Moving to a new state brings an array of emotions some to include excitement, anxiety, and apprehension of what lies ahead. In my case I experienced all of these emotions. Having lived in the Washington DC/Maryland metropolitan area my entire life, moving to Arizona was a big deal. I was particularly apprehensive about making new professional connections that would allow me to continue to grow in my career.

Prior to moving, I researched many different nonprofit networking organizations. I came across the Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s (YNPN) National Website. There, I searched for the Phoenix chapter and added it to my list of places to visit once I arrived. Just judging by the website I was excited to learn what the network had to offer.

My first YNPN event was a round table were they showcased the valley’s premier leadership development organizations. I was really impressed with the way the event was organized and I loved the ambiance and welcoming atmosphere. We sat in tables and the leadership development groups rotated from table to table to speak about their program. I left feeling empowered with so much great information.

Since then, I have participated in numerous events to include: Digital Marketing Strategies, Things to Know Before You’re a CEO- Young CEO panel, Collective Leadership, Troika Consulting and a Networking Happy Hour Event. The events have been extremely valuable to me and I can honestly say that I took something away from each event.

Through YNPN I learned about the Leading for Change Fellowship. An intensive leadership development program designed to help me grow as a political/ civic leader. Though I learned about many other programs at the leadership round table the Leading for Change program seemed to be the best fit for me. It provided a chance to develop a career plan with the help of leaders in the community who can assist in connecting me with the right people to achieve my goal. Being new to town, this was particularly appealing as it would help me start to grow my network and make connections with the right people. I was encouraged to apply and was accepted to the program. It is my hope that through this program I can gain a better sense of what direction I want my career to take.

The Young CEO panel was another event that I benefited from. It was set up as a question and answer session and the panelists provided great advice. I specifically remember one of the panelist encouraging us to reach out to people who have a certain skill set that we would like to learn or enhance. She mentioned that many times we get scared or intimidated to ask for help or guidance but it’s important to remember that we were all at a learning stage at some point in our lives. This advice really resounded with me as I one day aspire to become a CEO and it is up to me to take the steps necessary to achieve this goal.

I have also made connections that have helped me in my current position as a Consultant at the Editha House Foundation specifically with straightening our volunteer program by meeting people who were interested in volunteering. It has also helped me with incorporating collective leadership strategies learned at one of the events to aid in the strategic planning of our Foundation.

YNPN has been a wonderful resource, connecting me with many individuals who are passionate about making the world a better place. It has helped me build both professional and personal relationships as well as gain a sense of community. I look forward to attending many more fun events!

– Chiquita Serpas