2023 Nonprofit Leadership Conference

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2023 Nonprofit Leadership Conference - 1100 x 360

Breakout Sessions 

Breakout sessions descriptions, times, and speakers are subject to change.

Quick Direct:  Round I  |  Round II  |  Round III  |  Round IV

Round I Workshops | 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Strong Leaders Cultivate a Listening and Sharing Culture  

Track: Storytelling 

We believe in prioritizing safe opportunities for people to share their stories in any setting, allowing them to cultivate identity, empowerment, and community. In this session, we will share workplace stories from our five years building The Wildling from the ground up and insights linking storytelling to organizational wellbeing. You will have a chance to explore pieces of our evidence-based curriculum that can be easily adapted to enhance your organization. Participants will hear examples of how making space for stories can bridge community gaps and cultivate surprising and meaningful connections. The spark of any organization starts by seeing leadership as a collective opportunity for every member to get a chance at the mic. 

Kaydee Gleplay, founder, Brown But Black Voices and Megan Kaplan, founder and executive director, The Wildling


Equitable System Change: Tools for the Journey  

Track: Strategy 

This interactive session is for nonprofit leaders who want to partner with community in creating more equitable systems. As systems change agents, we need resources that will support us in fostering the emergence of practices rooted in reciprocity, solidarity, reflection, and collaboration. The Community Engagement for Equitable Systems Change Collaborative developed a set of practitioner focused tools aimed at shifting mindsets, navigating power dynamics, and facilitating change efforts. In this session we will share the tools and learnings of our collaborative to support you on your system change journey.

Rosavla Mujwid Hernandez, director of systems change & community engagement and Rinal Ray, chief executive officer at People Serving People


Evolving the Nonprofit Board for Good  

Track: Fundamentals 

Join Propel Nonprofits for a conversation about ways to reimagine decision making (governance), leadership structures, and approaches to strategy development that center equity and engagement for nonprofit boards. This will be an interactive space to learn and share tips that help move our boards forward for good.

Leah Porter, strategic services consultant and Amanda Ziebell-Mawanda, senior strategic services consultant, Propel Nonprofits


Neurodiversity in Nonprofit Leadership: A Conversation

Track: Strategy 

Nonprofits solve problems the dominant culture can’t or won’t, so our organizations attract people who think in counter-cultural ways. Nonprofit folks are deeply distressed by injustices that others overlook. We stubbornly challenge social norms. We insist on imagining radically better futures and invent ingenious ways to make them real. These exceptional ways of thinking are common among folks with ADHD, Autism, and the many other forms of neurodiversity — and they also make nonprofit work possible. During this relaxed and informal session, we’ll explore how neurodivergent leadership can make Minnesota nonprofits better employers, stronger community partners, and more powerful agents of systemic change. Participants will share our experiences of neurodivergence in nonprofit work, generate questions for further inquiry, and make connections. Folks can participate out loud or in writing, or just listen quietly. All kinds of brains and support needs are enthusiastically welcome.

Neil Ashvin Chudgar, founder and principal, Chudgar Consulting


You Are Not Alone—The Challenges are Everywhere 

Track: Strategy 

It has never been harder to be a nonprofit executive director than it is right now. At this session we will share insights and observations on the state of the nonprofit sector from our work across dozens of organizations experiencing similar challenges, with a focus on board dynamics, staff management, and advancing DEI efforts. We’ve heard from so many leaders and organizations wrestling with these issues that we have come to see them as systemic, not limited to individual organizations, or leadership styles. You are not alone. As a leader you can share your own observations and hear from others about what difficulties they are facing, and together strategize ideas on how to ease the pressure in the sector.

Melissa Martinez-Sones, co-owner and Roger Meyer, co-owner, Mighty Consulting

Round II Workshops | 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Ethical Leadership Development & Creating People Centered Culture  

Track: Strategy 

This interactive workshop invites attendees to explore ways common unethical leadership practices and development, or lack thereof, interfere with and negatively impact the culture of an organization. During our time together we will discuss how to create a people centered work culture that prioritizes mental health and wellbeing so that everyone can shift from surviving to thriving as we move out of heightened pandemic mode. As a result of attending this session, participants will share and discuss real life examples of unethical leadership practices they have experienced or witnessed that negatively impacted the work culture of their department or organization.

Latosha Cox, curator of JOY, Black Girl Sabbatical, LLC ™

The "I" in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

Track: Strategy 

Do you often feel lost as a leader in DEI work? Join this session for this highly engaging session to explore your role in liberation and justice work. It is easy to point fingers and blame others, the system, or even upper-level managers. During our time together, we will raise our awareness in defining DEI at a deeper level, analyze our role in it, acknowledge what we can do to create change in our organizations and teams, and create an action plan. Finally, we will talk about holding ourselves accountable because there is no DEI without the “I.”

Donte Curtis, lead consultant, Catch Your Dream Consulting


The Intersection of Advocacy and Nonprofit Leadership 

Track: Fundamentals 

Policymakers need public input to develop good ideas into good policy, and nonprofits are valued experts in our areas of specialty. Nonprofits must partner with our governmental partners through advocacy and lobbying to cultivate strong, thriving, and joyful communities. Participants in this session will learn how legislative advocacy can strengthen and advance their organization's mission. Specifically, they'll learn specific tools and content for successful legislative visits, about the legislative process, and do's and don'ts of advocacy basics. Additionally, the Minnesota Budget Project will discuss why it’s important your organization shares its policy priorities for Minnesota’s future. Hear how and why nonprofits should engage in state budget and tax policy that moves us towards a better, brighter future for all Minnesotans. 

Meghan Marriott, engagement manager, Minnesota Budget Project; Ileana Mejia, policy advocate, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits; and Laura Mortenson, communications director, Minnesota Budget Project  


Making the Move to Leading from the Middle 

Track: Fundamentals 

Good leadership is defined by building strong teams and driving results. But how a leader builds teams and drives results changes significantly throughout one’s career. It’s critical that leaders can identify the skills needed today and anticipate which skills will drive results in the future. This talk will highlight the different stages of leadership, how to pinpoint where you are in the journey, and how to accelerate your skills to advance as a leader.   

Rick Rittmaster, VP of consulting/CorTalent and co-founder, Groveland Leadership


Young Nonprofit Professional Network Presents: Tales of a Decentralized Leadership Model  

Track: Strategy 

In late 2021, in order to maintain board member capacity and motivation, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Twin Cities chapter decided to try something new - a decentralized leadership model that dramatically reduced the role of the board chair and increased leadership capacity across board members. We spent the first year of our experiment learning what not to do! In this interactive session, YNPN board members will share our experience testing out a decentralized leadership model and engage session participants in learning together about the benefits, challenges, and lessons of moving away from traditional hierarchical leadership. YNPN Twin Cities is a volunteer-managed organization which provides and promotes opportunities for the development of young nonprofit professionals in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Grace Bettendorf, development manager, Courtney Castleberry, national liaison, Rob Muschler, programming chair, Meg Reid, board chair, Amelia Thomas, membership chair, Florence Wee, board secretary, and Alyssa Whalon, board member, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities

Round III Workshops | 2:15 - 3:15 p.m.

A Design Thinking Pizza Party: Introduction and Application 

Track: Fundamentals 

What do pizza and design have in common? The Youth Innovation Team at Youthprise invites you to find out in our session where you’ll experience Design Thinking 101! For the first half, we’ll go through a mini–Design Thinking process in small groups to learn the steps and how we move through the process. In the second half of our session, Youthprise’s team will go through case studies of how we’ve used Design Thinking to address organizational strategic planning, develop and design programs, and engage key nonprofit and foundation partners. Join us for a pizza party and Design Thinking sesh! You’ll leave with insights on how to use aspects of Design Thinking and bellies filled with pizza.  

Essence Blakemore, youth innovation associate, Molly Dubois, YHDP Youth Action Board coordinator, and Neese Parker, youth engagement coordinator, Youthprise


Effective and Equitable Approaches to Integrative Leadership  

Track: Strategy 

The Center for Integrative Leadership team will lead this interactive workshop on cross-sector leadership to advance shared prosperity, equity, and inclusion in our region. After a short introduction and an example, we will lead participants through some hands-on exercises to:

  • Identify potential for collaborative work across nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses as a strategy for addressing complex community challenges
  • Diagnose critical barriers and opportunities for boundary-spanning work - across cultural, organizational, or professional differences - that you are facing in your efforts to advance equity and inclusion in your communities
  • Work on strategies - personal skills, team or organizational structures, resource investments - to improve your own contributions to collective impact

This session will help participants strategize about opportunities for enhanced cross-sector collaboration to advance equity and inclusion in our region.

Samantha Silker, program director, Center for Integrative Leadership and Kathy Quick, associate professor and chair, Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management Area, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and academic co-director, Center for Integrative Leadership, University of Minnesota Twin Cities


How to be a Nonprofit Ops Pro 

Track: Fundamentals 

We often know when something isn't working on the operations side of our organizations, but we don't always know how to identify where the problem lies or how to fix it. In this workshop, attendees will learn the steps to identifying problem operations areas, diagnosing the cause, and implementing solutions while engaging stakeholders in the process to ensure true change. Through brainstorming and asking questions attendees will leave with a step-by-step guide to implement this process in their own organizations. If it's taking you eight weeks and forty-seven emails to get a volunteer on board, this is the workshop for you. 

Darcy Schatz, founder and CEO, Nonprofit Ops Pro


How to Lead Indigenously: Tiwahe Foundation Re-envisions the Oyate Leadership Network with our Native Communities 

Track: Strategy 

What does Indigenous leadership look like? How can we create programs and networks specifically for Indigenous people in Minnesota? We'll share Tiwahe Foundation's learning journey as it’ll be helpful for other organizations who want to support Indigenous leaders. In response to our Wisdom Council and community, Tiwahe is revisiting and evaluating existing programs through our Dakota and Anishinaabe values and protocols. We are redesigning the Oyate Leadership Program to respond to a call for new institutional models created within our own definitions and practices of leadership versus those from dominant culture. Through working with our elders, AIFEP alumni, and other key partners, we are learning how to integrate culture, language, and ceremony into Oyate. We are also looking at how we bring together other networks of Indigenous leaders in Minnesota, especially around key aspects of network building: relationships, intentionality, support, and action.

Nicole MartinRogers, co-founder, Advance Consulting LLC and Nikki Pieratos, executive director, Tiwahe Foundation


Know When to Hold‘Em or Fold‘Em: Sunsetting and Leadership Transition Stories 

Track: Storytelling 

Two nonprofit leaders in the arts sector share learnings from recent executive level leadership transitions. This storytelling session will address complex questions on the minds of many leaders: when to stay in a role and when to leave; how to support staff in such transitions; how to transition with the support of a community; and the unique situation of incoming executive directors taking over from founders. A common theme will be the importance of establishing peer support, as the presenters have found in each other. 

Jehra Patrick, executive director, Highpoint Center for Printmaking and Sarah Peters, co-director, Northern Lights.mn 

Round IV Workshops | 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Collaborative Pathways

Track: Storytelling 

Come and learn about the Friends of the Mississippi River’s experience as one of several partners within the Thrive Outside Twin Cities Community, which strives to increase racial and cultural diversity within environmental nonprofits and aligned organizations comprising Minnesota’s nonprofit sector. Several participating organizations have growing or nascent career pathways programs engaging underrepresented and BIPOC youth and young adults, while others have expressed interest in developing or supporting this work. In addition, many of these organizations have shared their desire to explore opportunities to collaborate on pathways programming, starting with the Twin Cities Metro area and then expanding throughout the entire state. This is your opportunity to learn the ins and outs of pathways programming and ways for your organization to get involved.

Samantha Armacost, stewardship & education program associate, Laura Hill, stewardship & education director, and Naomi Nickel, Environmental Stewardship Institute program associate, Friends of the Mississippi River


Dismantling White Saviorism through Equity and Inclusion  

Track: Strategy 

As stated by @ancestorsfuture, "It feels awkward to say, ‘The White Community,’ right? A reason for this is that whiteness is afforded the acknowledgement that white people are diverse in their cultures, thoughts, and realities."

The actions of one white person, or a small group of white people, are not systemically positioned as representative of all white people. So why are we so comfortable saying ‘the Black, the Indigenous, the Asian, or the Muslim community’? As white folks, we often do not seek to understand what our role is in anti-racism, equity, and inclusion, even in our own workplaces and community spaces. This training will help you understand the Eight White Identities and find your role in the ongoing work of racial and social justice in our communities. Join us to say no to white saviorism and commit to working toward being an ally and accomplice.  

Natalie Copeland, executive director, Unite Cloud


Now What? Emerging Strategies for Leading Volunteers  

Track: Strategy 

Volunteerism in 2023 is facing a unique set of circumstances: A decades-long decline in volunteer engagement was exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic, and new conditions are shaping the volunteerism landscape as volunteers, and groups engaging volunteers, adapt to a post-pandemic environment. Join the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement (MAVA) to explore findings from Post-Pandemic Volunteerism: Trends and Strategies for Volunteer Engagement in 2023 and Beyond. MAVA’s latest field-based research uncovered eight emerging trends shaping the current volunteerism landscape. The report also provides recommendations for taking charge of changing conditions, and elevating volunteer engagement. You will gain a better understanding of factors shaping today’s volunteer response, explore how emerging trends can guide development of new tactics for engaging volunteers, and leave with actionable strategies to lead innovation in volunteerism at your organization or initiative.  

Holly Daniels and Polly Roach, program directors, Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Engagement


Success: What If We've Been Getting It All Wrong? 

Track: Fundamentals 

When it comes to measuring success, we traditionally focus on the most visible achievement: Did you: complete the report? reach the fundraising goal? hire the right staff? All wonderful outcomes, but they don’t tell the whole story: Did the team burn out to achieve it? Were partnerships strained? Could we replicate it if asked to do it again? Narrowly defining success as what is achieved puts us at risk of leaving relationships and processes in the dust. This session offers a new framework for success, which places equal weight on achievements, relationships, and process. We will consider how it can be applied to team management, project development, and evaluation. Fully embracing the re-balanced framework, this hands-on work session incorporates activities and discussions to explore intentional ways to lead initiatives. Let’s go beyond the limitations of singular success and create truly healthy, inclusive, and sustainable manifestations of our missions.  

Anna Growcott, vice president and Aneesha Marwah, director of Artspace Consulting, Artspace Projects


An Untapped Resource: Workers with Disabilities

Track: Fundamentals 

When looking for employment, people with disabilities face many obstacles, such as inaccessible work environments and negative attitudes and stereotypes. This session will highlight the employment barriers that people with disabilities face throughout the employee cycle and what leaders can do to address and eliminate those barriers.

Muna Mohamed, director of diversity and inclusion, Lifeworks Services, Inc. 

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

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