Summit 2021

The YNPN Greater Bflo Summit is an annual one-day professional development conference which attracts over 100 entry-level, intermediate, and advanced professionals from Western New York. At our signature event, we bring together individuals who see the value in being intentional in professional development and want to be more effective change-makers for the good of our community.

YNPN Greater Bflo Summit 2021 will be held Friday, April 30, 2021 from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm via Zoom. We anticipate approximately 100 professionals and speakers joining us for a day full of networking, training, and leadership development. Due to the virtual nature of the event this year, we are excited to be sharing our Western New York event with professionals from all over the world interested in learning more from our powerful lineup of insightful presenters.

Our theme this year is “Adapting to a Virtual World”. We believe that the shift to the virtual world has brought new challenges while also creating increased accessibility and expanding horizons for inclusion on a massive scale. With presenters from all different levels and professions, we can assure you that you will leave our Summit feeling empowered and further motivated to excel in your personal and professional lives.

The YNPN Greater Bflo Professional Development Summit is FREE & open to all. Please use the link below to register in advance. Your Zoom link will gain you access to attend the Summit presentations all day, or for the sessions of your choosing.

Summit Registration


Thank you to our Summit 2021 Sponsors!

**Gold Level Sponsors**

Organization Development by Mike Cardus

Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western New York Chapter


**Silver Level Sponsor**

Zack Augstell

**Bronze Level Sponsor**

Daemen College


Summit Presenters & Sessions

8:00AM-8:30AM: Opening Remarks, Remembering Alley Jensen, & Future of Summit Announcement

Please join us as we welcome attendees to the YNPN Greater Bflo Summit 2021. We will also commemorate the life of Alley Jensen.

On Thursday, January 7th, 2021 Allison, “Alley”, Jensen passed away from complications with COVID-19. Alley served as Co-Director of Programming and Special Events for YNPN Greater Bflo and was the backbone of this group. For the last several years, Alley built up the YNPN Greater Bflo Summit to be inclusive and supportive of every individual we serve by putting together a program of diverse speakers, variety of topics, and accessible accommodations. We will take some time to reflect on the dedication Alley showed to YNPN and the community.

8:30AM-9:30AM: Meet Them Where They Are: How to Foster an Online Relationship with Your Target Audience That Builds Brand Awareness and Helps Fundraising 

With more than 4.2 billion daily users on social media, your target audience is definitely on at least one platform. Learn how to build and foster an online relationship with them and the benefits. During this session you’ll learn the importance of establishing an online relationship with your audience, especially in a pandemic. 

Speaker: Samantha Janik, Brand and Digital Marketing Manager, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation

Samantha is a brand manager, digital marketer and content creator. With experience in both organic and paid digital marketing, she specializes in increasing engagement, fostering communities, driving conversions and growing audiences. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Gannon University. 

9:30AM-10:30AM: **Keynote Presentation** Driving Creativity, Innovation and Engagement Through Inclusion

What can you expect to learn: 
– Understand a shared language of DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion)
– Learn how adopting inclusion can lead to innovation 
– Understand the pitfalls of groupthink 
– Learn how engaged employees increase productivity 

Speakers: Ekua Mends-Aidoo and Kendra Brim, Black Gems Dive In Podcast

The Black Gems Dive In Podcast, is a weekly conversation about inclusive cultures and everything in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. The podcast is hosted by Kua and Kendra, two amazing women and practitioners in the diversity and inclusion field. Kendra Brim is the Principal Consultant and Owner of K. Savannah Consulting – a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm focused on implementing strategies in order to maximize an organization’s potential and to shift overall culture – as well as Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunity at Nardin Academy. Ekua Mends-Aidoo is the Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer for Evergreen Health and an experienced corporate social responsibility administrator.

10:30AM-11:30AM: Do Not Look the CEO Directly in the Eye and Other Myths: How Two Young Professionals Have Built Relationships with the C-Suite

Jeff will speak from the CEO perspective about how young professionals can stand out from the crowd and advance in not-for-profit organizations. Petrina will speak from her experience as a 20-something professional, and how she has built relationships with the CEO and other C-level executives to advance in her career. Brandon will speak from his experience as a 30-something senior leader, and how he has built his career over time, including how he interfaces with the C-Suite and how he provides value to the organization. All three will share examples of how they have worked together to forge a productive relationship that furthers the agency’s mission while also fulfilling individual career goals. They will tackle topics including (1) how to speak to the CEO about difficult topics, (2) how to stand out without being seen as a shameless self-promoter, and (3) how to advocate for your own needs within the context of the agency’s best interests. The panelists will leave ample time for questions and discussion. 


Jeff Paterson, Chief Executive Officer, Empower

Jeff has been CEO of three different not-for-profit organizations, all before age 40. Now in his 40s, Jeff deeply values the contributions of young professionals and recognizes the importance of elevating and forming young leaders.

Petrina Sciandra, HR Manager, Empower

Petrina is a 20-something HR professional who has steadily taken on additional responsibility at Empower.

Brandon Jerla, Director of Staff Development and Learning, Empower

Brandon is a 30-something professional who has earned a place at Empower’s senior leadership table. 

11:30AM-12:30PM: Virtual Community Building and Equity-Focused Engagement

Virtual Community Building – Developing a sense of belonging in remote settings by showcasing different activities and having participants experience what those activities can look like. Equity-focused Engagement – How the prioritization of equity can enhance engagement  in the workplace by sharing tools and resources we have used with our staff. 


Marissa Jackson, People and Operations Director, City Year 

Marissa Jackson currently serves as CY Buffalo’s People and Operations Director. She manages the day-to-day operations of CY Buffalo’s site, supports strategy and works closely with our Executive Director to create events and initiatives to further our partnerships in the community. In addition, she plans, helps to facilitate and execute our Learning and Development days. Marissa has been with City Year for the past nine years serving six years in City Year Los Angeles as a corps members, team leader and Program Manager. She has been City Year Buffalo for the past three years during their start up and founding year. She attended Hope College in Holland Michigan obtaining a degree in Social Work and a minor in dance.

Sarah Johnson, People and Operations Manager, City Year

Sarah Johnson (she/her/hers pronouns) is a Buffalo NY native. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in social work, with a minor in philosophy, from Buffalo State College. After college, she moved to Milwaukee WI for two years to serve as a Program Director with Cathedral Squared Enterprises, and Guest Support Specialist with the cathedral, through the Tau Volunteer Program. Through these positions, she primarily served unhoused people. Now back in Buffalo, she is currently the People and Operations Manager at City Year Buffalo, where she is also serving on the Equity Council. She is a board member for Ten Thousand Villages Buffalo, and Big Big Table, a soon to open pay what you can cafe.

1:30PM-2:30PM: The Future of Virtual Events

There wasn’t a nonprofit in the country that didn’t have to transform at least one of their events into a virtual format in 2020. But what happens now? After spending a year learning how to engage virtual audiences, where do we go from here? Are in-person events back for good or should some things stay online?

Join Adrian Jamieson and Taylor Ralston to learn how Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona transformed four of their signature events to a virtual platform and what they plan to carry forward into 2021.This session will look at a large scale gala, fun casual fundraisers, and intimate stewardship events to find lessons learned and what is worth bringing into the next event season. 

Attendees will leave this session with best practices for creating engaging, cost effective virtual events of various kinds and tips for deciding what exactly should be in-person and what should be online. 


Adrian Jamieson, Director of Development, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona 

Adrian Jamieson is the current President of YNPN Phoenix. Adrian has a Masters in Public Administration from ASU and brings strong background in development, volunteer management, and community partnerships to the table. 

Taylor Ralston, Event Manager, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona

Taylor Ralston has been the Events Manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona for over 4 years. Taylor has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Development and Management and also a Certificate in Convention Sales and Meeting Planning. 

2:30PM-3:30PM: Being Your Best Self for Success and Happiness

This session will explore how leadership isn’t just about what you do – it’s about how you do it!what is most important is NOT in your job description.  Leadership is about positive intelligence, perspective, attitude, curiosity, learning, creativity, and passion.  Great leaders live their organization’s mission every day and in every way!

This session will explore how you can strengthen your soft skills:

  • How your perspective can change the organization, and how to shift your perspective
  • What key questions you should ask yourself and your team for the best results
  • Why mission matters most
  • What coaching skills you can use for both yourself and your team
  • How curiosity strengthens you as a leader
  • How you can rethink and reframe just about anything

Speaker: Barbara Park Leggett, Executive Director of Explore & More Children’s Museum

Barbara Leggett brings together 25+ years of nonprofit leadership and consulting with more than five years of leadership coaching. As the Executive Director of Explore & More Children’s Museum, she led the museum from a grassroots-volunteer-based museum to finalizing plans for it to be the centerpiece attraction on the Buffalo Waterfront.  Under her leadership the museum went from a small room in the basement of a school welcoming 1500 people annually to a fully operational museum serving 65,000 visitors annually – while concurrently developing a 40,000sf museum on the Buffalo Waterfront. She oversaw the first $18.5 million raised in the Capital Campaign, including $9 million she personally secured from New York State. 


Summit Registration

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