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


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!

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!

Now Seeking Go-Getters for 2019 Board

Are you a nonprofit professional passionate about creating opportunities to further the nonprofit sector? Are you seeking to grow a skillset in marketing, fund development, programming, or leadership? YNPN-GR is now accepting applications for our 2019 Board of Directors. 

The 2019 Board of Directors will set the strategic plan for the next 3 years of YNPN-GR, helping us revamp our programming, outreach, and membership model. This is an exciting time for YNPN-GR and we need YOUR talents and energy to make it happen. 

Applications are due November 12, 2018. Selected candidates will be notified by 11/21/18, with terms of service beginning January 1, 2019. 

Learn more about our Board of Directors here.

January 2018 WGVU Interview

2018 is going to be a great year for YNPN Grand Rapids. To kick things off, Board Co-Chair Nika Kusmierz and Secretary Autumn Hubbard spoke with Shelley Irwin at WGVU on Monday.

Listen here!

2017 Leadership Awards Poem

So many people have requested a copy of Fable The Poet's wonderful poem shared at 2017 YNPN Grand Rapids Leadership Awards.

Here is it for your enjoyment!

Thanks again for inspiring us, Marcel!

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