YNPN.GR Supports Black Lives Matter

June 3, 2020

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids’ (YNPN.GR) mission is to empower emerging professionals to thrive, grow, and build community within the nonprofit sector.

Yet the recent events in Grand Rapids, and across the country, remind us that we cannot thrive beneath boots. We cannot grow when we cannot breathe. And we cannot build community in a system riddled with inequities.

We are not only saddened by the realities presented by systemic racism, we are called to action. YNPN.GR supports the Black Lives Matter Movement and is committed to using our collective voice, resources, and influence to create equitable change in our community.  

We recognize the path towards systems change and an equitable future is long and complex. It will take time, we will make mistakes, but we are committed to anti-racism work. In the words of Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, “This is a marathon that no one wants to run,” yet it must be run and we ask you to run with us

Please join us in taking these first steps toward correcting the wrongs our society and sector has allowed for decades:

Donate unrestricted funds to an organization or fund that is on the front lines of equity

Familiarize yourself and your organization with anti-racism resources

Engage your government officials at every level

Help hold philanthropy accountable; less than 7% of foundation giving went to nonprofits led by people of color in 2018

  • Sign this petition asking Congress to enact legislation requiring foundations’ minimum payout to be doubled to 10% for the next three years


YNPN.GR Board of Directors


Connecting to Community During the COVID-19 Crisis

By Kevin Peterson, 2020 YNPN.GR Board Co-Chair and 2019 YNPN National Chapter Support Fellow

Like many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic has given me cause to take stock and reflect on past experiences. During this period of reflection, I’ve found my time spent as the Chapter Support Fellow for the National Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is more salient today than I previously realized. It was in this role that I developed experience working within and supporting remote teams. 

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COVID-19 Statement

March 13, 2020

As most of you are likely aware, Governor Whitmer has declared a State of Emergency and closed all K-12 schools through April 6 in response to the first official cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state of Michigan. To support the health of our members, guest speakers, and volunteers, we have made the decision to postpone our Conversation Starter on April 1. 

As we move forward, we remain committed to our members and will communicate any cancellations or changes to events through our newsletter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We will also send communication directly to anyone that RSVPs to our events, should that event be cancelled. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at info@ynpngr.org.

Resources for Nonprofits

If You Have to Cancel/Postpone Your Fundraising Event

Additional Information and Resources

Welcome to 2020! Meet this year's Board Co-Chairs, Autumn and Kevin

Welcome to 2020! YNPN.GR is excited for another great year of professional development, leadership awards, and of course connecting with fellow nonprofit professionals! With the new year we wanted to take a minute to introduce you to our 2020 Board Chairs. 

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YNPN Leadership Awards Keynote Speaker - Stacy Stout

At the YNPN Leadership Awards on November 6th, our keynote speaker, Stacy Stout, Director of the Office of Equity & Engagement for the City of Grand Rapids, shared with us her 10 questions nonprofit organizations should reflect on. 

  1. What are the demographics of top leadership and of the board?
  2. Are you pushing for policy and systemic change to advance equitable opportunity for the people behind the data you use for grant submissions?
  3. Are you taking money from the very people and corporations causing inequities?
  4. Are you intentional to do business with vendors of color?
  5. Have you assessed and changed hiring and promotion processes to eliminate bias?
  6. For those that voted for tonight’s nominees, was equity & justice part of your decision?
  7. When making decisions, ask who benefits? And not trickle down benefits, but truly and directly benefits. Who might be burdened by this decision?
  8. Who is closest to the pain? What are you doing to bring them closest to the power and decision-making?
  9. Who framed the problem you are trying to solve? Who decided the course of action to address that problem?
  10. You pay consultants – How are you investing in the wisdom and context expertise of residents and the community you serve?

She asked each of us to reflect on these questions for our organizations.

"Where are you doing well? Where might you need to grow?"

Thank you, Stacy, for challenging and motivating us as nonprofit professionals! 

Members Only Events January 2020!

In order to build a better membership experience and cultivate a more beneficial and close-knit community, our events will become members only beginning January 2020.

So, what does this mean for you?

Starting January 2020 for non-members….

  1. If you’ve enjoyed this year’s Conversation Starters, Coffee & Capacity Meet Ups, and others, and want to keep attending, become a member today for only $35 for the whole year (that’s only ~$3 per month!).
  2. If you would like to receive a discounted ticket for Leadership Awards or vote for Leadership Award Winners, join today!
  3. YNPN.GR will host 2 open-house style events per year where non-members and members can come and bring friends as well! Dates TBD. 

Starting January 2020 for current members….

  1. Members will still be able to enjoy all of our educational programming for free: including our monthly Conversation Starters, Coffee & Capacity Meet Ups, and more!
  2. Members will still receive a discounted ticket for Leadership Awards.
  3. You’ll be able to create a closer network of nonprofit peers as we volunteer, lead, and learn together. 

With this new format, we will provide the opportunity to bring more value to your membership by being able to offer other membership perks, such as:

  • Jobs Board with insider connections
  • Local professional development discounts
  • Members-only Facebook Group

Thank you for being a part of YNPN.GR and please feel free to message us on Facebook if you have any questions!


Meet Stacy Stout, Our Speaker for this Year's Leadership Awards!

Introducing Stacy Stout, our speaker for this year's Leadership Awards! Stacy Stout is the Director of the Office of Equity & Engagement with the City of Grand Rapids and oversees the City’s community engagement, equity, diversity and inclusion strategies and framework. Key pillars of the work are to lead with racial justice, embed equity into policy and practice for long-term change, invest in resident leadership and to create systems of equitable economic and wealth building opportunities.

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2019 WGVU Shelley Irwin Interview with Kevin Peterson

YNPN Grand Rapids has some new programming classes as well as Leadership Awards coming up! Programming Co-Chair, Kevin Peterson, spoke with Shelley Irwin at WGVU on Friday, August 30th.

Listen here!

13 Things I Learned from the Young Professionals of Color Conference

This year I had the opportunity to attend my first Young Professionals of Color Conference (YPCC), which was hosted by Cascade Engineering at Cornerstone University. Needless to say, I left this conference feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and supported.

  • Rejuvenated because I felt empowered to see many young professionals who were just like me - ambitious but a little unsure as to how to reach their full potential or even where to start.
  • Motivated because for the first time I was introduced to established professionals who started out just like me and are now seen as thought leaders in the community and are making great strides in their professions.
  • Supported because I finally discovered a society of people who are willing to mentor and guide me down a more successful path.

The conference centered around the theme Making Change: Local and Global Impact, because change is constant and it brings many opportunities to make an impact. We were able to go more in depth about variations of change in break-out sessions which focused on topics such as:

  1. Make a change in your community
  2. Leading change
  3. Changing the meaning of you
  4. Changing your financial situation
  5. Making change in your health
  6. Making change in your career

Each session was impactful and I don’t think that would have been possible without the help of community leaders who led and helped guide conversations. In these sessions people felt comfortable sharing their opinions on relevant topics such as code switching, micro-aggressions and some even shared their personal stories.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the break-out sessions, my favorite part of the conference was listening to the keynote speaker, Candace Matthews. Mrs. Matthews is currently the Amway Regional President of The Americas and Europe and is a resilient, inspiring woman with a plethora of stories. During her speech she shared not only her professional experiences, but painted a picture of her humble beginnings and the tools that helped her reach her professional goals.

Below is a list of the 13 tools Mrs. Matthews keeps in her leadership toolkit. I hope you will all begin collecting these items as your professional career grows. I know I will!

  1. Salt – Salt of the oath. Represents integrity and value.
  2. Rock – Perseverance. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and you can achieve everything and overcome.
  3. Sponge – Always absorb and learn from others. Never stop looking for ways to improve because practice makes permeant and you want to constantly deliver your best. Don’t forget, the things that don’t matter can always be squeezed out.
  4. Camera – Image and exposure are what set leaders apart. Keep your elevator speech ready!
  5. Yo-Yo – Giving and receiving through mentorship. In your professional life there are mentors who took the time to pour into you. Return that favor by pouring into others around you.
  6. Balls – Backbone. Know strategically what you are going to stand up for.
  7. Rubber Band – Be flexible. Life is unpredictable. You don’t know what is in store for you or the leadership you will encounter. Take this time to learn the leader you want to be and the leader you do not want to be.
  8. Balance Bar – You need to have a balanced life. Save yourself from early burn out. Focus on your breaks when you need one.
  9. Kiss – Loving support system is the key to keep you going.
  10. Q-tip – Quit taking it personally. Great leaders must have tough skin. You have to survive to thrive and know that when it no longer stands with your beliefs, it’s time to move on.
  11. Binder Clip – Tightly aligned individuals who form a team. Surround yourself with good people.
  12. Globe – Open your mind to a global perspective and world cultures.
  13. Money – Being rewarded, rewarding others, and giving back. Give your time and talent. Give until it feels good.

For more information about the 2019 Young Professionals of Color Conference or to look at past events visit their website at http://www.ypccgr.com.


Author: Alyson Ramirez, Marketing & Communications Committee Member


Q + A with Board Co-Chairs, Becca and Autumn

We sat down with Becca and Autumn, our YNPN.GR Board Co-Chairs to ask them questions about non-profit life! We hope you enjoy their insight into YNPN and working for a non-profit.

When did you join YNPN, and why?

Becca: In my first year as a nonprofit professional, upon graduating college. I noticed the camaraderie that the former YNPN-GR board members had; I knew that getting involved would expand my network and just give me general fulfillment in life after school. Plus, I brought it up to my supervisor at work and they even supported me by subsidizing my membership.

Autumn: I joined YNPN after I finished graduate school at GVSU. I heard from individuals I respected in the field that it was a great place to meet other nonprofit professionals and start creating relationships that would last as you all moved up together in the sector.

What has been the most memorable YNPN moment thus far?

Becca: It’s always a valuable experience when I grab a coffee or a drink with someone on the board or a member, either in a small group or one-on-one. It’s fun to talk about YNPN, but also get to know people beyond work.

Autumn: One of my most memorable moments was when we went through a strategic board recruitment process this past Fall. To see individuals who cared enough about the success of this organization to take that extra time and deep-dive into brainstorming fresh new voices to bring to YNPN was really inspiring.

What’s one thing people probably don’t know about you?

Becca: My favorite color is brown. Lame?

Autumn: Uh yeah, that’s weird Becca. If someone is eating an orange within a few feet of me, my nose closes and I can’t breathe.

What made you want to be a co-chair?

Becca: I wanted to play a role in the various functions of YNPN, from general oversight, to programs & events, membership, etc. (I started out as a Member-At-Large on the board for that same reason!)

Autumn: I saw the opportunity to use my skills in creating processes and structure to help YNPN get stabilized for future success.

How would you describe your leadership style? How do you approach your co-chair roles as a unit?

Becca: I am a supporter! I love to help. Autumn is amazing at ideation, and it’s awesome to work with her to share ideas, as well as be a part of leading the implementation of the board’s strategic goals as we work to fulfill them throughout the year.

Autumn: I love cleaning up dysfunctional processes (hey, nonprofit sector) and I’m not quiet about calling out things that aren’t working. Becca is a perfect counterpart because she never lets the mess bring down her excitement and enthusiasm, and reminds me to do the same.

Who do you look up to in the nonprofit world, why?

Becca: My colleagues from Kennari Consulting. Each of them have such a unique role working with nonprofits actively achieve their missions in the sector, whether implementing a community-changing campaign, ensuring they have a consistent annual fund, or seeking grants. I’m constantly learning from their management styles and work ethic.

Autumn: I admire women in the sector like Holly Johnson and Bryana Hopkins, who are constantly challenging themselves to learn new things and strategically advance the nonprofits they serve.

How do you refuel after a stressful day in the NP sector?

Becca: We’re in Beer City, USA! I grab a beer at a favorite brewery!

Autumn: I text Becca.

What can embers expect in the next year from YNPN?

Becca: Our co-chairs of each committee are cranking out programs, membership perks, marketing/outreach materials, giving opportunities for our supporters, not to mention another awesome Leadership Awards event. We have a great time this year – members can expect a lot of YNPN stuff on their radar!

Autumn: Ditto! We are so thrilled this year to have a full board and full committees -- they are planning amazing things! Between our current Conversation Starters and upcoming programming events, there’s multiple opportunities each month to connect and learn. I’m really proud of the work our board has done to expand our value-add for the community.

For those who haven’t joined yet, why should they?

Becca: Everyone’s so fun. And very passionate about the work they do. It’s great to have someone in your same career-space to lean on and discuss successes and failures.

Autumn: If you’re passionate about continuing to create spaces where we can all collaborate and form a better sector, you should join.

What makes this network different from other professional networks?

Becca: Our membership is the future of the sector, and we encounter you where you are. It’s tricky to find that “entry point” into an authentic professional network, and we are accessible to and advocate for the younger folks who are searching for that entry point.

Autumn: My favorite part about this network is that it’s not exclusive to one type of nonprofit professional. I think it’s important that fund developers, program coordinators, evaluators, volunteer coordinators, etc. are all in the room learning and connecting together. That’s the type of collaboration and relationship building that is going to create a more effective sector.

Anything else you want to share?

Becca: If you’re interested about anything YNPN, and want to chat, coffee or beer on me! Email me at becca@ynpngr.org!

Autumn: Thank you to all of our current board members and committee members who have dug into the work of revitalizing YNPN this year! Your energy and commitment has created amazing opportunities for our fellow nonprofit professionals -- thank you!