LINK 2017 Attendee: Brita Nelson, Marketing Specialist-The Centers for Habilitation (TCH)

Leaving a coffee chat with YNPN Board Member, Katie Thorson, I felt invigorated. As a young professional working in nonprofits for the past year, I was excited about what Katie had told me about YNPN. Young people, advocating for social change by working in the nonprofit sector and trying to improve our community while learning from each other. It sounded great, and like something I absolutely wanted to be a part of. Katie suggested I start by attending the YNPN LINK event that was coming up, so when I got to work I grabbed a coworker and we both RSVP’d.

 Once we arrived at the Phoenix Center for the Arts I knew it was going to be a great event. Mingling with other young professionals in nonprofit and seeing the talent all around was exciting. There was so much energy and enthusiasm. Nonprofit professionals, friends and family waited in the auditorium to hear the contest speakers share their stories.

When the first speech began, I knew this was going to be a phenomenal group. My coworker and I were both emotional after hearing Jose Urteaga speak and the emotional tone stayed strong with the next speaker and then the next. Every speaker moved us, they endeared us to their causes, elicited emotions and provoked change; choosing who to vote for felt impossible! I was incredibly delighted when it was announced that everyone would be going back to their nonprofits with a cash donation thanks to fantastic donations from the crowd.

After LINK, I was so excited to join the amazing, inspirational community I’d seen that night. I signed up soon after to be a member of YNPN and can’t wait to see where I can go with this network. LINK was an amazing starting block for me, it showed me the passion of YNPN members and the support from the YNPN community. I know that I will be able to learn something from everyone in YNPN and hopefully they, and anyone else who wants to grow in their nonprofit career will be able to learn from my experiences as well.

LINK 2017 Presenter: Kelsey Pinckney, Program Coordinator- Read Better Be Better 

I grew up in a small desert town in California. There was very little sense of community there, if any, and while I always had a strong support system of friends and family, there was not much opportunity to grow professionally or meet new people with new ideas and ambitions. All that said, YNPN was an equally exciting and terrifying group to dive into. Here they are, a group of people who care about the things I do, who work crazy hours, who are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the specific social issues relevant to our community. What if I have nothing to offer them?

As it turns out, YNPN was the most inspiring community to be a part of. This is a group of people I can learn from, grow, succeed, and fight with. So when the opportunity came to stand on a stage and share my passion—the social issue and solution that I and the whole RBBB team dedicate our days and nights to—with an audience I knew would understand, care, and rise up to join our mission of helping children improve their literacy skills and become better learners, I had to jump on it. The build-up to the event was nerve-wracking, but YNPN board and committee members were incredibly supportive. They were always available to listen, talk through the RBBB story with me, and help me develop my own personal voice when sharing the mission with others.

I was the last to pitch on the night of LINK, and as I watched each presenter share their story on stage, I couldn’t help but be very proud to be among them. Every person was incredibly genuine, and passionately believed in their solution to the issue their organization was addressing. By the end of the night, I believed in every single one of them, too. And in some odd way, they even helped me believe in RBBB and myself more. When it was my turn to present, I was nervous, sure, but more than that, I was invigorated to be sharing the stage with such innovative and important causes. The energy in the room was incredible. That is the sort of energy that lasts, that I now bring into the office everyday, and out into the schools that we partner with. It’s the energy of hope.

For anyone who would like to present their Non-Profit at LINK, I would simply tell them to be themselves. Be authentic and transparent; share your story with the audience, and they’ll believe in you. They’ll give you the fuel and inspiration you need to bring about the positive change that you seek in your community.

LINK 2017 Presenter: Andrea Sanchez, Community Relations Specialist-Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona

 One of my favorite high school teachers would always tell the classroom “you have to tell your story.” I understood what that meant and I had seen and felt the power of stories being told by others, but I never thought I had a story to tell, that is until I was at ASU finishing my BS in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. One thing we always got asked in every class was why we were interested in the nonprofit sector and my answer has always been because of my experience as a “Little Sister” in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Sharing the reasons why this program was so important to me is what led me to complete an internship at BBBSAZ and eventually get hired as their Community Relations Specialist. I wouldn’t have been able to get this far if I hadn’t shared my story of why I wholeheartedly believe in the BBBSAZ mission. My story took me one step further when I was accepted to be a LINK presenter.

When I learned about the LINK event, I was interested in applying, but I was scared. When I realized that fear was about to hold me back from a great opportunity I remembered some great advice: “If you’re not scared, you’re not growing”. I knew presenting at LINK was one of those things that I had to do because it scared me.

This experience was equal parts personal and professional growth. I had confidence in my story, but not so much in myself. LINK gave me the opportunity to work on developing a new skill. Although, I have not mastered the art of public speaking, I do feel more confident about my capability to do it. The most rewarding thing about the entire experience was when I had three people come up to me after the event and said they were interested in learning more about becoming volunteers.

From this experience I learned that there are always people that are more than happy to help. When I told my boss that I was competing in LINK, she took the time to help me craft my pitch.  My toastmaster group also gave me great feedback when I practiced in front of them. In fact, one comment from a fellow toastmaster’s member really stuck with me and I would like to share it you: “public speaking isn’t just about speaking, it’s also about entertaining.” Not only focus on having a good story, make sure you are telling it well.

If you have thought about applying then you should do it, regardless of the reasons why you think you can’t or shouldn’t. Take advantage of the help the YNPN board member/ committee member/ volunteers are offering. They are the experts on this event and some are past contestants. The best thing about LINK is that you get to represent something you care about and whether you win or not, simply being given the change to advocate for your cause to a room full of people is a reward in and of itself.