticized… people don’t necessarily separate you from your job.” -Stephanie Jansky

  • The only way to make a change of any sort is to speak out. 
    • Both women agreed that silence only makes you complicit, but agreed that as a young professional it can be hard to find your voice if it may be one of opposition. As young professionals, we may be able to more easily identify some issues or areas of opportunity for our organization. Just as you would advocate for organizations or causes you believe in, you need to find a way to advocate for yourself and for internal issues that may occur within your organization.

  • The best advocacy comes from being authentic. 
    • Paula and Stephanie have both had a long and winding career in the non-profit sector, covering various causes and representing different organizations along the way. Both agree, though, that they are always proud of all of the work they do. The best forms of advocacy - whether it be advocating for yourself or a cause you believe in, comes from being true and authentic to who you are.
    • Paula advices all young pros to be aware of what they need and what they are looking for from their position. If your beliefs or values are getting compromised, there does come and a time when it may be the best choice to step back and explore a new opportunity. While this may not be the easiest path, it is one that could lead to more self discovery and a better balance between your work and personal lives. 

      “I have lived my entire life in this weird tension for advocating for what is right and just and balancing the needs of the powers that be - whom I depend on for my housing, life and income.” - Paula Kampf

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