YNPN Des Moines started when I was at one of those awkward in-between parts in my twenties. I had quit my first profession — journalism, the one I went to college for. I was in the middle of my grad program, studying nonprofit management and executive leadership, and by day was working in a basement as a project manager for a small education-focused nonprofit. My husband and I were also expecting our first child, and ripping the roof of our house with a remodeling project.
My proverbial plate was pretty full, but I felt like something was missing.
I’d encounter issues in my day job that my grad program didn’t necessarily address (board governance, the struggles of working with youth from diverse backgrounds), and so I was glad when I started meeting up with a group of peers every few weeks at Smokey Row. We’d talk about all sorts of topics related to nonprofit work. I met some kindred spirits and felt a sense of community in the informal, down-to-earth discussions.
For me, helping launch YNPN has been a process of peer mentorship. Leadership isn’t something I could gain just from a course in grad school. I had to work with a team to build something from scratch, adding my talents for marketing and communication to those of my friends in the group. (I’m not a finances person, but with Chad as our treasurer, we’re in great shape! I made our first logo when I was home sick one afternoon, but the version our first marketing chair came up with is far more polished. My nature isn’t as technical or detail-oriented as writing bylaws requires, but our secretary, Michelle, and organizational development committee made sure all of our incorporation materials were in order.)
I have continued to invest in YNPN because of the people I’ve watched come forward to participate. Planning an event is one thing, but seeing attendees meet, learn and grow with each other is a remarkable privilege. I truly credit YNPN Des Moines with growing my career.I’ve made inspiring friends through YNPN and learned a heck of a lot about myself in the process. —Brianne Sanchez