Reflections on YNPN National Conference 2018

ynpn map(Pictured above: Map of the United States with YNPN chapters indicated with route from Buffalo to Indianapolis highlighted)

From July 27th to July 30th, four members of YNPN Greater Bflo’s Board of Directors took a road trip to the Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. With 300+ attendees representing chapters from across the United States, there were plenty of opportunities to learn from best practices, share challenges, and seek solutions. Here, our representatives share their reflections on the YNPN National Conference 2018, as well as what being part of a national network means to them.

Aurora Schul Schunk, Board Co-Chair

Being a part of the national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network has been a large part of my growth as a young professional. Typically, when I have faced challenges I have tried to problem-solve on my own, going with the attitude of “no man is an island, but this woman is.”  When I attended the National Conference last year it was the first time I realized that I didn’t have to do that. There are many young professionals who want to hear about your challenges and brainstorm solutions or offer advice on how they solved a similar issue. Whereas last year Jerome and I went into the conference looking for advice on how to solve challenges;  this year we were the ones providing advice, frameworks, and answers to challenges young professionals from all over the country were having in their professional or YNPN lives.

Building connections and collaborating to leverage our voice and talents. I think that is what being a part of YNPN is all about. Whether it’s collaborating with local peers in the YNPN Greater Bflo chapter at Undergrounds Coffee House, or meeting over Zoom Video Conference with a colleague in Southern Nevada, we can all work together to solve issues locally, nationally, and globally.

Jerome Singletary, Board Co-Chair

This is the second year I’ve had the opportunity to attend the YNPN National Conference & Leadership Institute and for the second time, I am coming back from it energized and enthused about the work YNPN is doing, and the impact young professionals have in the sector. The Chapter Roll Call was again a highlight of the conference and seeing what successes and challenges other chapters across the country face was tremendously helpful in brainstorming strategies to make Greater Bflo an even stronger chapter.

Having the opportunity to present at the National Conference was thrilling as well. We teamed up with YNPN Triangle NC to give the presentation “Signature Conference: Why You Should Too” and shared how we plan and execute our annual YNPN Greater Bflo Summit. Topics from other presentations I attended included organizational membership and equity, diversity and inclusion, both of which our members and the Buffalo nonprofit community will hear more on in the coming months.

Overall, attending the National Conference has proven that it is not only a personal benefit to be a part of this network, but that YNPN Greater Bflo, and the Western New York nonprofit sector as a whole, will benefit from the work that YNPN is doing across the country.

Osaze Ibhawa, Special Events Co-Chair

Amazing is the word I would use to describe the YNPN 2018 National Conference at Indianapolis. In the wonderful company of fellow YNPNers from the Greater Bflo Chapter, we carpooled for a road trip to a journey I call GREATNESS. Yes, greatness, that’s exactly one word that explains the knowledge, experience, and benefits brought by YNPN National Conference.

We were greeted at Plat 99 at the Alexander Hotel with an art tour, wonderful pleasantries, and great refreshments, many local to Indiana. As awesome as I thought this networking opportunity was already, little did I know the best was yet to come with the conference itself.

The first day was very informative and one thing that stuck on to me was the mantra “Not fearless, still a leader” by Jamie Smith, Executive Director of YNPN National, as it was very motivating and empowering. This was followed by a roll call of all the YNPN chapters which gave all an opportunity to know what others were doing, how they are doing it, and how they can do better. I was wowed by what I learned from the other chapters, especially as Greater Bflo is now accepting members for $25! I am proud to be a member of YNPN Greater Bflo because my membership goes to providing more priceless benefits and immeasurable gains, and I hope you will join me by becoming a member here! Great insights and knowledge were gathered on the first day of the conference that helped with personal leadership and growth as well as growth and development for organizations.

The rest of the conference was equally informative and empowering as topics ranged from “Innovative Programming on a Shoestring Budget” to uniting professional groups for a collective impact were covered in different breakout sessions. A full overview of the topics covered can be found here.

My reflection on the conference can’t be complete without talking about our own Jerome Singletary and Aurora Schul Schunk, Board Co-Chairs of YNPN Greater Cflo chapter who both gave wonderful presentations on “Signature Conference: Why You Should Too” and “Engaging the Active Citizen Continuum to Support Your Organization or Your Personal Growth” respectively.

Still wondering how was my experience? I guess you can tell already it was a fun ride back home with Alex Lauer giving us good vibes all the way. And in all honesty, do not forget to become a member.

Alex Lauer, Marketing & Communications Co-Chair

On the first day of the conference, YNPN National Executive Director Jamie Smith said something that stuck with me throughout the rest of the event: “Not fearless. Still a leader.” As a young non-profit professional, fear is something that I’ve dealt with throughout my entire career. Fear, and the daily work that goes into conquering it, is what motivated me to join the Board, because as Jamie observed later in her opening remarks, while fear has the power to make us feel isolated and incapable, it can also bring us together as we empathize with one another’s struggles and build a stronger community that represents our shared ideals.

Being part of the broader Young Nonprofit Professionals Network connects us with people in our broader community on a national level (and international level—we’re looking at you, YNPN neighbors to the North!). It connects us to active citizens who share three beliefs, reflected by YNPN’s three strategic goals.

First, that emerging leaders are empowered and equipped with the skills and competencies to realize YNPN’s vision of stronger communities supported and strengthened by a diverse and powerful social sector.

Second, that staff and leadership in the nonprofit sector represent the diversity of our communities.

And finally, careers in the nonprofit sector are individually, organizationally, and economically sustainable.

As a network, these are the strategic results that we are rallying behind as part of YNPN, encompassing chapters and members from across the country. I am excited about the future potential this network has, and the role Greater Bflo and our members will play in prioritizing and achieving these results both in our community and our larger community.

This is the first in our NEW YNPN Greater Bflo blog series. If you are interested in submitting a blog to be featured, please contact the Marketing & Communications team (Melanie and Alex) at


Conversations and Cocktails

Are you looking for an opportunity to grow?
Consider applying to be an Ambassador for YNPN Greater Bflo.
Serving on the Leadership Team provides individuals with an excellent opportunity to have a leadership experience and to grow professionally. And, you’ll meet and work with a team of like-minded motivated leaders that represent fantastic organizations from across Greater Bflo.

Join us to on
Wednesday, May 20 • 5 – 8pm
for Conversations and Cocktails
at Providence Social
This is your opportunity to ask current Board members and Ambassadors about their experience.

Check out our website for the application and an outline of Ambassadors’ roles and responsibilities.

Lunch & Learn: Service Learning Projects and Your Organization

Tuesday, April 14 12pm – 1pm

United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
742 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209

YNPN will be hosting Bridget Brace-MacDonald, Director of the Center for Community-Based Learning at Medaille College and Aurora Schunk, Service Learning Coordinator for the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center at Buffalo State College.  Attendees will learn what makes a Service Learning Projects successful, discover how to create a long term partnership with these colleges, hear about upcoming projects for the fall semester and much more!

Our presenters encourage you to bring project ideas that you are looking into at your organization!

Make sure you bring a bagged lunch….we don’t need anyone hangry when returning to work!

Register here.

Lunch & Learn – Dr. Pauline Hoffman of St. Bonaventure University presents: Dealing with Difficult People

Saturn Club
977 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209

Thursday, March 19, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (EDT)

Each of us works with people we may deem “difficult.”  In fact, what if that difficult person is us?  Dr. Hoffmann will talk about what makes a person difficult, how to manage difficult people in the workplace, how to deal with difficult co-workers, colleagues and supervisors.  She will discuss strategies and tactics to take with common difficult personality types and how to modify your own behaviors/reactions.  Also, how do we manage our own difficult behaviors?

Dr. Hoffmann is dean of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an entrepreneur. She is the owner of Wild Mountain Organics, LLC.

Lunch will be generously provided by St. Bonaventure University

Pleae Note:
The dress code for the Saturn Club is “Club Casual;” Gentlemen: khakis or trousers, collared shirts. Coats and ties not required. Ladies: casual slacks with appropriate tops.  Denim, sandals, t-shirts, and sweatshirts are not permitted. 

Strategies for Navigating the Financial Planning Game of Life

Come start your morning with YNPN and a presentation by Mary MacLefko of The Legend Group on how to manage finances.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM (EST)

The Legend Group 

22293 Millersport Hwy
Getzville , NY

Note: There is plenty of parking available in the lot in front of the Main Entrance.  The front entrance is a double glass door under the blue and green sign that reads “The Legend Group”.

Register to attend by clicking here.

Out-of-Whack Work On Purpose Session & Networking

Join us for Work on Purpose session:

Has your life ever felt disjointed, where your heart and head don’t feel aligned or where you’re not doing work that leads you towards your purpose? This session will help you learn how to get back on track and re-align your vocation with your avocations.

• • •
5 p.m. 
– Out-of-Whack begins on the 8th floor of the Larkin Center of Commerce.

Immediately following you are invited to join the Larkin Mix and Mingle networking group for drinks and food.
Larkin Mix and Mingle will take place on the 6th floor until 7:30.

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

5-7:30 p.m.
Larkin Center of Commerce | 8th Floor
701 Seneca Street | Buffalo, NY

This event is open to the community, however seating is limited.
Reservations are required.
Please reserve your spot no later than January 26.

Get into the Giving Spirit with YNPN Greater Bflo

This holiday season, YNPN Greater Buffalo has arranged for our members and friends to give back to the community. We invite you to networkwith fellow community-minded members while improving the lives of children in Western New York through one of the following opportunities:

Gateway-Longview December 11 • 5-7pm
Volunteers will help accept and sort donations for the over 900 children in the “Adopt an Angel” program. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo December 13 • 9am-12pm
Volunteers will decorate Christmas Cookies for every clubhouses’  holiday party. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

We hope you can join us as your schedule allows!
[Space is limited!! Registration is required to volunteer.]